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   The Life of Dominic Savio

  Chapter V  

Dominic's School-Life at Mondonio. His Conduct Under a Calumnious Charge.

It would seem that Divine Providence had designed to make it clear to Dominic that this world is truly a land of exile, where, like pilgrims, we are always moving from place to place; or it may have been that it was in order to make him known in several districts, that his virtues might be displayed in each.

As has been mentioned, it was towards the close of the year 1852 that Dominic's parents found that their boy's health would necessitate another change of abode, and this time they went to Mondonio, a village not far away from Castelnuovo. Here again we find that nothing but the most edifying reports are given of Dominic. It will not be necessary to quote a full account given by his master at Mondonio, for it repeats the good points mentioned by his former master at Murialdo. Attention will be drawn only to certain facts of particular importance.

The priest in question, writes: "I can state, without hesitation, that during my twenty years experience with boys I never met one to equal Savio in frank and genuine piety. He was gifted, with a wisdom beyond his years; and his diligence, application and affability, made him a favourite both with masters and companions. When I noticed him in church his recollection was such as to fill me with wonder; his manner and attitude suggested the thought: "Here is an innocent soul to whom the delights of heaven are opened, and who by his piety soars aloft to the company of the angels in Heaven."

The following incident is worthy of special record:

"One day a serious offence had been committed by certain pupils of mine, and the guilty ones, when found, were to be expelled. The culprits thought out several expedients in order to escape the punishment, and at last settled on the plan of accusing Dominic of the offence. I very naturally refused entirely to believe that Dominic would be capable of any such thing, but the story and accusation were so skilfully put together, that it had all the semblance of truth and conviction.

When I entered the school in the morning, prepared to deal with the matter, I was in an indignant frame of mind, and spoke in general terms to the class. Then I turned to Savio and spoke very severely to him, telling him that he deserved to be expelled, and it was only because it was the first offence he had been guilty of, that he would not be sent away; but that if ever the like occurred again, expulsion would certainly follow. Dominic might have very easily shown that he was entirely innocent, but he made no reply. He hung down his head, as one who was deservedly reproved, and made no attempt at clearing his character.

But it is seldom God's way to let the innocent remain under the cloud of calumny, and on the very next day the culprits were discovered. Deeply regretting now the harsh terms of the reproof I had made to the boy, I sent for him and said: "Why did you not tell me that you had had nothing to do with it?" He replied in his usual candid manner: "I knew that the guilty boy was already under threat of expulsion for other things, but I hoped to be forgiven, since it was the first act of misconduct ever imputed to me at school. I also remembered that Our Lord had been unjustly accused:"

At this reply I was silent; I somehow felt that there was nothing more to be said; not only the masters, but the whole school admired this act of generous resignation to suffering and insult on behalf of others, especially at the risk of being humiliated and disgraced.