St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

Artist: 
Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
Born in Naples, Alphonsus Liguori practiced law as a young man, but abandoned his career to become a priest. In 1732 he organized a group of missioners to work among the poor in rural areas. This group became the religious congregation known as the Redemptorists.

He was a skilled preacher whose sermons reached the simplest peasant. He was also a brilliant and compassionate theologian who championed the individual conscience and God’s mercy against the Jansenists and other rigorists of his day who preached a religion of fear and anguish. His theology was rooted in his many years of firsthand pastoral ministry to the poor.

Alphonsus was also an artist. He played the harpsichord, wrote hymns, and painted religious images. From 1762 to 1775 he served as bishop of a difficult, small diocese. For the last 20 years of his life he suffered from chronic ill health. His theological teachings were attacked by his opponents, but eventually approved by Rome. Political intrigue split the Redemptorists into two factions, which caused him additional suffering. In spite of all of this, he died peacefully in his 91st year. He is a "doctor" of the Roman Catholic Church and patron saint of moral theologians and confessors.

His feast day is August 1.

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