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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Brian Fraga | author
Jun 01, 2020
Filed under Saints
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St. Aloysius De Gonzaga (1568-1591)

Feast day: June 21
Canonization: 1726
Patron of plague victims, purity, and chastity

Aloysius de Gonzaga was barely 23 and a seminarian when he died caring for plague victims in Rome. But the 16thcentury Jesuit’s holiness was evident even as a young child – he immersed in serious prayer, taught catechism, and fasted regularly.

An aristocrat and eldest of seven, he grew up in northern Italy. His father, a Marquis nobleman, planned for Aloysius to become a soldier

While a teenager serving at a Florence court, Aloysius became seriously ill. Like St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits), Aloysius was radically transformed during convalescence as he studied lives of the saints.

Over his father’s objections (but to his mother’s delight), he joined the Society of Jesus in 1585, with St. Robert Bellarmine as his spiritual advisor. In 1591 while studying theology for ordination, a plague broke out in Rome. Aloysius contracted it while caring for a hospitalized plague patient.

Before taking his last breath on June 21, 1591, Aloysius’ eyes were fixed on a crucifix he held. He succumbed while pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus, on the octave day of Corpus Christi.

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