Saint John Bosco: The Friend of Youth

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St. John Bosco was a priest of the diocese of Turin, Italy, and founder of the Society of St. Francis de Sales. Famous for his kindliness and gentleness, he is a patron of disadvantaged youth because of his caring for children on the streets and juvenile delinquents, whose welfare he made his life's work. Giving them shelter and care, teaching them skills for future employment, and even enticing them with his uncanny magic tricks and juggling skills, Don Bosco was famous as a helper of the poor and needy children created by the Industrial Revolution, as well as a beloved publisher of catechetical works.

He was called to the priesthood at an early age and, through struggle and hard work, obtained the education necessary to be ordained. His life work was among the poor and needy, both young men and women (through the congregations he founded especially). He wrote volumes, including over 220 works, in addition to all the other efforts he made, which included pioneering a method of education that was based on love rather than punishment and guiding the Salesians to become one of the largest religious orders in the world. All of his students grew to love him, and he was ever seen teaching and guiding many youths to greater charity. He died in 1888; his funeral was attended by thousands.

But there was yet far more inside this powerhouse saint than meets the eye. Recorded in his memoirs, St. John Bosco's mystical dreams—provided in this short biography as well—reveal a side of the gentle saint that is scarcely recognizable, taking him squarely from the image of the saint of social welfare to one as a mystical pastor of souls. The dreams—really allegorical visions, and terrible ones—saw him tossing on the waves of the high seas of modernism that roiled and rocked the Barque of the Church, or facing a horrifying, massive snake that was strangled in the rope of the Rosary, or permeating by divine guidance straight to the depths of Hell and back again. Yes, Don Bosco was also a mystic—and an extraordinary one at that. Most of all, Don Bosco's life of service to others, especially the youth, and bringing them to Christ, show this: that the interior life is always the source of exterior action. Here is the life of an underrated and extremely important saint for our times.

F.A. Forbes
TAN Books
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1 Review

  • 5

    Posted by Steven McEvoy on Dec 26th 2023

    This is the first volume I have read by F.A. Forbes. This book is one of the book I have read as part of Father Mark Goring’s Saint Marks School of Reading. It was the book of the month in February of 2023. And Father mark released videos covering 2 chapters every Monday. The chapters in this volume are: Foreword 1. The Making of an Apostle 2. The Mending of a Broken Hope 3. The Tempering of the Steel 4. The Dream Fulfilled 5. A Mighty Enterprise 6. The Ways of a Saint 7. “Ask and You Shall Receive” 8. The Saving Cross 9. The Great Achievement 10. The Spread of the Work About the author One description of this volume is: ““Poor Don Bosco.” It was a pity that such a good young priest was losing his mind. Why he was dreaming about future churches, vast playgrounds, lots of helpers and thousands of boys! Before things got out of hand, why not have him checked out at the lunatic asylum. Therefore, one morning two priests arrived at the Oratory to invited Fr. John Bosco for a drive. He agreed to go, but insisted that they get into the carriage first. Then he slammed the door. “To the asylum, quick!” he called to the coachman—who set off at a gallop. The two priests had plenty of explaining to do at the asylum, and Don Bosco was no longer mentioned. St. John Bosco’s plans were based on the great work which had been foretold to him by Our Lady in his youth. Prophetic dreams and the reading of hearts became ordinary in the life of this extraordinary priest, who was “Father” to so many boys. His method was love, kindness and patience, leading the boys to the practice of frequent Confession and devout Communion. St. John Bosco’s amazing life included attacks by ruffians, harassment by government officials and protection by a huge, mysterious dog. It also included remarkable cures, “miraculous” fundraising episodes, the esteem of Popes and the founding of the Salesian Society. All in all, this is the story of one of the greatest and best-loved Saints in the Church.” another description is: “This TAN Books edition of the “St. John Bosco” F.A. Forbes, features the complete text of the title, along with a supplemental reading section entitled “A Brief Life of Christ.” We’ve also included unique hand-selected classic artwork for the reader’s enjoyment, exclusive to this eBook edition of the “St. John Bosco” from TAN Books. St. John Bosco: Friend of Youth: The story of "The Friend of Youth" is told here in a brief, popular manner for teenagers and adults. A practical joker with a great sense of humor in his youth, St. John Bosco (1815-1888) grew up to become a priest and the founder of the Salesians (the largest order in the Church). Relates the many prophetic dreams he had, how Our Lady called him and helped him to become a priest, his struggles with the devil, and much more! An easy read, and a great book for any Catholic. Imprimatur. A Brief Life of Christ: Absolutely excellent for students and for adult review. Capsulizes the main events and sayings of Our Lord. Map of the Holy Land. A chronological outline. Perfect for a refresher.” As noted this Tan edition also contains A Brief Life of Christ by Fr. Leslie Rumble, which is also available separately as a booklet. The subtitle of the book on the title page is: “1815-1888 The Fiend of Youth Founder of the Salesian Society, Of the Sisters of Mary, Help of Christians, And of the Salesian Co-Operators." This volume was originally published in 1941, and had numerous editions until 1962. In 2000 it was retypeset and republished by TAN Books in cooperation with the Salesian Society. I only highlighted a few sections when reading this volume, In part because I have read two other volumes on Don Bosco. Some of those highlights were: “St. John Bosco, or simply “Don Bosco,” as he wished to be called, spent himself wholly, from his very childhood, in healing modern human miseries. As he saw and foresaw the dangerous surging tide of misled popular masses longing for justice, he threw himself headlong among the youth of the lower classes, pointing to them the only way to a better place in this life and in the life to come.” “Among them was a poor little fellow who had only a hunk of black bread for his breakfast. “I’d like your bread better than mine,” said John one day. “Will you trade?” He had a large slice of good white bread such as Margaret always provided for her children; little Matteo was ready enough to trade, but he thought John had very strange likings. The exchange continued daily, and it was only after many years that it struck Matteo that liking had not had much to do with it.” “During his whole life John Bosco was to be inspired and guided by strangely vivid dreams, God’s revelation of what his work in the world was to be.” Among all the strange episodes in the life of Don Bosco, one of the strangest was the appearance of the dog “Grigio”—a huge grey hound that appeared suddenly at a moment of danger, reappeared on many occasions and disappeared some years later when the danger was over. He asked for neither food nor shelter, was savage as a wolf against an enemy, but gentle as a lamb with the boys of the Oratory, who gave him the name of Grigio—“the grey one.”” As mentioned I have read two other volumes on Dom Bosco, they were: John Bosco - Jennifer Moorcroft - CTS Great Saints Series Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young by Emily Beata Marsh - Encounter the Saints But this volume contained some stories I had not encountered previously and it has some keen insights into this man and his life. It is an excellent biography. About the author we are informed that: “This book was authored by Mother Frances Alice Monica Forbes, a sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Scotland. The future author was born on March 16, 1869 and was named Alice Forbes. Alice’s mother died when she was a child, and her father became the dominant influence in her life, helping to form Alice’s virile personality and great capacity for work. She was raised as a Presbyterian. In 1900 Alice became a Catholic. The Real Presence in the Eucharist had been the big stumbling-block to her conversion, but one day she was hit by the literal truth of Our Lord’s words: “This is My Body.” Only a few months after her conversion, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart, becoming a 31-year-old postulant. She seems to have received her vocation at her First Communion, when Our Lord kindled in her heart “the flame of an only love.” … Mother Frances Alice Monica Forbes wrote many books, including a series of interesting short lives of selected Saints called “Standard Bearers of the Faith.” One of these books, that on Pope St. Pius X, was very highly regarded by Cardinal Merry del Val, who was a close friend of Pope Pius X." Other works by Mother Frances Alice Monica Forbes include St. Ignatius Loyola, St. John Bosco: Friend of Youth, St. Teresa, St. Columba, St. Monica, St. Athanasius, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Benedict, St. Hugh of Lincoln, The Gripfast Series of English Readers and The Gripfast Series of History Readers, various plays, and a number of other books.” There are several other volumes by Mother Forbes I want to read. This is an excellent biography and one I can easily recommend it.