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St. Dominic Savio’s Prophecy on England

Hugh O'Reilly
Many Catholics are unaware of a vision that St. Dominic Savio (1842-1857) had about England in 1857, the year of his death. The boy was born in Piedmont, in northern Italy and never set foot on English soil, which was Anglican protestant. Nonetheless, he had a great interest in the return to the Faith of this apostate country which once had proudly bore the title Our Lady’s Dowry.

Don Bosco remarks in his biography of the Saint that he often heard Dominic Savio state: "How many souls there are in England awaiting our assistance. There is nothing that would please me more, had I the strength and virtue, than to go there and help, by preaching and good works, to gain them to Jesus Christ." He frequently lamented the lack of zeal for this mission.


A Statue of the Saint in the St. Dominic Savio Retreat Center in Bollington, Cheshire, Engalnd

He asked Don John Bosco, founder of the Oratory he attended in Turin, to deliver the message he had received to Pope Pius IX. Don Bosco believed it important enough that in 1857, the very year of Dominic Savio’s death, he related the message to that Pope.

It is Don Bosco himself who relates to us the incident in his well-known book The Life of Dominic Savio:

It was remarkable that he often spoke about the Sovereign Pontiff, and expressed the desire of being able to see him as he had something of great importance to tell him.

As he had repeated this on several occasions, I one day asked him what the important matter was. He replied: "If I could have an interview with the Pope, I would tell him, that in spite of the great tribulations which he has to endure at present, he should never slacken in his special solicitude for England. For God is preparing a great triumph for Catholicism in that kingdom."

I asked him, "Why, what grounds have you for that statement?"

"I will tell you, but do not mention it to others, for they might think it ridiculous. But if you go to Rome, tell Pius IX for me.

“This is why I think so. One morning, during my thanksgiving after Communion, I had a repeated distraction, which was strange for me. I thought I saw a great stretch of country enveloped in a thick mist and it was filled with a multitude of people. They were moving about, but like men who, having missed their way, are not sure of their footing.

"Someone nearby me said: 'This is England.'

“I was going to ask some questions about it when I saw His Holiness Pius IX as I had seen him represented in pictures. He was majestically clad, and was carrying a shining torch with which he approached the multitude as if to enlighten their darkness. As he drew near, the light of the torch seemed to disperse the mist, and the people were left in broad daylight.

"'This torch,' said my informant, 'is the Catholic religion which is to illuminate England.'"

When I was in Rome in 1858, I related this vision to the Holy Father, who was greatly interested and said: ‘What you have told me confirms me in my resolution to do all that is possible for England, which has long been the object of my special care. What you have related is, at the very least, the counsel of a devout soul.’”

There are many other facts of a somewhat similar nature, but which are out of place in a small biography like this. I have left them on record, so that when, in the opinion of others, their publication is demanded, they may be given to the world.

The Pope had rightly stated his great interest in and concern for England. In May 1850, His Holiness Pius IX granted 200 days indulgence to all who would offer a devout prayer, as for example, one Hail Mary, – for the conversion of England.

That same year he issued Universalis Ecclesiae, a papal bull that reestablished the Catholic Diocesan Hierarchy in England, which had been wiped out after the death of the last Marian Bishop in the reign of Elizabeth I. Even though the Pope knew the bull would arouse great anti-Catholic feeling among English Protestants, he did not waver in his resolve.

Thus England could send 13 English Bishops to the Vatican Council I, which the Pope convoked in 1869. The U.S. was represented by 48 Archbishops and Bishops, and one Abbot.


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Excerpt from The Life of Dominc Savio by John Bosco,
online book. Chaps X, IX
Posted October 29, 2022

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