St Alphonsus Rodriguez

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Saint Of The Day

Spanish layman. Patron saint of Majorca. Born in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died, and at the same time the business did not do well. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters' home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation.

Some years later, tragedy struck again when his son died. Alphonsus was almost 40 by then. He tried to join the Jesuits, but was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits' college in Majorca. 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 St Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian (who went on to work with the slaves in Colombia). Alphonsus's life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.

Read that poem here, and another one by William Breault SJ: