December 16

1849: Metric system

Don Bosco had already introduced the metric system at the Oratory years before the government made it compulsory. He wrote a book on the subject, “The Metric system” which was an instant success! Don Bosco, however, did not rest on his laurels. In that same Year he thought of another effective way to familiarize his pupils with the new system. He wrote and staged a brief three-act comedy entitled 11 Sistema Metrico-Decimale (The Metric System). The setting is a market-place with different characters representing buyers and sellers. (BM III, 421)

1859: Diligence in study

During the novena of Christians Don Bosco exhorted his boys to do their best. …I’m sure that this year you will do so well that not only will you pass your final exams with flying colors but each of you will also win a prize…At the close of this school year we will invite your parents and friends, pastors and mayors. What an honour for those who studied well. But even assuming that not all will have top marks, would it not be a rich reward in itself to be able to say: “I did my best. God is pleased with me, my parents are happy with my conduct, my heart is happy, and I have enriched my mind with useful knowledge.” (BM VI, 194)

1864: No waste

On the first day of the Christmas novena, Don Bosco exhorted the boys not to waste bread. “Let me tell you something else too. There is a lot of bread wasted in this house. Leftovers are everywhere: beneath the beds, on the stairs, in the playground and classrooms, and so on. I would do anything to avoid this waste because bread is God’s gift… Therefore, when you have leftover bread you intend to throw away for any reason, please bring it to me. I’ll use it as I think best.” (BM VII, 497)

1865: 10,000 lire for extended stay

Marchioness Gerini of Florence wanted Don Bosco to extend his stay there by another week. At first the saint was reluctant, but then he agreed. “Personally, I would gladly postpone my departure. If my Florentine friends are willing to provide food for my boys, I’ll stay here till the end of the week”.

“How much would you need for you boys for those few days?”

“Ten thousand lire.”

“If we raise this sum, will you stay?”


“All right, then, I will give you ten thousand lire.”

“I accept the deal.” (BM VIII, 136)

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