Today is the Feast of Saint John Bosco, the patron saint of teachers. Happy feast day!

“Saint John Bosco developed a system of educating the young based upon three principles: reason, religion and loving-kindness,” said Eileen Rafferty, Religious Education Advisor for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, 31 January.

“Upon his feast day I would therefore like to thank all our wonderful teachers across the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh who attempt to uphold these three great principles in our Catholic schools each and every day. Thank you!”

John Bosco was born in the hillside hamlet of Becchi, Italy, on 16 August 1815. When he was little more than two years old his father Francesco died, leaving the support of three boys to his mother.  She played a strong role in Bosco's formation and personality, and was an early supporter of her son's ideals.

In 1825, when he was nine, John Bosco had the first of a series of dreams which would play an influential role in his outlook and work.  He apparently saw a multitude of very poor boys who play and blaspheme, and a man, who "appeared, nobly attired, with a manly and imposing bearing". The man said to him: "You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness. So begin right now to show them that sin is ugly and virtue beautiful."

Upon being ordained to the priesthood in 1841, John Bosco immediately gave his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth in the newly industrialised northern Italian city of Turin. It was there he developed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that became known as the Salesian Preventive System.

John Bosco established a network of organisations and centres to carry on his work. He died on 31 January 1888. He was canonised as a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Saint John Bosco, pray for us!