Johannes Bosco

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Don Giovanni Bosco, 1887

Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco (born August 16, 1815 in Becchi / Castelnuovo , † January 31, 1888 in Turin ) was an Italian Catholic priest , youth minister and founder of an order . He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1934 . Mostly he is called Don Bosco - after the salutation Don, which is common in some Romance languages for Roman Catholic priests .


Johannes Bosco's parents (Francesco Bosco and Margareta Occhiena ) were farmers from Piedmont . At the age of two he became a half-orphan through the death of his father . He claimed that when he was nine years old he had a dream that made him want to become a priest. However, the mother could not raise the money for appropriate training. At the age of twelve he started his apprenticeship with a tailor. From February 1828 to November 1829 he hired himself as a stable boy on a farm in Moncucco so that he would not be a burden to his mother and be able to finance the catechism lessons . The older half-brother Antonio tried by all means to prevent these classes in order to let the younger one continue to work at home and in the fields. The mother paid Antonio the inheritance, whereupon he left the family forever. Johannes was able to attend high school in Chieri from 1831 to 1835 . At times he considered joining the Franciscans , but a dream stopped him. Instead he entered the seminary of the Archdiocese of Turin in Chieri in 1835 . The formative reading experience of his seminar years from 1835 to 1841 was the imitation of Christ by Thomas von Kempen .

1841 John Bosco was at Sitientes , the day before the Passion Sonntages , the deacon ordained on June 15 of that year, the day before of Trinity , the priest . He went to Turin to work for poor and disadvantaged young people. After several moves of the oratorio and a phase as a “traveling oratorio”, in 1846 it was able to find a permanent place for the young people in a small, run-down shed in the Turin district of Valdocco . After only two weeks of intensive renovation work, Don Bosco celebrated the Easter Vigil Mass there . On December 18, 1859, he founded a religious association, which was founded in 1874 by Pope Pius IX. recognized as the Society of St. Francis de Sales (known as the Salesians of Don Bosco ). In 1872 he founded, together with Maria Mazzarello, who was later canonized, the order of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians ( Don Bosco Sisters ) ; The aim of both associations was the education and care of poor and disadvantaged young people.

In 1876, Bosco founded the Association of Salesian Employees , confirmed by the church in the same year , which today bears the name of Salesian Employees Don Bosco (SMDB, Italian abbreviation ACS).

By the time Bosco died in 1888, the Salesians had opened 250 houses in Europe and Latin America , which from 1846 onwards took in around 130,000 boys and trained around 18,000 apprentices. By 1888, around 6,000 of these young people had decided to become priests.

Don Bosco was buried in the Maria-Hilf-Basilica in the Turin district of Valdocco.


In 1929 Pope Pius XI spoke . Bosco blessed and holy on April 1, 1934 . Bosco belongs to the saints  Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (1786–1842), Giuseppe Cafasso (1811–1860), Leonardo Murialdo (1828–1900) and the blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno (1825–1888) to the Turin social saints of the 19th century .

Don Bosco's pedagogy

Upbringing situation at the time of Bosco

In the early industrial age, the educational influence of many parents in the cities diminished. B. in the fast growing Turin. The father usually left the apartment early and returned home late, and the mother was no longer in a position to take care of the upbringing of the children during the day, as was the case in pre-industrial times. Due to the socially determined helplessness of their parents, many children and young people fell into neglect and disorientation. During the day until well into the evening they kept themselves busy as street children.

The educational authorities of family and school failed by failing to make the necessary pedagogical corrections in the changed professional and life situation. The adult world seldom offered norms and values ​​to young people. The ego of the adolescents was too weak to face the destructive influences. Inspired by the example of their peers, the young people formed subcultural groups of their peers through which they often became criminals. Bosco realized that neglecting the youth's upbringing was jeopardized. He later said that the main cause of wrongdoing was not malice or badness. With this declaration he contradicted contrary views of his time. To help them grow into society, he offered the young people binding assistance with the aim of being factually and emotionally integrated and being involved in the process of integration.

Bosco's educational goals and means of upbringing

According to Don Bosco's basic idea, the young people should:

  1. learn to recognize and cope with the structures in society,
  2. to understand meaning and value in these structures
  3. this z. B. to fill economic and interpersonal structures with life, whereby the structural change was not rejected as an option.

But we had to start with the knowledge that is linked to experience. So Bosco brought those young people together and first gave them security through trust and recognition of their person in their existential needs. He also taught them at school, always emphasizing the principles of helpful and peaceful interaction: the young people should set an example for one another, not get angry, not mock others because of mental or physical deficiencies, be patient and not haughty. In this field of activity, a learning group geared towards solidarity, tolerance and cooperation, they were able to accept the educational impulses to develop their own sense of value.

Logo of the Salesians Don Bosco

In order to overcome the previously experienced obstacles in the educational process, Bosco first arranged the conditions under which the adolescents could gain life and value experiences. Bosco provided the boys with room, food, clothing and cleanliness by letting them live in an open hostel called an oratory. It was a house to live, play, study and practice the Christian faith. With this first approach of his preventive education method, Bosco realized a pedagogy of precaution, whose later representatives z. B. the American Father Edward Flanagan and without any church connection also the Russian Anton Semjonowitsch Makarenko . Bosco not only influenced the learning conditions in the oratorio, but also took part in the agreement of detailed apprenticeship contracts for training in the skilled trade. Later he expanded the oratorio and the open houses in other cities with teaching workshops and schools.

Another component played a successful role in his educational activities. On the one hand, Bosco did not completely distance himself, as many other pedagogical contemporaries believed to be right. On the other hand, he directed his actions not only in principle towards the field of education. In his behavior he expressly allowed the personal reference to come into play. Bosco's variant of educational distance consisted of mutual recognition and consideration and was maintained by mutual trust, whereby the young person obeyed and Bosco did not overtax him. Bosco and his additional employees (including his mother Margareta Occhiena ) spent everyday life together with the young people in a partnership. The boys in his oratory acted like family members; they made the interests of the household theirs. Domenico Savio became particularly well-known , who came to Don Bosco at the age of 12 and effectively and convincingly applied his life principles for peaceful interaction with one another in the everyday life of the children. Every week Bosco even visited juveniles who had committed criminal offenses in prison in order to offer them a new beginning in the oratory when they were released.

With its basic approach of the preventive system, Bosco turned away from the previously often exercised repressive system. His educational principles were love, reason and faith, which he explained on various occasions as particular and complementary to one another. For example, educational love according to Bosco is characterized by three components as follows: "It is genuinely human love, it is based on reason and is based on faith". Short, medium, and long-term results confirmed his approach to parenting; The worldwide acceptance and presence of the Salesians Don Bosco shows it to this day. Bosco found appreciation in a critical review as well as in the systematic classification through the educational literature; in an educational assessment he was dubbed a “master of preventive pedagogy”.

The social perspective of educational activity, which was repeatedly mentioned in the socio-educational literature of the 20th century, was already intended by Bosco: the young people in his oratorio should strive to be “capable citizens” so that “the coming generation ... can look forward to better times”. It was also thanks to Bosco's direct influence that, after completing their training, the young people were able to join an “Association for Mutual Help”, in which sick pay and unemployment benefits were granted as early as 1850. Thus, the approach of a Catholic social movement can be seen in Don Bosco's work, as it began in another milieu Adolph Kolping in Germany.


Basilica (Santuario) Don Bosco, Castelnuovo Don Bosco
Basilica (Santuario) Maria Ausiliatrice, Valdocco, Turin

Centers of veneration are the place of birth Castelnuovo Don Bosco (with birthplace , Chiesa di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice , the original pilgrimage church of Don Bosco, and the Basilica (Santuario) di Don Bosco ) and Turin- Valdocco with the burial place in the Basilica di Maria Ausiliatrice .

A relic of Don Bosco, an urn with his brain in it, which was in the Don Bosco basilica on Colle Don Bosco in Castelnuovo, was stolen from its place behind the altar on June 2, 2017 and found again on June 15.

Remembrance day

Patronage and naming

Don Bosco is the patron saint of Brasília (capital of Brazil), the Diocese of Comodoro Rivadavia (Argentina, cathedral there) and his birthplace Castelnuovo Don Bosco. In addition, Johannes Bosco is also the founder of numerous geographical locations in which he is the patron saint, see the list of Johannes Bosco as the founder of the name , and especially for South America: Portuguese Dom Bosco , Spanish San Juan Bosco . In addition, a titular deaconry (titular office of a cardinal) in Rome bears his name: San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana ( Basilica di San Giovanni Bosco ). Don Bosco is the patron saint of youth and youth chaplain as well as for the Swiss youth organization Jungwacht .

Numerous associations worldwide support the efforts of the Salesians Don Bosco and the Don Bosco Sisters for disadvantaged children and young people. In Germany this is for example Don Bosco Mondo (previously Youth Third World ), in Switzerland Youth Welfare Worldwide and in Austria Youth One World - Don Bosco Action Austria.

See also: List Johannes Bosco as the founder of the name

Biographical Films

See also



  • Johann Baptist Lemoyne: The venerable servant of God Don Johannes Bosco . Volume 1, Salesianer-Verlag, Munich 1927.
  • Johann Baptist Lemoyne: The blessed Johannes Bosco . Volume 2, Salesianer-Verlag, Munich 1932.
  • Pietro Braido : Don Bosco prete dei giovani nel secolo delle libertà . LAS, Rome 2003, ISBN 88-213-0511-2 .
  • Jacques Schepens: The Changing Image of Don Bosco. A contribution to Don Bosco research . Institute for Salesian Spirituality, Benediktbeuern 2000. (Series of publications on shaping life in the spirit of Don Bosco 37)
  • Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-87996-286-3 .
  • Morand Wirth: Da Don Bosco ai nostri giorni: tra storia e nuove sfide, 1815-2000 . LAS, Rome 2000, ISBN 88-213-0454-X .
  • Norbert Wolff : Don Bosco and the Salesians . In: Edith Stein Yearbook 8 . Echter, Würzburg 2002, pp. 199-210.

About the work and pedagogy:

  • Theodor Seelbach : Don Bosco as an educator . Salesianerdruck Ensdorf, Bendorf 1956.
  • Nikolaus Endres: Don Bosco - educator and psychologist . Don Bosco Verlag, Munich 1961.
  • Peter Dörfler : The boy king . Herder Verlag, Freiburg 1931 (10th edition).
  • Kurt Gerhard Fischer: Giovanni Bosco: Pedagogy of Prevention . Schöningh Verlag, Paderborn 1966.
  • Friedrich Fetz, Horst Ueberhorst , Hans Wieland: Exemplary educators and physical education . Limpert-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1967.
  • Jacques Schepens : Is Don Bosco still up-to-date as an educator? Salesianerdruck Ensdorf, Cologne 1975.
  • Alfons Knak: Social pedagogy in the beginning industrial age: Provision with Giovanni Bosco . Scientific term paper for the first state examination, PH Berlin 1976.
  • Reinhold Weinschenk: Foundations of Don Bosco's pedagogy . Don Bosco Verlag, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-7698-0395-7 .
  • Franz Pöggeler , Jörg Ziegenspeck (ed.): Education as experience. Giovanni Bosco's pedagogy . Neubauer, Lüneburg 1987, ISBN 3-88456-039-5 .
  • Karl Bopp : Church image and pastoral practice with Don Bosco. A pastoral-historical study on the problem of the theory-practice relationship within practical theology . Don Bosco Verlag, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-7698-0688-3 .
  • Francis Desramaut: Don Bosco en son temps (1815–1888) . SEI, Turin 1996, ISBN 88-05-05552-2 .
  • Pietro Braido : Supporting young people holistically. Don Bosco's educational concern . Don-Bosco-Verlag, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-7698-0804-5 .

Web links

Commons : Johannes Bosco  - collection of images, videos and audio files

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, pp. 19–22.
  2. ^ Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, pp. 19–22.
  3. ^ Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, pp. 27–31.
  4. ^ Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, pp. 39–41.
  5. ^ Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, pp. 43–44.
  6. ^ Pietro Stella: Don Bosco. Life and work . Verlag Neue Stadt, Munich 2000, p. 76.
  7. The day is named after its introit : "Sitientes, venite ad aquas" - you thirsty ones, come to the waters ( Isa 51,1  EU ), an invitation that became a motto of Don Bosco's pedagogy. Source: Johannes Bosco: Memories. Autobiographical record of the first 40 years of a life of service to the youth . Don-Bosco-Verlag, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-7698-0604-2 , p. 71.
  8. Fischer, p. 174
  9. Fischer, p. 14
  10. Wieland, p. 15, in: Fetz, Überhorst, Wieland
  11. Endres, p. 33
  12. Fischer, p. 107
  13. Endres, p. 10
  14. a b Saint John Bosco., accessed on September 15, 2014
  15. a b Fischer, p. 92 and Weinschenk, 1980, p. 92ff
  16. Endres, p. 11; Fischer, p. 166; Wieland, p. 7
  17. Wieland, p. 19
  18. Weinschenk, p. 178
  19. Fischer, p. 94
  20. Schepens, p. 14
  21. ^ Georg Grunwald : The Pedagogy of the Twentieth Century , Freiburg, 1927, p. 179
  22. Alfred Petzelt : Grundzüge systematischer Pädagogik , W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart, 1947, p. 332f and Foundation of Education , Freiburg, 1961, 2nd edition, p. 269
  23. Hubert Henz : Textbook of systematic pedagogy , Verlag Herder, Freiburg, 1964, p. 230f
  24. Bosco cit. n. Weinschenk 1980, pp. 96-100
  25. Wieland, p. 31, in: Fetz, Überhorst, Wieland
  26. a b Santuario di Don Bosco (Castelnuovo Don Bosco) ( Memento from August 30, 2017 in the Internet Archive ).
  27. Italy: Stolen Don Bosco relic found, June 15, 2017, accessed June 15, 2017.
predecessor Office successor
- Superior General of the Salesians Don Bosco
Michele Rua