Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori

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Saint
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori
C.Ss.R.
Bishop of Sant’Agata de’ Goti
Sant'Alfonso Liguori.jpg
Metropolis Benevento
Diocese Sant'Agata de' Goti
See Sant'Agata de' Goti
Appointed 14 June 1762
Installed 20 June 1762
Term ended 26 June 1775
Predecessor Flaminius Danza
Successor Onofrio de Rossi
Orders
Ordination 21 December 1726
Consecration 20 June 1762
by Ferdinando Maria de Rossi
Personal details
Born (1696-09-27)27 September 1696
Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Died 1 August 1787(1787-08-01) (aged 90)
Pagani, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sainthood
Feast day
Venerated in Catholic Church
Title as Saint Bishop, Moral Theologian, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
Beatified 15 September 1816
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Pius VII
Canonized 26 May 1839
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Gregory XVI
Patronage Pagani, Cancello, Naples (co-patron); arthritis, confessors, moralists
Shrines
  • Basilica Sanctuary of St. Alphonsus di Liguori
  • 1, Piazza Sant'Alfonso di Liguori,
  • Pagani, Salerno, Italy

Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori, C.Ss.R. (27 September 1696 – 1 August 1787), was an Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, scholastic philosopher and theologian.

Biography[edit]

Summary[edit]

Born into Neapolitan nobility, Ligouri had a successful law career before becoming a priest. He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) to work among the poor. In 1762 he was appointed Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti. He was a prolific writer, publishing nine editions of his Moral Theology in his lifetime, in addition to other devotional and ascetic works and letters. Among his best known works are The Glories of Mary and The Way of the Cross, the latter still used in parishes during Lenten devotions.

He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. Pope Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1871. One of the most widely read Catholic authors, Alphonsus Ligouri is the patron saint of confessors.

Early Years[edit]

Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori was born in Marianella, near Naples, then part of the Kingdom of Naples. He was the eldest of seven children. Two days after he was born he was baptized at the Church of Our Lady the Virgin as Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori. The family was an old and noble one, though the branch to which the Saint belonged had become somewhat impoverished. Alphonsus's father, Don Joseph de' Liguori was a naval officer and Captain of the Royal Galleys. The Saint's mother was of Spanish descent.

Education[edit]

Alphonsus was educated by tutors. His father made him practice the harpsichord for three hours a day. He learned to ride and fence were his recreations, but he was never a good shot due to poor eyesight.[2]

Alphonsus Liguori earned his Doctor of Laws degree at age sixteen. He remarked later that he was so small at the time as to be almost buried in his doctor's gown and that all the spectators laughed.[2] He became a successful lawyer. He was thinking of leaving the profession, and wrote to someone: "My friend, our profession is too full of difficulties and dangers; we lead an unhappy life and run risk of dying an unhappy death."[3] At the age of twenty-seven, after having lost an important case—the first he had lost in eight years of practicing law—he made a firm resolution to leave the profession of law.[4]

Career Change[edit]

In 1723, after a long process of discernment, and with his legal career abandoned, he decided to offer himself as a novice to the Oratory of St. Philip Neri with the intention of becoming a priest. His father strenuously opposed this plan, but after two months (and with his Oratorian confessor's permission), he and his father compromised: he would study for the priesthood, but not as an Oratorian and while living at home.[2] He was ordained on 21 December 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized youth of Naples. He founded the Evening Chapels which were managed by the young people themselves. These chapels were centers of prayer and piety, preaching, community, social activities, and education. At the time of his death, there were 72 of these chapels with over 10,000 active participants. His sermons were very effective at converting those who were alienated from their faith.

Liguori suffered from scruples much of his adult life, and felt guilt about the most minor issues relating to sin.[5] Moreover, the saint viewed scruples as a blessing at times, he wrote: "Scruples are useful in the beginning of conversion....they cleanse the soul, and at the same time make it careful".[6]

In 1729, Alphonsus left his family home and took up residence in the Chinese Institute in Naples.[3] It was there that he began his missionary experience in the interior regions of the Kingdom of Naples where he found people who were much poorer and more abandoned than any of the street children in Naples. In 1731, while ministering to earthquake victims in the town of Foggia, Alphonsus claimed to have had vision of the Virgin Mother under the appearance of a young girl of thirteen or fourteen, wearing a white veil.[3]

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer[edit]

On 9 November 1732, Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,[7] when Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa told him that it had been revealed to her that he was the one God had chosen to found the congregation. Its goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism, a doctrine that barred many Catholics from receiving the Eucharist because of its excessive moral rigor. He gave himself entirely to this new mission. A companion congregation of nuns was founded simultaneously by Sister Maria Celeste.

Alphonsus kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in a 19th-century stained glass window of Carlow Cathedral.

Bishop[edit]

Alphonsus was consecrated Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti in 1762.[7] He tried to refuse the appointment, proposing his age and infirmities as arguments against his consecration. During this time he wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Death[edit]

In 1775, he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy, where he died on August 1, 1787.

Veneration and Legacy[edit]

Alphonsus Liguori was beatified on September 15, 1816, by Pope Pius VII and canonized on May 26, 1839, by Pope Gregory XVI.

In 1949, the Redemptorists founded the Alphonsian Academy for the advanced study of Catholic moral theology. He was named patron of confessors and moralists by Pope Pius XII on April 26, 1950, who subsequently wrote of him in the encyclical Haurietis Aquas.

Works[edit]

St Alphonsus Liguori

Overview[edit]

Alphonsus was a prolific and popular author.[7] He was proficient in the arts, his parents having had him trained by various masters, and was a musician, painter, poet, and author at the same time. Alphonsus wrote 111 works on spirituality and theology.[8] The 21,500 editions and the translations into 72 languages that his works have undergone attest to the fact that he is one of the most widely read Catholic authors. Among his best known works are The Great Means of Prayer, and The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ.[citation needed]

Prayer and its power, love, his relationship with Christ and his first-hand experience of the pastoral needs of the faithful made Alphonsus one of the great masters of the interior life.[citation needed]

His best known musical work is his Christmas hymn Quanno Nascetti Ninno, later translated into Italian by Pope Pius IX as Tu scendi dalle stelle ("From Starry Skies Thou Comest").

Moral theology[edit]

Alphonsus' greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of moral theology. This 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 sterile legalism and strict rigorism. According to Alphonsus, those were paths closed to the Gospel because "such rigor has never been taught nor practiced by the Church". His system of moral theology is noted for its prudence, avoiding both laxism and excessive rigor. He is credited with the position of Aequiprobablism, which avoided Jansenist rigorism as well as laxism and simple probablism.

Mariology[edit]

His Mariology, though mainly pastoral in nature, rediscovered, integrated and defended the Mariology of Saint Augustine and Saint Ambrose and other fathers and represented an intellectual defence of Mariology in the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, against the cold rationalism of which his often flaming Marian enthusiasm contrasted.[9]

  • The Glories of Mary[10]
  • Marian Devotion
  • Prayers to the Divine Mother
  • Spiritual Songs
  • The True Spouse of Jesus Christ[11]
  • Visitations to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Virgin Mary

Other works[edit]

  • Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection[12]
  • The Way of Salvation and of Perfection[13]
  • The Way of the Cross,
  • The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ[14]
  • The Holy Eucharist[15]
  • Victories of the Martyrs[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 99
  2. ^ a b c Castle, Harold (2007). "St. Alphonsus Liguori". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  3. ^ a b c Tannoja, Antonio. "The life of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori" (1855)John Murphy & Co., Baltimore, 1855
  4. ^ Miller, D.F. and Aubin, L.X., St. Alphonsus Liguori, Tan Books, 2009, ISBN 9780895553294
  5. ^ Selected writings by Saint Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, 1999 ISBN 0-8091-3771-2 p. 209
  6. ^ The true spouse of Jesus Christ: The complete works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori 1929,Redemptorist Fathers Press, ASIN B00085J4WM, p. 545
  7. ^ a b c "Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori", St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish, Peterborough, Ontario
  8. ^ "Alphonsus Maria de Liguori", Saint Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish, Makati City Philippines
  9. ^ P Hitz, Alfons v. Liguori, Paterborn 1967, p. 130.
  10. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus, The Glories of Mary, P.J.Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1888
  11. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Eugene Grimm, ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1888
  12. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Borthers, New York, 1886
  13. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The Way of Salvation and of Perfection, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1887
  14. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1886
  15. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The Holy Eucharist, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1887
  16. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. Victories of the Martyrs, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1887

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Alphonsus Maria de Liguori at Wikimedia Commons