Feast of St. John Bosco, Jan. 31

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An mural showing St. John Bosco and boys is seen in a courtyard of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Help of Christians in Turin, Italy. The sanctuary was the site of St. Bosco’s home for poor and abandoned boys. (Paul Haring/CNS)

Born to a poor family in Italy, this patron saint of editors and laborers is considered one of the great social saints.

Ordained a priest in 1841, he was sent to study theology in Turin, where he became a magnet for neglected youths during a turbulent period of rapid industrialization and revolutionary politics.

Don Bosco, who once hoped to become a foreign missionary, founded the Salesians in 1854. The order sheltered more than 800 orphan boys, then opened workshops for shoemakers, tailors, bookbinders and other trades. Don Bosco was also a prolific writer, and co-founded a women’s congregation to work among girls.

When he died, more than 40,000 people in Turin filed past his coffin to show their love and respect.

He is patron of St. John Bosco School in Phoenix, as well as of boys and youth.