Saint John Berchmans (1621)

He was a young Belgian who entered the Society of Jesus when he was seventeen. He was one of the most brilliant and noble young members this Order has ever had. Sensing that he would not live long, he would say, “If I do not become a saint when I am young, I shall never be one.” His obedience to his superior was perfect. He declared, “May I die rather than violate deliberately the slightest order or rule.” His companions in the Society of Jesus called him “the cheerful brother,” for his very presence dispelled all gloom and sadness. His three great loves were: Jesus, Mary and the Rules of Saint Ignatius. He died holding his crucifix, his rosary and his rule book in his hands, saying, “These three things are most dear to me, and with these I die.” Saint John Berchmans was only twenty-two years old at his death. His great Joy was to serve Mass. He has been declared the patron saint of all altar boys.