On October 25, 1835, Saint John Bosco took the clerical habit in a ceremony at the parish church of Casrelnuovo. On October 30, he entered the seminary. The night before, John was packing the things his mother Margaret had prepared. Margaret kept looking at him as if she had something to say. Suddenly she took John aside and said, “My dear John, you are wearing the cassock now. I am as happy as a mother can be. But remember that it is not so much the habit that makes you a priest, as your virtue. If you were ever to doubt your vocation, for God’s sake, do not disgrace this habit. Take it off immediately. I would rather have a poor famer for a son than a priest who neglects his duties. When you were born, I consecrated you to the Blessed Virgin. When you began to study, I recommend you to love this good Mother of ours. Now I urge you to belong entirely to her; love your friends who are devoted to Mary, and if you ever become a priest, always recommend and promote devotion to Mary.”
By the time she had finished speaking, Margaret was moved. John wept and said, “Mother, I thank you for all you have done for me. I will never forget your words.”
John entered the new seminary of Chieri in the evening of October 30. He would spent six years there. The first thing he saw was a sundial and below it was the inscription: “Time flies slowly for the sad, but quickly for the cheerful.”
John was a hardworking seminarian. He was the first to wake up in the morning, and would read by the window for fifteen minutes before the bell rang for church. If John started reading a book, he would not give up until he finished the whole book. He read not for leisure or curiosity but for knowledge. He would read the Introduction of the book in order to understand the motivation and direction of the author. When he started a new book, he would first read the table of contents in order to have a general idea of the book.
During his six years in seminary, John made good use of time reading books. He would read while in the classroom waiting for the professor or outside during an excursion. John exercised great moderation in eating. He didn’t want to eat too much, so that the food could be digested within twenty minutes after meal and would not hinder his mental works.
One day, John came across the book, The Imitation of Christ. He wrote, “There was more to doctrine and ethics in one single verse of it than in all ponderous volumes of the ancient classics! It is to this book that I owe my breaking away from non-spiritual literature.”
In 1836, John’s good friend, Louis Comollo, entered the seminary. John wrote, “My recreation was frequently interrupted by Comollo. He would grab my sleeve and ask me to come alone to the chapel for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament on behalf of the dying, or to recite the Rosary or Our Lady’s Office for the souls in purgatory.” Louis would advise, correct and comfort John. They were close friend. John admired Louis’ special mortifications. He wrote, “Only in his mortifications did I not attempt to emulate him. To watch a nineteen-year-old young man fast rigorously throughout the entire Lenten season and on other days prescribed by the Church, as well as every Saturday in honor of the Blessed Virgin, to see him skip breakfast frequently, and at times dine on bread and water, to watch him bear insults or injury without ever showing resentment, but excel in every small observance of study and piety, never ceased to amaze me.”