Don Bosco and the young man condemned to the gallows

Don Bosco's health once flourished, withering away under the excess of work and worries. He has tense features, hollow eyes; often he is unable to sleep for an hour at night. However, he does not think of moderating himself; he struggles for his boys, he hears confessions several hours a day in the church of St. Francis, he visits the sick in hospitals, the prisoners in their dungeons.
One or in June, he let himself be locked in the cell of a young criminal who had to leave the next day for the gallows with two other convicts; his father and his accomplice. Don Bosco has long prepared and reconciled him with God.
"Don't be afraid, my child," he said, "I will stay with you until morning.
"And then, you will abandon me afterwards?" You won't accompany me to Alexandria?
"Don Cafasso will go with you. He will be better able to assist you than I can.
"No, my father! Not don Cafasso! Please stay with me until... the rope...
"Well, yes, my child; I will stay!
"Oh, then, I'm reassured!
Don Bosco and his condemned spend the night in prayer. How slowly the hours go by! Darkness persists in front of the grid of the tiny window; it seems that morning will never arrive.
Two hours ring at the nearby church. Don Bosco hears once again the confession of the young man, celebrates for him the Holy Mass and gives him Holy Communion in viaticum for his last journey.
At the point of day, the door opens. The executioner, accompanied by several guards, enters, bends his knee in front of the unfortunate man, pronouncing according to custom: "Forgive me. That is my duty. Then he passes the rope around her neck and pulls her out.
In the courtyard three carts are waiting. Don Bosco goes up to the first with the condemned; a priest from Alexandria sits next to the accomplice in the second, and don Cafasso, in the third, with the father of the criminal.
The trip lasts three days. Around noon, the place of execution of Alexandria appears in the light of spring. Many onlookers came to watch the show. The young man exchanges one last look with the priest, who gives him his last blessing. The executioner does his job. Don Bosco fainted at the foot of the gallows.
He was taken back by car to Sainte-Philomène, where he remained for several weeks between life and death. Don Borel and Don Cafasso come every day to see their poor confrere, who only regains consciousness at intervals. His mother and Joseph, rushed from the Becchi, did not leave his bedside.
On a Saturday in June, the doctor gives up hope. Don Cafasso administers to his friend the last sacraments. Mother Bosco bows her head, resigned, but the boys cannot consent to this separation. They assail the Most Holy Virgin with prayers. Even at night, when he returns to him, Don Bosco can hear the uninterrupted Ave of the Rosary. (...)
One night, Don Borel watches over his friend at his worst.
"Do you hear how your children pray for you?" he asks her quietly.
—Yes, I hear them. It's hard for me to leave them. Without them, I would be happy to leave.
For those entrusted to you, ask God to heal you. You must stay with them; I promise to use all my free time to help you from now on.
"It's up to you to be their father, when I'm gone!
"Without you, I can't do anything. No one can replace you. I beg you, pray for your healing!
The patient then joins hands and agrees to whisper:
"Lord, heal me, if that is your good pleasure.
"He is saved! I am certain of it now, said Don Borel to Mother Marguerite, kneeling by the bed with her rosary.
"To the will of the good Lord! sighs the peasant, and she moves on to the Hail Mary next.
Don Bosco falls, tonight, into a deep sleep. When he wakes up, we are sure of his recovery.

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

Don Bosco et le jeune condamné à la potence