John Bosco, the “Father and Teacher of Youth,” also known as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco or Don Bosco, was born in Becchi, Italy, on August 16, 1815.

As a young boy, John attended church and became very devout.

When he was 9, John had the first of several vivid dreams that would influence his life.

In his dream, he encountered boys playing. Among these boys, he saw a great, majestic man and woman. The man told him that in meekness and charity, he would “conquer these your friends.” The lady said, “Be strong, humble and robust. When the time comes, you will understand everything.”

Not long afterward, John witnessed a traveling troupe of circus performers. He realized if he learned their tricks, he could use them to attract others and hold their attention.

One evening, John staged a show for the kids he played with. At the end of the show, he recited a homily and invited his neighbors to pray with him.

This led him to recognize the call to become a priest.

In 1835, he entered the seminary and after six years of study and preparation, he was ordained a priest.

His first assignment was to the city of Turin. John, now known as Fr. Bosco, went off to work with the poor children.

He started to meet with the boys where they worked and played to help them from ending up in the deplorable prisons.

He sought work and housing for the boys who needed it.

By the 1860s, Fr. Bosco and his mother, known as “Mamma Margherita,” were responsible for lodging 800 boys.

Fr. Bosco identified boys he felt would make good priests and encouraged them to consider a vocation to the priesthood.

In 1859, Fr. Bosco established the Society of St. Francis de Sales.

John Bosco died on January 31, 1888. He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI.

Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. His feast day is celebrated on January 31.

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