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St. Aloysius Gonzaga - Remembering a Remarkable Young Jesuit

by aquinasandmore on June 21, 2008

June 21 is the feast day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of teens and young people, an extremely devout young Jesuit novice who died at the age of 23. The first born child to the Marquis of Castiglione in 1568, Aloysius was born an Italian noble, and as such he grew up in a castle, trained from the age of four to be a courtier and soldier. His father expected him to become a soldier, as small wars were often breaking out in the region, but at an early age Aloysius interpreted the call to religious life. As son of a Marquis, Aloysius was obligated to appear often at court, and witnessing the frivolous lifestyle at court motivated him to take a private vow of chastity at age nine.

About two years later, he suffered from kidney disease and he counted this as a blessing because it left him bedridden, which gave him time for prayer and reading about the saints. He recovered, but his health was weakened forever. It was around this time that he read a book about the Jesuit missionaries in India. Having already privately determined to resign his right to inherit the Marquisate of Castiglione in favor of religious life, Aloysius seemed to have been inspired by the book at this point to join the Jesuits and work for the conversion of heathens. Around the age of eleven, he began to spend the summers teaching the Catechism to the poor boys of Castiglione.

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