SAINT ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ (1532-1617), widower, father and lay-religious – Patron saint of Majorca, Spain
Today, the Church honors Saint Alphonsus (Alonso) Rodriguez, a man beset with tragedy and challenge, but who found happiness and contentment through simple service to God and prayer.
Alphonsus was born in 1532 in Segovia, Spain, the third of eleven children, whose father was a wealthy wool merchant. At the age of fourteen, Alphonsus was sent to study with the Jesuits, but his father died within a year, and Alphonsus returned home to learn and manage the family business.
He married at the age of twenty-six and he and his wife had two children. Within the span of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; in addition, the business was doing poorly. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. As a result, 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, after the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost forty years of age, sought to join the Jesuits. He did not have the education the Order required and was refused admittance. He sought to improve himself academically at the college in Barcelona, but could not complete his studies. Finally, after the recommendation of a Jesuit priest, Father Luis Santander, Alphonsus became a Jesuit lay-brother and was admitted to the Order in 1571 at Valencia, Spain.
After being transferred to the Jesuit house in Majorca, Brother Alphonsus served as doorkeeper for almost 46 years. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations.
His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including Peter Claver, who was then a Jesuit seminarian. Brother Alphonsus’ life as doorkeeper may have seemed routine to many, but he caught the attention of a poet and fellow Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.
Throughout his life as a Jesuit, Brother Alphonsus wrote a collection of manuscripts comprised of journal entries, random thoughts, simple illustrations, and musings on all things spiritual – which are remarkable for their simplicity, sound and correct doctrine, and spiritual understanding.
Brother Alphonsus Rodriguez died on October 31, 1617 from natural causes. He was canonized a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1887. Saint Alphonsus’ remains are interred in Majorca where he was doorkeeper until his death.
We commemorate his feastday on October 30.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Holy Men)
“All-powerful God, help us who celebrate the memory of Saint Alphonsus to imitate his way of life. May the example of Your saints be our challenge to live holier lives.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”