St. Dominic Savio
Patron of Choristers and the Wrongfully Accused
My very first saint crush was a young man by the name of Dominic Savio. (Oh don’t look at me like that. Every good adolescent Catholic girl has her saint crushes. Trust me.) Why, you may wonder, does this boy hold such a special place in my heart? The answer to that is simple: he loved Jesus, more than anything else in the world, and that, my friends, is attractive. Let me explain why this young man was so special that he was, without being a martyr, cannonized less than 100 years after his death.
Dominic Savio was born in 1842 near Turin, Italy (you know, where the Shroud was found?) to poor but hardworking and very devout parents. He was one of ten children. From an early age everyone knew that this little boy was not quite like the others. By the time he was five, he was an altar boy, uncommon because he had yet to receive his First Holy Communion. The local priest though found him to be so exceptionally holy that he made an exception for little Dominic. He saw what everyone else around him saw, that the little Savio boy was flat out awesome.
When he was seven, he was finally able to receive his First Holy Communion. I say “finally” because he had been begging for it practically since he could talk. That day is particularly special because it’s when he wrote his four rules for his life:
Resolutions made by me, Dominic Savio, in the year 1849, on the day of my First Communion, at the age of seven.
1. I will go to Confession often, and as frequently to Holy Communion as my confessor allows.
2. I wish to sanctify the Sundays and festivals in a special manner.
3. My friends shall be Jesus and Mary.
4. Death, but not sin!
- He took these four promises very seriously, and by all accounts never once wavered from them. The fourth one he took as his motto, “Death, but not sin!” Yeah, a seven year old chose that as his motto. First, how many seven year olds do you know who are focused enough to choose themselves a motto (or who need one for that matter), and second, how many of them would choose a motto like that? Seriously? I would think more along the lines of “Superhero, or bust!” I don’t know many adults who would want a motto like that like, let alone any of us who could actually live up to it, as Dominic did, from the day he chose it until the end of his short life.
- Of course, it helped that his teacher was another saintly person, Don Bosco. He saw that Dominic was “of good material”, to which Dominic replied, “Well then, you are a good tailor, so if the material is good, take me and make a new suit of me for Our Lord!” This was at the age of 12. Dominic just kept literally getting better and better.
- Dominic entered Don Bosco’s Oratory school and, while there, he only grew in holiness. He stopped fights (by doing things like standing between two boys and holding up a crucifix; kinda puts a damper on a good old rock throwing fight), he tore up a dirty magazine (and made the boys looking at it realize just how skanky they were), and just generally brought his fellows closer to God. He saw this, as most saints in the making see it: as his Christian duty. Dominic was just kinda good like that, a real mensch.
- Sadly, Dominic grew ill and died young, real young, at almost 15. Apparently, he wasn’t upset about this at all. That whole “gotta get to the heaven” thing works like that. With his family around him, and after saying goodbye to his father, his last words were, “I am seeing such wonderful things!” Then, he closed his eyes and entered his final reward. Doesn’t that make you almost want to cry? I mean, I know I did when I first read it at the age of 11.
- Here was a boy who clearly knew that this is not our home and who had a plan of action that would lead him to heaven. His four simple steps that any of us can follow if we choose to are nothing amazing. They are, in fact, the work of a seven year old. Dominic is a saint because he followed them, because he wanted to get to heaven more than he wanted anything else in this world, and we can all learn from this. And you know what? That’s hot.