St. John Bosco was a priest of the diocese of Turin, Italy, and founder of the Society of St. Francis de Sales. Famous for his kindliness and gentleness, he is a patron of disadvantaged youth because of his caring for children on the streets and juvenile delinquents, whose welfare he made his life's work. Giving them shelter and care, teaching them skills for future employment, and even enticing them with his uncanny magic tricks and juggling skills, Don Bosco was famous as a helper of the poor and needy children created by the Industrial Revolution, as well as a beloved publisher of catechetical works.
He was called to the priesthood at an early age and, through struggle and hard work, obtained the education necessary to be ordained. His life work was among the poor and needy, both young men and women (through the congregations he founded especially). He wrote volumes, including over 220 works, in addition to all the other efforts he made, which included pioneering a method of education that was based on love rather than punishment and guiding the Salesians to become one of the largest religious orders in the world. All of his students grew to love him, and he was ever seen teaching and guiding many youths to greater charity. He died in 1888; his funeral was attended by thousands.
But there was yet far more inside this powerhouse saint than meets the eye. Recorded in his memoirs, St. John Bosco's mystical dreams—provided in this short biography as well—reveal a side of the gentle saint that is scarcely recognizable, taking him squarely from the image of the saint of social welfare to one as a mystical pastor of souls. The dreams—really allegorical visions, and terrible ones—saw him tossing on the waves of the high seas of modernism that roiled and rocked the Barque of the Church, or facing a horrifying, massive snake that was strangled in the rope of the Rosary, or permeating by divine guidance straight to the depths of Hell and back again. Yes, Don Bosco was also a mystic—and an extraordinary one at that. Most of all, Don Bosco's life of service to others, especially the youth, and bringing them to Christ, show this: that the interior life is always the source of exterior action. Here is the life of an underrated and extremely important saint for our times.
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