(March 9, 1568 – June 21, 1591)
Louis (Luigi, Aloysius) Gonzaga was born in Northern Italy of a rich family of nobility and was educated at the princely court of the famous Medici in Florence. At the age of 14, he joined a royal suite traveling to Spain where he spent three years as a court page to James, son of King Philip II (after whom the Philippines was named).
As a young man he faced the dilemma whether to follow the excessive worldliness of the royal courts of his time, or to strive after higher values. He decided to become a priest. Although his mother was happy, his father vehemently objected since his entry in a top religious order involved the royal inheritance and nobility of his family. Louis renounced all his rights to the family title and properties and entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1585. He was a competent student and highly regarded for his virtues of charity, humility and chastity.
During the last year of his studies for the priesthood, a plague broke out in Rome. Louis offered himself for the service of the sick, and while caring for the victims, he himself contracted a malignant infection which caused his death after three months of intense suffering. Scarcely anything remained of his exhausted body except skin and bones, and cruel sores. Yet, he remained cheerful and patient to the end.
For his extraordinary signs of heroism for love of God and fellowmen he was canonized in 1726, and three years later declared to be the heavenly patron of all catholic youth, especially those engaged in studies.
Our institution, like many others all over the world, adopted St. Louis, this great young man, as patron and model for students.
The feast of St. Louis Gonzaga is celebrated on June 21.