John Bosco, commonly known as Don Bosco, was born in 1815 at Becchi, a village near Turin, Italy. At the age of two, his father died. John, who was to become the father of orphans, became an orphan himself at a tender age.
Through heroic sacrifices and by dint of hard work he became a priest in 1841. As a priest, he dedicated himself to the service of boys, especially the poor by offering them food, lodging and education. Through the help of generous persons he opened technical institutes, hostels, schools and youth centres. Soon he founded a Society of Collaborators, known today as Salesians of Don Bosco and extended his work to the whole of Europe and the other continents.
Don Bosco was one of the greatest educators of the 20th century. He died at the age of 72 on 31 January 1888. Don Bosco was declared a saint of the Catholic Church on 1 April, 1934.
He saw his religious society grow up into a big organization with three main branches: the Fathers and Brothers who take care of boys, the Sisters who take care of girls and the Co-operators who are ordinary people, but through their life and work try to make the world a better place for the young to live in.
Millions are now the past pupils of Don Bosco, all over the world. They are proud of their education. Among them can be counted many who occupy places of responsibility in different countries.
The work of this humble priest has grown from a tiny seed into a large tree. The society he founded has now a membership of over 17,000. The Salesians, as they are called, work in over 130 countries through 3500 institutions.
On 16 August we celebrate his birthday on the earth and on 31 January his birthday in heaven.