Don Bosco (St. John Bosco) was inspired to create a vast movement of persons to bring the Gospel of Jesus to young people and to work for their benefit.
Born: April 2, 1842 Riva di Chieri (Turin), Italy
Died: March 9, 1857 Mondonio, Italy
Canonized: June 12, 1954
Feast day: May 6
Dominic’s father was a blacksmith, and the family had to move house several times as he pursued his craft. Dominic had the privilege of making his first Communion at the age of 7, when the usual age was about 12. On that occasion the boy made four startling resolutions: to go to confession and receive Communion often; to sanctify Sundays; to keep Jesus and Mary as his friends; and to die rather than sin. He was faithful to these promises.
In the fall of 1854 Dominic sought admission to the Oratory of Don Bosco in Turin. Already he wanted to be a priest. At the Oratory Dominic quickly became everyone’s friend and an energetic apostle. Though his health was poor, and despite his lack of seniority among the boys he was one of the most gifted intellectually. He explained to one new boy, “Here we make holiness consist in being cheerful.” Don Bosco had to restrain his impulse to do severe penances, reminding Dominic that his main penance must be obedience and the fulfilment of his duties, like study, house chores and recreation.
In 1856 Dominic was moved to establish among the best boys of the Oratory (all older than he) the Company of Mary Immaculate as a secret society of apostles among their peers. They looked after new pupils, kept an eye on boys likely to get into trouble and generally set an outstanding example of study, piety, and good behaviour. Ironically, all of the original members became founding members of the Salesian Society in 1859, except Dominic.
Dominic experienced mystical gifts. Don Bosco found him in ecstasy after holy Communion one day. On another occasion, he led the priest to someone who needed the last sacraments; how the boy knew this, could not be explained. Another time, without any communication from home, he told Don Bosco that his mother needed him. Don Bosco let him go, and he found his mother in difficult labour. He gave her a scapular, and she delivered perfectly. The women of the Savio family used that scapular for generations. St. Dominic is the unofficial patron of expectant mothers on account of this episode.