Choirboys are a popular and beloved image of the church. They are an essential part of many worship services, their voices contributing to the other choirs and instruments to create some of the most beautiful music on earth. They are also featured in other cultural media due to their portrayed image of innocence and devotion.
Those in the Catholic Church have a special patron saint that they believe will help guide them towards that personal holiness that can be reflected in their actions, their lifestyle, and in their worship. St. Dominic Savio was the archetype for such piety and purity, seen as an ideal combination for believers of all ages.
Dominic’s life may have been short, but he spent it all in devotion to God, and so he is honored by the worldwide church and presented as an example for all of us to live by, especially those who stand front and center in many worship services.
8 Facts about St. Dominic Savio
#1 When did Dominic Savio live?
Dominic Savio was born in 1842 in a small town in Italy. From a young age, he engaged in religious exercises without prompting and was a model student at his village school.
#2 What was unique about his life?
He received his first Communion at the age of seven, much lower than what was regularly permitted by the Church at the time, making lifelong promises he kept in a personal journal. He was also selected by St. John Bosco to attend the Oratory of St. Francis.
Perhaps the most unique thing about him was that he consciously resolved to become a saint, and deliberately lived his life with sainthood in view. While focusing on the highest standards of personal holiness, he also paid close attention to his normal chores and daily life, recognizing that they were an important part of his devotion.
He also founded a group at the Oratory called the Company of the Immaculate Conception, which devoted itself to the then-novel idea that Mary was born without original sin, and encouraged added devotional focus among its members.
#3 What miracles are attributed to him?
He was found several times deep in prayer, almost as if he was conversing directly with God. He called these times his “distractions.”
He also returned home under the impression that his mother was sick; when he got there, he discovered that his mother was pregnant and in labor. He embraced her, and her pain disappeared and the rest of the labor was normal.
#4 How did he die?
His health began failing at a young age, and he was sent home. He died at the age of fourteen.
He felt during his last months that his death was near, and even took great interest in indulgences and penances focused towards the end of a person’s life.
#5 What records of his life do we have?
St. John Bosco wrote his biography, The Life of Dominic Savio, which was a major element of his canonization. The thorough records of his piety and personal pursuits of righteousness included other accounts of holding others to high standards of holiness, as well as the visions that the young student relayed to his mentor.
#6 How does someone become a saint?
After a person has died, their life is investigated by an official expert authorized by the Church. Their initial report is submitted to the bishop of their diocese and further investigation is performed. They may then submit the individual to the office of the Pope for recognition by the universal church. If this recognition is granted, they will have been venerated by the Church, and are given the title “Venerable.”
The next level involves further research, and if warranted the person is beatified and is given the new title “Blessed.”
The final level of investigation determines whether or not miracles were performed. Proof of at least two miracles performed by God through this person must be verified. Once this is proven, the Pope may canonize this person as a saint through a public proclamation.
#7 When did St. Dominic Savio become canonized?
Some years after his death, as he was first presented for canonization, there was some debate that he was too young. However, the papacy thought that his life and experiences were worthy of recognition: he was venerated in 1933, beatified in 1950, and declared a saint in 1954.
#8 What is his patronage?
Some Christian denominations, such as Catholicism, recognize certain saints as able to intercede before God in prayer on behalf of those suffering from a particular ailment or to pray on behalf of a certain kind of believer. Others do not believe that saints can intercede on behalf of the living when they die.
St. Dominic Savio is the patron saint of choirboys, the falsely accused, and juvenile delinquents. The youth-centered patronages are directly related to his experiences in school due to his participation in numerous religious activities, including choir. He also actively tried to reform friends and classmates that he believed were going astray.
St. Dominic Savio is a relatively modern saint, as well as a particularly young one. However, his life and devotion are examples that can teach even the most knowledgeable and experienced believers. His awareness that all people may become saints and his conscious attention to personal matters of holiness can encourage us all to try harder to live for Christ.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.