St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
The Story of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
St. Alphonsus Rodriguez (1532–1617) was born in Segovia, Spain, the son of a wool merchant. He was prepared for his First Holy Communion by St. Peter Faber, one of the first Jesuits. When his father died, Alphonsus had to leave school at the age of 14 to take over the family business, which eventually failed. He married and had three children, and was left a widower at the age of 31 when his wife died in childbirth. In subsequent years he also lost his mother and all three of his children. Alphonsus developed a life of prayer, intense piety, and rigorous penances, with a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother under her title of the Immaculate Conception. His desire for the religious life increased and he attempted to join the Jesuits as a late vocation, but his lack of education made him a poor candidate. To amend his deficiency he went back to school, while begging alms to support himself and enduring ridicule from his much younger classmates. After a long delay he was finally admitted to the Jesuits when he was nearly 40 years old, but only as a lay brother. He was given the humble job of a porter (doorkeeper), a job which he served with dedication for 46 years. Many people within the religious community, as well as many visitors, recognized his holiness and sought his advice and spiritual council. St. Peter Claver was one of his disciples, and St. Alphonsus is credited for directing him in his mission to African slaves. St. Alphonsus was known for his rigorous obedience and discipline, and for suffering from scrupulosity, temptations, and attacks from the devil. He took his final vows with the Jesuits at the age of 54. He continued to serve and even preach sermons into his 80's. He is credited with popularizing the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, copies of which he stockpiled and distributed.
Palma, Majorca, Spain