John Bosco


Feast Day: January 31
Canonized: April 1, 1934
Beatified: June 2, 1929
Venerated: July 24, 1907

People need work so that they can buy food and clothes and pay for a place to live. They need God so that they will be happy. John (Giovanni) Bosco was a priest who tried to teach poor children how to work and how to love God.

John was born in 1815 in Becchi, Italy. His father died when John was only 2. But his mother gave him lots of love. She also taught him to love God and others. He worked as a shepherd in his early years, but had such a love of learning that he was sent to study at the seminary. In 1841 he was ordained a priest.

John was a priest, but he became a "father" to thousands of children. How did he do that? He started a school for poor boys, many of whom he met when he visited their parents in prison as part of his priestly work. These boys lived in the prisons, too, or on the streets. Father Bosco wanted something more for them. So he started a school where they could eat and sleep safely. He taught them about music. They also learned how to make shoes and clothes and books. When these boys grew up, they could get jobs.

John also taught the boys about God’s love for them, so when they grew up the boys lived good lives. Later, John began a similar school for poor girls.

Because so many boys and girls needed love and care, John needed other adults to help him. So John started the Salesians—a group of priests that helped boys—and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians—a group of nuns that helped girls. Even his mother, Margaret, came to help him with his work. (The Salesian name came from his devotion to St. Francis de Sales.) In 1875, he sent his first group of missionaries to the Americas.

By the time John died in 1888, at the age of 73, many women and men were caring for "his" children, and there were 250 Salesian houses. People soon called for him to be made a saint. He was canonized in 1934.

Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 2, chapter 20
Grade 4, chapter 12
Grade 5, chapter 18 

Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 5, unit 3