St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians, was born of a poor family near Turin, Italy in 1815. When he was nine he dreamed of an army of youngsters, who first turned into ferocious animals, then into gentle lambs. The Virgin Mary, with her hands on his heads, said "What you have seen happen to these animals, you will have to do with my children. John started gathering children of his town, teaching then catechism and brining them to church. He would often delight them with acrobatics and circus tricks.
He was sixteen when he entered the seminary of Chieri. His parish priest was convinced of his vocation because John was able to repeat word by word all his homilies. After his ordination in 1841, Don Bosco was assigned to Turin, where he energetically worked for prisoners, youth and street children. For them he opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales where they could learn a job and the basics of Christian life. He chose the patron saint for his gentleness, and because in the hall of the house donated by a rich woman of his oratory there was his portrait. In his tireless apostolate, his mother Margaret constantly supported Don Bosco. In his effort to make honest citizens and good Christians, Don Bosco opened workshops for shoemaking, tailoring, and printing. He was also convinced of the power of the mass media that he usually spent half of his might writing books and magazines. His motto was "Give me souls and keep all the rest".
In 1859 he founded the Salesian Society. In 1872, together with St. Mary Magzarello, he founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. To support the work of both congregations, Don Bosco organized the Salesian Cooperators, who followed in their homes the Salesian spirituality. He died in 1888 and was canonized in 1934. Today he is known for being the father of youthful hearts.
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