Giovanni Bosco – “Spiritual formation of the young through preaching, “goodnights” and dream accounts” in “Salesian Sources 1. Don Bosco and his work. Collected works”

In Don Bosco’s educational system preaching has special importance, both that which is bound up with the liturgical or catechetical context, and that of the informal, familiar kind. The saint often addressed the community of young people with brief and fervent talks aimed at stirring up their emotions, nurturing their minds, encouraging good resolutions and devout sentiments, and looking ahead to stimulating horizons.

In his familiar community chats before they went to bed at night ( “goodnights”) he mixed in the oratory genre of spiritual exhortation, imaginary and allegorical stories, communication, and educational reminders. The material in the archives is huge: we have chosen a few talks offering a panorama of Don Bosco’s preferred themes and his expressive style. The texts here are written up from notes taken by some of his listeners during or immediately after the saint spoke. Not every word is literal but they certainly contain the substance. The Biographical Memoirs make extensive use of this material, correct the language, integrate text and various testimonies. We have preferred to go with the sources. In the “goodnights” to the boys, Don Bosco made broad use of his dream accounts. He was a very able narrator, and this enabled him to imprint on the minds of his listeners the messages that he had most at heart. When recounting his dreams to the educative community at Valdocco “the pedagogical motive is often interlaced with the supernatural or openly providential.” We see this in the four examples here (nos. 210, 213, 217, 223) which, “in their allegorical construction”, are an excellent example of his communicative style and pastoral concerns.


Reference time period: 1858 – 1878

G. Bosco, “Spiritual formation of the young through preaching, “goodnights” and dream accounts” in “Section one. Guidelines on spiritual life for the young” in “Part three. Writings and testimonies of Don Bosco on spiritual life” by Aldo Giraudo in “Salesian Sources 1. Don Bosco and his work. Collected works“, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore 2017, 801-841.

Reference institution:
Istituto Storico Salesiano
Istituto Storico Salesiano

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