Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hail, Alphonsus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

St. Alphonsus Liguori
Paralysis from an attack of rheumatic fever left St. Alphonsus's head 
with the characteristic tilt seen in many portraits

Today is the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696 AD - 1787 AD).  St. Alphonsus was a brilliant lawyer from an impoverished noble family who suffered a humiliating defeat early in his career due to his own misinterpretation of a critical document.  Alphonsus interpreted this crushing setback as a heaven-sent opportunity to overcome his pride.  Shortly afterward, while visiting the Hospital of Incurables in Naples, Alphonsus heard an interior voice tell him "Leave the world and give thyself to Me."  Despite opposition from his family, Alphonsus duly left the law and was ordained.  Alphonsus would go on to found the Redemptorists, as well as write more than 100 books on spirituality and theology.   Moral Theology is perhaps St. Alphonsus' most important work, and is notable for its middle course between laxity and rigor.  St. Alphonsus also served as an energetic and reforming bishop of Naples.

Here is a portion of the Catholic Encyclopedia's description of St. Alphonsus:

"Alphonsus was of middle height", says his first biographer, Tannoia; "his head was rather large .... [h]is devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady was extraordinary. He had a tender charity towards all who were in trouble; he would go to any length to try to save a vocation; he would expose himself to death to prevent sin. He had a love for the lower animals, and wild creatures who fled from all else would come to him as to a friend."

St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.

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