It was in April 1842 that Dominic was born in a poor but pious family, in Riva, a village in Northern Italy. They were a hard working family, the father being a blacksmith and the mother a seamstress. He was the second child among eleven children.
He had a very normal childhood. He enjoyed school and he was a bright student. He also enjoyed playing, being quite popular with his friends. He showed qualities of leadership and responsibility. From a very young age Dominic had a prayerful attitude and a spirituality that made him a good example for his friends.
He learned to serve Mass at an early age and although at that time children received their First Holy Communion when they were twelve years old, Dominic received his First Holy Communion when he was seven because the pastor of the church were the whole family went to Mass, noticed the young boy’s spiritual disposition and knowledge of the Faith.
The resolutions Dominic made before his First Holy Communion have remained well-known and connected to his name. He resolved to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion often, to spend Sundays and Holy Days in a special way, to hold Jesus and Mary as his friends and to rather die than commit sin. When Dominic was twelve years old he started to attend the Oratory of Don Bosco. His intention was to start the initial studies for the priesthood. He started to take his spiritual life very seriously, thinking that to become holy he had to ‘suffer for Christ.’ Don Bosco noticed this attitude and bringing Dominic aside he gave him this advice:
“The way to be a saint is to always be cheerful, do your duties to the best of your ability, give your classmates a good example. Keep in mind that the Lord Jesus is with you and wants your happiness.”
He stayed at the Oratory for just over two years. However, Dominic was not meant to be a priest. He started suffering from a persistent cough and his health was failing. He had to return home as he was suffering from a severe respiratory condition, probably tuberculosis. Antibiotic treatment was non-existent at the time. He was kept at home while his health continued to fail.
He was nearing his fifteenth birthday when on the 9th March 1857, Dominic closed his eyes and went to meet Jesus, his Beloved Friend.