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   The Life of Dominic Savio

  Chapter XII  

His Spirit of Prayer. His Devotion to the Holy Mother of God. The Month of May.

Dominic was evidently endowed with special gifts from God, and among them was his assiduity and fervour in prayer. It seemed to be part of his very nature to converse with God, and no matter where he was, or what noises or games might be going on around him, his recollection was never disturbed, and his ejaculations were none the less frequent. At the general prayers of the boys, his manner can only be described as that of an angel; his attitude was devotion itself; he never seemed to want to rest even his elbows, but, kneeling, and with hands joined, his eyes cast down, he gave himself up to communing with God. To look at him thus was to be edified.

In 1854 the Count Cays was elected President of the Sodality of St. Aloysius, that was established at the Oratory. The first time he was present at the functions of the Sodality, he saw a boy at prayer with such an air of rapt devotion, that he was immediately struck by him. He inquired about him afterwards, and of course, it was our young friend. Dominic always managed to spend some part of his recreation in the chapel, generally getting a companion to go in with him, though he need not stay as long as Dominic did.

His devotion to Our Blessed Lady was like a burning fire within him. Every day he practised some act of mortification in her honour. Attracted by her heavenly beauty he had no desire of gazing on things of earthly mould, and the thought of her purity and modesty prevented him from taking interest in the ordinary entertaining sights of the town which so much attract the average boy. This abstraction or deep recollection, when out in the streets, was frequently remarked upon by his companions, and he generally explained it by saying that he was thinking of something far more interesting in connection with Our Lady and Heaven. To her he offered special devotions in the course of the day, particularly on Friday, in honour of the seven dolours, and he placed his own purity of soul in the keeping of that immaculate Virgin.

It was therefore a natural development that he should be carried away with special fervour during the month of May. There were always extra services in the church for the benefit of the public, and the boys took part in them. But Dominic was not satisfied with that. He arranged with certain companions to perform extra devotions every day, and he prepared a stock of examples and anecdotes concerning the devotion to Our Lady; with the aid of these he urged not a few boys to make an effort to celebrate the month with fervour. Needless to say, he received Holy Communion every day during that period and was a shining example to all those that came in contact with him.

A little incident is told in connection with this month. It was proposed by someone that a little altar should be erected in the dormitory to which Dominic belonged, and a collection was made all round for contributions towards its expense. Savio found himself among the number of boys who had no pocket money at the time; yet it was not to be thought of that he should be out of the contribution to so good a cause. He soon conceived a plan. He had among his books one that was of some value, which he had received as a prize. He proposed that this should be sold and the proceeds given to the altar. Others thought they would adopt the same plan; they accordingly got together a few of their things that might be desirable in the eyes of companions, and arranged to have a sort of lottery. Purchasers were soon found, and the result was ample for the decoration of the altar. Its adornment was to be done after night-prayers, by special permission, but Dominic was expressly advised to go to bed, as he had not been well of late; he obeyed, but it was quite a sacrifice for him to be deprived of doing something that he thought tended directly to the honour of her, of whom he was one of the most devout clients.