20150713 John Bosco, a good student

The young St. John Bosco was treated badly by an elderly teacher in Castelnuovo, Italy, who harboured strong prejudice against people from the town of Becchi. The school was in such chaos that John was convinced he was wasting his time there.
After discussing the matter with his mother, John spent his time there learning to wield hammer and file and to work at the forge. The trades he learned in Castelnuovo would one day come in handy for opening workshops for the poor boys of Turin.
John and his mother, Margaret, decided he would study at Chieri the next year, but this was going to take money he didn’t yet have.
In the summer of 1831, during a celebration in the village of Montafia, a greased pole was erected, and prizes, among them a purse of 20 lire, were offered. Some young men tried to climb the pole but were exhausted halfway and had to slide down empty-handed.
John, however, climbed slowly and calmly. From time to time he would sit on his heels and recover his breath. The people shouted impatiently, but John took no notice of them and kept climbing slowly until he reached the top and got the purse with the 20 lire.
This was helpful, yet not enough for the expenses in Chieri. John had to raise funds. John Bosco would eventually become one of the greatest fundraisers in the 19th century. John said to Margaret, “Mamma, if you agree, I’ll take two bags and make a collection from the families around.”
In October 1831 John went from house to house. “I am Margaret Bosco’s son. I am going to Chieri to study for the priesthood. My mother is poor. Please help me if you can.”
People gave him what they could: eggs, maize, wheat, etc.
One woman went to Castelnuovo to see the parish priest, Father Dassano. She told him it was a shame not to help John, and to compel him to go begging. The parish priest collected a small sum of money and sent it to Margaret.
He also told Margaret about Lucy Matta, a widow who was about to settle in Chieri, who would let John stay at her home. She had a 12-year-old son whose bad behaviour had caused her grief. During his stay at Chieri, John converted the boy by his good example and his counsels.
John, now 16, was studying the equivalent of Grade 6 with students who were 11 or 12. John was so hardworking that in less than two months he was promoted to Grade 7, where he did much better than other students. After two months he was promoted to Grade 8.
One day the Latin teacher was explaining Cornelius Nepos’s life of Agesilaus. John had forgotten to take his Latin book to school. To avoid being noticed by the teacher, he kept his grammar book open in front of him. His classmates noticed. One began nudging his neighbour; another started to giggle.
The teacher inquired what was happening. Everyone was looking at John. The teacher, therefore, asked John to read the Latin text of Cornelius Nepos and to repeat the explanation.
John stood up and, without the text book, managed to repeat from memory both the Latin text and the explanation. The class exploded in applause.
Fearing a loss of discipline, the furious teacher attempted to hit John. But when the teacher was told by another student the reason for the disorder, he was surprised and asked John to recite two more paragraphs.
Then he said, “I forgive you because of your wonderful memory. You are a fortunate person. See that you always make use of it for good.”?

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