St. Dominic Savio
St. Dominic Savio
Holiness Knows No Age
Dominic Savio was born on April 2, 1842 in the village of Riva innorthern Italy. His father, Carlo Savio, was a blacksmith and hismother, Brigida Gaiato, was a seamstress. He had nine siblings.Dominic’s family was poor but hardworking, but most of all, they weredevout and pious Catholics.
As a small boy, Dominic loved the Lord and the Church. He showedexceptional piety and devotion in practicing his faith as a Catholic.Dominic never missed attending the Mass in their church together withhis mother. He was often seen kneeling and praying before thetabernacle. Aside from his prayerfulness, young Dominic was also quicklyrecognized as an excellent student, studying hard and performing well intheir school.
Desiring to serve God, he became an altar server. He attended the dailyMass and regularly went to confession. He requested that he receive hisFirst Communion at the age of seven which was not a practice in Italythat time. However, Dominic’s parish priest was so impressed with theboy’s intelligence on the faith and his piety and love for the Lord thathe made an exception to Dominic’s case. The day of his First Communion,said Dominic, was the happiest day of his life. On that day, he wrotefour promises in a little book: I will go to Confession often, and asfrequently to Holy Communion as my confessor allows; I wish to sanctifythe Sundays and festivals in a special manner; My friends shall be Jesusand Mary and; Death rather than sin.
Dominic Meets His Guide
Dominic’s teacher spoke highly of him and brought him to Don Bosco’sattention. In October of 1854, together with his father, young Dominicwas personally introduced to Fr. Bosco. At their meeting, Fr. Boscowanted to test Dominic’s intelligence and understanding about theCatholic faith. He gave him a pamphlet containing apologetics. Fr. Boscoexpected him to report the next day, but to the priest’s surpriseDominic returned to him just ten minutes later, recited the text andexplained its significance.
When asked what he wanted to be, Dominic expressed his desire to becomea priest. He asked Fr. Bosco to take him to Turin to attend the Oratoryof St. Francis de Sales, to which Fr. Bosco happily agreed. At theOratory, Dominic studied directly under Fr. Bosco. He worked diligentlyand asked questions when he did not understand something.
After six months in the Oratory, Dominic delivered a speech about thepath to sainthood. However, this desire of Dominic to become a saintdeeply troubled him. He wondered how a young person like him wouldbecome a saint. Because of his ardent desire, he tried voluntarymortification and penances, with the hope that these would help him growcloser to Jesus and be less concerned with his own desires and needs.When Fr. Bosco learned about this, he quickly corrected Dominic,explaining to him that what he should do instead was to devote himselfto studies and to be cheerful. And so, Dominic stopped his physicalpenances and his happy disposition quickly returned.
Holiness Until the End
While he was developing his reputation as an excellent student,Dominic’s health started to fail. Fr. Bosco became concerned about theboy’s situation so he took him to the doctor who recommended that theboy be sent home to recover. However, Dominic wanted to stay at theOratory, but Fr. Bosco insisted that he should go home. Before hedeparted, Dominic made the “Exercise of a Happy Death”, predicting thatthis would be his final devotion.
After four days in their home, Dominic’s health worsened. He showedlittle signs of recovery, but Dominic was sure of his impending death.He asked his parents to bring the parish priest so he could make hislast confession and be given the last sacrament. He asked his father toread him the prayers for the “Exercise of a Happy Death.” Then, Dominicfell asleep. Hours later he awoke and said to his father: “Goodbye,Dad, goodbye … Oh what wonderful things I see!” Dominic fell asleepand died within minutes. The day was March 9, 1857
Detractors argued that Dominic was too young to be canonized and pointedout that he was not a martyr. However, Pope Pius XII beatified him onMarch 5, 1950 and the same Pope canonized him on June 12, 1954. St.Dominic Savio’s feast day is May 6.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Dominic Savio
- St. Dominic Savio is the patron saint of choirboys, the falsely
accused, and juvenile delinquents.
- Pope Pius XII described St. Dominic Savio as “small in size, but a
towering giant in spirit.”
- St. Dominic Savio founded a group at the Oratory called the “Company
of the Immaculate Conception”, which devoted itself to the then-novel
idea that Mary was born without original sin, and encouraged added
devotional focus among its members.
- Deeply touched by St. Dominic Savio’s life, St. John Bosco himself
wrote the young saint’s biography, “The Life of Dominic Savio”, which
was a major element of his canonization.
- St. Dominic Savio’s tomb is located at the Basilica of Mary Help of
Christians in Turin, Italy.
Prayer to St. Dominic Savio
O Saint Dominic Savio,a model of purity, piety, penance and apostolic zeal for youth;grant that, through your intercession,we may serve God in our ordinary duties with fervent devotion,and attain the grace of holy joy on earth,that we may one day love God forever in Heaven. Amen.