Saint of the Day: St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
St Alphonsus, or Alonzo as he was called in Spain, was born at Segovia in Spain, on July 12, 1531. From childhood he was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He loved her as his mother. This childlike devotion to her was the main reason for his sanctity.
Alphonsus was destined to be an example of Christian perfection in many states of life. On the death of his father in 1545, he was called home from Alcala where he was studying, by his mother burdened with the care of eleven young children, and though a boy of fourteen, he was placed at the head of the family business, which involved the buying and selling of wool. At the request of his mother, Alphonsus married the virtuous Maria Suarez. His married life of four years was marked with much suffering. His wife died leaving behind a son; his mother, too, died leaving behind her eleven children. He was about 32 years old when his mother died. He bore his cross willingly.
Alphonsus started a more fervent life. He wanted to become a Jesuit. Twice he was refused admittance due to his older age, but providence came to his rescue. The Provincial admitted him on January 6, 1571. At the age of thirty-seven, Alphonsus entered the Jesuit novitiate and after six months he was instructed to go to the Jesuit college of Montesion in Palma on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain, to complete his novitiate training. At the end of his novitiate, in 1573, he pronounced the three vows of religion. He was assigned various duties and, in 1579, he was made doorkeeper at the college and remained in this office until his death.
Nothing could be more insignificant in the eyes of the world and more monotonous in itself than such a life. By his deep interior spirit that animated him, Alphonsus transformed and transcended it with his: fervent spirit of prayer, deep union with God, devotion to Mary, especially the Rosary, which allowed him to live constantly in the presence of God even in the hardest times. His spirit of obedience was remarkable. His love for his fellowmen and his spirit of penance inspired many to follow him. People in high positions came to him in their troubles and difficulties to seek his advice. He exercised a powerful influence for good upon his own Brothers, many of whom reached a high degree of sanctity. Of these the greatest was St Peter Clever, a fellow Jesuit, whom Alphonsus prepared to become the apostle of Slaves in the New World. Many owed their vocation to priesthood and religious life to him.
The year 1617, the last of his life, was for him one of great suffering. Thus ended a life of suffering, labor, love and service in the vineyard of the Lord on October 31, 1617; he died invoking in a loud and lingering voice the name of Jesus.
He was beatified in 1825, and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on 15 January, 1888 together with his spiritual disciple, St Peter Claver.