03 May 2018

St. Dominic Savio, adolescent

May 6, feast

(omitted this year because it’s Sunday)

The Calm Courage of Dominic Savio

by Fr. Morand Wirth, SDB

The steady energy of this saintly young lad was obvious. At a tender age he willingly undertook difficult tasks like assisting at Mass early in the mornings in the middle of the winter, long hikes to and from school, or silent acceptance of undeserved reproach. At Valdocco his strength of mind found many opportunities for expression. Without faltering he endured “the rather hard life at the Oratory, not only the scarcity of food but also the hardships of a winter without heat.” In spite of his own great courtesy and amiability, he sometimes had to put up with “insolence and threats and even insults” from his companions. He would blush deeply yet remain calm and forgive quickly. His courage in suffering, so evident during his last illness, made him, according to Don Bosco, “a model of sanctity.”

This strength of character was not just passive. It manifested itself in the exact performance of all his duties and, when necessary, in actions which greatly impressed all who witnessed and recorded them. We have already mentioned the brave intervention when he stopped a duel with stones between two students, at the risk of getting hurt himself, or his remark to a soldier who refused to kneel when the Blessed Sacrament was passing by, an act that could have been considered very provocative, or when he reproached Don Bosco himself with regard to a misdeed that ought to have been punished.

Dominic had enormous will power. Don Bosco says that he had found in him “a great human strength supported by grace.” This strength of will was directed toward a great ideal: “to become a saint,” a strong expression which well illustrates his attitude.

Having learned from Don Bosco that penance was necessary for a boy who wanted “to preserve his innocence,” he voluntarily practiced all kinds of mortifications with regard to food, rest, conversation, and strict control over his senses to the point of “suffering bad headaches.” Eventually his director had to intervene in order to moderate this thirst for penance and to help him regain his usual cheerfulness that he had been about to lose. Dominic valued his advice highly.

This devotee of the crucified Christ left behind him a memory of a smiling lad, kind and serene, with an unalterable purpose behind his smile.


From Don Bosco and the Salesians, trans. David de Burgh, SDB (New Rochelle: Don Bosco Publications, 1982), pp. 65-66.