The holy friendship that brought John Bosco seminarian to Christian perfection

In the late autumn of 1846, Louis Comollo entered the seminary. From the first day, he got closer to Jean Bosco. The bond of holy friendship that unites them will ever tighten.
Could we imagine two more different natures? John brimming with activity, always in search of some good joke, endowed with steel muscles and iron health; the peaceful student of Cinzano, withdrawn into himself, clumsy and pale, how to reconcile these opposites?
It is precisely thanks to these dissimilarities that they complement each other perfectly. Jean communicates to his friend something of his burning energy, oriented towards the practical, while Louis Comollo, him, is a model of perseverance in the search for the best and deep piety. If ever, after the venerable Don Cafasso, the seminary of Chieri sheltered a saint, it is Louis Comollo, it is thought everywhere.
Without suspecting it, Louis becomes the guardian angel of his friend. He delicately points out his faults. If it happens that carried away by the passion of his temperament, Jean commits a playfulness a little hurtful, a calm and serious look of Louis is enough to make him understand and regret his forgetfulness.
One evening That John, after having been part of tarots with his confreres, goes, very warm, towards the chapel:
"You hadn't it better to stop, John?" his friend sadly asks him.
"What do you mean?"
— Tarots. I am afraid that it will be difficult for you to pray well after such an evening.
"You're right," John confesses.
And he decides not to touch a card anymore.
There is a point on which John is unable to compete with his friend. Louis is already, despite his youth, a master of asceticism. At the table, he is satisfied with the most indispensable, a little water and bread often, especially during Lent. John preaches moderation to his friend:
"You exaggerate, Louis. So many deprivations harm your poor health. What can you do, having become a priest, if you exhaust your strength now?
"I will never be ordained a priest," replies Louis gravely.
"What do you mean?" Would you doubt your vocation?
"No, but I do not believe that the good Lord allows me to reach this day.
— How so? How to think of death on such a beautiful spring morning?
— It doesn't matter. I have a hunch of my impending death. But you have to promise me one thing: to pray every day for me, when the good God has reminded me of him.
"I gladly promise you; but, if it is you who survive me, you will render me the same service. Come on, now let's change the conversation!
When he thinks of Louis, Father Bosco recognizes himself far from perfection. How much progress remains to be made! He sees this especially during the holidays.
Invited by the owner Turco, the seminarian goes hunting and utters a cry of victory when he puts in play and shoots his first hare. But he suddenly sees Louis' calm gaze fixed on him. What would his friend say if he saw him like this, without cassocks, in a straw hat and with his sleeves rolled up? "Is this suitable for a future priest?"
Jean will no longer go hunting.
Another time, he attended the golden wedding of his uncle Matthew, who would reach the patriarchal age of one hundred and two years. When the banquet was over, he was asked to play the violin. John apologizes: he doesn't have his instrument. Never mind! One was found in a nearby house and the seminarian, after some trial and error, attacked guillerets.
It comes alive, it warms up; the violin gets carried away and excited. Couples are formed. The dance begins.
"Holà! Perfect cries the old uncle. I, too, would like to risk a little rigodon! »
Boys and girls twirl and swirl. Suddenly the frenzied bow stops. John deposits his instrument.
"Well, what?" Don't you play anymore?
— I think that's enough for today. »
Jean has just seen his friend's disapproving look again: "John, do you want to become a priest and you make the youth dance like a fiddler?"
Arrived home, Jean takes his violin, a memory of his former boss Robert the tailor, and crushes it under his heels. A gesture of madness, it will be said, but Jean Bosco is not for half-measures.
It was still his nature that prevailed. We have a lot to do with such a temperament.
During the holidays of 1838, Jean was visiting Louis in the village of Cinzano. The two friends of walk on the slopes of the famous vineyard country.
"It's hardly worth doing the harvest this year," says Jean sadly. Phylloxera destroyed almost everything. Poor peasants! They will have gone to great lengths for nothing.
"This is the hand of God! Louis replies. He takes and he gives, as he sees fit.
"That's also what my mother says. Hopefully the harvest will be better next year and give us good wine.
— Tu en boiras.
"You too! Would you still want to drink only water?
"I plan to taste a much better wine.
"What do you mean?"
"Don't ask me. God only knows what will happen.
John stops:
"Could it still be the presentiment of your death?"
"Ah, John," sighs Louis. For some time I have felt such a thirst for heavenly goods that it seems impossible to live long now.
John would like to say something, but he remains silent under the gaze of his friend, radiating a light that does not seem of this world.
After All Saints' Day, the two friends meet at the seminary. Louis is even more reserved, more withdrawn than before, although visibly filled with great inner joy. As in previous quarters, he is conscientious in everything; always applied to the study, he takes part eagerly in the arguments. On his work table, a post summarizes his entire program of life: "He accomplishes a lot the one who does little, but who does what he must do. He does not accomplish anything who does a lot, but neglects what he must do. »
During Lent in 1839, the seminarians had their annual retreat, preached by the pious and learned Don Borel.
Father Bosco goes to talk to him. He asks her what he must do to maintain the grace of the election. "It is through inner recollection and frequent communion," replies Don Borel, "that one arrives at perfection and truly prepares oneself for the priesthood."
But none of the seminarians enjoyed these holy days better than Luis Comollo; the last, he feels, of his life.
On the morning of March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Louis met his friend on his way to the chapel. It is still the "great silence", and Jean is all the more surprised to hear him whisper:
"I don't feel well.
"What do you have?"
Louis is terribly pale and his big soft eyes are more serious than ever.
"I am afraid to appear soon before the court of God.
"What gloomy thoughts for the day of the beautiful feast of the Annunciation! The angel said to you; to you too: "Fear not; you have found grace before God. »
John finds it difficult to gather to pray. At every moment he looks at his friend, motionless on his knees, his head in his hands. Shortly before the elevation, Louis fainted.
"What do you have?" John asks again, when Louis, outside, opens his eyes again.
"Ah! It's nothing! Only a small temporary weakness. I already feel better. Let us return to the chapel; I would like to receive communion. »
Louis dragged himself for another two days; then, he must be put in the infirmary. It's Holy Wednesday. The fever continues to rise. John watches him every night; he refreshes her burning temples, gives her a drink and prays with all his heart for her healing.
On Easter morning, the patient receives extreme unction. After Holy Communion, a wonderful joy illuminates his pale face.
"John," he says in a weak voice, "we are going to separate for a while. God wants it that way. You've always helped me. Thank you for everything you have done for me. May God give it back to you! Remember that you promised to pray for me as long as you live.
"I promise you.
"So, that's good!
At dawn on April 2, Louis quietly leaves for his eternity, at the age of twenty-one.
Jean is terribly upset. After many sleepless nights, he hardly finds sleep: he always talks in spirit with the absent.
In the night following Louis' burial, Jean wakes up suddenly, frightened. He seems to hear a strange uproar. Like a raging hurricane, like a distant thunder, like a roaring storm.
No, it's not a dream. The other seminarians also stand up on their beds, listening, dismayed, to the inexplicable din. "It's a thunderstorm," said one. "An earthquake," said another.
Then, the door of the dormitory opens with a bang; a jet of intense light illuminates to the last corner of the room, at the same time as a voice sounds, both deep and joyful, strange and perfectly recognizable, that of the dead: "John, I am saved!"
A final rumble of extraordinary thunder; the noise moves away; the light goes out. The darkness and silence of the night.
Bosco's classmates crowd around his bed and ask him, still trembling, "What was it, John?"
For a while unable to speak, Jean explains, panting: "Louis and I had decided that whoever died first would send the other a message of eternity."
In the days that followed, John, despite his robust constitution, fell ill. There are several weeks left between life and death. The doctor despairs; the superior gives him extreme unction.
That very day, Mother Marguerite unexpectedly arrives at the seminary.
"Is it you, Mom?" whispers the sick. are you coming to see me? You knew that...
"No, my child, I didn't know anything about your illness. I just wanted to bring you a few things, a millet bread and a bottle of wine from home. Unfortunately, you won't be able to eat this bread: it's way too heavy for you.
Did you cook it yourself?
"Of course, my child.
"So, leave it to me. If anything can make me bine, it is certainly bread and wine from home.
After his mother leaves, Jean asks his friend Garigliano, who is treating him:
"Give me a slice of bread.
"You won't be able to bear it.
"Bread from home! It was mom who did it; how could he hurt me?
To William's surprise, John eats the slice of bread, asks for a second, then a third, swallows a glass of wine on it, devours a fourth slice of bread and even a fifth, and finally falls, exhausted, on his bed.
He does not wake up until after forty-eight hours. The fever is gone. Jean looks at the friends around him with his clear eyes: "I feel very good. Mom's bread and wine gave me back my health. Exit! I get up. »
John is weakened for a long time; but, little by little, the forces return to him: he regains all his vigor.

(Don Bosco, the Apostle of Youth, G. Hünermann)

La sainte amitié qui amena Jean Bosco séminariste, à la perfection chrétienne