Saint Dominic Savio


Confessor
(1842-1857)

Saint Dominic Savio was born in Riva di Chieri, Italy, on April 2, 1842. He looked so frail and weak on the morning of his birth that his father rushed him that same evening to the parish church for Baptism. But Dominic survived and began serving Mass when he was five years old, one of his greatest joys. He was often seen at five o'clock in the morning in front of the church on his knees in rain or snow, waiting for the doors to be opened. On the occasion of his First Holy Communion he made the resolution to die rather than sin, as he had frequently expressed his determination and ambition to become a Saint.

The village pastor at Mondonio, recognizing in Dominic a soul of predilection, arranged to have him enter Don Bosco's Oratory at Turin. Don Bosco soon noted Dominic's consuming quest for sanctity, and pointed out to the boy that the path to holiness is not necessarily among hair shirts and tortures of the flesh, but in the cheerful bearing and offering of each day's small crosses. Steering the lad away from artificial practices, his loved master showed him that for a soul avid of penance, there is a superabundance to be had for the taking, through acceptance of the monotony and tribulations inseparable from the perfect fulfillment of the duties of one's state of life.

After a few months of life in the environment of the Oratory and under the saintly care of Saint John Bosco, Dominic's soul was fired with the zeal of his master, whose rule of life, Give me souls, Lord; You take the rest, the boy adopted for his own. Following the example of Don Bosco, who in season and out of season sought those souls wherever they were to be found, Dominic also went after them in his own little world. In the Oratory he founded and directed the Immaculate Conception Sodality, a group of boys who by prayer, word and example carried on an apostolate among their classmates and proved to be of valuable assistance to Don Bosco in his work.

On one occasion Dominic broke up a vicious duel with stones. Standing between the boy-duelists with dramatic suddenness, he flashed a crucifix and said: This is Friday. Today Christ died for love of us. Can you look at Him and still hate each other?

When Dominic's health began to fail he was forced to leave the Oratory. Don Bosco and the boys were very sorry to see him leave; he had been a good friend to all. Don Bosco said of him: His cheerful character and lively disposition made him extremely popular even among those boys who were no great lovers of their faith. His death at his home on March 9, 1857, was sweet and peaceful. Pope Pius XII canonized him in June, 1954.

Reflection. Death rather than sin! That cry from the soul of Dominic is now, thanks to Don Bosco, resounding across the rude battlefields of teen-age purity, seeking echoes in young and generous hearts.

Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year (Reprint of the work of John Gilmary Shea, with Appendix including recently canonized Saints) (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1955. Third Edition: Tan Books and Publishers: Rockford, Ill., 1995).

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