Saints of the Society of Jesus: Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

21 June 21; Patron of Youth

To what do we owe Saint Aloysius? To his having had a good mother. To how many Monicas and how many Blanches do we owe great servants of God, whom they begot more to heaven by the throes of their hearts than they gave to earth in the order of nature! Saint Aloysius’ mother lived to be present at the Mass offered in his honor as a saint. So soon did God glorify him on earth after taking him to heaven in his youth; and – may we not think it also? – so did He wish to reward that blessed mother for having so perfectly accomplished her duty in His sight in the education of her son. This pious mother was Martha de Tana Santena, and the father of Aloysius was Ferdinand, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Marquis of Castiglione. Of these noble parents Aloysius was born on the 9th of March 1568.

Who has not heard of the innocence of his childhood, of his gift of prayer, obtained by his determination to remain on his knees till he had passed an hour without distraction? of his wonderful mortification? of his modesty? of his horror of sin, so great that, at his first confession, he fainted at the feet of his confessor through grief for the faults of his infancy? And this in the midst of luxury! The world was no place for Aloysius; but it was only after years of pious persistency that he wrung from his father, permission to enter the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. His reason for choosing the Society was the vow taken by the Fathers to refuse all ecclesiastical dignities. In the novitiate he was a model of all the virtues , especially did he delight in the practice of holy poverty, humility, and obedience. To save his health, his superiors forbade his indulging in his habits of prayer; but in vain, for he could not fly from the presence of God, which was always with him. During the course of his studies, after his novitiate, an epidemic broke out in Rome, and Aloysius volunteered to assist the sick. He took the distemper, and, as he had received his first Communion from the hands of Saint Charles Borromeo, so he was assisted in his last illness by the Venerable Cardinal Bellarmin, as famous for his piety as for his great erudition. He died, as he foretold, on the octave of Corpus Christi, in the twenty-fourth year of his age. During life Aloysius was called by his brethren the Angelical.

After death he appeared to Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi in vision. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “what glory Aloysius, the son of Ignatius, enjoys! I could not have conceived so great a glory unless my Jesus had shown it tome! I could, traverse the world to tell all men that Aloysius, the son of Ignatius, is a great saint! Aloysius was a hidden martyr. Oh, how much he loved whilst he was on earth!”