by Virgilio Cepari, 1867

The tercentenary of the death of S. Aloysius Gonzaga naturally demands a commemoration of some sort. S. Aloysius, unlike so many of his illustrious family, has not left behind him the glory of a great Captain, or of a man of letters, or of a ruler or statesman. Perhaps we may gather from this brief life, that thanks to the laws of inheritance, or to the gifts specially bestowed upon him, had longer years and occasion been given to him he would have made his mark in the world. Talents he had, and they were very notable whenever circumstances called them into play. Father Budrioli, a contemporary of our Saint, records in his memoirs of S. Aloysius that it was the conviction of all the Fathers in the Roman College, and there were men of European fame amongst them, that young Gonzaga had been given to the Society of Jesus by a special providence to be one day its General, a post for which his prudence, sound judgment and extraordinary ability in matters of business seemed even then to have marked him out.

But S. Aloysius had a heart too great to be contented with earthly grandeur. Nothing seemed of value to him except what is prized by God, and what, like Him, is everlasting. To our Saint the highest science was the science of Saints, to conquer oneself the greatest victory, to serve God was to reign. His motto was: Quid hoc ad aeternitatem? Guided by this thought, the young prince, though living in the midst of a profligate world, with its charms and seductions on every side, took in hand the difficult task of making himself a Saint. And in the short space that he lived he reached such a height of sanctity that Holy Church, not content with raising him to her altars, honoured him with the title of Angel of Purity, and gave him as model and patron to the youth of the future.

What commemoration more fitting or more profitable than, by the faithful picture of his life, to reproduce him, whose whole being, whose every word and deed, whose each joy and sorrow, every aspiration and success were a constant forward march towards that ideal of perfection, which attracted him from childhood.

During the last three centuries a multitude of biographies of S. Aloysius have appeared; but they are all more or less drawn from the same source, and have lost some of the clearness and purity of the fountain head. This source is the classical life by Father Virgil Cepari of the Society of Jesus. It is impossible to find in any other biographer of S. Aloysius the qualities which we meet with in Cepari.

He was a contemporary of the Saint, an ocular witness of most of the facts he narrates; he was his fellow-student and lived with him for several years, during which he met him every day and was honoured with his most entire confidence. And what Cepari himself had not seen and heard, he learned from the lips of those who had witnessed all that he narrates, the mother and brother of S. Aloysius, his tutors, servants, his relatives and acquaintances, his masters, superiors in religion, his confessor. Cepari visited every place, except those in Spain, where the Saint had stayed for any length of time, and took down on the spot the most exact information, as can be learnt from the statements of the sworn witnesses. No other writer of the life of S. Aloysius has done the same.--Pages xi

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A note on the Holy Angels, in S. Aloysius' writing was
recently found among other papers. It runs as follow:

Devotion to the Angels

Imagine yourself standing before the nine choirs of Angels who are praying to God and singing Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Sanctus Immortalis, miserere nobis, and repeat this prayer nine times in union with them.

Recommend yourself to your Angel Guardian three times a day; in the morning by the prayer "Angele Dei", in the evening by the same prayer, and during the day when you visit the Altars in Churches. Remember that you are to be guided by your Angel like a blind man, who cannot see the dangers of the streets, and trusts entirely to the person who leads him.


Prayer to St. Aloysius for Purity

O blessed Aloysius, adorned with angelic graces, I thy most unworthy suppliant recommend specially to thee the chastity of my soul and body, praying thee by thy angelic purity to plead for me with Jesus Christ the Immaculate Lamb, and His most holy Mother, Virgin of virgins, that they would vouchsafe to keep me from all grievous sin. O never let me be defiled with any stain of fleshly sin; but when thou dost see me in temptation, or in danger of falling, then far from my heart remove all bad thoughts and unclean desires, and awaken in me the memory of eternity to come and Jesus crucified: impress deeply in my heart a sense of the holy fear of God; and thus kindling in me the fire of Divine love, enable me so to follow thy footsteps here on earth, that in heaven with thee I may be made worthy to enjoy the vision of our God for ever. Amen.

One Pater Noster and one Ave Maria.