August 27th: Aloysius Mary Solari, SJ

Venerable Aloysius Mary Solari, SJ
also Agostino Solari (Luigi Maria)

Born: May 13, 1795
Died: August 27, 1829

Aloysius Solari (baptismal name was Augustine) was born in Chiavari, in northern Italy. At the age of eleven, his father sent him to a Savona school operated by the Vincentians hoping that he would change from his fun-loving ways. After the death of his father a year later, there was a remarkable change in the youth. He applied himself to his studies and received good grades and his teachers noted that he had developed a piety. As he grew into adolescence, Aloysius became more and more drawn to the priesthood and decided to become a Jesuit when the Society of Jesus was restored in 1814 after being suppressed for forty-one years.

As his widowed mother was greatly opposed to Aloysius’ desire to be a Jesuit priest, he temporarily shelved the idea because of her pleas. He continued to study philosophy at the University of Genoa. However after a year, he returned home and began his theological instruction under Fr Piaggio, an Augustinian priest. In his spare time, Aloysius taught catechism to the local children, visited the sick in hospitals, the poor and those in prison.

After he received minor orders, he raised the subject of the Jesuits to his mother again and again she objected. Aloysius prayed to St Aloysius Gonzaga to intercede for him. A week after he was ordained a deacon, Aloysius felt he could not wait any longer and secretly left home and in Sep 27, 1817, presented himself at the Jesuit novitiate in Chieri. But the Jesuits would not accept him without his mother’s consent which she finally gave. In gratitude to St Aloysius Gonzaga’s intercession, he changed his name to Aloysius Mary.

Aloysius completed his noviceship and went on to Rome to complete his training and was chosen among the first Jesuits to go to Naples to reopen the Jesuit College. While teaching he was ordained in 1824, at the age of twenty-nine. After his ordination, Fr Solari was sent to Benevento to teach in the newly-opened college and to assist in its parish. He was a powerful preacher and every Friday preached about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion he cultivated since he entered the Society. He was viewed as an exemplary priest by his students and many chose him as their confessor. In his private life he subjected himself to so much penance and mortification that his superiors had to restrain him. He volunteered for the foreign missions in his desire for martyrdom but death overtook him first.

Solari spent only five years in Benevento before he was taken ill suddenly in early August 1829, presumably from scarlet fever. He died on August 27. He was thirty-four and had been a Jesuit for twelve years. His cause was introduced in Rome on December 12, 1906.