|St. Dominic Savio: April 2, 1842 - March 9, 1857|
Dominic Savio was truly a remarkable young man, one who left a mark on the world far beyond his young age. As remarkable as was the life of Dominic Savio, perhaps even more so was the relationship between Dominic Savio and Don Bosco; as mentor to young Dominic, Don Bosco had a deep fatherly love for the boy and found great inspiration in him.
Dominic's parents were from the area around Turin, in the north of Italy. Charles the father, a blacksmith by trade, and Bridget the mother, were poor hard working people who struggled their whole life to support their family. All the while raising them with true affection to the Catholic faith, Dominic was the second child, the first, also named Dominic died as a baby. Dominic had eight younger brothers and sisters.
At the age of twelve Dominic, a future saint, entered the St. Frances de Sales Oratory in Turin to study under Don Bosco, another future saint, who was at this time making provisions for training youth to help him in his work for neglected boys. Dominic's parish priest had recommended him because he displayed many wholesome qualities and willingness to share these gifts with others.
During his years at Turin, Dominic Savio continued to develop and mature as a teenager. Although he was of average intelligence, Dominic always strived to do his "personal" best. He was noted for his outstanding friendliness and his cheerful attitude toward others. In his day-to-day life situations, he displayed self-discipline, courage, and wisdom. Among his peers he was a leader and a strong witness to Christian values and behavior.
The real beauty of Dominic Savio 's life was in the ordinary, routine tasks as student, helper and friend. In March 1857 Dominic became so sick that he returned home to his family. Consistent with the medicine of the times he was bled to improve his health, and even though the doctor and his family thought he was improving, Dominic knew that his death was at hand. After a visit by his pastor Dominic said, "The passion of Christ will always be on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph assist me in my last agony! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you." He then fell asleep for a short time, awoke and asked his dad to read the prayers for a happy death with him. When the prayers were finished he said, "Good-bye Dad, Good-bye! The Pastor told me something, but I can't remember. Oh, what a beautiful thing I see!"
St. Dominic Savio calls us all to "real life" sainthood. He challenges us with the acceptance of ordinary struggles and tasks; the joys and sorrows of each day. He reminds us that simple actions often speak louder than the most eloquent words. Dominic cared for those around him. He invites us to use, as he did, our own personalities and talents for the building up of our Parish Community. a true giving back to God of ones Time and Talent.
Don Bosco was so impressed by the sincerity of Dominic that shortly after Dominic's death Don Bosco wrote a book about Dominic Savio titled. "The life of Dominic Savio, Pupil of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales." That book was one monthly issue of a series of books published by Don Bosco called, "Catholic Readings." This series of books was cheap to buy and written for the common folk in their own language. Discussing their own religious and social problems of the time. Not only was the small monthly book well received, it was reprinted five times with the final edition being published twenty years later in 1878.
His simple faith and his ability to live that faith took all other priests whom knew Dominic. When he died the comment of his classmates indicated that they realized, even at the time, that someone very special had left their lives.
During his life at the Oratory, Dominic formed the Immaculate Conception Sodality; it was essentially this same group of boys who as young men became the first members of the Congregation of St. Francis de Sales or their more popular name Salesians. Who really founded the Salesians, Dominic Savio or Don Bosco?