Dominic was born at Riva de Chieri in 1842. When yet a child of seven he received Jesus in his heart for the first time, and in the ardor of his angelic love he then made the following resolutions:
1. My friends shall henceforth be Jesus and Mary,
2. Death rather than sin.
At school he shone forth as a wonderful example of virtue and of application, and at the end of the senior elementary course he left his father's house in order to follow the call from on high. Dominic's first meeting with Don Bosco
The scene of that meeting is touching indeed. Don Bosco himself has handed it down to us in the life of the angelic youth. He immediately discovered that Dominic's soul was entirely given up to God and exclaimed: " Here is good material to form a saint."
From that day the boy put all his trust and confidence in Don Bosco, who in turn fashioned him into a new St. Aloysius. Dominic had resolved to become a saint. His constant prayer to Don Bosco was: "Father, help me to become a saint." He often manifested the longing of his soul to help others in doing good with the following words: "Oh, would that I could gain all my friends and companions to God! How happy I would be then."
Nor was he satisfied with words only, for his prayers, his conversation, his study and even his games were a shining example, a living school of the divine apostolate. His counsels, admonitions, prayers and above all his sufferings were directed to the sole end of keeping his companions away from evil and of drawing them ever nearer to God. Often he was rapt in ecstasy during Holy Communion. He consecrated his heart to Mary Immaculate.
Dominic's Happy Death
So bright a flower, so tasteful a fruit of divine grace could not remain long on earth. It was soon ripe for Heaven. Thus the brilliant hopes centred on him were doomed to disappointment, for the end of his exile was near and the dawn of eternal light was fast approaching for him. He knew that his days were numbered, and he looked forward to death with a smiling face.
When, on March 9, 1857, in Mondonio d'Asti, the clock of Providence struck his hour, he passed away, exclaiming happily, "Oh, what a beautiful sight!" He was then 15 years old. His mortal remains lie in the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians in Turin.
After Dominic's death, Don Bosco wrote an account of his life, and it pleased God to glorify the youth by miracles and special favours granted through his intercession. He was canonized in the year 1954.
A DREAM ABOUT ST. DOMINIC SAVIO
John Bosco had this dream in 1876, twenty years after Dominic Savio's death.
On the night of December the 6th, I dreamed as follows: It seemed to me as if I was standing on a hill, looking down on an immense plain that stretched away into the invisible distance. It was as blue as the sea in perfect calm, but what I was looking at was not water, it seemed like crystal, unblemished and sparkling.
Long and broad avenues divided the plain up into large gardens of indescribable beauty, in which were lawns , groves of ornamental trees, flowering shrubs and flower beds with an amazing variety of ornamental flowers.
What you have seen in gardens can give you little idea of how wonderful all this was. There were trees whose leaves seemed to be all of gold, the branches and trunks of precious stones.
Scattered here in there in the gardens were buildings whose appearance and magnificance rivaled the setting in which they stood. I could not estimate what sums of money even one of these would have cost to build. The thought ran through my head: "If I could have any one of these buidings for my boys, how happy they would be."
As I stood there rapt in wonder, the sound of sweet and entrancing music filled the air; all possible instruments seemed to be combining in wonderful harmony, and together with them choirs of singers.
I then saw great numbers of people in the garden, some walking, some sitting, all radiantly happy. Some were singing, some playing instruments, and it was obvious that they deprived equal pleasure from hearing the others as they did from the music they were making themselves.
They were singing in Latin these words: "All honor and glory to God the Almighty Father - Creator of the ages, who was, who is and will come to judge the living and the dead through all ages."
There now suddenly appeared a great army of boys.
Many of them I knew, boys who had been with me at the Oratory or in one of our schools: but the majority I did not know. This endless line began moving towards me; at it's head was Dominic Savio; after him several priests and many other priests and brothers, each at the head of a group of boys.
I did not know whether I was awake or dreaming; I clapped my hands together and felt my arms and chest in the endeavor to see how real was what I was seeing.
An intense, brilliant light now shone all around. All the boys were radiant with happiness; it shone from their eyes, and their faces had a look of ineffable peace and contentment. They smiled at me, and they looked as though they were going to say something, but no word was uttered.
Dominic now walked forward on his own until he stood close beside me. He stood there silently for a moment, smiling and looking at me. How wonderful he looked, how exquisitely he was clothed! The white tunic which reached to his feet was interwoven with golden threads and sparkling jewels. Around his waist he had a broad red sash, also interwoven with precious stones of every color, which sparkled and glittered in a thousand lights.
Around his neck there was a necklace of wild flowers, but the flowers were made of precious stones and the light they reflected , lit up further the beauty and dignity of Dominic's face. His hair, which was crowned with roses, hung down to his shoulders and completed the quite indescribable effect of his total appearance.
The others were dressed in varying degrees of splendor, all of which had their own symbolic meaning you would not understand. One thing they all had in common was the broad red sash around their waists.
I thought to myself: "What does all this mean? - Where on earth am I?" And I stood there silently, not daring to say a word.
Dominic then spoke.
"Why are you standing there as though you were dumb?" Are you not the one I knew who was always so fearless, able to sustain persecutions, calumnies and dangers of every kind? Have you lost your courage? Why do you not speak?"
Half stammering, I replied:
"I don't know what to say. Are you really Dominic Savio?"
"Yes, indeed. Don't you recognize me?"
"How is it that you are here?"
"I have come to talk with you," Dominic relied affectionately. "We spoke together so often when I was alive; you were always so kind and generous to me, and I responded to your love with my complete confidence and affection. Ask me anything you wish."
"Where am I," I asked.
"You are in a place of happiness," he replied, "where all that is beautiful can be enjoyed."
"Is this Heaven, then?"
"No, whatever is here is of the earth, although improved beyond conception by the power of God. No living person can ever see or imagine the wonders of eternity."
"Would it be possible to have natural light more brilliant than this?"
"Yes, quite possible . . . look there in the distance."
I looked, and a ray of light suddenly appeared, so penetrating and of such brilliance that I had to close my eyes, and I cried out in alarm so loudly, that I woke the priest who was sleeping in the room nearby. I opened my eyes after a moment and said:
"But that is surely a ray of divine light . . . "
"No, even that does not give you any idea. In Heaven we enjoy God and that in everything."
I had by now recovered from my initial amazement, and was looking at Dominic as he stood before me. I said: " Why are you wearing that dazzling white tunic?"
Dominic did not answer, but the choir of voices, beautifully sustained by the many instruments sang in Latin: "They had their loins girt and have washed their tunics in the blood of the Lamb."
"What does the red sash you wear mean?" I then asked. Again Dominic did not reply, and a solo voice sang the words: "They are virgins and they follow the Lamb wherever He goes." I then realized that the blood red sash was a symbol of the great efforts and sacrifices made, the quasi - martyrdom suffered, to live a completely pure life. It symbolized also the spirit of penance, which cleanses the soul of its faults. The dazzling white of the tunic represented a life from Baptism to death without any serious rejection of God.
My eyes were drawn to the serried ranks of boys behind Dominic and I asked him:
"Who are these boys, and why are they all so radiant and resplendent?"
The answer came from the boys themselves, who began to sing in wonderful harmony:
"These are like the angels of God in Heaven. . ." Dominic, although the youngest, was obviously the leader, standing out well ahead of them. I therefore asked him:
"Why is it that you take precedence over the others?"
"I am the oldest."
"But you are not," I replied; "there are many here much older than you."
"I am God's ambassador."
The meaning of what it was all about suddenly dawned on me, and I hastened to say:
"Let us talk about what concerns me and my work. Perhaps you have something important to tell me . . . Speak to me of the past, present and future of our work and of our dear sons . . ."
"With regard to the past, your Congregation has clearly done much good. Look over there at the great gatherings of the boys."
"How many they are, and how happy!"
"Look at what is written over the entrance to that garden," said Dominic. I looked and saw written:
"All those there are Salesians, or those who have been eduated by you and your sons, or who in some way or other have been sent on the way to God and their salvation made really possible. Count them if you can! But they would be many many more still, if only you had greater faith and confidence in God . . ."
I heaved a great sigh on hearing this admonition and determined to set no limit to my trust in God for the future.
Dominic then held before me a magnificant bunch of flowers; they were rose, violets, sunflowers, lilies, sprigs of evergreen and, most unusual for a bouquet, ears of wheat. He offered it to me and said:
"I am looking," I replied, "but I don't understand a thing."
"Make sure that all your boys have it and that they defend it fearlessly against anyone who would try to take it from them. With these flowers secure in their possession, they can never fail to be happy."
"I still don't understand, please explain . . "
"These flowers represent the virtues and qualities which your boys need in order to be able to live for God instead of for themselves. The rose is the symbol of love, the violet of humility, the sunflower of obedience, the gentian of penance and self discipline, the ears of corn of frequent Communion, the lily of purity, the sprigs of evergreen of constancy and perseverence."
"No one was adorned with these flowers better than yourself," I said to him. "Tell me, what was your greatest consolation when you came to die."
"What do you think?" he answered.
I had several attempts at trying to say what I thought it might be, such as having lived a pure life, having heaped up so much treasure in Heaven by all his good works, and so on, but to all he shook his head with a smile.
"Tell me, then," I said, quite crestfallen at my failure; "what was it?"
"What helped me most and gave me greatest joy when I was dying," replied Dominic, "was the loving care and help of the great Mother of God. Tell your sons not to fail to keep close to her while they are alive." . . .
[ taken from Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco - from Saint John Bosco's Biographical Memoirs]