Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Dominic Savio (1842-1857) “The Little Giant”, Student of Saint John Bosco. He was studying to become a priest when he became ill and died at the age of 14. Born on 2 April 1842 at Riva di Chieri, Turin, Italy and died on 9 March 1857 at Mondonio, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – boys, children’s choirs, choir boys (given on 8 June 1956 by Pope Pius XII), choirs, falsely accused people, juvenile delinquents, Pueri Cantors, Colegio Santo Domingo, Bogotá, Colombia (chosen in January 1977), singers.
Dominic was born on 2 April 1842, in San Giovanni di Riva, near Chieri (Turin). On the occasion of his First Communion, at the age of seven, he set out his life’s program: “I will go to Confession frequently and Communion as often as my Confessor allows. I want to make Sundays and feast days holy. My friends will be Jesus and Mary. Death but not sin!”
At the age of twelve, he was accepted by Don Bosco into the Oratory of St Francis de Sales in Turin and Dominic asked his help in order to “become a saint.” Gentle, serene and happy, he put great effort into fulfilling his duties as a student and helping his companions in every way he could, teaching them Catechism, assisting the sick and settling quarrels.
One day he said to a companion who had just arrived in the Oratory: “You should know that here we make holiness consist in being always joyful. We try to avoid sin, which is the great enemy that robs us of the grace of God and peace of heart and, we try to fulfil our duties exactly.” He was very faithful to his program of work, sustained by intense participation in sacramental life, by a filial devotion to Mary and by joyful sacrifice. God enriched him with many special gifts.
On 8 December 1854, when Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Dominic consecrated himself to Mary and began to advance rapidly in holiness. In 1856, he founded the Immaculate Conception Sodality among his friends. This was a group dedicated to apostolic action and peer ministry.
Mamma Margaret, St John Bosco’s Mother, who had come to Turin to help her Priest son, one day said to John “You have many good boys, but no-one surpasses the beauty of heart and soul of Dominic Savio.” And she explained: “I see him always praying, even remaining in Church after the others. Everyday he leaves recreation to visit the Blessed Sacrament; when he is in Church, he is like an angel in Heaven.”
He died in Murialdo on 9 March 1857, possibly of pleurisy. Pope Pius XI defined him as “a little, or rather, a great giant of the Spirit.”
St John Bosco regarded Savio very highly and wrote a Biography of his young student, The Life of Dominic Savio. This volume, along with other accounts of hims life were critical factors in his cause for sainthood. Dominic was Beatified on 5 March 1950 and Canonised on 12 June 1954, both by Pope Pius XII. He is the youngest non-martyr to be Canonised.
His birthplace is now a retreat house for teenagers and the home where he grew up in Morialdo is now a retreat house for children. The final house in which he lived is the home in Mondonio where the Savio family moved when he was 10 and where he eventually died. Here. you can see his father‘s metal shop and his mother‘s tailoring shop. His tomb is in the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians in Turin, not far from the tomb of his mentor, teacher and biographer, Saint John Bosco.
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