Saint Aloysius Gonzaga was an Italian nobleman, born on March 9th, 1568 in the castle of Castiglione delle Stiviere, in the Duchy of Mantua, Italy. He is known as the patron saint of youth, students, and plague victims, and is celebrated on June 21st every year.
Aloysius was the eldest son of Ferrante Gonzaga, Marquis of Castiglione, and Marta Tana Santena, daughter of a baron of the Piedmontese nobility. He was brought up in the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, where he received a rigorous education in the humanities, languages, and music. However, at an early age, Aloysius felt a calling to a religious life and began to live a life of prayer and penance, despite the opposition of his family.
At the age of 18, Aloysius decided to become a Jesuit and renounce his inheritance. He joined the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1585, and took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During his time as a Jesuit, he distinguished himself with his piety, humility, and devotion to God, and became a model for the other novices.
Aloysius was also known for his care for the sick and the poor. He contracted the plague while serving the sick during an epidemic in Rome, and died on June 21st, 1591 at the age of 23. His death was widely mourned, and his example of virtue and selflessness inspired many. His feast day is June 21st.
Aloysius was beatified in 1605 by Pope Paul V, and canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is venerated as a model of Christian virtue and a patron of youth and students, as well as of plague victims. His relics are enshrined in the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome.
There are many interesting stories and legends about Aloysius. One of the most famous is that he once encountered a prostitute in the streets of Rome, and gave her his rosary as a sign of his respect and compassion. Another is that he had a vision of the Virgin Mary while he was ill with the plague, and that she appeared to him as a beautiful young girl with a crown of stars.
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga is a shining example of selflessness, piety, and compassion. His life and example continue to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds, and his legacy lives on through the many institutions and organizations that bear his name.