The Jesuits had several houses in Madrid. It was in one of these that Aloysius found the guide of his soul. He chose for his confessor Padre Fernando Paterno, a Sicilian, and, under his direction, communicated frequently, and made fresh progress in evangelical perfection. What his life was, even in the midst of the daily distractions and disadvantages which his presence at the court entailed upon him, may be gathered from the testimony of this very father, given after the saint's death, to his purity of conscience. Not only, he averred, had Aloysius never committed a mortal sin, having ever abhorred the very thought of it, but many and many a time the padre could not in his confessions discover sufficient matter for absolution.
In innocency a child, he describes him at that time as already a man in intellect and judgment; a great enemy to idleness, always occupied in some good exercise, and specially in the study of Scripture, in which he took great delight, and manifesting singular modesty in word, look, and deed. When walking through the streets, Aloysius never raised his eyes, so that, had he not been accompanied, he would have mistaken his way, whether in Madrid, where he spent more than two years, or in other places, as he himself upon occasion stated in after years. And if palaces and buildings courted his gaze in vain, so also was it with all the pageantry of that court, the most sumptuous and gorgeous in Europe. Queens, princesses, and their glittering attendants passed before him as in a dream, in which nothing of detail is marked or remembered, or as unseen objects of which the shadow alone crosses our field of vision; nay, Aloysius confessed to the same Jesuit father that even the empress, in whose galley he had sailed and in whose presence he almost daily found himself with Don Diego [de Austria, Prince of Spain, of whom he had been made a page of honor], he had never really seen; never had he looked in her face so as to be able to recognize her; and had he met her elsewhere, he would not have known her.
The Life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Edward Healy Thompson (Ed.)
[See also our 2008 post on Gonzaga: Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi and Saint Aloysius as a hidden martyr.]