St Aloysius Feast Day

21Jun14

Saint Aloysius Gonganza is a wonderful example for young people. Despite being among very rough and impure people, and despite many arguments from his parents, he maintained a pure heart, and became a Jesuit priest.

Also known as Luigi, Aloysius was the oldest son of an Italian noble. He was raised in a castle, Castiglione delle Stivieri in Lombardy, with lots of servants, and plenty of wealth and comfort. Since Aloysius was a bright and cheerful boy, who got along well with other people, his father had great hopes that he would have a military career as well as succeed him in the title. He was raised and trained for soldiery and court life from a very young age.

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He had many friends among the soldiers and in the court, who encouraged him to join them for their parties and celebrations. They wanted him to behave just like them. But Aloysius preferred to spend his free time in prayer, kneeling on a cold stone floor or in church in front of the Blessed Sacrament. His friends and others teased him for this piety and devotion. Even his parents didn’t understand or approve.

When Aloysius was in his teens, nearly old enough to begin working as a soldier, he became sick with kidney disease, so sick that he had to stay in bed. He wasn’t sorry though, even though anyone would prefer running and playing to being sick in bed for months and months. Aloysius said he was glad that he was ill, because it gave him more time to pray and meditate. He also used this time to instruct others in their catechism.

His father and mother were disappointed that Aloysius was sick, but they were even more disappointed when he said that he wanted to become a Jesuit instead of inheriting his father’s title and estate. He signed over all his inheritence to his younger brother. His parents, teachers and friends argued with him about this decision for three whole years!

Aloysius stood firm, though, because he knew that God had called him to this vocation and that God would eventually bring it about. Sure enough, finally his father relented and allowed Aloysius to join the Jesuits. Aloysius could finally devote his life to prayer, study and adoration of Our Lord.

Plague broke out in Italy, many people became sick and died. Even though Aloysius was still ill from his kidney disease, he insisted being allowed to assist with the sick. Aloysius caught the disease while performing this service and died, on the 21st of June 1591.

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