Saint John Bosco faced numerous difficulties and oppositions in his work for the boys. The Marquis Michele di Cavour, vicar of the city and chief of police, demanded Don Bosco to close the oratory. He said, “Don’t you know that it is forbidden to hold meetings without proper authorization?” Don Bosco replied, “My meetings have no political significance but only a religious one. I am only teaching poor boys their catechism with the approval and permission of the archbishop.”
Don Bosco went to inform the archbishop of his interview with Marquis Cavour. The good prelate supported Don Bosco and would not stop his work. The marquis then tried to impose certain conditions which Don Bosco found unacceptable. He wanted to limit the number of boys, to eliminate the older boys, and to prohibit outings and walks in a compact group through the city. Since Don Bosco would not compromise, the marquis sent police to keep a watch on him. Don Bosco treated the police with courtesy and respect. When the boys got familiar with the police, they invited them to play with them. The police were good men. They even helped Don Bosco to look after the boys, listened to his sermons, and knelt with the boys to wait for confession. One after another, the police gave good reports regarding the oratory to the marquis. Eventually the marquis stopped opposing Don Bosco.
In order to keep up the morale of his wandering oratory, Don Bosco shared with the boys his prophetic dreams regarding the future. He spoke of a spacious oratory, of churches, houses, schools, workshops, thousands of boys, and priests. Don Bosco talked that way because he knew that future events would prove how true his words and aspirations were. He had told his dreams to St. Joseph Cafasso and sought his advice. Cafasso said, “Go ahead. You may quite safely give special significance to these dreams. I am convinced they are for God’s greater glory and the welfare of souls.” The boys talked about his dreams at home and at work, but other people began to believe that Don Bosco had gone mad.
One day Don Bosco’s close friend and helper, Fahter Borel, suggested him to reduce the size of the oratory. Don Bosco refused and insisted he would gather them in an oratory. When Father Borel asked about the location of the oratory, Don Bosco said, “For me this is no problem! I see a church, a building, and a playground. It is real and I can see it.” Father Borel then asked, “Where are all these things?” Don Bosco replied, “I can’t tell you exactly now, but they certainly do exist. I can see them and they will be ours.” Father Borel sighed, “Poor Don Boco! Truly his mind is gone.” Later on, Don Bosco dispelled Father Borel’s anxiety by confiding to him how more than once God and the Blessed Virgin had shown him in vision that the Valdocco area would be the birthplace of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales and of the religious congregation which he intended to found.
The rumors were so bad, that two priest friends of Don Bosco decided to bring him to a mental hospital. They invited Don Bosco for a ride. They opened the door of a carriage and invited Don Bosco to get in. But Don Bosco knew their intention and insisted that they went in first. After they got in the carriage, Don Bosco banged the door shut and ordered the coachmen: “To the mental hospital, quick! They are waiting for them.”
The nurses at the mental hospital were expecting one priest. They found two priests and confined them. The chaplain of the hospital had to intervene before the two poor priests could be set free!