When my children were younger, we had a pet cat who, one warm summer day, escaped from the comforts of our home. We spent weeks looking for him. While out searching, an elderly couple walked by and asked us what we were doing. When we told them we were looking for our lost cat, they suggested we say a prayer to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.
Now, I might work for a Christian College these days, buy I grew up with very little exposure to church or religion. Back then, I never heard of patron saints and I couldn’t just run home and Google “Saint Anthony” – internet wasn’t yet available to me! So I mustered up what little faith I had and said a prayer to Anthony – and to God and Jesus – just in case.
The very next day, we found our cat and he went on to live with us – happy, warm, and healthy for another 10 years.
Since then I have learned a little bit more about patron saints. The church teaches us they are our heavenly protectors. They are our advocates.
In my research, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we printers have our own patron saint. His name is Saint John Bosco.
Bosco was a priest, a teacher, and a writer. He dedicated his life to the cause of education and helping children. Out of his work, a social movement grew with the purpose of sharing knowledge, religion and loving-kindness to young people, especially those who were poor.
Bosco’s service to young people started when he met a poverty-stricken orphan in Turin, Italy. He taught the young man about catechism and Holy Communion. It went so well, he decided to seek out other children to teach. His work soon landed him a position as a chaplain and wealthy donors began taking notice of the positive difference he was making in the community. The money he was taking in enabled him to provide workshops where he taught skills in the trades of shoemaking and tailoring.
By 1856, he was mentoring over 150 children. That is when he acquired a printing press for the school and added a rudimentary program in the graphic arts to his curriculum. The students published newsletters and pamphlets, mostly on the topics related to Catholicism. Print collateral also included a newsletter, The Salesian Bulletin. It was first published in 1877 and it has been published without interruption ever since. In 2010, the Bulletin was published in 56 different editions and 29 languages for 135 countries.
Bosco died in 1888 at the age of 72. There was an immediate demand to have him canonized but it was not unanimous. Some considered him a bit of a “wheeler dealer” and political cartoons of the day showed him shaking down community members for money. But, on April 1, 1934, Easter Sunday, Pope Pius XI canonized John Bosco, giving him the title “Father and teacher of Youth.”
Bosco was the subject of a 1935 film, a biography called Don Bosco.
You can learn more about the film here:
If you search for additional information on the internet, you will no doubt learn, among other things, Bosco was also an amateur illusionist. Thus he is known as the patron saint for magicians as well. My guess is this would come as no surprise to printers. After all, printing and the ability to work magic go hand-in-hand almost daily.
Happy Easter everyone, and remember, when the outsourcing threats are looming, when vendors and service technicians are not responding, and when you are struggling to build that perfect team of trained experts, winning innovators, and solution specialists, you always have Saint John Bosco – and IPMA – as your advocates.
Currently serving as Past President of the In-plant Printing Association, Dwayne Magee, CGCM is in his 13th year as Director of College Press and Postal Services at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. His department was the recipient of the 2015 IPMA Innovation Award, the 2017 ACUP Green Service Award, and the 2015 ACUP Collaborative Service Award.