Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in Aeternam!
Saint Aloysius as the heir to the Marquisate of Castiglione
I am so excited about Saint Aloysius’ Day coming up next week! So very excited! Why? ‘Cause it’s my Name Day! Whootz.
Let’s start with the novena prayer that good Saint Aloysius wrote himself to the Blessed Mother. This prayer is also in the sidebar of the blog.
O Holy Mary, my Mistress,
into thy blessed trust and special keeping,
into the bosom of thy tender mercy,
this day, everyday of my life and at the hour of my death,
I commend my soul and body;
to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life,
that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits,
all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son.
Mary is a major part of the entire life of Aloysius but we’ll get to her role in his life later. Since I have to cover his life in nine days, I am going to place the prayer above at the beginning of the post and then write about one aspect of his life.
The information I provide in these posts is mostly based on my own knowledge of Saint Aloysius. The majority of the nitty-gritty knowledge comes from this book. It was written at the turn of the twentieth-century so the language can seem kind of awkward and overly pious but that was the time in which the book was written. The key is that you understand Aloysius’ life and his journey to sainthood and I think this book does it the best of any I have read.
To be honest, this is the most thorough biography of Aloysius that I have been able to find in print. TAN Books tends to have the more old-school books that also tend to be more solid and “meat and potatoes” than one will find in bookstores nowadays. Just go to your local Barnes and Noble and you will see what I mean. Sure you’ll find a few solid texts but, at least in my experience, it’s usually a treasure trove of the latest questionable to outright heterodox theologians and the touchy-feely stuff that makes my soul cry.
Anywho … moving on …
Let’s talk about the early life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga who was born Luigi Gonzaga on March 9, 1568 at his family’s castle (no biggie) at Castiglione delle Stiviere, which is now the Italian province of Mantua but at the time of Saint Al was the Duchy of Mantua. He was part of the illustrious Gonzaga family; his father was the Marquis of Castiglione and his mother was the daughter of a Piedmontese baron.
Obviously, he wasn’t a commoner. He was the eldest son of a marquis and thus the heir to the marquisate. He has the potential to be a very powerful man in an Italy that was divided into duchies and other divisions with their accompanying alliances, etc.
His father wanted him to be a soldier. He wanted his son to be an able military man because of his assumed future as the Marquis of Castiligione and because his family was involved in the conflicts that were occurring in the area.
Besides his military training, he received an education in languages and other subjects befitting an heir to a seat of power and influence. When he was about eight, he was sent to Florence with his younger brother Rudolfo to serve at the court of Francesco I de’ Medici and to further his education.
While he was in Florence, he fell ill with a kidney ailment (something from which he suffered throughout his life). His time recovering was spent reading saints’ lives (a man after my own heart) and improving his prayer life. It is said that he took a private vow of chastity when he was nine years old.
Then he and his brother were sent to the Court of the Duke of Mantua in 1579. It was there that he became acutely aware of the world and its ills. At Court, he encountered numerous examples of sin, dissipation, violence, and frivolity.
Then he returned to Castiligione in 1590. It was back in Castiligione that he first met Cardinal Borromeo (yes, as in Saint Charles Borromeo). After finding out that Aloysius has not received his First Communion (remember the whole “7-year old First Communicants” is quite new in the Church) so he prepared him and Aloysius received Communion from Cardinal Borromeo.
All right, we still have eight more days to go so we’ll stop here. Tomorrow, we’ll look at his vocation and how it eventually came to fruition though he is the heir apparent to a seat of power (something that is typically not part of a religious/priestly vocation).
Have a nice evening, everyone!