Born to the nobility, Alphonsus was a child prodigy; he became extremely well-educated, and received his doctorate in law from the University of Naples at age 16. He had his own legal practice by age 21, and was soon one of the leading lawyers in Naples, though he never attended court without having attended Mass first. He loved music, could play the harpsichord, and often attended the opera, though he frequently listened without bothering to watch the over-done staging. As he matured and learned more and more of the world, he liked it less and less, and finally felt a call to religious life. He declined an arranged marriage, studied theology, and was ordained at age 29.
Preacher and home missioner around Naples. Noted for his simple, clear, direct style of preaching, and his gentle, understanding way in the confessional. Writer on asceticism, theology, and history; master theologian. He was often opposed by Church officials for a perceived laxity toward sinners, and by government officials who opposed anything religious. Founded the Redemptoristines women‘s order in Scala in 1730. Founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Liguorians; Redemptorists) at Scala, Italy in 1732.
Appointed bishop of the diocese of Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy by Pope Clement XIII in 1762. Worked to reform the clergy and revitalize the faithful in a diocese with a bad reputation. He was afflicted with severe rheumatism, and often could barely move or raise his chin from his chest. In 1775 he resigned his see due to ill health, and went into what he thought would be a prayerful retirement.
In 1777 the royal government threatened to disband his Redemptorists, claiming that they were covertly carrying on the work of the Jesuits, who had been suppressed in 1773. Calling on his knowledge of the Congregation, his background in thelogy, and his skills as a lawyer, Alphonsus defended the Redemptorists so well that they obtained the king‘s approval. However, by this point Alphonsus was nearly blind, and was tricked into giving his approval to a revised Rule for the Congregation, one that suited the king and the anti-clerical government. When Pope Pius VI saw the changes, he condemned it, and removed Alphonsus from his position as leader of the Order. This caused Alphonsus a crisis in confidence and faith that took years to overcome. However, by the time of his death he had returned to faith and peace.
When he was bishop, one of Alphonsus’s priests led a worldly life, and resisted all attempts to change. He was summoned to Alphonsus, and at the entrance to the bishop‘s study he found a large crucifix laid on the threshold. When the priest hesitated to step in, Alphonsus quietly said, “Come along, and be sure to trample it underfoot. It would not be the first time you have placed Our Lord beneath your feet.”
- against arthritis
- against scrupulosity
- confessors (given on 26 February 1950 by Pope Pius XII)
- final perseverance
- moral theologians
- moralists (1950 by Pope Pius XII)
- scrupulous people
- Acerra, Italy, diocese of
- Agrigento, Italy
- Pagani, Italy
- Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy
- praying with a monstrance in his hands
- man writing
- bishop with his chin on his chest
We must show charity towards the sick, who are in greater need of help. Let us take them some small gift if they are poor, or, at least, let us go and wait on them and comfort them. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
If we should be saved and become saints, we ought always to stand at the gates of the Divine mercy to beg and pray for, as an alms, all that we need. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
How pleasing to Him it will be if you sometimes forget yourself and speak to Him of His own glory, of the miseries of others, especially those who mourn in sorrow; of the souls in purgatory, His spouses, who long to behold Him in Heaven; and of poor sinners who live deprived of His grace. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
He who does not acquire the love of God will scarcely persevere in the grace of God, for it is very difficult to renounce sin merely through fear of chastisement. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
When we hear people talk of riches, honors and amusements of the world, let us remember that all things have an end, and let us then say: “My God, I wish for You alone and nothing more.” – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
He who trusts himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
He who communicates most frequently will be freest from sin, and will make farthest progress in Divine Love. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
I love you, Jesus my love, I love you more than myself. I repent with my whole heart for having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. May I love you always, and then do with me as you will. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin! O my Mother! Thou who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the advocate, hope, and refuge of sinners! I, the most wretched among them, now come to thee. I worship thee, great Queen, and give thee thanks for the many favors thou hast bestowed on my in the past; most of all do I thank thee for having saved me from hell, which I had so often deserved. I love thee, Lady most worthy of all love, and, by the love which I bear thee, I promise ever in the future to serve thee, and to do what in me lies to win others to thy love. In thee I put all my trust, all my hope of salvation. Receive me as thy servant, and cover me with the mantle of thy protection, thou who art the Mother of mercy! And since thou hast so much power with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the grace ever to overcome them. From thee I ask a true love of Jesus Christ, and the grace of a happy death. O my Mother! By thy love for God I beseech thee to be at all times my helper, but above all at the last moment of my life. Leave me not until thou seest me safe in heaven, there for endless ages to bless thee and sing thy praises. Such is my hope. Amen. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
What resources have we? We have God. And what work of God was ever based on human support? Tell me what human support had the work of Saint Francis, of Saint John of the Cross, of Saint Teresa? In proportion as a work is great, so much the more does Jesus Christ make it begin from nothing and surround it with contradictions so as to make it admired by all as a work of God and not a work of human ingenuity. The only thing that can ruin this institute is lack of confidence in God and placing one’s trust in human means. Who has done what has been achieved up to now? Me or God? And that same God who has begun the work can complete it. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
All holiness and perfection of soul lies in our love for Jesus Christ our God, who is our redeemer and our supreme good. Has not God in fact won for himself a claim on all our love? From all eternity he has loved us. And it is in this vein that he speaks to us: “O man, consider carefully that I first loved you. You had not yet appeared in the light of day, not did the world yet exist, but already I loved you. From all eternity I have loved you.” Since God knew that man is enticed by favors, he wished to bind him to his love by means of his gifts: I want to catch men with the snares, those chains of love in which they allow themselves to be entrapped, so that they will love me. And all the gifts which he bestowed on man were given to this end. He gave him a soul, made in his likeness. He endowed him with memory, intellect and will; he gave him a body equipped with the senses. It was for him that he created heaven and earth and such an abundance of things. He made all these things out of love for man, so that all creation might serve man, and man in turn might love God our of gratitude for so many gifts. But he did not wish to give us only beautiful creatures; the truth is that to win for himself our love, he went so far as to bestow upon us the fullness of himself. The eternal Father went so far as to give us his only Son. When he saw that we were all dead through sin and deprived of his grace, what did he do? He sent his beloved Son to make reparation for us and to call us back to a sinless life. – from a sermon by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
What folly it would be for travellers to think only of acquiring dignities and possessions in the countries through which they had to pass, and then to reduce themselves to the necessity of living miserably in their native lands, where they must remain during their whole lives! And are not they fools who seek after happiness in this world, where they will remain only a few days, and expose themselves to the risk of being unhappy in the next, where they must live for eternity? We do not fix our affections on borrowed goods, because we know that they must soon be returned to the owner. All earthly goods are lent to us: it is folly to set our heart on what we must soon quit. Death shall strip us of all. The acquisitions and fortunes of this world all terminate in a dying grasp, in a funeral, in a descent into the grave. The house which you have built for yourself you must soon give up to others. Saint Alphonsus Liguori, from
God says to each of us: “Give me your heart, that is, your will.” We, in turn, cannot offer anything more precious than to say: “Lord, take possession of us; we give our whole will to you; make us understand what it is that you desire of us, and we will perform it.” If we would give full satisfaction to the heart of God, we must bring our own will in everything into conformity with his; and not only into conformity, but into uniformity also, as regards all that God ordains. Confirmity signifies the joining of our own will to the will of God; but uniformity signifies, further, our making of the divine and our own will one will only, so that we desire nothing but what God desires, and his will becomes ours. This is the sum and substance of that perfection to which we ought to be ever aspiring; this is what must be the aim of all we do, and of all our desires, meditations and prayers. For this we must invoke the assistance of all our patron saints and our guardian angels, and, above all, of our divine mother Mary, who was the most perfect saint, because she embraced most perfectly the divine will. – Saint Alphonsus Liguori, from
- “Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori“. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015. <>