Today’s saint was the eldest son of a prominent Italian nobleman who wanted him to follow in his footsteps. He even sent young Aloysius to be a page in the court of King Philip II of Spain. But Aloysius found life in the court—with its sensual temptations, riches, and intrigues—empty. He desired instead to serve the King of heaven and earth and made know to his father his desire to enter the Jesuits. At first his father opposed him but in time relented and in 1585 he joined the Society of Jesus. During his studies in Rome the plague broke out. Aloysius went around the city looking for the sick whom he carried to hospitals where he cared for them both physically and spiritually, preparing them for death. In time he contracted the plague and died on this day at the age of 23. In 1726 he was canonized and shortly thereafter was named the patron saint of youth.
As we continue our prayers that Christians in Europe may rediscover their true identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of the Gospel, let us ask St. Aloysius to intercede with us. Today also begins the “Fortnight for Freedom,” a special two week period of prayer that the U.S. bishops have initiated in response to the threats to religious liberty in this nation. The following is a prayer that St. Aloysius used to say.
Holy Mary, my Queen, into your blessed protection and special keeping, and into the bosom of your mercy, I, this day and every day of my life and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and my body. I entrust to you all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through your most holy intercession and your merits, all my actions may be ordered and directed according to your will and that of your Son. Amen.