By all rights, Aloysius Gonzaga should have lived a long and prosperous life. Sometimes divine fate takes the best of us before we can fulfill our earthly promise.
Aloysius was born to one of the foremost families of Northern Italy in Stiviere, Republic of Venice. Trained for a military career, he received his education at the courts of Florence and Mantua and was page to King Philip II of Spain’s son Diego.
The young nobleman felt another call, however, and in 1585 he gave up all his riches and status to join the Jesuits in Rome. He was known for his asceticism and jumped at the chance to care for the ill and dying during the plague. Even before he was fully ordained, he, himself, contracted the disease and died at the age of 23.
Pope Benedict XIII declared him the patron of youth in 1729. Pope Pius XI confirmed that title in 1926.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from