Today’s saint was born in 1815, in northern Italy. After his father’s early death, he looked after the family sheep. He told the story of a dream he had: ‘When I was about nine years old I had a dream that left a profound impression on me for the rest of my life. I dreamed that I was near my home, in a very large playing field where a crowd of children were having fun. Some were laughing, others were playing and quite a few were cursing. I was so shocked at their language that I jumped into their midst, swinging wildly and shouting at them to stop.” At that moment a man appeared and said: “You will have to win these friends of yours, not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness”. A Lady of majestic appearance came upon the scene and said to me: “This is your field, this is where you must work.”’

He became a priest. When he met a homeless boy, he offered him and his friends food, catechism classes and recreational activities. This work with young people grew into a new religious order of Salesian Priests and Brothers, following the teaching of St Francis de Sales.

Worn out by his labours, he died on this day in 1888 and was canonised in 1934.

May he pray for us, and specially for the Church’s work with the young, and may God bless you this day.