One of the best students of St. John Bosco is St. Dominic Savio. Dominic was born on April 2, 1842 in the village of Riva near Chieri, Italy. He knew his prayers by heart at the age of four and started altar serving at the age of five. He loved to serve Mass everyday and the parish priest allowed Dominic to receive first Communion at the age of seven.
As the day of his first Communion drew near, Dominic wrote down four resolutions:
- I will go to Confession and Communion as often as my confessor will allow.
- I will sanctify Sundays and holy days in a special way.
- Jesus and Mary will be my friends.
- Death but not sin.
At ten years old, Dominic had to walk twelve miles to and from school every day. On one very hot day an elderly man asked him, “Aren’t you afraid to walk so far alone on this country road?” Dominic replied, “I’m not alone, I have my guardian angel with me. ” The old man then said, “But surely you find the journey long and tiresome in this very hot weather!” Dominic said, “I work for a Master who pays well.” The old man asked, “And who is your master?” Dominic replied, “God is my master.”
Once a classmate of Dominic committed a serious offense and falsely accused Dominic of the offence. The teacher gave Dominic a severe scolding before the whole class. Dominic made no reply but stood in silence bowing his head. A few days later the boy who was actually guilty was discovered, and the teacher asked Dominic why he had not defended himself. Dominic said, “I knew that the other boy was in trouble for other things. I remembered how Our Lord had been unjustly accused, and I hoped that if I kept silence he would be given another chance.”
In the early October of 1854, Dominic met Don Bosco. Dominic asked him, “Father, will you take me to Turin with you to the Oratory to study?” Don Bosco exclaimed, “Well, you look like good material to me!” Dominic inquired, “Good material, Father? Good for what?” Don Bosco answered, “To make a beautiful garment for the Lord, son.” Dominic then said, “Then take me with you, Father. You can be the tailor, and I’ll be the cloth. Make me into a beautiful garment for Our Lord.”
On the second Sunday of Lent in 1855, Don Bosco was preaching to the boys about holiness. He said, “Everyone is called to be a saint”. Dominic became quiet and looked worry. One day Don Bosco asked him, “Dominic, do you feel alright?” Dominic replied, “I am fine, Don Bosco! I have been thinking about your sermon last Sunday. From now on, I am going to be very serious about becoming a saint.” Don Bosco explained, “Dominic, say your prayers devoutly. Perform all your duties exactly, and above all be cheerful. The Lord loves a cheerful giver.”
At first, Dominic didn’t understood what Don Bosco meant. He tried to imitate the penance he read from the lives of the saints and put pieces of wood or small stones on his bed. The dormitory monitor discovered and told Don Bosco about it. Don Bosco said to Dominic, “The way to be a saint, Dominic, is to be always cheerful, do your duties to the best of your ability, and give your classmates good example. Keep in mind that the Lord, Jesus is always with you and wants your happiness.”
Dominic said, “I can’t do big things but I want everything to be for the glory of God.” He did not complain about the food or the weather, but bore all suffering cheerfully. He also practiced custody of his eyes and tongue.