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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 Annunciation which later became the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome

  • He was beatified by Pope Paul V on October 19, 1605

  • He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII on December 31, 1726

  • In 1729 he was declared by Pope Benedict XIII as the patron saint of young students

  • Pope Pius XI named him as patron of all Christian youth in 1926


Prayer to St. Aloysius

O Saint Aloysius, adorned with angelical manners, although I am thy unworthy servant, I recommend to thee in an especial manner the chastity of my soul and body; I conjure thee, by thy angelical purity, to commend me to Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb, and to His most holy Mother, the Virgin of virgins. Preserve me from every grievous sin; never suffer me to sully my soul with any impurity; whenever thou seest me in temptation or danger of sin, ward off from me every impure thought and affection, and awakening in me the remembrance of eternity and of Jesus crucified, imprint deeply in my heart the sentiment of the fear of God. Inflame me with divine love, in order that by imitating thee on earth, I may merit to enjoy God with thee in heaven. Amen.

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