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St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a Young Jesuit Saint

by Russell Fleur Gallego

St. Aloysius Gonzaga is one of the well-loved Jesuit saints. His image is often a young man wearing cassock and surplice. His attributes include a lily for his innocence, a cross for piety, and a skull for his early death and a rosary for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He died at the young age of 23 due to a plague. He is the patron for young students, Christian Youth, Jesuit scholastics, blind, AIDS patients and AIDS caregivers.

Here are some facts about this young courageous man who fought a great battle during a pandemic and eventually became a saint:

  • He is the eldest of seven children to Ferrante de Gonzaga, a marque of Castiglione in Italy and Marta Tana di Santena, a lady-in-waiting of Queen Isabel the wife of King Philip II of Spain

  • As the eldest child, his father assumed that he would be his heir to the title of marquis thus he was provided with military training at an early age of 5 and accompanied his father in training expeditions

  • He received his First Communion on July 22, 1580 from Cardinal Charles Borromeo

  • In November 1585, he gave up his right to inheritance and was confirmed by the emperor

  • On November 25, 1585 he was accepted in the Society of Jesus in Rome

  • On November 25, 1587 he took the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience

  • He suffered from chronic kidney disease, skin disease, chronic headaches and insomnia

  • In 1591, a plague broke out in Rome and the Jesuits opened a hospital for the sick and Aloysius volunteered in the hospital

  • He became sick with the plague on March 3, 1591 when he was assigned in Our Lady of Consolation hospital

  • He died on June 21, 1591

  • He was buried in the Most Holy Annunciatio