The Don

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St. Don Bosco (John Bosco), was an Italian Roman Catholic priest of the Latin Church, educator and writer ofthe 19th century. At the age of nine, Don Bosco had the first, great dream which marked his entire life. He saw a multitude of very poor boys who play and blaspheme. A Man of majestic appearance told him: With meekness and charity you will conquer these your friends; and a Lady just as majestic added: Make yourself humble, strong and robust. At the right time you will understand everything.

The years which followed were heavily influenced by this dream. John tried immediately to do good for boys. When the visiting performers trumpet announced a local feast in the nearby hills, John went and sat in the front row to watch them. He studied the jugglers, tricks and the acrobats secrets.

One Sunday evening, John gave his first performance in front of the kids from the neighboring houses. He performed balancing tricks with pots and pans on the tip of his nose. Then he jumped up on a rope strung between two trees, and walked on it applauded by the young spectators. Before the grandiose conclusion, he repeated for them the sermon he heard at the morning Mass, and invited all to pray. The games and the Word of God began transforming his little friends, who willingly prayed in his company.

Little John understood that to do good for so many boys he needed to study and become a priest. But his brother Anthony, already 18 and an unlettered peasant, did not want to hear of this. So of course as families do (as we have seen with St. Aquinas), Anthony threw away St. John’s books and belted him.

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On a cold morning of February 1827, John left his home and went to look for work as a farm-servant. He was only 12 but life at home was unbearable on account of the continuous quarrels with Anthony. He worked on the Moglia farm, near Moncucco, during three years. He led the cattle to pasture, milked the cows, put fresh hay in the manger, plowed the fields with the oxen. During the long nights of winter time and during summer, sitting under the trees while the cows stripped their leaves, he went back to his books and studies.

Anthony married three years later. John returned home and resumed his schooling, first at Castelnuovo and then at Chieri. To provide for his needs he learnt different trades: tailor, blacksmith, barman, and he even coached students after classes.

He was intelligent and brilliant, and the best students of the school flocked around him. He founded what was known as the Happy Club. At 20 years of age, John Bosco took the most important decision of his life: he entered the Seminary. There followed six years of intense studies after which he was ordained priest.

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