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January 31

Saint John Bosco@Torino 1880

Saint John Bosco

Priest, Founder of Salesians


“Forget the services you have rendered to others, but not those rendered to you.

Saint John Bosco

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Giovanni Melchiorre (John Melchior) was born on August 16, 1815 in Becchi, Piedmont, Italy, the youngest son to his father, Francesco Bosco and mother, Margherita Occhiena. He had two older brothers, Antonio and Giuseppe. His father died when he was two. Poverty prevented any serious attempt at schooling. John’s early years were spent as a shepherd and he received his first instruction from Don Calosso.  From his childhood, he wanted to dedicate his life to keeping youngsters close to God. His childhood experiences are thought to have inspired him to become a priest.  Bosco’s mother, Margherita, managed to earn enough money to finance his education.

Seminary to Priesthood

In 1835, Bosco entered the seminary at Chieri, next to the Church of the Immacolata Concezione. The day before John entered the seminary, his mother laid her hands on his shoulders as he was dressed in his clerical dress and said, “To see you dressed in this manner fills my heart with joy. But remember that it is not the dress gives honor to the state, but the practice of virtue. If at any time you come to doubt you vocation, I beseech you, lay it aside at once. I would rather have a poor peasant for my son than a negligent priest.” (Hoever) In 1841 at the age of 26, after six years of study, John was ordained a priest on the eve of Trinity Sunday by Archbishop Franzoni of Turin. 

Opened Refuge for Boys in Turin, Italy

John began his work with neglected boys at Turin, Italy where he was ordained. Father Joseph Cafasso encourage this work. John was appointed chaplain of St Philomena’s Hospice for girls in 1844 and housed his boys in an old building on the grounds of the Hospice. When the boys became too unruly, he was ordered to give up his care of the boys or resign as chaplain. He resigned and opened a refuge for boys with his mother. John devised a plan to care for delinquents after their release and to keep boys out of trouble. He called the institution that he envisioned an “oratory,” a place of prayer. It was much more than that; it was a place to play and make friends, a school, an employment service, and a home. By 1856, he was housing 150 boys and had another 500 oratories with 10 priests.  John dedicated his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth.

Founder of Salesians

As his work expanded, John paid for it by preaching writing books, and from charitable donations. His need for dependable assistants led him to found the Society of St. Frances de Sales (or the Salesians), which received approval from Pope Pius XI on 1859. The Salesian coat of arms appreared for the first time in a circular letter of Don Bosco on December 8, 1885 with the motto Da mihi animas, caetera tolle (Give me souls, take away everything else).

Salesion Preventive System

John developed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that became known as the Salesian Preventive System. John taught his Salesians and the young people they served that it was easy to be a saint. “Do the ordinary things in an extraordinary way,” he told them. He taught that it was not necessary to look for extraordinary ways to be holy or practice virtue. “Accept what the day brings.” He taught them just to do what they had to do each day, but do it well and offer it as a prayer.

Salesians Sisters

With the help of Saint Maria Domenca Mazzarello, John Bosco founded a society for women, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, known as the Salesian Sister, dedicated to the care and education of poor girls. John In 1876, Bosco also started with the help of many lay people and founded a movement of lay persons, the Association of Salesian Cooperators, with the same educational mission to the poor.

His Death

At the age of 72, John died on January 31, 1888 in Turin, Italy. Following his beatification in 1929, he was canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Since then, his society has been known as the Salesians of Don Bosco. By the time John died his Salesians, men and women, numbered 1,400 and were in 9 countries of Europe and South America. Today, they labor for poor and abandoned young people on all 6 continents, in about 130 countries, and number about 28,000. In addition, there are tens of thousands of members of the wider Salesian family: cooperators, alumni, a secular institute, and several small religious congregations.  On the centenary of St. John Bosco’s death, January 31, 1988, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him as “the Father and Teacher of the Youth.”

Beatified:          June 2, 1929 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:       April 1, 1934 by Pope Pius XI

Feast Day:         January 31

Patron Saint:    Apprentices, Catholic Publishers & Editors, Young People




St. John Bosco, you dedicated your life to the education and care of poor youth. Aid us in reaching out to those who need our assistance today, not tomorrow, and here, not somewhere else. Through your intercession may we carry out a fraction of the good that you achieved in your life.

What can you today to aid and educate those in need of assistance?

Source: Saint John Bosco – My Catholic Life!


John Bosco educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience. It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts, too.

How will your love prevade in everything that you do today and everyday shining forth Christ’s love to all?

Source: Saint John Bosco | Franciscan Media


O Saint John Bosco, in your love and concern for all the scattered children of God, you sent your sons and daughters to the farthest part of the world to bring the knowledge of the loving God and the Light of the Gospel.  Pray for all missionaries, and pray for us, that, inspired by your example and in your spirit, we may be united in work and prayer to win souls for Christ.

Through your intercession may God grant me the following grace… [pause]… so that together with Salesian missionaries all over the world I may assist in bringing young people to the love of Christ.

Source: Novena to Saint John Bosco – (9 Days of Prayer to Don Bosco) (


God of mercy, you called St. John Bosco to be a father and teacher of the young. Grant us that inspired by his ardent charity that we may serve you alone and never tire of bringing others to your kingdom.

St. John Bosco, Pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – How St. John Bosco’s life was saved by a mysterious dog

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint John Bosco – Priest, Confessor, Founder, “Father and Teacher of Youth”

Anastpaul – St John Bosco “Don Bosco” SDB (1815-1888)

Angelus News – St. John Bosco

Catholic Culture – St. John Bosco

Catholic Exchange – St. John Bosco

Catholic Fire – Saint John Bosco: Hero of Youth

Catholic Ireland – Jan 31 – St John Bosco (1815-1888)

Catholic News Agency – St. John Bosco Feast Day: Jan 31

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint John Bosco

Franciscan Media – Saint John Bosco

Good Catholic – Keep the Devil Away – St. John Bosco Tells You How

Independent Catholic News – St John Bosco

Loyola Press – Saint John Bosco Feast day January 31

My Catholic Life – Saint John Bosco, Priest

Newman Ministry – Saint John Bosco

Salesians – Who are the Salesians?

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint John Bosco’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint John Bosco (1815-1888)

Saint of the Day – January 31 St. John Bosco

Saint Resources – St John Bosco

uCatholic – Saint John Bosco

Wikipedia – John Bosco

Video Link

St. John Bosco – YouTube (Catholic Online)

Saint John Bosco – YouTube (Franciscan Media)