Did you know there’s a patron saint for victims of epidemics? It’s the 16th century Italian Jesuit, Aloysius Gonzaga. I thought it fitting to share this saint with you so that you might get to know him a bit and offer prayers for his intercession for us, since he was in a similar circumstance that we find ourselves in. St. Aloysius was born in 1568 in Lombardy, Italy, which, with quite some irony, is the region of Italy that currently serves as the epicenter for the Coronavirus in Europe! He was the eldest son of a noble family. A devout young man of deep faith, he was put off by the lifestyles of the aristocracy of the day, and felt called to enter the religious life. He renounced his royal title and entered the novitiate of the Jesuits.
He was in Rome preparing for his priestly ordination when in 1591, a plague broke out in the city. The Jesuits there set up a hospice to care for those suffering from the illness, and Aloysius began to care for them. He’d pick up the dying off the streets and carry them to the hospice where he and other Jesuits would bathe and feed them, and tend to their spiritual needs. He soon contracted the illness and not long after died at the age of 23. He was canonized a saint in 1726. I invite you to pray this prayer below written recently by Jesuit Fr. Fred Betti, associate pastor at St. Michael’s Church in Buffalo, NY, asking for the intercession of St. Aloysius.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, you were eager to care for your suffering brothers and sisters in Christ, in the midst of a terrible epidemic. You persisted in seeking permission to care for the sick, even though you knew it might endanger your own health. You felt natural revulsion toward the unpleasant realities of the sickness around you, but you wholeheartedly threw yourself into the task of caring for those who were ill and dying. I pray through your powerful intercession for all those who are affected by this epidemic. May the Lord bring healing to the sick, wisdom to medical professionals, prudence to our civil leaders, charity towards all, and hope to those who are discouraged.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga pray for us. Amen.
God bless you!