Italy in the mid-1880s was not the best place for farming families. Many farms were failing, and in the face of mounting poverty, parents sent their sons into the cities to work in the rapidly expanding factories. Sadly, however, with no child labor laws, these boys were often subjected to very harsh conditions.
Working for pennies a day, most of them could not even afford a place to live. They ended up sleeping in abandoned buildings or on the streets or in the fields outside of town. Many of the boys, demoralized and lonely, dropped out of work and became street urchins instead. It was a harsh life, and very few came through these years unscathed.
It was into this environment that God called a man—himself from a poor farming family—to show these boys a different way to live. They didn’t have to succumb to cynicism, bitterness, and compromise. They didn’t have to resign themselves to a hardscrabble life of doing whatever it takes to get by. And more importantly, their lives could be much different if they gave their hearts to Jesus. That man’s name was John Bosco.…
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