John Bosco (1815-1888) Beatified 2-5-1929 Canonized 1-4-1934 was born in the evening of 16 August 1815 in the hillside hamlet of Becchi, Italy. He was the youngest son of Francesco Bosco (1784–1817) and Margherita Occhiena. He had two older brothers, Antonio and Giuseppe (1813–1862). The Boscos of Becchi were farmhands of the Moglian Family. John Bosco was born into a time of great shortage and famine in the Piedmonteses countryside, following the devastation wrought by the Napoleonic wars and a drought in 1817.
When he was little more than two years old, his father Francesco died, leaving the support of three boys to his mother, Margherita. She played a strong role in Bosco's formation and personality and was an early supporter of her son's ideals.
Poverty prevented any serious attempt at schooling. John's early years were spent as a shepherd, and he received his first instruction from a parish priest. His childhood experiences are thought to have inspired him to become a priest. At the time, being a priest was generally seen as a profession for the privileged classes, rather than farmers, although it was not unknown. Some biographers portray his older brother Antonio as the main obstacle for Bosco's ambition to study, as the brother protested that John was just "a farmer like us!"
On a cold morning of February 1827, John left his home and went to look for work as a farm-servant. At 12, he found life at home unbearable because of the continuous quarrels with Antonio. Having to face life by himself at such a young age may have developed his later sympathies to help abandoned boys. After begging unsuccessfully for work, Bosco ended up at the wine farm of Louis Moglia.Although Bosco could pursue some studies by himself, he was not able to attend school for two more years. In 1830 he met Joseph Cafasso, a young priest who identified some natural talent in him and supported his first schooling. In 1835 Bosco entered the seminary at Chieri, next to the Church of the Immacolata Concezione. In 1841, after six years of study, he was ordained priest on the eve of Trinity Sunday by Archbishop Franzoni of Turin.