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The Life of Dominic Savio
Translated from the original work of the Venerable Servant of God, John Bosco 1914

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Nihil Obstat: F. Thomas Bergh, O.S.B., Censor Deputatis.
Imprimatur: Petrus, Episcopus Southwarcensis.


Author's Preface
Chapter I - Early Life and Signs of Extraordinary Gifts.
Chapter II - Examples of Youthful Virtue at Murialdo. His Early Days at School.
Chapter III - Dominic is Allowed to Make His First Communion Before the Usual Age. Preparation for the Important Day. His Resolutions.
Chapter IV - Dominic's School Career at Castelnuovo d'Asti. Trials and Difficulties. His Treatment of Evil Council. His Master's Encomium.
Chapter V - Dominic's School-Life at Mondonio. His Conduct Under a Calumnious Charge.
Chapter VI - My First Meeting with Dominic Savio. Some Curious Incidents Connected With It.
Chapter VII - Dominic Comes to the Oratory of St. Francis of Sales. His Manner of Life.
Chapter VIII - His Studies at the Oratory. His Conduct at School. His Dealings with Quarrels and Special Dangers.
Chapter IX - Dominic Forms the Resolution of Striving After Perfection.
Chapter X - Zeal for the Salvation of Souls.
Chapter XI - Various Incidents. His Attractive Manner with His Companions.
Chapter XII - His Spirit of Prayer. His Devotion to the Holy Mother of God. The Month of May.
Chapter XIII - His Frequentation and Devout Reception of the Sacraments.
Chapter XIV - His Mortifications.
Chapter XV - The Mortification of His External Senses.
Chapter XVI - The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception.
Chapter XVII - Dominic's Intimate Associates.
Chapter XVIII - Dominic Savio and John Massiglia.
Chapter XIX - Special Graces Granted to Dominic. Some Particular Incidents.
Chapter XX - Dominic's Ideas About Dying and His Preparation for a Happy Death.
Chapter XXI - Dominic's Interest in the Sick. He had to Leave the Oratory for Change of Air. His Parting Words.
Chapter XXII - The Progress of his Illness. He Receives the Last Sacraments. Edifying Incidents.
Chapter XXIII - His Last Moments and Holy Death.
Chapter XXIV - The News of His Death. Remarkable Testimony.
Chapter XXV - The Influence of Dominic's Virtues. Favours Received. A Recommendation.
Appendix - Certain Graces Obtained from God Through the Intercession of Dominic Savio.
The Life of Dominic Savio


"Let us leave a saint to write the life of a saint," is said to have been the exclamation of the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, when he entered the cell of his brother doctor, St. Bonaventure, and found him absorbed in writing the life of his spiritual father, St. Francis.

The peculiar value of the present little book is that it may be said once more to present the spectacle of a saint writing the life of a saint. Only whereas in St. Bonaventure's case a son was writing the life of a father, in this case we have the unique example of a father writing the life of his spiritual son. The writer, the saintly Don Bosco, has already been declared Venerable, and the process for his Beatification is proceeding in Rome.

Little Domenico Savio, whose biography was originally published by Don Bosco very shortly after the holy child's death, was, as will be seen, Don Bosco's spiritual child, and it is a subject of great joy to all his admirers that his cause also has at last been introduced at Rome with the approval of the Holy See.

The publication of this English translation of the life, may, please God, contribute not a little to the successful issue of the cause of his beatification.

There are reasons why the life of Domenico Savio should be considered particularly appropriate at the present day, and also why it should appeal especially to English Catholics.

As will be seen from the narrative which follows, the boyhood of Domenico to some extent coincided with that of our present Holy Father [Pope Pius X], there were less than seven years between the times of their birth, and in many respects the early years of the one were like those of the other.

Both were sons of humble peasant families in the North of Italy; both as boys had to trudge many miles barefooted day by day to attend school; both were distinguished by identical qualities of mind and soul.

More than this. The boy Giuseppe Sarto of Riese was destined to become "the Pope of the Eucharist," and no acts of his wonderful Pontificate have more profoundly influenced the spiritual life of the Catholic Church than his legislation on daily Communion and on the first Communion of children on arriving at the use of reason.

Now it is a remarkable fact that the childhood of Domenico Savio anticipated these profound reforms, inasmuch as, owing to his extraordinary sanctity, he was as early as 1849 admitted to his first Communion at the age of seven, and continued thereafter to be a daily Communicant.

At that date such an event must indeed have appeared phenomenal and seems to constitute Domenico a most suitable patron for the juvenile first communicants and daily communicants of the present discipline.

Nor is this all. Domenico Savio, whom we all hope to see one day raised to the Altars of the Church, died as a schoolboy and when not yet fifteen years of age. He was not a Religious of any Order, he was not a Cleric, nor even as yet a church student, though hoping one day to become one; he was just an ordinary schoolboy, fond of his games, as well as of his books. Herein again we seem to see a peculiarly appropriate patron for all Catholic school children, for Domenico may be truly said to be one of themselves, and in these days of educational strife and danger such a patron is more than ever needed by our Catholic schools.

Last of all we cannot but be struck by the extraordinary fact of Domenico's interest in England, as mentioned in chapter ten, and his wonderful vision narrated in chapter nineteen. As far as I know, there is nothing to show why this little Italian schoolboy should have felt any interest in England, or indeed how he came to know anything about it. It reminds one of the case of St. Paul of the Cross, except that it is a much more wonderful phenomenon in the case of a mere child. For this reason I feel specially pleased to see the life in an English dress, and I sincerely trust that the book may have a wide circulation in English speaking countries, and that all readers, and specially the children of our schools, may join in earnest prayer for the promotion of the cause of one whom we may hope some day to acclaim as "the Schoolboy Saint."

Bishop of Salford
St. Bede's College, May 6th, 1914.

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Author's Preface

You have frequently asked me to write something about your former companion, Dominic Savio; and now I have done what I could to satisfy your desire. Here is his life, described with that brevity and simplicity which I know is most acceptable to you.

There were two difficulties in the way of publishing this work; first there was the criticism to which one is exposed, who describes what was performed under the eyes of many witnesses. I think I have overcome this by determining to narrate only what has been observed by you or by myself, and which I keep preserved in your own writing.

The other obstacle was the necessity of often mentioning myself, for as Dominic was three years in this House, I must necessarily refer to things with which I am personally connected. This I think I have overcome by adhering strictly to the duty of an historian, which is to present the statement of facts, irrespective of the persons concerned. But if, here and there, I should appear to speak too openly of myself, you must put it down to my regard for the boy who has gone, and for all of you besides; for this affection makes me open my heart to you, as a father does when speaking to his children.

Some of you may wonder why I have prepared a Life of Dominic Savio, and not of other youths who were here at school, and lived lives of eminent virtue. It is quite true that Divine Providence deigned to send us several boys who were examples of holiness, such as Gabriel Fascio, Louis Rua, Camillus Gavio, John Massiglia and others; but the incidents connected with these are not so conspicuous and remarkable as those of Savio, whose whole life was wonderful. However, if God gives me health and grace, I intend to publish a collection of facts concerning these other companions, both to satisfy your desires and my own, and so that you may imitate what may be compatible with your state. In this edition I have inserted several new accounts, which will increase the interest of those who have read the former editions.

But I would ask you to try to draw profit from what I am going to describe; say with St. Augustine: si ille, cur non ego? If a companion of mine, of my age and circumstances, exposed to the same or even greater difficulties, could yet remain a faithful disciple of Christ, why cannot I do the same? Remember that true religion is not a matter of words; there must be deeds. Hence, if you find something related worthy of admiration, do not be satisfied with saying: I like that, or that is very good; but rather say: I want to put into practice what I see is praiseworthy in others.

May God grant you, and all the readers of this book, strength and grace to draw profit from what is therein contained; and may Our Blessed Lady, to whom Dominic was so devout, obtain for us all one heart and mind in serving God, who alone is worthy of being loved above all things, and faithfully served during our whole life.
Chapter I Early Life and Signs of Extraordinary Gifts.

About ten miles from Turin, in the north of Italy, lies the village of Castelnuovo d'Asti, and there in 1841 lived a good, hardworking couple, Charles and Bridget Savio. About that time, however, there was scarcity of labour in the neighbourhood, and they accordingly moved away in the direction of Chieri, which is about nine miles south-east of Turin; and, having settled at the little township of Riva, Charles Savio applied himself to his trade of an ironworker. On April 2nd of the next year, 1842, a child was born, who was to prove a blessing and consolation to his parents; he was given the name of Dominic at baptism, and though no particular importance was attached to the name at the time, the boy, in later years, held it in particular esteem, as there will be occasion to learn.

When the boy was scarcely two years of age, his parents decided to return to their former neighbourhood, and they settled at Murialdo, which is quite close to their early home at Castelnuovo. Like devoted parents, the careful upbringing of their boy was their chief solicitude, and, considering his tender years, Dominic soon displayed an excellent disposition, and piety seemed to be part of his very nature. Morning and evening prayers at once impressed themselves on his childish mind, and at four years of age he could recite them all quite readily; he was always attentive to his mother's wishes, and only left her to say his prayers in some quiet corner, where he was undisturbed.

In the unreflecting manner, natural to them, children are generally a source of worry and disturbance to their mothers; it is the age when they must touch and examine and often taste everything they come across; but Dominic's parents testify that he never gave the least trouble in this way. He was not only obedient to the smallest point, but ready for any expression of a wish, and tried to forsee opportunities of doing them some little service. He was quite above the average in his appreciation for his parents' kindness, and he had his own method of expressing it, particularly as his father returned from his day's work. He always ran out to meet him, hoped he was not too tired, and promised to pray for him in return for all his labours. So saying, he would enter the house, place his father's chair ready, and attend to all his wants. "This childish appreciation and thoughtfulness," says his father, "were naturally very welcome to me, and as evening drew nigh I began to feel a particular longing to get home, to receive and give these marks of affection; for the boy was everything to me."

Day by day the child's piety increased, and from the time that he was four years of age, there was no need to remind him of his prayers, whether morning or evening or at meals, or at the time of the Angelus; in fact he would even remind others, should they appear to forget them. One day some distraction occurred as they were sitting down to dinner, and grace before meals was forgotten; but little Dominic was too attentive: "Father," he said, "We have not yet asked God's blessing on our food," and he straightway made the Sign of the Cross and began the usual prayer.

At another time a stranger was staying in the house, and he sat down to his meal without any act of religion. Dominic did not like to speak of it openly, yet he was too much moved to remain at the table, and went to one of his quiet corners. When he was questioned about this unusual proceeding by his parents, he replied: "I could not remain at table with one who eats as do the beasts without a thought of God."
Chapter II Examples of Youthful Virtue at Murialdo. His Early Days at School.

It is a common thing to find people who are incredulous on the subject of youthful piety, and therefore it would be well to state at the outset that, for the following account, the writer is drawing directly from the narrative of the parish priest of the district in which Murialdo lay. In his written account he states:

"Soon after I had been appointed to Murialdo, and had commenced my duties, my notice was drawn in a special manner to a little boy of about five years of age who was brought by his mother to the church. His gentle countenance, his air of composure, his whole demeanour so devout and attractive, drew my attention to him, as they had already drawn the notice of others. When he had learnt the way to church, he would sometimes arrive there before the doors were opened; however, it did not suggest itself to him to spend the interval in play, as doubtless other boys would have done, but he used to kneel down on the steps, place himself in an attitude of prayer and remain thus till the church was opened. Neither rain nor snow seemed to affect him in any way when he was thus occupied. It was therefore very natural that I should be curious to make the acquaintance of this extraordinary child, and I found that he was none other than the little son of the blacksmith, Charles Savio.

If he ever saw me in the street he immediately made a respectful and joyful salutation, and always anticipated my greeting. It was about this time that he commenced to attend the parish school, and his already acquired habits of diligence and of taking pains with everything, soon showed their effect in his rapid progress. He had, of course, to mix with the young and thoughtless boys of his own age, but he always managed to avoid their little quarrels and disputes, although this at times brought upon him taunts and insults, which he bore with remarkable courage and patience. The usual boyish, but by no means praiseworthy, tricks and escapades were part of the usual programme of his companions, but Dominic generally found means for being otherwise employed when these were in progress.

The little habits of piety already described increased with the growing years of his boyhood, and developed in proportion as he had scope for its practice. At five years of age he had already learnt to serve Mass and did so with great devotion. He went in good time every day to the church, and, dearly as he loved to serve, he was ready to yield the privilege to others if they wished to do so, in which case he assisted with great devotion. He often went to Confession, and as soon as he was allowed to make his First Communion he did so with fervour and delight. At the sight of so many signs of unusual piety I often used to think to myself: 'Here surely is a boy of great promise; God grant that some means may be found to bring such rare gifts to maturity.'" . . . Such was the narrative of the parish priest of Murialdo, who had watched over the childhood of this gifted boy.
Chapter III - Dominic is Allowed to Make His First Communion Before the Usual Age. Preparation for the Important Day. His Resolutions.

IT was remarked in the foregoing chapter that Dominic showed exceptional piety when he Approached the Holy Table, but there were important circumstances connected with his First Communion that call for consideration. As far as dispositions are concerned, Dominic appeared to have the most excellent ones; he knew the necessary catechism thoroughly; he had a clear knowledge, considering his years, of this the greatest of the Sacraments, and moreover, his desire to receive it was eager and constant. The only obstacle, therefore, was his age, for at that time, children were usually not allowed to make their First Communion before they were eleven or twelve. Savio was only a boy of seven, and he hardly looked his few years, so that the parish priest hesitated. He consulted the neighbouring priests, and having carefully considered the the boy's knowledge and dispositions, all doubt and hesitation were finally swept aside, and Dominic was allowed to partake, for the first time, of the food of angels.

The boy could not repress his delight when he was told this good news, and a supernatural joy seemed to take possession of his soul. He ran to his mother to tell her; he was eager to spend more time in prayer, or in reading the instructions for Holy Communion; he spent more time than ever at church, before and after Mass; he seemed to be already communing with the angels in adoration. On the eve of the great event in his life, he said to his mother: "As I am going to make my First Communion tomorrow, forgive me the pain I have caused you in the past; from now I shall be much better; I shall be more attentive at school, and more obedient in whatever you tell me to do." His sorrow for what he imagined to be his past faults so moved him as to fill his eyes with tears; and the mother, deeply touched, as was natural, at these pious dispositions in her boy, and remembering that in the past he had been a continual source of consolation to her, comforted him by saying: "Put your fears away, my child, whatever you may have done is all forgiven; pray that God may keep you good, and pray for your father and mother."

When that memorable day dawned, he rose early, and long before the time set off for the church, which he found still shut. He knelt down on the step, as was his wont, and said his prayers, till the doors were opened to admit the children, who by this time had gathered together. There were still some confessions to be heard, so that, allowing for preparation and thanksgiving, and the Mass and discourse, the function of the First Communion was a matter of hours. Dominic had been the first to arrive to offer his salutation to God; he was the last to retire after his thanksgiving. The whole period had been for him one of abstraction from things of earth, and of contact with the things of heaven.

Later on, when any reference was made to his First Communion day, his face would light up with joy, as he exclaimed: "That was indeed a day of happy remembrances for me:" It was a sort of re-commencement of a life which might serve as a model to all. In his little book of devotions he wrote down some resolutions, which I have been able to transcribe with all their original and direct simplicity, and their introduction in diary form:

Quote:"Resolutions made by me, Dominic Savio, in the year 1849, on the day of my First Communion, at the age of seven.

1. I will go to Confession often, and as frequently to Holy Communion as my confessor allows.

2. I wish to sanctify the Sundays and festivals in a special manner.

3. My friends shall be Jesus and Mary.

4. Death rather than sin.

These resolutions were not simply written out and then put carefully away; he read them very often, and they were a guide to him throughout his life.

If among the readers of this little work there should chance to be some who are yet to make their First Communion, I would strongly urge them to follow young Savio as their model. But in particular, fathers and mothers, and those who exercise any authority over the young, should attach the greatest importance to this religious act; for a First Communion that is well made constitutes a solid moral foundation for the whole future life; and it would be indeed surprising if this solemn act, when worthily performed, did not result in a virtuous life.

On the other hand, great numbers of young people are met with, who are the despair of their parents and of those who interest themselves in them;the root of this evil is generally found to lie in the fact, that their preparation for First Communion was carelessly conducted, or in great part neglected. It would be better to delay it, or even not to make it at all, than that it should be made badly.
Chapter IV - Dominic's School Career at Castelnuovo d'Asti. Trials and Difficulties. His Treatment of Evil Council. His Master's Encomium.

As his early studies were now completed, Dominic should have been sent away to a higher school for more advanced classes, which a small country place could not provide. He was very desirous that this should be arranged, and his parents were greatly in favour of it, but their condition did not allow of the realisation of such ambitious plans. Divine Providence, however, intended to provide the means, so that the boy might attain the end appointed for him.

Dominic had often said in his playful manner: "If I were a bird I should like to fly every morning to Castelnuovo d'Asti so as to go on with my studies."

His eager desire to continue his studies made overcome all difficulties, and it was arranged that he should attend the Municipal schools, although they were two miles away from his home. He had to walk there and back; he was not yet ten years of age, and all the variations of weather, both for summer and winter, had to be put up with; but all difficulties were to be overcome; Dominic was satisfied that he was thus performing an act of obedience to his parents which meant advancing in the science of the Saints, and this appeared to him more than enough reason for putting up with any inconvenience.

One day an elderly person saw Dominic going along the road, about two o'clock in the afternoon, under a broiling sun, and, meaning to give him a little encouragement, said to him: "Are you not afraid to go so far alone?"

"I am not alone," said Dominic, "I have my angel guardian with me, accompanying every step."

"But surely you find the journey long and tiresome in this very hot weather."

"Nothing seems tiresome or painful when you are working for a master who pays well."

"And who is your master?"

"It is God, our Creator, who rewards even a cup of cold water given for love of Him."

This little incident was related by the person who had the conversation with Dominic, and he concludes by saying: "A boy who has such thoughts in his head, when he is only ten years old, is certainly destined for some great career."

At school Dominic soon found how to distinguish between desirable companions and those whose influence was bad. If he noticed one who was diligent and respectful, who knew his lessons well, and always worked hard, Dominic sought his companionship; an unruly, insolent boy, or one who neglected his work, he left severely alone. He was always kindly in his manner towards them, and seized any opportunity of doing them a little service, but he took care not to become intimate with them.

His conduct at the higher school of Castelnuovo d'Asti might serve as a model to any young student who desires to advance in knowledge and virtue. For this reason, the account given by his master is useful and noteworthy. He says:

"I very willingly send you an account of Dominic Savio, because in a very short time he gained a high place in my estimation and affection, and because I still have a vivid recollection of his excellent behaviour, his zeal in good works and his many virtues. I cannot say much about the performance of his religious duties, for he attended the parish church of his own district, which was two or three miles from the school; for that reason he did not belong to our confraternity, though he was just the sort of boy we should have been glad to admit.

He came to this school as soon as his elementary course was over, beginning on the feast of St. Aloysius, June 21st, 1852. That was, in itself, a little extraordinary, for the great patron of young students found no more devoted follower than Dominic. He was gentle in appearance and manner, and had an air about him of mingled gravity and affability. His disposition was always marked, by calmness and good nature; both in school and out of it, his conduct was such as to produce a most agreeable impression, and for me to deal with him in the course of his school work was like a reward for the many fatigues so often to be endured in the training of boys, who are often dull and not eager for lessons. Hence it may very well be said that he was Savio (wise), not only in name, but in fact, viz., in his studies, in piety, in conversation and his dealing with others, and in all his actions.

From the day he entered the school to the end of that scholastic year, and during the four months of the next year that he spent with us, his progress in his studies was little short of phenomenal. He speedily gained the first place in his class, and the other honours of the school, and invariably got full marks for the subjects which were examined from time to time. These eminently successful results must be attributed to his exceptional abilities and to his love of study and virtue.

Deserving also of special praise was his exactness in every duty, no matter how trivial, and his constant attendance at the classes, in spite of all difficulties and of his long walk to the school. He was by no means a robust or vigorous boy, and this going to and from school, a distance of nearly three miles each way, would in itself be ample proof of his assiduity in his studies. But during that year, 1852-1853, he showed signs of weakness and general failing health, so that his parents decided on a change of abode. I was disappointed at losing so promising a pupil, too whom I had become attached, but I had expected to lose him, for I had seen that his delicate constitution was beginning to give way under the strain; and when I heard later on that he was to go to the Oratory at Turin, I was quite satisfied, as I knew he would there have the opportunity for the cultivation of his rare intellect and piety."

Such is the account given by the master of his class.
Chapter V - Dominic's School-Life at Mondonio. His Conduct Under a Calumnious Charge.

It would seem that Divine Providence had designed to make it clear to Dominic that this world is truly a land of exile, where, like pilgrims, we are always moving from place to place; or it may have been that it was in order to make him known in several districts, that his virtues might be displayed in each.

As has been mentioned, it was towards the close of the year 1852 that Dominic's parents found that their boy's health would necessitate another change of abode, and this time they went to Mondonio, a village not far away from Castelnuovo. Here again we find that nothing but the most edifying reports are given of Dominic. It will not be necessary to quote a full account given by his master at Mondonio, for it repeats the good points mentioned by his former master at Murialdo. Attention will be drawn only to certain facts of particular importance.

The priest in question, writes: "I can state, without hesitation, that during my twenty years experience with boys I never met one to equal Savio in frank and genuine piety. He was gifted, with a wisdom beyond his years; and his diligence, application and affability, made him a favourite both with masters and companions. When I noticed him in church his recollection was such as to fill me with wonder; his manner and attitude suggested the thought: "Here is an innocent soul to whom the delights of heaven are opened, and who by his piety soars aloft to the company of the angels in Heaven."

The following incident is worthy of special record:

"One day a serious offence had been committed by certain pupils of mine, and the guilty ones, when found, were to be expelled. The culprits thought out several expedients in order to escape the punishment, and at last settled on the plan of accusing Dominic of the offence. I very naturally refused entirely to believe that Dominic would be capable of any such thing, but the story and accusation were so skilfully put together, that it had all the semblance of truth and conviction.

When I entered the school in the morning, prepared to deal with the matter, I was in an indignant frame of mind, and spoke in general terms to the class. Then I turned to Savio and spoke very severely to him, telling him that he deserved to be expelled, and it was only because it was the first offence he had been guilty of, that he would not be sent away; but that if ever the like occurred again, expulsion would certainly follow. Dominic might have very easily shown that he was entirely innocent, but he made no reply. He hung down his head, as one who was deservedly reproved, and made no attempt at clearing his character.

But it is seldom God's way to let the innocent remain under the cloud of calumny, and on the very next day the culprits were discovered. Deeply regretting now the harsh terms of the reproof I had made to the boy, I sent for him and said: "Why did you not tell me that you had had nothing to do with it?" He replied in his usual candid manner: "I knew that the guilty boy was already under threat of expulsion for other things, but I hoped to be forgiven, since it was the first act of misconduct ever imputed to me at school. I also remembered that Our Lord had been unjustly accused:"

At this reply I was silent; I somehow felt that there was nothing more to be said; not only the masters, but the whole school admired this act of generous resignation to suffering and insult on behalf of others, especially at the risk of being humiliated and disgraced.
Chapter VI - My First Meeting with Dominic Savio. Some Curious Incidents Connected With It.

The matter contained in the following chapters is based upon more personal and complete evidence, for almost all the incidents occurred under my own notice, and also in the presence of a large number of boys who are unanimous in their attestation of them.

It was in 1854 that Fr. Cugliero, the priest who relates the incidents mentioned in the foregoing chapter, came to see me about a pupil of his. "Here in your Oratory," he said, "there might possibly be boys equal to him, but I can safely assert that there is none to excel him; in fact you find him to be another St. Aloysius."

At that time I used to take my boys occasionally to Murialdo. It was a little country place, where a short time was spent for the benefit of enjoying the country air and open life; and there we usually made the Novena in preparation for, and celebrated the Feast of the Holy Rosary. It was accordingly arranged that while I was at Murialdo, Dominic should be brought over from Mondonio to see me.

lt was therefore at Murialdo, on the first Monday in October 1864, that I became acquainted with Dominic Savio. He was accompanied by his father, and as they came up to speak to me, I noticed his pleasant, but respectful manner, and something in his demeanour fixed my attention upon him. When he came up I put a question to him, to which he answered: "I am the boy of whom Fr. Cugliero has spoken to you. I have come with my father from Mondonio."

We walked together and I questioned him about his studies, and his desires for the future, and we were immediately on the most friendly and confidential terms. I may say that I at once recognised a boy after God's own heart, and I could not help being struck by the workings of grace, already manifest in one of such tender years.

After some minutes conversation, and before I could turn aside to speak to his father, he said to me: "Well, what do you think of the matter; will you take me to Turin to study?" I replied that I thought there was very good material to work upon. "And what do you think you can make of it?" Seeing that he fully grasped my meaning I said: "Something beautiful and acceptable to God." To this he replied:

"Then I must be the material and you are to fashion it; take me with you therefore." "But," I said, "I am afraid that your delicate health would not stand the strain of much study." "I don't think we need fear on that point," he said. "God's given me health and every assistance till now, and He will surely help me in the future." I then asked him what he thought of doing when his preliminary course was finished. To this he replied: "If I could hope for such a favour from God, I ardently desire to become a priest." "Very well," I replied; "now I want to see whether you are able to learn quickly; take this little book and study this page of it; tomorrow I shall see if you know it.

I then sent him to see the other boys and to join in their games, while I talked to his father. But a little surprise awaited me, for hardly ten minutes had elapsed when Dominic came back, and said with his usual pleasant manner: "If you like I will recite that page to you now." I took the book in some astonishment, and this only increased when he recited the page by heart, and could explain any passage in it. "Well done," I said, "as you have anticipated your lesson, I shall anticipate my answer. I will take you to Turin and you will be one of my chosen boys; you must pray that God will help both you and me to do His Holy Will."

Not knowing how to express his great gratitude he took my hand, and said: "I hope my behaviour will never give you cause for complaint."
Chapter VII - Dominic Comes to the Oratory of St. Francis of Sales. His Manner of Life.

Nothing is more characteristic of youth than its tendency to changeableness. A decision is taken on a certain thing today, tomorrow all will be changed; there may be virtue in a heroic degree one day, but on the next the opposite may manifest itself; and this is where there is need of guidance and firmness in education, lest unhappy results should follow. There was no sign whatever of this in Dominic. All the virtues seemed to grow together in him and he was able to practice them all in combination.

Directly he came to the Oratory, he came to my room, in order to place himself, as he said, entirely in the hands of his Director. He at once caught sight of an inscription which bore the favourite words of .St. Francis of Sales: "Da mihi animas, caetera tolle." He began to read it attentively, and I desired him to grasp the meaning. So I helped him to make it out, the translation being: "Give me souls; take away everything else!" "He seemed to reflect a moment, and then he said: "I think I understand; here the aim is not to gain money, but to win souls, and I hope that my soul will be included in the number."

His mode of life was just the routine life of school work; and at first there was nothing extraordinary to remark, beyond his scrupulous observance of every rule. At study or any other duty, he was at once diligent and zealous. Convinced that the Word of God is the guide to Heaven, he was particularly attentive to instructions and sermons, and from them he gathered maxims and rules of conduct which formed his constant guide.

He always made a point of asking for explanations of difficulties, and thus he was able to make continual progress in virtue, and in exactness in the performance of his duties, so that it would be difficult to go beyond the excellence he attained. He had already requested the favour of having his faults pointed out, so that his conduct towards all became equally praiseworthy; he was very apt at noticing what should be avoided in the conduct of a companion, and what should be imitated, and Dominic chose his companions accordingly.

The year 1854 was drawing rapidly to its close. It was a memorable year throughout the Catholic World, for all were awaiting the declaration of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. We, at the Oratory, were preparing to celebrate the occasion with due solemnity, and endeavouring to draw some spiritual advantage from it.

Savio was one of those who felt a desire to celebrate the great day in the manner most acceptable to Our Lady. He wrote out on nine pieces of paper an act of virtue to be practised every day of the Novena, drawing out one each day. These he faithfully put into practice, and approached the Sacraments with great devotion. On the evening of December 8th, Dominic knelt before the Altar of Our Lady, and, with the approval of his Confessor, renewed the promises made at his First Communion, begging particularly that he might be faithful to the last of the four, repeating his petition several times. Strengthened thus in fervour by his recourse to the Immaculate Mother of God, his conduct appeared so edifying, and included such acts of virtue, that I began to note them down so as not to let them be forgotten.

Coming now to describe the particular doings of the boy I find that I am confronted with quite an array of events and virtuous actions deserving of mention. For the sake of greater clearness I propose to group together certain incidents which deal with one phase or one particular matter, rather than to adhere to a strict chronological sequence.
Chapter VIII - His Studies at the Oratory. His Conduct at School. His Dealings with Quarrels and Special Dangers.

Having already laid a good foundation at Mondonio for the study of Latin, and owing to his powers of application and exceptional talent, Dominic was soon raised to the fourth class, which, according to present scholastic arrangements, would correspond to the second course of Latin grammar. During this course he was one of the pupils of Professor Bonzanino, for at that time classes for students were not yet conducted at the Oratory itself. Were I to speak here of his conduct, of the advancement he made, of his exemplary behaviour, I should have to repeat what his previous masters said of him. I shall therefore restrict myself to relating some incidents which were noted down during this period by those who were closely associated with him. The Professor himself often said that he could not recollect ever having had a pupil more attentive, more respectful than young Savio, for he was quite a model in everything. There was never any affectation about his manner or appearance; he was always careful and courteous, so that his companions, many of whom were drawn from good families, were anxious to become friendly and to converse with him. If the professor noticed a pupil who was restless and troublesome, he contrived to put him near Dominic, who, in his own tactful way, was sure to get him to keep silence, and apply himself to study or the work then in hand.

It is during this year that the record of Dominic's life gives us an incident full of heroism, and which is the more remarkable when his youth is taken into consideration, for he was only fourteen when he came to the Oratory. The occurrence in question concerns two of his school fellows, between whom a fierce quarrel had arisen, on account of some remarks on a point of family honour. The quarrel proceeded from the exchanging of insults to the giving of blows and stone throwing. Dominic came to hear of this quarrel, but he saw the difficulty of trying to interfere, for both boys were older and bigger than he was. However he found means for approaching each in turn, urged them to give up their hatred, and pointed out that anger and revenge were against the commandments of God; he wrote to each of them, threatening to acquaint their parents and their master, but the headstrong boys were not to be influenced; their minds had become so embittered that all entreaties were in vain. Apart from the risk of bodily injury to themselves, Dominic was most concerned with the offence against God, and he was eager to find some means of effectually interfering, but was perplexed as to the manner of doing so.

He then seemed to have an inspiration. He waited for the boys after school, and contriving to speak to each alone, he said: "Since you will persist in this insane and sinful quarrel I ask you to accept one condition." Each agreed, provided it did not interfere with their challenge of a fight with stones, and indulged in some very unbecoming language in reference to his enemy. The very language was enough to make Savio shudder, but desirous of preventing a greater evil he said: "The condition I wish to impose does not interfere with the challenge: "Then what is it?" "I shall not tell you till you meet for the duel."

They thought he was making game of them, but Savio insisted that he was quite serious and that he would be on the scene. Neither could conjecture what his plan was.

The place for the fight was a lonely spot outside the town. The boys, getting more and more incensed, were almost going to fight on the way, but Dominic managed to prevent them. The scene of action was reached, and the boys took up their positions at a little distance from each other, and had by them the stones they were to hurl. Now was Dominic's time for mediation. He stepped in the middle and said: "Before you commence to fight you must fulfil the condition you agreed upon." So saying he drew out of his coat pocket a crucifix and held it up in the air. "I desire," he said, "that each of you should look on this crucifix, and then if you will throw, you must throw the stone at me and say: "Our Saviour died pardoning his very persecutioners; I, a sinner, am about to offend Him by an act of open revenge."

Having said this, he threw himself on his knees before the one who seemed most enraged, and said: "Throw your stone at me; let me have the first blow." A shiver seemed to go through the boy thus addressed. "No," he exclaimed, "I couldn't do it. I am not so mean as that. I have nothing against you."

On hearing this Dominic turned to the other boy, who had been watching in amazement, and made the same proposal to him. He too refused such a cowardly act.

Then Dominic got up and said, with great earnestness: "You are both ashamed to commit this act of brutality against me; and yet you would commit it against God and lose your soul by grievous sin." And he held up the crucifix again.

This proved too much for the two boys; they were moved by his true Christian charity and his courage. One of them confessed that he felt a cold shiver, and felt thoroughly ashamed that he had forced a friend of Savio's character to take such extreme measures. Wishing to make him some amends, he forgave entirely the boy with whom he had quarrelled and promised to go to Confession at once. Thus Dominic secured a victory for charity and taught the boys a lesson. Is it too striking an act of courage to recommend for example to young school boys? This incident would have remained a profound secret, had it not been related by both boys who were the partners to the challenge.

It will be gathered from this incident that Dominic had gained great influence over his companions, but he often had to put up with annoyance from some who tried to draw him into undesirable practices. On one occasion in fact he had almost consented to go off with some boys, who wished him to join them at play instead of going to school, but the arguments against it arose so vividly before him, that he not only rejected the proposal for himself, but convinced the others that it would be wrong, and made them go with him to school.

At the end of that year he was among the very best of those who were promoted to a higher class, but when his next year began there were already signs that his health would need careful attention, and it was thought more prudent to let him have some private teaching at the Oratory, where intervals of rest and fewer tasks could be given him. Under this arrangement his health seemed to improve a good deal, so that he was again sent out to the higher classes in the town, this time to Professor Picco, who was held in the highest estimation as a teacher. Several interesting facts are recorded of this year of rhetoric, and they will be related in their turn as the narrative proceeds.
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