Born at Riva near Turin, Dominic was one of ten children of poor parents, a blacksmith and a seamstress. At the age of twelve he joined the famous school of John Bosco at Turin; under his guidance he seems to have quickly developed a spiritual maturity beyond his years. The wisdom and moderation of Bosco prevented Savio becoming either a fanatic or a prig. Under his direction he was outstanding for cheerfulness and friendliness to all, the exact observance of discipline and the provision of sound advice. Once he was rapt in prayer for six hours continuously. Another time he had a vision of a bishop ‘bringing light with a torch to the English people’. His health failed through tuberculosis, possibly aggravated by unsuitable treatment, and he died, apparently experiencing a vision of heaven, at the age of only fifteen. Soon afterwards John Bosco wrote his Life, which contributed substantially to his beatification in 1950 and canonization in 1954. As a child saint he could be compared to Aloysius Gonzaga or Maria Goretti. A few English churches and schools are dedicated to him. Feast: 9 March.
J. Bosco, The Life of Dominic Savio, tr. M. Russell (1934) and P. Aronica (1955);N.C.E., xii. 1104–5;B.L.S., iii. 88–91.