Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

  June 21


The oldest son of Marquis Ferrante of Castiglione, who was in the service of Philip II of Spain, he was born on March 9 at the family castle in Lombardy. He was destined for the military by his father, but early in his childhood decided on a religious life. He was sent to Florence to be educated in 1577, joined the court of the Duke of Mantua, who had appointed his father governor of Montserrat two years later, suffered a kidney attack that was to leave him with digestive trouble the rest of his life, and began to practice great austerities and to devote himself to religious practices and teaching catechism to the poor of Castiglione. While at the court of Prince Diego of the Asturias in Spain, he desired to enter the Jesuits, was refused permission by his father, and on their return to Italy in 1584 renewed his plea. He finally broke down his father, joined the Jesuits in Rome in 1585, and was sent to Milan to study. Because of his poor health he was recalled to Rome, made his vows in 1587, and when a plague struck the city in 1587, served in a hospital opened by the Jesuits.

Aloysius' health was so poor that he received Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction on several occasions. It was revealed to him that he would pass on the Octave of Corpus Christi, and though he appeared much better in the days preceeding the Feast, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga did in fact turn and die on the Octave of Corpus Christi, June 21st, 1591.

He caught the plague while ministering to its victims and died after he received the last rites from St. Robert Bellarmine. Aloysius Gonzaga was canonized in 1726, was declared protector of young students by Pope Benedict XIII and patron of Catholic youth by Pope Pius XI.


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