FEAST OF SAINT ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ
FEAST DAY – 30th OCTOBER
Alphonsus Rodriguez, Confessor and lay brother, also called Alonso, was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for his First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus’ father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died.
In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sister’s home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother on January 31, 1571.
He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local and social leaders came to his porter’s lodge for advice and direction. Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception.
Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including Saint Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’ life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.
Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders. He was declared Venerable in 1626, and was named a patron of Majorca in 1633. Alphonsus was beatified in 1825 and canonized in September 1888 with St. Peter Claver. He is the patron saint of Majorca.
O God, in the faithful service of our brother Alphonsus You have shown us the way to joy and peace. Make us ready and watchful companions of Jesus, who became the servant of all, and now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, pray for us!