I've found that Saint John Bosco is a saint to whom one can go in tight, emergency situations and find real help.
Perhaps that is because in his earthly life, he was always in tight situations himself; persecuted by the enemies if the Church, low on funds, surrounded by hundreds of indigent boys in need of material and spiritual assistance.
Saint John Bosco was also favored by God with vivid and accurate dreams about the souls of his boys, heaven, hell, etc.
Visions of Saint John Bosco
Unlike the Early Christian, modern man (and Christian man) seldom thinks of Heaven. Indeed from the French Revolution to our days, the topic is unfortunately ignored.
So we greatly benefit by reading the accounts of two visions of Heaven by one of the world's most popular saints, Saint John Bosco (1815-1888) who was an apostle of youth and founder of the Salesian Fathers and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
His life was punctuated by supernatural intervention.
It is well known that St. John Bosco's mother played an important role in his formation and greatly assisted his work. Thus everyone affectionately called her, Mamma Margaret.
After her death, Mamma Margaret appeared to Saint John Bosco. He wrote about this vision in his Biographical Memoirs:
In August 1860, for example, he dreamed that he met her near the shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, along the wall surrounding Saint Anne's Monastery at the corner of the road as he was on he way back to the Oratory from the Convitto Ecclesiatico. She looked beautiful. "What? Are you really here?" Don Bosco asked. "Aren't you dead?"
"I died but I'm alive," Margaret replied.
"And are you happy?"
"Very happy." After several other questions, Don Bosco asked her if she had gone straight to heaven. Margaret answered negatively. He then inquired if several boys - whose names he mentioned - were in heaven, and he received an affirmative reply.
"Now tell me," Don Bosco went on, "what is it that you enjoy in heaven?"
"I cannot explain that to you."
"Give me at least an idea of your happiness; let me see a glimmer of it!"
Mamma Margaret then appeared radiant with majesty and clothed in a magnificent robe. As a large choir stood in the background, she began to sing a song of love of God that was indescribably sweet and went straight to the heart, filling it and carrying it away with love. It sounded as if a thousand voices and a thousand tones - from the deepest bass to the highest soprano - had all been blended together masterfully, delicately, and harmoniously to form one single voice, notwithstanding the variety of tones and the pitch of the voices ranging from loud to the barely perceptible. Don Bosco was so enchanted by this most melodious singing that he thought he was out of his senses, and he was no longer able to tell or ask his mother anything. When Mamma Margaret had finished singing, she turned to him and said: "I'll be waiting for you. The two of us must always be together." After speaking these words, she vanished.1
Saint Dominic Savio
St. John Bosco had another vision of Heaven in the form of a dream, which he related to his boys during one of his famous "bedtime talks."
In 1876, his recently-deceased disciple Saint Dominic Savio appeared to him in a dream.
As you know, dreams come in one's sleep. So during the night hours of December 6, while I was in my room - whether reading or pacing back and forth or resting in my bed, I am not sure - I began dreaming.
It suddenly seemed to me that I was standing on a small mound of hillock, on the rim of a broad plain so far-reaching that the eye could not compass its boundaries lost in vastness. All was blue, blue as the calmest sea, though what I saw was not water. It resembled a highly polished, sparkling sea of glass. Stretching out beneath, behind and on either side of me was an expanse of what looked like a seashore.
In St. John Bosco's dream, St. Dominic Savio appeared in a Paradise of grand gardens and indescribable beauty.
Broad, imposing avenues divided the plain into grand gardens of indescribable beauty, each broken up by thickets, lawns, and flower beds of varied shapes and colors. None of the plants we know could ever give you an idea of those flowers, although there was a resemblance of sorts. The very grass, the flowers, the trees, the fruit - all were of singular and magnificent beauty. Leaves were of gold, trunks and boughs were of diamonds, and every tiny detail was in keeping with this wealth. The various kinds of plants were beyond counting. Each species and each single plant sparkled with a brilliance of its own. Scattered throughout those gardens and spread over the entire plain I could see countless buildings whose architecture, magnificence, harmony, grandeur and size were so unique that one could say all the treasures of earth could not suffice to build a single one. If only my boys had one such house, I said to myself, how they would love it, how happy they would be, and how much they would enjoy being there! Thus ran my thoughts as I gazed upon the exterior of those buildings, but how much greater must their inner splendor have been!
As I stood there basking in the splendor of those gardens, I suddenly heard music most sweet - so delightful and enchanting a melody that I could never adequately describe it. Compared with it, the compositions of Father Cagliero and Brother Dogliani are hardly music at all. A hundred thousand instruments played, each with its own sound, uniquely different from all others, and every possible sound set the air alive with its resonant waves. Blended with them were the songs of choristers.
In those gardens I looked upon a multitude of people enjoying themselves happily, some singing, others playing, but every note, had the effect of a thousand different instruments playing together. At one and the same time, if you can imagine such a thing, one could hear all the notes of the chromatic scale, from the deepest to the highest, yet all in perfect harmony. Ah yes, we have nothing on earth to compare with that symphony.
One could tell from the expression of those happy faces that the singers not only took the deepest pleasure in singing, but also received vast joy in listening to the others. The more they sang, the more pressing became their desire to sing. The more they listened the more vibrant became their yearning to hear more…
As I listened enthralled to that heavenly choir I saw an endless multitude of boys approaching me. Many I recognized as having been at the Oratory and in our other schools, but by far the majority of them were total strangers to me. Their endless ranks drew closer, headed by Dominic Savio, who was followed immediately by Father Alasonatti, Father Chiali, Father Guilitto and many other clerics and priests, each leading a squad of boys…
Once that host of boys got some eight or ten paces from me, they halted. There was a flash of light far brighter than before, the music stopped, and a hushed silence fell over all. A most radiant joy encompassed all the boys and sparkled in their eyes, their countenances aglow with happiness. They looked and smiled at me very pleasantly, as though to speak, but no one said a word.
Dominic Savio stepped forward a pace or two, standing so close to me that, had I stretched out my hand, I would surely have touched him. He too was silent and gazed upon me with a smile…
At last Dominic Savio spoke. "Why do you stand there silent, as though you were almost devitalized?" he asked. "Aren't you the one who once feared nothing, holding your ground against slander, persecution, hostility, hardships and dangers of all sorts? Where is courage? Say something!"
I forced myself to reply in a stammer, "I do not know what to say. Are you Dominic Savio?"
"Yes I am. Don't you know me anymore?"
"How come you are here?" I asked still bewildered.
Savio spoke affectionately. "I came to talk with you. We spoke together so often on earth! Do you not recall how much you loved me, or how many tokens of friendship you gave me and how kind you were to me? And did I not return the warmth of your love? How much trust I placed in you! So why are you tongue-tied? Why are you shaking? Come ask me a question or two!"
Summoning my courage, I replied, "I am shaking because I don't know where I am."
"You are in the abode of happiness," Savio answered, "where one experiences every joy, every delight."
"Is this the reward of the just?"
"Not at all! Here we do not enjoy supernatural happiness but only a natural one, though greatly magnified."
"Might I be allowed to see a little supernatural light?"
"No one can see it until he has come to see God as He is. The faintest ray of that light would instantly strike one dead, because the human senses are not sturdy enough to endure it."2
Here ends his dream of Saint Dominic Savio referring to Paradise.