07 Father and Teacher of Youth - Fr. Ian Doulton

posted Jan 22, 2019, 2:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 22, 2019, 2:03 AM ]

St John Bosco (1815-1888)

On August 16, 1815, a British warship was carrying a conqueror to a bleak island in the South Atlantic. There he was to be held, like some great caged eagle, till death came. This inhospitable island was St Helena, and the prisoner was called 'The Little Corporal'. Europe and America were following in imagination the last voyage of this prisoner—some with relief in their hearts; some with sorrow; some with the wounds of Waterloo still healing; some with widowed and orphaned bitterness; for such a conqueror leaves a trail of blood and woe, whether his ambition leads him to victory or defeat.

As glory was fading in the western skies, that same evening of August 16, 1815, another babe was being born in a poor suburb of Turin, Italy. Thus unheralded, coming on the stage of life was one who was destined to do greater things for his fellow men than Napoleon Bonaparte. The farmer folk in this poor suburb of Castelnuovo d'Asti-Becchi knew the next day that a boy child had come to the humble home of Francis and Margaret Bosco. There were already two boys there; Anthony, who was Margaret Bosco's stepson, a toddling two-year-old Joseph and now, the new baby. Francis and Margaret pondered over a suitable name for their youngest, and they hit upon a happy choice; they called the baby after the youngest apostle whom Jesus loved exceedingly. So a few days later, in the parish church, a new child of God was held over the baptismal font, and the pastor christened him John - John Melchior Bosco.

And that was John Bosco - who would also go on to be a conqueror. By the peaceful ways of Christ, he would become the Beloved Apostle of Youth. All the days of his long life, he saw his world through the gentle eyes of Jesus and his dear Mary, Help of Christians. He also cherished high ambitions. He dreamed dreams, and he saw them become splendid realities. His life's work was not to conquer men and bend them to his will. No mother ever cursed his name for leaving her son pale and horrible on some European battlefield. But many a mother brought her son to his side, and many a motherless boy came to his shelter and there learned to bless the day that he had come under the influence of this 'Father of Orphans'.