St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
(Memorial)
June 21



Agofredus of Saint-Leufroy, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died after 738. In 738, Saint Agofredus succeeded his brother, Saint Leufrid, as abbot of the Benedictine Holy Cross (La-Croix-Saint-Leuffroi) in the diocese of Evreux, Normandy (Benedictines).


Alban (Albinus) of Mainz M (RM)
Died c. 400. When the Greek priest Saint Alban was banished from Naxos by the Arians, he preached the Gospel in Germany. Again he attacked by the Arians and was martyred at Mainz, Germany. The Benedictine abbey at Mainz preserves his name and his memory (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Alban carries his severed head to the spot where he wished to be buried. At times he may be shown with a sword. He was a priest but is sometimes shown as a bishop (Roeder). Saint Alban is invoked against epilepsy, gallstones, headache (because he lost his head), kidney troubles, sore throat, and stiff neck (Roeder).


Aloysius (Luigi, Louis) Gonzaga, SJ (RM)
Born at Castiglione delle Stivieri in Lombardy, Italy, on March 9, 1568; died about midnight between June 20 and 21, 1591; beatified in 1605; canonized 1726; Benedict XIII declared him patron of young students and Pius XI proclaimed him patron of Christian youth.

Everything about Saint Aloysius conspires to make him the hero of a popular romance--his noble birth, his angelic life, and his holy death. But no novelist would dare to invent a life as perfect as his--it would be too incredible.

Aloysius was the eldest son of the Marquis Ferrante of Castiglione, who served Philip II of Spain, and Marta Tana Santena, lady-in- waiting to Philip's wife. His father's one ambition was for his eldest son to become a great military leader. At the age of four he was sent off to a military camp, where he strutted around in miniature armor with his miniature pike, set off a canon without any authority, then returned home full of strange oaths, which were a life-long mortification. Thus he was being prepared for his father's chosen vocation, but at the age of seven he experienced a spiritual quickening and decided to pursue a religious life. He had said his morning and evening prayers from infancy; now he began to recite the Office of the Blessed Virgin daily, as well as the seven penitential Psalms, and other devotions.

When he was nine, his father placed him and his brother Ridolfo in the care of tutors the household of Francesco de'Medici in Florence to teach them Latin and the pure Italian of Tuscany. But Aloysius made better progress in the science of saints than in his studies. That same year he took a vow of chastity. From that time he never looked any woman in the face, not even his own mother.

About two years later (November 1579), their father moved the boys to the court of the duke of Mantua, who had lately made him governor of Montserrat. Already at age 11, Aloysius had decided to renounce the titles and estates that were to be his inheritance, even though he had already received investiture from the emperor. There he developed a painful kidney disease that was to trouble him for the rest of his life. But this gave him an excuse to spend time in prayer and reading the lives of the saints by Surius. He began to practice severe austerities--fasting every other day on bread and water, scourging himself with a dog whip, and allowing no fires to be built while he prayed even in the coldest weather.

Inspired by a book about the Jesuit missionaries in India, he began to prepare himself at age 12 to be a Jesuit missionary. He gathered a group of poor boys and taught them the catechism during his summer holidays in Castiglione.

In 1581, Don Ferrante was summoned to attend the Empress Mary of Austria on her journey from Bohemia to Spain. His family accompanied him, and upon their arrival in Spain, Aloysius and Ridolfo were placed in the service of Don Diego, prince of the Asturias in Spain, as pages. He was duty bound to attend on the young infante and share his studies, but he never curtailed his devotions.

During his time at Don Diego's court, Aloysius resolved to enter the Society of Jesus. First he approached his mother, who gave her approval. However, when she told his father that he requested to join the Jesuits, his furious father refused permission. First he threatened to beat him until friends mediated, and Don Ferrante relented to give his provisional consent. Nevertheless, after the infante died, releasing the boys from their court duties, the marquis tried to distract his son by sending him to visit the courts of northern Italy upon their return in July 1584. He hoped that the boy would succumb to the easy life. When that did not work, his father tried diplomatic pressure. He had his relatives, including the duke of Mantua, try to talk the boy out of his vocation. As the next step in his tactics to dissuade Aloysius, Don Ferrante engaged him in a number of secular commissions in the hope of awakening interest in worldly affairs. Unchanged by his travels, Aloysius renewed his plea. Don Ferrante's last attempt used the leading dignitaries of the Church to talk the matter over with his son. Finally his father was persuaded when the imperial commission arrived transferring the succession to Ridolfo. In 1585, he allowed Aloysius to join the Jesuits in Rome.

On November 25, 1585, he was received into the Jesuit novitiate at the house in Sant'Andrea. He was an ideal novice. Aware of his delicate health, the Jesuits requested that he curb his austerities. He was obliged to take recreation, to eat more, and forbidden to pray more than the set hours. They sent him to Milan to study, where he had a revelation during his morning prayer that he would not live much longer. This filled his heart with joy. His poor health forced a return to Rome.

In 1587, he was professed. That same year (or in 1591) plague struck Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital of their own, in which the father general himself and many other Jesuits ministered personally to the sick. Aloysius requested and was permitted to join them in service. This son of privilege instructed and exhorted patients, washed them, made their beds, and performed the meanest chores of the hospital. He eventually caught the plague from patients but surprisingly recovered after receiving the last rites.

Later, however, he later fell into a low-grade fever that lasted for three months and severely weakened him. As long as he was able, he would arise at night and worship before the crucifix and kiss his sacred pictures, then kneel in prayer, propped between the bed and the wall. Very humbly and anxiously he asked his confessor, Saint Robert Bellarmine, whether it was possible for someone to go straight to heaven without experiencing purgatory. Bellarmine said "yes," and knowing Aloysius, encouraged him to hope that this grace might be his. Aloysius immediately fell into an ecstasy that lasted throughout the night. During that time he learned that he would die on the octave of Corpus Christi.

On that octave day he seemed so much better that the rector spoke of sending him to Frascati. Aloysius, however, maintained that he would die before morning and again received the viaticum from Father Bellarmine. In the evening, as he was thought to be in no immediate danger, all but two or three watchers were told to go to bed. Nevertheless, Father Bellarmine recited the prayers for the dying at the request of Aloysius. Afterwards Aloysius remained very still, occasionally murmuring, "into Thy hands." Between ten and eleven a change came over him and it was evident that his life was ebbing. With his eyes fixed on the crucifix and the name of Jesus on his lips, he died about midnight at the age of 23.

After his death, Saint Robert Bellarmine testified to his holiness, claiming that it was his opinion that Aloysius never in his life committed a mortal sin. His biographies, as well as the letters and religious writings of Saint Aloysius himself, depict a rather unattractive character--he had a naïve, even priggish, attitude about human affection and the imitation of the saints. It was the spiritual direction of Bellarmine who led Aloysius in his last years shed this attitude and develop a courageous, single- minded devotion to God and his neighbor. Some have argued that the corrupt, immoral milieu in which he was raised, required a completely uncompromising, if angular, example, comparable to the single-mindedness of Renaissance politicians. He was a peacemaker between his brother and the duke of Mantua after he joined the Jesuits. He is buried under the altar in the Lancellotti Chapel at the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Martindale, Walsh, White).

In art, Saint Aloysius is generally portrayed as a young Jesuit with a crucifix, lily, and scourge. He may also be shown (1) with a crucifix wreathed in flowers, IHS, and a crown at his feet; (2) with his hand on his heart and a guardian angel near; (3) in ecstasy, supported by angels, and a lily, book and coronet nearby; (4) crowned with flowers by an angel; or (5) kneeling before instruments of the Passion (Roeder).

Aloysius is the patron of young students, those choosing their profession (Roeder), and Catholic youth (White). He is invoked against eye troubles and the plague (Roeder).


Corbmac of Durrow, Abbot (AC)
6th century. Saint Corbmac was a disciple of Saint Columba, who appointed him abbot of the monastery he founded at Durrow (Benedictines).


Cyriacus and Apollinaris MM (RM)
Date unknown. African martyrs who are registered in the early martyrologies, but none of their acta are extant (Benedictines).


Demetria VM (RM)
Died 363. Saint Demetria is the alleged sister of Saint Bibiana, who dropped dead when they were arrested. According to their untrustworthy legend, their father, the ex-prefect, Flavian, was banished and killed. Thereafter, his wife, Saint Dafrosa, was beheaded leaving their young daughters orphans, who were dispossessed, then martyred (Benedictines, Delaney).


Blessed Dominic of Comacchio, OSB (AC)
Died after 820. Blessed Dominic was a Benedictine monk of Comacchio (near Venice). According to the legend, he went to the Holy Land in 820 and retrieved the relics of Saint Mark from Alexandria and brought them to Venice where they reside in the duomo (Benedictines).


Engelmund of Vebsen, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born in England; died c. 739. Engelmund was educated in England and became a Benedictine monk at an early age, then priest, and abbot. He migrated to Friesland, where he was a successful evangelist with Saint Willibrord, at Velsen near Haarlem (Benedictines). In art, Saint Engelmund is depicted as a pilgrim abbot with a fountain springing under his staff (Roeder). He is venerated in Friesland and invoked against toothache (Roeder).


Eusebius of Samosata BM (RM)
Died c. 379. Bishop Eusebius of Samosata (Sempsat), capital of Comagene, Syria, was a staunch defender of orthodoxy, though most of the other bishops under the metropolitan of Hieropolis were Arians. He was active at the synod of Antioch, in 361, in helping to elect Meletius patriarch of Antioch. Most of those voting were Arians and expected Meletius to favor Arianism, but Eusebius was well assured of his zeal for the orthodox faith. Although Eusebius was known to be an irreconcilable enemy to their heresy, they entrusted to him the synodal act of the election. When Meletius's vigorous preaching of the 20th canon of the Nicene Council in his first sermon to his people made it obvious that he was orthodox, Emperor Constantius, an Arian, demanded that Eusebius surrender to him the election acts of the synod that were in his custody. When Eusebius refused saying that it would require the consent of all parties, the emperor threatened to cut off his right hand. Eusebius still refused. The saint stretched out not only his right hand, but also his left, saying he might cut them both off, but he would still not consent to such an unjust action. This so impressed Constantius with his courage that he released him.

Eusebius spent the next two years laboring to reconcile the orthodox (Catholics) and Arians, but was unsuccessful. His participation in their councils, in order to ensure that the truth was given voice, caused scandal, so he discontinued having any relationship with them after the Council of Antioch in 363.

He helped elect Saint Basil bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia in 370. He became close friends with both Basil and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, who in a letter written about that time styles Eusebius the pillar of truth, the light of the world, the instrument of the favors of God on his people, and the support and glory of all the orthodox.

Dressed as an officer, Eusebius traveled through Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine encouraging the Catholics to resist Valens and his persecution. He wanted to strengthen his own flock and others against the poison of heresy. He ordained priests where they were needed and helped to fill vacant sees with worthy pastors. His zeal so steadied the orthodox that in 374 he was exiled to Thrace by Valens. Ever solicitous for his flock, when the imperial messenger arrived in the evening with the order of banishment, Eusebius begged him to keep it a secret, saying, "If the people should be apprised, such is their zeal for the faith, that they would rise in arms against you, and your death might be laid to my charge." Therefore he celebrated the night office as usual and when everyone else had gone to bed, he walked to the Euphrates with one trusty servant and boarded the vessel to Zeugma.

The next morning, when the people discovered what had transpired, they began to search for him by boat. He was overtaken at Zeugma, where they begged him not to leave them to the ravening wolves. He exhorted them to confidence in God and said that he had to obey. They offered him money, clothes, and provisions for his exile, but he accepted very little and continued on to Thrace.

The Arians intruded Eunomius, a man of moderation, into his see, yet the people universally shunned him. Disgusted at his situation, Eunomius withdrew and left the people to themselves. The Arians then put in his place Lucius, a violent man, who banished the deacon Evoltius to the desert beyond Egypt, the priest Antiochus into a remote corner of Armenia, and others to other places. Yet the people ostracized him the same way they had his predecessor. For instance, it is mentioned that one day as he passed through a public square some children playing hit their ball against his mule's hoof. They treated the ball as if it were defiled--they threw it into the fire.

Eusebius returned to Samosata when Valens died in 378. Thereafter, he traveled throughout the country to seek candidates for election as Catholic bishops for the sees that were destitute: Beraea, Hierapolis, and Cyrus. At Dolikha, a small episcopal city in Comagene, forty-one miles from Samosata, Maris was to be ordained bishop. Because all the inhabitants of the town were obstinate Arians, Saint Eusebius escorted his to take possession of his church. He died there a few days after being struck on the head by a tile thrown from a rooftop by an Arian woman. In his last moments, in imitation of his divine Master, he bound his friends by oath never to prosecute his murderer or her accomplices (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).


John Rigby M (RM)
Born at Harrock Hall near Wigan, Lancashire, England, c. 1570; died June 21, 1600; beatified in 1929; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. John Rigby was the son of an impoverished gentleman, he was a Catholic but was obliged to earn his living as a servant in a Protestant household. He attended Protestant services to conform to the law, which penalized those who did not, but he repented of his actions and returned to the Catholic faith. While appearing to answer a summons for the daughter of his employer, he admitted he was a Catholic and was imprisoned at Newgate. When he refused his freedom if he would attend Protestant services, he was sentenced to death and hanged, drawn, and quartered at Southwark (Benedictines, Delaney).


Lazarus (RM)
1st century. This is the character of Jesus's parable of the poor man at the rich man's gate (Luke 16:19-31). In the Middle Ages his name was perpetuated in such words as lazaretto (hospital), lazarone (a beggar in the streets), and the military Order of Saint Lazarus, founded during the crusades, one of whose objectives was the care of lepers (Benedictines, Delaney).


Leutfridus, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Leufroi, Leufried, Leufred(us), Leutfrid, Leufroy)

Born near Evreux; died 738. Saint Leutfrid studied at the monastery school of Saint Taurinus at Evreux, then at Chartres. Having completed his own studies, he decided his life's vocation was teaching other children. Later he changed his mind and became a hermit. Upon hearing of the great sanctity of Abbot Saint Sidonius (Saëns), he went to him at Rouen and received the monastic habit at his hands. On the advice of Archbishop Saint Ansbert of Rouen, he returned to the area of Evreux near the Eure, and built a monastery on the site where Saint Ouen had previously erected a cross and chapel. He named the abbey La-Croix-Saint-Ouen (Cross of Saint Owen), which is now called the Cross of Saint Leufroy. There he engaged in strenuous penitential exercises: fasting, keeping nightly vigils, and prayer. He governed his monastery for nearly fifty years. He died happily after receiving the holy viaticum and was succeeded in the abbacy by his brother Saint Agofredus. His anonymous life was written in the ninth century and has little authority. During the Norman incursions in the ninth century, the monks of Holy Cross fled for refuge to the abbey of Saint Germain-des-Prés at Paris, carrying with them the relics of Saint Ouen, Saint Turiave, Saint Leufrid, and Saint Agofroi. When it was safe to return to Evreux, they left relics of Saint Leufrid and Saint Turiave, which still remain in that great abbey (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Leutfrid is generally portrayed as an abbot surrounded by or instructing children (Benedictines, Roeder). He may also be shown (1) dissipating a cloud of flies or (2) striking water from the ground with a peasant near him (Roeder). He is venerated in Evreux and invoked on behalf of sick children (Roeder).


Martin of Tongres B (RM)
Died c. 350. Saint Martin is said to have been the seventh bishop of Tongres. He is venerated as the apostle of the Hesbaye district of Brabant (Benedictines).


Méen of Brittany, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Maine, Mevenus, Mewan)

Died 617. Traditionally the Cornish Saint Méen, accompanied by his reputed godson Saint Austell, followed Saint Samson from Wales to Brittany. As they passed through Cornwall they founded adjoining parishes called Saint Mewan and Saint Austell. In Brittany he evangelized the Broceliande district which figures in the Arthurian romances and where he founded one monastery. Then he founded another near Paimpont, which was later called Saint-Méen or Saint-Méon. His extant vita was written there 500 years after his death. The cultus of Saint Méen spread throughout France and there were numerous pilgrimages to his shrine at the monastery. In England he is the patron of Saint Mewan and perhaps Mevagissey in Cornwall. Some of his relics are claimed by Glastonbury. His feast is kept in Cornwall and Exeter (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).


Ralph of Bourges, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Radulf, Raoul, Rudolph)

Died June 21, 866. Saint Ralph was the son of Count Raoul of Cahors. He was educated under Abbot Bertrand of Solignac, and, according to several Benedictine historians, became a monk there, though others claim that he was never a monk. Later he served as abbot of several abbeys, including Saint Médard in Soissons, and in 840 was named bishop of Bourges. He attended numerous synods, among them the Synod of Meaux in 845, founded several monasteries and convents, was known for his learning, and compiled a summary of pastoral instructions for his clergy (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).


Raymund of Barbastro, OSA B (AC)
Born at Durban, near Coserans, France; died 1126. Saint Raymund became an Augustinian canon regular at Pamiers. In 1104, he was appointed second bishop of Barbastro, Aragon, which had been recently recaptured. He is the principal patron of the city and diocese of Barbastro (Benedictines).


Rufinus and Martia MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyrs in one of the early persecutions at Syracuse (Benedictines).


Terence of Iconium BM (RM)
1st century. Bishop Terence of Iconium is sometimes identified with Tertius, the amanuensis mentioned by Saint Paul (e.g., Romans 16:22) (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Urciscenus of Pavia B (RM)
Died c. 216. Seventh bishop of Pavia, c. 183 to 216 (Benedictines).


Blessed Wolfrid of Hohentwiel, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died c. 990. Wolfrid founded Hohenwiel Abbey c. 973 and became its first abbot (Benedictines).



About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.