The Life of Dominic Savio
My First Meeting with Dominic Savio. Some Curious Incidents Connected With It.
The matter contained in the following chapters is based upon more personal and complete evidence, for almost all the incidents occurred under my own notice, and also in the presence of a large number of boys who are unanimous in their attestation of them.
It was in 1854 that Fr. Cugliero, the priest who relates the incidents mentioned in the foregoing chapter, came to see me about a pupil of his. "Here in your Oratory," he said, "there might possibly be boys equal to him, but I can safely assert that there is none to excel him; in fact you find him to be another St. Aloysius."
At that time I used to take my boys occasionally to Murialdo. It was a little country place, where a short time was spent for the benefit of enjoying the country air and open life; and there we usually made the Novena in preparation for, and celebrated the Feast of the Holy Rosary. It was accordingly arranged that while I was at Murialdo, Dominic should be brought over from Mondonio to see me.
lt was therefore at Murialdo, on the first Monday in October 1864, that I became acquainted with Dominic Savio. He was accompanied by his father, and as they came up to speak to me, I noticed his pleasant, but respectful manner, and something in his demeanour fixed my attention upon him. When he came up I put a question to him, to which he answered: "I am the boy of whom Fr. Cugliero has spoken to you. I have come with my father from Mondonio."
We walked together and I questioned him about his studies, and his desires for the future, and we were immediately on the most friendly and confidential terms. I may say that I at once recognised a boy after God's own heart, and I could not help being struck by the workings of grace, already manifest in one of such tender years.
After some minutes conversation, and before I could turn aside to speak to his father, he said to me: "Well, what do you think of the matter; will you take me to Turin to study?" I replied that I thought there was very good material to work upon. "And what do you think you can make of it?" Seeing that he fully grasped my meaning I said: "Something beautiful and acceptable to God." To this he replied:
"Then I must be the material and you are to fashion it; take me with you therefore." "But," I said, "I am afraid that your delicate health would not stand the strain of much study." "I don't think we need fear on that point," he said. "God's given me health and every assistance till now, and He will surely help me in the future." I then asked him what he thought of doing when his preliminary course was finished. To this he replied: "If I could hope for such a favour from God, I ardently desire to become a priest." "Very well," I replied; "now I want to see whether you are able to learn quickly; take this little book and study this page of it; tomorrow I shall see if you know it.
I then sent him to see the other boys and to join in their games, while I talked to his father. But a little surprise awaited me, for hardly ten minutes had elapsed when Dominic came back, and said with his usual pleasant manner: "If you like I will recite that page to you now." I took the book in some astonishment, and this only increased when he recited the page by heart, and could explain any passage in it. "Well done," I said, "as you have anticipated your lesson, I shall anticipate my answer. I will take you to Turin and you will be one of my chosen boys; you must pray that God will help both you and me to do His Holy Will."
Not knowing how to express his great gratitude he took my hand, and said: "I hope my behaviour will never give you cause for complaint."