St. John Bosco
The Magnet for the Young
John Bosco was born in the summer of 1815 in Becchi, Italy. When John was two, his father died and so his mother struggled to bring up two other boys and her elderly mother in law. Although life was hard, the family was never short of love for one another. John Bosco was a loud, boisterous, young boy, with lots of friends, but his mother sometimes became worried about him when he played with the rough and unruly ones. However, John explained to his mother that whenever they played rough, that he could sort them out with his fists. It makes you wonder how such a violent person could become a saint, but it only really goes to show that John Bosco started as an ordinary person, like you and me.
One morning, John came for his breakfast unusually quiet, he told his family that he had a strange dream and he couldn't quite make sense of it. John dreamt that he was in a large field, surrounded by lambs that turned into beastly wild animals that began to fight amongst each other. As with any fight he saw, John tried to make them stop by hitting them and punching them with his fists, until a man appeared to him and said, " No, not like that, use kindness instead." John Bosco became frustrated and started to cry. The man stretched out his hand and the wild beasts were once more lambs. The way in which the man in John's dream speaks, gives you the idea that it could have been Jesus trying to communicate with John. The man, that might have been Jesus, continues, "Don't cry John. For I have a teacher for you, the lady to whom your mother taught you to pray". The man disappeared and a beautiful woman was in his place, indicating to us that the teacher could be Mary. John Bosco couldn't work out his dream and neither could his brothers. His mother, on the other hand, could have understood the religious message woven into it, because she responded to his dream saying, "Perhaps you'll be a priest".
He no longer took part in the unruly games with rough children; the dream he had had somewhat changed him. Instead, John performed lots of tricks for them on condition that they joined in prayers with him afterwards. But, as John wanted to become a priest, he had to be educated. And so, John, driven by this desire, worked hard for scholarships and he was finally ordained in 1841. However, John Bosco didn't want to become any priest he wanted to be a special one. His great desire was to help young people find God in their lives. In his first few years of priesthood, John achieved what he wanted to do: he made friends with many young people. Most of them were homeless, orphaned or without work and John helped to educate them, especially in religious education, so that they would get to know Jesus and have a special relationship with him. People described John Bosco as a 'magnet for the young'.
At many times throughout his life, John's dream recurred. The reason for this is probably God reminding John of the path he had laid out for him and the work God had planned. But all the while, John Bosco's circle of young people grew, suspicions and hostility crept in as well. Opposition to him grew a lot more when he questioned the social activities of his time. Because of this, it soon became unsafe for John to walk the streets at night by himself. But one night when he did, he was hit on the head and knocked unconscious. His health soon began to fail and later on he died on 31 January 1888. He left them with the final words,
'Tell them I will be waiting for them in paradise...'
Sabrina Johnson, Year 9
St. Michael's Convent School,
Barnet, North London.