Today is the feast of Saint John Bosco! This beloved saint is well-known for his compassionate work with poor and homeless youth, with his legacy continuing both in his home country of Italy, in the United States, and around the world. He is the patron saint of editors, publishers, schoolchildren, juvenile delinquents, and many others.
Early Life of St. John Bosco
Born in August of 1815 to farmers near Turin, Italy, John entered the world in a period of particular strife, which would have a great impact on his life. At age two, his father died, leaving his mother to care for John and his two brothers. As a result of the Napoleonic Wars and a subsequent drought in Italy, John grew up in a period of poverty and social problems.
But God had plans for him, and at age nine, John had a series of dreams which would guide his path forward. He dreamt of a group of young delinquents playing and abusing a distinguished older man, who told John that he would need to gain the respect of the boys through love, not fear, and to teach them the beauty of living virtuous lives.
John Bosco's Ministry
This would be the foundation upon which John would later found his own religious order, the Salesians, and cooperated to establish the Salesian Sisters as well. They aimed to help the young, poverty-stricken, and delinquent children of Italy, teaching them to love and understand God's Word.
After visiting prisons and seeing so many young children and teenagers there, John not only began his ministry but made it essentially a full-time job: he searched for jobs for those in need, provided food and shelter, and taught the uneducated. Over time, and through political roadblocks, he founded his Order, based upon the principles of Saint Francis de Sales. Though the saint died in 1888, his legacy lives on today and he was canonized in 1934.