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In 1880, the Jesuit Superior of the Rocky Mountain Missions was an Italian priest, Fr. Joseph Cataldo. He supervised the Jesuits working in the Pacific Northwest and the missions they had established across Montana, down into Idaho and across Washington. All of their ministries were focused on the tribes of native Americans who lived in these regions. But at the same time, more and more settlers were arriving and making their presence felt.
During the long weeks of his recuperation, he was extremely bored and asked for some romance novels to pass the time. Luckily there were none in the castle of Loyola, but there was a copy of the life of Christ and a book on the saints. Desperate, Ignatius began to read them. The more he read, the more he considered the exploits of the saints worth imitating. However, at the same time he continued to have daydreams of fame and glory, along with fantasies of winning the love of a certain noble lady of the court, the identity of whom we never have discovered but who seems to have been of royal blood. He noticed, however, that after reading and thinking of the saints and Christ he was at peace and satisfied. Yet when he finished his long daydreams of his noble lady, he would feel restless and unsatisfied. Not only was this experience the beginning of his conversion, it was also the beginning of spiritual discernment, or discernment of spirits, which is associated with Ignatius and described in his Spiritual Exercises.
One of the most frequently asked questions about Gonzaga University is the origin of the name. Who was St. Aloysius Gonzaga? He is an Italian Jesuit saint of the 16th century. In 1887 when Father Joseph Cataldo, an Italian born Jesuit, founded Gonzaga College in Spokane, Washington, it seemed fitting to name the new school after his fellow Jesuit and fellow Italian, St. Aloysius Gonzaga.