It is the feast day of Saint John Bosco, the extraordinary priest of the 1800s who revolutionized education for boys, first in his native Italy and then throughout the world. He died on January 31st, 1888, but over a century later he is still renowned for the prophetic dreams he had.  It is part of our spiritual inheritance from John Bosco that the dreams he had concerning the boys in his care may help reveal our souls to ourselves just as they revealed the secrets of salvation to Italian schoolboys. 

Once John Bosco dreamed he was in the middle of the playground and the boys of the oratory congregated around him. Every boy held a rose, a lily or a violet. Some boys had both a rose and a lily, or some other flower. All of a sudden, this sweet scene was thrown into chaos by the unhappy appearance of an ugly and vicious cat. When Bosco related this dream to his boys, he described the ferocious feline as being, "black as had horns, eyes as red as live coals, long sharp claws and a disgustingly swollen belly".  

The cat was a sneaky beast and Bosco saw him slink stealthily towards the boys until he was close enough to claw the flowers from their hands and dash them to the ground. John Bosco fell into panic at the sight of this grasping cat, but the boys remained totally unperturbed and did not mind that the beautiful flowers had been snatched from them. So terrified was John Bosco that he wanted to flee, but just then his guide appeared, the angelic man who came to lead Bosco through his dreams. "Don't run away! Tell your boys to raise their arms up high beyond the beast's reach," his guide commanded Bosco, and Bosco promptly instructed his boys to raise their arms high over the beast's ability to claw their palms. The horned cat did his best to jump up, but his heavy pot belly weighed him down he and he fell to the ground. 

After he had time to reflect, Bosco gave his boys a talk on his dream which entailed revealing that the cat was really the devil. Bosco stressed that the lily is a symbol of the beautiful virtue of purity, "against which the devil wages endless war" and that "Woe to those who keep their flower low! The devil will snatch it from them." There is a need to hold their virtue in a high place, and not treat it carelessly, yet when it came to the practical advice on how to maintain purity and fight the devil, Bosco did not mention sexual sins, which I found surprising. Instead he said that purity is compromised by over-eating, total disregard for fasting, avoidance of responsibility and by wayward indulgence in certain conversations and books. Why, you may ask, did he put such emphasis on habitual gluttony which leads to abhorrence of fasting?  Bosco drew his boys attention to the verse from Sacred Scripture, "This kind of devil can be cast out only by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17.20)

Too often purity is seen in terms purely of abstinence from illicit sexual activity, but it bears further reflection that Bosco was told that the devil wages constant war on the virtue of purity, and even if we are to be chaste, there is a need for both prayer and fasting in order to drive out the devil who will otherwise stalk us relentlessly. In our wills, we need to give purity a high place of honor, and see habitual gluttony, even food addiction not just as that which can make us fat or unhealthy in our bodies, but as dangers to the soul because they are the means by which we disqualify ourselves from regular fasting, which combined with prayer is the only way the devil can be driven out of our lives.


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This post was informed by 40 Dreams of St John Bosco (Tan Publishers) which you may buy here.  


  1. Mary, traditionally glutton is seen as a related and doorway sin for sins of impurity. Why is that? This is because they are both sins of the flesh as opposed to being sins of the spirit.

    The great Evagrius of Pontus states in his work Eight Thoughts:"#11 Extravagance in foods pleases the throat, but it nourishes unsleeping worm of licentiousness."

    Evagrius also states in his On the Vices Opposed to the Virtues:"#2 Fornication is a conception of gluttony, which softens the heart in advance. "

    1. James, dear friend, Thank you so much for this comment and for bringing Evagrius of Pontus to our attention. Yes, I am beginning to understand better the distinction between sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit.

      Your comment calls to mind the old folk that I knew as a child in Ireland, who had known genuine hunger as children and - this brings a tear - they were the purest people I ever knew. Not just in their romantic relationships, but they always, always gave to someone in need, they had such purity of heart.

  2. Sorry to cut in here since it hasn't anything to do with the subject matter. I am trying to locate Bosco's visions of Russia and its invasion of Europe and its subsequent conversion (black flag turning white). I have run across a late Fr. Gruner video about this which i was not aware of prior.

    Fr. Gruner, 2007 Conference

    In the prophetic visions of St. John Bosco we see that the pope will not consecrate Russia until Russia invades the West. St. John Bosco had a vision of the Russian armies in France, and they have not been there yet this century for the last 100 years. They will bring with them a black standard or a black flag, while they are in France, their standard will turn from black to white. That moment will be when Russia has been consecrated and it has converted. The Russian armies will then stay in France and Western Europe, not as enemies but as friends to defend Europe from the invasion from the South. As St. John Bosco summarizes his dream Salvation is from the north. Danger is from the south, meaning the Islamic armies that are marching into Europe.

    Would you know about this Mary?

    1. Dear Samuel, Thank you so much for your fascinating question. I have not come across this dream before, but wow, is it epic. There are large volumes of records and diaries that the book, 40 Dreams of St John Bosco drew from, it would be worth getting the sources for this book. This would, most likely I would think, be with the Salesian Order. I'll keep thinking and get back to you if I have more; I'll also put in a prayer to Saint Anthony to find the source texts so you may have the original copy of St John Bosco's diary entry for the dream of Russia invading the West.


      Mary, this is what i was sent as evidence for Fr. Gruner's view. His reasons are in that video clip from Matt Gaspers. I don't know. Thoughts?

    3. Hey Mary. Found this as a source for Fr. Gruner's position on Russia invading Europe etc. I tried to send this few days ago but hasn't shown up on this blog.

      What are your thoughts?

    4. Dear Samuel, Thank you so much for giving me this - apologies I have been late in replying - I have not checked my comments as regularly these days. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, I a honored you would ask me for my thoughts. I am, however, in deep prayer these holy days, and I'd like to read and meditated on the 3 Prophecies of Don Bosco. I can get back to you by mid-April at the latest. I'd love to post on the Prophecies soon, but have so many deadlines my fingers can't type fast enough. I thank you again, and my prayers go to you, In Jesus Crucified, Mary

    5. Dear Samuel, I hope you are having a blessed Eastertide. Alas, April has passed and I have failed in my promise to give you my thoughts on this prophetic dream of John Bosco. Apologies. I am utterly consumed with my Padre Pio book, but I believe it is finally coming together.

    6. Hello Mary. How had yhe book been progressing? Have you ever come across St pio saying the world will experience an unexpected miracle?

    7. Dear Samuel, Thank you so much for your comment and for your patience with me. My book on Pio has been progressing better than ever in the past month, and I hope to finish it by Christmas, then publish it in 2024. I'm trying to make it as accessible as possible for the youngest adults in the Church, "Gen Z" as they are known. This has imposed a great challenge; trying to make Pio's life as vivid and real as I can.

      I have not come across Pio saying that there would be an unexpected miracle, but he fully endorsed Our Lady of Fatima who said her Immaculate Heart would triumph. This miracle may be in the volume of Pio's prophecies, which I have not read; they are kept at his friary in San Giovanni Rotondo.

      If I hear anymore about the miracle you mention, then I'll let you know here, in the comments. 'Til then, God bless you and your intentions, Mary


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