“And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden…and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation to generation on all who fear him.” (Lk 1: 46-50)
The Great feast
It was the year 1854. November had passed; December was on its way. The “atmosphere” in the Oratory was special. Communions at Mass in the morning (youngsters were invited to attend Mass everyday), were numerous and fervent.
At the little function in the evening they lustily sang songs to the Madonna. It was the novena for the Feast of Mary Immaculate.
Pope Pius IX had announced that on December 8 he would define as “truth of faith” (to be believed by all Christians) that Mary most holy is Immaculate - not tainted by sin from the first moment of her existence. The Christian World woke up. In churches all over the faithful prayed to the most holy Virgin as they prepared the grandiose celebrations.
Don Bosco, who was devoted to Mary most holy, talked about it to the boys every night and the novena for the feast began with fervor.
On November 28, before the novena could begin, Dominic went up to his office.
- Dominic, will you do something for Madonna during this novena?
- First of all I would like to make my confession to prepare my soul well. Then I want carry out perfectly the little nosegays, the little acts of love for the Virgin Mary that you will suggest to us every day. Then I’ll receive Communion every morning.
- After that?
- One more thing. I want to wage a ruthless war on mortal sin.
Don Bosco looked at him affectionately. In all his life as a priest he was dumbstruck by the words of the lad: he would wage a ruthless war on mortal sin that offends God, spreads evil in the world and leads to the ruination of souls. Dominic Savio had understood this and was already beginning to give him a hand.
December 8 had arrived.
In Rome, Pope Pius IX in the presence of 53 cardinals, 42 archbishops and 98 bishops proclaimed as a dogma of faith that: “the blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her existence, by a singular privilege and grace of God, by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved from all stain of sin.”
The newspapers in Rome reported – The sky above Rome, covered with dark clouds, parted for a moment to let the sunlight illuminate the face of the Pope.
At that hour, Dominic Savio went up to the altar of Our Lady, took from his pocket a piece of paper on which he had written a few lines he had long meditated on, and consecrated himself to Mary with a prayer that would be repeated by hundreds of thousands of youngsters around the world:
“Mary, I give my heart; make it yours always. Jesus and Mary be always my friends! But for pity’s sake, let me die than have the misfortune to commit a single sin.”
That evening the whole of Turin shone with thousands of lights in a fantastic display of illumination. Thousands of balloons of very various colors were waving on the balconies, terraces and on the banks of the Po. In the streets below, people set out in a festive procession to the shrine of the Consolata, (Mary the Consoler) the patroness of Turin.
Even Don Bosco’s youngsters joined in the joy of the city. They spent the evening singing in the streets and chanting hymns to the Mother of Heaven.
Time for Reflection
Don Bosco loved the Madonna very much and specially called her the “Help of Christians.” He taught Dominic to call her so, to invoke her as a “powerful aid” in all the difficulties of life. In the writings of Dominic, some of which are preserved in the Salesian archives, one reads, written in small letters on the top of some pages: “Madonna, help me.” They were difficult assignments for a little village boy just come down from the hills and Dominic, before attempting to carry them out, called on the Madonna for help.
There are difficult moments in your life too, not only at school. Like Dominic Savio, ask the Madonna for her help. She is your mother, she will help you.
Moment of prayer
Saint Dominic Savio, at the age of 12, by hand and in your heart you wrote a little prayer to the Virgin Mary. Help me to repeat it as I think of the Virgin: “Mary, I give my heart; make it always yours. Jesus and Mary be always my friends! But for pity’s sake let me die than have the misfortune to commit a single sin.”
Dear St Dominic, help me realize that my PURITY is my greatest treasure, and that if I lose it I am nothing in God’s eyes. Keep far from me the filth of indecent books, pictures and movies. Let me not use my God given powers to commit sin and ruin God’s work in me. In imitation of your life, let me defend the beauty of my purity all my life. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be,
St Dominic Savio, Pray for us.
*Practice*: Pray and ask the grace to be pure