A number of years ago the hit film Slumdog Millionaire touched millions of people with its story of a youngster triumphing against all the odds. Dominic Savio, whose feast day is 9th March, did the same thing. In fact, he is a good patron ‘child saint’ for children today who struggle to get anywhere in life.
He is also of interest to us, because here in Bollington we have the Savio House Retreat Centre!
Savio (1842 – 57) was born into a poor family in Riva, near Turin. There were 10 children. The father was a blacksmith, the mother a seamstress. Somehow, they managed school fees, and when Dominic was 12, he was sent to the famous school of John Bosco at Turin.
A strict Roman Catholic school wasn’t exactly the set for ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’, but Savio loved it. He responded with enthusiasm to the wise and moderate spiritual guidance of Bosco, and began to grow. He was soon widely loved for his cheerfulness and friendliness to all. He was respected by fellow students for his mature, sound advice. Behind it all lay the key: Savio had discovered God for himself, and had responded with all his heart: one story of him tells how he was rapt in prayer for six hours continuously.
Sadly, Dominic Savio contracted tuberculosis. He accepted his disease with dignity and composure. He did not fear death – his deep and radiant faith assured him that something far better lay beyond.
Savio died aged only 15. He had never been a millionaire; his riches lay in his faith in Jesus Christ. The memory of this lovable lad lived on, so deeply had he touched the hearts of the people who knew him. Over 100 years later he was still remembered – and made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
Photo: Courtesy St Gregory’s Church Bollington