Friday 2nd December 2022

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Bosco

June 7, 2022 saints No Comments


Don Bosco (1815-1888), who became a spiritual father to hundreds of fatherless boys, lost his own father at the age of two. The youngest of three brothers, one a stepbrother, he was born to Francis and Margaret Bosco, peasant farmers in Italy. His father caught pneumonia and died suddenly, leaving his wife a widow at 29 to care for her elderly mother-in-law, and three boys. Even grimmer, there was a terrible famine and no food. But as a woman with a firm grip on her faith, she would later become Venerable Margaret Bosco and would raise her son John to be a saint.
Little John Bosco, for that was his given name, had a dream at the age of nine. This had a profound influence on him. He dreamt of blaspheming youth, and suddenly saw a Man in white. The Man said: “I am the Son of Her whom your mother taught you to salute three times a day,” referring to his faithfulness in reciting the Angelus. The Man led her to a Lady, the Blessed Virgin, whose message was to conquer in meekness, love, and charity. Overwhelmed, he didn’t understand it all yet, but the Lady said in time, he would.
Growing up, he also witnessed a circus troupe performing and was fascinated by its acts and the way they kept children engaged. He learned some of their tricks and would perform them for kids, then say a rosary or a homily. In this way he discovered his calling to be a priest.
But when he tried to study, his stepbrother was very hostile. Things became so bad that John had to move away for a couple years at the young age of 12 to work in the vineyards. Eventually he returned to studies. Later, a priest took pity on him and given his excellent grades (he got through his studies with alacrity), took on his priestly education. This priest was Fr. Cafasso, later known as St. Joseph Cafasso. John was rapidly surrounding himself with holy models — or was God bringing them together?
When he had become a priest in Turin, Don Bosco — for so priests were called in Italy — would visit those in prison. Shocked at the number of males under 18 who were imprisoned, he felt called to help the young boys. He felt they were not really bad, but that no one had reached them soon enough to evangelize and help them. Already a chaplain to young girls, he started reaching out more and more to the boys as well.
He had a knack for combining healthy play with a healthy spiritual life. A boy who came for shelter to his church was turned away by another priest but he brought him back. He asked Bartholomew Garelli if could serve Mass. The boy said he didn’t know how. So Don Bosco asked if he could whistle. The boy laughed and said of course. Then Don Bosco asked him to stay for Mass. This caught the boy’s interest so much — along with the free food plus shelter — that the next time he returned with six more boys.
Don Bosco fed those who needed food. He taught them the catechism. And got them to church. He eventually bought a run-down property and put a chapel in there and soon five hundred boys were coming weekly for Mass. In 1845 our Lady had showed him that three Turin martyrs had been put to death there, Solutor, Adventor, and Octavius. She said, “I wish to be honored in this special place.” One day a basilica would be built here, but the beginnings were simple.
Another section of the building was dedicated to teaching boys trades like making shoes, so they were not running in the streets and turning to crime. But then an orphan turned up. So Don Bosco and his mother took him in, fed him, and soon he was buying the property next door and housing orphans. Soon that wouldn’t do, for it meant a school was required. One thing led to another. A school meant Catholic educational materials were needed.
By 1847 the shed had been enlarged twice and it was still too small. God made it possible for Don Bosco to buy another home, which was torn down to build a boys’ dormitory, and construction on the church was begun. His maxim was: “Give me souls, away with the rest.” He told those who tried later to imitate his success in educating boys that needed two things: charity and love of the Catholic faith.
In his “free time,” he could be seen among his boys, encouraging them and giving them advice:
“Jesus is waiting for you to visit Him in the chapel.”
“Discontinue such and such a habit.”
“Courage! Invoke Mary, and She will help you.”
“Endeavor to make a good Confession, and you will have great joy.”
“Avoid those bad companions.”
Another example of his way to both the boy’s stomach and his soul was once a month he had all the boys do an Exercise for a Happy Death. Toward this end they all had a special breakfast! This was included along with Mass and Confession. He reminded the boys that dying prepared was a good thing, and then he heard Confessions for hours. He would arrange for boys too young for Communion to sing, so that even they had something to do. One of his boys, Dominic Savio, died at age 14 but was also proclaimed a saint.
There is too much wealth in his biography to fit in this mere column. So, let us put in a story that will appeal to boys and all others alike. During his life, there was a period of horrible anti-Catholicism in Italy when priests like Don Bosco were being attacked. He was nearly killed or assassinated on several occasions. He was able to use his own powers to fight off attackers but he also had a helper, and his name was Grigio.
Grigio means “gray” and that name belonged to a gray dog that looked horribly large, almost like a wolf, and who would appear whenever he needed help. The animal was scary in appearance and showed up many, many times and everybody saw him. No one ever knew where he went afterward . . . only that he attacked anyone who endangered Don Bosco and saved his life on his way home on several occasions. In one instance the dog would not let him leave home, and it turned out to be for the best, for attackers had been lying in wait. He loved Don Bosco. His guardian angel?
In 1859 he founded the Salesians of Don Bosco. After all, he needed someone to help him in the work! Eventually, there would be a sister order. By 1875 missionaries were going to another country and soon multiple countries. His mother was his partner in so many things. She who had raised him by always repeating, “God sees you” must have repeated this to his boys. She was his first benefactor — not some rich patron. She sold her wedding ring and few pieces of jewelry to help feed and house his boys. Long before “Boys Town” there was Fr. John Bosco. By the end of his life there were 59 houses in six nations. Even the Pope was a fan.
Don Bosco’s cause for sainthood was opened right away, and he was canonized in under fifty years. Today his order numbers 15,700 brothers and priests throughout the world. He is the patron of schoolchildren. We should ask his intercession for the victims of the tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
St. John Bosco’s feast is January 31.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

"I'm afraid that the West will die. There are plenty of signs. You are invaded,still,by other cultures & peoples,who will progressively dominate you by their numbers and change your culture, your convictions, your morality."~ Cardinal Robert Sarah

Seems Biden is warning us of another Democratic sweep tonight? Hmmm!

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Cardinal Zen found guilty in Hong Kong trial

CWN Editor’s Note: Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired Bishop of Hong Kong, was found guilty on November 25 on charges of failing to register a charitable fund that provided legal help for defendants accused of violating China’s draconian new “security” law. The cardinal and five co-defendants will be required to pay a fine equivalent to $500. After his conviction, Cardinal Zen said that the case should not be seen as a violation of religious freedom.…Continue Reading

Kansas Judge Blocks State Law Banning Doctors From Providing Abortion Pills to Patients Online

A Kansas judge has blocked a state law that banned doctors from providing abortion pills through telemedicine. Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson granted an abortionists request for a temporary injunction

Archbishop Broglio elected USCCB president

BALTIMORE (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, was elected Tuesday to serve as the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The U.S. bishops elected Archbishop Broglio, the current secretary of the USCCB, to a three-year term as president by a vote of 138-99.

Michigan Legalizes Abortions Up to Birth After Leftist Billionaires Spend Millions Buying Votes

Michigan will become the next state to legalzie abortions up to birth after voters approved the dangerous and radical Proposition 3 to would elimiate every single pro-life law in the state, including parental consent. The 55-45 result in favor of the pro-abortion amendment was not surprising given the millions of dollars leftist billionaires pooured into the state to buy votes with false and misleading television commercials that lied about the effects of the measure. Rich,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider Restate Concerns About Restrictions on Traditional Liturgy

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Raymond Burke has questioned the basis of papal-led efforts to restrict and eventually eliminate the traditional Latin Mass, while Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said the “millennium-old treasure” cannot be destroyed, as it is the work of the Holy Spirit. The cardinal and bishop kindly shared their comments as part of a talk I gave the Latin Mass Society in London on Oct. 21. As concerns deepen over this pontificate’s

Conservatives Are Dying For A House Speaker Like Pelosi

By NEIL PATEL Nancy Pelosi will rightfully go down as one of the greatest speakers in the history of the U.S. House. I’m not sure I would agree with Pelosi on a single policy issue; that’s not the point. As far as leadership ability and political smarts, Pelosi ran circles around the bumbling Republicans of…Continue Reading

They Claim Abortion Is Safe… Then Hide How Abortions Kill and Injure Women

By KRISTAN HAWKINS WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeNews) — On the surface level, it seems our federal health officials err very much on the side of caution, even when the evidence is minimal. In February 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official warning to consumers about Abbott brands of baby formula following a possible…Continue Reading

Divine Mercy Shrine In Wisconsin Defaced With Graffiti

By JONAH McKEOWN ST. LOUIS, Mo. (CNA) — A Catholic parish in southern Wisconsin suffered a graffiti attack overnight on Sunday, November 20, that saw a large tiled display of the Divine Mercy image defaced with green spray-painted letters.Run by the Stockbridge, Mass.-based Marian Fathers, St. Peter Parish is located in Kenosha, on Lake Michigan…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Theism Reconsidered

By GARY BULLERT Paul Herrick’s latest book, Philosophy, Reasoned Belief, and Faith (University of Notre Dame Press, 2022, 459 pages, $45.00), constitutes the capstone of a forty-year career as an instructor, professional philosopher, and author. It augments more synoptically his earlier book, Think with Socrates: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Like Socrates, philosophy is a…Continue Reading

The Blessing And Its Counterfeits

By DONALD DeMARCO The blessing, whether it is formal or informal, administered by clergy or laymen, performed in church or at home, is an everyday occurrence in Catholic life. It is a way in which God’s grace is invoked to benefit its intended recipient.We bless our house, our food, our religious articles, people who are…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I am attending an RCIA class to see about becoming a Catholic. One question that has come up is why Protestant Bibles have only 66 books, while Catholic Bibles have 73. Can you explain this? — T.A., Massachusetts.A. The discrepancy is in the Old Testament, where Protestant Bibles are missing the seven books of Judith, Tobit, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach),…Continue Reading

The Beauty Of Holiness

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK I was invited to a fundraising dinner recently at which a bishop spoke about the need to promote goodness, truth, and beauty in the Church. He has undertaken a multi-year project to beautify the celebration of Holy Mass as the key to Church renewal, liturgical and otherwise.Salvation of the world begins in and through the…Continue Reading

King of Thieves . . . A Homily For The Solemnity Of Christ The King

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Msgr. Charles Pope posted this article on November 19 and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + Jesus Christ is King of Thieves, though He never stole. He is savior of sinners, though He never sinned.Today’s Gospel presents Jesus as reigning from the cross. Nothing could be more paradoxical. Let’s look at it from four…Continue Reading

Conforming Ourselves To Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Advent (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10Romans 15:4-9Matt. 3:1-12 In the first reading today, we hear about a shoot that will sprout from the stump of Jesse. Jesse, recall, was the father of King David. The promise made to King David was that one of his sons would sit on his throne in perpetuity.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. Contact us at the addresses provided below. Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 8) To get the people away from worshiping…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Padre Pio And The Poor Souls

By DEB PIROCH Part 2 “Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in the most need of Thy mercy” — Fatima prayer. + + This week we continue to discuss the special closeness St. Pio had with the suffering souls in Purgatory. Yes, he…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Francis De Sales, Author And Apologist

By DEB PIROCH Anger is not a sin. It is how one employs anger that can lead to sin, but Christ Himself was justifiably angered when His house of prayer was transformed into a “den of thieves.” What did Christ mean?A church is for praying, for celebrating the Sacrifice of the Mass, for the distribution of the sacraments. It is…Continue Reading