Pontianus of Spoleto

Pontianus of Spoleto was believed to have been born in 156.  He was martyred during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Pontianus was a young man from a local noble family of Spoleto.  When he was 18  he was denounced as a Christian to the Roman authorities. He was brought before Flavian the judge.  He chose torture and death rather than renounce his faith. He was condemned to death.  Pontian was subjected to a wide variety of tortures before his death: First, he was scourged then forced to walk on hot coals. Then he was tortured with iron claws, has been thrown to the lions, but would have done nothing to him. He was denied food and finally molten lead was poured onto his neck.  When none of that worked he was beheaded on January 14 175.  Legend says that a healing spring emerged where his head landed.

Pontianus’ body was buried in the local cemetery. The Basilica of San Ponziano was eventually built over his grave as a shrine to his memory. In Spoleto, Italy, he is invoked for protection against earthquakes.

Saint Prisca

We don’t know the actual birth or death dates of Saint Prisca. She was a young Roman woman tortured and executed for her Christian faith. Legend says that Saint Prisca was of a noble family. She was thirteen when she was accused of being a Christianity before Emperor Claudius. He ordered her to make a sacrifice to the god Apollo. She refused because of her Christian faith.  She was then beaten and sent to prison. After her release from prison, she kept her faith in Jesus Christ. This time her punishment included flogging, the pouring of boiling tallow on her, and second imprisonment. Finally, she was at last thrown to a lion in the amphitheater, but it quietly lay down at her feet.

She was starved for three days in a slaves’ prison-house and tortured on the rack. Pieces of flesh were torn from her body with iron hooks, and she was thrown on a burning pile.  She miraculously stayed alive but was beheaded at the tenth milestone on the road from Rome to Ostia. Christians buried her body in a catacomb where she died.  The church of St. Prisca now stands there.   She is honored as a child martyr.

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.