Venerable Margaret Occhiena Bosco was born April 1, 1788 in Italy. She was baptized the same day. Her parents were peasants in a small Italian town. There were ten children in her family and many died young. But her family remained close to God.
The town was too small to have a school, thus Margaret was illiterate. Even though she had no schooling, she gained knowledge from church readings and homilies. She was kind and attractive. She found much comfort in prayer and offered her work to God for the happiness of others.
Near the town, a farmer named Francis Bosco lived. He was 27 years old and a man of great faith. His wife died leaving him with their son, Anthony. Francis was also left to care for his semi-paralyzed mother. One of Francis’ sisters lived near Margaret and he would visit her often.
Eventually, he met Margaret and later proposed to her. She declined stating that she needed to care for her parents. Her siblings assured her that they would watch over them. With her father’s permission, she married Francis on June 6, 1812.
On April 8, 1813, Margaret gave birth to Joseph. Then on August 16, 1815, John was born. He was baptized soon after. The same year, Francis bought a plot of land and the Boscos endured two years of drought. Following the droughts, Francis suddenly died of pneumonia. In his will he asked that 30 masses be said for him. John was only 21 months old.
Now, Margaret was left in charge of three sons, a farm and much debt. Margaret saw how important teaching her sons about Catholicism was and she played a major role in teaching them the faith. She held a special devotion to Mary which she passed to her sons.
When John was nine years old he had a dream. He saw wild animals turn to lambs by two personages. Upon hearing this dream, Margaret suggested that John’s calling was to priesthood and not the family profession of farming. On his first communion John told his mother that he wanted to be a priest and work for young people.
On June 5, 1841, John was ordained a priest. Margaret told him that celebrating mass means that he will begin to suffer. John decided he wanted to teach and help young children. During this time, Margaret was living a calm life as a grandmother.
In July 1846, John became ill and his mother prayed for Mary’s intercession. John regained his health. Later that year, John and Margaret left home and headed to Turin. This began the last ten years of Margaret’s life where she co-founded the Salesian Apostolate. This is a community of religious brothers and priests that still exists today. It took many orphaned boys of which Margaret played their mother figure. This earned her the nickname, Mama Bosco.
In November 1856, Margaret fell ill with a cough which was diagnosed as an incurable pneumonia. She told her living sons, Joseph and John that Our Blessed Lady will always be in charge. On the evening of November 24, Father Borel, her confessor gave her last rites. She died and had no tombstone because she was a pauper.
On October 23, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI declared her Venerable.
Ven. Margaret Bosco, please pray for Us!
[See also: 10 Holy Married Couples Who Were Both Saints!]