Thursday, June 21, 2007
St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Memorial (1969 Calendar): June 21
Double (1955 Calendar): June 21

Each year at this time, the Church remembers the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568 - 1591). Born to Italian nobility in the family’s castle in Castiglione delle Stiviere, St. Aloysius was the son of a compulsive gambler. He is also the cousin of Saint Rudolph Acquaviva. St. Aloysius was trained as a soldier and courtier even at the young age of four. In 1577, at the age of 8, he was sent to serve at the court of Grand Duke Francesco I de' Medici. While there, he began to suffer from kidney disease and later viewed it as a blessing because he spent the time in prayer and spiritual reading. At the age of 9, he made a private vow of chastity.

In 1580, St. Aloysius returned to Castiglione, and he received First Holy Communion from the hands of St. Charles Borromeo on June 22, 1580, who was then a cardinal. While still a young boy, St. Aloysius began to teach catechism to poor boys. St. Aloysius felt his vocation was to become a Jesuit; while his mother consented, his father was furious. His family tried relentlessly to deter him from his vocation, and they eventually tried to persuade him to become a diocesan priest. The family of St. Aloysius was prepared to "buy" him a bishopric. At age 18, he signed away his legal claim to his family's lands and title to his brother and became a Jesuit novice.

In November 1585, St. Aloysius went to Rome and was granted an audience with Pope Sixtus V. On November 25, 1585, he was accepted as a Jesuit novice. He was sent to Milan for his studies, but due to his poor health - skin disease, chronic headaches, kidney disease, and insomnia - he was sent back to Rome. In 1590, St. Aloysius had a vision in which the Archangel Gabriel told him that he would die within a year. With the outbreak of the Plague in 1591 in Rome, the Jesuits opened a hospital for those stricken with the Plague. St. Aloysius worked in a ward where there were no plague victims, but when a man became afflicted with the disease, St. Aloysius soon developed symptoms. As he was dying, he spoke many times with his spiritual director, St. Robert Bellarmine. St. Aloysius received another vision in which it was revealed that he would die on the Octave Day of Corpus Christi. St. Bellarmine gave him the sacraments and recited the prayers for the dying. On June 21, 1591, the Octave Day of Corpus Christi, St. Aloysius died shortly before midnight.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga was canonized on December 31, 1726, in Rome, Italy, by Pope Benedict XIII. His relics are entombed under the altar of Saint Ignatius Church in Rome.

For more information, please see "Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.: With an Undivided Heart" by Silas Henderson.


O God, The Giver of heavenly gifts, Who in the angelic youth Aloysius dist unite a wonderful innocence of life with an equal spirit of penance: grant through his merits and prayers, that we, who have not followed his innocence, may imitate his penance. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

3 comment(s):

del_button June 21, 2007 at 1:18 PM
Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Matthew; I've linked to you.

del_button June 22, 2007 at 9:32 AM
Jennifer said...

Thank you for posting this. This is the patron saint of my dk's school so I am fond of him.

del_button January 21, 2010 at 10:09 PM
Anonymous said...

i like saint aloysius because of his angelic purity thats why i chose him as my patron saint.

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