St. Alphonsus' writings on moral, theological, and ascetic matters had great impact and have survived through the years, especially his Moral Theology and his Glories of Mary. He is the patron of confessors, moral theologians, and the lay apostolate.
Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the Redemptorist Congregation, he was born in 1696 in Naples. Educated at the University of Naples, Alphonsus received his doctorate at the age of sixteen. By age nineteen he was practicing law, but he saw the transitory nature of the secular world, and after a brief time, retreated from the law courts and his fame. Visiting the local Hospital for Incurables in 1723, he had a vision and was told to consecrate his life solely to God. In response, Alphonsus dedicated himself to the religious life, even while suffering persecution from his family. He became a priest, and his work for the poor throughout Naples, as well as the friendships he found in Bishop Falcoia and the mystic soul, Sister Mary Celeste, led him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) in 1732. He was a fervent preacher, and a moral theologian of eminence, who opposed the rigors of Jansenism. He was much in demand as a confessor, seeking to win back the sinful by gentle and direct appeal to the Gospel. He was made bishop of Sant’ Agata dei Gotti, and for thirteen years fed the poor, instructed families, reorganized the seminary and religious houses, taught theology, and wrote. His austerities were rigorous, and he suffered daily the pain from rheumatism that was beginning to deform his body. He spent several years having to drink from tubes because his head was so bent forward.
An attack of rheumatic fever, from May 1768 to June 1769, left him paralyzed. He was not allowed to resign his see, however, until 1775. In 1780, Alphonsus was tricked into signing a submission for royal approval of his congregation. This submission altered the original rule, and as a result Alphonsus was denied any authority among the Redemptorists. Deposed and excluded from his own congregation, Alphonsus suffered great anguish. But he overcame his depression, and he experienced visions, performed miracles, and gave prophecies. He died peacefully on August 1, 1787, near Naples as the Angelus was ringing. He was beatified in 1816 and canonized in 1839. In 1871, Alphonsus was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX.
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- Francis T Walsh
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- Ed Shimkus
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– Mary, Minnesota, USA
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– A Catholic Church, New York, USA
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– R.C., New York, USA
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