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Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Born: March 9, 1568 in Castiglione delle Stiviere, Duchy of Mantua, Holy Roman Empire
Died: June 21, 1591 in Rome, Papal States
Venerated: Catholic Church
Beatified: October 19, 1605 by Pope Paul V
Canonized: December 31, 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Feast Day: June 21
Patronages: Christian youth; Jesuit Scholastics, The Blind; AIDS patients and care-givers
This youthful scion of the illustrious house of Gonzaga, son of Ferdinand, Marquis of Castiglione, was born at Castiglione in the diocese of Brescia, March 9, 1568. From his tenderest years, Saint Aloysius devoted himself heart and soul to the service of his Creator. His memory has come to us with the sweet fragrance of the most unsullied purity. He united an innocence perfectly angelic with a penance truly heroic.
At 14 years of age, he accompanied his father to Spain, where the latter went to attend the Empress, Maria of Austria, wife of Maximilian II. Philip II made him page to Prince James, elder brother of Philip II. His innocence remained uncontaminated amid the vanities of the court, nor could the world draw his heart from God.
On his return to Italy in 1584, he manifested his desire to enter the Society of Jesus. In spite of opposition, he finally succeeded in carrying out his intentions and became a novice at Rome in 1585, during the pontificate of Pope Pius V. He made his profession November 20, 1587 and soon after received minor orders.
From the beginning of his religious life, Saint Aloysius was a model of perfection. During an epidemic in Rome in 1591, he distinguished himself by his charity toward the sick in the hospital. These labors brought on him the illness that ended in his death. His last days were the faithful echo of his briefly consummated life. He exchanged time for eternity on June 21, 1591, at 24 years of age. Saint Aloysius was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.