Visiting the so-called “rooms” or “chapels” of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Rome, to a certain extent one can measure the distance – about four and a half centuries – between our time and his. But he also seems very present, because some things belonging to him – the crucifix, objects for daily use, the letters written in a beautiful script – seem to indicate to the visitor (as if the statue which portrays him very naturally, located in the great hall, is about to come to life and continue one of his favorite talks) the primacy of God over all of reality and, consequently, how little weight we must give to all the rest.
Up until a few years ago it was not necessary to insist upon the importance of Aloysius Gonzaga within the Church, because the statistics of his popularity showed him to be about the 10th-most-well-known saint, after Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Rita of Cascia, Padre Pio, Pope John XXIII, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Don Bosco, John Paul II, and Thérèse of Lisieux. However, not many were aware that he was Italian (the surname sounds Spanish to some) and a religious of the Society of Jesus.
His belonging to the Society of Jesus suggests a distinctive note, which probably helps to take in the witness of his life that we will try to treat in its essence: every good Jesuit, starting with the founder of the Order, Ignatius of Loyola, tends to identify himself through his own mission, which is at times specified practically by the pope himself. He does so continually asking: “What would Jesus do in this situation?”