Saint of the day:
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Patron Saint of Catholic Youth, Teenagers
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga’s Story
The Lord can make saints anywhere, even amid the brutality and license of Renaissance life. Florence was the “mother of piety” for Aloysius Gonzaga despite his exposure to a “society of fraud, dagger, poison, and lust.” As a son of a princely family, he grew up in royal courts and army camps. His father wanted Aloysius to be a military hero.
At age 7 Aloysius experienced a profound spiritual quickening. His prayers included the Office of Mary, the psalms, and other devotions. At age 9 he came from his hometown of Castiglione to Florence to be educated; by age 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week, and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old, he traveled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain, and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints.
A book about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in India suggested to him the idea of entering the Society of Jesus, and in Spain his decision became final. Now began a four-year contest with his father. Eminent churchmen and laypeople were pressed into service to persuade Aloysius to remain in his “normal” vocation. Finally he prevailed, was allowed to renounce his right to succession, and was received into the Jesuit novitiate.
Like other seminarians, Aloysius was faced with a new kind of penance—that of accepting different ideas about the exact nature of penance. He was obliged to eat more, and to take recreation with the other students. He was forbidden to pray except at stated times. He spent four years in the study of philosophy and had Saint Robert Bellarmine as his spiritual adviser.
In 1591, a plague struck Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital of their own. The superior general himself and many other Jesuits rendered personal service. Because he nursed patients, washing them and making their beds, Aloysius caught the disease. A fever persisted after his recovery and he was so weak he could scarcely rise from bed. Yet, he maintained his great discipline of prayer, knowing that he would die within the octave of Corpus Christi, three months later, at the age of 23.
St Aloysius Gonzaga
(d. 1591, Rome, Italy) (Relics: Rome, Italy; Castiglione delle Stiviere, Italy)
Il Santuario di San Luigi Gonzaga
(The Sanctuary of St Aloysius Gonzaga)
Via Cesare Battisti 1
46043 Castiglione delle Stiviere, Italy
*St Aloysius Gonzaga was raised in this city at his family’s castle. Despite this lofty upbringing he decided to renounce his worldly inheritance in favor of a life as a Jesuit. During his formation in Rome he was never lacking in charity and often spent many hours caring for the sick. On one such occasion he himself contracted the plague. Shortly thereafter at the tender age of twenty-three he passed away. His skull was eventually given to one of his brothers and returned to his family’s castle. Today this relic rests above the main altar of the church located here.
Sant’Ignazio (Saint Ignatius)
Via del Caravita 8/a
*This church is east of the Pantheon.
*The remains of St Aloysius Gonzaga rest under the altar in the right transept. His rooms are next to the church and can be visited by appointment.
*The body of St Robert Bellarmine (d. 1621) rests under the altar in the third chapel on the right side of the nave.
*The remains of St John Berchmans (d. 1621), the patron saint of altar servers, rest under the altar in the left transept.
Stiviere, Italy or also known as the Lombardy region
This area loves rice, thick cuts of meat, antipasto platters, pumpkin stuffed pastas, & cream sauces
Strangolapreti - spinach gnocchi, translates to “priest stranglers”,
as priests supposedly would gorge themselves on these meat-free dumplings during Lent.
The sage browned butter sauce is the traditional way of serving these strangolapreti.
Strangolapreti con Salvia
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 6 as a side dish
8 ounces stale bread, turned into bread crumbs in the food processor or blender
1 cup milk
16 ounces fresh spinach or swiss chard, thick stems removed
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c. to 1 c. white flour
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, minced
6 sage leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl, and cover with the milk. Combine to thoroughly moisten bread.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and season with salt. Add the spinach and/or swiss chard, and blanch until tender, 2-3 minutes. Drain well, and immerse the blanched greens in ice water to halt the cooking. Remove from the ice water, and drain in a sieve, squeezing well to eliminate as much of the water as possible. Chop finely.
Squeeze any excess milk out of the breadcrumbs (there should not be much, if any), and place in a medium bowl. Add the spinach/chard, eggs, flour and grated nutmeg. Combine until the mixture just binds together and holds, adding more flour if necessary, but don’t overdo it. It will be very wet. You want to add as little flour as possible, to keep your strangolapreti as light as possible.
When making these for the first time, it would be good to test the strangolapreti before making them all, to make sure the mixture will hold through the cooking process. Have a small pot of boiling water ready, and pinch off a small strawberry size ball of dough. Place it in the boiling water, and see if it holds together. If it remains intact, and eventually rises to the surface, you are all set! If it breaks apart, add a little more flour and try again. When you’re at the right consistency, continue on to the next step.
Dust the counter with flour. Divide the dough into between 4 and 5 equally sized pieces. Coat your hands with flour, and take one of the pieces and place it on the floured countertop. Using the palms of your hands, roll the piece out into a 1/2 inch thick log, which will be about 18 inches long. Cut the log into 1-inch lengths, and place the individual strangolapreti onto a sheet pan that has been dusted with flour. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Salt the water. Working in small batches, place the strangolapreti in the water – don’t overcrowd them. Cook until the strangolapreti rise to the surface; using a slotted spoon, remove them and place on a sheet pan in a single layer.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. When the butter is melted, add the shallots and sage leaves. Continue to cook, watching carefully, until the butter solids begin to brown and smell nutty. Remove from heat, add the strangolapreti, and serve, garnishing with the sage leaves. Drizzle with remaining butter.
Happy Summer Solstice!
Today is the longest day of the year!
In Poland this night is called St. John's night. On this night traditionally the customs included girls letting wreaths, that were made out of flowers and lit with candles, onto the river. If it was caught by a young men, the girl would marry soon, if it kept flowing, she will have to wait a while. Don't ask what would happen if the wreath sank or caught into flames!
Not long ago a new twist to this custom was celebrated, especially in big multicultural cities where traditions tend to mix. For the past few years in Poland thousand of paper lanterns are lit and released into the sky on the night of the summer solstice, creating one of the most breathtaking views you will ever see.