John Bosco was born near Castelnuovo in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy in 1815. He was raised by his mother, Margaret, as his father had died when John was a toddler of only two. Saint John Bosco founded the Salesian Society and dedicated his life to the welfare and education of the youth. He is the patron saint of apprentices; boys; teachers; laborers; schoolchildren; students of all ages and (my personal favorite) juvenile delinquents.
Saint John Bosco lived in Turin at a time when the city was on the threshold of the industrial revolution. He conducted workshops for tradesmen and manual labors, created schools of the arts and sciences for young workers and was instrumental in preparing young men for the priesthood. He died on January 31, 1888 and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.
Polenta is the Italian equivalent of American grits or British Porridge. These are dishes deeply associated with a poor or simple people struggling through life. This recipe, from the Vatican, is said to be a favorite Pope Saint John XXIII. Dishes of simple means are a part of the Feast of Saint John Bosco. Often Polenta is eaten in the morning. In its most basic form, Polenta dates back to the days of the Roman Legion. If Porridge isn’t your thing (and believe me, I get that), the Polenta can be allowed to cool. It can then be cut into wedges or squares or even shapes using a cookie cutter, then baked, pan-fried or grilled like little cornmeal cakes.
Buttery Parmesan Polenta
4 cups water, divided
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat 3 cups water to boiling.
Combine corn meal, remaining 1 cup cold water, and salt; pour into boiling water, stirring constantly.
Cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Cover; cook over low heat 10 minutes longer.
Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, butter, and pepper; stir until cheese and butter are melted. Serve hot like a porridge or allow to cool, then cut into shapes and baked, pan fired or grilled until warm.
May we always strive to be the better person within and encourage all we meet to be the better person, too. Let us bring out the best in one another through kindness, understanding and compassion. I believe with all my heart that these are the attributes of a saint. Saints walk among us because saints are within us.