Saint of the Day: Alphonsus Rodriguez

Today I thought I’d devote a whole post to the Saint of the Day, instead of just the picture in the sidebar, because I find today’s saint so intriguing. Here’s a short biography from the Catholic Culture website. (Check out their website for a more extensive biography as well.)

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez was a cloth merchant in Segovia, Spain, he was married and had children. Following on the death of his wife and children, he lost his shop, and due to financial misfortune, became a thoroughly confused person. He prayed and was inspired to become a Jesuit. He was found too old to study for the priesthood and too weak to take up a lay brother’s work but the Provincial boldly admitted him, remarking that he was receiving him for his holiness. He proved right. A little while after his first vows he was appointed porter or door-keeper of the Jesuit college at Majorca and for the next forty years he remained at the same post. It was patient humble work for hours on end, daily walking up and down, taking messages of visitors and students and distributing alms to the poor. He was an influence for good to the hundreds who met him. He spent his time in quiet prayer and meditation, and towards the end he lost even his memory and could only say, “Jesus, Mary”. On October 31, 1617, surrounded by his Jesuit brothers he died.

Here is perhaps the humblest, meekest, most unpresuming saint ever!  He embodies one of my favorite quotes from the Psalms: “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10.

St. Alphonsus

What also caught my attention about this saint is that the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins composed a poem in tribute to him. I thought I’d quote it here in full:

49. St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Laybrother of the Society of Jesus

.

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;

And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield

Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,

And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.

On Christ they do and on the martyr may;

But be the war within, the brand we wield

Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,

Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,

Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,

Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)

Could crowd career with conquest while there went

Those years and years by of world without event

That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

A saint plainly to be emulated!

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