Don Bosco

General articles of the regulations for the houses (1877)



These are a brief decalogue drawn up in several versions by Don Bosco in 1877 and located between the publication of the treatise on the Preventive System and the 'Regulation for the houses of the Society of St. Francis of Sales', which they are the precursor of.

Critical text with introduction, variants, critical apparatus and historical and illustrative notes in Pietro Braido (ed.), Don Bosco Educatore, Scritti e Testimonianze. Third edition with the collaboration of Antonio da Silva Ferreira, Francesco Motto and José Manuel Prellezo. Salesian Historical Institute, Sources, First Series, no. 9. Rome, LAS 1997, pp. 280-283.


1. Those who find themselves in a position of responsibility or who must care for the young people whom Divine Providence has entrusted to us all have the duty to advise and counsel any boy in the House, every time there is occasion to do so, especially when it is a case of preventing the offence of God.

2. If one wishes to be respected, he should set about making himself loved. He will achieve this important goal if by word, and even more by deed, he makes it understood that his exclusive concern is for the spiritual and earthly good of his pupils.

3. Assistance requires few words, but a lot of work. Students should be allowed to express their thoughts freely, but take care to straighten out, and even correct, expressions, words, actions that might not be consonant with Christian education.

4. Young people generally exhibit one of the following character traits: good, ordinary, difficult, bad. It is our strict duty to study the best means of reconciling these diverse characters so as to do good to all without anyone being the cause of harm to anyone else.

5. For those who are blessed by nature with a 'good' character or temperament, general supervision is sufficient, explaining the disciplinary rules and recommending their observance.

6. The greater number is made up of those who have an 'ordinary' character or temperament, being somewhat lively, and being prone to take things easy. These need brief but frequent tips, reminders, advice. They need to be encouraged to work, even by giving them small rewards, and - without ever losing sight of them - showing great confidence is placed in them.

7. But our care and efforts must be directed in a special way to those in the third category, those students who are difficult, even troublesome. One can reckon these as being about one in fifteen. Every staff member should make a point of getting to know them, of informing themselves of their previous history; should show themselves to be their friends. They should let them speak a lot, saying little themselves, and when they do, they should use brief examples, sayings, stories, and so on. We should never let them out of sight, without however making it appear that we do not trust them.

8. When teachers or assistants join their students, they should immediately cast their eye over them, and if they become aware that one of these (difficult ones) is missing, they should send someone to look for them, under the pretext of having something to say or recommend to them.

9. Whenever one of them needs to be reprimanded, counselled or corrected, it should never be done there and then, and in the presence of his fellow-students. One may, however, make use of facts or episodes that have befallen others to express praise or blame which will find its way to the one for whom you have intended it.

10. These are the introductory articles to our Regulations. But everyone needs patience, application and much prayer, without which, I believe, any regulation would be useless.