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Conquer your friends not with violence but with charity

Saint John Bosco

On April 1, 1934, Pope Pius XI declared Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, also known as John Bosco, to be a saint. Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. John Bosco to be the "Father and Teacher of Youth" in 1934, and he later became the patron saint of students, boys, editors, laborers, and magicians.

After his father passed away when he was 2 years old, John Bosco's mother raised him alone in Becchi, Italy, along with his two older brothers. Despite being born with no silver spoon, John still managed to be inclined to help his family by working as a shepherd and farmer like his father. His economic situation also made it difficult for him to attain a good education. Nonetheless, this does not hinder John from becoming a devout believer in the church. 

The dreams that changed his life had begun appearing at a very young age. At the age of nine, he would dream of a group of children where some of them would talk and curse. When John threatened the boys due to the circumstances, a man would respond, "Conquer these your friends not with violence but with charity." These dreams became his guide for the life he would live after.

Back then, he would watch circus shows and entertainment performing magic tricks and acrobatics with the intent of knowing the tricks up their sleeves. Not long after, John will use these same tricks to entice men to listen to the sermons he learned from Sunday Masses and to pray with him.

At the age of 12, John left his home to look for work. It was around this time that he met Father Joseph Cafasso, a priest who recognized his ability. Father Cafasso helped John get through his studies until he became a priest at the age of 26. 

His first assignment took place in Turin, Italy. Father Cafasso and he actively helped the poor and imprisoned, while also caring for the girls living in the boarding school. It was in prison that he saw a significant number of boys ages 12 to 18 who conflicted with the law. The unfortunate state of these children touched John's heart, and as a result, he made the decision to take care of them by serving as their spiritual father.

Father John initially planned to provide them with a job and purpose in life. He would tirelessly look for a shelter or job for these boys. John would also trade and negotiate with employers to protect these young men from the abuse commonly associated with apprenticeships. He would also often teach them catechism during these times. In a decade, Father John was able to help 800 boys in need with the help of his mother, Mamma Margherita. 

These boys eventually started to follow his steps in assisting the youngsters. A group of seminarians, a high school boy, and a priest founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales, a Salesian Order, in 1859. The Vatican formally approved it in 1869. It aims to continue the charitable work for the young men and to help them with their faith formation. The mission extended its care to girls in 1871 through the establishment of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and in 1874, it further expanded to offer support to lay organizations through the Salesian Cooperators.

Despite the different struggles he encountered in dealing with these “troubled, imprisoned, poor, orphaned, but good-hearted young boys," Saint John Bosco continued to correct and guide them using kindness. This simple act of kindness that he fostered since he was young was able to create a community that has endless love and care for the young. 

Being kind to loved ones has never been so easy. However, offering love and kindness to a nemesis was sometimes a pretty difficult task to accomplish. May everyone reflect on the kindness of Saint John Bosco, despite the challenges that accompany it.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.