"All About the Angels" by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P,
published by Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.
Was it an angel or was it a dog? The life of Don Bosco furnishes us
with a remarkable and interesting story of what appears to many an
angelic intervention in saving the life of this servant of God from the
fierce attacks of the Waldensian heretics, who made several attempts to
These heretics were furious at the good done by Don Bosco and sought by
violent means to rid themselves of his influence. Some of their
adherents were men of the lowest and most vicious type, and these they
hired to carry out their nefarious designs.
When returning home one night through a bad and dangerous part of the
town, he saw a magnificent dog of huge size following him. At first he
was frightened but quickly came to see that the dog was friendly. The
animal walked by his side and accompanied him to the door of his house
and then went away. This happened five, six or eight times. He called
the dog Grigio.
What did it mean? He was soon to learn.
Hastening home by himself, some time after the first appearance of the
dog, two shots were fired at him by an assassin from behind a tree.
Both shots missed their mark, but his assailant then rushed at and
grappled with him. At that moment, Grigio appeared and sank his teeth
into the flesh of the would-be murderer, who fled away shrieking with
On a second occasion, two men lay in wait for him and threw a sack over
his head. This time it seemed all was over with him, but Grigio
unexpectedly came to his rescue and jumped at one of the ruffians,
seizing him by the throat. The other fled in terror. Don Bosco had then
to liberate the first from the fangs of Grigio, who still held him by
A third time, no less than twelve hired assassins, armed with clubs,
lay in ambush, into which Don Bosco walked unawares. Again, escape
seemed impossible, but once more Grigio bounded into the midst of the
group, and his fierce look and savage growl proved enough. The men made
off as quickly as they could.
Sometimes the dog entered Don Bosco's house, but always with some
reason, either to accompany him on a night journey or to prevent his
leaving the house. No amount of animal instinct could explain these
unexpected appearances of the dog.
On one of these occasions, when Don Bosco tried to go out, the great
dog lay across the door and growled in such a menacing way that St.
John was forced to remain at home. And it was well that he did so, for
shortly afterwards a gentleman arrived to warn him not to leave the
house on any consideration, as the heretics lay in wait to kill him.
As long as the persecution lasted, Grigio never failed to be at his
post and when the danger passed he was seen no more. Whence he came or
whither he went no one knew.
Ten years later, Don Bosco had to go to the farmhouse of some friends
and had been advised that the road was dangerous.
"If only I had Grigio," he said. At once the great dog appeared by his
side, as if he had heard the words, giving signs of the greatest joy.
Both man and dog arrived safely at the farmhouse and went into the
dining room, where the family invited Don Bosco to take part in the
The dog lay down. No one thought any more of him. When the repast was
finished the master of the house proposed to feed the dog. But he was
gone! Doors and windows had been closed; how did he go?
In 1883, that was more than thirty years after the dog's first
appearance, he appeared once more in a different locality to guide Don
Bosco, who had lost his way.
How [are we to] explain those wonderful appearances of the dog, at the
most opportune moments and in different localities? Surely we may
believe that this was angelic intervention. [Especially is this so
because the great dog was never known to eat.]