St. John Bosco is popularly know as DON BOSCO (Don implies 'Father' in Italian). He was the founder of Salesian Society. He was born in a very poor family in a little cabin at Becchi, a hillside hamlet near Castelnuovo, Piedmont, Italy on August 16, 1815. His father died when he was little more than two year of age leaving behind three sons. St. John bosco had two brothers Antonio and Giuseppe and his moother name is Margaret Bosco. John, earky years were spent as a shepherd and received his first instruction at the hands of the parish priest. He is very bright and intelligent. He possessed a ready wit, a retentive memory an as years passed, his appetite for study grew stronger. Due to proverty, his education became sporadic as he worked to assist his mother and family.
In 1835. he entered the seminary at chieri and after six years of study in 1814. he was ordained a priest on the eve of Trinity Sunday by Arch-bishop Franzoni of Turin.Leaving the seminary, Don Bosco went to Turin where he entered zealously upon his priestly labours. It was there an incident occurred which opened upto him the real field of effort of hid afterlife. It was the time of Industrial Revolution and Italy undergoing great political, religious and social turmoil.Child Labour and exploitation of the young were rampant. One of his duties was to accompany Don Cafasso upon his visits to the prisons of the city and the miserable condition of the children confined in these places left such an indelible impression upon his mind that he resolve to devoted his entire life to the rescue of these unfortunate outcastes. On December 8, 1841, at the feast of the Immaculate Conception, while Don Bosco was vesting for mass, the Sacristan drove from the church ragged urchin because he refuse to serve Mass. Don Bosce heard his cries and recalled him, and in the friendship which sprang up between the priest and Bartolomeo Gareli was sown the first seed of the 'Oratory'. John Bosco entered eagerly upon the task of instructing this first pupil of the streets; companions soon joined Bartolomeo, all drawn by a kindness they had never known, and in February 1842, the Oratory numbered 20 boys which by March 1846 had soared to 400.
In the autumn of 1844, he was appointed assistant chaplain to the Rifugio (Refuge) where Don Borel entered enthusiastically into the work. With the approval of Arch-bishop Franzoni, two rooms were secured adjoining the Rifugio and converted in a chapel, which was dedicated to Saint Francis de Sales (August 21, 1567- December 28, 1622), the Bishop of Geneva and a Roman Catholic saint. The member of the Rifugio now gathered at the Rifugio and the numbers of boys from the 91 surrounding districts applied for admission. It is about this time (1845) that Don Bosco began his night school and with the closing of the factories the boys flocked to his rooms where he and Don Borel instructed them in rudimentary branches. The success of the Oratory at Rifugio did not last long. To his anguish, Don Bosco was obliged to give up his rooms and subjected to pretty annoyances and obstacles, which, at times, seemed to spell the ruin of his mission. His perseverance in the face of all difficulties led many to the conclusion that he was insane, and an attempt was even made to confine him an asylum. Complaints were lodged against him, declaring his community to be a nuisance, owing to the character of the boys he befriended. From the Rifugio the Oratory was moved to St. Martin's to St. Petter's Churchyard, to three rooms in Via Cottolengo, where the night schooll were resumed, to open field and finally to a rough shed upon the site of which grew up an Oratory that counted 700 members. Don Bosco took lodgings nearby, where he was joined by his mother. 'Mama Margaret', as Don Bosco,s mother came to be known, gave the last ten years of her life in devoted service to the little inmates of this first Salesian home.
|Statue of San Jaun Bosco, Ronda, Spain|
The work of Don Bosco get a new direction when the municipal authorities by this time had come to recognize the importance of the work which Don Bosco was doing and he began with much success a fund for the erection of technical schools and workshops. These all were completed without serious difficulty. In 1868, to meet the needs of the Valdocco quarter of Turin, Don Bosco resolved to build a church. Accordingly, a plan was drawn in the form of a cross covering an area of 15,00 sq yards. He experience considerable difficulty in rising the necessary money, the charity of some of his friends finally enable him to complete it at a cost of more than a million francs.
Don Bosco's method of study knew nothing of chastisement. Observance of rules was obtained by instilling a true sence of duty, by removing assiduously all occasions for disobedience and by allowing no effort towards virtue, howsoever trivial it might be, to go unappreciated. Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888. Don Bosco was declared 'Blessed' in 1929 and canonized on Easter Sunday of 1934, when he was given the title of 'Father and Teacher of Youth' in recognition of his work with disadvantage youths. Pope John Paul II called him 'Father and Teacher of Youth'.