St. Aloysius Gonzaga: Patron of All Students

St. Aloysius Gonzaga was declared Patron of All Students in 1729, just over a century after he died, and stands as a great inspiration for all of us. He was exemplary in his studies, in pursuing the missionary life, and in serving the sick and poor.

He was born into a wealthy family of Northern Italy in 1568, a violent Renaissance era. Two of his brothers were murdered due to political upheaval, and his family had hopes that he would make a great name for them as a soldier, and inherit the family’s wealth. However, Aloysius felt called to serve God as a Jesuit, something his family was very opposed to.

He encountered at least two great saints during his life. Amazingly, Aloysius received his First Holy Communion in 1580 from St. Charles Borromeo, a leading figure in the great Council of Trent. And later, when studying in Rome at the Jesuit College, his spiritual director was St. Robert Bellarmine, who became deeply involved in the Galileo affair.

St. Aloysius was resolved to follow God, and renounced his claim on the inheritance in 1585. He was accepted as a Jesuit novice (someone’s probationary status before taking vows), and began preparing for the priesthood. His health was not good, and he suffered from many ailments during his studies. He had many private devotions and was apt to keep to himself, so his saintly counselor advised him to more time making friends among his fellow students.

In 1591, still in school, a plague broke out in Rome and St. Aloysius began serving the sick. He bathed them, fed them, and prepared them for the sacraments. This was not a glamorous task. Aloysius worked hard, and with much prayer – he confessed to St. Bellarmine – to overcome the physical revulsion this caused him.

It is said that, in the previous year, St. Aloysius had received a vision of the Angel Gabriel who told him he would die within the year. By June he had contracted the plague and, on the feast of Corpus Christi, he died speaking the name of Jesus.

As a university student movement, we at CCO want to both honor and introduce you to a saint who is especially praying for you.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us.

 

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