Grigio: Father Bosco's Guardian Angel

Grigio, described by many as a German shepherd-looking dog, would appear out of nowhere to protect Father Bosco from the anti-clerical factions in Italy during the 19th century.

"Photographic enlargement of the grey wolf defender dog of Don Bosco"

John Bosco (1815-1888), popularly known as Don Bosco, was an Italian Roman Catholic priest - and declared a Saint some 40 years after his death. The good priest devoted his life to helping the disadvantaged youth, and was hated by many evil people who wanted him dead.

One dark evening in 1852 as Father Bosco walked through the deserted streets of Turin, in northern Italy, a big grey dog approached him. At first the priest was scared but quickly realized the dog was friendly as he gently greeted him with a wagging tail. The dog walked alongside Father Bosco and when they arrived at the gate to his home the dog trotted away.

That was the first of many encounters the two had when the priest would walk at night. The dog, who Father Bosco named Grigio (the Italian word for grey), would appear out of nowhere then disappear when the priest safely reached his destination. On two occassions Grigio fought off attackers by knocking them to the ground, and on another occasion the dog's fierce look and savage growls were enough to scare a mob of assailants away.

One night Father Bosco was determined to go out to attend to an urgent matter despite his mother's pleas to stay home. As the priest approached his gate he saw Grigio lying in front of it. He was happy to see the dog thinking he would follow him but Grigio would not budge or let Father Bosco go pass him. The priest's mother told him if he wasn't going to listen to her he should at least listen to the dog, who had more sense than him. Father Bosco stayed and about 15 minutes later he learned that some dangerous men were waiting down the road to kill him.

As long as the persecution lasted Grigio was there to protect Father Bosco and when the danger passed he stopped coming. For years Grigio was not seen, until one night in 1866 when the priest went to visit a friend. As he walked down the dark road he remembered a couple of guard dogs were close by and wished Grigio was with him. At once the big grey dog appeared at his side. They headed to his friend's farmhouse and when the two guard dogs came after them Grigio scared them away. They made it to the friend's house safely and Grigio laid in a corner of the room while the priest and his friend dined. Later, when Father Bosco turned around to offer Grigio some food the dog was no longer there. This time his disappearing act was not just trotting away, he left a home with the door and windows shut. This was the last encounter Father Bosco had with Grigio.

When Father Bosco was asked to give an opinion on the nature of the grey dog "...he admitted that the dog was a creature worthy of note in his life. Although saying that the dog was an angel would have certainly made ​​people laugh, nevertheless he had to admit that he was not a common dog. Don Bosco often thought about the origin of that dog and he admitted that he had been a true gift from Providence."

The top picture is an enlargement of this one. You can see the dog in the lower right corner. -1959

Almost a hundred years after Father Bosco's last encounter with Grigio a dog fitting the description of Grigio was spotted outside a church where Bosco's casket laid. According to Bro. Renato Celato, the dog somehow managed to get inside the locked church and was crouched under the casket. When the casket was transported to another destination the dog was seen following the van for several miles before disappearing.