St. John Bosco

St. John Bosco

John Bosco, whose other names include Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco and Don Bosco, was born on August 16, 1815, in Becchi, Italy. His birth occurred shortly after the region was devastated by the Napoleonic Wars. In addition to the difficulties on his birthday, he was born during a famine and drought. John's mother, Margherita, raised him and his two elder brothers after he lost his father when he was two years old.

John was mainly raised by his mother, who took him to church and helped him become quite pious. He assisted his family in raising sheep and growing food while he wasn't in church. Although their circumstances were dire, his mother managed to find enough to give to the destitute, who occasionally knocked on their door in need of clothing, food, or shelter.

John experienced the first of many vivid dreams that would shape his life at the age of nine. In his dream, he saw a number of youngsters who swore while they played. He came across a magnificent man and woman among these boys. In humility and generosity, the man assured him, he would "conquer these your friends." Then the woman replied, "Be strong, humble and robust. When the time comes, you will understand everything." John was impacted by this dream for the remainder of his life.

Soon afterward, John happened to spot a traveling circus act. Their acrobatics and magic feats fascinated him. He understood that he could draw people in and keep their attention if he picked up their tricks. He observed their techniques and picked up some new ones for himself.

John put on a show for the youngsters he played with one Sunday night, to much acclaim. He read aloud the homily he had heard earlier in the day at the show's conclusion. He concluded by asking his neighbors to join him in prayer. John felt the call to become a priest during this period of repetition of his presentations and games.

John's poverty prevented him from receiving the schooling necessary to become a priest. But he did find a priest who was prepared to give him some instruction and some books. At this seeming betrayal, John's elder brother allegedly became enraged and thrashed John, calling him "a farmer like us!" Unfazed, John left his house as soon as he could in search of employment as a hired farm laborer. He left when he was just 12 years old, driven by his brother's animosity.

Despite having trouble finding employment, John was able to secure a position at a vineyard. He worked for two more years before meeting Joseph Cafasso, a priest who offered to help him. John enrolled in the seminary in 1835, and after studying and getting ready for six years, he was ordained as a priest in 1841.

He was sent to the city of Turin first. The city had slums and extreme poverty because it was going through an industrialization period. John—now known as Fr. Bosco—moved into these impoverished areas to help with the underprivileged children.

When Fr. Bosco visited the prisons, he saw a lot of boys in there, ranging in age from twelve to eighteen. He felt compelled to take further action to prevent other boys from going there because of the appalling conditions.

He entered the streets and began to meet boys and young men where they were playing and working. Using his skills as a performer, he first performed tricks to get the children's attention before giving them his daily lesson.

When he wasn't preaching, Fr. Bosco put forth a lot of effort looking for jobs for boys in need and places to stay for others. As his mother started to assist him, she was referred to as "Mamma Margherita." By the 1860s, 800 boys were being housed by Fr. Bosco and his mother.

Additionally, Fr. Bosco worked to secure additional rights for young boys working as apprentices. Abuse of apprentices by their employers, who used them for manual labor and menial tasks unrelated to their apprenticeship, was a prevalent issue. Fr. Bosco negotiated contracts that, at the time, prohibited such abuse—a radical innovation. In addition, the boys he hired out received feast days off and were rendered unbeatable.

Additionally, Fr. Bosco encouraged boys who he believed would make excellent priests to think about a career in the clergy. After that, he assisted in preparing those who fared well on their ordination route.

Fr. Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales in 1859. He arranged the group to include one teenage boy and fifteen seminarians. Their goal was to continue his altruistic efforts by assisting youths in developing their faith and keeping them out of trouble. The organization is still going strong and helps people all over the world, especially kids. Fr. Bosco's mission grew in the years that followed, and there is still much work to be done.

On January 31, 1888, Fr. Bosco passed away. His canonization was called for right away. Knowing Fr. Bosco personally, Pope Pius XI gave his blessing in 1929. On Easter Sunday, 1934, St. John Bosco was declared a saint and bestowed with the title "Father and Teacher of Youth."

Pope John Paul II submitted a petition to designate St. John Bosco as the patron saint of Stage Magicians in 2002. St. Bosco invented the practice of what is now known as "Gospel Magic," which involves engaging young people and drawing attention with magic and other marvels. Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. His feast day is on January 31.

Other Saints of the Day
Saint Marcella
Saint Eusebius
Saint Aidan of Ferns
Saint Francis Xavier Bianchi
Saint Adamnan of Coldingham

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