John Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 near the village Castelnuovo d’Asti, in Piedmont (northern Italy) popularly called Becchi. When he was nine years old, he had a dream where he was in the middle of a crowd of children at play. From this dream he dedicated his life to Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
Wishing to become a Priest and to dedicate himself entirely to the salvation of young people, he would work by day, and spend nights at his books. Finally at the age of twenty, he was able to enter the Seminary in Cheiri and be ordained a Priest in Turin, at the age of twenty six in 1841.
Don Bosco started to gather the orphaned or abandoned together on Sundays, sometimes in a Church, or out on a grassy meadow, a town square. He would get them to play and instruct them in the Catechism. After five years he managed to establish and open, in the outlying suburb of Valdocco, his first Oratory.
In the Oratory, the boys found food and a bed, they would study or learn a trade, and above all else they learned to love the Lord. Saint Dominic Savio was one of them. Wishing to extend his apostolate also to young girls, he founded with Saint Maria Domenica Mazzarello, the FMA, the congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians have spread throughout the world in the service of young people, and of the poor and suffering. There are schools of every type and level: technical and professional institutes, hospitals, dispensaries, oratories and Parishes.
John died on 31 January 1888, in his room at Valdocco, at the age of 72 years. On 1 April 1934, Pope Pius XI, who had the good fortune to know John personally, proclaimed him a Saint.
Click here to find out more about Don Bosco's life and his Mission to love.