Tuesday, January 31, 2012

St. John Bosco and the Big Gray Dog

On various occasions throughout his life, St. John Bosco found himself aided by a mysterious, yet gentle and loyal, large gray dog. The dog would appear unbidden when St. John was passing through dangerous neighborhoods, traveling on foot through the dark countryside, or, most famously, once when attacked by thugs. (The dog chased the thugs away after giving them a good scare with his not-so-little teeth.) St. John called his intermittent companion Il Grigio, Italian for "The Gray One."

A mysteriously as he appeared, the dog would trot away after accomplishing his duty. Not once did St. John ever see the dog take food or water. And on at least one occasion, the dog somehow disappeared from a cottage in which all the doors and windows were shut.

St. John had no doubt as to the origin of his furry friend: "It sounds ridiculous to call him an angel, yet he is no ordinary dog." Indeed, the saint firmly believed that had it not been for the big gray dog, his work would have been severely hindered, if not stopped altogether.

John Bosco, of course, went on to institute and organize the Salesians, a religious order for men and women under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. Il Grigio reportedly retained a fondness for the Salesians long after John Bosco left the world. Between 1893 and 1930, sisters of the Salesian order testified that they had received the gray dog's protection on at least three separate occasions.

(A summary of information from Partners in Holiness: Guardian Angels in the Lives of the Saints)


  1. I borrowed this story for my blog post today - crediting you, of course! Thanks for the lovely story about St. John Bosco!

  2. My mother passed away July 31, 2016. Previously, she had told me a story about a "big white dog" that came to her childhood bedside when she was in danger of being repeatedly abused by a live-in 'friend'. The dog appeared suddenly, and disappeared just as suddenly when the danger (or person outside her door) passed. Just last year, her brother shared a story with his daughter of a "big white dog" coming to protect him when he was a boy. Neither my mom nor uncle shared the story of the dog with one another - it was only happenstance it was mentioned to me by my cousin. Surely, this was "Il Grigio" coming to their aid?

    1. Surely it was something not of this realm. What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing.