Guided by his dreams

John Bosco (1815-88) was the founder of the Salesian order, named after St Francis de Sales, and dedicated especially to the education of poor children.

The youngest son in a peasant family at Becchi, near Turin, John Bosco was only two when his father died. He owed much to his mother, an exceptionally virtuous and hard-working woman.

At nine he felt called in a dream to devote his life to outcast children. Throughout his life he would be guided by dreams, which he recorded on the instructions of Pope Pius IX.

Young John would fascinate the local youth with his skill as a juggler and acrobat, demanding nothing but prayers in return.

Ordained in 1841, he began his work in Turin as a chaplain in a hospice for working girls. Soon, however, he gathered about him a group of neglected boys, for whom he devised “a festive oratory”, at first largely outdoors but eventually, with help from his mother, in a shed in the Valdocco suburb.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection