Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists). He was born on September 27 1696 in Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Sicily, and died on August 1 1787 at the age of 90 in Pagani, Campania, Kingdom of Sicily. In 1871, Pope Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church. His feast day is celebrated on August 1 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Biography|
|Date of Birth||September 27 1696|
|Place of Birth||Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Sicily|
|Matrimony/Holy Orders||Saints who were Bishops|
|Profession||Founder of the Redemptorists, theologian, artist, lawyer, spiritual writer, composer, musician, poet and scholastic philosopher.|
|Place of Work||Italy|
|Date of Death||August 1 1787|
|Place of Death||Pagani, Campania, Kingdom of Sicily|
|Feast Day||August 1|
|Beatification||Beatified by Pope Pius VII on September 15 1816 in Rome, Papal States|
|Canonization||Canonized by Pope Gregory XVI on May 26 1839 in Rome, Papal States|
|Patron Saint of||
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Life History
Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was the firstborn in his family. His father was called Giuseppe Liguori. He was a Captain of the Royal Galleys and a naval officer. His mother was called Anna Maria Caterina Cavalieri. During baptism, which was two days after birth, he was given the name Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori.
As Alphonsus was growing up, his Myopia, poor eyesight, and asthma prevented him from pursuing a military career. Eventually, his father decided that he pursues a legal career and so he was educated at the University of Naples and at the age of 16, he graduated with doctorates in civil and canon law. At 18 years of age, he assisted in taking care of the sick at the hospital for incurables which was operated by the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy.
He started practicing law and became very successful. But in his heart, he felt that the legal profession was full of dangers, difficulties and led to an unhappy life that would lead to an unhappy death. Alphonsus’s turning point was when, at the age of 27 years, he lost an important case and vowed to leave the legal profession and follow that consistent interior voice that kept telling him, “Leave the world, and give yourself to me.”
Alphonsus declined a marriage that had been arranged by his father. His call to priesthood persisted and in 1723, he decided to join the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri. His father was opposed that decision but eventually, the two reached a compromise that Alphonsus would shelve studying as an Oratorian but study for the priesthood and live at home. He studied for the priesthood and on December 21 1726, at the age of 30, he was ordained a priest.
St Alphonsus spent his initial priestly years preaching and taking care of the marginalized and homeless youths of Naples. He preached in a simple and plain manner and consequently attracted many congregants. He founded chapels that became centers of education, preaching, and pious activities.
Alphonsus often suffered from religious anxiety as a result of minor sins but got comfort from the belief that these scruples help one to cleanse the soul and begin to abhor sin.
He left his family home in 1729 and began staying at the Chiflese College in Naples which had been founded by the Apostle of China, Father Matthew Ripa. Here, he began to evangelize as a missionary to the inner parts of the Kingdom of Naples. At one time in an interior town of Foggia, Alphonsus saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a young teenage girl wearing a veil.
Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was informed by Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa that God had chosen him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. So on November 9 1732, Alphonsus founded the congregation with the aim of teaching and preaching to the poor in slums and poor countrysides.
Alphonsus was a musical composer who wrote and taught many hymns to his congregants. He wrote songs like “Tu scendi dalle stelle” (“From Starry Skies Descending”). St Alphonsus Liguori had written 111 works on spirituality and theology. There are 21,500 editions of these works which have been translated into 72 languages.
Some of his major works are;
- Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection
- Marian Devotion
- Moral theology
- Prayers to the Divine Mother
- Preparation for Death
- The Council of Trent
- The Glories of Mary
- The Holy Eucharist
- The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ
- The Triumph of the Church over all heresies. A History of Heresies and Their Refutation
- The True Spouse of Jesus Christ
- The Way of Salvation and of Perfection
- The Way of the Cross
- Truth of the Faith (“Verita della Fede”)
- Uniformity with God’s Will (pamphlet)
- Victories of the Martyrs
In 1762, Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was ordained and consecrated as the Bishop of Sant’Agata dei Goti. He had initially refused but finally accepted. He brought order to his diocese by suspending those priests who celebrated mass in a hurry. He frowned upon the ecclesiastical abuses in the diocese and rehabilitated the clergy and faithful. He also wrote books articles and sermons about proper devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He also continued taking care of the poor and the needy. At one time, he sold his episcopal ring and his carriage to take care of the poor.
Towards the end of his life, he became physically sick, blind and faced persecution from priests in his own congregation. He was deserted by all his original founding priests and other companions except one lay brother. Divisions in his order were very evident and he was betrayed by one of his closest members of the Redemptorist community to change the rules of his order. One of the rules that were changed was that which put the Redemptorists under the Pope. The Pope would eventually remove the allegiance of the members from Alphonsus to himself, leaving Alphonsus without jurisdiction.
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Birth
He was born on September 27 1696 in Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Sicily. During baptism, which was two days after birth, he was given the name Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori.
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Death
Alphonsus became deaf and blind and developed so many physical infirmities. He resigned and lived with the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy. On August 1 1787 he died.
He was beatified by Pope Pius VII on September 15 1816 in Rome, Papal States.
He was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI on May 26 1839 in Rome, Papal States.
The Redemptorists founded an academy for the study of Catholic moral theology. They named it the Alphonsian Academy. This, on April 26 1950, made Pope Pius XII to name St Alphonsus the patron saint of confessors and moral theologians.
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori Feast Day
His feast day is celebrated on August 1 every year in the Catholic Church. Between 1839–1969, his feast day was celebrated on August 2.
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori is the Patron Saint of
- Sisters of the Holy Redeemer
- Scrupulous people
- Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy
- Pagani, Italy
- Moralists (1950 by Pope Pius XII)
- Moral theologians
- Final perseverance
- Confessors (given on 26 February 1950 by Pope Pius XII)
- Agrigento, Italy
- Against scrupulosity
- Against arthritis
- Diocese of Acerra, Italy
Major Shrines and Places
- Basilica Sanctuary of St. Alphonsus di Liguori
- National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Baltimore, Maryland
- 1, Piazza Sant’Alfonso di Liguori, Pagani, Salerno, Italy
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