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Saint Alphonsus Liguori

2019-07-10


Saint Alphonsus Liguori was born in Marianella near Naples on September 27, 1696. He was the first born of a rather large family belonging to the Neapolitan nobility. His received a broad education in the humanities, classical and modern languages, painting and music. He finished his university studies earning a Doctorate in both civil and canon law and began his practice in the legal profession.

On November 9, 1732, Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, popularly known as the Redemptorists, in order to follow the example of Jesus Christ announcing the Good News to the poor and the most abandoned. From that time on, he gave himself entirely to this new mission.

Alphonsus was a lover of beauty: musician, painter, poet and author. He put all his artistic and literary creativity at the service of the mission and he asked the same of those who joined his Congregation. He wrote 111 works on spirituality and theology. Among his best known works are: The Great Means of prayer, The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, The Glories of Mary and The Visits to the Most Holy Sacrament. Prayer, love, his relationship with Christ and his first-hand experience of the pastoral needs of the faithful have made Alphonsus one of the great masters of the interior life.

Alphonsus greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of Moral Theological reflection with his Moral Theology. This work was born of Alphonsus pastoral experience, his ability to respond to the practical questions posed by the faithful and from his contact with their everyday problems. He opposed the sterile legalism which was suffocating theology and he rejected the strict rigorism of the time the product of the powerful elite. According to Alphonsus, those were paths that were closed to the Gospel because such rigor has never been taught nor practiced by the Church. He knew how to put theological reflection at the service of the greatness and dignity of the person, of a moral conscience, and of evangelical mercy.

Alphonsus was consecrated bishop of St. Agatha of the Goths in 1762. In 1775, he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani where he died on August 1, 1787. He was canonized in 1839, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 and Patron of Confessors and Moralists in 1950.

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