St. Francis Xavier Church
Carlsruhe, Ontario, Canada

left side of high altar
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568 – 1591)
Patron Saint of Youth

By Sharlene Singh

St. Aloysius was born in Castiglione, Italy, the son of a prince. When he was born, his father dreamt of a brave and honourable military career for his son. However, God intended for Aloysius to be brave and honoured and in a different way, and achieve a glory more lasting than any gained on the battlefield. Aloysius’ mother loved to pray and perhaps it was she who influenced him to appreciate the spiritual aspect of life. At the age of 9, Aloysius decided on a religious life after St. Charles Borromeo gave him his first Holy Communion. As he knelt down in adoration, he vowed to God, “I am Yours-completely-and I always will be!” He made a vow of perpetual virginity and asked to love God and Our Lady alone, praying to the Blessed Virgin to protect his innocence for life.

Even at such a young age, Aloysius wanted to suffer to show his love for God—just like how Jesus suffered and died on the cross because He loved us. He chose to ignore earthly pleasures such as rich food and clothing, and would even put bits of wood in his bed so that he could suffer some pain.

In his early teens, Aloysius’ father sent him and his younger brother to become pages in the court of King Philip II of Spain, and experience the worldly life of royal court. Although it was the last thing Aloysius wanted, he dutifully obeyed his father. Yet he never forgot his vow to God and continued with his unindulgent habits. To safeguard himself from possible temptation, he would keep his eyes persistently downcast in the presence of women. He strongly believed that he needed to imitate the life and poverty of Jesus in some small way.

During Aloysius’ time, a Spanish soldier had just founded a new army of Christ. This soldier was Ignatius of Loyola (a future saint) and his spiritual army was the Jesuit Order- a dedicated band of priests and brothers. Aloysius yearned to join them, but was met with violent objection from his father, the Marquis. In an attempt to pull Aloysius’ heart away from God, his father made systematic plans to tempt him into loving worldly possessions. Thus, Aloysius was sent as his father’s representative to various cities to attend balls and mingle with the elite society. Temptations abounded but Aloysius’ soul remained pure. In fact he prayed all the more for God to keep him strong and virtuous. Furthermore, his purity made those around him think twice about their actions and words.

The Marquis Gonzaga’s plan seemed to be backfiring—while his younger son was as other- worldly as ever, Aloysius kept up his many devotions and austerities, and was quite resolved to become a Jesuit. When his exasperated father confronted him, Aloysius refused to obey his father’s wish for him to forget God’s call to serve. The furious Marquis then banished Aloysius from his sight till he changed his mind. An upset Aloysius sought the Lord’s help in prayer and proceeded to scourge himself with a whip. He desperately wanted to sacrifice himself for God, but there seemed no way to do so. In answer to his prayers, someone had witnessed Aloysius’ scourging and informed the Marquis. Shocked, the Marquis relented and proclaimed that 18 year-old Aloysius was free to enter the Jesuits.

Donned in the plain habit of a Jesuit and poor like Jesus, the young prince gladly abandoned the glamorous life in the royal court in exchange for his new life of prayer and penance. Everyday, he worked hard to make himself more humble, more obedient and more pure. He loved Mary with all his heart and stayed on his knees for hours before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. His overwhelming love for God was more than he could bear.

In 1591, a terrible plague broke out in Rome. As the hospitals filled, people began to die on the streets alone, without help or comfort. The Jesuit Fathers rushed to open their own hospital to care for the ill and Aloysius went to the city in his poor clothing, to beg for money from the rich to feed the sick patients. He also tended to the patients’ wounds lovingly, comforting them if he could and prepared the dying for a good confession and holy death.

One day, he stumbled across a man so diseased that no one would go near him. Aloysius immediately thought to himself: “here is Jesus”. He carried the man in his arms and brought him to the hospital to be treated. That same day, Aloysius felt very warm and ill—he too, had caught the plague! Despite his fellow brothers’ every effort to save him, Aloysius suffered for three months before God called him to Heaven. During his time of pain, prayer was his consolation. On June 21, 1591, Aloysius passed away at the age of 23, after receiving the last rites from St. Robert Bellarmine. The last word he spoke was the Holy Name of Jesus. God carried Aloysius up into a glory that surpassed the earthly fame his father so greatly desired for him. Now he watches over Christian youths as their patron saint.

Saint Aloysius was a model example of courage and humility. His passion to follow in our Lord’s footsteps and strength to resist temptations were truly remarkable, and something to inspire us to live like Christ. Through him, God wanted to show us that even young people can do His work and remain pure in the face of temptation.

Prayer of Self-Commendation to

O Holy Mary, my Lady, into your
blessed trust and safe keeping and
into the depths of yur mercy, I
commend my soul and body this
day, every day of my life, and at
the hour of my death. To you I
entrust all my hopes and consolations,
all my trials and miseries,
my life and the end of my life. By
your most holy intercession and
by your merits, may all my actions
be directed and disposed according
to your will and the Will of
your divine Son. Amen.

~by Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Prayer to Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Dear Christian youth, you were
a faithful follower of Christ in
the Society of Jesus. You steadily
strove for perfection while generously
serving the plague-stricken.
Help our youth today who are
faced with a plague of false cults
and false gods. Show them how to
harness their energies and to use
them for their own and others’ fullfillment
- which willl redound to
the greater glory of God.