Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Born: 1696

Died: 1787

Feast Day: 1st August

Patron Saint: Arthritis, Confessors, Moralists

Shrine: Basilica Sanctuary of St. Alphonsus di Liguori, 1, Pagani, Salerno, Italy

Writings: Moral Theology, Glories of Mary, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament – and many more

Canonised: 1839

Saint Alphonsus was born in 1696, near Naples as the eldest (of seven) son to Joseph, a Naval Captain of the Royal Galleys and Anna Knight.  His father was keen for him to get a good education and therefore was he taught by private tutors. He was a very bright student, and his father was strict and kept a watchful eye over him, which included making him practise the harpsichord for 3 hours a day, becoming a virtuoso by the age of thirteen.  For enjoyment he was an equestrian, card player and fencer.

Starting his law studies at the young age of 13, he obtained his doctorate as a lawyer and started practising at 19. It is said he won every case until 8 years later, when he missed a small detail, at which time he gave up law. Joseph tried to arrange a marriage for his son which he resisted.  Alphonsus enjoyed opera but more the music than the acting, often removing his glasses during the performance so that he could listen rather than watch.  During Lent of 1722, he went on a retreat with the Vincentians and by Lent 1723 he decided that he would not marry and listen to the voice of God, that was saying “Leave the World and give yourself to me”.

At the church of Our Lady of Mercy, he asked to become part of the Oratory priests, even though his father tried to persuade him otherwise.  He began to study theology and was ordained around the age of 30.  He soon became a sought-after preacher and confessor, with his simple style that was easy for the rich and poor to understand.

He was the Founder of the Redemptorists Order in 1732 in Scala, a preaching order, this was not without its trials.  His book Moral Theology was published in 1748.  At 66 he was made bishop and immediately instituted reform of his diocese. He retired in 1775. At 71 Alphonsus suffered with severe rheumatic pains which left an incurable bend in his neck, so bad that, at one point his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of fears, temptations and dark nights interspersed with ecstasies and died in 1787.