Saint John Bosco's love and veneration of Mary, especially under her title "Help of Christians", began early in his life. When he was born, his mother consecrated him to our Lady. When he began his studies for the priesthood, she instructed her son to honor our Blessed Mother and to bring all his difficulties to her. And when he was ordained as a priest, she asked him to take Mary as his Queen.
As a priest, John Bosco took note of the desperate condition of street children in Turin. Despite strong opposition, including attempts on his life by those who wanted to exploit the children as cheap labor, he founded homes and schools for the children.
These schools were the basis of the religious society founded by Saint John Bosco, the Society of Saint Francis de Sales (S.S.F .S.). Some time later, the name of the society was changed to Salesians of Don Bosco, or Salesians for short. Salesian priests today continue to work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Christians, and of Saint Francis de Sales.
When poor, abandoned girls began to come to his homes for boys, Father John Bosco founded the Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (F. M.A.), with the help of Saint Mary Mazzarello, to care for them. In English, this offshoot religious institute is called Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.
Perhaps Saint John Bosco's continued devotion to Mary was inspired in part by seeing so vividly the need for a helpful Mother for the children in his care. With his love for Mary and for his fellow man, he would have clearly,seen the need for such a Mother for all of us. "The help of God and of Mary will not fail you. ...I recommend devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, and frequent Holy Communion"—these were the words of Saint John Bosco on his deathbed.