Saint of the Day, January 31: St. John Bosco, 1815 – 1888
Patron Saint of: Boys, Editors, Youth, Dreamer of Prophetic Dreams and Founder of the Salesian Order.
He died in 1888, at the age of seventy-two.
St. John Bosco loved teaching his boys. He strove to teach through preventative action, with happiness and laughter. In his last days, he said,
“Tell the boys I shall be waiting for them in Paradise!”
John Bosco’s theory of education was progressive and modern, even for today. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in healthy, supportive surroundings . He educated the whole person—body and soul. He understood that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play.
John was a dreamer of prophetic dreams from the age of nine. Although he was ridiculed and almost committed to an insane asylum by two friends who thought he was mentally ill, John found God’s wisdom and direction in them. He reminds us too listen to our dreams and not to dismiss them because God has always spoken to people’s hearts through their subconscious. Often I am preoccupied during the day but when I am sleeping, then the Holy Spirit has a chance to teach my heart through images, symbols and dreams. Keep a journal and value God’s messages by listening, pondering and praying about them.
Pius IX even ordered him to, “Write down these dreams and everything else you have told me, minutely and in their natural sense.” Pius IX saw John’s dreams as a legacy and inspiration for those John worked with.
The image of this dream is powerful and has always stayed with me. On May 30, 1862, Don Bosco recounted that in a dream he had seen an immense sea on which a great many ships were arranged for battle against a larger and taller ship. He also saw others that were defending the tall ship. These are Don Bosco’s words as taken from volume VII of the Biographical Memioirs:
“In the midst of this endless sea, two solid columns, a short distance apart, soar high into the sky. One is surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin, at whose feet a large inscriptions reads:” ‘Auxilium Christianorum’ (‘Help of Christians’) . The other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a Host of proportionate size, and bears beneath it the inscription: ‘Salus credentium’ (‘Salvation of believers’).
“The flagship commander – the Roman Pontiff- standing at the helm, strains every muscle to steer his ship between the two columns, from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains. The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on it course. At times, a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole in its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.
“Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up; firearms and beaks fall to pieces; ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury, the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up, but struck a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy, and wild rejoicing seeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope’s death coincides with that of his successor’s election. The enemy’s self-assurance wanes.
“Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host, and then the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point, something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other.
“Some auxiliary ships, which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship, are the first to tie up at the two columns. Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves. Then they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship. A great calm now covers the sea.”