This site houses my creative summary on the second of the 19-volume Biographical Memoirs.

Biographical Memoirs is the biography of St. John Bosco.

Thanks for dropping by.

-Novice Donnie

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Wandering Oratory

Within a month, Don Bosco and his 300 boys would be homeless, as it were, without a roof to shield them from rain, snow or bitter winds. He didn't allow his boys to play at St. Martin's Church because of the restriction of the municipality.

The oratory would have to be a wandering oratory. He would meet his boys at the St. Martin's Church and from there they would depart to their destination.

To offer his boys a vast space that will serve as a playground, Don Bosco and his boys would go out of town to spots such as Sassi, Madonna del Pilone, Madonanna di Campagna, Monte di Cappuccin, Pozzo di Strada and Crocetta.

As they would walk from one place to another, Don Bosco's boys' behavior never failed to edify people, even the monks.

On December 22, 1845, they bid goodbye to St. Martin's Church. The things used for the oratory were deposited in his room at the hospital at St. Philomena.

It is remarkable that in all these wandering of the oratory, the departure point, the destination and temporary quarters were always in the area known as Valdocco.

Don Bosco’s Church History

In 1845, Don Bosco completed writing his "Storia Ecclesiastica," a 200-page book on the history of the Church.
It is interesting to take a glimpse of it by seeing the preface of the book Don Bosco himself wrote.
After some years' experience in teaching boys, anxious to bring within their reach as much knowledge as possible, I began looking about for a brief outline of church history adapted to their mental level. I found some excellent works, but they did not serve my purpose either because they were too voluminous or because they digressed unnecessarily into secular history…But what aroused my indignation was the way certain authors seemed to be embarrassed in treating of the Roman Pontiffs and of the more glorious events of the Church.
Therefore in order to have a book suiting my own requirements, and to accede to the request of prominent people, I decided to publish this compendium of church history.
May the Lord bless this humble effort for his greater glory and for a better understanding of a history second only to that of the Bible.
Don Bosco dedicated this book to the provincial of the Christian Brothers in Turin, Br. Erve dela Croix.

Forced Rest

Don Bosco was obliged to take some rest at Castelnuovo in the hope of restoring his health and getting over his disappointment in not continuing his work at the oratory due to his continued search of the space for his boys.

He entrusted the work to Fr. Borel and left Turin on the first week of October. He selected few of his better boys to accompany him. He advised hi brother Joseph that he would be staying coming with some party. Mamma Margaret provided the other necessary things for their guests.

He wrote this letter to Fr. Borel:

My present occupation involved eating, singing, dancing and running around…I was depressed because I missed my usual recreation at the oratory with the boys.

Don Bosco's heart was always in Turin (where his oratory was located). He longed to return to his beloved little rascals and help Fr. Borel of the many tasks involved in looking after the oratory and in taking the boys to various churches for Mass.

Further Opposition

Two peaceful months passed by in the oratory of Don Bosco. However, the oratory would still experience further opposition which caused Don Bosco to worry.

Practically the entire neighborhood was annoyed with the noise coming from the boys of Don Bosco when the latter would play. The neighbors of the oratory were not contented in shouting at them through their respective windows, they also lodged a formal complaint against them with the City Hall.

And to make the case against the boys stronger, they concocted rumors that will put the boys and Don Bosco in bad light. They believed that the meetings conducted by the priest with his boys were dangerous; their recreation could be turned into a revolution against the government. The boys were also accused of destroying the plants of the church.

"Imagine me being accused of promoting revolutions!" Don Bosco would exclaim with a smile.

On the Move Again

Don Bosco asked Archbishop Fransoni to use St. Martin's Church. The archbishop readily agreed.

On July 13, 1845, Don Bosco celebrated Mass for the last time in their first chapel at St. Francis de Sales with his boys. Afterwards, Don Bosco broke the news to them that they would be moving on to a different place.

His boys had grown comfortable in their place and they did not wanted to move to another place.

They were distressed receiving this piece of information from Don Bosco. However, Don Bosco comforted them with these words "cabbages grow bigger and better when they are transplanted, and so it is with our oratory. It has moved from place to place, but wherever it has gone, it has thrived and our numbers have rapidly increased."

The boys became anxious to see the new place. The boys picked up benches, kneelers, chairs, framed pictures, candlesticks, altar crucifix, and other liturgical materials. The more athletic ones carried bocce, stilts and other games.

The sight of the noisy boys, in mass exodus, caught the attention of the neighborhood.

That every evening, upon reaching their destination, they did not merely have their usual practices of piety, Don Bosco wrote a mini skit as an added attraction to the delight of the boys.

A Comforting Dream

"I seemed to be in a vast meadow with a huge crowd of boys who were fighting, swearing, stealing, and doing other horrible things…They were all abandoned boys, devoid of moral principles. I was about to turn away when I saw a Lady beside me. 'Go among these boys,' She said, 'and work.'

I approached them, but what could I do? I had no place to gather them, but I wanted to help them. I kept turning to some people who were watching from a distance…but no one paid attention or gave me assistance.

'Here is a place,' she said, and pointed to a meadow. 'That's only a meadow,' I said.

She replied: 'My Son and His Apostles did not even have a place to lay their heads.'

I began to work in that meadow, counseling, preaching, hearing confessions, but I saw that almost all my efforts were in vain. Then the Lady led me a little further to the north and said: 'Look!'

I did and saw a small church with a low roof, a small courtyard, and a great number of boys. I resumed my work, but since the church was becoming too small, I again appealed to the Lady and She pointed out another church, much larger, and a house adjacent to it.

'In this place,' She added, 'where the glorious martyrs of Turin, Adventor and Octavius, suffered martyrdom, on these clods soaked and sanctified by their blood, I wish that God be honored in a very special manner.'

So saying, She put out Her foot and pointed the exact spot where the martyrs had fallen…I kept the place clearly in mind.

Disappointments and Trust in God

Don Bosco in his wisdom feared that one day, they might be on the move again in search of a new place for his boys. He knew that their stay in the refuge wasn't permanent.

He started to look for a better and larger spot to house his boys. And to provide a vast playground for them where they could express their youthfulness.

One morning, he decided to take a walk. And wandering within the vicinity, he found himself in front of St. Peter-in-Chains Church. He asked the permission of Fr. Joseph Terio, its chaplain, and he warmly acceded to his request.

One Sunday afternoon, he brought his boys to St. Peter-in-Chains Church. His boys were filled with enthusiasm at the vast space and the real church for their liturgical services.

However, everything turned into gloom when the old housekeeper of the church appeared to scold them because of their noise. She admonished Don Bosco for not controlling his charges and warned him not to set foot again in the premises.

Don Bosco gently responded with "Dear lady, you are not even sure of being here yourself next Sunday, so why make such a point about telling us that you won't let us ever come here again?"

When the parish priest returned home, the housekeeper reprted to him what had happened. He believed her and when he saw Don Bosco leaving the premises, he hurried up in angry tone: "Don't you come back here again next Sunday!"

Don Bosco replied gently "I feel sorry for you. Are you sure you'll be alive next Sunday?"

Fr. Tesio died shortly before midnight that day. The keeper followed too days later.

For Church and Souls

All of Don Bosco's thoughts and actions were directed to glorify the Church. Hence, even his most little actions were in congruent to Her teaching.

He tirelessly heard confessions that lasted for several hours. He would never miss to give a word of advice to those who needed it. And he would also not forego opportunities to admonish individuals if there was a need to do so.

Prisoners had always a special place in the heart of Don Bosco. This was true to the conversion among the convicts who had encountered him.

Those who had met Don Bosco could attest that he did not merit the grace of God due to prayer and virtues. Don Bosco worked hard to attain it through his various ways of mortification and acts of sacrifices.

Among the many occasions where Don Bosco was willing to give his everything just so he could assist the spiritual needs of others was when he studied German on his own through a grammar book. Later on, he sought the help of a teacher. He did this to minister to several German families who were moved to Turin because many of them were serving in the Piedmontese army.

One evening, he remarked to his boys: "I learned some German when the oratory was just beginning, but as with all other foreign languages, one soon forgets it if he does not continue to keep it up."

God’s Angels

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The latter portion of the year 1844 witnessed Don Bosco's hands filled with the task of writing a book about the guardian angels. He had started to write this book a couple of years ago during his stint at the Convitto.

He believed so much that his angel was always at his side. Throughout his life, he was convinced of the protection he would merit from his guardian angel. This prompted him to greet his angel several times each day.

He used to tell his boys: "Be ever more convinced that your Guardian Angel is really present, that he is always at your side. St. Frances of Rome always saw him standing before her, his arms clasped on his breast, his eyes uplifted to heaven; but at her slightest failing, he would cover his face as in shame, and at times turn his back on her."

Don Bosco also suggested certain days of the week in which his boy can honor their guardian angels:

  • Tuesdays are set aside by the Church for a special remembrance of the guardian angels.

  • Your birthday. It marked the start of your angel's receiving his duty to watch you.

  • The first day of every month.

He would always stress to sanctify these days by renewing their love and imitate Jesus Christ.

A Heavenly Patron

Don Bosco dedicated his oratory at Valdocco in honor of the 16th century church figure St. Francis de Sales.

In thinking of a saint to whom he would want to ask for special protection, he sought the help of Fr. Cafasso and Fr. Borel. Both were of the opinion that St. Francis de Sales was the perfect saint. Don Bosco agreed with them with his reasons below:

First, Marchioness Barolo who wanted to help Don Bosco thought of founding a congregation of priests. And this she wanted to dedicate to St. Francis de Sales.

Second, the ministry to care for poor and abandoned youth needs a lot of patience and forbearance. He needed to place himself under the special protection of a saint who excelled so much in these virtues.

Third, Don Bosco believed that the spirit of St. Francis de Sales was the best suited to that time when so many a soul was lost due to erroneous doctrines.

A New Location for the Festive Oratory

On the second Sunday of October, 1844, Don Bosco told his boys that the oratory would transfer to another location. Initially, this news was not eagerly accepted by his boys. However, when he pointed to them that the new place would be more spacious and pleasant for their oratory activities, they were filled with joy.

The next Sunday, a large group of boys came rushing down to Valdocco to search for Don Bosco and his oratory. And they were simply overjoyed when they found Don Bosco.

As his routine with them at the Convitto, he taught them little prayers and some catechism. He also introduced some new hymns for the Blessed Mother to their great delight.

The following Sunday, boys were scattered everywhere—in his room, in the corridor, on the stairs—and even the boys of the neighborhood came!

Fr. Borel told Don Bosco that they ought to look for a suitable space for them. This led him to persuade the Marchioness to convert the two large rooms of the priest's home for the use of the poor lad. She agreed.

That was to be the first site of Don Bosco's festive oratory.

On December 6, 1844, the archbishop granted Don Bosco the faculty to bless it, say mass, give Benediction and hold triduum and novenas.

The chapel of the oratory was first used on December 8, feast of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother.

A Noble Lady

Towards the latter part of the summer season, Don Bosco was sent by Don Cafasso for a chaplaincy work at St. Philomena Hospital. He would carry out his priestly ministry there together with Fr. John Borel to attend to the destitute girls housed in a refuge in the same building.

The hospital was founded by Marchioness Barolo, a devoted woman who committed to work for the poor and the needy. Aside from her various works to attend to the poor, she would also find time to visit the convicted women inside the jail. There, she would spend some three to four hours consoling them with kind words or merely her presence.

In 1834, she founded an institution meant to look after the welfare of very poor young girls. It's a boarding school that did not only form them to become productive citizens, but more importantly it sought to develop their morals.

When Don Bosco met her for the very first time, the Marchioness was already 60 years old. In his personal account, he found her to be humble despite her affluence. The feeling as mutual; the Marchioness also found Don Bosco virtuous enough, worthy to take care of her poor girls.

To persuade Don Bosco to accept the post, she did not only promise to accept the boys of Don Bosco as mere visitors. She promised him that she would allow them to gather his boys within the vicinity of her hospital.

Efficacy of Speech

Don Bosco's sermons were very effective among the country folk and young people. He was especially skillful at teaching and inspiring rude and ignorant people.

In his memoirs, he wrote:

"This was really amazing; more so to me, in my sermons, always so eagerly received, there was nothing new or studied. I spoke of things that any ordinary priest would know better than I. It was on these occasions that I realized there is no need for sublime, rare or unusual topics, to preach effectively and please the people. All they want is to understand what the preacher is talking about. If they do, they are satisfied, if not, they are bored."

In preparing his sermons, Don Bosco used the rules on logic and his vast knowledge in homiletics. His reasoning was based on a sound theology. But his secret in excellence in preaching laid in the fact that he did not preach himself but our Lord Jesus Christ.

Controversial School Reform

The edict of Charles Albert throughout the whole of Piedmont barred individuals from taking the examinations for certifications as an elementary school teacher without an attendance certificate from the method schools. These method schools are now what we popularly called normal schools.

The purpose of which was to ensure that the teachers would be equipped to carry out classroom instructional procedures using the best methods available. It would take effect on the same school year 1844-1845.

The liberals were glad about this ruling. Don Bosco had to be silent to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Fransoni disapproved the attendance of the members of the clergy to attend the lecture. He also commanded Don Bosco to do carry out an investigation.

Don Bosco realized that the truths about the faith were not directly taught to the students. One example was the doctrine about "hell" wasn't discussed at length. He asked about this, and the reason was it might be too complex already for the school children to know these doctrines.

Instead of distancing himself from the leader of the method school, Don Bosco befriended him since Don Bosco wanted also to establish school for his boys. Soon, Don Bosco was able to convince them to modify their methods and education should be based on religious beliefs and practices.

A Spiritual Guide

In 1844, the Convitto witnessed a change in its leadership. One of its professors and its founding director in the person of Don Louis Guala had to rest due to health reasons. Don Joseph Cafasso took the helm in teaching Moral theology. Don Bosco assisted him.

Don Bosco had this to say about his spiritual director, Don Cafasso:

"His profound knowledge of moral, ascetic and mystical theology combined with his alert insight and sharp discernment of souls enabled him to fathom and sum up in a few words the ability, piety, earning and propensities and capabilities of each of his student-priests."

Don Bosco confided everything to Don Cafasso. He shared with him his desire to become a religious and even his idea of becoming a missionary.

However, Don Cafasso seemed to have read Don Bosco's soul, and perhaps, he has seen his future. Like a tailor in one of Don Bosco's dream, which he shared also with Don Cafasso, he should devote himself in mending the future of poor and abandoned youth.

Hence, Don Bosco's attempt to belong to a religious congregation or to pursue missionary work did not materialize.

First Writings

Don Bosco was not only gifted with a charismatic personality that led him closer to the young, he was also blessed with the efficacy of speech, a gift he asked when he was ordained a priest.

His desk piled up with notes and annotations which he diligently gathered consist of topics such as the defense of faith, the Catholic Church, papacy, and various forms of devotions meant for the instruction of the young.

Despite his excellence in writing, he never claimed himself an authority on the field. He never published anything without first submitting it to Church authorities.

One characteristic of his writings was that it was devoid of superfluous ideas and complicated vocabularies. He was simple in his works. He aimed to make the truths of the Catholic faith clear to all, especially to the least educated.

Fr. Angelo Savio claimed that "Don Bosco's first editor was the Convitto's doorman."

His first published booklet was about the life of Louis Comollo, a good friend and co-seminarian of his who died at a young age. By publishing Comollo's life, he wanted to hail him as an exemplary model for the young people.

Useful Contacts

Don Bosco associated himself with the poor and abandoned youth. And they reciprocated his love for them. They also respected him, and they treated him as their very own father. Soon, he would also relate intimately with each of the families of his boys. Their parents did not only trust him, they also were all indebted to him because of the transformation happening in each of their sons.

He was not only popular among the destitute; he was able also to maintain a cordial relationship with some of the prelates of his time. Among them is Archbishop Louis Fransoni, his very own bishop.

Don Bosco never embarked on any apostolate without his knowledge and consent. He also came to him if he encountered hardships.

With Don Bosco's constant visit to the residence of the archbishop, he was able to meet very important people—both from the Church and government—who became his friends and helped him in his undertakings.

The Prisons Again

When Don Bosco visited the jail for the first time, it was not a pleasant experience. The prisons subjected him to wicked abuse, malicious jokes, and atrocious insults. However, Don Bosco controlled himself greatly. He showed them a real Christian should love. He would smile at them, and he would treat them with respect and politeness.

When he knew that a convict would be ending his term inside the prisoner, he would help him find work and continue to assist him in strengthening his moral and spiritual figments.

Don Bosco also treated the guards well. He would address them with much respect, that his dealing with him necessitates him to use "Sir" when talking to them. He gently ignored their discourtesies and even generously gifted them with presents.

There was one incident when he even invited the executioner for a coffee. The latter couldn't believe it because of the nature of his job, but Don Bosco insisted.

Triumphs of Grace

Don Bosco experienced a number of extraordinary happenings which deserve mentioning:

There was a woman dying in the last stages of tuberculosis. She was generally acknowledged to live a wayward life. And fearing that she may die as unrepentant, they called on Don Bosco to intervene.

Initially, the woman was not bent in confessing her sins. But due to perseverance of and genuine concern of Don Bosco, the woman relented. She made the confession to him.

That every evening, she died peacefully.

Another account was about an old friend of Don Bosco. Don Bosco learnt that he was sick. On this account, he wanted to see him. When he arrived at the family, he learnt from them that he's already dying. Hence, the doctor barred anyone from coming inside his room. But Don Bosco insisted. Soon, he would persuade them to let him in.

Don Bosco comforted him with consoling words. With weak voice, the man admitted to Don Bosco that when he was younger, he committed a mortal sin he has not confessed of ever since. And he would want that opportunity to cleanse himself.

Don Bosco absolved him. The man fell back on the bed and died.

This account happened between the man and Don Bosco, only to be revealed after four decades by a man who hid himself beneath the curtain of the room.


Mainstay of Faith

John Cagliero said "During the 35 years I lived at his side, I never detected any sign of distrust in him, nor any expression of fear or doubt. I never saw him troubled by any misgivings as to God's goodness and mercy towards him. He never gave evidence of suffering, and distress of conscience."

Fr. Ascanio Savio added: "If anyone had asked him offhand, 'Don Bosco where are you going?' He would have answered 'We are going to heaven.'"

His trust and faith to God made him an apt instrument of God's mercy.

With Don Bosco, preaching and practice went hand in hand. He went to confession weekly to Fr. Cafasso, not in private, but in full view of the people.

He heard confession for several hours as he was besieged by a number of boys.

Confession and the Young

In teaching catechism to the young, Don Bosco would dwell at providing them practical suggestions in order for them to properly dispose themselves for the sacrament of confession.

He would also impart to them the fruits and benefits of those who prepare to encounter Christ in the sacrament of confession.

"The confessor has received from God the power to forgive every kind and any number of sin. The more serious sins you confess, the more will the confessor innately rejoice, for he knows that God's mercy is at hand."

In delivering lectures to the student-priests at the Convitto, he would never fail to highlight their crucial role in the confessional box:

"A confessor is a father who is eager to do all he can for you and protect you from all possible harm. Never fear that you'll lose his respect when confessing serious sins or that he will reveal them to others."

"Be kind to penitents, but especially to youngsters. Help them to lay open their conscience and insist that they come frequently to confession, for this is a sure means of keeping them away from sins."

Political and Religious Ferment

While Don Bosco and his superiors, lead by Don Guala and Don Cafasso, were contributing their best to strengthen the moral fiber of the society, the civil had contradictory aspirations.

The idea of a united Italy through a collaboration of the Italian states was supported by no less than Charles Albert, the monarch. He even became a great defender of such a proposed federation.

The downside of such a proposal was that the Holy Father was being considered to head the federation.

To sell this idea to the people, a series of propaganda was carried out through books and other publications exalting the unity of Italy. And these influenced the wholly of Italy.

The support of the clergy was sought. Religious sentiments carried by the unification of Italy appealed to them.

First Growth and Difficulties

The young people heard about Don Bosco and his festive oratory, and so, they would all flock to him on Sundays and holy days.

Although Don Bosco was pleased about the multitude of young people he would meet, it also became a source of anxiety because of the limited space for him and for his boys.

He, too, realized that games are necessary to persuade boys to attend the catechism classes. As a stop-gap measure, he would lead the boys beyond the city limits for excursions, and where space is infinitely limited for his boys to play.

Soon, the boys reached 80 already. The sacristy will not be enough to accommodate the boys for the catechism classes. He addressed this by establishing two sessions of catechism classes. This set-up continued for about two years.

On Sundays and holy days, he would hear the confessions of the boys. The boys would patiently form line, which would last for hours, just so they can confess their sins to Don Bosco.

After the Holy Mass, he would celebrate the Mass and distribute holy communion. Before bidding good bye to them, he would first deliver some instructions to faith.


Don Bosco’s First Choir

Don Bosco exhausted all possible means to make the weekly gathering of his boys as engaging as possible. Since he knew fairly well how to play the piano and the organ, he used this as a means to enliven the oratory.

As Christmas approached, he wrote a Christmas carol in honor of the Infant Christ. Here it is:

Ah! sing in tone of jubilee,
Ah! sing in tones of love.
Ye faithful, our tended
Is born.

Oh, how splendidly shines every star,
The moon is fair and bright
And the veil of the shadow tears.

Oh! Seraphic band, whom heaven discloses
Singing in jubilee: peace on earth!
Others respond: glory be in heaven!
Come, come, beloved peace,

To rest within our hearts.
Oh infant within our midst
We want to keep you here.

Don Bosco then taught the melody to his boys who were totally ignorant of stuff about music. His perseverance paid off. And since there was no place at the Convitto for practicing, they had to go out to practice in public.

Individuals who would hear the delightful rendition of about six to eight boys would be astonished.

Soon, Don Bosco would teach them hymns in honor of the Blessed Mother and of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Ignatius Retreat House

Towards the latter portion of the school year at the Convitto, Fr. Cafasso urged his student priests to join in a spiritual retreat. Don Bosco himself joined the retreat and wrote the following in his memoirs:

"In my first year at the Convitto, 1841-42, Fr. Cafasso invited me to join him in making the spiritual retreat for diocesan priests at St. Ignatius Shrine above Lanzo."

"His departure for Lanzo was always an event. Once the day was known, coachmen vied with one another for the privilege of driving him in their carriage. Later, on the road up the mountain, a crowd of poor people would press around him begging for alms, which he distributed to each with appropriate words. 'Endure your poverty with patience,' he would say to one. 'Be devoted to the Blessed Virgin and go to confession, he advised another. 'Obey your parents,' he enjoined a third."

The retreat went well. A Jesuit priest in the person of Fr. Menini preached the instructions, while Fr. Guala the meditations.

However, for Don Bosco, the most efficacious sermon was delivered by the saintly behavior of Fr. Cafasso, who himself was a co-retreatant. Fr. Cafasso was punctual in all the activities, and he would devoutly offer his service in the practices of piety. He was always recollected and a reflection of a man who was truly united with God.

Devotion to the Blessed Mother

Don Bosco was an excellent preacher. He prepared his sermons painstakingly, but he could also manage to touch the hearts even on a short notice. One topic very dear to the heart of Don Bosco was the Blessed Mother. It was a delight for him to deliver a sermon in honor of the Blessed Mother.

In fact, Don Bosco had penned a number of sermons on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints. Below is a list of a series of sermons he himself wrote:

Introduction to the Spiritual Retreat (April 2, 1842)

Mortal Sin (April 17, 1842)

The Death of a Sinner (July 1, 1842)

Death, the End of Time and the beginning of Eternity (July 17, 1842)

The Mercy of God (July 20, 1842)

The Two Banners (July 23, 1842)

Institution of the Holy Eucharist (August 12, 1842)

On Frequent Communion (August 22, 1842)

Don Bosco would talk about the Blessed Mother not only on the pulpit but throughout the entire day.

Prison Apostolate

During the time of Don Bosco, there were four prisons in Turin. Fr. Cafasso served all of them. He would visit the convicts frequently to hear their confessions, teach them catechism, and celebrate Mass for them.

Fr. Cafasso used to send some of his student-priests to help him out in this undertaking. Initially, Don Bosco would not want to help in the assignment. The wretched appearance of the prisoners and the gloominess of the place he couldn't take. However, because of his love for souls and his friendship with Fr. Cafasso propelled him to put forth his little contribution in this endeavor.

At first, it was a losing battle. He found it hard to make the convicts actively participate in the catechesis. But through his hard work and perseverance, he achieved to gain the trust of many of them, and thus, led them back to the Christian life.

The prisoners must have felt Don Bosco's genuine concern for their welfare that they would open up things to him. He wrote "Little by little, I instilled in them self respect, and made them understand the reasonableness of earning one's daily bread by honest toil and not by thievery."

In his frequent visit to the prisoners, he learned precious lessons he would later on find useful for his educational apostolate.