Saint John Bosco’s Dream About His Boys’ Gifts for Mary

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Saint John Bosco’s Dream About His Boys’ Gifts for Mary
Saint John Bosco’s Dream About His Boys’ Gifts for Mary

Amid the sorrows of seeing the defects of his boys, Saint John Bosco consoled himself with devotion to Our Lady. She was honored in May by the whole community in a unique way. May 30 was especially dedicated to the Blessed Mother with an evening talk. On one of these commemorations, Don Bosco related a dream:


“I saw a great and magnificently adorned altar dedicated to Our Lady. All the boys of the Oratory went in procession toward it. They sang the praises of the Heavenly Virgin, but not all in the same way, even though they sang the same song. Many sang well; others sang poorly and out of tune. Still others broke out of line while others seemed bored or laughed together. However, everyone offered gifts to Mary.


“They brought bouquets of all sizes. They had roses, carnations, violets and other flowers. However, I was horrified to see that some brought the Virgin strange gifts such as a pig’s head, a cat, a plate of toads, a rabbit, a lamb or other bizarre offerings.


“A handsome young man with wings stood before the altar. He was perhaps the guardian angel of the Oratory. As the young men offered their gifts, the angel received them and placed them on the altar.


“The first boys offered magnificent bouquets, and the angel placed them on the altar without saying anything. Other bouquets had spoiled flowers that he threw away and then reassembled and put on the altar afterward. Bouquets with odorless flowers, such as dahlias, camellias, etc., were also removed. The angel removed other flowers with thorns and nails.

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“A boy came with a pig’s head. The angel said to him, ‘How dare you offer this gift to the Most Sacred Virgin? Do you know what swine represents? It symbolizes the ugly vice of impurity. Mary, who is all pure, cannot tolerate this sin. Step aside! You are not worthy to stand before her.’


“Others presented a cat. The angel said to them, ‘How dare you bring Mary these gifts? Do you know what the cat symbolizes? It is a figure of theft, and you offer it to the Virgin? Thieves take money from their companions, steal food from the Oratory, tear their clothing out of spite and squander their relatives’ money by not studying.’ Thus, he made them withdraw to the sidelines.


“Some boys had toads to offer! The angel looked at them disdainfully: ‘Toads symbolize sins of scandal, and you offer them to the Virgin? Go with the other unworthy ones.’ They retreated in confusion.


“Others came with a knife plunged into their hearts, a symbol of sacrilege. The angel asked them, ‘Do you not see that you have death in your soul? You are now alive, only by the mercy of God. Otherwise, you would be in Hell. For pity’s sake, have that knife removed!’ They, too, were rejected.


“Gradually all the other young men approached. Some offered lambs, rabbits, fish, nuts and grapes. The angel placed everything on the altar. Having thus divided the good from the bad, he made all those whose gifts to Our Lady were acceptable line up before the altar. However, to my sorrow, those who had been set aside were far more numerous than I would have imagined.


“Then, two other angels appeared on either side of the altar. They held up two richly adorned baskets filled with magnificent crowns of roses. These roses were not earthly flowers but symbolic of immortality.

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“The guardian angel crowned all the young men arrayed before the altar. The crowns varied in size: some larger and others smaller, but all were of admirable beauty. I also noticed not only young men from the Oratory but many others whom I had never seen. Then I beheld a wondrous sight! There were some young men so unattractive that they made me feel disgusted by their ugliness. However, they were given the most beautiful crowns. I saw this as a sign that the virtue of chastity made up for their homely exterior. Many others had the same virtue but to a lesser degree. Many were distinguished by their practice of virtues like obedience, humility and love of God. All received appropriate crowns in proportion to their virtues.


“The angel told them, ‘Mary has willed today that you should be crowned with such beautiful roses. Remember to maintain your virtue so that they are not taken from you. To keep your crowns, practice humility, obedience and chastity. These three virtues will always make you acceptable to Mary and, one day, will make you worthy to receive crowns infinitely more beautiful.’


“Then the young men began to intone the hymn ‘Ave Maris Stella.’ After the first verse, they left in single file singing the song. I was amazed. I followed them for a while and then went back to see the young men the angel had set aside, but I could not find them.


“I know which ones were crowned and which were cast away. I will tell the individuals so that they may bring the Virgin gifts that she will accept.


“I have a few observations.

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“First observation: They all brought flowers to the Virgin, which had many qualities. However, I noticed that all of them had thorns. The thorns symbolized disobedience. It includes things like keeping money and not wanting to hand it over to the Prefect for safekeeping; asking permission to go to one place and then going to another; going to class late; eating secret snacks; and going to other people’s dormitories when forbidden. Whatever reason or pretext you may have, beware of getting up late; neglecting prescribed piety practices; talking when it is time for silence; buying forbidden books; sending letters without permission; and doing business by buying and selling with one another. All these things are thorns that diminish the value of your offerings.


“Many might ask, is it a sin to break the house rules? The answer is yes. Whether it is a mortal or venial sin depends on the circumstances. However, it is a sin. Someone might object that there is nothing in God’s law about disobeying the house rules! Yes, there is. It is found in the commandment: ‘Honor your father and mother!’ The words father and mother mean not only parents but also those who take their place.


“Is it not also written in the Holy Scripture: ‘Obey your superiors?’ They must have the power to command if you are told to obey. This is the origin of the rules of the Oratory, and they are obligatory.

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“Second observation: Some bouquets had nails in the flowers. Nails were used to crucify Jesus. How can that be? We offend God by always starting with the small things and then arriving at the big ones. For example, a boy wants money to spend on his whims and thus does not want to hand it over for safekeeping. Then, he sells his schoolbooks and ends up stealing money and other belongings from his companions. This is the way he falls into mortal sin. This is how the nails were found in those bouquets.


“Third observation: Many young men had rotten flowers or beautiful ones with no scent among the fresh and fragrant flowers in their bouquets. These rotten flowers signified good works done in mortal sin and thus without merit. The scentless flowers are good works done for human ends, such as ambition or pleasing one’s masters and superiors. The angel rebuked them for daring to bring such offerings to Our Lady. He sent them back to rearrange their bouquet. These boys withdrew, undid the bouquets, and removed the spoiled flowers. Having rearranged the flowers, they would tie them up as before and bring them back to the angel, who accepted and placed them on the table. Each boy came as soon as he was ready. Some came sooner, and others later. However, each returned his bouquet and went with those who received crowns.


“In this dream, I saw all that was and will be regarding my boys, both past and future. I have already spoken to many. I will talk to others later. In the meantime, you should give the Heavenly Virgin gifts that never have to be refused.”

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