Don Bosco School
Our Patron Saint
St. John Bosco
Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors, publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and youth. His feast day is celebrated on January 31. John was born on August 16, 1815 in a small cabin in Becchi, Italy. When John was only a bit older than two his dad died leaving his mother to support three boys. This led the family into poverty. As a child, John spent most of his time in Church, growing food, and raising sheep with his family. Even though they were poor, his family always helped those less fortunate. One day, John saw a group of circus performers. He began practicing the entertaining magic tricks he saw them perform hoping that he could then use these to attract others and hold their attention. John began putting on shows, reciting homilies he heard at Mass, and inviting those in attendance to pray with him.
John had many dreams throughout his life. When he was nine, he had one that was especially life changing. In this dream, there was a crowd of boys, laughing, playing, and swearing. John tried to stop the boys by fighting with them. Then, a man appeared (Jesus) and told John, “You will have to win these friends of yours not by blows but by gentleness and love. Start right away to teach them the ugliness of sin and the value of virtue.”
He began thinking about the priesthood which seemed an impossible dream because of his poverty and lack of education. A kind priest taught him a little and gave him a few books. In 1835, John Bosco entered the seminary, and six years later in 1841, he was ordained a priest.
After becoming a priest John started gathering boys every Sunday to have mass and join in activities out in the country. After mass was finished, they would have breakfast followed by games. In the afternoon John and the boys would have picnic and a catechism lesson. The last thing they would do was evening prayers. This group kept growing bigger and bigger because of John’s love for children and because he had a gift for connecting with children who had difficulties. The number of boys increased quickly, and John Bosco had to find a place for him and the boys to live. This led him to open an orphanage for young boys. John’s mother became the housekeeper and John took in more and more boys. As a result of taking in and caring for so many boys, he was often called “Don” which means father. Don Bosco believed that children learn best using the virtues of “Reason, Religion and Kindness.”
John gave these boys training so they could become shoemakers and tailors. In addition to teaching the boys religion, John also taught the boys how to play musical instruments, preform in plays and play sports. During this time, the state did not support the church and for many years people tried to kill John Bosco. They tried to assassinate him. John bravely continued helping the boys and eventually his enemies started to support him. There were times when his life was in danger. At those times, a very special guardian, Grigio (a large wolf-like gray dog), would appear to protect him.
In 1859, with the support of Pope Pius IX, John Bosco and seventeen other men founded the Salesians, under the patronage of Saint Francis de Sales. Their apostolate centered around education and mission work. John Bosco also founded the Salesian Sisters to work with girls.
Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888, and this day (January 31) became his feast day.
Don Bosco, Pray for Us.