Today is the Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (died 1591).
Born in 1568 in the family castle of Castiglione delle Stivieri in Mantua, Lombardy, Italy, today’s Saint had a father who was a compulsive gambler, and he was trained from age four as the oldest son as a soldier and courtier. He suffered from kidney disease, which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. He is said to have taken a private vow of chastity at the age of nine. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. He received his First Communion from Saint Charles Borromeo in 1580. At age eighteen, Aloysius signed away his legal claim to his family’s lands and title to his brother, and became a Jesuit novice. The spiritual student of Saint Robert Bellarmine, he tended plague victims in Rome in the outbreak of 1591; catching the plague himself, he died at the age of twenty-three. The Carmelite mystic St Maria Magdalena de Pazzi claimed to have had a vision of him on April 4th, 1600. She described him as radiant in glory because of his “interior works”, “a hidden martyr” for his great love of God. He was beatified only fourteen years after his death by Pope Paul V, on October 19th, 1605. On December 31st, 1726, he was canonized together with another Jesuit novice, Stanislaus Kostka, by Pope Benedict XIII. He is the Patron Saint of young students, Christian youth, Jesuit scholastics, the blind, AIDS patients, and AIDS care-givers. (The church of St. Joseph in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, the location of German soccer club Schalke 04, has a glass window of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga with a soccer ball which refers to the Club colors and its strong fanbase; page down to Fenster Nr.: 25 (Window #25) to see a good picture and a description of the window in German.)
I woke up at 6:45 am in my room at the Holiday Inn Express in Gadsden, Alabama (forty-five minutes later than I had planned on), and did my Book Devotional Reading. I ate a light breakfast and read the morning paper, checked out if the motel, and was on I-69 North at 8:15 am. I called Richard but got no answer. I crossed into Georgia at 9:15 am CDT (10:15 am EDT), and caught I-24 East before I reached Chattanooga. Richard called me to report overcast skies. I crossed over into Tennessee at 10:30 am, and Richard called to tell me that Tropical Storm Cindy would come in at the Sabine River. East of Chattanooga I took I-75 North, and Richard called to tell me that he had found my Valero card in the dryer (it was in my jeans pocket when I did my laundry). I ate lunch via the McDonald’s drive through in Powell, Tennessee, and reached Kentucky at 2:00 pm. At 3:45 pm I took the cut-off at Winchester, and got on I-64 East at 4:00 pm.
I arrived at Liz Ellen’s house in Eastern Kentucky at 5:45 pm and said hello to Winger and Widget. At 6:45 pm we went to the mall, ate dinner at Panera, and I missed a call from Richard while getting a very thorough massage at Body Work. I called Richard back but got no answer, but he called back to report that it had just started raining. We got home at 8:45 pm, and watched our #3 LSU Tigers beat the #17 Florida State Seminoles at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska by the score of 7 to 4; our Tigers will now play the #1 Oregon State Beavers on Friday in a must-win game.
Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Paulinus of Nola, Bishop (died 431), and the Optional Memorial of Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Thomas More, Martyr (both died 1535). Liz Ellen and I will go to Charleston, West Virginia to take a riverboat cruise.
Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Bob Evans, American restaurateur and marketer of pork sausage products. Born in 1918 in Sugar Ridge, Ohio, the family moved to Gallia County in 1929. After his marriage in 1940 he and his wife moved to Gallipolis, Ohio where he bought a restaurant named the Malt Shop in the early 1940s. When he was inducted into the army he sold his interest in the restaurant to a friend; when he returned to civilian life in 1946, he opened another 12-stool diner in Gallipolis. In 1948 he began making sausage on his farm near Gallipolis to serve at the diner. The building where he made the sausage was built with open ends, at the suggestion of his father, so it could be used as a machinery shed if the sausage business failed. In 1953 a group of friends and family recognized the growing demand for the sausage and became business partners by establishing Bob Evans Farms. As the reputation of Bob Evans Sausage grew, he invited people to his farm in Rio Grande, Ohio (with “Rio” pronounced like “Rye-o”), and built a little twelve-stool restaurant at the farm to serve the demand. The Sausage Shop at the original farm can now seat 134. By 1957 Bob Evans Sausage was being delivered by a fleet of fourteen trucks to nearly 1,800 locations. The company opened a total of four sausage plants to keep up with demand. In 1963 Bob Evans Farms Inc. “went public,” listing on the Nasdaq with an original issue of 160,000 shares. In 1964 hog prices suddenly spiked upward and had alarming effects on the company’s profits. Bob Evans Farms made the decision to try something Evans already knew a little about – the restaurant business. Even after prices came down and the sausage business was thriving again, the company wanted to avoid relying solely on that business, so Evans worked with a designer on the “look” for Bob Evans Restaurants. The well known “Steamboat Victorian” style was chosen with the now-familiar red-and-white color scheme. Chillicothe, Ohio was the location of the first of the “new” Bob Evans Restaurants. By the early 1970s expansion was entirely in Ohio, but by the late 1970s expansion into other states was underway. (By way of a personal note, I grew up along the Ohio River in West Virginia, (which I still to this day say as “the Ah-Hi-Ah River”) and from the mid-60s through the early 1970s my mother had one of her doctors at the hospital in Gallipolis. Dad would drive down to Point Pleasant, and we would cross the A-hi-a, seeing the Tu Endie Wei State Park monument in Point Pleasant on the West Virginia side of the river and seeing the old supports for the Silver Bridge on the Ohio side of the river. We were quite familiar with the Bob Evans Farm near Gallipolis and the Bob Evans Restaurant in Pomeroy, Ohio, which is a town that is two blocks wide and about four miles long. I did not realize until many years later that the state of Ohio is about 85% flat; the only hilly part is the part that lines the Ohio River.) By 1983 the restaurant division could count 100 units. Evans stayed in his long-time positions as a director and president of the company until his retirement on Dec. 31st, 1986. He remained actively involved in his community and numerous causes. In 1987 the Bob Evans Farm, also known as Woods Old Homestead, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2005 Evans was honored by The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio as an inaugural I’m a Child of Appalachia honoree for his philanthropic efforts, entrepreneurial success and support of improved access to higher education in the region (died 2007): “We served a lot of breakfasts, but we couldn’t get any decent sausage. So I decided to start making my own from hogs raised right on our farm, using all the best parts of the hog, including the hams and tenderloins. You might say the truck drivers did my research for me. They would tell me that this was the best sausage they ever had, and then buy 10-pound tubs to take home.”