March 9, 2017

Saint Dominic Savio, Student of Don Bosco

Saint Dominic Savio

March 10th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Dominic Savio (1842 - 1857), the 19th century boy-saint. This brilliant student noted for his personal piety, died at the age of fifteen. He was one of the great hopes of Saint John Bosco for the future of his congregation. Dominic was canonized in 1954.

He was one of ten children of Carlo and Birgitta Savio. Carlo was a blacksmith and Birgitta was a seamstress. When Don Bosco was looking for young men to train as priests for his Salesian Order, his parish priest suggested Dominic Savio. Dominic became more than a credit to Don Bosco's school — he single-handedly organized those who were to be the nucleus of Don Bosco's order.

St. Dominic Savio was twelve when he met Don Bosco and organized a group of boys into the Company of the Immaculate Conception. Besides its religious purpose, the boys swept, took care of the school and looked after the boys that no one seemed to pay any attention to. When, in 1859, Don Bosco chose the young men to be the initial members of his congregation, all of them had been members of Dominic's Company.

For all that, Dominic was a normal, high-spirited boy who sometimes got into trouble with his teachers because he often broke out laughing. However, he was generally well disciplined and gradually won the respect of other boys in school.

In other circumstances, Dominic might have become a little self-righteous snob, but Don Bosco showed him the heroism of the ordinary and the sanctity of common sense. "Religion must be about us as the air we breathe," Don Bosco would say, and Dominic Savio wore holiness like the clothes on his back.

He called his long hours of prayer "his distractions." In 1857, at the age of fifteen, he caught tuberculosis and was sent home to recover. On the evening of March 9, he asked his father to say the prayers for the dying. His face lit up with an intense joy and he said to his father: "I am seeing most wonderful things!"

He was canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 12, 1954. Saint Dominic Savio is the youngest non-martyr to be canonized in the history of the Church. He is the patron of choir boys, the falsely accused and juvenile delinquents among others. Almighty God, who have given us in Saint Dominic Savio a model for God-fearing Christians who died prematurely, humanly speaking, but attained great spiritual wisdom and deep insight into the ways of God, grant us, we pray, that same understanding. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Adapted Excerpt from The One Year Book of Saints by Father Clifford Stevens.

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