ABOUT DON BOSCO
St. John Bosco, the marvel of the 19th century, is remembered as a man who dedicated his life to the service of abandoned and marginalized young people. He challenged the way young people were treated in the desperate poverty that existed at that time in the city of Turin, Italy. He founded a Religious Order in the Catholic Church, called the Salesians.
Don Bosco was born in a village called ‘Becchi’ in 1815. When he was only two years of age, he lost his father and was brought up by his mother, Margaret.
Don Bosco had a dream at the age of nine. A Man and a Lady, both of great majesty instructed him to prepare himself for a great battle. The battle appeared to be on behalf of a multitude of poor, unruly and neglected children. This powerful dream continued to be a guiding force throughout his adolescence. It inspired him to become a priest. He was ordained a priest in 1841. In Italy, priests are called Don followed by their family name, so John Bosco became Don Bosco as we refer to him today.
Don Bosco was an educational practitioner rather than an educational theorist. He wrote very little about his educational principles and it is impossible to understand his approach to education without reference to the story of his life. Don Bosco’s capability to attract numerous boys and adult helpers was connected to his “Preventive System of Education”. He believed education to be a “matter of the heart,” and said that the boys must not only be loved, but know that they are loved. He also pointed to three components of the Preventive System: reason, religion, and kindness. Music and games also went into the mix.
After a life of achieving so much for young people, Don Bosco died at dawn on the 31st of January 1888 at the age of 73. When others talked to him of his fantastic achievements, he would always interrupt and say ‘I have done nothing by myself. It is Our Lady who has done everything.’ Today the Salesians of Don Bosco continue this great work operating on the principles Don Bosco left us.
Dates to remember
Born – August 16, 1815, Castelnuuovo, Piedmont, Italy
Died – January 31, 1888 (Aged 72), Turin, Italy
Beatified – June 2, 1929, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Canonized – April 1 1934, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Feast – January 31