John Bosco was born in Castelnuovo d’Asti on 16 August 1815 of a peasant family.
His father, Francesco Bosco, left him an orphan at the age of two, and Margherita Occhiena found herself raising Anthony, Joseph and young John on her own.
Margaret, a wise educator, made her family a domestic church by exercising a gentle firmness combined with boundless faith.
John began to feel the desire to become a priest from an early age. He told of having had a dream at nine years of age which revealed his mission to him: "Make yourself humble, strong and energetic", a woman dressed resplendently told him, "and what you see happening to these animals in a moment is what you must do for my children... I will teach you. In time, you will understand everything. " From the time he was a young lad, John began to entertain his companions with magic tricks, learned with hard training, alternated with work and prayer.
The elderly Fr Calosso started him out on his priestly studies, which he had to face with difficulty until he left his home due to the opposition of his brother Anthony. He wanted John to work in the fields.
As a seminarian in Chieri, John started the Society for a Good Time (Società d'Allegria), which gathered some of the young people of the town. In June 1841 he was ordained a priest. His spiritual director, Fr Cafasso, advised him to perfect his studies in the Pastoral Institute (Convitto ecclesiastico).
Meanwhile, Don Bosco was gathering the first boys around him, and organised a festive (weekend) oratory, which was initially a wandering oratory and then established itself at Valdocco. Margaret, now an older woman, agreed to come to Turin to help him, and became "Mamma Margaret" for the boys.
Don Bosco began to provide shelter to homeless orphans, teaching them a trade andto love the Lord. He would sing, play and pray with them.
His first co-workers also came from these first boys. Thus his educational method developed, the famous "Preventive System": "Stay with the boys, prevent sin with reason, religion and loving kindness.. Become saints, educators of saints. Our boys must realise they are loved.". Over time these early co-workers, thanks also to the help of Pope Pius IX, became a Congregation that aims at the salvation of youth, fighting all poverty, with the motto "Give me souls, and keep everything else".
The young Dominic Savio is the first of the fruits of the preventive system. Mary Help of Christians, who always supported Don Bosco in his work, obtained numerous graces, including extraordinary ones, and the money needed for all his enterprises. She also helped him build the Basilica named after her.
With the help of Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello Don Bosco founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Together with his benefactors and committed lay people he created the Salesian Cooperators.
Don Bosco died from overwork at 72 years, on 31 January 1888. Today the Salesians are present throughout the world, and he has been recognised by the Church as the "father and teacher of the young".
Pius XI, who had known him, beatified him in 1929, and canonised him on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1934.
|Significant historical dates|
|Don Bosco for us|
|Priest of young people|
|The first dream|
|The dream of the development of society|
|The style of Don Bosco|
|Don Bosco educational system|
|* Loving Kindness|
|Don Bosco writer and editor|
|The half-divine book|
|Writings of Don Bosco|
|Circulars of Don Bosco|
|Bibliography of Don Bosco|
|Subsidies on Don Bosco|
|World Art Gallery Galleria|