Category Archives: Jesuit saints & blesseds

St Peter Canisius

“At length, it was as if you [Lord] opened to me the heart in your most sacred body: I seemed to see it directly before my eyes. You told me to drink from this fountain, inviting me, that is, to draw the waters of my salvation from your wellsprings, my Savior. I was most eager that streams of faith, hope and love should flow into me from that source. I was thirsting for poverty, chastity, obedience. I asked to be made wholly clean by you, to be clothed by you, to be made resplendent by you.”

St Peter Canisius, pray for us.

North American Martyrs

Allowing one to speak for the group:

“My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing His designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to Him, and not to spoil His work by our shortcomings.”

-Saint Isaac Jogues

St. Nicholas Owen

St. Nicholas Owen is one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales; he died in 1606. Own was the son of an Oxford carpenter becoming a carpenter himself. His personal mission was to secretly construct well-disguised ‘priest-holes’, or hiding places for hunted priests, during the night.

Nicholas Owen was a professed co-opperator (lay) brother of the Society of Jesus in England. On the mission, Owen served jail time for defending the martyred St. Edmund Campion. History shows that Nicholas masterminded the priest’s escape from the Tower of London and he was a wanted man after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. His martyrdom was the usual English horror with his entrails burst open. 

St Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius LoyolaFrom the life of Saint Ignatius from his own words by Luis Gonzalez

Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.

By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.

While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts; they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.

But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples on the discernment of spirits.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

GonzagaThis poignant waiting titled, “The Vocation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga,” by Guercino, hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC). The Gonzaga family castle looms in the background and the crown of the marquisate on the ground behind him, which he has relinquished. The lily is a sign of his chastity.

Aloysius’ father was not persuaded that his son had a vocation to be part of the new group called the Society of Jesus, much less a priest. Therefore, he sent his son to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus with a letter stating, “I merely say to Your Reverence that I am sending you the most precious thing I possess.” The young Aloysius distinguished himself as a model Jesuit. As the plague came to Rome in 1591, Aloysius  threw himself into caring for plague victims. But he was told by his superiors not to touch them, lest he contract the disease. One day, he carried a man from his bed, was infected with the plague and then died, at age 23 in the octave of Corpus Christi.

The opening Collect of his Mass today speaks of asking for the same grace Aloysius had: to join innocence with penitence. As J. Michael Thompson writes in a hymn for our saint, we trust as Aloysius did, in the “Trinity of endless mercy.”

The Church named Saint Aloysius a patron of youth, and of those living with HIV/AIDS.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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