Blessed Laura Vicuña (1891-1904), Born in Chile, a pupil of the FMA in Junín de los Andes, Argentina. She died offering her life for her mother's conversion. 3 September 1988 on the "Hill of the Beatitudes for Youth" (Colle Don Bosco), in the presence of thousands of young people who were taking part in "Confronto '88", Pope John Paul II beatified her, and presented her as a model of Gospel authenticity. This year is the centenary of her death.
Paola Adamo (1963-1978).A girl from the Salesian parish of St John Bosco in Taranto. The church was built by her parents who were architects. She died of viral hepatitis. One of the nicest phrases from her secret diary shows her as a model for so many of today's preadolescents: "If you believe in God you have the world in your hand".
Sean Devereux (1964-1993). An English Salesian past pupil and Cooperator, volunteer in Liberia. A compassionate man, he spoke openly about the anarchy in a country where the people were suffering so much, and about the insensitivity that was around. "While my heart beats, I have to do what I think I can do, and that is to help those who are less fortunate. " He was killed as a volunteer in Kisamyo, Somalia.
Salvo D`Acquisto (1920-1943) A Salesian past pupil from Naples. He joined the Carabinieri (Italian military police), and was outstanding for his human and spiritual qualities. His letters to his fiancée are beautiful. His goodness and Christian sense of life really shone out when, to save 22 innocent victims of a Nazi reprisal, he heroically offered to be shot in their place. He was awarded the military gold medal. Shortly to be beatified.
Teresa Bracco (1924-1944). Massacred by a Nazi official who tried to rape her. At the head of her bed she had a page of the Salesian Bulletin (August 1933) with Dominic Savio and his resolutions on it. Her heroic sacrifice did not come about by chance. She had matured spiritually in simplicity of life in the fields and at home. She was beatified 24 May 1998.
Fernando Calò (1939-1956). Died after running into a pillar while playing football in the Salesian College, Estoril (Portugal). A somewhat turbulent lad, whose mother was only a girl, he had spent time in various orphanages. Accepted by the Salesians he changed his life radically. He also succeeded in bringing his mother back to church after a long period away from it. He became an apostle among his companions, having himself been once a tearaway..
Ninni di Leo (Palermo 1957-1974) From the Oratory of Villa Ranchibile in Palermo (Italy), he died of leukaemia. He loved music, dancing, singing, and basketball. He supported Inter. An altruist by nature, he never thought of himself, but helped all those who needed him. The chief physician, seeing his suffering and unable to do anything for him, asked him: "But what did you ever do to God?" He replied: "Why blame God? Didn't the Lord suffered so much for us?"
Xavier Ribas (Barcelona 1958-1975). A leader in the Oratory at Marti-Codolar in Barcelona (Spain). Died in an accident, on his way down from having scaled a mountain top with two friends. He used to say that with Christ's help nothing was impossible. He was a lively young man, compassionate and full of dreams. His great desire was to become a teacher, to be able to do good. His "Reflections of a young Christian" are beautiful.
Saint Dominic Savio (1842-1857) The loveliest product of the Preventive System, from the hands of Don Bosco himself, the masterpiece of his pedagogy and apostolic work. He himself became an apostle among his companions, and thus helped his teacher and friend. His First Communion resolutions are famous and inspired many other boys and girls. This year is the 50th anniversary of his canonisation.
Michael Magone (1845-1859) and Francis Besucco (1850-1864) Michael was incredibly lively, a real young group leader, who was only taken in hand by Don Bosco's pedagogical expertise and set on the way to holiness. Francis was another Dominic Savio, according to Don Bosco who wrote a brief biography of the three boys. From childhood he was a little apostle among his companions, always ready to be a peacemaker. He helped his parish priest by teaching the younger children their catechism. When he entered the Oratory he carried out all Don Bosco's suggestions to the letter. He became ill at Valdocco and died there. He was only 14 years old.
The five Blessed Polish Oratory youths( died 24 August 1942) Members of the Salesian Oratory in Poznan. The youngest was 20; two were 22 and the two oldest 23 years old. They were arrested by the Nazis in September 1940, accused of belonging to a secret organisation. Searched by the Gestapo, the only incriminating evidence they had on them was their rosary, which they never gave up. Without any sort of trial, they were condemned to death for high treason, and beheaded at Dresda. Their letters home during their imprisonment and just before their death are very moving. They accepted their destiny like the Christian martyrs of old: "Thy will be done".
Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) Son of the founder of La Stampa newspaper in Turin and later Italian ambassador to Berlin, Piergiorgio was always involved in charitable works, even as a university student. His friendliness, interior beauty, and joy of living was magnetic and make him such a natural example, a living proof that it is possible in today's world to be a young Christian and to really live your faith.
Roderick Flores (1969-1984) He was a scout in the Don Bosco Technical College unit in Mandaluyong (Philippines). He drowned trying to save two companions who had sudden cramp while swimming. His body was found one week later. "This heroic gesture of jumping in to save his companions was only the culmination of a long series of numberless acts of altruism performed daily." This is what a Salesian who knew him testified.
Ceferino Namuncurá (1886-1905) Son of Chief Manuel of the Araucan tribe. He studied with the Salesians in Buenos Aires, then at Villa Sora High School in Frascati (Italy). He died of tuberculosis when he was just 19. Used to the open fields of his own land, he adapted to college life and became a model for all his companions. Making his First Communion at the age of 12, he made a pact with his friend Jesus to remain absolutely faithful. Extremely popular in Argentina, he is prayed to and venerated by all.
Domenico Zamberletti (1936-1950)A child prodigy, he was an altar boy in Sacro Monte in Varese. A pupil of the Salesians. He was fascinated by prayer: "When I pray I don't notice the time passing!" A hotelier's son, he had told the kitchen to always prepare an extra dinner for the "hungry Christ". He died of leukaemia, in terrible pain, yet told his mother: "Mamma, I am fine. I am going to heaven!"
Giacomo Maffei (1914-1935) He attended the Salesian High School in Valsalice for three years, studied medicine, and his behaviour was exemplary. He died of septicaemia. He wrote to his parents: "The apostolate, above all the apostolate" The Lord has arranged things well, I find I can exercise it widely and with fruit". Purity of heart was his secret.
Bartolomé Blanco (1914-1936) A Salesian past pupil and Cooperator, he was killed during the Spanish civil war, one the group of martyrs from Andalusia. He was a good, upright and courageous lad, into the study of the social question and the Church's social teaching. He was very active in Catholic Action. For this he was imprisoned, then condemned to death. Before the final fatal blow he shouted: "Long live Christ the King!"
Alberto Marvelli (1918 -1946) A chemical engineer. During his four years at Rimini he went to Mass at the Salesians every morning, and was a very regular Oratory member. He was hit by an army truck as it was overtaking a stationary trolley bus. He once wrote: "Our moving forward in life has to be a continual and decisive progression, resulting from what we have already experienced and the actual graces the Lord constantly bestows on us."
Petras Pércumas (1917-1937) A Lithuanian, aspiring to be a Salesian missionary. With a heart complaint, he died with a reputation for holiness at Rebaudengo in Turin. He had the gift of great faith and kindness: "Don't waste ink, it is a gift from God." "Clean these well, because these are Don Bosco's things and the Lord made him a present of them!" He was scrupulously exact in all his duties.
Willi De Koster (1974-1984)A Mexican. He died of leukaemia after six years of illness, during which he showed all his maturity and serenity. He was a Salesian pupil in Chapalita. He had a cheerful but painful life, which he crowned like a little saint.
Marcela Cruz Atempa Morales (1967-1983) Mexican, a past pupil of the FMA, fascinated by Laura Vicu&ntildE;a. She died of leukaemia. She picked the hymns for her own funeral. In 1981, after the attempt on the Pope, Marcela wrote him a touching letter in which she told him, amongst other things: "If the Lord calls me to follow him I am ready, like the sheep that follows its shepherd." During her time in hospital, she willingly played the flute to cheer up the other patients.
Renato Scalandri (1919-1944) A past pupil of the High School in Valsalice. He was called up during the war as a second lieutenant with the Alpine guards. He was imprisoned, and died in the concentration camp at Hammerstein, when he was treacherously and unwarrantedly struck by a sentry. He prayed the Rosary daily, but his basic prayer was his life, his loyalty, and his human uprightness, which sprang from his Gospel vision. He held various posts in Catholic Action, right up to national level..
Sigmund Ocasion (1976-2000) A past pupil of Mandaluyong (Philippines) to which he remained very attached, even after moving to Toronto. He was a model amongst his companions and died of a tumour. He was gifted with a very lively intelligence and a unique kindness. During his illlness, he became known in the hospital as "that special boy". Fr Occhio wrote of him: "I have seen in this boy the serene face of Christ on the Holy Shroud."