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John Bosco : biography

1815-8-16 - 1888-1-31

John Bosco ( 16 August 181531 January 1888 SaintPatrickDC.org. Retrieved 2012-03-09.), popularly known as Don Bosco, was an Italian Roman Catholic priest of the Latin Church, educator and writer of the 19th century, who dedicated his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth and employed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method known as the Salesian Preventive System. A follower of the spirituality and philosophy of Saint Francis de Sales, Bosco dedicated his works to him when he founded the Salesians of Don Bosco. Together with Maria Domenica Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a religious congregation of nuns dedicated to the care and education of poor girls. In 1876 Bosco founded a movement of laity, the Association of Salesian Cooperators, with the same educational mission to the poor. In 1875 he published the Salesian Bulletin. The Bulletin has remained in continuous publication, and is currently published in 50 different editions and 30 languages.

Bosco established a network of organizations and centres to carry on his work. Following his beatification in 1929, he was canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Life

Bosco was born in the evening of 16 August 1815 in the hillside hamlet of Becchi, Italy. He was the youngest son of Francesco Bosco (1784–1817) and Margherita Occhiena. He had two elder brothers, Antonio and Giuseppe (1813–1862). The Boscos of Becchi were farmhands of the Moglia Family. John Bosco was born into a time of great shortage and famine in the Piedmontese countryside, following the devastation wrought by the Napoleonic wars and a drought in 1817.The Piedmont drought lasted from 1817 to 1819. See The Majesty of Charleston by Peter Beney, p.64, 2005 edition.

When he was little more than two years old his father Francesco died, leaving the support of three boys to his mother, Margherita. She played a strong role in Bosco's formation and personality, and was an early supporter of her son's ideals.

In 1825, when he was nine, Bosco had the first of a series of dreams which would play an influential role in his outlook and work. This first dream "left a profound impression on him for the rest of his life", according to his own memoirs. Bosco apparently saw a multitude of very poor boys who play and blaspheme, and a man, who "appeared, nobly attired, with a manly and imposing bearing". The man said to him:

When the traveling entertainers performed at a local feast in the nearby hills, John watched and studied the jugglers tricks and the acrobats secrets. Then he would put on shows of his skills as a juggler, magician and acrobatWilley, David, BBC News 2 June 2002 with prayers before and after the performance. Magnificat.ca. Retrieved 2012-03-09.

Poverty prevented any serious attempt at schooling. John's early years were spent as a shepherd and he received his first instruction at the hands of the parish priest. It is suggested that the idea to become a priest came from his childhood experiences. At the time, being a priest was generally seen as a profession for the privileged classes, rather than farmers, although it was not unknown. Some biographers portray his older brother Antonio as the main obstacle for Bosco's ambition to study, protesting that John was just "a farmer like us!" 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 Antonio. Having to face life by himself at such a young age may have developed his later sympathies to help abandoned boys. After begging unsuccessfully for work, Bosco ended up at the wine farm of Louis Moglia. However, although Bosco could pursue some studies by himself, he was unavailable to attend school for two more years. In 1830 he met Joseph Cafasso, an elderly priest who identified some natural talent and supported his first schooling. In 1835 he entered the seminary at Chieri and after six years of study was ordained priest on the eve of Trinity Sunday by Archbishop Franzoni of Turin.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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