March 9: Feast Day of St. Dominic Savio

Not all saints were elderly, middle-aged or even young adults when they died. Some of them made their impact as children or teenagers.

 On March 9, the church celebrates the feast day of one of its younger saints – St. Dominic Savio, the patron saint of boys, children’s choirs, falsely accused people and juvenile delinquents.

Dominic, one of 10 children of a blacksmith and a seamstress, was born in 1842 in Riva di Chieri, Italy. He became an altar server at 5, and began preparing for the priesthood as a 12-year-old under the guidance of Father John Bosco (the future St. John Bosco), who was recruiting young men for his new Salesian order of priests.

In 1857, 15-year-old Dominic contracted tuberculosis and was sent home to recover. He died shortly after his return.

         On his deathbed, Dominic prayed, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony!” A change came over him and he sat up to say his final words: “What beautiful things I see!”

While early death would prevent St. Dominic Savio from attaining his dream of being a priest, he lived the fullest and holiest life that he could. He encouraged his friends to come with him to visit the Blessed Sacrament and taught catechism to younger children. He went to confession every week and received holy Communion daily, even forming a club called the Sodality of the Immaculate Conception to encourage frequent reception of the Eucharist.

Dominic, who was canonized in 1954, is credited with organizing the nucleus of the Salesian order of priests.

In his short life, St. Dominic Savio taught others, by example, that holiness could be achieved through the practice of simple, humble behaviors such as cheerfulness, fidelity in friendship, helping others, engaging the young in games and obeying one’s elders. Dominic said, “I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.”

St. John Bosco, the mentor who outlived St. Dominic Savio and went on to be his biographer, described Dominic as someone who found joy in doing simple things and allowed his love for Jesus to guide everything he did.

St. John Bosco writes: “Religion must be around us like the air we breathe. Dominic Savio wore holiness like the clothes on his back.”

Sources: Fifty-Seven Saints, by Eileen Heffernan, FSP; www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/SAVIO.htm; and www.catholic-forum.com.