Birthday: September 27, 1696
Died At Age: 90
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, C.Ss.R.
Born in: Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Famous as: Philisopher, Spiritual Writer, Theologian
Died on: August 1, 1787
place of death: Pagani, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Alphonsus Liguori was an Italian theologian, scholastic philosopher and Catholic bishop. He was the pioneer of a new aspect of Christianity called 'Moral Theology'. At a time when the Catholic Church and clergies were accused by many of unethical practices, Alphonsus made his community and nation proud by his unconditional services to the needy. Though he could have led a comfortable life as a lawyer, Alphonsus realized at a very young age that leading a materialistic life is of no use. Liguori soon confessed to his parents that he wanted to change his career path and explore theology. His most significant contribution to the Italian society was introducing an association of chapels called 'Evening Chapels', which was dedicated towards offering services, such as education and imparting religious values to the underprivileged youth. Alphonsus was a multi-faceted personaliy; he was a musician, painter, poet and author at the same time. The tales of Alphonsus’ great deeds continue to be popular even till date. The man’s life is an example which many humanitarians follow.
Childhood & Early Life
Alphonsus was born on 27 September 1696, in Naples, Italy, to Don Joseph de' Liguori and Anna Cavalieri Liguori. His father was a naval officer and his mother was of Spanish descent. Alphonsus was the eldest of the eight siblings.
Alphonsus underwent baptism just two days after his birth at a catholic place named ‘Church of Our Lady the Virgin’ during which he was christened ‘Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori’.
Following his father’s footsteps, Liguori wanted to be a military officer. However, Alphonsus was frequently plagued by ailments such as chronic asthma and poor eyesight which prevented him from entering the armed forces.
After gaining sufficient primary knowledge from private tutors, Alphonsus pursued his further studies in Canon and Civil Law from the esteemed University of Naples.
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Alphonsus started working as a lawyer at the tender age of sixteen. Though he went on to become successful in this profession, Alphonsus disliked being a lawman and found his job to be quite difficult. After working for almost a decade, he hung his boots at the age of twenty seven.
Alphonsus then decided to serve the people by becoming a priest, and joined the ‘Oratory of St. Philip Neri’ in 1723 to achieve his goal. His father initially disapproved Alphonsus’ plans of giving up materialistic life and embracing sainthood, but later agreed to his son’s request after the intervention of the Oratorian Confessor.
In 1726, Alphonsus was declared a priest, when he was barely 30 years old. During his initial days as the father of the church, Alphonsus interacted closely with the homeless youth of Naples.
In 1729, Alphonsus relocated to the ‘Chinese Institute’ situated in the interiors of Naples, where he encountered much poorer individuals than the ones he had met before. He was involved in uplifting many people from this part of the kingdom later one.
One of Alphonsus’ major contributions was the ‘Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer’ which he founded as per Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa’s advice in 1732. Sister Maria had apparently told Alphonsus that he was chosen by god to start the initiative.
Alphonsus formed an association of chapels by name ‘Evening Chapels’. These chapels were involved in both religious and community services such as prayers, preaching of holy texts, and education.
An idea of forming separate Congregations for men and women originated in Alphonsus’ mind. After an approval from Pope Benedict XVI, Alphonsus accomplished this dream, by forming two congregations in the years 1749 and 1750 respectively.
Alphonsus became a globally recognized name in the year 1762, when he was announced the ‘Bishop of Sant'Agata Dei Goti’ by Pope Clement XIII.
Alphonsus retired from his religious services in 1775, and relocated to the Redemptorist community in Italy.
Alphonsus penned his opinion on moral theology in books such as ‘Visits to the Blessed Sacrament’, ‘The True Spouse of Jesus Christ’ which was aimed at nuns, and ‘Selva’- a book dedicated to priests.
Personal Life & Legacy
Alphonsus passed away on August 1, 1787 at the Redemptorist Community in Pagani, Italy which was his abode post retirement.
Pope Pius VII carried out the process of Alphonsus' beatification in 1817. The Bishop was canonized two decades later by Pope Gregory XVI.
An institution dedicated to Moral Theology was founded by Redemptorists in 1949, to honour the late bishop. It was named the 'Alphonsus Academy'.
Alphonsus had apparently said that when he graduated with a degree in law, and was supposed to wear a coat, people would laugh at him. Alphonsus was supposedly too tiny to fit perfectly into the coat.
It’s claimed that Alphonsus had a divine vision of Virgin Mary in 1731, which is apparently the inspiration behind the book ‘The Glories of Virgin Mary’.