Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Saint Aloysius, the patron of Catholic youth, was born in a castle in Italy. He was so full of life that his father who was a big gambler decided to make a great soldier out of him. When Aloysius was just five, his father took him to the army camp.

Little Aloysius marched in parades and even managed to load and fire a gun one day while the army was at rest. He learned rough language from the soldiers. When he found out what the words meant, he felt very bad that he used them.

As he grew up, Aloysius was sent to the courts of dukes and princes. Telling lies, fighting and living a bad life of sin were common in the court. But all this only made Aloysius more careful to live his life as a good Christian. He became sick with a kidney disease. He felt this was a blessing from God as it gave him an excuse to spend time praying and reading good books.

When Aloysius was sixteen, he decided to become a Jesuit priest. At first, his father refused to give him permission but after three years when he found he could not change his son’s mind, he finally agreed. He taught catechism to poor street boys and signed all his wealth over to his brother.

Once Aloysius joined the order, he asked to do hard and humble tasks. He served in the kitchen and washed the dishes. He wanted to make his life pure by doing penance. When the plague broke out in Rome, Aloysius asked if he could care for the sick. He was used to his servants doing everything for him but he gladly washed the sick and made their beds.

He served them until he caught the sickness. Before he died, he said simply, "I am going to heaven." St. Aloysius was only twenty-three when he died on the night of June 20, 1591. The body of St. Aloysius Gonzaga is buried in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome.

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