Alphonsus Liguori

Saint Alphonsus Liguori CSsR (1696–1787), sometimes called Alphonsus Maria Liguori, was an Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musician, artist, poet, lawyer, scholastic philosopher, and theologian.

He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists). In 1762 he was appointed Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti. A prolific writer, he published nine editions of his Moral Theology in his lifetime, in addition to other devotional and ascetic works and letters. Among his best known works are The Glories of Mary and The Way of the Cross, the latter still used in parishes during Lenten devotions.

He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871. One of the most widely read Catholic authors, he is the patron saint of confessors.

Alphonsus Maria Liguori
Carlow Cathedral St Alphonsus kneeling before the Most Holy Sacrament 2009 09 03
St Alphonsus kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in a 19th century stained glass window of Carlow Cathedral
Bishop, Moral Theologian, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
Born27 September 1696
Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Died1 August 1787 (aged 90)
Pagani, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Venerated inCatholic Church
Beatified15 September 1816, Rome, Papal States by Pope Pius VII
Canonized26 May 1839, Rome, Papal States by Pope Gregory XVI
Major shrine
  • Basilica Sanctuary of St. Alphonsus di Liguori
  • 1, Piazza Sant'Alfonso di Liguori,
  • Pagani, Salerno, Italy
PatronagePagani, Cancello, Naples (co-patron); arthritis, confessors, moralists

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Bishop of Sant'Agata de' Goti
St Alphonsus Liguori
DioceseSant'Agata de' Goti
SeeSant'Agata de' Goti
Appointed14 June 1762
Installed20 June 1762
Term ended26 June 1775
PredecessorFlaminius Danza
SuccessorOnofrio de Rossi
Ordination21 December 1726
Consecration20 June 1762
by Ferdinando Maria de Rossi
Personal details
Born27 September 1696
Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Died1 August 1787 (aged 90)
Pagani, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
DenominationRoman Catholic
Feast day
Venerated inCatholic Church
Title as SaintBishop, Moral Theologian, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
Beatified15 September 1816
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Pius VII
Canonized26 May 1839
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Gregory XVI
PatronagePagani, Cancello, Naples (co-patron); arthritis, confessors, moralists
  • Basilica Sanctuary of St. Alphonsus di Liguori
  • 1, Piazza Sant'Alfonso di Liguori,
  • Pagani, Salerno, Italy

Early years

He was born in Marianella, near Naples, then part of the Kingdom of Naples, on 27 September 1696. He was the eldest of eight children of Giuseppe Liguori and Anna Maria Caterina Cavalieri. Two days after he was born, he was baptized at the Church of Our Lady the Virgin as Alphonsus Mary Anthony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori. The family was of noble and ancient lineage, but the branch to which the Saint belonged had become somewhat impoverished. Alphonsus's father, Don Joseph de' Liguori, was a naval officer and Captain of the Royal Galleys.


Liguori learned to ride and fence but was never a good shot because of poor eyesight.[3] Myopia and chronic asthma precluded a military career so his father had him educated for the legal profession. He was taught by tutors before entering the University of Naples, where he graduated with doctorates in civil and canon law at 16.[4] He remarked later that he was so small at the time that he was almost buried in his doctor's gown and that all the spectators laughed.[3] When he was 18, like many other nobles, he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy with whom he assisted in the care of the sick at the hospital for "incurables".[5]

He became a successful lawyer. He was thinking of leaving the profession and wrote to someone, "My friend, our profession is too full of difficulties and dangers; we lead an unhappy life and run risk of dying an unhappy death".[6] At 27, after having lost an important case, the first he had lost in eight years of practicing law, he made a firm resolution to leave the profession of law.[7] Moreover, he heard an interior voice saying: "Leave the world, and give yourself to me."[4]

Career change

In 1723, he decided to offer himself as a novice to the Oratory of St. Philip Neri with the intention of becoming a priest. His father opposed the plan, but after two months (and with his Oratorian confessor's permission), he and his father compromised: he would study for the priesthood but not as an Oratorian and live at home.[3] He was ordained on 21 December 1726, at 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and the marginalized youth of Naples. He became very popular because of his plain and simple preaching. He said: "I have never preached a sermon which the poorest old woman in the congregation could not understand".[4] He founded the Evening Chapels, which were managed by the young people themselves. The chapels were centers of prayer and piety, preaching, community, social activities and education. At the time of his death, there were 72, with over 10,000 active participants. His sermons were very effective at converting those who had been alienated from their faith.

Liguori suffered from scruples much of his adult life and felt guilty about the most minor issues relating to sin.[8] Moreover, the saint viewed scruples as a blessing at times and wrote: "Scruples are useful in the beginning of conversion.... they cleanse the soul, and at the same time make it careful".[9]

In 1729, Alphonsus left his family home and took up residence in the Chinese Institute in Naples.[6] It was there that he began his missionary experience in the interior regions of the Kingdom of Naples, where he found people who were much poorer and more abandoned than any of the street children in Naples. In 1731, while he was ministering to earthquake victims in the town of Foggia, Alphonsus claimed to have had a vision of the Virgin Mother in the appearance of a young girl of 13 or 14, wearing a white veil.[6]

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

On 9 November 1732, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,[10] when Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa told him that it had been revealed to her that he was the one that God had chosen to found the congregation. He founded the congregation with the charism of preaching popular missions in the city and the countryside. Its goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism, a heresy that supported a very strict morality: "the penitents should be treated as souls to be saved rather than as criminals to be punished". He is said never to have refused absolution to a penitent.[4]

A gifted musician and composer, he wrote many popular hymns and taught them to the people in parish missions. In 1732, while he was staying at the Convent of the Consolation, one of his order's houses in the small city of Deliceto in the province of Foggia in Southeastern Italy, Liguori wrote the Italian carol "Tu scendi dalle stelle" ("From Starry Skies Descending") in the musical style of a pastorale. The version with Italian lyrics was based on his original song written in Neapolitan, which began Quanno nascette Ninno (When the child was born). As it was traditionally associated with the zampogna, or large-format Italian bagpipe, it became known as Canzone d'i zampognari the ("Carol of the Bagpipers").[11]

Bishop of Sant' Agata de Goti

Alphonsus was consecrated Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti in 1762.[10] He tried to refuse the appointment by using his age and infirmities as arguments against his consecration. He wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He first addressed ecclesiastical abuses in the diocese, reformed the seminary and spiritually rehabilitated the clergy and faithful. He suspended those priests who celebrated Mass in less than 15 minutes and sold his carriage and episcopal ring to give the money to the poor. In the last years of his life, he suffered a painful sickness and a bitter persecution from his fellow priests, who dismissed him from the Congregation that he had founded.[4]


In 1775, he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy, where he died on 1 August 1787.

Veneration and legacy

He was beatified on 15 September 1816 by Pope Pius VII and canonized on 26 May 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.

In 1949, the Redemptorists founded the Alphonsian Academy for the advanced study of Catholic moral theology. He was named the patron of confessors and moral theologians by Pope Pius XII on 26 April 1950, who subsequently wrote of him in the encyclical Haurietis aquas.



Alphonsus was a prolific and popular author.[10] He was proficient in the arts, his parents having had him trained by various masters, and he was a musician, painter, poet and author at the same time. Alphonsus wrote 111 works on spirituality and theology.[12] The 21,500 editions and the translations into 72 languages that his works have undergone attest to the fact that he is one of the most widely-read Catholic authors.

His best known musical work is his Christmas hymn Quanno Nascetti Ninno, later translated into Italian by Pope Pius IX as Tu scendi dalle stelle ("From Starry Skies Thou Comest").

Moral theology

Alphonsus' greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of moral theology. His masterpiece was The Moral Theology (1748), which was approved by the Pope himself[4] and was born of Alphonsus' pastoral experience, his ability to respond to the practical questions posed by the faithful and his contact with their everyday problems. He opposed sterile legalism and strict rigorism. According to him, those were paths closed to the Gospel because "such rigor has never been taught nor practiced by the Church". His system of moral theology is noted for its prudence, avoiding both laxism and excessive rigor. He is credited with the position of Aequiprobabilism, which avoided Jansenist rigorism as well as laxism and simple probabilism. Since its publication it has remained in Latin, often in 10 volumes or in the combined 4-volume version of Gaudé. It saw only recently its first publication in translation, in an English translation made by Ryan Grant and published in 2017 by Mediatrix Press. The English translation of the work is projected to be around 5 volumes.[13]


His Mariology, though mainly pastoral in nature, rediscovered, integrated and defended that of St Augustine of Hippo, St Ambrose of Milan and other fathers; it represented an intellectual defence of Mariology in the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, against the rationalism to which contrasted his fervent Marian devotion.[14]

Other works

  • Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection[17]
  • The Way of Salvation and of Perfection[18]
  • The Way of the Cross,
  • The History of Heresies,
  • Preparation for Death,
  • The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ[19]
  • The Holy Eucharist[20]
  • Victories of the Martyrs[21]

See also


  1. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 99
  2. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 99
  3. ^ a b c Castle, Harold (2007). "St. Alphonsus Liguori". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). "St. Alphonsus Liguori". My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 166–167. ISBN 971-91595-4-5.
  5. ^ "St. Alphonsus Liguori, Our Founder", Redemptorists, Baltimore Province Archived 12 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Tannoja, Antonio. "The life of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori" (1855)John Murphy & Co., Baltimore, 1855
  7. ^ Miller, D.F. and Aubin, L.X., St. Alphonsus Liguori, Tan Books, 2009, ISBN 9780895553294
  8. ^ Selected writings by Saint Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, 1999 ISBN 0-8091-3771-2 p. 209
  9. ^ The true spouse of Jesus Christ: The complete works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori 1929,Redemptorist Fathers Press, ASIN B00085J4WM, p. 545
  10. ^ a b c "Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori", St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish, Peterborough, Ontario Archived 11 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Carol of the Bagpipers". The Hymns and Carols of Christmas. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Alphonsus Maria de Liguori", Saint Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish, Makati City Philippines
  13. ^ "1st English Translation of St. Alphonsus Liguori's Moral Theology". Mediatrix Press.
  14. ^ P Hitz, Alfons v. Liguori, Paterborn 1967, p. 130.
  15. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus, The Glories of Mary, P.J.Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1888
  16. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Eugene Grimm, ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1888
  17. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1886
  18. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The Way of Salvation and of Perfection, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1887
  19. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1886
  20. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. The Holy Eucharist, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1887
  21. ^ Liguori, Alphonsus. Victories of the Martyrs, Eugene Grimm ed., Benziger Brothers, New York, 1887

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links

Alphonsus Liguori Penney

Archbishop Alphonsus Liguori Penney (17 September 1924 – 12 December 2017) was a Canadian Roman Catholic priest who was Archbishop of St. John's from 1979-1991. He was born in St John's, Newfoundland.

Bruno Lanteri

Venerable Father Pio Bruno Pancrazio Lanteri, O.M.V., or simply Bruno Lanteri (12 May 1759 – 5 August 1830), was a Catholic priest and founder of the religious congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in northwestern Italy in the early 19th century. His spiritual life and work centered on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He was also renowned for challenging Jansenism by distributing books and other publications that promoted the moral theology of St. Alphonsus Liguori, as well as establishing societies to continue this work.Lanteri's cause for canonization was begun in 1920 and he was declared Venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1965.

Chaplet of the Five Wounds of Jesus

The Chaplet of the Five Wounds of Jesus or the Little Chaplet of the Five Wounds of Jesus Crucified is a devotional prayer written in 1761 by St. Alphonsus Liguori, a devotional writer and founder of the Redemptorist Fathers religious community.St. Alphonsus wrote the devotional as a meditation on the five piercing wounds that Christ suffered during his crucifixion.

Christian devotional literature

Christian devotional literature (also called devotionals or Christian living literature) is religious writing that is neither doctrinal nor theological, but designed for individuals to read for their personal edification and spiritual formation. Theologian Karl Holl has suggested that devotional literature came into full development at the time of Pietism during the second half of the 17th century.

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Latin: Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris; CSsR), commonly known as the Redemptorists, is a worldwide congregation of the Catholic Church, dedicated to missionary work and founded by Alphonsus Liguori at Scala, near Amalfi, Italy, for the purpose of labouring among the neglected country people around Naples. Members of the congregation are Catholic priests and consecrated religious brothers and minister in more than 100 countries.

The Redemptorists are especially dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and were appointed by Pope Pius IX in 1865 as both custodians and missionaries of the icon of that title, which is enshrined at the Redemptorist Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome. Many Redemptorist churches are dedicated to her.


Gluttony (Latin: gula, derived from the Latin gluttire meaning "to gulp down or swallow") means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items, particularly as status symbols.

In Christianity, it is considered a sin if the excessive desire for food causes it to be withheld from the needy. Some Christian denominations consider gluttony one of the seven deadly sins.

Gordon Arnaud Winter

Gordon Arnaud Winter, (October 6, 1912 – August 1, 2003) was the sixth Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland from 1974 to 1981.In 1974, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

In 1989, he headed the Winter Commission, the diocesan commission appointed by bishop Alphonsus Liguori Penney to undertake an inquiry about the clerical child sexual abuse scandal at Mount Cashel orphanage.

Liguori, Missouri

Liguori is an unincorporated community in Jefferson County, Missouri, United States. It is a part of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area and is located approximately 10 miles south of Arnold on U.S. Route 67. The community is named after Saint Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and is the home of communities of Redemptorists and Redemptoristine nuns.

Mariology of the saints

Throughout history Roman Catholic Mariology has been influenced by a number of saints who have attested to the central role of Mary in God's plan of salvation. The analysis of Early Church Fathers continues to be reflected in modern encyclicals. Irenaeus vigorously defended the title of "Theotokos" or Mother of God. The views of Anthony of Padua, Robert Bellarmine and others supported the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, which was declared a dogma in 1850.

Writings of the saints have contributed to both popular piety and a greater understanding of Mary's role in salvation history.


In Roman Catholic Mariology, the title Mediatrix refers to the intercessory role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a mediator in the salvific redemption by her son Jesus Christ, and that he bestows graces through her. Mediatrix is an ancient title that has been used by a number of saints since at least the 5th century. Its use grew during the Middle Ages and reached its height in the writings of saints Louis de Montfort and Alphonsus Liguori in the 18th century.A general role of mediation or intercession is attributed to Mary in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy, and the term "Mediatrix" was applied to her in the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium of the Second Vatican Council. "This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator."The use of the title Mediatrix and the doctrine of Mary having a higher level of saintly intercession (owing to her special relationship with her son Jesus) is distinct from the theological issues involved in the establishment of Mediatrix of all graces as a dogma. On 12 September 2015, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments through the Archdiocese of Lipa, Philippines formerly declared the 1948 Marian apparition under the title Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces to be authentic and worthy of pious belief, now rejected as non-supernatural by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on 1 June 2016.

National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori

St. Alphonsus Church, Rectory, Convent and Halle, also known as St. John Neumann Shrine and "Baltimore's Powerhouse of Prayer," is an historic Roman Catholic church complex located within the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Since 1992, the parish has held regular Tridentine Masses. It is currently administered by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.

Saint Alphonsus

Saint Alphonsus may refer to the following Roman Catholic saints:

St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists and devotional writer

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, Spanish-born widower, Jesuit lay brother

Sant'Alfonso di Liguori

The Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori (Chiesa di Sant'Alfonso di Liguori all'Esquilino in Italian) is a rectory church located on the Via Merulana on the Esquiline Hill of central Rome's Vth prefecture, Italy, and a titular church for a Cardinal-priest under the name Santissimo Redentore e Sant'Alfonso in Via Merulana (Holy Redeemer and St. Alfonso).

Scrupulous Anonymous

Scrupulous Anonymous is a Roman Catholic monthly newsletter published by the Liguori Mission, associated with the Redemptorist Order, founded by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.The newsletter focuses on individuals who need help in dealing with scrupulosity. Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church suffered from "scruples" and feelings of religious guilt in his own life, and developed techniques for helping people with the same conditionIn his book A Thousand Frightening Fantasies, 'psychologist William Van Ornum reported a survey of one thousand subscribers to Scrupulous Anonymous and documented their feelings of anguish and suffering.In his book The Doubting Disease Joseph Ciarrocchi stated that: "I have found the newsletter a useful adjunct to therapy for religious persons".

St. Alphonsus Church

St. Alphonsus Church may refer to:

Church of St Alphonse Liguori, Birkirkara, in Birkirkara, Malta

Novena Church, Singapore (officially the Church of Saint Alphonsus)ItalyChurch of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Rome, Italy

Santa Maria della Mercede e Sant'Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, in the historic center of Naples, ItalyUnited StatesSaint Alphonsus Church, New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Alphonsus Church, Rectory, Convent and Halle (Baltimore), Maryland

National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori, in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland, United States

St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church (St. Louis), Missouri

St. Alphonsus Ligouri Church (New York City)

St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church (St. Louis)

St. Alphonsus Liguori "Rock" Catholic Church is an historic, Roman Catholic church in St. Louis, Missouri. The church is a Gothic Revival structure and has a towering steeple, flanking spires, and an assortment of stained glass.

The Glories of Mary

The Glories of Mary is a classic book in the field of Roman Catholic Mariology, written during the 18th century by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church.

Three Hail Marys

Three Hail Marys is a traditional Roman Catholic devotional practice of reciting three Hail Marys as a petition for purity and other virtues. Believers recommend that it be prayed after waking in the morning, and before going to bed, following the examination of conscience at night. This devotion has been recommended by St. Anthony of Padua, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. John Bosco and St. Leonard of Port Maurice. Two saints, Mechtilde and Gertrude, are said to have received revelations from the Blessed Virgin Mary regarding this practice.

Tu scendi dalle stelle

"Tu scendi dalle stelle" (Italian: [ˌtu ˈʃendi dalle ˈstelle]; "From Starry Skies Thou Comest", "From Starry Skies Descending", "You Came a Star from Heaven", "You Come Down from the Stars") is a Christmas carol from Italy, written in 1732 in Nola by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in the musical style of a pastorale. Though found in numerous arrangements and commonly sung, it is traditionally associated with the zampogna, or large-format Italian bagpipe.

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