John Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 near the village Castelnuovo
d’Asti, in Piedmont (northern Italy) popularly called Becchi. When he
was nine years old, he had a dream where he was in the middle of a crowd
of children at play. From this dream he dedicated his life to Jesus and
the Virgin Mary.
Wishing to become a Priest and to dedicate himself entirely to the
salvation of young people, he would work by day, and spend nights at his
books. Finally at the age of twenty, he was able to enter the Seminary
in Cheiri and be ordained a Priest in Turin, at the age of twenty six in
Don Bosco started to gather the orphaned or abandoned together on
Sundays, sometimes in a Church, or out on a grassy meadow, a town
square. He would get them to play and instruct them in the Catechism.
After five years he managed to establish and open, in the outlying
suburb of Valdocco, his first Oratory.
In the Oratory, the boys found food and a bed, they would study or
learn a trade, and above all else they learned to love the Lord. Saint
Dominic Savio was one of them. Wishing to extend his apostolate also to
young girls, he founded with Saint Maria Domenica Mazzarello, the FMA,
the congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians have spread
throughout the world in the service of young people, and of the poor and
suffering. There are schools of every type and level: technical and
professional institutes, hospitals, dispensaries, oratories and
John died on 31 January 1888, in his room at Valdocco, at the age of
72 years. On 1 April 1934, Pope Pius XI, who had the good fortune to
know John personally, proclaimed him a Saint.
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