St. Joseph Cafasso

Most of our information on Joseph Cafasso comes from his protege, Don Bosco, who wrote the saint’s biography. Joseph had served as Don Bosco’s schoolteacher, advisor, spiritual director, and faithful friend since they met in 1827 when Don Bosco was only 12 and Joseph was a young cleric, only a few years older.

Joseph had been born in Castelnuova d’Asti in the provinces and territories of Piedmont, Italy, in 1811. A ardent and obedient child, he was diminutive in prominence, somewhat weak in charter, and had a deformity of his spine. Nonetheless , none of these physical drawbacks would be held him back in his future work for the Church and for the recovery of souls.

Deciding at persons below the age of 15 to become a priest, Joseph studied at the seminary in Turin and was consecrated in 1833. He continued his theological studies at the seminary and then at the Institute of St. Francis and became a brilliant lecturer on moral theology. Ten years later he was appointed superior of the college and he remained so until his death. He made a profound notion on all his students — young pastors — often curing those in poor circumstances to finish their studies by providing them with the necessary journals and money.

Don Cafasso was a popular preacher and confessor, seeming to have a special gift for marking exactly what each repentant needed. He too had the ability to change centres; Don Bosco said of him,” A single message from him — a seem, a smile, his very presence — sufficed to allay melancholy, drive away temptation and raise holy resolving in the soul .”

In addition, Don Cafasso had a special charism towards captives and wasted a great deal of his time hearing their acknowledgments and helping them in any way he could. He was called the” Priest of the Gallows” because he attended 68 censured captives at their demises, hearing their admissions, encouraging them, listening to them, staying with them the entire nighttime before their executings, even accompanying them in the cart to the place of hanging. He offered up atonements and embarrassments for the redemption of their beings and devoted go before the Blessed Sacrament praying for each one of them, that none might be lost.

As well as his own life of service, the Church must be grateful to Don Cafasso for leader and patronage Don Bosco in his occupation of working with the youth of Italy, which Don Bosco became drawn to after expediting his instructor in his ministry to captives. After each trip to the prisons, Don Bosco’s stomach would be heavy with the thought of so many young men who had gone astray because they had no one to care for them or take an interest in them. With Don Cafasso’s encouragement, he began the Salesian order( specified for St. Francis de Sales) to aid boys and later the Daughters of Our Lady, Help of Christians to care for poor and forgot girls.

Don Cafasso, after look to have a premonition of his death, died at persons below the age of 49 from multiple ailments, including a belly bleeding. Despite the intense pain he must have suffered, he made no disorders but received Holy sacrament and went to confession several times during his last days, which dissolved June 23, 1860. He was immensely mourned, and his funeral, at which Don Bosco proclaimed, drew great crowds. He was canonized in 1947.


1. St. Joseph Cafasso worked devotedly in the training of young pastors, and his life of charity and embarrassment invigorated them in their vocations. Let us pray that all our clergymen and seminarians will find inspiring, holy instructors as did the students of Don Cafasso.

2. Tireless in his duties towards his students, to preaching and hearing admissions, to his prisoners, and to writing, John Bosco concluded that Don Cafasso was able to do so much by a special gift of the Holy spirit:” Such a pastor may in a sense be omnipotent, according to the expression of St. Paul,’ I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.'”

3. Don Bosco also testified to the fact that St. Joseph Cafasso never formerly gratified himself in recreations or sought to satisfy any personal wants. Despite his physical hampers, he never sought comfort but said,” The body is insatiable; the more we give in to it, the more it expects .” Let us pray to this saint who said ” Our rest will be in Heaven” and ask him to help us overcome our craves for comfort, remain, and idle recreations which do nothing to further the Kingdom of god here on earth or bring us to heaven to be with Him.

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