Saints of the Society of Jesus: Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

painting 'Vision of Alonso Rodriquez', by Francisco de Zurbarán, Museo de la Academia de San Fernando, Madrid30 October, Confessor

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez was born in Segovia, in Spain. As Saint Francis Borgia, before entering the Society he was married. But he lived in a much humbler sphere. He was a plain man, with an ordinary education, doing a little business. On the death of his wife and children, he was received into the Society in the rank of lay-brother. Then began his career of forty years as porter in the college of the Society in the Island of Majorca. Besides the virtues of humility, mortification, and so on, conspicuous in all the saints, three things shone in Saint Alphonsus: a wonderful simplicity, a still more wonderful obedience, and a devotion to our blessed Lady remarkable even in a saint. Innumerable were the stories told of him in these respects. “You will go to India, Brother,” said his Superior to him one day. Then, knowing the Brother’s character, he dispatched some one shortly afterward to find him. The Brother was walking in the direction of the wharf. He was going to board the vessel first departing for the Indies.

“But suppose no ship was going?”

“Then I would walk into the water, and when I could go no farther I would return and tell the Father Rector.” His fingers were hardened by the constant recital of his rosary, which was never out of his hand. Often was he rejoiced by visions of his heavenly Mother. One day when he was ascending a hill tired and out of breath, Our Lady took him by the hand and wiped his face. “O my dear Mother,” he exclaimed, “if you only loved me as I love you!”

“You are wrong, Alphonsus,” she replied, tapping him on the cheek; “I love you more than you love me.” O the divine simplicity of the saints! “Come, Brother Thomas, look at the jackass flying through the air;” and when they had laughed at him, the great Saint Thomas Aquinas replied, “I thought it was more easy for a donkey to have wings than for a religious to tell a lie.” Saint Alphonsus died in the year 1617, at the advanced age of eighty-six years, over forty-five of which had been passed in the Society, and was canonized in the year 1888 by Pope Leo XIII at the same time with his pupil in the spiritual life, Saint Peter Claver, and Saint John Berchmans, and the seven founders of the order of the Servites of Mary.