Patron Saint of Youth – Aloysius Gonzaga

Aloysius Gonzaga was the oldest in his family, born March 9, 1568. He was born at his family’s castle in Northern Italy. As the oldest son, he would have inherited his father’s title as Marquis. His father assumed Aloysius would grow up to become a soldier. That was what was expected as the oldest son. He started his military training when he was four. He also learned languages and arts. When he was 8, he and his brother were sent to serve in the court and study more. While he was there, he became ill. While he was ill, he read about the saints and spent time in prayer. He may have taken his first vow when he was 9.

He returned home where he met Cardinal Charles Borromeo. Aloysius received his first communion from the Cardinal when he was 12. Aloysius felt he wanted to become a missionary. He began teaching classes, visiting friars and began living a simple life. By March of 1582, Aloysius wanted to join a religious order. His mother agreed, but his father was furious. In July 1584, Aloysius still wanted to become a priest. His family worked hard to convince him to change his mind. They couldn’t change his mind, so they tried to talk him into being a diocesan priest. If he were a priest in a religious order, he would give up his inheritance. His family failed. Aloysius wanted to become a missionary.

In November 1585, Aloysius gave up all rights of his inheritance. He was accepted into the Society of Jesus. The Society of Jesus is known as the Jesuits. He was asked to be more social with the other members. He was still in ill health. Two years later he took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. In late 1590, he has a vision of the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel told him he would die within the year.

In 1591, a plague broke out in Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital. Aloysius began working with the poor and sick. So many Jesuits became ill, the superiors forbid them from continuing. Aloysius continued and asked permission to return. He was eventually allowed to continue. Aloysius became ill. He spoke to his priest, Robert Bellarmine several times. Aloysius had a vision. Gabriel said he would die on the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi. On June 21, 1591, he grew weak and died. He was 23 years old. On December 31, 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a saint along with Stanislaus Kostka. He is the patron saint of youth. His feast day is June 21.