Don Bosco Resources

The Dialogue between Don Bosco and Master Bodrato (1864)

DON BOSCO - Writtings


Text written by Count Cays and others, reports the dialogue on educational methods that took place on 8 October 1864 between Don Bosco and the elementary school teacher of Mornese, Francesco Bodrato (1823-1880). The Bodrato, a widower, became Salesian, priest, missionary in Argentina, where he died, inspector, in 1880.

Critical text with introduction, apparatus of variants and historical-illustrative notes in Pietro Braido (ed.), Don Bosco educator written and testimonials . Third edition with the collaboration of Antonio da Silva Ferreira, Francesco Motto and José Manuel Prellezo. Salesian Historical Institute, Sources, First Series, n. 9. Rome, LAS 1997, pp. 196-198.


Not satisfied with the simple admiration the Bodrato wanted to know something more, and for this purpose D. Bosco was asked for a particular audience, and having obtained it on the same evening, he asked him for the secret that he had to dominate just so much youth from make yourself so obedient, respectful and docile that you cannot wish for more.

Don Bosco hurried it with two words: Religion and Reason are the springs of my whole system of education.

The educator must persuade himself that everyone, or almost all of these dear young people, have a natural intelligence to know the good that is done to them personally, and at the same time they are endowed with a sensitive heart easily open to gratitude.

When he arrived with the help of the Lord to make the principal mysteries of our Holy Religion penetrate into their souls, that all love reminds us of the immense love that God brought to man; when it comes to making the rope of gratitude that is due to them in the heart vibrate in exchange for the benefits that have largely made us; when, finally, with the springs of reason, we have been convinced that true gratitude to the Lord must be expressed by carrying out its will, by respecting its precepts, especially those which inculcate the observance of our reciprocal duties; believe also that much of the educational work is already done.

Religion in this system makes the office of the brake put in the mouth of the ardent steed that dominates and dominates it; the reason then is that of the bridle which by pressing on the bite produces the effect that one wants to obtain. Religion true, sincere religion that dominates the actions of youth, reason that rightly apply those saints dictates to the rule of all his actions, here they are in two words summarized the system I applied, of which she wishes to know the great secret.

At the end of this discourse, Bodrato resumed in turn: Rev. Lord, with the similitude of the wise tamer of the young poledri she spoke to me of the brake of religion, and of the good use of reason to direct all its actions. This is fine; but it seems to me that he has kept quiet about a third medium that always accompanies the office of the horse tamer, I mean the inseparable whip, which is like the third element of its success.

To this sortie of Bodrato, Don Bosco added: Eh dear sir, allow me to observe you that in my system the whip, which she says is indispensable, that is, the healthy threat of the coming punishments is absolutely not excluded; want to reflect that many and terrible are the punishments that religion threatens to those who, not taking into account the precepts of the Lord, will dare to despise their commands, severe and terrible threats that you often remember, will not fail to produce their effect all the more just because that is not limited to the external actions, but also affects the most secret and the most occult thoughts. To make the persuasion of this truth penetrate more deeply are added the sincere practices of religion, the frequency of the sacraments and the insistence of the educator, and it is certain that with the

After all, when the young come to be convinced that the one who directs them sincerely loves their true good, it will often be enough to effectively punish the recalcitrants, a more reserved behavior, which may show their internal regret of seeing themselves unrequited in their paternal care.

Believe me, dear Lord, that this system is perhaps the easiest and certainly the most effective because with the practice of religion it will also be the most blessed by God. To give it a palpable proof, I dare to invite him for a few days to see the practical application in our homes. I do it free to come and spend a few days with us, and I hope that at the end of the experiment I can assure myself that what I told you is experimentally the most practical and safest system. This invitation was a facetious part, even a serious part, impressed our Bodrato. Thanking Don Bosco, he reserved a more explicit answer, bearing in his heart the thought that he would perhaps later take advantage of it with satisfaction.