Feast Day : August 13
Patronage: altar boys and girls; altar servers; youths
John Berchmans was born on March 13, 1599, in Diest, Brabant. His father was a shoemaker. Even as a child he displayed great piety, attending Mass and Sunday sermons and making pilgrimages to the sanctuary of Montaigu near Diest. He also spent much time caring for his sick mother. John decided to become a Jesuit after reading the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Against the wishes of his family, he entered the Society of Jesus in September 1616 and studied for two years at their college in Malines. He was sent to Antwerp to study philosophy, but after only a few weeks set out for Rome. He continued his philosophy studies at the Roman College. Early in his third year, he was selected to participate in a philosophical disputation at the Dominicans’ Greek College. Upon his return, he was suddenly taken with a severe fever and died on August 13, 1621, clutching his rosary, crucifix and rules. He had not yet been ordained. Numerous miracles were reported after his death. His relics are in the Church of St. Ignatius. John was a model of piety for many and strove for perfection. He was noted for his fidelity, kindness, courtesy and obedience. He told others that if he did not become a saint when he was young he would never become one. In art he is shown standing with his hands clasped, holding his rosary, crucifix and rules book.