Aloysius Gonzaga was born in the castle of Castiglione in Lombardy on March 9, 1568, into (what we could call) an appalling family genealogy and social environment. The Gonzaga tyrants entered history about 1100; their cliff-like fortress loomed over the city. The clan survived one assassination after another. They bled their subjects white by taxation and thrilled them by their exotic pageantries, until they rose up and broke into bloody but useless revolution. This is the family into which Aloysius was born.

When he was twelve, Aloysius came under the spiritual guidance of St. Charles Borromeo, and from him received First Communion. In 1581 he went with his father to Spain, and with his brother was made a page of James, the son of Philip II. Aloysius, convinced that the society into which he was born could not be reformed from within, and that he himself was "a piece of twisted iron needing to be twisted straight," formed a resolution to become a Jesuit. Apart from the violent shock to his family, Aloysius, being an imperial prince and allied to all the royal houses, became tied up in legal negotiations that seemed interminable to him. Even when he had done with courts, insane flatteries pursued him–doctors, feeling his pulse, would exclaim at the privilege of feeling Gonzaga blood throb beneath their fingers.

Finally Aloysius entered the Jesuits in 1585, making his vows in 1587. When in the following year a quarrel broke out between the imperial authority and the Gonzaga clan and war seemed probable, Aloysius, although only 21 years old, was asked to intervene. After calming the quarreling princes, he was able to see his mother, whom he loved deeply. He returned to Italy to resume his theological studies until a plague broke out. Although in delicate health, Aloysius devoted himself to the care of the sick. He succumbed to the pestilence and died on June 21. After Aloysius' death his brother ran riot; his exasperated vassals shot him; shortly after that the youngest brother Diego was shot too and ran into his mother's arms to die. She was stabbed and left for dead in the street, but Aloysius, in a vision is said to have cured her.

Such were the circumstances of Aloysius' life. They show the toughness of character that must have been his to have fought his way through such battalions of temptation, to victory. His life of prayer, and continuous war against that pride which he knew still remained deep in him, and his day-to-day response to grace, were what fitted him to become the patron of all young men, different though their circumstances are from those of the Gonzaga princes.

Adopted from Couslon, The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary, and O'Conor, Life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga