20151116 A devoted mother


Mamma Margaret helped her son, St. John Bosco, to look after the oratory. Her name day fell in November and the evening before, Don Bosco would lead the boys to the kitchen to present her with a bouquet of flowers. The boys also recited prose and poetry in her honor. Afterward, Margaret would thank them in a few words: “Well! Well! I thank you even if what I do is hardly worth mentioning. Don Bosco is the one who does everything. But I am grateful for your good wishes and the nice things you have said, and if Don Bosco has no objection, tomorrow I’ll have something extra for you at dinner.”

Margaret practice the virtue of poverty. She often said, “I was born poor and I want to live and die poor.” When she visited the homes of benefactors, she always dressed in peasant’s garb. She said, “These people know I’m poor, so they’ll forgive the coarseness of my clothes.” As time went by, her dress would become faded.

One day Don Bosco said, “Mamma, why don’t you buy yourself another dress? You’ve been wearing that one for years!”

Margaret replied, “Well now! What’s wrong with it?” Don Bosco said, “What’s wrong with it? It is not even halfway decent anymore. It’s terribly shabby. Count Giriodi and Marchioness Fassati often call on you and it’s not right to receive them in that dress. Street sweepers wear better clothes!”

Don Bosco gave Margaret twenty lire to buy a new dress. She accepted the money and went about her chores. After a whole month, Margaret was still wearing the same dress. Don Bosco asked her about the new dress and the twenty lire. Margaret said, “Oh, I’ve spent that already. I needed salt, sugar, onions, and other things. Then I saw a boy who didn’t have shoes, so I just had to buy him a pair. There was still some change left over, so I bought a pair of trousers for so-and-so, and a tie for someone else.”

Don Bosco replied, “Well, you did right, I suppose, but I can’t bear to see you dressed like that. It reflects on me!” He then gave Margaret another twenty lire. But it was the same thing again; Margaret used the money to buy things for the boys.

Margaret was a woman of prayer. She attended daily Mass and received Communion frequently. She loved to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and recite the rosary. Often she had to interrupt an Our Father or a Hail, Holy Queen to advise one boy or to give an order to another, or to issue a warning to a third.

Margaret kept prayerful contact with God throughout the day. If there were people around, she would whisper her prayers softly, but when she was alone, she would prayed aloud. Sometimes she prayed for hours at a time. From his room, Don Bosco could hear Margaret praying and sometimes, in order to divert her attention a little, he would call out, “Are you arguing with somebody, Mamma?” Margaret would reply,” Oh, not at all! I’m just praying for our boys and benefactors.”

One time the boys played a game of war, and they trampled on the garden of Margaret and destroyed everything. Margaret couldn’t take it anymore. She said to Don Bosco, “John, I am tired. Let me go back to Becchi. I work from morning to night, I am a poor woman and those wild boys ruin everything. I really can’t bear it any longer.” Don Bosco responded by simply pointing to the crucifix on the wall. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she said, “You are right, of course”. She gathered up her apron, and from that moment on, no further complaint was ever heard from her.

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