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Full text of "The life of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop of St. Agatha of the Goths and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer"

GUELPH RESIDENCE. 



s. or. 






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COLL CHRISTI REGIS SJ. 
BIB. MAJOR 

ORONTO 




OF 



COLL. CHRIST! REGIS SJL 

BIB. MAJOR 

TORONTO 




UMLPMOW9US 



IDE 



Epi s c opus . et Trmdator C ong;. S ST R edennp tons 
(Ejus festimi celebratur 2 Aug j 



THE LIFE 



O F 



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: 6* 

BISHOP OF ST. AGATHA OF THE GOTHS, 



73 
And Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, 



COMPILED FROM THE PUBLISHED MEMOIRS OF THE SAINT, 

BY ONE OF THE REDEMPTORIST FATHERS, 
" BIB. MAJOR 



3 

BALTIMORE: 
PUBLISHED BY JOHN MURPHY & CO. 

No. 178 MARKET STREET. 

LONDON.... C. DOLMAN, 61 NEW BOND STREET. 
PITTSBUR G....G EORGE Q.UIGL.EY. 

Sold by Catlwlic Booksellers generally. 

1855. 



ENTERED, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by 

JOHN MURPHY & COMPANY, 
in the Clerk s Office of the District Court of Maryland. 



PREFACE. 

THE compiler long since noticed with regret, that 
there was no Life of St. Alphonsus published in the 
English language, which adequately set forth the merits 
of that illustrious Saint, and displayed his many claims 
to our admiration and respect. In order to supply this 
deficiency, he undertook, more than ten years ago, a 
translation of the Life of the Saint from the Italian; but 
various circumstances occurred to retard its completion. 
In the meanwhile, he learned with pleasure lhat such a 
publication was announced in England, in the series of 
the Lives of the Saints edited by the fathers of the Ora 
tory; but this work, when it came to hand, though it 
left nothing to be desired in point of fulness of illustra 
tion, did not seem fully adapted to meet the object he 
had proposed to himself, as its length was so great as to 
prove an obstacle to its general circulation. As soon, 
therefore, as his occupations permitted, he resumed his 
undertaking; but thinking that a compilation from the 
English Life would answer his purpose better than the 
proposed translation, he was induced to change his origi 
nal plan, and to prepare for publication the work which 
is now presented. While, however, he has attempted 
nothing beyond a mere compilation, care has been taken 
to unite completeness with brevity, and he believes that 



VI PREFACE. 

the portrait of St. Alphonsus which is given in the fol 
lowing pages, could not have been rendered more perfect 
and true otherwise than by the entire reproduction of the 
voluminous memoirs already published. 

There is no occasion to enlarge here upon the merits 
of the Saint. During a life-time of ninety years, labo 
riously occupied in the service of God and in the salva 
tion of soul?,, he exhibited continually such splendid 
examples of every virtue, that the mere narration of them 
will be at once his best panegyric, and the most per 
suasive exhortation to the imitation of his holiness. 

Impart then, O Lord, thy benediction to this work, 
and do thou take it under thy protection, O Blessed 
among women; that the heroic actions and labors which 
it records may, in their recital, repeat the result which 
was the effect and aim of their first achievement, by 
bringing new honor and glory to the holy names of 
JESUS and MARY. 

BALTIMORE, Nov. 1st, 1854. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Birth and Childhood of Alphonsus, 13 

CHAPTER, II. 
Alphonsus applies to Studies, 17 

CHAPTER III. 

Alphonsus follows the Profession of the Law his Father s 

project of marrying him, ...... SO 

CHAPTER IV. 

Alphonsus retires from the Bar, and resolves to quit the 

world, 29 

CHAPTER V. 

Alphonsus enters the Ecclesiastical State 3 ... 35 

CHAPTER VI. 

Alphonsus is ordained Deacon and Priest. His first Labors, 

Zeal, and Success in the pulpit and the confessional, . 38 

CHAPTER VII. 

Alphonsus establishes public Meetings for the advancement 
of his penitents, and the instruction of poor people in 
general, 45 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Alphonsus retires into the Chinese College, and gives mis 
sions in the country, .... 50 



VIII CONTENTS, 

CHAPTER IX. 

PAGE 

Alphonsus is called to found a Congregation of Missionary 

Priests, .... - 56 

CHAPTER X. 

Alphonsus establishes his Congregation at Scala. It under 
goes a severe trial,, 68 

CHAPTER XI. 

Alphonsus gives Missions and founds the Houses at the 
Villa del Schiavi and at Ciorani. He abandons the for 
mer., 77 

CHAPTER XII. 

Apostolic Courses of Alphonsus. He abandons Scala. 
Missions in various places and Dioceses,, especially in 
that of Naples, 89 

CHAPTER XIII 

Alphonsus, with his companions, makes the three Religious 
Vows. He founds the House of Nocera. The opposi 
tion he encounters, 97 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Alphonsus founds the Houses of Iliceto and Caposele, and 
establishes a Novitiate. His first Publications. He seeks 
to have his Congregation approved by the King, . . 112 

CHAPTER XV. 

Alphonsus obtains the approbation of his Congregation 
at Rome. He holds the first General Chapter, and is 
elected Rector Major. Difficulties with some subjects. 
Other difficulties in Naples. He publishes his Moral 
Theology, . 134 



CONTENTS. IX 

CHAPTER XVI. 

PAGE 

Alphonsus founds a house in the Pontifical States. Vari 
ous apostolical courses and labors. He founds a house 
in Sicily, 157 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Alphonsus Maxims and Conduct in his quality of Founder 

and Superior of a Religious Order, . . . .175 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Alphonsus is chosen Bishop. His journey to Rome and 

Loretto. His Consecration, 194 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Alphonsus leaves Rome and goes to his diocese. His man 
ner of life as a bishop. He gives the Spiritual Exercises 
to the Clergy, and a Mission in his Cathedral. Some 
examples of his severity against hardened sinners, . 208 

CHAPTER XX. 

Alphonsus commences his Episcopal Visitation. He re 
forms and regulates the Diocesan Seminary. His zeal, 
prudence and manner of life during the visitation of the 
diocese, 225 

CHAPTER XXI. 

His Conduct at his Brother s second Marriage. His Zeal 
for the Preaching of the Word of God by himself and 
others. His Charity during a Famine, . . . 243 

CHAPTER XXII. 

Alphonsus presides at a general Chapter of his Congrega 
tion. He defends his Moral Theology. He publishes 
Ordinances for the Regulation of his Diocese. He es 
tablishes new Parishes. Becomes dangerously ill. He 
publishes his book on the Truth of the Faith. Circular 
to his Congregation, ....... 261 



X CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

Alphonsus seeks to resign the Episcopate. He establishes 
at St. Agatha a Convent of Nuns. His great solicitude 
in conferring Holy Orders, in giving Jurisdiction to Con 
fessors, and in choosing subjects for Parishes and Bene 
fices, 276 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

Alphonsus solicitude for the Sanctification of Religious. 
His zeal for the material Churches. The Congregation 
of Alphonsus is persecuted. He publishes two new 
works. He goes to Naples for the defence of his Con 
gregation. How he exercises his zeal at Naples, . . 299 

CHAPTER XXV. 

Alphonsus is visited by sickness and great sufferings. He 
finishes his work on Dogmatics. His Congregation is 
persecuted in Sicily. His mode of life and apostolic 
labors when paralytic. Interest he takes in the education 
of his nephews. Circular to his Congregation. His 
Missionaries abandon Sicily, 327 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

Alphonsus seeks to resign. He publishes several Works. 
His Congregation is established in the States of the 
Church. He publishes still other Works. He assists 
at the death of Pope Clement XIV. His sentiments on 
the Election of a new Pope. His Missionaries return to 
Sicily, 359 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

Alphonsus zeal during his Episcopate in reforming his 
secular and regular Clergy in removing scandals in 
general, and preventing sin in all classes of the Laity. 
How God assists him in his efforts, 378 



CONTENTS. XI 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

PAGE 

Alphonsus patience in bearing injuries, and great meek 
ness. His admirable humility. His spirit of poverty, 
penance, and mortification,, 397 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

Alphonsus charity in relieving all kinds of bodily suffering. 

His detachment from all self-interest, . . . .417 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Alphonsus resigns the Episcopate. He leaves his Diocese, 
and returns to Nocera. His manner of life in his retire 
ment, 441 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

The Congregation is bitterly persecuted at Naples. Al 
phonsus labors in its defence. His anxieties in regard to 
the houses in the Pontifical States, .... 458 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

Alphonsus exerts himself incessantly for the welfare of the 
Church at large, and for the general promotion of piety. 
His efforts to maintain discipline in the Congregation, . 472 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 

The Congregation, through the treachery and intrigue of 
some of its members, is threatened with complete disor 
ganization. Alphonsus exhibits through all these trials 
entire submission to the will of God, . . . .487 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Unavailing efforts of Alphonsus to bring about a re-union 
between the houses of the Pontifical States and those oi 
the Kingdom. Signs of Alphonsus approaching disso 
lution. His zeal for the salvation of souls continues un 
abated, 507 



XII CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

PAGE 

Alphonsus suffers great interior trials. The favors and 

graces by which God attested his sanctity, . . . 526 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 
Alphonsus last illness and Death, 548 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 

The Ceremonies of the Interment. Many Miracles are 
wrought through the intercession of Alphonsus. The 
process of his Canonization, ...... 561 

BULL OF "THE CANONIZATION OF ST. ALPHONSUS, . . 580 



CHAPTER I. 
Birth and Childhood of Alphonsus. 

IN all ages of the world, the Almighty has raised up 
extraordinary men to supply the wants of humanity ; 
and, incessantly watching over the welfare of his Church, 
he has, in every succeeding century, provided chosen 
vessels to defend and edify it. In the eighteenth cen 
tury, impiety and overstrained rigidity had united to under 
mine the edifice of the Church. A servile fear had expelled 
the charity of God ; the sacraments, those fountains of 
life, were abandoned, or turned into derision , the divine 
Eucharist, the life-spring of Catholic piety, had become 
an object of dread ; and the spirit of Christianity seemed 
passing away. But the eye of an omniscient Providence 
watched over it : to confound impiety, to fight against 
Jansenism, to awaken faith, and kindle love, in its source, 
the Sacrament of the altar, God gave to his Church and 
to the world, a man after his own heart, Alphonsus Liguori. 
Joseph de Liguori, of an ancient patrician family in 
Naples, and Anne Catherine Cavalieri, of an equally noble 
family from Brindes, were the happy parents of Alphonsus. 
Illustrious by his birth, as also by his military talents, and 
the public offices which he filled with integrity and pru 
dence, D. Joseph was, moreover, a man of exemplary 
piety, and by his devotion to the passion of our Lord he 
obtained many signal graces. His wife was a woman of 
2 



14 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

singular virtue, and descended from parents equally remark 
able for their piety and their rank. Devoted to prayer, 
loving the poor, she practised self-denial and mortifica 
tion, abstained from worldly amusements, and was to be 
found most frequently in the house of God. 

Alphonsus was born on the 27th of September, 1696, in 
the vicinity of Naples, at Marianella, where his parents 
had a country-house, and two days after, he was baptized 
in the Church of St. Mary of Virgins in Naples. He re 
ceived the following names: " Alphonsus Mary Anthony 
John Francis Cosmas Damian Michel-Angelo ;" the first of 
which were given him in memory of his ancestors, the 
others in honor of the Saints on whose respective days he 
was born and baptized. From the hour of his birth, he 
was placed in a special manner under the protection of 
the Blessed Virgin, that in all his necessities he might find 
in her an advocate and mother. Shortly after his birth, St. 
Francis Jerome, of the Society of Jesus, foreseeing with a 
prophetic eye how dear to God, and how useful to his 
Church, the infant would become, foretold his future 
sanctity. He took him from the arms of his mother, and 
blessing him, said : " This little child will live to a great 
age, even until ninety years ; he will be a bishop, and will 
perform great things for Jesus Christ." Alphonsus was 
henceforth regarded as a special gift from heaven, destined 
to procure the salvation of souls and promote the glory of 
Jesus Christ. 

Contrary to the usual custom among the nobles, the early 
education of Alphonsus was not confided to strangers; his 
mother superintended it herself, and instructed her son in 
the knowledge of religion. The brother of Alphonsus, D. 
Gaetan, related that every morning after having blessed her 
children, she made them pray to God, and every evening 
she assembled them around her, and taught them the ele 
ments of the Christian faith, reciting with them the Rosary 
and other prayers in honor of different Saints. She was 
careful in preventing them from associating with other 
children of their age ; she wished that grace should antici- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 15 

pate in them the malice of sin, and that they might early 
be taught to hate it; she therefore took them every week 
to confess to her own director, F. Thomas Pagano, of the 
Oratory of St. Jerome. It was thus she guided her dear 
Alphonsus, and made him truly holy. Above all, she en 
deavored to kindle in his heart a tender love for Jesus 
Christ, and a filial confidence in Mary. He was born with 
a heart so ready to receive the impressions of grace, that 
piety and love of virtue seemed natural to him. One 
might say, that in him virtue anticipated age, so early did 
he show maturity in his devotions. 

Even in childhood, he knew not the ordinary amuse 
ments of infancy, but placed all his delight in erecting 
little altars, and celebrating in his childish manner the 
feasts of different Saints. When he was more advanced 
in age, and had tasted in the practice of piety the sweets 
of celestial communication, he might be seen continually 
presenting himself before God, and pouring out his heart 
in holy affections before him. Thus he so early began to 
receive those precious graces which God bestows on souls 
destined to the highest degrees of sanctity. 

At this time, the Fathers of St. Jerome directed a fer 
vent Congregation, having for its object the spiritual wel 
fare of the young nobility. The parents of Alphonsus 
placed him under their care, when he was only nine years 
old, and his exemplary conduct and great piety were 
the admiration of these good Fathers. He came early 
every Sunday morning to the Congregation, and although 
so young, he was docile and submissive to the slightest 
command of the Superiors, attentive and recollected dur 
ing the devotional exercises, full of a holy avidity for the 
general instructions, and even over-anxious in his desire to 
profit by them. He regularly confessed to F. Pagano, 
and when arrived at the proper age, received holy com 
munion from his hands. It was then an edifying spectacle 
to see this young child on his knees, hearing mass with 
singular devotion, and approaching the holy table with the 
greatest fervor. He prepared himself always by the aid of 



16 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

little books of piety, which he devoutly held in his hands, 
and never retired without kneeling long to make acts of 
thanksgiving. 

As Alphonsus advanced in age, his mother redoubled 
her solicitude: not content with all he learned under these 
excellent fathers, she took care to instruct him herself in 
the manner of performing his devotions, and acquitting 
himself of his other duties. She spoke to him of the 
enormity of sin, of hell which it merits, and of the great 
displeasure the slightest fault gives to the heart of Jesus 
Christ. What was most admirable in him, was his con 
stancy in his devotional exercises. When the hour arrived 
for his joining his mother in some devout practice, he pre 
sented himself before her, nor was he less punctual in 
other pious exercises, which he imposed upon himself. 

When he had attained his twelfth year, his prayer was 
not only more than ordinary, it was sublime ; as is proved 
by the following very remarkable occurrence, related by an 
eye-witness. The Fathers of St. Jerome were in the hatyt 
of taking the young gentlemen of their congregation, every 
Sunday after vespers, to some country-house for recrea 
tion. On one of these occasions, the young people began 
to amuse themselves with a game called the game of 
oranges. Alphonsus was asked to join, but excused him 
self on the plea of not knowing the game : his com 
panions, however, urged him so much, that at length he 
consented. Fortune favored him, and he gained thirty 
times running. This success made his companions jeal 
ous, and one, older than he, exclaimed in a rage : " It was 
you who did not know the game, was it !" adding in his 
anger a very indecent expression. Alphonsus reddened, 
when he heard it, and with an air of severity turned 
towards his companions and said : " How is this, shall 
God be offended for the sake of a little miserable money ? 
Take back your money!" and throwing on the ground 
what he had won, he turned his back on them with a holy 
indignation. When evening came, and the young people 
were to return, he was nowhere to be found. They called 



.LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 17 

him, but they called in vain, and every one went to seek 
him. But what was their surprise, when they discovered 
him on his knees, before a picture of the Blessed Virgin 
which he had with him, and had placed upon a laurel 
branch. He was quite absorbed, and so ravished in God, 
that it was some time before he came to himself, notwith 
standing the noise his companions made. 

To the latest period of his life, Alphonsus continued to 
acknowledge his obligations to his mother, for the great 
care she haft taken of him during his childhood. " If I 
must admit," he was wont to say, "that there was any 
thing good in me, as a child, and that I was kept from 
wickedness, I owe it entirely to the tender solicitude of 
my mother." He once said.: "At the death of my father, 
I refused to go to Naples, offering to God the sacrifice of a 
duty, which nature claimed from me ; but when my mother 
is dying, if I am not otherwise prevented, I shall not have 
the courage to refuse going to assist her." 



CHAPTER II. 

Jllphonsus applies to Studies. 

D JOSEPH and D. Anna, fearing that in a college 
the innocence of their son might run some danger, 
and that intercourse with other young men might tarnish 
its lustre, would have him continually under their own 
eyes, sheltered from every occasion of sin, and pro 
cured him excellent private masters to teach him belles- 
lettres. His grammar master was the learned Dominic 
Buonaccio, a native of Calabria, and a man of piety and 
irreproachable morals. His master found little difficulty 
in conducting his education : his naturally happy disposi 
tion and inclination for virtue, much abridged the lessons 
of this good priest, as well in reference to science, as to 
spiritual matters. His mind was quick and penetrating, 
2* 



18 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

his memory faithful and retentive, and he combined great 
docility with an ardent desire for instruction. With these 
excellent qualities, he made rapid progress in his studies, 
and gave great satisfaction both to master and parents. 

As the father and mother of Alphonsus wished not only 
to make their son a man of letters and a good Christian, 
but also an accomplished gentleman, they took care to 
adorn his mind with every other species of knowledge 
necessary to form a distinguished education. He was yet 
a child, when they gave him masters in drawing, painting, 
and architecture. He succeeded admirably in all these 
arts: even in his old age he sketched pictures, sometimes 
of the infant Jesus, or of the blessed Virgin ; and had en 
graved several of them for the use of his congregation. 
His father, who was exceedingly fond of music, wished 
him also to excel in that art, and gave orders that he 
should apply himself three hours daily to the study of 
it with a master. Thus before Alphonsus had attained 
his twelfth year, he touched the harpsichord with great 
skill. In his later years he regretted the time he had 
spent in acquiring this accomplishment. " Fool that I 
ihave been," said he one day, looking at the harpsichord, 
* to have lost so much time on that; but it was right to 
obey my father, he would have it so." He excelled so 
much both in music and poetry, that even in his old age 
he wrote and composed wonderfully well. This his talent 
is apparent in the numerous hymns he composed, among 
which are many that force us to recognise in them the 
hand of a master. D. Joseph, ambitious of seeing his son 
distinguish himself in the magistracy, by the talents with 
which he was adorned, wished him, when his philosophy 
and other studies were finished, to apply himself to civil 
and canonical law. He gave him two learned masters, 
who enjoyed great reputation in Naples. Alphonsus was 
not Jess successful in this new career. 

Among these numerous occupations, all the recreation 
he permitted himself to take, was with D. Charles Cito, at 
whose house he passed an hour in the evening, to play at 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 19 

cards with other young people of irreproachable character, 
who visited there. The favorite games of the young gen 
tlemen were tersillio, ombre, and smch like, then usual in 
good society, in which the mind found recreation and ex 
ercise, while the morals received no damage. These 
amusements had very strict bounds, D. Joseph wishing 
that they might be rather a means of advancing, than re 
tarding, -him in his stu-dies, and that the short relaxation 
might enable him to resume them again with renewed 
vigor. He was always displeased, when his son stayed 
beyond the appointed time ; for it sometimes happened 
that Alphonsus was rather Jate. On one of these occa 
sions, wishing to mortify him, he removed all his books 
from his table, and substituted for them packs of cards. 
Alphonsus felt this mortification most sensibly, and nothing 
else was necessary to make him blush, and strive more 
punctually than ever, to obey his father s injunctions. In 
his old age he mentioned, that at the same time he had 
been very fond of hunting, but had never indulged in it, 
except on days when he was dispensed from study, adding, 
that the birds were fortunate that had to do with him, for, 
notwithstanding all his endeavors, he rarely killed one. 
Such were the useful and interesting occupations of the 
young Alphonsus; and we believe his parents were wise 
enough to interdict other accomplishments usually taught, 
and regarded by worldly persons as indispensable. They 
looked upon dancing as an amusement perilous for the 
soul, and on fencing, as exposing both soul and body to 
many dangers. 

Alphonsus devoted himself so successfully to the study 
of jurisprudence, that before his sixteenth year he was 
master of it. He received his degree on the twenty-first 
of January, 1713, amidst general applause, having pre 
viously obtained a dispensation of three years and nine 
months, being little more than sixteen years old. He 
might from that time be seen constantly before the tribu 
nals of Naples, listening with an ardent avidity for instruc 
tion to the numerous decisions of the counsels, so much 



20 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

respected in that town. At first his father placed hirn 
with Peronne, a celebrated advocate, after whose death he 
was placed with another jurisconsult not less esteemed, 
called Jovene. It was about this period that he began to 
deny himself all kinds of amusement, and even to renounce 
the agreeable society in the house of D. Cito. He asso 
ciated only with the president, Dominic Caravita, a man as 
pious as he was learned, and inferior to none in the science 
of civil and canon law. His house was then a kind of 
academy for studious young men, where the most virtu 
ous and learned in legal matters used to meet. The 
president did all in his power to render them skilful in dis 
cussing points of law, and in the choice of proper words. 
Every evening he held conferences, in which they treated 
the most difficult questions, while the president adopted or 
rejected their conclusions. 



CHAPTER III. 

Alphonsus follows the Profession of Law His Father s 
project of marrying him, 

A LPHONSUS had not yet attained his twentieth year, 
JLJL when he saw himself surrounded by numerous clients, 
and seated before the tribunals, side by side with the most 
distinguished advocates. His father s family, at that time, 
had many friends and relations among the principal sena 
tors. These men of quality, knowing the talents and good 
conduct of Alphonsus, and his desire of advancement, 
united all their endeavors to procure him distinguished 
clients, and he himself knew so well how to gain public 
esteem, that in a short time the most important causes 
were confided to him. The rules by which he regulated 
his conduct as a lawyer, cannot be too generally known ; 
for if they were imitated, the whole face of society would 
be renovated. They were as follows : 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 21 

1. Never to accept unjust causes, as being pernicious 
to conscience, and hurtful to honor. 

2. Never to defend a cause by illicit and unjust means. 

3. Never to burden clients with superfluous expenses. 

4. To defend the causes of clients with the same care as 
one would his own. 

5. To study carefully the details of a process, in order to 
draw arguments from them that may effectually help the 
defence. 

6. To implore the assistance of God in order to succeed, 
because he is the protector of justice. 

7. If the dilatoriness and negligence of a lawyer prove 
prejudicial to clients, he must reimburse the loss caused 
in this way, otherwise he sins against justice. 

8. A lawyer must not undertake causes which surpass 
his talents or his strength, or for which he foresees that he 
will not have leisure to prepare his defence. 

9. Justice and probity should be the characteristics of 
a lawyer, and he ought to preserve them as the apple of 
of his eye. 

10. A lawyer, who loses a cause by negligence, con 
tracts the obligation of making up all the losses of his 
clients. 

11. In the defence of a cause it is necessary to be truth 
ful, sincere, respectful, and reasonable. 

12. The qualities requisite for a lawyer, are knowledge, 
diligence, truth, fidelity and justice. 

Guided by such rules, it is not to be wondered at, that 
he gained an ascendancy over all hearts, and so enchanted 
his audience when he spoke, that not only the judges, but 
even his adversaries, often ranged themselves on his side. 
Such must ever be the ultimate effects of truth and honor. 

If Alphonsus desired to strike out a brilliant path for 
himself as a lawyer, he was no less anxious to increase in 
virtue and render himself dear to God. Two years after 
receiving the gown, he advanced from the Congregation of 
young nobles to that of doctors, established in the same 
house of the Fathers of the Oratory. Besides frequenting 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the Congregation, he often visited F. Pagano, his spiritual 
director, whom he regarded as his guardian angel. To him 
he exposed all his doubts and fears, and he never deviated 
from his counsels; and thus, far from relaxing in his piety 
and devotion, he daily made more and more progress. He 
frequented the sacraments, he visited the sick in the hos 
pitals, and loved prayer, to which he joined the mortification 
of his passions and his senses. He never went to the law- 
courts, before he had heard Mass, and finished in the 
church his other devotional exercises. 

While Alphonsus gave himself to piety with so much 
assiduity, his father was at the same time anxious to con 
firm him in these dispositions. He wished him annually 
to make with him the spiritual exercises in the house called 
Conocchia, kept for this purpose by the Jesuits, or in the 
house of the Missionaries of St. Vincent of Paul. Alphon 
sus afterwards spoke of 4hese retreats, as having made a 
great impression upon him, and of his having drawn from 
them the most salutary fruits. One of the most precious of 
these was an especial love for the holy virtue of purity. 
During the whole period of his youth, no one ever re 
marked, in his conversations with young companions, a 
sign, or a word, that could indicate a shadow of impro 
priety. Every thing about him proclaimed his modesty, 
by which he edified all around him. He was so jealous 
for the conservation of this virtue, so dear to the Son of 
God, that, as his brother D. Gaetan related, in order to 
prevent during his sleep even any involuntary movement 
contrary to it, he put his hands, when going to bed in the 
evening, into a kind of etui made of paste-board. After 
wards, he used to sleep, holding a cross of wood in his 
arms, which he did to the end of his days. 

A life so exemplary could not fail to produce the most 
abundant fruits ; and although all the good resulting from 
it in the edification of others, will only be known in heaven, 
yet it has pleased Providence, that one instance should be 
upon record the conversion of a slave in his father s 
house, D, Joseph, as commander of the galleys, had sev- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 23 

eral slaves in his service ; one of them was selected to 
wait upon Alphonsus. He soon after manifested an in 
clination to become a Christian, and when asked what had 
made him think of such a thing, he replied : " The example 
of my young master has made a great impression on me; 
for it is impossible that that religion can be false, which 
makes him lead a life so pure and holy." F. Mastrilla r of 
the Congregation of St. Jerome, undertook to instruct 
him ; but soon after, he became sick and was sent to the 
hospital. One evening he expressed a great desire to see 
F, Mastrilla immediately. Upon his arrival, he requested 
to be baptized, saying: "I have seen our Lady, St. Joseph, 
and St. Joachim, and they have told me I must be baptized 
now, because they wish to have me in Paradise." The 
priest replied that his illness was not dangerous, and besides, 
that he was not sufficiently instructed. "Let your rever 
ence interrogate me," replied the slave, "for I am prepared 
to answer all your questions." In fact, he replied with the 
utmost precision and accuracy to every question. He was 
baptized, and then told to repose a little after the fatigue. 
"This is not a time to rest," he said, "for I must go 
immediately to Paradise." In about half an hour this 
poor slave, his countenance radiant with joy, surrendered 
his pure soul into the hands of his Creator. 

Alphonsus was now approaching his twentieth year, and, 
seeing the progress he daily made in the career of the 
law, every one prognosticated, that with such distinguished 
talents, and such powerful family interests, he would soon 
attain the highest dignity in the magistracy. These rare 
prerogatives, enhanced by all the qualities that could be 
wished for in a young nobleman, and joined to irreproach 
able conduct, made the first families in Naples anxious for 
him to form a matrimonial alliance with their daughters. 
Among all the parties who presented themselves, the choice 
of D. Joseph fell upon D. Theresa, a rich heiress, who was 
also nearly allied to the family, the only daughter of D. 
Francis de Liguori, Prince of Presiccio: he expected thereby 
to acquire for Alphonsus a considerable fortune. The 



24 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. "i." 

prince regarded it as an honor for his daughter to become 
the wife of such a young man, and the affair was consid 
ered as arranged. As for Alphonsus, he took no part in 
the matter, and showed not the least intention of marry 
ing. While this affair was in progress, the mother of the 
princess, contrary to all expectation, became pregnant, 
and this incident changed immediately the designs of D. 
Joseph, who no longer found in the marriage the advan 
tages he had originally contemplated for his house. His 
ardor cooled, and when she was brought to bed of a son, 
he withdrew himself entirely. At the end of a few months, 
the infant died, and the father of Alphonsus began again to 
frequent the house, and to speak of his original propo 
sals. Although they felt themselves aggrieved, the prince 
and princess were willing to renew the negotiations; but 
Theresa would not listen to these new proposals. "When 
my brother was alive," said she, " I was not considered a 
suitable match for Alphonsus de Liguori ; but now he is 
dead, they think it advisable it is my fortune they seek, 
and not myself. I know enough of the world ; and now 
I wish to have nothing more to do with it. I desire to 
take Jesus Christ for my spouse." She entered into the 
convent of the Nuns of the Holy Sacrament, or of St. 
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and took the veil on the 
eighth of March, 1719. This rupture between Alphonsus 
and Theresa was an arrangement of Providence, to with 
draw both of them from the dangers of the world. Theresa, 
from the moment she entered the convent, gave herself 
entirely to Jesus Christ, and spared no sacrifice in order to 
please Him. Her life was short, but full of merits, and she 
died in the odor of sanctity, the 30th of October, 1724. 
Soon after her death, Alphonsus, at the request of the 
Superior of the convent, wrote the edifying life of her, 
who had been intended for his wife. 

A circumstance occurred about this time which shows 
the perfect submission of Alphonsus to his father. One 
evening there was at the house a party of ladies and 
gentlemen, and it happened that one of the domestics 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 25 

showed stupidity in attending to the guests. D. Joseph 
scolded the servant, and reproached him with his inatten 
tion: it was an involuntary fault, yet he did not cease to 
express his displeasure with him as he went and came. 
Alphonsus was sorry for the man, and said to his father: 
" What a noise you make about it, rny father: when once 
you begin, you can never end." This speech displeased 
D. Joseph, who so far forgot himself, as to give his son a 
blow in the face. Alphonsus was confused, but said not a 
word, and, deeply humiliated, withdrew immediately to his 
room. The hour of supper came, and as he did not appear, 
his mother went to call him, but found him bathed in tears, 
deploring the want of respect he had shown towards his 
father. He confessed how wrongfully he had acted, and 
begged she would intercede for him, and obtain forgiveness. 
Accompanied by his mother, he went to his father, and 
asked him to forgive him. D. Joseph, affected by his sub 
mission and repentance, embraced and blessed him; and if 
the fault of his son had wounded him, he was more touched 
and consoled by seeing him so sincerely humble. 

Alphonsus had never ceased to distinguish himself in the 
practice of virtue ; nevertheless, he confessed in his old 
age, that, at this period of 4iis life, his piety became cold, 
and that he was in danger of losing his soul and his God. 
His father obliged him to accompany him into society ; he 
frequented the theatres; and often, although always out of 
obedience, he took part in a private play. Added to these, 
though innocent, yet dissipating, amusements, were the 
applauses he received on all sides, the proposals of mar 
riage, the compliments which were showered upon him by 
ladies and their relations: in short, every thing flattered his 
passions, his heart was tainted, and he lost his first fervor. 
In this state of spiritual coldness, the slightest cause was 
sufficient to make him omit some one of his pious prac- 
tices: he has said himself, that if he had remained much, 
longer in this dangerous position, he could not have 
avoided soon falling into some great sin. But the watchful 
eye of Providence failed not to send him timely aid, and, 
3 



26 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

with a peculiar and paternal care, made him enter into 
himself. 

Alphonsus was on terms of the most intimate friendship 
with D. F. Cape-Celalro, Duke of Casabona, a young man 
of his own age. The young nobleman, alarmed at seeing 
his friend beginning to be negligent in.the service of God, 
and wishing to rekindle his own fervor, proposed that he 
should join him in making a retreat during Lent, in the 
house of the Missionaries of St. Vincent of Paul. Alphon 
sus, with his friend and some others, went there on the 
twenty-sixth of March, 1722. He was among those who 
profited most. Grace knocked at the door of his heart, 
making him feel how he had fallen from his first fervor: he 
saw, that, in following the world, he was pasturing on 
vanity, and that he was loving God but in an imperfect 
manner. The Divine Light penetrated his soul at a pro 
pitious moment. He deplored his tepidity, and made a 
solemn promise to God to quit that mode of life, which he 
had so inconsiderately engaged in, and over which he 
lamented and wept. He always acknowledged, that this 
retreat had been for him one of the greatest blessings he 
had ever received from the Divine Majesty, and often said, 
that, under God, he owed it to his friend Cape-Celatro, that 
he had not been the slave of the world and a prey to his 
own passions. 

From the manner in which he sometimes spoke of this 
period of his life, we might be led, at the first glance, to 
imagine he had lost his innocence; but it was not so. The 
Saints always speak in exaggerated terms of their faults ; 
and besides, we have the testimony of many who directed his 
conscience, that he had never committed a mortal sin. On 
one occasion, speaking of himself, he said; " I have fre 
quented the theatres ; but thanks be to God, I never com 
mitted even a venial sin there, for I went to hear the music, 
which absorbed all my attention, and hindered me from 
thinking of any other thing." Even at this time, every one 
regarded him as a young man of pure and irreproachable 
nanners ; and one of his intimate friends, on being asked. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



27 



whether he had ever perceived any lightness in his conduct, 
replied, bowing his head respectfully : " No, he was always 
a most virtuous young man : I should blaspheme, if I said 
otherwise." Among many other fruits which Alphonsus 
gathered from this retreat, was an especial and tender 
confidence in Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. 
Besides approaching thenceforth the holy table several 
times a week, he went every day to visit the Holy Sacra 
ment in the Church where the forty hours adoration was 
made, and there he remained, not a few minutes, but for 
hours, in contemplation, edifying every one around him. 
He often purchased flowers to adorn the altar of his parish 
church ; and preserved during his whole life this devotion 
for ornamenting altars, procuring the rarest seeds, and cul 
tivating them himself to embellish the altars of the churches 
of his Congregation. This same practice he recommended 
to the Rectors of the houses, for he loved to see the altars 
ornamented with the finest flowers. The following year, 
in March, 1723, his father being in Naples, they withdrew 
together to the house of the same Missionaries to make an 
other retreat. He received more graces, and was confirmed 
in his resolution of observing celibacy, which he had made 
during the last retreat, and of consecrating himself more 
than ever to God: he determined to yield his birth-right to 
his brother Hercules, although he had not yet decided 
to abandon the law. 

D. Joseph, ignorant of all this, projected another treaty 
of marriage with the daughter of Dominic del Balso, Duke 
of Presenzano, an amiable and noble lady, and, without 
consulting his son, he made proposals to the Prince, who 
at once agreed to them. This displeased Alphonsus; but 
fearing to offend his father, who he knew would be very 
indignant at his refusal, he frequented the house of Presen 
zano, although very unwillingly ; and he often said after 
wards, that in the midst of amusements there, he felt as 
upon thorns, and thought only of the moment when his 
martyrdom would end. When D. Joseph saw the indiffer 
ence of his son, he did all in his power to overcome it; 



fl LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

but Alphonsus excused himself by saying that weakness in 
his chest, and tendency to asthma, warned him not to think 
of marriage. His father attributed all these excuses to 
bashfulness, and continued to take him often with him to 
the house of the Duke ; and, not to displease his father, 
Alphonsus accompanied him thither, but occupied himself 
with anything but striving to please the lady, taking part 
in the conversation with so much modesty and reserve, that 
no one could suspect what was passing between the fami 
lies. On every occasion he behaved with the greatest cir 
cumspection. It happened one evening at the Duke s 
house, that he was invited to play the harpsichord : he 
willingly consented, when the young lady proposed to 
accompany him in a song: she rose and stood near him, 
turning her face towards him. Alphonsus immediately 
turned his head to the other side, and she, thinking it acci 
dental, moved round : no sooner had she done so, than he 
again turned from her. The young Princess, perceiving the 
truth, was offended, thinking his indifference proceeded 
from contempt; and turning to the company, she said: 
" It would seem the young gentleman has suddenly become 
moon-struck;" and so saying, she withdrew. Alphonsus was 
much mortified, but the others were edified by his admirable 
.modesty. Yet D. Joseph did all he could to hasten the 
marriage, while Alphonsus continued to excuse himself on 
the plea of bad health. Seeing at length that his excuses 
were unavailing, he opened his mind to his mother, beg- 
i.ng her to persuade his father to cease his importunities. 
D. Anna was vexed at her son s determination, and tried 
to persuade him of the advantages he would derive from 
his father s arrangements, and the displeasure his refusal 
would cause him. But he expressed his resolution to 
throw all possible difficulties in the way of his father s 
negotiating any marriage for him. At last the young lady 
herself, seeing his coldness, declared her unwillingness to 
marry a young man who would hardly look at her. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 29 

CHAPTER IV. 

Alphonsus retiresfrom the Bar, and resolves to quit the world. 

THINGS were in this state, when God, who had other 
designs for Alphonsus, changed the aspect of affairs, and 
demolished at one blow all the worldly hopes of D. Joseph 
for his son. The tribunals of Naples were at this time 
occupied with a feudal process of great importance be 
tween the Grand Duke of Tuscany arid one of the most 
powerful nobles of the realm : about six hundred thousand 
ducats depended on the decision. Alphonsus undertook 
the cause of the nobleman, and after an entire month 
passed in the most careful study of the case, he believed 
he had discovered facts so evident, and reasons so strong, 
that they could not fail to gain a decision in favor of his 
client. Notwithstanding he had carefully examined over 
and over the details of the process, he was completely 
mistaken regarding the sense of one document, which 
constituted the right of the adverse party. The advocate 
of the Grand Duke perceived the mistake, but he allowed 
Alphonsus to continue his eloquent address to the end ; 
as soon, however, as he had finished, he rose, and said 
with cutting coolness : " Sir, the case is not exactly what 
you suppose it to be: if you will examine this paper atten 
tively, you will find there precisely the contrary of all you 
have advanced." " Willingly," replied Alphonsus ; " the 
decision depends on this question" whether the fief were 
granted under the law of Lombardy, or under the French 
law. The paper being examined, it was found that the Grand 
Duke s advocate was in the right. " Yes," said Alphonsus, 
holding the paper in his hand, " I am wrong, I have been 
mistaken." A discovery so unexpected, and the fear of 
being accused of unfair dealing, filled him with consterna 
tion, and covered him with confusion, so much so, tha? 
every one saw his emotion. It was in vain that the Presi 
dent Caravita, who loved him, and knew his integrity, 
3* 



30 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

tried to console him. Alphonsus would listen to nothing, 
but, overwhelmed with confusion, his head sunk on his 
breast, he said to himself: "World, I know thee now: 
courts of law, never shall you see me again." He with 
drew to his own house, incessantly repeating to himself: 
World, I know thee now;" and shut himself up in his 
chamber. His father was absent, and his mother did not 
notice his distress. When the dinner hour came, they 
called him in vain; they knocked at his door; he said he 
would eat nothing; they insisted, but he would not reply. 
The hour of supper passed in the same manner. Next 
day, when D. Joseph returned, his wife recounted to him 
her vexation; he immediately went to his son s room, but 
was refused admittance. It was not until the third day, 
that, overcome by his mother s tears, he consented to open 
his door. They pressed him to eat, and with difficulty 
persuaded him to take a slice of melon, which, as he after- 
terwards declared, seemed to him more bitter than gall. 

When rest had calmed his spirit, he took leave of his 
clients,* renounced his intimacies, and lived in the house 
of his father the life of a hermit. Grace daily gained more 
<empire over his soul, and his greatest pleasure was to spend 
ibis days partly in the Church and partly in the Hospital of 
%he Incurables, or if he did remain at home, it was to medi 
tate on the lives of the Saints, to converse with God, and 
to read books of devotion. These occupations daily gave 
a new charm to his soul; but it was, above all, in the pre 
sence of his Divine Saviour, in the churches where they 
.made the forty hours adoration, that he enjoyed a foretaste 

*This accident, however, was not precisely the cause of his leaving 
the bar; it was rather the occasion of his doing so at this time. For, on 
several occasions, he had spoken to his friends in such a manner, that 
it was evident he had already resolved to quit the profession on account 
)f its difficulties and dangers. He said one day to D. Joseph Cape- 
Gelatro: "My friend, our profession is too full of difficulties and dan 
gers; we lead an unhappy life and run risk of dying an unhappy death. 
For myself, I will quit this career, which does not suit me; for I wish 
40 secure the salvation of rny soul." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 31 

of Paradise, and often he was so absorbed as to be uncon 
scious of all around. 

This behaviour of Alphonsus was for D. Joseph a subject 
of the greatest affliction: he imagined his son was out of 
his mind and had become good for nothing. "What pro 
ject can he be meditating?" said he to his wife; and D. 
Anna, sharing his uneasiness, could throw no light on the 
subject. A few days after the events we have related, D. 
Joseph brought to his son a process, which interested the 
family, desiring him to examine it the next day. "Give it 
to some other person," replied Aiphonsus; "the tribunal 
is no longer a place for me; henceforward I will occupy 
myself only with the salvation of my soul." This reply, 
which D. Joseph hardly expected, fell on him like a thun 
derbolt, and he burst into tears. His wife tried to console 
him, and to persuade him, that after the crisis should be 
past, their son would return to his former occupation; but 
he would not believe it; "No," he said, "Alphonsus is too 
obstinate, he will not change his resolution." 

God, who wished to withdraw him entirely from the 
world, and take complete possession of his heart, prepared 
another trial for him. It was on the 28th day of August, a 
day ever memorable in the annals of Alphonsus, that the 
birth-day of the Empress Isabella, the wife of Charles VI, 
was celebrated. There was a grand fete at the court, and 
D. Joseph wished to assist at the ceremony of kissing hands, 
and ordered his son to prepare to accompany him. He 
coldly excused himself; but his father continuing to insist, 
he replied shortly: "What Would you have me do there? 
all that is vanity." Irritated by this answer, D. Joseph 
said in a transport of rage: "Do what you will, and go 
where you will!" Alphonsus, seeing his refusal had pro 
voked his father, felt some scruple, and replied: "Do not 
be annoyed, my father, I am ready to go with you." D. 
Joseph, however, was too angry to listen to him, and only 
continued to repeat: "Go where you will, do what you 
will!" and turning his back, he left the room, and stepping 
into his carriage, drove straight to his country-house, over- 



LITE OT ST. ALPttONSXJS. 

whelmed with chagrin. Alphonsus, greatly distressed at 
witnessing the vexation of his father, exclaimed: " My 
God, if I resist, I do wrong, if I consent, I do worse ; I 
know not how to act!" In great affliction, he left the 
house, and went to the Hospital of the Incurables, in the 
hope of finding some consolation. Almost overpowered 
with his own sorrows, he was striving to assuage the mise 
ries of others, of the poor and needy., when in a moment 
a light shone around him, the building seemed to be over 
thrown, and he heard a loud voice saying to him: "Forsake 
the world, and give thyself entirely to Me." Awed and as 
tonished by what had occurred, he nevertheless continued 
assisting the sick ; but when he was about leaving the hos 
pital, and had reached the staircase, the house again seemed 
falling around him, and he heard the same voice, saying: 
"Forsake the world, and give thyself entirely to Me." He 
stood still, and then, like another St. Paul, gave himself up 
to the divine call. Weeping, he exclaimed: "Lord, I have 
too long resisted thy grace; here I am, do with me what 
Thou pleasest." He quitted the hospital, and proceeded 
to the church of the Redemption of Captives, dedicated to 
the Blessed Virgin, a favorite resort of his, because of a 
magnificent image of the Virgin which was there. He 
cast himself at the foot of the altar, imploring the assistance 
of his Divine Mother. Strengthened by her aid, he re 
nounced the world, promised to give up his birth-right, and 
offered himself a perfect sacrifice to his Saviour and his 
Blessed Mother, solemnly engaging himself to enter into 
the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri; and 
drawing his sword, he laid it on the altar of our Lady of 
Mercy, as a pledge of his fidelity. He never ceased to call 
this day the day of his conversion, nor ever afterwards vis 
ited Naples, without going to this church to return thanks 
to his divine benefactress. On the evening of this memo 
rable day, Alphonsus went to his confessor, F. Pagano, and 
confided to him what had happened, declaring his resolu 
tion immediately to join the Fathers of the Oratory. "This 
is not a thing to be decided hastily," said his director, "I 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 33 

must think it over during a year, before I give you a reply." 
"A year!" cried Alphonsus, "I will not wait another day." 
Pleased with his fervor, F. Pagano said they both should 
recommend the important affair to Jesus and Mary. 

For three days after these remarkable events, he tasted no 
food; he would do penance for not having sooner obeyed 
the call of grace. In the mean time his soul was filled to 
overflowing with the manna of heaven. His father, on re 
turning from his country-house, having heard of his son s 
refusal to eat, was extremely vexed; and again began to 
importune him on those points on which their views were so 
opposite. He urged him, with all a father s tenderness, to 
resume his place at the bar, pointing out to him the loss his 
refusal would occasion to himself and the whole family; but 
when he saw he made no impression, he relapsed into an 
ger. These scenes were repeated daily, and those only 
who have experienced them, can fully cdmprehend how 
they rend the heart; but Alphonsus continued firm: he 
daily saw his director, who, with the other fathers, advised 
him to proceed slowly, hoping for a favorable turn in his 
father s sentiments. It happened one day, that D Joseph, 
very much provoked at the thought of his son s splendid 
talents being lost in inaction, and at what he considered 
the inutility of his present mode of life, said to him in the 
bitterness of his heart: "Would to God that I were re 
moved from this world, or that you were withdrawn from 
it; for I have no longer the courage to look at you!" The 
expression of such feelings quickened the resolution of 
Alphonsus. "Am I," said he to himself, "an object of 
such horror to my father! Then God is my only friend; 
from henceforth I must be satisfied with him alone!" He 
then renewed his vows, offering himself without reserve as 
a living sacrifice to the Lord. He had not yet declared his 
intentions to his father, but summoning courage he said to 
him soon after: "My father, I see how much you grieve on 
my account, and yet, I must assure you I am no longer for 
the world. Inspired by God, I have formed the resolution 
of entering the Congregation of the Fathers of the Oratory; 



34 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

I beseech you not to be offended, but to give me your ben 
ediction. 11 At these words, his father stood motionless with 
consternation, and then bursting into groans and lamenta 
tions, he withdrew to his chamber, plunged in profound 
grief. The devil, finding himself vanquished by the resist 
ance of Alphonsus to the storm, determined to undermine 
his resolution by the more dangerous temptations of the 
heart; and from this time his father employed the most 
tender entreaties, the tears, and the mediation of friends. 
He engaged on his side F. de Miro, who, supposing Al 
phonsus was merely influenced by a melancholy humor, 
urged on him the propriety of employing his talents for the 
honor of his family, of considering the interest they pos 
sessed with the Austrian Court, and the brilliant prospects 
of his brother, which would be so entirely overcast, if he 
persisted in his present plan: he finished by affirming it 
was no divine inspiratio n which guided him, but an illusion 
of the devil. Alphonsus remained firm, and when de Miro 
insisted, he replied: "Rev. Sir, be assured, I am convinced 
God calls me out of the world- He wishes me to embrace 
the ecclesiastical state: I ought, and I will, respond to the 
call of God, and not to the wishes of my father." D. Jo 
seph employed other friends to intercede with him, but his 
constant reply was: "God has called me, I cannot resist 
Him." Mgr. Cavalieri, his uncle, being then in Naples, 
Alphonsus applied to him for protection and support. 
When his parents endeavored to engage this learned pre 
late on their side of the question, he replied: "Have not I 
renounced the world and my right of primogeniture to se 
cure my salvation? how, then, could I advise your son and 
my nephew to do the contrary, without risking his salvation 
and my own?" 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 35 



CHAPTER V. 

J^lphonsus enters the ecclesiastical State. 

IN the midst of these trials, Alphonsus had many defend 
ers of his cause; his uncle the bishop, another uncle, 
the canon Peter Gizzio, and several ecclesiastics, who suc 
ceeded at length in obtaining a reluctant consent from his 
father, that he should enter the Congregation of the Oratory. 
After this forced acquiescence, he could not avoid present 
ing his son to the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Pigna- 
telli. His Eminence was struck by the resolution of Al 
phonsus: "What," said he, "it is your son who wishes to 
become a priest?" "It has pleased God it should be so," 
replied his father, while the tears stood in his eyes; "it is 
but too true that he has taken this resolution." Even after 
this decisive step, he continued to throw difficulties in the 
way. He would not supply him with money to furnish his 
ecclesiastical dress: Alphonsus, however, found means to 
get what was necessary, and suddenly appeared one day 
clad in ecclesiastical costume. At this sight, D. Joseph 
uttered a piercing cry, and threw himself on his bed, over 
come with grief. For a whole year after this occurrence, 
he never once spoke to his son. D. Anna recognised the 
will of God, and cheerfully submitted to it, doing all in her 
power to soften the feelings of her husband, and justify the 
conduct her son had pursued. The world in general con 
demned him: the lawyers and senators who were formerly 
his friends, now accused him of egregious folly; the presi 
dent de Maio, in particular, passed him as a person un 
worthy of notice. 

But if God generally tries by the loss of friends those 
whom he calls, he as surely recompenses the sacrifices 
made for him, a hundred fold. One of the first fruits of 
Alphonsus sacrifice, was the friendship of the Rev. Joseph 
Porpora: this priest had often been edified by his devotion, 
when he saw him prostrated for hours before the Blessed 



36 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Sacrament, but without knowing him. At length he saw 
him in the ecclesiastical dress, and soon discovered who he 
was. He wished to make his acquaintance, but was re 
strained by a feeling of human respect. One day, however, 
seeing him conversing with an intimate friend, the Rev. 
John Mazzini, he felt such an ardent desire to share his 
friendship, that he could no longer restrain himself, and, 
darting suddenly forward, exclaimed: "And I also, I wish 
to belong to you." From that moment they seemed to 
have but one heart and one soul, every day they met to 
gether before the Blessed Sacrament, and mutually excited 
each other to advance in the path of perfection. 

After Cardinal Pigriatelli had given Alphonsus the eccle 
siastical habit, he attached him to the parish of St. Angelo. 
He immediately went to offer his services to the curate of 
the church, and every day afterwards he might be seen 
serving at mass, and on feast-days assisting at every cere 
mony. His devotion and modesty at length turned the tide 
of public opinion, and those who had proclaimed him a 
fool, now spoke loudly in praise of his generosity in sacri 
ficing such brilliant prospects for the love of God. But 
that which excited the greatest admiration, was to see him 
on Sundays perambulating the parish, singing hymns, and 
carrying the crucifix, to assemble the children together, 
and lead them to the church to be catechised: nothing con 
trasted so strongly with the remembrance of the advocate, 
who so lately had electrified the tribunals by his eloquence. 
Above all, he was most indefatigable in instructing and 
preparing them for their first communion. 

But as virtue only is not sufficient for a preacher of the 
Gospel, Alphonsus at the same time applied himself with 
ardor to the studies befitting his new position : he frequented 
the company of the most learned ecclesiastics, receiving 
daily lessons from D. Julius Torni, one of the most emi 
nent theological professors, who w r as afterwards elevated to 
the episcopacy. His musical and poetical talents he em 
ployed in composing sacred hymns for the use of the peo 
ple, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing them replacing 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 37 

dangerous and loose songs. From the time he assumed 
the clerical habit, his mode of life became stricter than 
ever. Prayer and study occupied him alternately: he mor 
tified his senses, refusing them every species of indulgence. 
He fasted, used the discipline, wore hair shirts, and prac 
tised all kinds of penitential exercises, in order to follow 
more closely the steps of his Divine Master, and to keep 
his body under subjection. Every Saturday he fasted on 
bread and water, in honor of the Blessed Virgin ; his clothes 
were as plain as possible: for some little time, to please his 
father, he allowed himself to be followed by a footman, but 
soon disembarrassed himself of this encumbrance. Thus 
bidding adieu to the vanity of time, and enriching his soul 
with treasures for eternity, he became the edification of the 
whole city. 

A year after Alphonsus had assumed the ecclesiastical 
habit, he received the tonsure from the hands of Mgr. Mira- 
bello, Archbishop of Nazareth, on the 23d of December, 
1724. On the 23d of September following, he was pro 
moted to minor orders, with a dispensation, and in Decem 
ber succeeding, was made subdeacon by Mgr. Javitti, bishop 
of Satriano. He then entered as novice in the Congrega 
tion of the Missions. There he applied himself, with re 
markable diligence, to the observance of all the rules and 
practices of piety; he accompanied the missionaries in 
the country, catechising the children. But he did not 
confine his assistance to this Congregation; he frequented 
the house of the Fathers of St. Vincent of Paul, and he 
associated himself to a Congregation called that of the 
White Monks, proving his zeal in endeavoring to procure 
the aids of religion for condemned criminals. We give 
here the rules, which guided him as a candidate for the 
priesthood: 

1. The cleric, in order to sanctify himself, ought to fre 
quent the society of holy priests, to be edified by their good 
example. 

2. He ought to spend at least one hour daily in mental 
prayer, in order to live in fervor and recollection. 

4 



38 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

3. He ought to visit frequently the Holy Sacrament, par 
ticularly where it is solemnly exposed. 

4. He ought to read the lives of holy priests, to furnish 
him with rules for his conduct, and excite him to imitate 
them. 

5. He ought to honor the most holy Virgin Mary, the 
mother and queen of the Church, and consecrate himself 
particularly to her service. 

6. He ought to take the greatest care of his reputation 
in all things, sustaining the honor of the ecclesiastical state. 

7. He ought to fly worldly conversation, to avoid famil 
iarity with laymen, and particularly with females. 

8. He ought to be obedient to his superiors, fulfilling 
their commands, because it is the will of God. 

9. He ought to wear the cassock and the tonsure, to be 
modest without affectation, fastidiousness, or severity. 

10. He ought to be quiet and gentle in the house, exem 
plary in the class, and edifying in the church, particularly 
during divine service. 

11. He ought to confess every eight days, and commu 
nicate still oftener. 

12. In short, he ought to have negative sanctity, that is 
to say, to live free from sin, and he ought to have positive 
sanctity, namely, to practice every virtue. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Jllphonsus is ordained Deacon and Priest. His first Labors, 
Zeal, and Success in the pulpit and the confessional. 

T71DIFIED by Alphonsus holiness of life, the Cardinal 
J_J Archbishop, by dispensation, gave him deacon s orders 
on the 6th of April, 1726; and, satisfied with his zeal and 
talents, gave him permission to preach in all the churches 
of Naples. It was in the church of St. John at the Latin 
Gate he preached his first sermon, from these words of 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 39 

Isaias: "0 that Thou wouldst bend the heavens, and come 
down .... the waters would burn with fire," (ch. Ixiv, 1-2:) 
and the fire of his eloquence was directed to show the amaz 
ing love of Jesus Christ towards us, and our monstrous in 
gratitude towards God. Such was the effect of this sermon, 
that invitations to preach poured in upon him from all quar 
ters: his usual subject was the dogma of the Eucharist, and 
it rarely happened, that he did not preach in the church 
where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. The Fathers 
of the Mission sent him also into different parts of the 
kingdom, where he attacked vice with such eloquence, that 
he did much to promote the glory of God in the salvation 
of souls. 9 

Overcome by constant exertion, his body sank under it, 
and he became so ill, that the physicians lost hope, and 
one night they sent in haste for a priest to administer the 
last sacraments. In this extremity he placed all his confi 
dence in the Blessed Virgin, and eagerly asked them to 
bring the large statue of our Lady of Mercy, from the 
church in which, at the foot of this statue, he had renounced 
the world and consecrated himself to God. They brought 
the miraculous statue without delay, and placed it before 
his bed: his prayers were heard, he immediately felt better, 
and was pronounced out of danger. 

On the 21st of December in the same year, he was ele 
vated, again by dispensation, to the priesthood, and if he 
before burned with zeal to promote the glory of God, from 
henceforth this fire seemed to consume him; descend 
ing from the akar, he might be seen rushing like a lion 
on his prey, to attack the strongholds of Satan. The 
Cardinal, struck by the prodigies of grace which he ope 
rated, appointed him to give spiritual exercises to Jthe 
clergy of Naples, and his Eminence had good reason to 
congratulate himself on his choice, because of the num 
bers who attended, and the benediction poured out on his 
labors. 

Every where he wa* now sought after, curates desired 
him to preach in their churches, Congregations besought 



40 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

him to give spiritual exercises, and many monasteries de 
sired with avidity to participate in the fruits of his powerful 
eloquence. Animated only by the Spirit of God, he preached 
Christ crucified, and far from studying fine phrases and elo 
quent expressions, he avoided with the utmost care the vain 
ostentation of a superfluous erudition. To a style simple 
and popular, he knew how to add all that was solid and 
energetic. What rendered his eloquence most persuasive 
was his modesty, his recollection, his profound humility, and 
his contempt for the world. Nicolas Capasso, a man cel 
ebrated for his learning and talent for satire, used to attend 
these sermons; on one occasion Alphonsus met him, and 
said, laughing: "I see you always at my sarmons, you are 
probably about to publish some satire against me." "No," 
replied the other, "when I go to hear you preach, I listen 
with pleasure, because I see that you forget yourself in or 
der to preach Christ crucified." 

His time was fully occupied, either in the city of Naples, 
or the adjoining districts, where he was frequently sent on 
mission with the Fathers of the Congregation, and he was 
never known to excuse himself for want of time, or negli 
gently to fulfil any duty to which he was appointed. The 
Congregation enjoyed a benefice attached to a chapel, for 
which the testator had made it a rule, that it should be 
served by a single individual, and that the person appointed 
should be the most indefatigable of the Institute; and al 
though Alphonsus was the last who had been admitted, he 
was chosen by universal consent to undertake the charge. 
It was about this time that his father happened to pass be 
fore a church, and hearing the voice of his son preaching, 
he felt an irresistible feeling of curiosity to enter and 
listen; before long he was moved to tears, and touched 
to the heart at the recollection of his violent and harsh 
conduct towards him; full of such thoughts he returned 
home, and scarcely had Alphonsus entered the house, when 
he ran to his room, and embracing him tenderly, said: "O 
my son, what do I not owe you; it is you who have to-day 
taught me to know God! I bless you I bless you a thou- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 41 

sand times for having embraced a state so holy and so 
agreeable to God." 

Notwithstanding his incessant labor to promote the sal 
vation of others, he did not neglect his own: every day he 
consecrated some hours to meditation, without including 
the time spent in reading the lives of the saints, which he 
used to call "the Gospel in practice." Every morning he 
said mass with so much devotion, that it occupied a con 
siderable time, besides long preparation, and returning 
thanks afterwards. Not a day passed without his visiting 
Jesus Christ in the church where the forty hours adoration 
was made, and there he might be seen, sometimes for hours, 
contemplating his divine Redeemer: never forgetting the 
"quiescite pusillum," the repose which Jesus Christ recom 
mended to his apostles, he from time to time suspended his 
apostolical labors to "enter into his chamber, shut the door, 
and commune with his God." 

He had, as we have already seen, contracted an intimacy 
with several priests, whose views and feelings were in ac 
cordance with his own. In order to tighten the bonds of 
charity more and more, one of them, D. de Alteriis, gave 
a country house, where there was an oratory, in which was 
placed a beautiful statue of the Virgin. Once a month 
they retired thither, to spend three or four days in peniten 
tial exercises. Their repasts were simple, and a little statue 
of the Infant Jesus was placed as if presiding at the table, 
to whom each one made an offering of part of the food 
which was served him. Their recreation was singing 
hymns, before they again resumed their holy meditations. 
They afterwards occupied a house still more retired and 
solitary, where they employed themselves, with unceasing 
satisfaction, in the care of their souls, and renewed the 
fervor of their spirit. 

Alphonsus had been one year a priest, when he received 
from Cardinal Pignatelli faculties for hearing confessions. 
No sooner was he seated in the confessional, than he saw 
himself surrounded by persons of every rank and condition; 
he received all with unexampled charity; he was the first 
4* 



42 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

to take his place in the confessional, and the last to leave 
it. It was his invariable opinion, that the office of confessor 
is more profitable to souls, and less apt to produce vain 
glory in the priest, than any other priestly function. For 
by confession, sinners are immediately reconciled to God, 
and the grace of Jesus Christ is applied to them supera 
bundantly. Severe towards himself only, he treated the 
greatest sinners with inexpressible meekness, and, without 
excusing the sin, was full of compassion for the sinner, 
when, sincerely repenting, he wished to make his peace 
with God ; and the more a soul was sunk in vice, the more 
compassionate was his manner, in order to draw it from the 
fangs of Satan, and lead it into the arms of Jesus Christ. 
In his old age he said, that he did not remember ever 
having sent away a single sinner without having suc 
ceeded in reconciling him to God, much less of ever hav 
ing treated one with harshness and rigor. He received 
all sinners with kindness, instilling into them a great confi 
dence in the blood of Christ shed for them, and pointing 
out to them the way of withdrawing from their sins. "If 
the sinner is repulsed," he used to say, "he will never re 
solve to abandon his sin." "Let us give to penitents," 
said he, "the penance they will perform willingly; but let 
us beware of loading them with obligations they would ac 
cept with repugnance, and afterwards abandon easily. The 
penance ought to be such as to inspire horror for the sin, 
but not for the penance." Thus he frequently enjoined 
the penance of returning to confess, of frequenting the 
sacraments, of hearing mass daily, of meditating on the pas 
sion of Christ, or on some eternal truth. For this purpose 
he composed a small collection of meditations, and gave 
them often to his penitents. He also imposed, as penances 
of obligation, to visit daily the Blessed Sacrament, or some 
image of the Virgin Mary, to recite the Rosary in her honor, 
and he persuaded the heads of houses to recite it regularly 
with their family. As to fasting, disciplines, and penances 
of this kind, he might counsel them occasionally, but never 
commanded them. "If the penitent be contrite," he said, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 43 

"he will do these things of himself, otherwise he will neg 
lect the penance, and relapse into sin, if it be made obliga 
tory." Thus he daily gained a multitude of sinners, who 
had long lived in disorder and vice. 

He often went to preach in the market-places and at the 
Lavinaro, where the dregs of the people of Naples are to 
be found. He delighted in seeing himself surrounded by 
the lowest, the lazaroni, and such like; he enlightened 
them, instructed them, and disposed them to receive grace 
through the sacraments. Many of those who had been 
great sinners, conceived under his direction such a lively 
horror of sin, that they became instant in prayer, and burned 
with an ardent love for Jesus Christ. Among the almost 
innumerable conversions of which he was the instrument, 
two, in particular, deserve to be mentioned. 

The first is that of Peter Barbarese. He was a poor 
school-master, who taught reading and writing, but his 
heart being full of evil thoughts, instead of enlightening 
his scholars, he corrupted their will. He attended a sermon 
of Alphonsus, which moved him to contrition; entering 
into himself, and full of repentance, he threw himself at 
his feet, forsook sin, and embraced a life of penitence. 
Regenerated by grace, all his endeavors were now directed 
to inspire his pupils with the greatest horror of sin. He 
assembled them every morning at an early hour, and con 
ducted them to church to hear mass, after which he made 
them meditate on some eternal truth, suggested to them holy 
resolutions, and finished by reciting the acts of faith, hope 
and charity. Again in the evening he took them to visit 
the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin. He wished 
also that they should go weekly to confession, and prepared 
the elder ones for making their first communion. He was 
careful in instructing them to make acts of faith previously, 
and thanksgiving afterward, and began a practice still in 
use in Naples, of the more advanced instructing, and 
attending to, the others on such occasions. 

The other was that of Lucas Nardone : this man had led 
an irregular life as a soldier, had often deserted, and at 



44 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 

length was about to be condemned to die, when some one 
obtained his pardon. He was, however, chased from the 
army with infamy, and lived covered with shame, and loaded 
with sin. He one day heard Alphonsus preach, and touched 
by grace, sought an audience. He was received with open 
arms, encouraged, consoled, and led to the right path, and 
soon became, as it were, a furnace of divine love, gaining 
many souls to Christ by dragging them from the toils of 
Satan. 

The following is an instance of the unction Alphonsus 
simplest words had, powerfully to move sinners to repent 
ance. A gentleman had detailed to him in confession the 
greatest crimes with the utmost indifference. When he 
had finished, Alphonsus asked him if he had nothing more 
to say. " Nothing, that is all," he coldly replied. "What," 
answered Alphonsus, "that is all! now do you not see 
that the only thing wanting to complete your career, is to 
put on the turban and become a Turk? what more could 
you have done than the crimes which you have just con 
fessed? Tell me now, my child, what evil has Jesus Christ 
done to you?" These words, pronounced with the force 
of ardent zeal, went directly to the heart. " Have I, then," 
said he to himself, "committed such sins, that I cannot 
commit greater?" and penetrated with the deepest contri 
tion, he bewailed his past disorders, placed himself in the 
hands of Alphonsus, and led ever afterwards a most exem 
plary and devout life. 

The means Alphonsus employed to lead his penitents to 
perfection, may be reduced to two, meditation or prayer, 
and mortification. He affirmed there could be no true 
prayer without mortification, and to practice mortifica 
tion, the spirit of prayer was indispensable. He pre 
scribed prayer, saying, "He who prays will certainly be 
saved, and he who neglects prayer will as certainly be 
damned." But above all remedies, he prescribed frequent 
communion, and daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament, par 
ticularly in the church where it was exposed for the forty 
hours adoration. He exacted besides, a filial confidence 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 45 

in the Divine Mother Mary, he wished that all should daily 
recite the Rosary in her honor, visit some church where her 
image was placed, and have a picture of her at the head of 
their bed. He required of all his penitents to communi 
cate at each of her feasts, and was careful to propose some 
devotional practice for each of her Novenas. He recom 
mended to others to fast, as he practised it himself, every 
Saturday in her honor, and on the eves of all her feasts. 

Although he preferred to devote himself to the service 
of the poor, and of the lower class of the people, he did not 
refuse to direct those of higher rank, considering the great 
influence they possess over others, for evil or for good. 
Around his confessional might be seen persons of all con 
ditions, and the highest did not disdain, to await their turn 
with the lowest, submitting willingly to any inconvenience, 
rather than not have him for their director. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Jilphonsus establishes public Meetings for the advancement of 
his penitents, and the instruction of poor people in general. 

/CROWDS coming thus from every quarter to obtain the 
\J benefit of his direction, and as he had no time to give 
many fervent souls the instructions he judged necessary, to 
advance them in the way of perfection, he thought of as 
sembling them for instruction, in some solitary place, during 
the summer evenings, and first chose a spot near the con 
vent of the bare-footed Carmelites, afterwards, beyond the 
convent of St. Angelo, and, at last, fixed on a site before 
the church of the Star, which belongs to the Minims. The 
assembly consisted not of the noble, but of the poor, who 
came, after their day s work, from different quarters of the 
city, some a considerable distance. Other priests also took 
part in the good work. In this assembly, composed of 
persons low in the eyes of the world, but great in the sight 



46 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

of God, Alphonsus daily preached the truths of religion, 
showing them the horrible nature of vice, and the sublime 
beauty of Christian virtue. The other priests spoke alter 
nately to the people, pointing out to them the different de 
grees of the love of God and our neighbor, showing them 
the necessity of mortifying the flesh and of self-denial, if 
they would advance in perfection, and the misery produced 
by unrepressed passion. At other times they would talk of 
imitating Christ crucified, and propose for their example 
the life of some Saint, thus exciting them to virtue. There 
were some individuals, residing in the neighborhood, to 
whom these meetings seemed not a little strange, and be 
cause they were new, they took it for granted they must be 
evil. In the hope of confirming their suspicions, they con 
cealed themselves behind their windows, to hear what was 
going on. Now, some of these poor people were so anx 
ious to do penance, that they fasted rigorously, and one 
evening a poor artisan was pointed out to Alphonsus, who 
ate nothing but raw vegetables and roots, though obliged 
to work hard to support his family. He began to reprove 
him for this excess, when D. Joseph Porpora took up the 
word and said: " God wills that we should eat in order to 
live;" and added, laughing, "if any one gives you four cut 
lets, you will do well to take advantage of it." The mul 
titude were much amused at this, and began to laugh, each 
one passing the joke to his neighbor. The listeners, hear 
ing the words "cutlets, eating," thought the people were 
an assemblage of libertines; and, going still further, came 
to the conclusion that they must be a club of Molinists, 
and a band of heretics. They reported the matter to Car 
dinal Pignatelli. As the accusation referred to nocturnal 
assemblies, and the circumstances seemed equivocal, his 
Eminence supposed they must be evil-disposed persons, 
and he was confirmed in this opinion, in consequence of 
several small bands of Lutheran soldiers having formed 
themselves in different parts of the town, some of whom 
had already been seized. Information was conveyed to 
the Governor, who ordered a captain of the guard to dis- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 47 

guise himself, and go to one of the meetings. They were 
then in the middle of the Novena of the Nativity of our 
Lady, and Alphonsus, in proposing some pious practices 
in honor of the infant Mary, made use of certain expres 
sions, which seemed mysterious and suspicious to the cap 
tain. In consequence of his report, the Governor and the 
Cardinal were persuaded it could be nothing good, and 
ordered both priests and laymen to be arrested. Next 
morning, Alphonsus, happening to be at the palace of the 
Cardinal, heard of the affair and the proposed arrest, and 
not doubting it was his own meeting, he hastened to warn 
his penitents not to assemble at the usual place. It was 
impossible, however, to warn every one, and those who 
lived at a distance, came as usual, among whom were the 
two formerly mentioned, Peter Barbarese and Lucas Nar- 
done. The poor people had scarcely arrived, when they 
were surrounded by archers and sergeants, and carried off 
to the guard-house; from whence the two prisoners, es 
corted each by an archer and a sergeant, were conducted 
before the Procurator of the court* The good penitents 
took the matter calmly: "Comrade," said Nardone to the 
other, "this piece of politeness is perhaps not much to 
your taste." "On the contrary," replied Barbarese, "I am 
well satisfied ; Jesus Christ was bound with ropes, and we 
are treated much more civilly, only a simple cord at the 
arm." The Procurator having ordered them to declare 
what they did at the place of the Star, they replied, that 
they were poor ignorant people, who came to receive in 
struction from D. Alphonsus de Liguori and other priests. 
When the Procurator heard the name of Liguori, he ex 
claimed: "God forgive you; you have alarmed the two 
courts, the ecclesiastical and the civil!" They were then 
conducted to the house of the Governor, where the mention 
of the name of Liguori was at once sufficient to establish 
their innocence. While the Governor questioned them 
about the pious practices which they were taught, they 
heard the sound of bells announcing that the holy Viaticum 
was being carried through the street; at once the two pri- 



48 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

,soners turned their backs on the Governor, and ran to pros 
trate themselves at the balcony, crying out: "It is our Lord, 
it is our Lord !" The Governor asked no more questions, 
but dismissed them with tears of tenderness and consolation. 

Alphonsus, when he heard what had happened, went 
next day to the Cardinal, acknowledging himself as the 
author of the mischief, and alone deserving of punishment. 
His Eminence soon quieted him by expressing his satisfac 
tion at the good he had done, but notwithstanding advised 
him to discontinue these meetings. " The times," he said, 
"are too critical : we must be careful that wolves may not 
cover themselves with sheep s clothing, to do mischief un 
der the shadow of your name." 

Alphonsus did great good in Naples by these confer 
ences, and many of those who had attended them, ever 
after led the lives of saints. Some entered into religion, 
while others remained in the world, to embalm it by the 
odor of their virtue. The two most remarkable were An 
thony Pennine, who sold eggs through the town, and found 
means, while pursuing his avocation, to draw many souls 
from perdition. After his death he appeared to several 
persons and converted them. The other, Leonard Cristano, 
went through the streets with his ass, and sold chesnuts ; 
both of them performed miracles during their life and after 
their death. 

The triumph of the devil seemed complete when these 
meetings were put down, but here, as elsewhere, he found 
himself defeated. Convinced by experience how useful 
they had been, Alphonsus suggested to Peter Barbarese and 
a few others, that they should give instruction to the laza- 
roni and other people of the same class, in suitable places 
removed from public observation. Peter, thus encouraged, 
began to instruct the little porters or errand boys, in the 
shop of a barber. A priest who saw the good he was do 
ing, advised him to meet his little flock in a neighboring 
chapel; he did so, and every evening about sixty young 
people attended, without counting those of a more ad 
vanced age. Lucas Nardone, and several others, pursued 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 49 

the same course, so that in different quarters of the town, 
the penitents of Alphonsus were busy in drawing souls 
from destruction, and winning them to Jesus Christ. He, 
on his part, was careful to visit and superintend these 
meetings, animating them to pursue the great work of their 
salvation, and leading them to the love of the cross. 

One evening, Canon Romano was taking a walk in the 
neighborhood where Peter Barbarese taught the most nu 
merous of these assemblages, when a friend met him, and 
said: "Come with me, I wish to give you an agreeable 
surprise;" and led him to where Peter was instructing his 
hearers. Delighted with what he had seen, Romano could 
not resist detailing the whole to Cardinal Pignatelli, who was 
so pleased at the good that was done, that he suggested to 
the Canon, that he should instruct the people himself. Peter 
willingly resigned his place, and immediately commenced 
assembling in another house more lazaroni and porters. 
The meetings began to multiply, and at length, in almost 
every quarter of Naples, the fervent penitents of Alphonsus 
might be found, instructing and catechising the ignorant. 
In after times, he never came to Naples without visiting 
these favorite meetiilgs, exhorting them to perseverance in 
the service of God, and in gaining conquests to Christ. 
Thus Alphonsus was consoled by the thought, that the over 
throw of one good undertaking had been the very means 
of producing another much more extensive, and still more 
agreeable to God. The work continued to increase, and 
before long, these meetings, protected by the Cardinal him 
self, ceased to be held in shops and private houses, and 
were transferred to public oratories and churches. In 1834, 
they amounted to a hundred, numbering each about three 
hundred persons, and the good they produced among the 
working classes was incalculable. The most zealous priests 
are attached to them, and the Archbishops of Naples find 
them invaluable. Barbarese lived to an advanced age, and 
so did Nardone, both persevering to the end in their pious 
labor. After the death of Barbarese, his body retained 
such an appearance of life, that for some time they hesi- 
5 t 



50 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

tated to bury him. He left behind him a great reputation 
for sanctity, as did also his fellow-laborer, Nardone. Al- 
phonsus occupied himself also in establishing schools for 
women ; a well educated lady was placed at the head of 
them, to direct the others, and he himself visited them from 
but this good work did not last long. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Alphonsus retires into the Chinese College, and gives mis 
sions in the country. 

IT was against his will that Alphonsus continued to live 
in the house of his father; he longed for a solitary cell, 
where, retired from the world, he could enjoy that calm and 
delicious peace, to be found only in solitude. God soon 
furnished him with an occasion. A celebrated missionary, 
D. Matthew Ripa, had lately returned from China; he had 
brought with him a Chinese Doctor, and four young men 
full of zeal, with the intention of founding at Naples a 
college for the Chinese. God blessed the enterprise, and 
on the 14th of April, 1729, they opened the house of the 
Chinese Mission, with the consent and authority of Pope 
Benedict XIII. Alphonsus, considering the excellence of 
this institution, the rare merits of its founder, and the great 
fervor which reigned there, with the poverty and privation 
which they endured for love of God, formed the resolution 
of joining F. Ripa, and sharing, as a pensioner of the house, 
in the fervor which animated this new society. He entered 
the college about the middle of June, 1729. A resolution 
so unforeseen vexed his father extremely, who deeply re 
gretted the loss of the society of one whom he now con 
sidered less as a son, than as an angel sent him by God. 
Painful as the separation was, he had not, however, the 
courage to oppose so laudable a design. 

No sooner did Alphonsus find himself in the college, 
delivered from the surveillance of his parents, than he gave 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 51 

himself up to the practice of mortification with more free 
dom and ardor than ever. He was clothed in sackcloth, 
and wore chains of iron ; several times a day, he took the 
discipline until the blood flowed. The wretched food which 
he ate was not sufficient for his love of mortification, but 
he added to it bitter ingredients, such as myrrh, aloes, and 
wormwood. He ate but little, or not at all, of the fruits of 
which the others partook, and fasted every Saturday on 
bread and water, and generally ate in a kneeling position, 
or sitting on the floor. In his chamber he would not allow 
himself a chair, but stood while he studied, holding his 
book in his hand, and keeping little stones in his shoes. 
Mgr. Coppola, Bishop of Cassano, said, that his penances 
surpassed even those of St. Peter of Alcantara. Besides, 
he never exempted himself from the privations imposed 
upon all the members of the community, and indeed the 
new-born Congregation wanted not for opportunities to 
practise poverty. Although their rule limited them to the 
use of vegetables and a little boiled meat, they frequently 
had no meat at all, and often the scraps which appeared on 
their table were stale; and when these failed, they had ordi 
narily but a salad of mushrooms. Sometimes they could 
only afford to buy bones, from which they strove to extract 
a miserable soup. During Lent they scarcely ever had fish, 
a pilchard with their vegetables was a feast to them, and 
when they did buy fish, it was always the cheapest that 
could be found. They sowed beets in a little plot of 
ground attached to the house, and for months they lived on 
these roots, varied occasionally with a few pears. Their 
evening repast usually consisted of the remnants of dinner, 
boiled with a few coarse biscuits; their bread in general 
was of the coarsest kind. And so far from ever showing 
the slightest repugnance to all this, Alphonsus on the con 
trary rejoiced in it, and encouraged the others to suffer 
with pleasure, that they might become more holy and 
agreeable to God. 

In the meanwhile he continued to draw new strength 
from prayer, and the examples of the saints. Besides the 



52 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

meditation of the community, he daily spent an hour and 
a half, at least, before the Blessed Sacrament in the church 
where the forty hours adoration was held. He spent whole 
nights in watching, sometimes in his room, sometimes in 
the church, before the Blessed Sacrament. And the little 
rest he granted to nature was given grudgingly, and not 
without many contrivances to render it as little agreeable 
as possible ; he often lay on the bare ground, or on a hard 
board. It might naturally be supposed, that amidst these 
bodily austerities undertaken and endured from pure love 
of God, his mind would be enjoying that foretaste of hea 
ven which nothing worldly can give; but it was not thus 
with our Saint; God permitted him to feel the nature of 
our Saviour s anguish, when he exclaimed, "My God! my 
God! why hast thou forsaken me?" His heart enjoyed no 
consolation. He was deprived of all those favors which 
render every trial light and easy. He believed he had lost 
all devotion for mass, his prayer was arid; he sought God, 
and found him not. "I go to Jesus," he said, "and He 
repulses me. I have recourse to the Blessed Virgin, and 
she listens not to me." All he did at this time was done 
by the mere light of faith, which made him resolute in 
seeking to please God in all things, without being impelled 
either by the hope of heaven or the fear of hell. During 
the time he remained in this college, he continued to give 
the greatest proofs of his zeal. Crowds came to the 
church to confess to him; every Friday he discoursed on 
the glories of Mary, and recited with the people the chap- 
let of her sorrows. He celebrated several Novenas in the 
course of the year, during which he preached in honor of 
the Blessed Virgin, or the holy family, the titular patrons of 
the college. Every year he gave retreats, to the great bene 
fit of the crowds who thronged the church during those 
holy exercises. He scarcely took time to eat; and often 
before his meal was over, numbers were waiting for being 
heard in confession. In the evenings, after the exercises 
of the forty hours adoration, he used to enter the church 
with a train of penitents, whose confessions he heard until 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 53 

late. F. Ripa, in his memoirs of the Congregation, writes 
thus of Alphonsus: "We have for pensioner the noble D. 
Alphonsus de Liguori, a priest eminent not for his birth 
only, but for his excellent conduct and general qualifica 
tions as a missionary. Although not aggregated to the 
mission, he has nevertheless the desire, and holds himself 
ready, to go to China, as he has more than once declared 
to his director. Assured of his zeal and his talents, I gave 
him the entire care of the church, and in all that regards 
the pulpit and the confessional, he has acquitted himself to 
the great advantage of souls." 

It would be impossible to enumerate the number of ob 
stinate sinners, old in crime, whom he reclaimed, kindling 
within their obdurate hearts a tender love towards their 
Saviour. He possessed a peculiar gift, in the confessional, 
of inspiring his penitents with compunction, and scarcely 
had they knelt at his feet, when they felt their hearts touched 
with sorrow, for their sins. He converted a celebrated 
courtesan, who was afterwards eminent for her sanctity, 
and many who had lived ordinary good lives, became, under 
his direction, models of perfection. He also induced a 
number who were occupied in worldly pursuits, to renounce 
the world and consecrate themselves to God. The first 
sermon he preached, when once giving a retreat, inspired 
fifteen young persons with the resolution of giving them 
selves to the service of God. 

We will rejate more fully one instance only of a very 
remarkable conversion of this kind. A young lady, named 
Mary, was a source of great anxiety to her pious mother, 
as her heart and mind were filled with the world, to the 
exclusion of every thing serious. She besought Alphonsus 
to pray for the conversion of her daughter; he did so, and 
the young girl seemed to be reformed; but before long she 
became more giddy and thoughtless than ever. Again the 
poor mother had recourse to Alphonsus, who, at her earn 
est entreaty, spoke seriously to the girl, strongly represent 
ing to her the danger of her position; and she, touched to 
the quick, retired to a corner of the church, and began bit- 
5* 



54 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



terly to bewail her sins. Alphonsus, seeing this, before he 
quitted the confessional, called her back: "Mary," said 
he, "will you sincerely give yourself to God?" "Yes," 
she instantly replied. "But without reserve, and with your 
whole heart?" he continued. "Without the slightest re 
serve, with my whole heart," said the girl with much en 
ergy. "Then," said he, "go instantly, cut off your hair, 
and become a Carmelite." She obeyed, took the religious 
habit, persevered, and, after her death, was invoked by 
many, and worked several miracles. 

At this period of his life, his labors were so incessant and 
multifarious, that we can scarcely conceive the possibility 
of one individual accomplishing the half he performed. 
Preaching in various churches in Naples, giving retreats, 
hearing confessions, and going on missions to the neigh 
boring towns, he yet found time for all, without encroach 
ing either on his studies or devotions. In the year 1729, a 
frightful epidemic ravaged the city of Naples; he profited 
by this occasion to sacrifice himself more and more; and 
amongst the brothers of the Congregation of Apostolical 
Missions, he was ever the first in anointing the sick. Be 
sides, he opened a mission in the large church of the Holy 
Spirit, and took advantage of the time, to withdraw souls 
from the power of Satan. In consequence of his great 
fatigues, he was seized the following year with a pulmonary 
complaint, which brought him to the gates of death, but 
again his beloved Mother performed a miracle in his favor. 
About this period, his life was also exposed to a danger of 
a different kind. He was sitting with the other fathers 
during recreation, when a tremendous thunder-storm came 
-on, and a bolt fell in the midst of them. F. Ripa was 
^wounded in the throat, while Alphonsus and others fell 
down senseless; they soon recovered, however, to thank 
God for their escape, and devote themselves with renewed 
.zeal to his service. They were saved by an evident inter 
position of Providence. 

In the spring of the year 1731, the Puglia and the neigh 
boring provinces suffered exceedingly from an earthquake 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 55 

The bishops, that the opportunity might not be lost for call 
ing the people to repentance, invited the brothers of the 
Propaganda. On this occasion, Alphonsus, as usual, pro 
duced a miraculous effect, and many were reclaimed and 
converted. The town of Foggia had been almost reduced 
to a mass of ruins; but the God who smote them, would 
also comfort them, by giving them a miraculous proof of his 
love. They venerated in this town a very old and miracu 
lous picture of the Virgin, the colors of which being almost 
obliterated by age, it was glazed, and covered with a curtain. 
The people, terrified by new repeated shocks of the earth 
quake, came in crowds to place themselves under the pro 
tection of the mother of mercy. On the morning of the 
22d of March, while the multitude were kneeling before 
this picture, the Blessed Virgin showed herself to them 
under the appearance of a young woman, and this miracu 
lous manifestation was repeated for several days, and seen 
by crowds, who came to venerate the picture. This appa 
rition made a great noise throughout the kingdom, and 
when their mission was finished, Alphonsus and his com 
panions went to visit the miraculous picture. The bishop, 
Mgr. Faccola, insisted he should give a Novena in honor 
of the Blessed Virgin ; at first he refused, having no per 
mission from his superiors to prolong his stay, but at length 
he yielded to the circumstances of the time and the urgent 
entreaties from all sides. The concourse of people was 
such that the greater part could not enter the church; they 
therefore erected a pulpit at the door, at the side of which 
was exposed the miraculous picture. The effects were ex 
traordinary, and beyond description ; great as was the num 
ber of priests, they were not sufficient to hear the confes 
sions of crowds, who, touched to the quick by the dis 
courses of Alphonsus, turned from their wickedness and 
wished to be reconciled with God. 

There happened to him, during this Novena, a very re 
markable event. His delight was to remain near the 
miraculous image, from which he could hardly turn himself 
away. One day, when the people had withdrawn, and the 



56 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

image, was replaced in the church, he got up on the altar 
to examine it more nearly; but scarcely had he placed him 
self in front of it, when he fell into an ecstasy, which lasted 
nearly an hour. The Virgin would fully satisfy his devo 
tion, crowning his happiness by showing to him her face 
radiant with celestial beauty. When the vision disappeared, 
he descended from the altar, inebriated with joy, intoning 
the "Ave Maris Stella," in which he was joined by about 
thirty persons who had witnessed the occurrence. He 
afterwards attested having seen the Virgin Mother under 
the appearance of a young girl of thirteen or fourteen years 
of age, wearing a white veil, and moving from side to side. 
The next morning, he described his vision to a painter, and 
the picture drawn at the time is still preserved at Ciorani. 
On returning to Naples in the middle of the month of May, 
the Canon D. Julius Torni, whether he really blamed him 
for giving a Novena at Foggia, or whether he would only 
try his humility, reprimanded him strongly in presence 
of all the Congregation. Alphonsus did not attempt to 
excuse himself, he did not speak; but, on the contrary, re 
joiced to see himself mortified before such a respectable 
assembly. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Alphonsus is called to found a Congregation of Missionary 
Priests. 

4 LPHONSUS being exhausted and worn out by his la- 
JTl. bors in the provinces, his friends began to have serious 
apprehensions for his health, and accordingly it was deter 
mined he should retire to the country, until he should re 
cover his strength. The place fixed upon, was a hermitage 
in the neighborhood of Amalfi, situated on a hill near the 
sea. He was accompanied by Joseph Jorio, John Mazzini, 
Pansa, and two others. When they had arrived at Amalfi 
-and went to pay their respects to the Archbishop, they met 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 57 

the Vicar-General, who strongly urged them to change 
their plan, and go to a hermitage near Scala, where they 
would be at the same time useful to the poor goatherds of 
the neighborhood, who were destitute of spiritual aid. The 
proposal was willingly agreed to, and they established 
themselves at St. Mary of the Mount this was the name of 
the hermitage. They had obtained permission to keep the 
Blessed Sacrament in the hermitage, and while Alphonsus 
was recovering strength of body, he gained new strength 
to his soul in the presence of his beloved Saviour. 

They began to catechise the poor shepherds and goat 
herds, with the other inhabitants of the country around, 
and heard their confessions; and this sojourn in the coun 
try became an uninterrupted mission, which produced abun 
dant fruits. It was now that Alphonsus became acquainted 
with the extreme destitution of the people Altered over 
the country, who often lived without the knowledge neces 
sary for salvation; many, being without the sacraments and 
the word of life, had to be instructed in the first rudiments 
of faith, before they could make their confession. He was 
soon invited by the inhabitants of Scala, and the bishop, to 
preach in that town. He accepted the invitation, and 
preached one sermon, which produced all the effect of a 
regular mission. It was on the Sunday following the Oc 
tave of the Blessed Sacrament; he urged upon them such 
strong motives for loving Jesus in His Sacrament, and for 
detesting sin, that the whole congregation were dissolved 
in tears, and their sobs and groans resounded in the neigh 
borhood. The superior of the nuns of St. Saviour besought 
him also to preach in their church, which he did with his 
usual success, and the bishop was so delighted, that he 
engaged him for a Novena, to be celebrated in the Cathe 
dral for the feast of the Holy Redeemer, in the month of 
September. 

He continued to labor among the good shepherds of St. 
Mary of the Mount, until September, when he returned to 
Scala, accompanied by John Mazzini. During the Novena 
he gave a retreat to the nuns of St. Saviour. This was 



58 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the moment God had chosen, to make known his will to 
him. There was in the Convent a nun of great sanctity, 
possessed of supernatural gifts. Alphonsus had often be 
sought God, even with tears, to choose some one to labor 
with efficacy among the abandoned people of the country: 
the nun knew nothing of what was passing in his mind ; 
but on the 13th of October, she saw in a vision a new Con 
gregation of priests, who were employed in the care of 
thousands living in villages and scattered hamlets, destitute 
of spiritual aid; she saw Alphonsus at the head of this 
Congregation, and heard a voice which said: "This is the 
man I have chosen to be the instrument of my glory in this 
great work." A few days after, she told him, in the con 
fessional, of the vision she had had, and of the designs God 
had upon him. Fearing it was but a vain illusion, not- 
withstandin^the remarkable conformity between her vision 
and his own thoughts, Alphonsus reproved the nun, and 
treated her as a visionary. She humbled herself before 
him, but persisted, and the more he repulsed her, the more 
she assured him that God had chosen him to be the instru 
ment of his mercy towards the inhabitants of the country. 
On his return to the house, F. Mazzini, seeing his trouble 
and agitation, asked the cause. He hesitated to tell him, 
when Father Mazzini said: "I know you have had a dis 
pute with one of the nuns, for I heard you speaking loud." 
Yielding to his friend s desire, Alphonsus told him what 
the nun had said; and far from treating it lightly, Mazzini 
did all in his power to persuade him of its truth. The 
sanctity of the nun was undoubted. "Besides," argued 
his friend, "an institution of the kind is much wanted in 
this kingdom, and who knows what designs God may have 
upon you?" "I approve much- of such an institution," 
said Alphonsus, "and I foresee the glorious fruits of it, but 
what can I do myself? Where are my companions?" 
"Here am I for one," answered Mazzini, "and I am sure 
other priests will be found willing to consecrate themselves 
to a work which must contribute so much to the glory of 
God !" In the meanwhile, Mgr. Falcoja, Bishop of Castel- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 59 

lamare, arrived at Scala; he was a prelate of eminent sanc 
tity, and skilled in the science of spirituality, and the 
Bishop of Scala was not inferior to him. The presence of 
these two saintly men raised Mazzini s hopes, and he urged 
Alphonsus to consult* with them. He accordingly told 
them all, and after several days spent in narrowly examin 
ing the subject, they both agreed that the inspiration came 
from God; the vision of the nun strengthened their confi 
dence, she being a person peculiarly favored by God, whose 
sincerity and love of truth were undoubted. This nun, sister 
Mary Celeste Castarosa, died the 14th of September, 1745, 
at the Convent of St. Saviour, at Foggia; her body is still 
entire and uncorrupted. The nuns open the coffin and 
clothe the body anew, every time any of the sisterhood dies. 

Alphonsus returned to Naples, and immediately opened 
his whole heart to his own spiritual director, F. Pagano. 
This sage director, after a careful consideration of some 
days, hesitated not to declare his opinion, that such an un 
dertaking could not fail to promote the glory of God and 
the salvation of souls; but doubting his own judgment, he 
advised Alphonsus to consult with more enlightened per 
sons. He accordingly spoke with F. Vincent Cutica, su 
perior of the Mission of St. Vincent of Paul, and F. Manu- 
lius, a Jesuit, both of whom were much venerated in Naples. 
Their opinions coincided with that of F. Pagano, viz. that 
it was the will of God, and they urged him to respond to the 
call of Heaven. Still unconvinced, he consulted others, 
eminent for their sanctity and wisdom, and finding all of 
the same mind, he could no longer doubt, and taking 
courage, he gave himself unreservedly to God. But a work 
which was intended by God to promote the salvation of 
souls, not in Italy only, but in all other kingdoms of Eu 
rope, and in America, could not fail to stir up all the pow 
ers of hell, to accomplish, if possible, its overthrow, yea, 
even to prevent its being begun. 

As soon as Alphonsus determination was known, all Na 
ples seemed to be in arms against him. Some said that he 
was mad, and that his brain must be affected ; others treated 



60 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

him as a fanatic and a visionary; some affirmed it was pure 
pride, and that he had been spoiled by too much praise. 
It was in the College of the Chinese he found his greatest 
adversaries; his companions there loaded him with blame 
and ridicule. F. Ripa, who was then at Rome, did, on his 
return, all in his power to convince him that his plans were 
impossible, and useless, even if they should succeed. See 
ing, however, that all his endeavors to dissuade him were in 
vain, he chose to believe with the others that his head was 
affected, and that he was the victim of some delusion, and 
reproached him both privately and publicly with what he 
called his extravagance. The Fathers of the Propaganda 
also ranged themselves against him. Having heard of the 
vision of the nun, they imagined it was the sole basis of 
his enterprise, and were shocked at his allowing himself to 
be led away by what they called the reveries of a young 
nun. But what afflicted Alphonsus most of all, was, that 
these opinions were taken up by his uncle Matthew Gizzio. 
Rector of the Seminary, and by the Superior of the Propa 
ganda, Julius Torni. They assailed him on every side, 
while he only replied that he would do nothing disapproved 
of by his director. "It is not God who directs ypu," said 
his uncle, "but you blindly follow the reveries of a nun, 
and do you not see that you are the victim of an illusion?" 
"I do not regulate my conduct by visions," he meekly re 
plied; "I regulate it by the Gospel." On another occasion 
his uncle jeeringly asked him if he ever expected to realize 
his schemes. "He who trusts in God," replied he, "can 
do all, and should hope all." At last his uncle went so 
far, that, in the presence of some other canons, he treated 
him as a fool whose brain was turned by self-conceit. One 
day as Alphonsus entered the sacristy of the cathedral, 
several persons of consequence began to abuse him before 
others in authority, who happened to be present. "Keep 
to your word now," said they, "and make haste to show 
the Church those new institutions and foundations which 
you have promised her." Alphonsus said nothing, but 
bowing his head, humbled himself interiorly. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 61 

After some time, his uncle insisted that he should take 
advice from F. Louis Fiorillo, a learned and pious Domini 
can, by whom he himself was guided. At first he declined, 
but on his afterwards repeating to F. Pa^ano what had 
passed, he urged him to follow his uncle s advice, saying, 
that he would consider F. Fiorillo s decision as the voice of 
God. Alphonsus had never seen F. Fiorillo, but soon 
after, he met him one day at his uncle s; the moment F. 
Fiorillo saw him, he exclaimed, as it were, by inspi 
ration : "God is not yet satisfied with you; He wishes 
you to be altogether His, and expects great things from 
you." Alphonsus took him aside, and told him of his 
desire to consult him, and a time and place of meeting 
was agreed upon. 

He now began to perform the most severe penances, 
praying continually that the Father of lights would en 
lighten His servant F. Fiorillo, on whose decision the 
affair seemed to depend. He recommended himself to 
the prayers of many holy persons, but above all to the 
nun at the monastery of Scala. All the convent joined 
with her; they prayed, they fasted, they gave themselves 
the discipline for half an hour each day ; all united to be 
seech God to enlighten his directors. A singular fact now 
occurred : several of the nuns, yielding to the opinion of 
some ill-disposed persons, believed that God would not 
establish the Congregation. One day, while they were 
disputing about it with the nun who had had the revelation, 
she cried out in an ecstatic transport, "God wills this work, 
and you will see it accomplished!" " Yes," replied a nun 
more incredulous than the others, "I will believe it when 
Sister Mary Magdalene is cured." This sister had been 
deranged for several years, but from that moment she per 
fectly recovered her senses. 

When Alphonsus had made known all to F. Fiorillo, 
the man of God replied: "In a similar conjuncture, St. 
Lewis Bertrand asked six months from Si. Theresa to 
reflect, before giving an answer ; I would ask the same 
from you." "Not six months only," said Alphonsus, 
6 



0*2 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

"take a whole year." Some days after, he met him again, 
when the venerable Father embraced him with joy, saying, 
"Go, take courage, this work is divine; throw yourself into 
the arms of God, as a stone which falls from the mountain 
in the valley. You will encounter contradictions, doubtless, 
but place your confidence in God, He will help you." At 
this time, however, F. Fiorillo had many good works on 
hand, and fearing to scandalize the clergy, who might 
overturn them, he begged Alphonsus to conceal his appro 
bation, and not to visit him again. Satisfied now that he 
was acting according to the will of God, he feared no 
farther contradiction, and began in earnest to look about 
for companions. 

In the meanwhile the Missionaries of the Propaganda 
blamed him every where, and would not bear to hear him 
spoken of as one of them. The Canons Torni and Gizzio 
were extremely annoyed by the slur which Alphonsus 
project seemed to cast upon the Propaganda. They hoped 
that F. Fiorillo would never approve of it, and that at last 
F. Pagano himself would oppose it. Meeting Alphonsus 
one day, and finding him unaltered in his views, they 
attacked him more violently than ever. Alphonsus meekly 
replied: "Say what you will, uncle; I assure you I am not 
acting in consequence of such visions, but am ruled by the 
word of God, and guided by those on whom I ought to 
rely." In circumstances such as these, his embarrassment 
was great; he was bound not to betray F. Fiorillo, who was 
then absent from Naples ; and on the other hand, the as 
tonishment and scandal augmented every day. F. Pagano 
advised him not to keep the secret any longer; so also did 
the Bishop of Cassano, and Mgr. Amato, Bishop of Ischia, 
whom he consulted on the subject. When he carne to see 
the two Canons, hardly had he entered the house, when 
they attacked him again. "Are you not ashamed of your 
self, scandalizing all Naples by your obstinacy, and acting 
in opposition to F. Fiorillo ? How can your conscience 
permit such a thing ?" Then Alphonsus calmly, but firmly, 
replied : " You are deceived in supposing that I act con- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 63 

trary to the advice of F. Fiorillo ; my conduct is the result 
of the counsels he has given me." He had provided him 
self with a copy of the letter Fiorillo had written to him on 
the subject, and as he ceased speaking, he placed it in his 
uncle s hands. Great was the confusion of both Gizzio 
and Torni. "But this is not sufficient," said Torni, "I 
would see the original." Alphonsus gave it to him. "Now," 
said he, holding it in his hand, " I want no other testi 
mony; this is sufficient for the honor of my Congregation." 

After this, Alphonsus expected to have peace, as he 
could no longer be blamed for acting contrary to the 
opinion of wise directors; but the enemy of mankind 
would not yield without a farther struggle. His brothers 
of the Propaganda refused to be reconciled with him, and 
threatened to turn him out of their Congregation. But 
Cardinal Pignatelli, although he had been prejudiced 
against Alphonsus, no sooner discovered the truth, than he 
warned the Canon Torni to beware how he took any steps 
against Alphonsus de Liguori. F. Ripa, on the other hand, 
although now persuaded that he acted in accordance with 
the advice of F. Fiorillo, ceased not to accuse him of vi 
sionary schemes. He believed himself justified in opposing 
plans which would remove him from Naples, where he was 
certain to be most useful, and above all, useful to the Chi 
nese College ; besides, some of his most distinguished 
subjects were inclined to follow Alphonsus. He quarrelled 
with F. Pagano and F. Fiorillo, and wrote a very bitter 
letter to Mgr. Falcoja, whose reply is too admirable to be 
omitted here: 

"You know," he wrote, "that it does not 

belong to a spiritual Father to give his penitents any voca 
tion which may happen to please himself; this gift belongs 
only to that divine Providence, who has many niches in 
Paradise for the statues He fashions upon earth, and on 
earth He establishes different studios, and is daily open 
ing new ones, where those rational statues are to be 
moulded to perfection according to His most holy will, 
that they may be prepared for their position in everlasting 



64 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

L>lory. ... ft is not the province of a spiritual Father, to 
do any thing else than to approve or disapprove. When a 
soul is faithful to God and His holy words, He who 
hearetb you, heareth me, we may believe that she cannot 
go astray. You may argue that a spiritual Father can be 
deceived ; but I would reply that God, who is always 
faithful, will not fail to make known His will to those 
whom He has appointed to enlighten others; for if it were 
not so, what assurance could we have in deciding on what 
was God s will? Now, inasmuch as Alphonsus has fol 
lowed this rule, he cannot go astray. I see from your 
letter, that you judge and condemn me, as one who would 
overthrow your Congregation, and ruin a valuable work 
which owes all to your labors : but fear not. Is the arm 
of the Lord shortened ? Is He not able to sustain your 
Congregation and many others at the same time ? Let 
God perform His own work; for a work which comes from 
Him may aid, but cannot destroy, another equally divine. 
But this enterprise, you say, will dissipate itself; if you say 
true, then you lose nothing; but according to my view of 
the case, this enterprise comes from God, and it cannot 
perish, if he, who is charged with it, continue faithful ; 
those therefore, who oppose it, set themselves in opposition 
to the will of God. 

11 But you say, this new work will take away some of 
your most valuable subjects. I wish, my dear Father, you 
would put a little more confidence in God, and less in man. 
The Congregation of Pious Workers had scarcely been es 
tablished, when four of their most excellent members left 
them, ^and founded four different Congregations. Not 
withstanding, the venerable Fathers, Charles Carafa and 
Anthony de Colellis, were not annoyed by fearing that 
their Congregation would be ruined ; the contrary hap 
pened, it increased more and more by the arrival of other 
men, whom the Father of the family sent to replace those 
who had left. Be persuaded, that the work of Alphonsus 
is no suggestion of the devil, but on the contrary, that the 
devil opposes it as the will of God, as he has done on a 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 65 

thousand other occasions, when he foresaw that an insti 
tution would have the effect of destroying his empire in 
the world." 

It seems incredible, yet it is true, this letter produced no 
effect on F. Ripa, who continued to blame Alphonsus for 
his inconstancy, and even in his Memoirs of his Congre 
gation, complains bitterly of him and all who had any hand 
in approving or forwarding his projects. 

When the Fathers Fiorillo and Pagano saw that the 
tempest, instead of abating, rather increased, they began to 
fear for the success of their own immediate affairs, if they 
continued to bear the blame of giving counsel to Al 
phonsus. They therefore strongly urged him to put him 
self entirely under the direction of Mgr. Falcoja, a man of 
undoubted wisdom arid sanctity, and held in great consi 
deration by all Naples. The feast of the Assumption ap 
proaching, Alphonsus resolved to apply for aid to his 
blessed Mother, and made the Novena of the feast in the 
church so dear to him, the church of the Redemption of 
Captives, where her statue was exposed during those nine 
days. The, divine Mother listened to her favorite child, and 
enlightened him regarding the course he ought to pursue* 
He placed himself in the hands of the holy prelate, pro 
mising to do nothing without his advice, and never was a 
child more obedient to a parent. 

The Canon Torni came also back to the charge, as he 
could not bear the idea of Alphonsus services being lost 
to Naples. Having no hope of directly succeeding in 
opposing him, he began an indirect attack, in his quality of 
Superior of the Congregation of the Propaganda. He 
gave him the charge of several important matters, trusting 
that, when he saw the good he was doing in Naples, he 
would give up the idea of going elsewhere. In the be 
ginning of October he commanded him, in the name of the 
Cardinal, to give a retreat to the clergy of Naples. He 
obeyed his Superior, notwithstanding his repugnance to 
;tppear before those, many of whom had treated him so 
unjustly, and God poured out His benedictions on his 
6* 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

labors more abundantly than ever. The Cardinal himself 
attended, and was so moved, that he exclaimed, " We may 
easily see he is a vessel of election, for the Holy Spirit 
speaks by his mouth." After this retreat, he was sent suc 
cessively to three other churches to give Missions, when, as 
before, multitudes from all quarters flocked to hear him, 
and crowded round the confessionals. But notwithstand 
ing all this abundant harvest, Alphonsus was longing for 
the moment when the arrangements would be completed 
for him to commence his new Congregation. Mgr. Fal- 
coja, however, seeing that the storm still continued to 
rage, wished to put his constancy to farther proof, and de 
layed to give him his parting benediction; but those days 
of delay seemed ages to Alphonsus. 

Many were the contradictions and annoyances he ex 
perienced during the last days he remained, particularly 
from F. Ripa and his uncle Gizzio. Because they loved 
him, they thought they had a right, forcibly to withdraw him 
from an enterprise they considered extravagant. God, in 
his impenetrable Providence, sometimes permits his ser 
vants to fall into similar mistakes; it may be, to keep 
.them humble, and as a means of advancing the sanctity of 
both parties. In after time, those who had opposed him 
now, lauded his enterprise, when they saw the blessings of 
heaven accompanying his work. 

In spite of the outcry made against Alphonsus by many 
influential individuals, there was still a number of zealous 
priests who declared their willingness to accompany him 
on his arduous mission. One of his first companions was 
D. Vincent Mandarini, a noble Calabrian. He was, like 
Alphonsus, a pensioner in the Chinese College, and an 
excellent theologian. The second was Don Janvier Sar- 
nolli, son of the Baron of Ciorani, also one of the Chi- 
siese College, of great talents, both natural and acquired, 
besides being a man of eminent virtue. The third was D. 
Silvester Tosquez, a gentleman of the town of Troja, still a 
secular, and a great friend of Mandarini : he was an ex 
cellent man, and well versed in jurisprudence and theology. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 67 

His other companions were men equally estimable and en 
lightened, seven in number. Mazzini would have joined 
him at first, had not his director insisted on his delaying, in 
order to prove his vocation. A gentleman named Vitus 
Curzius, whose vocation was evidently miraculous, was the 
first who joined him in quality of lay-brother. He had 
been secretary to the Baron of Vasto, and was very inti 
mate with Sportelli, one of the companions of Alphon 
sus, still a secular. Sportelli had not communicated 
to him his design of quitting the world, when one day 
Curzius told him a dream he had had the previous night. 
" I thought," said he, " that I stood at the foot of a high 
and steep mountain, which many priests were trying to 
ascend. I wished to imitate them, but at the first step I 
took, I fell backward. Not willing to give up the attempt, I 
tried to mount several times, but to my great annoyance, I 
always slid back, until one of the priests, taking compas 
sion on me, gave me his hand and helped me to ascend." 
In the course of the day, as they were walking together 
near the Chinese College, they met Alphonsus, when Cur 
zius, who had never before seen him, turned in astonish 
ment to Sportelli, exclaiming, "There is the priest who gave 
me his hand last night." Sportelli saw the mystery of the 
dream, and told him that this was Alphonsus Liguori, who 
was about to found a new Congregation of missionary 
priests, and mentioned his own intention to join him. 
The young man instantly recognized the divine will, and 
unhesitatingly declared, that he wished to be of the num 
ber, as a lay-brother. 



68 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Alphonsus establishes his Congregation at Scala. It un 
dergoes a severe trial. 

AFTER having received the benediction of the Fathers 
Pagano and Fiorillo, Alphonsus, without acquainting 
either friends or relations, hired a miserable donkey, and 
departed from Naples on the 8th of November, 1732, di 
recting his steps towards the town of Scala. The day on 
which he left Naples, he completed two sacrifices ; the de 
finitive renunciation of all the splendors of the world, and 
the entire disruption of the ties of flesh and blood. This 
last completed the numerous sacrifices he had already 
made. Since the month of August, he had quitted the Chi 
nese College, and returned to his father s house, for the 
better arranging of his affairs. D. Joseph, who loved him 
less as a son than as a spiritual father, was miserable at the 
thought of losing him, and one day he entered his room, 
when he had laid down to take a little repose, and throwing 
himself on the bed beside him, pressed him in his arms and 
exclaimed: "My son, why will you abandon me? My 
son, I do not deserve that you should cause me so much 
misery." Taken by surprise, Alphonsus suffered most 
intensely, and this scene lasted during three hours, his 
father holding him in a close embrace, repeating always, 
My son, do not abandon me." He afterwards spoke of 
this trial, as the most terrible he had ever had to endure. 

On arriving at Scala, he was joined by only eight of his 
companions; Sarnelli and Tosquez were obliged, from 
certain circumstances, to delay. The dwelling prepared 
by the Bishop, Mgr. Santoro, accorded in every respect 
with their wishes it was an hospice belonging to a con 
vent, almost destitute of furniture, small and inconvenient; 
besides a small oratory, there were only a parlor, and three 
little rooms containing palliasses and scanty coverings, 
with a few earthen dishes for the table and the kitchen. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 69 

The day after their arrival, they assembled in the Cathedral, 
and after a long meditation, chanted the mass of the Holy 
Spirit, thanking God for the establishment of a Congrega 
tion so ardently desired, and asking for His benediction 
upon the work. They gave it the name of "The Holy 
Saviour," placing it under the protection of the Chief of all 
Missionaries. They now applied themselves sincerely to 
prayer and penitence; their hearts overflowing with love to 
God, they embraced every opportunity of mortifying them 
selves; they wore sack-cloth, and small chains with sharp 
points. But it was at the hours of repast, those hours 
when the world seeks after sensual enjoyments, that these 
holy men signalized their love of mortification. Some 
kissed the ground ; others knelt, and remained for a length 
of time with their arms extended in form of a cross, be 
fore eating; another made the round of the refectory, 
kissing the feet of each of his brethren. They ate kneel 
ing, or sitting on the floor, while others, to make the mo 
ments of eating still more uncomfortable, hung a heavy 
stone round their neck. Their poor and scanty food they 
seasoned with bitter herbs ; many would not taste meat, or 
abstained from fruit. Their food was of such a quality that 
the poor hesitated to accept what they left. Vitus Curzius 
was cook, and as he knew nothing of cookery, he spoiled 
every thing he attempted to prepare. 

Such was the life these missionaries led at Scala. As for 
Alphonsus, he occupied himself with God only, "instant in 
prayer," reading the Lives of the Saints, or laboring to save 
souls. His application was constant; and besides Mass with 
a long thanksgiving, and the general prayers of the commu 
nity, he spent hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacra 
ment. He carried his austerities to such an excess, that the 
utmost the others could do, seemed as it were nothincr. He 

o 

sometimes seasoned his food with such herbs, that those 
who were near him could hardly endure the smell; and not 
content with wearing sack-cloth, chains, and crosses armed 
with sharp points, he gave himself the discipline twice a 
day. The care he bestowed on his own perfection and 



70 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

that of his companions, did not hinder him from attending 
to the people of Scala. He introduced the custom of 
giving a meditation in the Cathedral, every morning, and 
making visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Virgin 
Mary, every evening. Every Thursday, he gave a sermon 
with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and every Sa 
turday, he preached on the glories of Mary. On Sundays 
and feast days, he instructed the people on their individual 
duties, and catechized them. He established two Confra 
ternities, one for gentlemen and another for artisans, and 
two others for the young people of both sexes; and every 
Sunday, each of these Confraternities received a particular 
instruction. Scala was in a short time thoroughly reformed, 
to the great satisfaction of Mgr. Santoro. Seeing himself 
so well seconded by the zeal of his companions, Alphonsus 
gave missions to the different towns and villages round 
about, so that the renown of the new Congregation began 
to spread every where, and bishops were constantly be 
seeching their assistance for their flocks, while many even 
offered them establishments in their diocesses. 

The Fathers of the Propaganda, instead of becoming 
reconciled to the step taken by Alphonsus, showed them 
selves more and more embittered against him, continuing 
to load him with contempt and ridicule. Their conduct 
deeply wounded Alphonsus, and he was grieved to see 
pious and zealous servants of God partaking in all the pre 
judices of the world, and rather exciting than preventing 
them. Persuaded that honor and purity, with rectitude of 
judgment, are the true riches of a minister of God, and 
seeing his ancient brethren striving to despoil him of them, 
he complained in a letter to the Canon Torni, who sent 
him a reply full of the most friendly assurances. 

But the peace he had found in the friendly behaviour of 
Torni, was soon attacked, by the renewed violence of the 
other members. They clamored against Torni, and in 
sisted, that he should expel Alphonsus, and deprive him of 
the chaplainship. He was forced to yield, and on the 20th 
of February, 1732, to the great joy of all, they affixed to the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 71 

door this announcement: "According to the order of our 
Superior, on the 23d instant there will be a general investi 
gation on the following questions: Whether the brother 
D. Alphonsus de Liguori should be expelled from the Con 
gregation ? And whether he ought to be deprived of his 
chaplainship?" Torni had yielded, only to prevent the 
vexatious proceedings going farther, and secretly informed 
the Cardinal of what was about to be done, expressing his 
opinion of its injustice. The Cardinal was exceedingly 
vexed, but he would not hinder the convocation. "Let 
them deliberate," he said, "but fear nothing; I will pro 
vide for the result, and settle every thing in the most expe 
dient way." The Congregation assembled on the ap 
pointed day, animated with incredible rancor. In order to 
prevent any interference in his favor, they proceeded se 
cretly with the scrutiny, and his expulsion was unani 
mously decided upon. But they could not register this de 
cree, the Cardinal having forbidden any steps to be taken 
against Alphonsus, without his knowledge. The Superior 
and some of the principal members went to the Cardinal, 
to tell him what had been done. His Eminence was much 
displeased. "Why," said he, "do you proceed to such 
extremities? either God will bless the enterprise of Al 
phonsus, and it will prove a glorious thing for you, or He 
will overthrow it, and then all that could be said would be, 
that it was a good work, though it had proved unsuccessful. 
In any case, I do not see how you can find dishonor in it." 
He concluded by saying, "I am Superior of this Congre 
gation, and I desire that Alphonsus de Liguori be rein 
stated, and that he continue to enjoy his chaplainship ; and 
I forbid any steps being taken against him, unknown to 
me." This firm conduct arrested the flame, but did not 
extinguish it. The deputies retired, silenced and discon 
certed, but still determined never to recognise him as a 
member of their Congregration. 

The storm was thus subsiding in Naples, and Alphonsus 
was living in Scala, in profound peace, when God wished 
to try his servant still more severely, by permitting discord 



72 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOJfSUS. 

to arise in the bosom of the new-born Congregation itself. 
Alphonsus wished that the new Congregation should be 
occupied only in laboring to promote the sanctification of 
clergy and laity, giving them spiritual exercises in convents, 
and procuring also the salvation of destitute souls, particu 
larly in the country and small hamlets, by means of mis 
sions. Mandarini proposed that, besides the missions, 
they should occupy themselves in teaching; but Alphonsus 
opposed this, because the Jesuits and other religious 
orders supplied this want. He added, that the spirit of 
the Institute finding itself divided between two objects so 
different as teaching and giving missions, both would be 
fulfilled in an imperfect manner, since there would be too 
few laborers to undertake both branches. The others had 
each his individual opinion, and D. Tosquez, going still 
farther, insisted, that, as v the end of the institution was to 
imitate Jesus Christ, it was necessary to be dressed in a 
dark red cassock and a mantle of celestial blue, as these 
were the colors our Saviour is said to have worn. Some 
disliked the recitation of the office in common; others ob 
jected to sleep on straw, as also to other austerities to 
which they would not submit. They disliked practising 
poverty in all its rigor, and the perfection which commu 
nity life exacted, yet it was to community life that Al 
phonsus principally held. Tosquez went into a contrary 
excess, and would embrace the reform of the most austere 
mendicant order, insisting that each should sell every thing 
he possessed, and lay the price of it at the feet of his 
Superior. 

Alphonsus approved of establishing a choir, though 
without chant, as being a good means of reciting the office 
well. He insisted on the vow of poverty, because without 
it the spirit of Christ would be wanting, and it would be 
impossible to observe the common life, which is the 
mother of poverty. "If," said he, "the words mine and 
thine are found among the brethren, great inconvenience 
will result ; they will go on the mission not for God, not to 
gain souls to, Christ, but for emolument and for them- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 73 

selves ;" all these opposing sentiments could not fail to dis 
turb his serenity; he spoke, he supplicated, in vain; they 
shut their ears to all he said. Fearing a total shipwreck, 
he had recourse to prayer, while at the same time he 
neglected no human means. He consulted Mgr. Falcoja, 
F. Pagano, and the Canon Torni, who all looked upon it 
as a stratagem of the devil. They decidedly opposed 
Mandarini s plan of teaching, notwithstanding which, all 
the others joined him in sustaining this point. These dis 
cussions lasted long. Mandarini persisted in his scheme 
for teaching, and thought Alphonsus ought to yield, be 
cause the others were of his opinion. He remained firmj 
however, and at length all left him but Sportelli, and 
founded a house at Tramonti ; where they opened schools 
for youth, and formed a separate Congregation called of 
the Most Holy Sacrament. 

This separation is supposed to have taken place about 
the month of March of the year 1733, four months after 
they had met at Scala. Although Alphonsus thus saw 
himself abandoned and almost alone, he placed his confi 
dence in God only, and the result proved the wisdom of 
acting thus. Though he had endured the blow caused by 
these divisions with all the strength of a soul which rest? 
on God, he did not the less feel a bitter sorrow. God sus 
tained him on the one hand, but on the other, the devil as 
sailed him with suggestions full of despair. He stood bal 
ancing between a confidence in God, which never deserted 
him, and a diffidence in himself, which bowed him to the 
earth. In the midst of his affliction, he thought of Mgr. 
Falcoja. He sought him at Castellamare, certain of find 
ing strength and consolation, and trusting with his assist, 
ance to weather the storm ; but God would not give him 
this comfort: he found the bishop disgusted with the whole 
affair, and was received with marked coldness. Before 
he had time to explain the object of his visit, the bishop 
addressed him in these words: " Vultis et vos abire God 
has no need of you and your companions; if it be His 
will that this work should go on, He will raise up other 
7 



74 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 

laborers to fill your place." For a moment, Alphonsus 
stood stupefied by this reception, so different from what he 
had expected ; but immediately regaining courage, he said : 
"My Lord, I am well convinced that the Almighty has 
no need of me, or of my labors; notwithstanding, I be 
lieve it to be His will that I should proceed in this work, 
and singly and alone as I am, I shall yet succeed." He 
continued : "I have not left Naples, I have not renounced 
the world, to gain the glory of founding a new order, but 
to do the will of God and promote His glory." This reply 
touched Mgr. Falcoja deeply, who, suddenly changing his 
manner, said: "Put your confidence in God, and he will 
certainly bless your good intentions." 

On the whole, he returned to Scala much comforted by 
this interview ; but the devil would not leave him in peace. 
D, Sportelli was often necessarily absent, and when Al 
phonsus found himself alone on this desert mountain, dis 
gust, anxiety, and depression, assailed him more strongly 
than ever. He knew whence those temptations came, and 
one day when they were at their height, he threw himself 
on his knees, and solemnly vowed to consecrate himself 
irrevocably to the salvation of destitute souls, even if he 
should remain altogether alone. God evidently blessed 
this heroic action ; from that moment his fears and anxie 
ties vanished, and he felt himself filled with courage, hope, 
and consolation. Even in his old age, he could not re 
member, without a shudder, the terrible struggle he had 
then sustained ; and he said to F. Dominic Corsano, his 
director, that this, and his separation from his father, were 
the two most dreadful trials he had ever undergone. 

He had also, not without reason, dreaded the effect this 
rupture would produce in Naples. No sooner was it 
known that the new founder was abandoned by his com 
panions, and that the society was dissolved, than every one 
laughed at and ridiculed the whole proceeding, condemn 
ing the fanaticism of the pretended head of the Congre 
gation, who had blindly lent himself to the dreaming 
fancies of a woman. They went the length of affirming. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 75 

that the Pope himself had interfered, and forbidden the es 
tablishment of such a Congregation. Even the pulpits 
resounded with anathemas; the preachers pretending to 
show, by these events, to what an extent even the most 
favored individuals can go astray, when they allow them 
selves to be caught in the snare of the devil, and to forget 
the precepts of humility. At this crisis, even his friends 
were silenced by their own share of the contempt and 
mockery which they received. F. Fiorillo alone saw that 
all this was the work of the devil, and continued to be 
convinced that God would uphold his own work. Cardi 
nal Pignatelli pitied Alphonsus, but did not condemn him. 
There was nothing reprehensible in it," he said, "but 
who can know the judgments of God?" and touched by 
the embarrassment in which Alphonsus found himself, he 
desired the Canon Torni to recall him to Naples. 

Every one can imagine the reception Alphonsus had to 
expect in this city, and how much it must have cost him 
to return at such a moment. On all sides he saw himself 
condemned and turned into ridicule. The Canon Gizzio 
refused to see him or hear his name mentioned. F. Ripa 
would have nothing to do with him, and it was the same 
with many others, who had once held him in the highest 
esteem. He went to the Cardinal, accompanied by the 
Canon Torni. This wise prelate was afflicted to hear of 
the number of lies that had been circulated against him. 
The Canon, who wished to retain Alphonsus at Naples, re 
marked, that if this work had been pleasing to God, He 
would not have withdrawn the means of carrying it into 
execution ; and that surely he could be more useful at 
Naples, than elsewhere. But Alphonsus replied with 
entire confidence : " We have reason to be convinced that 
the devil is the author of what has happened at Scala; but 
it must not be said that I have allowed myself to be con 
quered, because the demon has come across my path. If 
my first companions have deserted me, that is no reason 
why other zealous priests should not be found ; but be that 
as it may, I do not hesitate, even alone, to sacrifice myself 
for the good of the destitute souls scattered through the 



76 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Tillages and hamlets of this kingdom." The Cardinal 
could not help admiring the heroism of this speech, and 
turning towards the Canon, he said: " It will not do to 
abandon Scala just yet; let us have recourse to God in 
order to know His holy will." Then encouraging Alphonsus, 
he continued: "Trust in God, put no confidence in man, 
for it is God who will help you." He approved his con 
stancy, and advised him against a reunion with those who 
had separated themselves from him. 

Consoled by the sentiments of the Cardinal, Alphonsus 
returned to Scala full of hope and confidence, while the 
opinions expressed by his Eminence disconcerted those 
who railed against him, and reduced them to silence. At 
Scala their number consisted of three, D. Sportelli, who 
was still a layman, Vitus Curzius, the lay-brother, and 
himself. In this solitude^Alphonsus reposed in the bosom 
of God, and he soon had the consolation of seeing his 
convent frequented by new subjects, who aspired to enter 
the Congregation. Rejoicing to find his hopes realized, 
he wrote to a friend, in July, 1733, thus : " Our novices 
think neither of country nor friends, nor even of suffer 
ing; all their desire is to love God and perfectly to con 
form themselves to His will." 

About this time, they quitted the hospice for a house 
called Anastasius, but equally poor with the first. One 
who saw it, describes it as follows: "There was one small 
parlor, in which Alphonsus had made an oratory, and 
erected a crucifix so beautifully carved, that it drew tears 
from the eyes. The bishop had arranged for the church a 
square apartment under ground, which looked more like a 
burial vault than a chapel. Poverty reigned every where 
in the house and in the church ; they had not even a ta 
bernacle for the Blessed Sacrament, and Alphonsus placed 
it in a box ornamented with ribbons and silk drapery. The 
altar was also poor, but they embellished it as well as they 
could with roses and bouquets of artificial flowers. Al 
phonsus and his companions passed the greater part of 
the night there, taking a little repose on the bare earth, 
before the Blessed Sacrament." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 77 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Alphonsus gives Missions and founds the Houses at the Villa 
dei Schiavi and at Ciorani. He abandons the former. 

AFTER Mandarini and his companions had quitted 
Scala, the spirit of penance and prayer reigned there 
us before ; all breathed self-denial and mortification, each 
one feeling himself impelled to imitate Alphonsus, who, as 
usual, signalized himself among the others. At the side 
of the house was a half ruined grotto, where every day he 
submitted his body to the most rigorous penances. There 
is a tradition among the inhabitants, that while he was in 
it chastising his body, the Blessed Virgin appeared to 
him, and bestowed upon him many special favors. When 
ever he returned to visit Scala, he went to see his beloved 
grotto, exclaiming: "0 my grotto, my beloved grotto, 
why can I not enjoy thee now as in times long past!" 

Four months had scarcely elapsed since the departure of 
Mandarini, when Alphonsus found himself in a position 
to give missions in the neighboring dioceses until the 
Christmas of that year. In the mean time, he had been 
joined by the priest Sarnelli, of Ciorani, and in January fol 
lowing, he yielded to his pressing solicitation, and accom 
panied him to the territory of Ciorani. The inhabitants of 
this country never lost the remembrance of this first visit. 
They spent but a few days there, being called by the 
Bishop of Cajazzo to give a mission in his diocese. The 
general reformation in manners which followed, excited 
the most ardent longing for their establishing a house there, 
but they were not yet sufficiently numerous. At Formi- 
cola, in the principality of Columbano, was a house with a 
church adjoining, extremely well suited for the Congrega 
tion. Xavier Rossi, a young nobleman, who had received 
priest s orders, was most anxious, among others, to see them 
established in it. He exerted himself to the utmost, sent 
for an architect to arrange for the necessary alterations and 
1* 



78 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

repairs, and soon the work was begun at his own ex 
pense. He afterwards, led by a sudden movement of 
grace, when one morning he served the mass of Alphonsus, 
and saw in him at the altar, not a man, but a seraph, felt 
impelled, in spite of himself, to follow him. Alphonsus 
would prove his sincerity by delay; but he gave so many 
proofs of strong determination, that he soon admitted him 
to his novitiate. He became afterwards a corner-stone in 
the new-born Congregation, and died as a Saint, after 
having rendered the greatest services. 

This foundation exactly suited the views of Alphonsus, 
being situated on the confines of four dioceses, surrounded 
by a great number of villages, and a thickly peopled 
country. At the beginning of March, the building was so 
far advanced that they could inhabit it. Four apartments 
level with the ground, resting against the church, were 
given to the missionaries, and four chaplainships were as 
signed to them, with a revenue from each, of one carlino a 
day, that is, about nine cents of our money. This was cer- 
lainly but little with which to found an establishment of 
missionaries; but Alphonsus looked out only for souls, 
and contented himself with a small and poor house, dis 
tinguished from others only by a belfry, after the example 
of St. Theresa, whom he loved to imitate. No sooner was 
the house established, than he undertook different good 
works to promote the salvation of the people in the neigh 
borhood, and gave frequent missions. While the building 
continued to go on, the people eagerly assisted in the 
svork, and even some of the neighboring nobles might be 
seen mingling with the others in carrying materials. Al 
phonsus was the first to set the example, laboring like a 
Dimple workman, and when the gentlemen insisted on his 
stopping, he replied : *" This is nothing, I wish to have my 
share of merit with the others." It happened one day, that 
a poor woman was carrying a large stone, when another 
-equally large fell from the building upon her head ; every 
one thought that the blow was mortal, but Alphonsus, 
who saw the accident from a distance, entered the church, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 79 

and addressed himself to the Blessed Virgin : his prayer 
was heard, the woman rose up unhurt. 

Alphonsus remained until the month of August, and 
here he had the happiness of receiving John Mazzini, who 
had so long been wishing to join him. Such was his 
opinion of this Father s virtue and wisdom, that he imme 
diately made him rector of the new house. At the same 
time, a talented and promising subject was, though yet a 
cleric, taken from him by violence. Michael d Alteriis, 
of Panecocoli, near Naples, had retired into the Congrega 
tion without the consent of his father, who was so much 
irritated at this, that he sent armed men to the house of the 
missionaries, to take his son away by force. Alphonsus, 
persuaded of the divine vocation of the young man, saved 
him from their hands by sending him away during the 
night. His father and other relatives were so full of resent 
ment at this, and made such a noise, that the Cardinal, to 
prevent worse consequences, counselled Alphonsus to send 
the young man back to his family. Alphonsus obeyed, 
saying: "This violence will cost them much." And in 
fact, scarcely had Michael returned, when his eldest brother 
became sick and died. The unhappy father recognized in 
this the hand of God, and said : " I have taken one from 
God, and God has now taken the other from me." God 
however, blessed Michael, who in leaving had but obeyed 
his director. He returned to the Congregation afterwards, 
and after having labored in it zealously and indefatigably. 
he died in the odor of sanctity. 

The life which Alphonsus led with his brethren in this 
new house, "The Villa dei Schiavi," was equally admirable 
with the life he had led at Scala, An eye-witness reports, 
that every day he ate on his knees, with a heavy stone hung 
round his neck ; his food usually consisted of a simple 
pottage, seasoned with bitter herbs, he never drank wine : 
besides taking the discipline in common, he took it pri 
vately every day, and the walls of his room were covered 
with blood ; the hair cloth he wore was so heavy, that he 
could hardly walk ; his sleep was short, a stone served him 



80 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

as a pillow, and his straw mattress was so thin, that he 
might be said to sleep on boards. His humility was extra 
ordinary, before and after meals, he kissed the feet of all; 
he never used a razor, but cut his beard with a pair of 
scissors ; his cassock was so worn and mended, that the 
original form could hardly be recognized ; he never went 
on horseback, but always on foot or on a mule, which he 
said was good enough for him. A profound silence was 
generally observed in the house, and the hour of recrea 
tion after their frugal meal, was still an uninterrupted con 
ference on spiritual subjects. Such was the mode of life 
led by Alphonsus and his companions, and, besides the 
three meditations which they made every day, he was con 
tinually in prayer, and spoke only when it was absolutely 
necessary. When their new foundation was sufficiently 
consolidated, Alphonsus returned to Scala. The good that 
had been done during his absence by Doctor, now Father, 
Sportelli, gave him great consolation, which was increased 
by finding many candidates for the novitiate, awaiting him 
with impatience. In the course of the autumn, he gave 
several missions in the neighborhood and elsewhere. In 
January, 1735, he returned to the territory of Cajazzo, visit 
ing the house of the Villa dei Schiavi, where he remained 
some time. At the request of Mgr. Santoro, he consented, 
rather unwillingly, to preach the Lent in the Cathedral of 
Scala, when he also gave a retreat in the parish of St. 
Catherine, and another to the nuns of St. Cataldo. 

At this time, the Curate of the territory of Ciorani, hav 
ing learned the good that was done in the neighboring 
parishes, both he and his flock desired ardently to see a 
house of the missionaries established among them. No 
one entered more into the spirit of this plan than the 
brother of F. Sarnelli, D. Andrew. He persuaded the 
Baron, his father, of the immense advantages that would 
result, and set himself about to procure the means of car 
rying it into execution, and by the month of April, he had 
received a sufficient rent for their maintenance. After an 
agreement was made with the Archbishop of Salerno, Al- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHOKSUS. 81 

phonsus, with Fathers Mazzini and Rossi, came to Ciorani 
in the month of May, 1735. Four miserable donkeys 
formed their equipage, but an immense concourse of 
people awaited them at the entrance into the barony, with 
the Curate and his clerics. Arrived at the parochial church, 
at the sight of such a multitude, Alphonsus mounted the 
pulpit, and taking for the subject of his discourse the mo 
tive of his coming the salvation of their souls he 
preached with such powerful effect, that every heart was 
penetrated with compunction. On the evening of the 
next day, he opened the mission. The people ran thither 
in such crowds, that the church, though spacious, could 
not contain them. At the sight of Alphonsus, so poor, 
so humble, so full of the spirit of God, no one could resist 
him ; the hearts of all, even of the most abandoned, were 
touched, and the conversions were innumerable. 

The habitation which the Baron had given the mission 
aries, besides a sort of cellar, which served for a kitchen, 
consisted only of two large rooms. After a while he gave 
them two other apartments, but in passing from the one to 
the other, they were obliged to cross an open court, which 
was a great inconvenience, particularly in winter; besides, 
these places had only planks for the exterior wall, through 
the chinks of which the cold wind entered. In addition 
to these annoyances, they were situated above a public 
house and a prison, a neighborhood riot exactly suited for 
men of prayer and retirement. In one of these rooms, 
Alphonsus erected a small oratory, reserving the three 
others for their own use. The furniture of the whole was 
miserable enough, and, so far from having superfluities, 
absolute necessaries were wanting. He and his compa 
nions rejoiced in these discomforts, their oratory being for 
them a little heaven. It was there, during the night, oftener 
than during the day, that Alphonsus poured out his soul 
into the bosom of God. After the missions, they estab 
lished the same pious practices and confraternities as at 
Scala and Villa dei Schiavi. The exercises were made in 
the parochial church, but the concourse of people being 



02 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

every day as great as on feast days, the missionaries had 
scarcely time to eat or sleep. As the people carne very 
early in the morning, and disturbed the poor old Curate, 
Alphonsus was at the expense of repairing the old church 
of St. Sophia, annexed to the signorial palace, and met 
the people there. As all the inhabitants of the neighbor 
ing villages could not come to Ciorani, he sent mission 
aries, on Sundays and feast days, to the great comfort of 
the sick and the infirm. It was not long before the barony 
was completely reformed. The inhabitants began to re 
semble the first Christians. Quarrels and hatred were 
banished ; the language arid behaviour of the young men 
became pure; the young women no longer sang loose and 
profane songs, but pious canticles which Alphonsus com 
posed himself. When the inhabitants met, they saluted 
each other, saying: "Praise be to Jesus and Mary." No 
more imprecations were heard, the public house in the 
village was deserted, and all improper games were for 
bidden. 

Tosquez and Mandarini now began to recognize the 
pernicious effects of their divisions. Although they had 
got the approbation of the sovereign Pontiff for their es 
tablishments, they were not successful, and continually 
wrote to Alphonsus on the subject of a re-union. Having 
weighed the matter maturely, he at length wrote a definite 
answer. "It is true," he said, "that it promises much, 
but I doubt whether these promises would ever be realized. 
First impressions are not easily effaced, and what we re 
tract to-day, we recommence to-morrow, and when the 
spirit is cooled, the fairest promises are forgotten." Above 
all, he remembered the advice of Cardinal Pignatelli 
against this re-union, and the affair was forever broken off. 

The Archbishop of Salerno, struck by the good which 
was done by the missions, and the very small expense 
necessary to lodge the missionaries, since they were con 
tent with a morsel of bread and a corner in the sacristy, 
gave Alphonsus license to go where he wished, command 
ing the curates, at the same time, to show them every re- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 83 

spect and attention. Notwithstanding, there were some who 
received them with an ill-grace, and even repulsed tl%m. 
On one occasion, Alphonsus had fixed the day for giving a 
mission in a parish : on his arrival the curate met him, and 
without asking him to dismount from his ass, refused to per 
mit him to give the mission ; but fearing to offend the Arch 
bishop, he tried to palliate his conduct, by mentioning a future 
period when the mission might be held. Alphonsus calmly 
answered : " Your Reverence believes the mission can be 
held at that time ; but I assure you, you will not be in a 
condition to receive me then." The curate did not under 
stand these words ; but before the time appointed, although 
in the prime of life, he had paid the debt of nature. 

In consideration of the inconveniences of their habita 
tion at Ciorani, the Baron gave up to the missionaries a 
building in another part of his property, and added some 
ground for a garden. No sooner was this done, than men 
and women came from all quarters to assist. Some carried 
stones and wood, others constructed a furnace to make 
bricks, and the sons of the Baron, with the cuate and 
priests, labored almost as hard as the people, and the 
building advanced as if by enchantment. 

One might say that the practice of the holy exercises was 
brought to perfection at Ciorani; for in spite of the annoy 
ances of the locality in which they dwelt, many persons, 
both priests and laymen, came to place themselves under 
the direction of Alphonsus. Many persons of quality, 
belonging to San Severino and the neighborhood, seeing 
the effect produced upon others, ardently desired to have 
a kind of mission for themselves. As the Baron Angelo 
was then in Naples, Alphonsus obtained permission to 
give the mission in the great hall of the castle, and also 
that those gentlemen who were too far distant from home, 
might remain all night. Many ecclesiastics assisted at this 
mission, and the fruits were seen in their redoubled ardor 
for the souls of men; while the gentlemen returned home 
to edify all by the reformation of their lives and manners. 
It was in this retreat that the young priest Andrew Villani, 



84 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

a descendant of the Dukes of Sacco della Polla, convinced 
thaf*the world is deceitful and full of snares, took the reso 
lution of quitting it, and consecrating himself to God in this 
new Congregation. He afterwards became a model of 
sanctity, and a foundation stone in the new-born Con 
gregation. 

Alphonsus took every care to make the people love the 
holy exercises, and all rejoiced in the good they produced. 
Many ecclesiastics came during the year, but chiefly in 
Lent, to make retreats; and magistrates, nobles, and princes, 
came also, besides many prelates with their clerics. He 
attached the greatest importance to the holy exercises of 
a retreat, for all conditions of men, and the fruits which 
always accompany them prove his wisdom. 

While such glorious works were progressing, the devil 
could not look quietly orx; accordingly he had, even before 
the foundation was approved of, excited the jealousy of 
some neighboring curates, who, joined by some mendicant 
friars, beset the Archbishop, who began to doubt whether 
he ough* not to suppress the house. But in the end they 
became quiet, and the Archbishop definitely authorized the 
foundation, on the 12th of December, 1735. By this time 
F. Sarnelli, out of an injudicious zeal, and too great an 
anxiety for the support of the Congregation, suggested to 
the Archbishop, that as so many curates profited by the 
labors of the missionaries, each should contribute a trifle to 
wards their support. The parties interested keenly op 
posed the measure, and not only did they look upon Al 
phonsus with an evil eye, but they set themselves by all 
means to have the missionaries chased out of the territory. 
The Curate of Ciorani was asked to lend his aid, but the 
good old man replied : " What ! these holy priests who 
labor incessantly in my parish, would you have me deprive 
my people of such great help?" They then reported to 
the Archbishop, that under pretence of zeal and devoted- 
ness, they only sought to enrich themselves at the expense 
of the legitimate pastors, and that they ought to be imme 
diately expelled from the diocess. The Archbishop smiled 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 85 

at this and said : " I know Alphonsus de Liguori ; he and 
I resemble each other in reference to fortune : T know He 
has quitted the world not from necessity, but from choice, 
and that if he has any anxiety, it is not about temporal in 
terests, but to gain souls and secure his own salvation; 
and declared that he took the missionaries under his own 
immediate protection, as the work to which they had de 
voted themselves was most advantageous to the souls con 
fided to his care. This storm having abated, those who 
were most opposed to Alphonsus were the first to profit 
by his labors ; he gave missions in the different parishes ; 
and the fruits of his zeal were as abundant as ever. 

In the course of the retreats he gave about this time, a 
striking event occurred to prove how God watched over him 
and protected him. Speaking one day of the enormity of 
sin in priests, he concluded by quoting the words of St. 
John Chrysostom, " In sacerdotio peccasti, periisti." At 
these words, an ecclesiastic replied, to the great scandal of 
all who heard him: "Nego consequentiam." This miser 
able man soon experienced the consequence: next morn 
ing, as he began at the foot of the altar the psalm, "Judica 
me Deus," he dropped down dead. 

In the course of the year 1737, Alphonsus, at the press 
ing entreaty of the Superior of the Propaganda, who for 
fear of his refusing had addressed himself to Mgr. Falcoja, 
his director, went to Naples for the mission to be opened 
in the church of the Holy Spirit, on the 26th of October. 
It has been said that a volume might be filled with the con 
versions he made on this occasion. After this mission, 
without taking any repose, he proceeded immediately to visit 
Amalfi, and thence went to Masuri. In this place, a poor 
woman whose son had been assassinated, had constantly 
refused to pardon the murderer, though the most influen 
tial persons had besought her to do so. She went to hear 
Alphonsus preach, and was so touched by the sermon, 
that, the same evening, she brought a written declaration 
that she pardoned the criminal, and publicly laid it at the 
foot of the crucifix. Throughout the neighborhood he 
8 






86 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

gave missions, which reclaimed multitudes of sinners, and 
impelled the virtuous to strive after a higher degree of 
sanctity. 

At this time he was called by Mgr. de Lignori, his uncle, 
to St. Lucy, in the diocese of Cava. The inhabitants were 
very immoral in their lives, but " where sin abounded, grace 
did much more abound." Abuses were extirpated ; nothing 
was spoken of but pardoning injuries, making restitution, 
and repairing scandals; and so well did he convince them 
of the merit of chastity, that upwards of fifty young ladies 
protested they would no longer think of marriage, but 
would consecrate themselves to God. They carried their 
resolve into execution, and united themselves into a Con 
gregation, under the direction of a zealous priest, and 
were soon joined by many others, attracted by their noble 
example. 

At this time, the buildings at Villa dei Schiavi were 
nearly finished, and the missionaries had already begun to 
give retreats. They were visiting the country aroundi , 
extirpating sin and planting virtue. A Congregation of 
artisans had been established, which already numbered 
more than two hundred members, whose zeal and fervor 
made them missionaries throughout the neighborhood. 
The frequentation of the Sacraments became general, and 
many individuals were arriving at a high degree of prayer. 
But all at once, a storm arose, withering those blossoms 
which promised such abundant fruits for eternity. There 
were in the country certain individuals who could not bear 
to have their vices censured, among others, a man who led 
a life openly immoral : not enduring to have his conduct 
animadverted upon, and doubtless instigated by the devil, 
he conspired the ruin of the missionaries. All the wealth 
of this house consisted of the four chaplainships, which 
brought each a carlin a day; under pretext of defend 
ing the interests of the priests of the country, this man 
began to declaim aloud against the missionaries for coming 
thither to eat the bread belonging to the inhabitants, and 
getting money by extra masses, to which the legitimate 






LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 87 

pastors had a right. Pecuniary interests being thus brought 
into play, the clamor became general, and the most gross 
and injurious expressions were employed against them. 
The calumnies augmented, and, at length, their morals 
were attacked. Alphonsus himself was pointed out as one 
who made a traffic of his pretended sanctity. They went so 
far as to say that the missionaries intrigued with a woman, 
and received her into the convent by night; and this 
wretched creature lent herself to the calumny, defaming 
Alphonsus even more than the others, and showing 
presents, which she pretended to have received from them. 
These calumnies made little impression upon Alphonsus ; 
he knew that persecution always accompanied works un 
dertaken for God ; and contented himself with prescrib 
ing to the community still more circumspection, and 
more frequent recurrence to prayer. The wicked man 
and his accomplices at last succeeded in prejudicing the 
Baron himself. Alphonsus, seeing the storm thus increas 
ing, went to the Baron, to claim his protection ; but it 
was too late, as soon as he saw him approach, he per 
mitted these words to escape : " What have we here, one 
of those filthy hermits ?" and immediately dismissed him 
with still greater contempt. 

This scene was soon reported, and filled the enemies of 
Alphonsus with joy. They now no longer confined them 
selves to outrageous words, they took bolder steps, and 
solicited the tribunals of Naples to interfere in various 
ways, though without success. They at last had re 
course to open violence. One of the lay-brothers, going 
in the morning to the church to sound the Angelus, was 
met by one of the wardens, accompanied by several peo 
ple ; they forced the keys from his hands, locked the 
church, and sent him back to the house, loaded with re 
proach. But fearing the people might take part with the 
missionaries, and force open the door, they placed persons 
with loaded muskets on the belfry, to prevent approach. 
They also besieged the house, and without exception in 
terdicted all communication with those within. This situ 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

tion becoming every day less endurable, the missionaries 
determined to abandon the place : the bishop wept with 
regret, the poor people were not less disconsolate, and 
the surrounding villages were in mourning. On the night 
of the 10th of June, 1737, they shook the dust from their 
shoes, and left the Villa. God did not permit this wicked 
ness to go unpunished. The wretched woman who had 
accused Alphonsus and his companions, had her tongue 
eaten by worms, and was reduced to such a condition, that 
she could not receive the sacraments ; she was seized with 
the most dreadful remorse of conscience, and publicly 
avowed that all she had said was but an infamous calumny. 
One individual, who had joined in the conspiracy, died 
soon after in despair, uttering the most frightful cries. 
Another, one of the principal persecutors, terminated his 
life in the most terrible convulsions, and howling like a 
maniac. A third, who had sought out the false witnesses 
and written down their testimony, had his hand withered, 
and his only son died soon after : he then became an idiot 
and expired in great misery. A fourth, who had been 
bribed to attest all the calumnies, died in impenitence. A 
fifth, a healthy young man, fell down dead immediately 
after the departure of Alphonsus. The chief instigator 
alone seemed to have escaped. He remained deaf even to 
a warning sent him from heaven. For scarcely had the 
missionaries quitted the Villa, when a tremendous storm 
arose : the lightning flashed, and a thunderbolt fell at the 
feet of this man, as he sat in his room : it stunned him, arid 
for some little time he remained without sense or motion. 
When he came to himself, he would not recognise the 
warning : but before long he fell into disgrace with his 
prince, was ill-used and persecuted, and within a year, he 
was found, one morning, lying dead under his bed, and 
bathed in blood. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



CHAPTER XII. 

Apostolic Courses of Alphonsus. He abandons Scala. Mis 
sions in various places and Dioceses, especially in that of 
Naples. 

4 LPHONSUS continued to give missions throughout 
J\. the country, every where reaping the most abundant 
harvest. But it was in the Barony of St. George, at the 
little village of Ajello, thai God poured out the most ex 
traordinary graces. Scandals disappeared, taverns were 
deserted, and the churches filled. Here he established, as 
usual, many devotional exercises, and there was not a 
house in which they did not say the Rosary in common. 
It was also at this place, that the Blessed Virgin was 
pleased to give to Alphonsus a public testimony of her 
love. One evening, while he was preaching on the glories 
of Mary, and exciting the people to honor her, he was 
ravished in ecstasy and raised some feet above the pulpit ; 
at the same time rays cf glory proceeded from a statue of 
the Virgin, and rested on the head of her chosen servant. 
Shortly after, he visited Castellamare, a town which was 
in great want of spiritual succor, its maritime commerce 
bringing strangers from all parts, which necessarily cor 
rupted morals. He took with him nine companions, and 
remained long, because of the great necessity of the peo 
ple. Multitudes were converted, among whom were many 
unfortunate women ; smuggling was discouraged ; and the 
magical practices in use among the sailors were abolished. 
The whole town breathed an air of devotion, the churches 
were crowded, and the Sacraments frequented. 

By this time the new house of Ciorani being finished, 
and the small church erected, they abandoned that of St. 
Sophia. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and in it 
Alphonsus placed that beloved statue of her, before which 
he had so often poured out his heart in those retreats 
which he made with his companions at Naples, in the house 
8* 



90 LIFE OF ST. AI.PHOKSUS. 

of D. de Alteriis. The conveniences afforded by the new 
house, drew strangers there at all times, candidates for 
ordination, numerous ecclesiastics and laymen, especially 
in general missions, so that Alphonsus and his companions 
had often to sleep on the floor in a common apartment. 
At the death of the Bishop, the Archdeacon, D. Francis 
de Vicariis, who succeeded him in March, named Al 
phonsus Grand Penitentiary of the archdiocese, which in 
creased the concourse of visitors, and was a new occasion 
for the exercise of his zeal. 

Rejoicing at the establishment of this house, Alphonsus 
exerted himself to make the rules strictly observed, for the 
inconveniences of the former habitation had made this im 
possible. The deserts of Nubia and Thebes perhaps never 
counted among their cenobites contemplatives, such as were 
seen in the house at Ciorani. Penitence and mortification 
were the two virtues to which they attached themselves 
most, as the necessary preparation for prayer and contem 
plation. If there were brethren who did not excel, the ex 
ample of their Superior and model, Alphonsus, drew them 
after him in spite of themselves. 

If on his part Alphonsus was doing all in his power to 
esta-Blish the Congregation, the devil was as busy in at 
tempting to destroy it. Until then they had had no house at 
Scala. Alphonsus, in concert with the Bishop, thought of 
erecting one ; but scarcely had they put their hand to the 
work, when a general commotion ensued Several indi 
viduals, having learned what had happened at the Villa, 
began in their turn to murmur and :o excite others, by 
putting forward the same motives, so that soon jealousy, 
aided by interest, caused many to regard the missionaries 
with bitterness. Alphonsus, warned by what had hap 
pened at the Villa., wished to shun new misfortunes, and, 
without loss of time, removed from Scala. This was a 
blow deeply felt by Mgr. Saritoro. The good lamented, 
imt the envious triumphed, when on the eve of St. Bar 
tholomew, the 24th of August, 1737, the missionaries left 
die town. It was reported that o the night when they de- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 91 

parted from Scala, there was heard throughout the town a 
noise made by evil spirits shouting and dancing. They 
celebrated a great victory, the departure of the missionaries 
arresting the good they had been doing; for to the scan 
dals that had once been so common, had succeeded a 
horror of sin ; even the porters had been reformed, they 
often approached the holy table, and frequently might be 
met in groups carry ing their burdens, and reciting the Rosary, 
or singing the hymns which Alphonsus had taught them. 
Two years after, the Pious Workers went to preach a mission 
there, when one of them declared, that they had not found 
among the people one voluntary venial sin, and that all 
sorts of pious practices were already established. On the 
28th, a violent storm destroyed the harvest, which in that 
country consists of chestnuts, on which the poor chiefly 
live. Many considered this as a punishment of the wic 
kedness of those who had forced the missionaries to retire, 
and of the weakness of the greater number, who had not 
opposed it. Alphonsus, however, did not forget Scala ; he 
sent some of his missionaries to give the novena of the 
Crucifix, that the nuns might not be deprived of their re 
ligious exercises. 

The fields in which Alphonsus labored during the fol 
lowing autumn and winter, were not less fertile in the 
*Vuits of salvation, He preached penance in many dis- 
*ricts, and at Castaglione the concourse of people was so 
great, that they passed the night in the church. The same 
thing occurred at Coperchia, near Salerno. The year 
1739 was opened by a mission in the village of Prepezzano. 
The name of Alphonsus had become so celebrated in the 
diocese of Salerno, and such wonders of grace were ope 
rated by him, that persons frequently came a distance of 
seventeen miles to confess to him. At Calvanico, besides 
the most wonderful fruits produced in the people, the ec 
clesiastics, to whom, as was usual, he also gave the exer 
cises, were so animated with fervor, that some of them fol 
lowed in his suite to assist at the missions, a practice which 
is now not unfrequent. Having during the summer re- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS* 

turned with his companions to Ciorani, to give a little re 
laxation to a body overpowered with fatigue, and refresh 
his spirit in retirement, he issued forth again with renewed 
strength and redoubled vigor to attack the strongholds of 
Satan. In the beginning of 1740, accompanied by eleven 
missionaries, he overran the country, shedding the bene 
dictions of Heaven on many villages where great disorders 
had previously reigned. After the spring missions, he re 
turned again to Ciorani, to regulate the affairs of the Con 
gregation, and reanimate his brethren by his example in 
the observation of the rules. 

The country of St. Severino suffered, during the summer 
of this year, from great drought. To obtain the divine 
mercy, the inhabitants of Acquarola invited Alphonsus to 
give a mission towards the end of July : their fervor was 
great during the exercises, and one day Alphonsus foretold, 
that, at a time specified an abundance of rain would fall. The 
day came without any appearance of rain, when all at 
once a very small cloud was seen above Salerno. When 
Alphonsus saw it, he extended his arms, as if to invite its 
approach, and then, prostrating himself on the ground, he 
besought the divine mercy in behalf of the people; and all 
at once the air was obscured by clouds, thunder was heard, 
the lightning flashed, and during five hours the rain fell in 
torrents. 

In the autumn of the same year, he again gave missions 
in many villages with his usual success, as also in the be 
ginning of 1741. Among the number of those converted, 
were bandits and murderers. Many priests, who had been 
cold and indifferent, gave themselves fervently to God, a 
circumstance which always rejoiced Alphonsus, who used 
to say: "The conversion of a priest gives more glory to 
God, than that of a hundred seculars. No layman, how 
ever holy, can perform the good done by a priest." 

A zealous priest of Nocera, who used to frequent Cio 
rani, resolved, if possible, to have a house established in 
that town. He knew that the Dean of the place had re 
solved to endow a house of missionaries ; he therefore 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 93 

spoke to him and to the principal inhabitants, of the vir 
tues of Alphonsus and his companions, and arranged that 
they should give a mission there. It had the greatest 
success, and every one designated Alphonsus as the 
"Apostle." He certainly enjoyed many supernatural 
gifts: he knew how to touch all hearts: he had the spirit 
of prophecy and the gift of healing, often curing fevers 
and other diseases, by making the sign of the cross. He 
lodged in the house of the aforesaid priest, whose mother 
was subject to convulsions from an excessive pain she had 
in her arm. She wrapped herself in a shirt belonging to 
Alphonsus, full of faith in his sanctity, and was immedi 
ately cured. All this made the people more than ever 
anxious to have the missionaries established among them. 
Plans were formed, but the designs of Providence were not 
accomplished until a later period- 
It was on the 18th of April in this year, that God called 
to himself the first member of the Congregation. He was 
a lay-brother, Joachim Gaudiello : he died in transports of 
joy, exclaiming: "It is I who will carry the standard." 
All the virtues seemed to have taken up their abode in this 
excellent subject. They had neglected to take his portrait, 
and eleven days after his death, in the hope that his body 
was still uncorrupted, they opened the coffin, and found 
their expectation justified : his body was flexible and entire, 
as if still alive. 

Providence had destined a new field for Alphonsus to 
cultivate in the spring of 1741. His Eminence, Cardinal 
Spinelli, having become Archbishop of Naples, by the 
death of Cardinal Pignatelli, invited him to supply the 
great necessities of his diocese, and persisted in claiming 
his services, so that at last he was obliged to yield. That 
his other missions might suffer as little as possible, Al 
phonsus only took from his own Congregation the Fathers 
Sarnelli and Villani, but chose the elite of all the Congre^ 
gations in Naples to assist him, and above all, the best 
missionaries of the Propaganda. The Cardinal wished it 
should be so, in order that the others might learn from him 



94 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

to conduct missions with more success. He placed at 
his disposal a country-house in the Barra, to which the 
missionaries might retire to recruit after their fatigue. On 
this occasion, the Superior of the Propaganda pretended 
that, his Congregation having a pre-eminence over all the 
Congregations in Naples, to him belonged the right of de 
ciding who should be the chief; but the true motive of his 
opposition, was the unwillingness of the members of the 
Propaganda to submit themselves to a man, whom they 
had so lately wished to expel. The Cardinal, when they 
complained, replied: "I am your Archbishop, and I am 
Superior of the mission, as well as of all other Congrega 
tions in the diocese, and since the missions depend on me, 
I am the person to appoint the chief." 

It was in the month of May these missions commenced 
at Fragola, where Alphonsus opened three at once in three 
parochial churches, and where, besides the divers pious prac 
tices and exercises he was wont to establish, in order that 
the good done might be lasting, he instituted conferences, 
to be held every eight days, in which were discussed dif 
ferent cases of conscience, in order to render the priests 
more skilful in the confessional. After the mission of 
Casal Nuovo, which lasted till June, he dismissed the Ne 
apolitan missionaries, and notwithstanding the heat of the 
summer, he remained with his own at St. Angelo, where 
they continued to preach and hear the confessions of 
crowds, who came from all quarters. On feast days, he 
went himself, with his brethren, into the neighboring ham 
lets, exhorting the people to penance. 

On these missions, they followed the same rules which had 
been established for the interior of the Congregation. The 
most common bread only was permitted, Alphonsus holding 
the maxim, that the people would be gained rather by ex 
ample than by words. When they wished to supply his table 
with rare dishes, he sent them away, although his guests 
were often Canons from Naples, and other persons of dis 
tinction. At Christmas, they expected some relaxation in 
these rules, but they were mistaken. Certain persons at- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 95 

tached to the service of the Cardinal, said to him on their 
return : " Your Eminence is, perhaps, not aware, that Al- 
phonsus gave us a treat on Christmas; he made them serve 
several additional force-meat balls, on that occasion, at the 
risk of ruining his household economy." He allowed the 
other missionaries to travel in a carriage, because they were 
not accustomed to do otherwise ; but he and his brethren 
would only make use of asses. 

In the beginning of November, the missionaries met 
again, and recommenced their pious labors. During the 
Holy Week of 1742, although in the service of Mgr. Spinelli, 
Alphonsus could not refuse going to Nocera, to give the 
exercises in honor of the Holy Sacrament, in the great 
church of Corpus-Christi ; the effects of which were most 
consoling. 

The Cardinal, considering the abundant blessings Al 
phonsus arid his missionaries produced, proposed to estab 
lish them in the Barra situated in the centre of his diocese. 
But this was far from according with the views of Al 
phonsus, as he explained to his Eminence: "When my 
missionaries," said he, " will be settled at the Barra, and 
have ladies and gentlemen for their penitents, will they 
be very willing to leave this place for the hamlets and the 
mountains ? And who knows but, fascinated by their 
noble penitents, they may fix themselves at Naples for the 
greater part of the year?" He continued: "Your Emi 
nence is not in want of able workmen at Naples to em 
ploy in the care of the diocese, but other Bishops have not 
this advantage ; it is not from Naples we can draw mis 
sionaries for villages and remote hamlets." 

During the octave of Easter, he again began the missions 
in the country, and during the season, besides spiritual ex 
ercises, he gave more than seventy missions. An eye-wit 
ness, speaking of the effect of his labors, says: "Were I 
to report all the facts in particular, they would fill volumes. 
In the diocese of Naples, the Father D. Alphonsus banished 
scandals and abuses without number. No more indecencies 
were committed in the church ; women no longer dressed 



96 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

in a manner to give scandal, and occasion the weak to sin. 
. . . Taverns were no longer frequented, certain dances 
and pastimes, formerly in use, were abolished; pious can 
ticles replaced the licentious songs so common during the 
harvest and vintage." If Alphonsus operated wonders on 
the morals of the people, it was due to his extraordinary 
labors and fatigues: his body and his mind were continu 
ally in action ; no one could understand how he managed to 
do what would have overpowered any one else; people said 
he lived by miracle ; he often preached twice, sometimes 
three times, in one day ; but he preached even more by his 
example. He ate little, and the time he gave to sleep was 
short. In long journeys, and during the exercises of a mis 
sion, whatever his fatigue might be, he never lessened his 
bodily austerities, never gave himself the least solace. He 
always travelled on aii- ass, and those who did not know 
him, often mistook him for a domestic. One day when he 
preached at the opening of a mission, the peasants, struck 
by the beautiful words which they heard, said to each other, 
" Well, if the cook can preach in that manner, what will it 
be when the others begin?" He always reserved for him 
self the worst bed and the most incommodious chamber. 
Every thing came well to him, provided he were mortified 
and humiliated. At Casal Nuovo, he gave up to his com 
panions the only three rooms that could be had, and kept 
for himself a miserable ruin, long uninhabited. 

When the heat of summer had increased, and the harvest 
time was at hand, Alphonsus sent his missionaries in small 
numbers, and for a few days only, to those places where 
missions had already been given. These renewals of mis 
sions, which he originated, they having been unknown be 
fore him, produced much fruit. They re-animated the 
fervor of the confraternities which had been established, con 
firmed the people in their pious practices, raised those who 
had fallen, and encouraged those who persevered. During 
this summer, he labored incessantly to promote devotion to 
the Mother of God, giving retreats for nine days preceding 
any of her feasts. He was also the originator of these 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 97 

Novenas, now so common in Naples and other places, 
which continue to produce such benefits to the souls of all 
who engage in them. After terminating his labors in the 
Barra, he returned, in the beginning of July, for a short 
time, to Ciorani. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Jllphonsus, with his Companions, makes the three Religious 
Vows. He founds the House of Nocera. Oppositions he 
encounters. 

TTITHERTO Alphonsus and his companions had lived 
XI together without binding themselves by vows. All 
was free and spontaneous; but, considering that in a so 
ciety the spirit of religion decays rather than increases, 
Alphonsus determined to retain and fix the spirit of piety 
by vows, and form his Congregation into an apostolical 
community. He represented to his companions the merit 
they would acquire before God, when by vows, they should 
have sacrificed their own will, and despoiled themselves of 
worldly wealth: "The renouncement of our own will," 
he said, " procures more glory to God than all the good 
works we could do from our own choice. A delicious 
fruit gives pleasure to him to whom we present it; but, if 
with the fruit we give also the tree that produces it, the 
offering acquires an infinitely greater value." " The vow," 
he added, " will be as a buckler in the hand of the mis 
sionary against the devil and his own inconstancy ; it 
will confirm him in his vocation to the service of God ; it 
will be to him as an anchor to preserve his vessel beaten 
and tossed by the winds." The most of his companions 
needed no importunities to induce them to make the gen 
erous sacrifice ; on the contrary, they never ceased to urge 
him to put it into execution. The measure being resolved 
upon, Alphonsus thought only of the engagements by 
which the members of his Congregation should be bound. 
9 



98 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUSr 

It was determined that each, in preserving his wealth, 
should renounce the temporary use of it. He determined 
that they should bind themselves to accept no ecclesias 
tical dignity, no title, employment, or benefice, out of the 
Congregation ; and that they should refuse every thing of 
the kind, unless commanded by the Pope himself to 
accept. He prescribed a life in common, without distinc 
tion of merit or rank, in order to unite them closely in 
God, and bind them together by the disinterested ties of 
charity. After having, by these rules, banished interest and 
cupidity, he desired above all, to unite the hearts of all by 
the vow of obedience to the will of one Superior, this 
virtue of obedience being the guarantee for the existence 
of a religious house. "When obedience and subordina 
tion are wanting," he used to say, " a true religious cannot 
live, and what would ha-ve been a Paradise by concord, be 
comes a Hell by diversity of feeling and sentiment." He 
established by unanimous consent, that every one, on the 
termination of his novitiate, should take the vow of living 
and dying in the Congregation; but in case of a sufficient 
cause to act otherwise, dispensation could be obtained, 
only, however, from the sovereign Pontiff or the Superior 
General, whilst the Congregation would be always free to 
send away any one whose conduct should not be edifying, 
and who should be incorrigible. 

Always distrusting his own light, he recurred frequently 
to God, and consulted with many pious persons, above all, 
with Mgr. Falcoja. All approved of the plan submitted 
to their consideration ; arid at length it was resolved to 
proceed to the profession on the day of St. Mary Magda 
lene, the 22d of July, 174*2, after three days passed in re 
treat, constant prayer, and the most rigorous silence. As 
the Institute was not yet confirmed by the Pope, and Al- 
phonsus had no legitimate character of Superior, they 
agreed to make their vow of perseverance to Mgr. Falcoja, 
in his quality of Bishop, as he took such a deep interest in 
the Congregation. The joy was unanimous, and Alphonsus, 
after having returned thanks to God, and animated his 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS, 



99 



brethren to be faithful, departed with F. Villani for the 
Barra. 

Although Alphonsus saw the great good which resulted 
from his mission in the diocese of Naples, and the extreme 
satisfaction of the Cardinal, it was yet with regret that he 
labored there. He thought continually of the want of so 
many other places, reflecting that the good could be as 
easily done by the numerous zealous and pious missionaries 
the Cardinal had at his own disposal. He prayed, he disci 
plined his bt)dy, and exhorted his brethren of Ciorani to 
join with him in prayer, that he might be delivered from 
Naples. Unhappy as he was on this subject, he would not 
displease the Cardinal, yet it was impossible to remain 
much longer in his present condition. He applied to the 
Canon James Fontana, a man of much merit, who had a 
great influence with the Cardinal, and explained to him his 
anxieties on the subject, requesting him to speak with his 
Eminence, in order, if possible, to obtain his consent to 
withdraw from these missions. The Cardinal was much 
annoyed, when the Canon first spoke with him, and de 
clared that if Alphonsus left, he would discontinue the 
missions altogether. Fontana persisted however, and in 
the end persuaded him, that the missions could be carried 
on successfully without Alphonsus. But it was only on 
condition that F. Sarnelli should be left to superintend 
them, that the Cardinal at last consented to part with 
Alphonsus. This arrangement being made, F. Sarnelli 
remained at Naples until 1748. 

Alphonsus took leave of the Archbishop, on the 3d of 
July. Mounted on a sorry mule, he traversed the streets 
of Naples with F. Villani, and alighted at the gate of the 
archiepiscopal palace ; some were edified by his humility, 
while others mocked at him and laughed. He placed him 
self in an obscure corner of the ante-room, which was 
filled with gentlemen and dignified ecclesiastics. In a 
few minutes, the Cardinal came out himself, went straight 
to Alphonsus, took him by the hand, and led him into his 
chamber. He spoke of the missions, the good they had 

COLL. CHR!ST! REGIS SJ< 
BIB MAJOR 



100 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS* 

produced, and thanked him for the zeal he had shown in 
the cause, and testified the greatest regret at losing him. 
Alphonsus, on his part, thanked him for the favors he had 
received, and begged his continued protection for the Con 
gregation. He then proceeded to Barra, where he had 
promised to make the novena of the Assumption, and af 
terwards, accompanied by F. Villani, returned to Ciorani. 

The projects of the Dean of Nocera now began to take 
effect. Clergy and laity were equally desirous to have the 
Congregation established there, and the Bishop, Mgr. 
Dominicis, sighed for the day of their arrival. The Dean 
Contaldi gave the house and furniture, promising to give at 
his death a further legacy of three thousand ducats. He 
expressed his intention of living in the house with them ; 
while they, on their part, promised to care for him as if he 
were one of themselves. All was finally arranged, to the 
great satisfaction of the inhabitants, in October, 1742. F. 
Sportelli was made rector, and the Fathers Mazzini and 
Jourdan, were appointed to be with him. 

Having disembarrassed himself of Naples, Alphonsus 
set about giving missions in the destitute parts of the 
country. Here, as elsewhere, his ardent zeal and apostolic 
labors were crowned with the most astonishing success. 
God also furnished him occasions for exercising patience, 
meekness and humility. In one of the numberless villages 
where he gave missions, he obtained with great difficulty 
a lodging in a monastery, where the Archbishop had 
ordered him to be received. The Superior received him 
with a very bad grace, and took leave of him still more 
rudely. As soon as the mission was terminated, he turned 
him out of the monastery, notwithstanding his being at 
tacked by fever in consequence of fatigue ; he left the 
place without uttering a word of complaint. By order of 
the Archbishop, he went to St. Thecla, although he was 
scarcely convalescent. Here also he was rudely received 
by the Curate, who pretended he could not lodge him, 
and that he had sent a message to tell him so. Alphonsus 
tried in vain to calm his bad humor, and at length a no- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 101 

tary, who was present, indignant at such a behaviour, gave 
him and his companions accommodation in his own house. 
This mission was attended with great results. Again at 
Correa, the Curate would not have a mission there, al 
though the Archbishop of Amalfi had commanded it, and 
when Alphonsus arrived, he was refused admission to the 
house. Without being disconcerted, he quietly took 
refuge in a corner of the church. A gentleman, who wit 
nessed the proceeding, received the missionaries into his 
own house, and this mission also had wonderful success. 

While Alphonsus, after the course of these missions, 
always more and more disgusted with the world, did pen 
ance at Ciorani, and labored for the salvation of men, the 
world did its best to attract him again. His father, D. 
Joseph, could not endure the thought, that his brilliant 
talents should be employed in the country among poor 
peasants and shepherds; he wished to see him occupy a 
dignified position in the Church. To obtain this, he em 
ployed every artifice, but Alphonsus, on his part, was 
invulnerable to all attacks. " Speak no more to me," he 
wrote to him, "on the subject of the episcopate; even if 
you succeed in obtaining a bishopric for me, I will in 
stantly refuse it. We have a rule in our Congregation to 
refuse all such dignities." D. Joseph desired to see his 
son raised to dignities in this world, while Alphonsus only 
wished to see his father obtain great glory in heaven. He 
wrote to him about this time as follows: "I beseech you, 
my dear father, to keep yourself more closely united with 
God. Confess often, and have your accounts ready, for 
our Lord will come at an hour when we least expect. 
Think of your advanced age, for who knows how soon 
you may be called from this world ? That day will come, 
whether we watch or not: I recommend you to hear mass 
every day, for I fear much for your eternal salvation. I 
hope the Virgin Mary will assist you, but without your co 
operation she will do nothing." 

While affairs were prospering at Nocera, Mgr. Dominicia 
obtained the sanction for the establishment of the house 
9* 



102 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and in July, 1743, he issued the letters of authorization. 
As there was not yet at Pagani a house and church suit 
able for the new missionaries, the bishop granted them, in 
the mean time, the church of St. Dominic. When the first 
stone of the new establishment was laid, the chapter of 
the cathedral and the four curates of the Dean attended, 
the Dean himself giving the benediction. The construc 
tion was hardly commenced, when materials flowed in from 
all quarters, as if by miracle. Men and women strove to 
rival each other in contributing towards its erection ; they 
labored with their own hands; ladies of quality, gentle 
men, all united to hasten the progress of the work. Mar 
ried, as well as unmarried, despoiled themselves of their 
jewels and ornaments to contribute towards the establish 
ment, and the seven communes voted one hundred 
ducats. 

About this time, when the people of Angri found out 
the good Alphonsus was doing everywhere, they insisted 
on having a mission, the place containing about five thou-. 
and souls. He went there in the month of November, 
and was received as an Apostle, each striving to procure 
some object that he had worn or touched. He lodged in 
the house of Laurence Rossi, whose daughter obtained 
from a lay-brother a pair of stockings tinged with his 
blood. She preserved them very devoutly, but a religious 
reproving her for doing so, Alphonsus being still alive, she 
gave them away to a poor man whose legs were swollen 
with dropsy. Some days after, he returned to the house 
entirely cured, and when she expressed her astonishment, 
he replied: "From the time you gave me the stockings, 
the swelling has disappeared." Alphonsus gathered in 
this mission the most wonderful fruits. They calculated 
there were in this place one hundred and twenty-eight 
women of the town ; but when the mission was finished, 
there was no longer one, all had been reformed. More 
iih-in three hundred young girls bid adieu to the world, and 
embraced the religious life, and a priest whose life bad 
ibeeri scandalous, became a siucere penitent. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 103 

He had not yet been in the centre of the town of No- 
cera. But as soon as they heard the wonders he had ac 
complished at Angri, they solicited him to preach in the 
church of St. Matthew, a parish containing about six thou 
sand souls. He exhorted the faithful of the parish to erect 
a statue to our Lady of Dolors, in the church. Immedi 
ately the women brought every thing they had most pre 
cious in gold and silver; the offerings were so numerous 
that a considerable sum remained, which was given to the 
poor. During this mission, the most glorious Virgin tes 
tified also her love for him by operating the most extraor 
dinary conversions at his intercession. The evening he 
arrived, an unfortunate young man arose during the night 
to engage in a sinful transaction. He had a repugnance, 
however, to commit sin with the scapular about his neck : 
he took it off to place it in a hole in the wall, but when he 
extended his hand, he felt himself drawn back, and fled 
from the spot in terror. The following night the Blessed 
Virgin, wishing to recompense the slight homage paid to 
her scapular, appeared to him in a dream. " Miserable 
being," she said. " thou hadst respect for my scapular, and 
thou hadst no horror for offending my Son ; to-morrow F. 
Alphonsus will come here to give a mission, go to confess 
to him, and amend thy life." The young man had never 
heard of Alphonsus, and knew nothing of the mission ; 
l>ut fiext morning he went to find a kind of fortune-teller, 
to have his dream interpreted, but before lift opened his 
mouth, this person addressed him with: "Do you not 
know that F. Alphonsus has arrived to-day to give a mis 
sion ?" When the young man heard the words "Al 
phonsus," and " mission," he was thunderstruck ; he ran 
in haste to the dwelling of Alphonsus, and recounted to 
him the whole story. "So then," said Alphonsus, hi* 
eyes filling with tears, " our good Mother has sent you to 
me." He reconciled him with God, and his life ever afier 
was most edifying. 

When they opened the mission at Ciorani, they found 
the house much too small to receive the numbers of clergy 



104 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and laity who came to make retreats. Alphonsus, there 
fore, at the suggestion of the Archbishop, proposed to ex 
tend the buildings, but F. Rossi, who was Superior, differ 
ing from him in opinion, because of their want of funds, 
"My father," said he, " we ought not to build as seculars 
do, who begin by amassing money, and then set to work: 
we ought to follow an opposite rule, we ought first to 
build, and afterwards expect from Providence what is ne 
cessary." F. Rossi obeyed, and animated by the confi 
dence of Alphonsus, he began with only one sequin in 
his pocket, but he had never cause to regret his obedience, 
for, independently of his own liberality, the Archbishop 
wrote a circular to incite all the diocese to contribute to 
wards the work. In consequence, considerable sums were 
forwarded to them, and these were not confined to the dio 
cese. There happened also two remarkable instances of 
Providence. One day, F. Rossi being dispirited because of 
the expense, a young man presented himself to be re 
ceived into the Congregation as a lay-brother, and F. 
Rossi admitted him provisionally. In withdrawing to pre 
pare for admission, he put into the hands of the father 
some pieces of money wrapped up in a paper, asking him 
to say mass for him. The paper seemed to contain about 
ten shillings; but what was his surprise on opening it, to 
find a hundred gold ducats. He immediately sent after the 
young man, but he could not be heard of, and never was 
seen again. On another day, Alphonsus called together 
the young students, and ordered them to get up a petition 
to Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament, for the suc 
cess of the newly begun building. When it was signed, he 
deposited it in the tabernacle, adjoining his own petition 
to that of the young clerics. Scarcely mid he done this, 
when he was called to Naples, to vote for several gentle 
men who wished to receive the order of Knighthood, 
at the seat of Porta Nuova. He instantly set out on a 
wretched mule, and arrived at Porta Nuova. On attempt 
ing to enter, the guard mistook him for gome vagabond, 
ami rudely repulsed him. His clothes were shabby, his 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 105 

beard unshorn, and his hair in disorder ; he smiled at the 
mistake, and waited quietly until the chevalier in waiting 
perceived him, and advanced to meet him, not with the 
usual forms of salutation, but respectfully kissing his hand, 
to the great astonishment and confusion of the guard. 
On this occasion he received a present so considerable, 
thai it sufficed to finish the building. 

About this time, D. Joseph Liguori came to Ciorani to 
visit his son. He admired the edifying life they led, the 
silence which reigned, and the odor of sanctity which 
pervaded every thing. It filled his mind with thoughts 
of eternity, and detached his heart from worldly things. 
He felt a holy envy at the happiness of his son s life, 
pressed him to his bosom, and blessed the Lord for the 
benediction showered upon his house. He prolonged 
his stay at Ciorani, and every day more taken with the 
humble and peaceful life of the fathers, he took the reso 
lution of forsaking the world, renouncing his rank, and 
living under the direction of his son, as an humble lay- 
brother, and besought admission with tears in his eyes. 
But Alphonsus, though delighted with the humility of his 
father, nevertheless, dissuaded him from his purpose, assur 
ing him that it was not the will of God he should leave 
the world, but remain in it to edify by his example. He 
returned to Naples an altered man. Not content with 
being a pious and exemplary nobleman, he wished to be 
come a saint ; he lived like a fervent anchorite, praying in 
the church, meditating and reading the lives of the saints 
at home. He kept up a regular correspondence with his 
son, following his counsels in all that concerned his sal 
vation. 

The sun still shone which had enlightened with its 
beams the birth of the house of Nocera, but about this 
time it became obscured by clouds, and serious alarms suc 
ceeded to the dawn of its morning hopes. The devil 
feared the increase of a work so contrary to his designs, 
and attacked it immediately through the envy that began to 
fill the hearts of some in the neighborhood. They sue- 



106 USE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

ceeded in alienating the minds of many, and diminishing 
the respect in which the public had held the missionaries, 
which ended at last in irritation and contempt. Some 
priests, with the gentry, continued to favor Alphonsus, but 
the fire was too strong to be put down by such feeble means. 
Twenty-five curates entered into a league with other 
priests; the religious mendicants of Nocera and Pagani 
joined them. They invited the fathers of Mount Olive, of 
the order of Citeaux, and those of Montevergine, to join 
the crusade, but they were horror-struck at the proposition. 
There remained but two of the curates of Pagani not op 
posed to the missionaries. When the plot was formed, the 
first move was to endeavor to prejudice the king, but God 
made known his displeasure in a singular manner. They 
employed a celebrated advocate to write out a memorial of 
their grievances ; he took up a pen, it would not write; 
he tried a second and a third, but all to no purpose ; he at 
length succeeded in writing a page, but when about to 
turn over the leaf, instead of throwing sand upon it, he, 
lifted the ink by mistake, and blotted all he had written. 
Struck by these mysterious accidents, he exclaimed: "Em 
ploy whom you will, but as for me, I will have nothing 
more to do with any business against these missionaries," 
and so saying, tore the paper in pieces. This fact made 
great impression on people of sense, but none on the 
enemies of the missionaries. They employed another ad- 
v^ocate, and God permitted the affair to proceed. In order 
to gain their end with the king, they would fain have per 
suaded the bishop to concur in their views, but their ef 
forts were vain. Indignant at their wicked designs, he 
shut his ears to all their representations ; and to show how 
much he esteemed the missionaries, he, in spite of the mal 
contents, chose one of them for his own confessor, and 
when he visited his diocese, caused two of the fathers to 
accompany him to preach to the people and fill the other 
offices. 

In spite of this check, the courage of their enemies was 
not abated, but rather increased. The friendship and pro- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 107 

tection of many excellent priests and wealthy gentlemen 
of the neighborhood, did not prevent them giving themselves 
up to all sorts of excess. If any of the fathers appeared 
in the town, he was assailed with taunts and loaded with 
insults. One day, while preparing to say mass in the paro 
chial church, one of them had the amice pulled out of his 
hands. The lay-brothers had their share in these outrages 
whenever any of them appeared in the street. The 
Brother Anthony de Lauro, being one day digging in the 
garden, a man passing on the other side of the hedge, be 
gan to abuse him grossly ; the brother continued to dig, as 
if he heard nothing, and this so irritated the man, that he 
jumped into the garden, ran up to him, and gave him a 
violent blow on the face. The holy brother showed no re 
sentment, but knelt down and offered the other cheek ; the 
man withdrew, covered with confusion. During the silence 
of night, they would come howling under the windows, 
singing indecent songs and using violent language. Al- 
phonsus was then at Ciorani, but as soon as he heard what 
was going on at Nocera, he came thither with all speed. 
But how different was his reception now from what it had 
formerly been! A person came to the house and addressed 
him as a vagabond, accusing him of coming with his com 
panions to seduce the inhabitants, to eat the bread of their 
children, and that being but miserable wretches, banished 
from their own country, they had thrown themselves on 
this country to devour it. At these odious words, AI- 
phonsus humbled himself, but his humility redoubled the 
audacity of his adversary, who continued abusing him a 
long time. The petition addressed to the king had no 
success; he knew too well the merit of Alphonsus and 
his disciples, to allow himself to be deceived. No more 
success had another, addressed to the Viceroy, during the 
absence of the king in the Abbruzzi, his ministers know 
ing the probity of the missionaries and the favorable dispo 
sition of the king. Being thus defeated, they began to 
seek help in Nocera itself. They went to Contaldi, on 
whom Alphonsus leant, and who had aided him in the 



108 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

establishment at Pagani. Vice assumed the appearance 
of virtue so successfully, that he allowed himself to be 
gained, and began to repent of what he had done for Al- 
phonsus. Knowing from what had happened at the Vi la, 
that they were threatened with a similar misfortune, Ai- 
phonsus inquired diligently to know the will of God; he 
went to Naples to consult with those enlightened and pious 
friends, by whose advice he was guided in his difficulties. 
He went also to Castellamare to consult Mgr. Falcoja, and 
while they were talking, the bishop suddenly casting his 
eyes on a small statue of St. Michael, exclaimed : " It ig 
the devil, it is the devil; hold firm, and continue to fight; 
God and St. Michael will protect you/ He then advised 
him to dedicate the house and the church to the arch 
angel Michael. 

The tempest, far from abating, continued to rage with 
redoubled violence at Pagani. Alphonsus prayed and mor 
tified himself, he besought the prayers of many holy souls, 
particularly of religious houses, and ceased not to go on 
with the missions wherever he was asked. His enemies 
continued their hostilities, and not content with attempting 
to ruin the house at Pagani, they desired to blot out the 
Congregation from the face of the earth. But their con 
tinual intrigues, their daily cavilings, at length aroused the 
zeal of several gentlemen of Nocera, Pagani, and other 
places in the neighborhood, who boldly declared them 
selves in favor of Alphonsus and his companions, and soon 
there was hardly one respectable family who did not take 
their part. The three general, and seven special syndics of 
the seven municipal communities of the district of Nocera, 
convoked therefore an assembly of the inhabitants, where 
all the communities, with the exception of those of Pagani, 
decided that the missionaries should be defended arid 
upheld. When this manifestation of good feeling was re 
ported to Alphonsus, he burst into tears at finding the 
good he had done among them appreciated by the most 
important class. But by this his enemies became more 
and more embittered, and in the beginning of June, 1744, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 109 

they attacked him both at Naples and Rome : chiafly at 
tempting to prove that the existence of the Congregation 
was contrary to civil and canon laws. When Alphonsus 
saw that with the branches they would destroy the roots 
also, he recalled the ancient spirit which had animated him 
at the bar, and with the civil law in his hand, he collected 
the means of defence, established the reasons which proved 
the rights of their cause, and showed in what circumstances 
a convent could be called lawful or illegal. At Rome, he 
knew equally well how to reduce his enemies to silence, 
confounding them by bulls of Sovereign Pontiffs, and by 
the authority of canon law. As to the calumnies"~against 
the lives of the members of his Congregation, he would not 
notice them, for they were sufficiently contradicted by 
public notoriety. The memorials he produced pleased the 
Sovereign at Naples, and obtained favor with the Pope and 
the Cardinals. 

After having been defeated in this attempt, they had re 
course to the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regu 
lars ; but the gentlemen of Pagani, Nocera, Corbara and 
St. Egidio, no sooner learned of this new attack, than 
they armed themselves to defend Alphonsus. Thirty-six 
of them undertook, the 16th of July, 1744, to charge them 
selves with the conduct of this affair at Rome, and to pro 
cure an advocate and procurator. At the same time, sev 
eral curates, the chapter of the Cathedral, the clergy of 
Nocera, and twenty-three ecclesiastics of Pagani, declared 
themselves to the Pope, in favor of Alphonsus. Benedict 
XIV then occupied the Holy See, and hearing thus of an 
institution lately established in the Church, he wished to 
inquire into the merits of its founder. He accordingly in 
structed Cardinal Spinola to obtain exact information from 
the Bishop of Nocera. In consequence of this, Mgr. 
Dominicis replied the 3d of August. After having shown 
that the complaints of the malcontents were unfounded, 
and after having combatted their calumnies, he proceeded 
to the most important point, that is to say, the end for 
which Alphonsus proposed to found the Congregation, and 
10 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONStJS. 

finished by an eulogium on his sanctity, and the high esti 
mation in which he was held by the Cardinal Archbishop 
of Naples and many other bishops. 

The bad success of this last attempt was not sufficient 
to make the malcontents renounce their enterprise. They 
got possession of the royal decree, and by bribing the un 
derlings of office, they altered the words from " the king 
permits the erection of a house with a church," to " the 
king permits the erection of a house without a church," 
and with this in their hands, they hastened to the commis 
sary of the king, who was persuaded that Alphonsus in 
building a church had gone beyond his limits. On the 
16th day of July, the commissary despatched an order to 
Nocera, to discontinue the building at Pagani. This time, 
the wicked triumphed, and Alphonsus was in great em 
barrassment, not knowing how to proceed. He sent F. 
St. Severino to Naples, to the Minister of State, the Mar 
quis Brancone, to inform him of the obstacle, and request 
his assistance to remove it. The Marquis was aston 
ished when he heard of this, for he remembered that the 
king had expressly given leave to build a church. He 
ordered one of the clerks of the bureau to produce the 
egister, and wrote in it with his own hand, " a house with 
a church," saying with a tone of severity, for he suspected 
<he fraud that had been committed, "I know the intention 
of the king," and ordered him to go instantly to inform the 
commissary, and tell him the true state of the case. It 
was necessary to submit, and on the 21st of July, an order 
was transmitted to the Syndic of Pagani, to permit the pro 
gress of the building. 

In spite of all their successive defeats, the malcontents 
were not proof against a new temptation, which, like their 
r ormer fraud, turned to their own confusion. Beaten at 
Naples, repulsed at Rome, they appealed to the tribunals. 
Contaldi would not appear against them in person, but a 
I Tocess was commenced in the name of his sister, to com 
pel the miFsionaries to abandon the house. She forced 
i.erself unexpectedly into the house, accompanied by 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. Ill 

twenty other persons and two notaries, before whom she 
declared that the house was her property. Alphonsus, 
when he heard of this, came immediately to Nocera to 
consult on what was to be done, when the bishop and 
other friends advised him not to yield. A celebrated advo 
cate undertook the cause, and the pretended proprietor 
ship of the sister was soon exposed, to the confusion of 
those who had attempted to play off such a trick. But 
their resentment, far from being checked, exhibited itself in 
every thing that could cause annoyance to the fathers. 
One day, a person of rank, belonging to the clergy, said 
to Alphonsus : "If you will act the thief, and rob people 
by force, why do you not go to the highways." "Blessed 
be God," meekly replied Alphonsus, " I have left my house 
to be treated as a robber at Nocera !" 

In the month of August, they made another attempt at 
Rome, but warned by experience, they no longer attacked 
Alphonsus, but confined themselves to defaming his com 
panions. This roused all the most respectable inhabitants 
of Nocera and Pagani in their favor. The three general 
Syndics took upon themselves the expense of defending 
the Congregation at Rome. On the other hand, Benedict 
XIV, again charged Cardinal Spinola to make new in 
quiries of Cardinal Spinelli at Naples, and also of the 
Archbishop of Salerno, Mgr. Rossi. All this was the 
work of Providence, in order that the Congregation might 
become known to the Sovereign Pontiff and the world at 
large ; in reality, the brilliant testimony rendered by these 
two dignitaries of the Church, hastened the approbation 
given by the Court of Rome in favor of the new Institute. 

In the mean time, Mgr. Dominicis attempted to arrange 
the affair by arbitration ; the proposal was agreed to by 
both parties; but when Contaldi stated that he would take 
upon himself the debts contracted, provided the mission 
aries evacuated the premises and quitted Pagani, and, if 
they would not, he would shut up the church of St. Domi 
nic, and force them to live as simple individuals, the bishop 
in the greatest indignation broke up the meeting, and 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

turning to the fathers said : " Prosecute your cause at Rome 
and at Naples, trust in Cardinal Spinelli ; God will protect 
you." Mgr. Dominicis died on the 22d of August of this 
year, and to the great dismay of the disaffected, he was 
succeeded by Mgr. Volpe, who was equally well disposed 
towards the missionaries as his predecessor had been. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Jllphonsut founds the Houses of Iliceto and Caposeh, and 
establishes a Novitiate. His first Publications. He seeks 
to have his Congregation approved by the King. 

WHILE the house of Pagani was thus agitated by the 
tempest, and Alphohsus with his companions, drank, 
during eight months, the bitter chalice of tribulation, God 
opened a new field to him, destined to receive seed no less 
productive than that which had hitherto been sown. The 
prince of Castellaneta, D. Matthias Miroballo, of Aragon, 
besought Alphonsus to visit his fief of Iliceto, to give the 
inhabitants the instruction and consolation of which they 
were so much in want; the Bishop of Bovino, Mgr. Lucci, 
dispatched at the same time a canon of his Cathedral, 
James Casati, to join in the invitation. Alphonsus, acced 
ing to the demand, arrived there with his companions, on 
the 12th of November. This mission had the usual suc 
cess. But the Canon had a further object in view. At 
the corner of a wood, called the Vallin-Vincoli, on a small 
elevation, stood an ancient church, dedicated to the Virgin, 
under the title of Mary of Consolation. It had once be 
longed to the Augustinians, and in the church was a large 
painting of the Virgin Mary, for which the faithful of the 
neighborhood had a great devotion. There the Canon had 
resolved on establishing a community. Alphonsus how 
ever hesitated to accept the proposal, because the distance 
between the church and any inhabited place was very 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 113 

considerable ; but when visiting the picture, he was so 
captivated, that the Fathers Cafaro and St. Severino easily 
persuaded him to accept the offer, to the great joy of all 
the people, and to settle there at once. Near Iliceto there 
were vast domains of the crown, where thousands of men 
were employed in keeping flocks and herds, and cultivating 
the ground ; a great number of whom rarely received any 
spiritual assistance, and, even on feast days, had seldom an 
opportunity of hearing mass. Touched by their destitu 
tion, Alphonsus sent his companions out in different direc 
tions, to distribute to them the bread of life ; and he 
looked forward to the house of Iliceto becoming the place 
from whence these abandoned people would derive spi 
ritual succor in time to come. His Majesty gave his ap 
probation for this new house, on the 9th of January, 1745. 

Having arranged the affairs of this house, he assembled 
his companions, and departed towards the end of the 
same month, for Madugno, where D. Dominic Fiori, profes 
sor of music in the Cathedral of Naples, had invited him 
to give a mission, being determined to found a house in this 
his native place, having himself no heir to succeed him. 
This mission was a difficult one, and cost much labor and 
fatigue ; it lasted forty days, so great were the wants of 
the inhabitants. It was in this mission, that Alphonsus, 
one morning, while celebrating mass in the church of a 
monastery, was raised several feet from the ground, as 
the religious attested. As for the foundation of a house 
in the place, he advised Fiori to make arrangements 
with the fathers of St. Vincent of Paul, having heard that 
the king had granted them an establishment in the 
neighborhood, and not wishing to interfere with this 
foundation. 

After their return from Madugno, Alphonsus and his 
companions suffered much in their new establishment at 
Iliceto. Besides their voluntary penances, they experi 
enced on all sides suffering and affliction. A priest who 
was there during that winter, said in a letter, " the bread 
was of rye, mixed with bran, black as a coal, and ill baked, 
10* 



114 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and sometimes the} 7 had none at all, and were obliged to 
accept the charity of an old man, who lived on the produce 
of his goats and the culture of a small field near his cot 
tage. For pottage, they had a species of broth or panada, 
or bruised beans, so old that they had the color of bread. 
They never tasted meat, except when some sheep or cow 
died of exhaustion. They had no fruits but wild chestnuts 
or crab apples. They rarely had wine, and then but in 
small quantity, and very bad. On feast days, they had a 
large cake made of the same flour as the bread, but sea 
soned with a little cheese and salt, for sugar or pepper 
were luxuries they could not afford. They had no linen, 
and no money to buy it. They were almost shirtless, arid 
could only change once in two or three weeks. There 
never was a religious house where greater poverty reigned: 
their clothes were ragged and patched. . . . The house 
was an old convent, suppressed during the pontificate of 
Innocent XI, and but a mass of ruins. The wind blew 
more keenly within than without, the walls were full of 
cracks, the partitions brick without mortar. The windows 
were of oiled paper instead of glass. The roof was bad, 
the cells without ceiling, so that the snow covered the beds 
during winter; in short, the misery was so great, that one 
of the fathers lost courage, and returned to the world." 
Among all these miseries, or rather in consequence of 
them, Alphonsus had the misfortune to lose his dear Vitus 
Curzius. During the month of July, he was sent out to 
beg for a little corn. Although the good brother was 
unaccustomed to traverse the country during the burning 
heats, he nevertheless obeyed cheerfully ; but one evening, 
being refused a lodging where he had applied for one, he 
slept in the field, and, during the night, was seized with a 
violent fever. Not being able to drag himself to his con 
vent, he was taken into the house by a charitable priest, and 
ifter forty-nine days of intense suffering, went to receive 
the reward of his labors in the mansions of the blessed. 
This death afflicted Alphonsus deeply, though he was con 
soled on the other hand, by the reflection that he had died 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 115 

rich in merits and virtues. An abridgment of his life has 
been written by Alphonsus himself. 

The fury of the disaffected of Pagani was not abated, 
and new plots were invented to ruin the missionaries. 
Contaldi, finding himself disappointed in obtaining his ob 
ject through the instrumentality of others, threw off the 
mask, and openly attacked them. Scarcely had Alphonsus 
returned from the Pouille, when he openly revoked the 
donation he had made in their favor, and in concert with 
his sister, called them to appear before the council of the 
king. Not knowing how to justify his steps, he pYetended 
that the missionaries had deceived him in usurping the 
title of Congregation, when they had neither been recog 
nised by the king nor the Pope ; he demanded, in conse 
quence, that they should be forbidden to build, protesting 
that he had made the donation not for a religious commu 
nity, but for a college of priests. But the royal council, 
having sent an auditor to verify the facts, the claims of 
Contaldi were found insufficient, and on the llth of Janu 
ary, 1745, the auditor, in the name of the council, con 
firmed the missionaries in the possession of the property, 
the donation being found valid and inviolable. 

This disappointment did not abate his animosity. He 
presented a claim to the king, filled with malignity rather 
than reason. But the Syndic of Pagani and three other 
Syndics, undertook the defence, and the indubitable integ 
rity of Alphonsus and his companions, made his Majesty 
withstand all his numerous attempts against them. It was 
plain, however, that these men acted entirely at the insti 
gation of the devil. For they introduced two barrels of 
gun-powder under the foundation of the house, and had 
not one of their accomplices, stung by remorse of con 
science, revealed the plot, the whole \vould have been de 
stroyed. From that moment, they were obliged to keep a 
strict watch nightly. Alphonsus was then at Iliceto, and 
far from being discouraged by this barbarous attempt, his 
confidence became greater from having escaped so many 
imminent dangers. Until now, the fathers had lived under 



116 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the same roof with Contaldi, and were, therefore, placed 
under a continual restraint. At last, on the 24th of Sep 
tember, 1745, they resolved to remove to the new building, 
without heeding the risk they ran from damp and other 
inconveniences. When Alphonsus, at Iliceto, heard of 
their installation, he rejoiced exceedingly, and wrote to 
urge them tp a stricter observance of the rule, which had 
been somewhat interrupted by all the previous proceed 
ings, assuring them that God would bless them and make 
them become saints, only inasmuch as they observed the 
rule in its strictness. 

The malcontents, provoked to see them established in 
their new house, again conspired against them, and ob 
tained an order from the council, forbidding them to do any 
thing new. Their intention was thus to interdict their en 
trance into the church of^St. Dominic, where they had till 
now, exercised their -ministry, and to prevent the comple 
tion of the little church yet in progress of building, hoping 
that by depriving them thus of every opportunity of per 
forming the functions of their ministry, they would force 
them definitely to abandon the foundation. Informed of 
all this, on the evening before the day on which they ex 
pected to receive the formal orders, Father Sportelli be 
sought some gentlemen of Nocera to detain the king s 
officer for one night only. This was done, as he had de 
sired, and during the night he sent for the workmen, and 
in spite of the protestations of the architect, he boldly 
took away the props, smoothed the earth, erected a por 
table altar, and arranged, as well as he could, a sort of 
confessional. They ornamented the altar and the walls 
with hangings and tapestry, placed garlands and artificial 
flowers about it, and having, the evening before, obtained 
permission to bless the church, at day-break, he celebrated 
mass, preached, confessed, and gave communion to the 
people. During the proceedings, the officer arrived, fol 
lowed by a crowd, and calling for F. Sportelli, and those 
of the household, he declared to them by order of the king, 
that no one must have the temerity to attempt any thing 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 117 

new, at the risk of incurring the penalties mentioned in 
the decree. " We will do nothing new," replied^F. Spor- 
telli, "and we will conform to the order you bring, but I 
protest that this edifice is a church ; the Holy Sacrifice has 
been celebrated in it, we have preached in it, and in it the 
holy sacraments have been administered to the people." 
Thus they were outwitted in their attempt, and hell had to 
yield the victory. 

While Alphonsus was at Iliceto, another circumstance 
occurred to second his zeal for the salvation of the people. 
Benedict XIV, convinced of the great good produced by 
missions, conceived the project of reforming, by means of 
them, the whole kingdom of Naples. By a brief dated the 
8th of September, 1745, he delegated Cardinal Spinelli to 
superintend this work, with full powers to send whom he 
would. Many bishops, upon this, solicited him to send 
into their dioceses Alphonsus and his missionaries, to 
which the Cardinal agreed, well knowing the good they 
did. When the time of the vintage was over, Alphonsus, 
having received the necessary commission from the Car 
dinal, and provided with particular graces from the holy 
Father, began his mission in the diocese of Bovino. At 
Foggia, the capital of the Pouille, a terrible example ot 
divine justice occurred, and served as a powerful warning 
to sinners. One of the Fathers went through the public 
places to call the people to the church. Happening to 
pass before a tavern, he invited the drinkers to take part in 
the mission. A tipsy fellow, holding up his glass, called 
out : " My Father, would you like to see what is my mis 
sion ?" and putting it to his lips, he instantly dropped 
down dead. Another circumstance which happened, gave 
a high idea of the sanctity of Alphonsus. One evening 
he was preaching before the image of the blessed Virgin of 
Seven Veils, which they had exposed on the altar. When 
he spoke of the glories of the Mother of God, the people 
believed they saw an angel rather than a man. A bright 
ray of light darted from the image, and rested on the coun 
tenance of Alphonsus, who, at the same moment, fell into 



118 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

an ecstasy, and was elevated several feet into the air. At 
this spectacle the people uttered such loud cries of joy, 
that crowds from a distance ran tumultuously towards the 
church. More than four thousand persons witnessed this 
miracle. 

In a rich and commercial town, great numbers of chari 
table persons are to be found. Many purses, therefore, 
were opened to Alphonsus, who earnestly sought out the 
most necessitous. Young girls were succored, whose 
poverty placed them in danger; others were placed in 
orphan houses. Asylums were procured for repentant 
sinners, and the aged were assisted in their necessities. 
Christian charity reigned in all hearts, and the town was 
delivered from many sources of sin. 

During the mission at Troy, one day, when on the point 
of mounting the pulpit, Alphonsus was told of his father s 
death. He remained some time in prayer, and then re 
commended him to the prayers of the people. He had 
heard of his illness, but was so much occupied in his apos 
tolic labors, that he sacrificed the feelings of nature to his 
God, and continued the mission. When at St. Agatha, he 
was seized with fever; but this did not prevent his preach- 
ing, and when he appeared in the pulpit, the sight of him 
alone produced compunction in the hearts of the people. 
After this mission, he was called to Iliceto, the Canon 
Casati being dangerously ill. Unable to ride because of 
his fever, he was obliged to take a carriage, and arrived 
the evening before the Canon expired. He had left all he 
possessed to the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Consolation, 
and at his request was buried in the church, at the feet of 
the Virgin. Alphonsus, full of gratitude for his donation, 
celebrated his funeral with the utmost magnificence, and 
had one hundred ducats distributed to the poor. 

From the month of March, 1746, a great drought had 
desolated the Pouille, and the seeds sown were almost de 
stroyed. The inhabitants of Foggia besought Alphonsus 
to give a novena in honor of the Blessed Virgin, knowing 
how much he was beloved by her. He was still at Iliceto, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 119 

ill of a fever, but when he heard how afflicted they were at 
Foggia, he immediately set out, and was received as an 
angel from heaven. The novenahad scnrcoly commenced, 
when his fever suddenly left hi:ii : the usin fell in abun 
dance, the seed was saved, and pi (Minced a rich harvest. 
During his sojourn in this town, God prepared the foun 
dation of another house in the diocese of Conza. The 
Archbishop, Mgr. Nicolai, regretted to see himself at the 
head of a vast province in the greatest want of spiritual 
assistance. When he had learned the services the Con- 
gregation had rendered to so many dioceses, he sent im 
mediately the archpriest Rossi, to meet Alphonsu> J 
Foggia. He was by no means anxious to embrace the 
proposal, circumstances not seeming favorable, but at the 
request of F. Villani, he consented to give a mission there, 
in order to see more clearly the will of God. During the 
mission, on the third of June, he went with several gentle 
men to visit the church which was offered him, and which 
bore the name of Mater Domini. He was pleased with 
the situation, being in the midst of an archdiocese, sur 
rounded by many other dioceses in great want of spi 
ritual aid. 

The Archbishop being then at Calabritto, a few miles off, 
Alphonsus went to visit him. Mounted on a mule, he ar 
rived at the house of the family del Plato, where the Arch 
bishop was staying. Hearing he was at dinner, he went 
into a small chapel in a wing of the palace, to say his 
office. While there, the eldest son came to shut the door, 
and seeing a man covered with rags, and with an unshorn 
beard, he took him for a vagabond, who was waiting to 
beg from the Archbishop, and told him to go out, as he 
was about to shut the door. " Would you have the good 
ness to wait until I finish vespers," said Alphonsus. " Go 
out instantly," said the young man, " it is only yesterday 
we had a napkin stolen, it would be too much to have 
another stolen to-day." Alphonsus was forced to go out, 
and finish his vespers in the street. After some time, he 
presented himself at the palace, and the Archbishop, hear- 



120 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

ing of his arrival, came out and received him with every 
mark of esteem. The young del Plato looked confounded, 
and his confusion increased, when he found Alphonsus 
was a noble Neapolitan gentleman, and Superior of a 
mission. Alphonsus appeared not to notice the young 
man s confusion, but continued the conversation, and after 
having arranged a meeting at Caposele, he returned in 
time for the evening sermon. 

God showered down many benedictions on this mission. 
The humility, the modesty, the contempt of himself, shown 
by Alphonsus, touched all hearts as much as his sermons. 
At this time he suffered such violent tooth-ache as to 
cause convulsions. Notwithstanding this, one evening he 
spoke for two hours, and at last overpowered by fatigue, 
he had to be carried home, from total inability to walk. 
Generally, in his sermons, he seemed to be ravished out of 
himself, and one evening, while he preached, God made 
him see in spirit what was passing at Iliceto. " We are 
occupied here with the mission," he said, " and at this 
moment the devil is tormenting my poor children at Ili 
ceto." Next morning, a lay-brother came to see him, and 
spoke with him for three hours of the miseries they were 
enduring there. 

The Archbishop came to Caposele, and arrived during 
a sermon on the blessed Virgin. He was so much touched 
that he wept, and determined to assist daily at the sermons. 
The archpriest Rossi arrived at this time, with several 
other gentlemen, who resolved on contributing towards 
the establishment of the Congregation there. All seemed 
to go well, but it was necessary that the devil should at 
tempt to overturn it. A party among the clergy, addressed 
to the Archbishop a protestation against the new project. 
When Alphonsus heard of this, he said : "I like to see op 
position, it is a mark that the devil apprehends defeat, but 
God will triumph." When the Archbishop went to the 
hermitage, accompanied by the gentlemen friendly to the 
measure, a priest, a very learned man, who had great in 
fluence with both clergy and people, attended to oppose the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 121 

foundation in the name of the chapter. Having entered 
the church to visit the Blessed Virgin, as he approached 
the altar dedicated to the divine Mother, he was struck 
with apoplexy, and his mouth was twisted on one side. He 
recognised the just punishment, and turning towards the 
Virgin, said : " Mother of my God, I protest that I have no 
longerthe intention of opposing the foundation." No sooner 
had he uttered these words, than he recovered, and his mouth 
resumed its natural position. He immediately joined the 
others, and far from resisting, he now seconded the pro 
posal with all his eloquence. On the 4th of June, 1746, 
the establishment of the Congregation was decided upon. 
When the news spread at Caposele, that the missionaries 
were to be established in the diocese, every one testified 
the most unbounded joy. A noble family in the neighbor 
hood put their forests at their disposal, to supply the wood 
for the buildings. The inhabitants had another consola 
tion in the fulfilment of the prophecy of St. John Joseph 
of the Cross, that at the end of twenty years, a devout and 
zealous community of missionaries would be established 
among them. The twenty years had just expired. 

In Pagani, they were not yet left unmolested. The 
Grand Council having repulsed them, Contaldi tried to 
obtain satisfaction from the commissary of the king, and 
this magistrate, being deceived, had ordered the sequestra 
tion of certain rents that had been assigned to them, and 
that they should be given to others. To embroil matters 
still more, Contaldi made to a priest who was related to 
him, a donation of a certain property he had already given 
to the missionaries, and by these measures ceased not to 
keep them in continual disquiet. Alphonsus could not 
see without sorrow the vexations his companions had to 
endure, but this did not lessen his zeal; he continued to givt- 
missions in the country round about, which were always 
attended with the greatest success, vice disappearing, and 
virtue reigning in its stead. 

Towards the end of December, 1746, Foggia invited 
him again, and he eagerly yielded to the request ; but on 
11 



122 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



his arrival, he found that a theatre with foreign come 
dians had been opened, and that certain gentlemen had 
bound themselves to support it. This new occasion of sin 
grieved him exceedingly, and lie did all in his power to 
engage them to send the comedians away, but without 
success; upon which he left the town, and when they 
would persuade him to stay, he replied : " We cannot at 
the same time serve God and the devil. Foggia will not 
listen to me, but God will lay his heavy hand upon her, and 
chastise her for her libertinism." Scarcely had he departed, 
when the town was shaken with a violent earthquake ; they 
sent after him, but he would not return at that time. 

The building of the new house at Caposele was now 
begun, and carried on with great ardor. On the. 1st of 
May, 1748, the first stone was blessed by Mgr. Amati, and 
the gentlemen commenced to superintend the different 
works, each placing himself at the head of a division, arid 
in the evening arranging the work for the next day. The 
Blessed Virgin deigned to testify her approbation of this 
establishment, and to show in a special manner, that the 
missionaries were her children. There lived in a neigh 
boring village a wretched being, loaded with sin, who had 
for three years been confined to bed by a most painful 
illness ; every night he saw the devil, under the form of a 
goat, place himself on his breast, and press his throat and 
his sides until he was almost choked. One morning when 
he awoke, he saw the Blessed Virgin appear in his cham 
ber, radiant with glory, and accompanied by two angels. 
"My son," she said to him, " how hast thou still the 
boldness to live in sin? quickly change thy life ; to-mor 
row thou shall see my children of the house of Mater 
Domini. Confess, and repent of thy sins, and Jesus will 
pardon thec." The vision disappeared, and the sinner felt 
re-animated, but without knowing what to think of what 
he had heard, for he knew nothing of the mission, nor of 
the establishment at Caposele. Next day, he heard the 
bells ringing, and on asking what it was, they replied that 
the missionaries had arrived; full of joy. he said he must 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 123 

see one of them instantly. F. Matthew Criscuolo went to 
him, when he related what had occurred, and made his 
confession amid torrents of tears. The father asked him if 
he had been in the habit of practising any devotion to the 
Blessed Virgin; he replied, that he had made a vow to 
recite the Rosary daily, and that he had never omitted it. 
He died during the mission, giving evident signs of a 
true repentance. 

Until now, the Congregation had not had a regular no 
vitiate. Hitherto they had received only clerics, who had, 
in a manner, been professed before they became novices, 
subdeacons only being admitted ; and these made their 
novitiate in following Alphonsus from village to village. A 
year before, they had decided on admitting young men of 
eighteen, as being less filled with the spirit of the world, 
and consequently more ready to receive the impressions of 
grace. Alphonsus then thought of establishing the novi 
tiate in the house of Iliceto, but because of the extreme 
poverty of this house, the young people were discouraged, 
looked back, and withdrew their hand from the plough, 
some even, not having the courage to declare their weak 
ness to F. Cafaro, who was master of novices, fled secretly, 
escaping by the windows, as the door was shut. Afflicted 
by the inconveniences of ihis house, and the inconstancy 
of the novices, he removed the novitiate to Ciorani, the 1st 
of February, 1748. God blessed the arrangement, and 
there were soon twenty novices under F. Villani, whose 
conduct caused great consolation to Alphonsus. 

It was at Iliceto Alphonsus first began to write and pub 
lish. Until then he had labored only for the countries in 
which he was placed, but this was a field too narrow for 
his burning zeal. He wished that all Christians should 
profit by the reflections he had made. He had long been 
groaning over the indifference of men, and their estrange 
ment from the adorable mystery of the Eucharist; he re 
solved to publish the sentiments with which he was pene 
trated towards the Beloved of his soul, and arrange them 
in the form of visits for each day of th-e month, and as his 



124 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

affection for the most Holy Virgin was only inferior to that 
he bore to her Son, he published also his sentiments of 
affection for her, in order to induce the faithful to love and 
serve her. This little work was every where received with 
applause, and fully answered the purpose for which it was 
intended, for before long, almost every one had it in his 
hands, not only in the kingdom of Naples, but throughout 
Italy. In 1777, Alphonsus received a French translation 
of it, taken from the fiftieth Italian edition. Next he pub 
lished another little work, entitled "Reflections and Af 
fections on the Passion of Jesus Christ." Since he had 
embraced the ecclesiastical state, he had taken St. Theresa 
for his special advocate, and often in his spiritual wants 
had experienced the efficacy of her intercession. Desirous 
to see her honored, he published several meditations, in 
form of a Novena, in which were comprised all the beautiful 
things that could be said in her praise. In order to awaken 
the Bishops, he composed a little work on the precise obli 
gations of the episcopate, which he transmitted to all the* 
bishops in Italy, many of whom wrote to him, thanking 
him and complimenting him on the occasion. About this 
time also, he had publicly proclaimed his opinion regarding 
certain cases of conscience. This gave offence to a priest 
belonging to a religious house in the Pouille, who, instead 
of discussing the subject, wrote to him thus: "Who art 
thou, who comest out of the woods, with the pretension of 
making thyself Doctor, and giving laws to others?" And 
having nothing else to say, he treated him as a heretic, and 
accused him of condemning vocal prayer. Alphonsus 
replied, and, having abundantly refuted the falsehood, fin 
ished his letter, by thanking his accuser for the advice he 
had given him, without testifying the least resentment. 

When the missions in the Pouille were finished, Al 
phonsus went in April, 1747, to Ciorani; there he found 
the novitiate filled with virtuous young men and priests, 
eminent for learning and sanctity. He then returned to 
Pagani, where he found the church frequented by persons 
of all conditions, the pious practices taught by the Con- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

gregation existing in all their vigor, and a confraternity of 
artisans, among whom were found persons eminent for 
their sanctity. The success of the two houses was a sub 
ject of great consolation for him, making him shed tears 
of joy. But, remembering that the argument constantly 
brought forward by his adversaries was, that the Congre 
gation was not authorized by the king, in order to deprive 
them of this pretext and insure the existence of the houses 
already founded, he resolved on going to Naples, deter 
mined, in spite of every difficulty, to obtain the necessary 
authorization. 

Arriving at Naples in the month of June, he immedi 
ately addressed himself to the Marquis Brancone, Minister 
of State. Before he would hear him say a word, the Mar 
quis first announced his determination of making him a 
Bishop. Alphonsus, confounded by the proposition, said: 
" If you love me, never again speak to me of such a thing. 
I have abjured the world; its dignities can only inspire me 
with horror." He said, besides, so much, that at length the 
Marquis promised to torment him no more on this subject. 
After having recommended to him the interests of the 
Congregation, he addressed himself to the Chamberlain, to 
obtain for him an audience of the king. He had not long 
to wait; for one day as he was walking in the cloisters of 
St. Catherine, occupied in saying his office, he was told 
the king waited for him. He wore then, as usual, an old 
patched cassock, and his beard unshaven ; it was, however, 
in this miserable condition, that he ran in all haste to the 
palace. Introduced to his Majesty, he exposed to him the 
multitude of souls deprived of spiritual succor, how ar 
dently he desired to remedy such an evil, the zeal with 
which his companions burned, and the reforms they had 
already produced in so many dioceses ; but that the mis 
sionaries could not sustain themselves in a position so 
precarious, and being daily engaged in struggles which 
threatened their existence, it was necessary that his Ma 
jesty should now recognise their institute for a regular 
Congregation. He presented to his Majesty the rules cf 
11* 



126 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the Institute, explaining them in a few words. The heart 
of the pious monarch was touched; he took notes with 
his own hand, and placed the rules, with the petition, in 
the hands of Mgr. Celestine Guliano, his grand almoner, 
recommending him to examine them and make his report 
without delay. 

F. Vincent Mandarini, Superior of the Congregation 
of the Most Holy Sacrament, soon learned what was going 
on, and more anxious than ever for a re-union, went to 
Ciorani, and in the name of himself and his companions, 
offered to embrace unreservedly the rule of Alphonsus, 
and to submit to his authority. Alphonsus refused to 
agree to this. "He who has been accustomed to possess 
and to command, will have much repugnance to see him 
self poor and deprived of his liberty. To-day, before he 
makes the vow of obedience, he is ready to sacrifice his 
own will; but once bound, he will begin to repent of hav 
ing submitted his opinion to another. You are sincere in 
wishing to submit to me, but be sure, to-morrow your fervor 
will yield on reflection ; the remembrance of your liberty 
will torment you and your brethren, and the contagion of 
insubordination and regret would seize upon my own 
Congregation. It is thus misfortune would menace two 
communities, and we ought to guard against this." Thus 
repulsed by Alphonsus, Mandarin! applied to the grand 
almoner, and through influential persons, persuaded him 
*o endeavor to promote the re-union. The grand almoner 
represented to Alphonsus, that he ought not to reject the 
proposal, and on his explaining to him the motives which 
inclined him to refuse, the almoner cut him short by saying : 
I wish it." Although much alarmed, Alphonsus did not 
tfive up hope, but doubting his own judgment, he had re 
course to prayer, yielding himself entirely to the will of 
God. 

At the same time, he began to look about for some influ 
ential person, who would interfere in his favor with the king 
and the grand almoner. He was often not well received ; 
many refused him an audience, and others listened coldly ; 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 127 

and if he was received once, he was refused admittance 
when he came again. One day he had with difficulty been 
permitted, hy the valets of a certain prince, to wait in the 
ante-chamber, when the princess, who knew him, happened 
to pass. Seeing him so poor and ragged in appearance, 
she exclaimed: " How dirty you are!" " I do not under 
stand you," said Alphonsus. " Ah, then," she said, turn 
ing her back upon him, " you are from Calabria." Many 
others received him, however, with marks of profound re 
spect ; in either case, he was unmoved, always calm and 
serene. 

Notwithstanding all the pains taken by Alphonsus, the 
grand almoner declared on the 21st of August, against his 
petition for authorization. This declaration afflicted Al 
phonsus, yet he did not lose courage. He put his confi 
dence in God, and tried to obtain from heaven what man 
refused. The different houses of the Congregation com 
menced regular prayers, masses were said, and they ex 
posed the Blessed Sacrament in the evening. Many re 
ligious houses united with them in prayer, while they them 
selves redoubled their penances and mortifications. Al 
phonsus went five times to obtain an audience of the 
almoner, but was always refused. He went a sixth time, 
and was at last admitted, when he knew so well how to 
plead his cause, that his Lordship could not refuse prom 
ising to protect him. He, in consequence, placed before 
the king what he considered the advantages that would re 
sult from authorizing the Congregation ; but in the event 
of its being authorized, he wished them to unite with that 
of Mandarini. Upon this point the council of state was 
divided, and also upon certain other conditions not very 
satisfactory, so that at last it was decided the affair should 
stand over, and continue to rest on its present precarious 
basis. Alphonsus, learning this decision, bowed his head, 
adoring the will of God, and only said: "Fiat voluntas 
tua." That night he was unable to sleep. The king re 
gretted this decision, and in order to comfort him, sent a 
message by the Marquis Brancone, bidding him rest as- 



128 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

.sured of his protection, and continue to labor with the 
same zeal to promote the glory of God and the good of 
the state. Mandarin! on the other hand, ceased to insist 
on the union of the two Congregations. 

Alphonsus made yet another attempt in favor of the 
Congregation, but it also fell to the ground. He explained 
to the king the impossibility of giving missions in many 
parts of the country where the spiritual destitution was 
great, because of their own poverty, and the poverty of the 
people, and requested his majesty to make them some 
allowance for the purpose. "The demand is just," said 
the king, " we must try to furnish them with some sub 
sidy." It was accordingly arranged, that they should have 
the surplus revenues of the chapels of the Castelle de 
Sangro in the Abruzzi; but the individuals who had the 
management, pretended" there were no surplus revenues ; 
they consequently got nothing. 

During his stay at Naples, he devoted himself to every 
work that could promote the glory of God, and husbanded 
his time so well, that not a moment was lost. He often 
went, at the request of the director of the seminary, to 
animate the young people by his exhortations. He fre 
quently visited convents of nuns, who desired to have the 
affairs of their conscience regulated by him, and gave re 
treats in different monasteries. He often visited also the 
college of the Holy Family, established to promote the 
conversion of China, delighting to animate the young men 
with love for Jesus Christ, and zeal for the salvation of 
souls. But while he was enjoying these delightful labors, 
a storm was preparing to overtake him- The church of 
Palermo became vacant in the July of this year by the 
death of Mgr. Rossi, and his Majesty insisted that Al 
phonsus should succeed him in that see, saying to Marquis 
Brancone : " The Pope makes good promotions, but I will 
make one still better than the Pope." The Marquis was 
pleased with the election, and applauded it as a divine in 
spiration, and having sent for Alphonsus, made known to 
him his Majesty s determination. He wa?, as it were, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 129 

thunderstruck, and with tears begged him to return his 
grateful thanks to the king for the honor he proposed con 
ferring on him, but to explain the vow he had made to 
refuse all dignities, and the ruin it would cause, were he 
to abandon his brethren at such a juncture, The Marquis, 
seeing the affliction of Alphonsus, entered into his feelings, 
and promised to help him with the king; but the prince 
would take no refusal. This alarmed Alphonsus ; he fore 
saw the king would be supported by the Pope, and the 
thought of being forced to accept the dignity, left him no 
repose by night or by day, and he wrote to F. Cafaro, his 
director, that he would sooner conceal himself in the depth 
of the forest, than be made bishop. He wrote at the same 
time to all the houses of the Congregation to pray for him, 
and had recourse to many holy souls and religious houses 
to help him by their prayers, while he redoubled his aus 
terities and penances. During the whole month the king 
persevered in his resolution, Alphonsus was in a continual 
fright. At length the Marquis succeeded in persuading his 
Majesty, that he was far more useful as a missionary, than he 
ever could be as Archbishop of Palermo ; and he conse 
quently abandoned his resolution, though with much regret. 

Alphonsus had left Naples to go to Ciorani for a few 
days, when, immediately on his return, he was requested to 
preach the Novena of the Assumption in the church of 
St. John Major. Although unprepared, he had not the 
courage to refuse, and the result was as miraculous as 
usual. Each of his sermons occupied not less than one 
hour and a half. During this Novena, thousands of souls 
awoke from sin, and penetrated with a lively repentance, 
returned to God. Towards the end of September, he re 
turned to Nocera. 

We ought not .to omit here two instances of the true 
apostolical liberty of Alphonsus, both of which happened 
during his stay at Naples. The ^Superior of the Apostolic 
Mission had invited him to give a retreat. During his 
discourses on this occasion, he spoke to them of the obli 
gation they were under to make known Christ crucified, 



130 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and not to preach to make themselves known. He con 
demned the measured style and far-fetched expressions 
which some made use of, above all, when treating of moral 
subjects, or the lives of the Saints. He spoke with vehe 
mence against a celebrated preacher lately dead, who, he 
said, by his manner of preaching had showed himself an 
enemy of souls and a traitor to the word of God ; and he 
blamed some among them who strove to imitate him. "Fill 
your discourses," he said, " with evangelical truths, without 
embarrassing yourselves with vain ornaments, which pro 
duce no fruit, but exhaust the preacher in seeking for 
them." This language offended some of the young mis 
sionaries at first, but afterwards they recognized the truth 
of what he had said, and were filled with a salutary con 
fusion. At another tirne, he was celebrating mass in the 
church of the Fathers of the Oratory; when, turning to 
wards the assistant to give communion, he observed a 
gentleman seated in the choir with his legs crossed. After 
having said: "Agnus Dei," and seeing this person still 
sitting and showing no sign of reverence towards the 
Holy Sacrament, he exclaimed: "Have you lost the use of 
your limbs, that you cannot kneel ?" The gentleman, quite 
confused, immediately knelt, but excessively provoked, he 
began to cough and make different noises until the end of 
mass, when he ran hastily to the sacristy to ask what 
wretched priest had said mass; but when he heard the 
name of Alphonsus de Liguori, he felt greatly ashamed. 

At the beginning of the year 1748, Alphonsus returned 
to Naples. Marquis Brancone then informed him, that the 
king was dissatisfied, that the council of state had refused 
his request, and advised him to take advantage of the fa 
vorable feelings of the monarch towards him, and obtain a 
subsidy for the Congregation. Instead of this, Alphonsus 
presented a new petition to obtain the confirmation of his 
institute, saying to the Marquis, that he wished for nothing 
else; a mark of disinterestedness which pleased him, and 
induced him to present the petition himself to the king; 
but the political views which directed Tanucci, the then 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 131 

minister, did not accord with the pious views of the king, 
and again the business fell to the ground. 

He was scarcely twelve days in Naples, when he was 
seized with an asthma so violent that he could not speak, 
and was almost dead. He was unable to say mass for 
some weeks, and had to keep his bed, yet, he nevertheless 
continued to give advice and consolation to those who 
came to him on affairs of conscience ; the house was never 
empty. Immediately after his recovery, he began again to 
preach and give spiritual exercises. It was about this time 
that he became the object of a very malicious calumny. 
When speaking one day of the extreme goodness shown 
by our Saviour in the Sacrament of the altar, where he is 
always ready to give audience, he used the following 
words of St. Theresa : " Ii is not thus with kings on earth ; 
they give audience only a few times in the course of the 
year, and how much it costs one to obtain an audience ! 
And then no one can speak as he would wish to do, nor 
with the same confidence with which all may go to Jesus 
Christ in this sacrament, and at any moment." A certain 
person present construed these words into an insult to 
the king, and to ingratiate himself with his majesty, added 
all that his wickedness could suggest, and represented Al- 
phonsus as a man discontented with the king, and who 
would misrepresent him to his subjects. The accusation 
was listened to by Marquis Tanucci, who, being unac 
quainted with his integrity, threatened to banish him from 
Naples. The affair became public, and Alphonsus was 
looked upon as a guilty person about to be banished for 
disrespect to his sovereign. It was not until six days after, 
that he heard of all this. He went immediately to the 
Cardinal, to implore his protection, and then to Marquis 
Brancone, both of whom, convinced of his respect for his 
sovereign, bade him continue his apostolic labors, and fear 
nothing, assuring him that the king knew him too well to 
lend an ear to such a report. They both spoke to Tanucci, 
who was soon undeceived, and from that time held him in 
the highest esteem and veneration. 



13*2 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Through Marquis Brancone he obtained another audi 
ence of the king, when he strove to convince him of the 
necessity of his approbation for the new-born Congrega 
tion, in order to sustain it against the attacks of its ene 
mies. The king, pleased with all he heard, dismissed him, 
bidding him take courage and rely upon his protection. 
Before leaving Naples, he was requested to give a retreat in 
the barracks at Pizzofalconi, which he opened on the 28th 
of March Prince Castropignano assisted with the state 
major and many other cavaliers. When the prince saw the 
effect produced on the officers, he besought him to give 
the spiritual exercises also to the men. He consented, and 
gave two hours more to the soldiers, although he suffered 
much from the excessive cold of the church. On the 7th 
of April, the exercises terminated ; scandals had disap 
peared from among the soldiers, blasphemies were no 
longer heard, taverns were deserted, and lewd women 
banished from their quarters. He procured for them book? 
of devotion, and as they could not afford to purchase them, 
he furnished a little library for them. The effects pro 
duced on the officers were still greater, and five among 
them quitted the service, and entered religious houses. 

The Congregation at Nocera was still agitated by the 
tempest, when an event occurred which brought peace at 
last to the Community. A Dean in the neighborhood, 
who had been prejudiced against them, one evening, when 
he was returning home, was beaten on the head with some 
sharp instrument by one of his relatives, for having often 
remonstrated with him because of the irregularities of his 
life. He was carried into a neighboring convent appa 
rently dying, which when F. Mazzini heard, he ran in all 
haste to render him assistance, and continued to assist 
him with the utmost care until he was convalescent. The 
other fathers were also assiduous in their attention to him, 
and such was the change produced on his mind, that he 
could think of nothing but how to recompense their ser 
vices. His conduct disconcerted the malcontents, and he. 
in concert with Mgr. Volpe, labored to disabuse the Supe- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 133 

riors of religious houses and the few priests who still 
stood out against them, and peace was shortly restored. 
The generosity of Alphonsus soon consolidated it. In 
the month of October, the king s council had decided in 
his favor, and against Contaldi. Alphonsus, having the tran 
quillity of the Congregation more at heart than its tempo 
ral interests, succeeded in persuading the Bishop to allow 
him to resign at once the donation made by Contaldi, only 
requesting him, as a favor, to pay a debt of nine hundred 
ducats, contracted in building. This disinterested con 
duct gained him more than ever the esteem of good men, 
and as for the Dean, he could never cease expressing his 
admiration; he came to make a retreat at Ciorani, and 
ever after continued to be a powerful protector of the In 
stitute in every emergency. Mgr. Volpe contributed much 
to the establishment of peace. A just appreciator of the 
merits of Alphonsus and his children, he frequented the 
house, and consulted the missionaries on all occasions of 
difficulty. He gave audiences in their house. He ordered 
a great number to come to it for spiritual exercises, to be 
instructed in the rubrics, or to reform their conduct. The 
esteem thus shown by the Bishop, ended in conciliating 
the respect and veneration of their greatest enemies. 

After his return from Naples to Ciorani, Alphonsus, in 
vited by the people and neighboring curates, continued 
his warfare against the strongholds of Satan, in every di 
rection, and with his accustomed success. In October he 
returned to Naples, not having been able to comply, on his 
last visit, with all the demands made upon him. He com 
menced by opening a mission in the church of St. Anna 
de-Palazzo, in which numbers were converted who had 
never approached the tribunal of penance, and it seemed 
as if he had only to cast the net, to receive the miraculous 
draught of fishes. After this he was sent for to preach 
penance in the suburb of St. Anthony, to which, on a 
former occasion, through the endeavors of F. Sarnelli and 
partially of himself, the unfortunate women of the town 
had been compelled to withdraw. His labors were not 
12 



134 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

unfruitful ; many of these poor creatures, touched by grace,, 
began to detest their crimes; numbers were placed in 
houses of refuge, others were taken care of by charitable 
persons; besides, a great number of young girls were saved, 
who, though not yet engaged in the ways of sin, were pre 
paring for it. He also visited and preached in many 
houses of religious women, while many, both of the priest 
hood and laity, daily came to him for instruction and ad 
vice, so that he had difficulty in finding leisure to recite 
his office and perform his other devotional exercises. 

Cardinal Spinelli desired him to give a retreat in the ca 
thedral, during which the church could scarcely contain 
the multitude. An eye-witness has remarked, that eternity 
only can disclose the wonders of grace then operated, and 
this even among many professed infidels. At length Al- 
phonsus departed for^the country, to distribute the bread 
of eternal life to the more destitute. At the town of Vietri. 
a man renowned for his infidelity, went one day into the 
church, for the purpose, he said, of criticising his sermojn. 
He had not listened long, when entering into himself he 
recognised his deplorable condition, and full of repentance, 
detested his former blindness. "The sermons of other 
preachers," said he, " speak but to the mind ; but the 
sermons of F. Alphonsus penetrate to the heart." He 
immediately went to confession, and persevered to the end. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Alphonsus obtains the approbation of his Congregation at 
Rome. He holds the first General Chapter, and is elected 
Rector Major. Difficulties with some subjectt. Other 
difficulties in Naples. He publishes his Moral Theology. 

ENCOURAGED by the pious disposition of the king, 
and having obtained for his Congregation the support 
of so many Bishops, Alphonsus determined to apply for 
approbation to the Pope. He addressed a petition to Ben- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 135 

edict XIV, by the hand of Mgr. Puoti, a prelate whom his 
Holiness honored with his particular friendship. The 
Pope ordered at once Cardinal Gentili, prefect of the Con 
gregation of the Council of Trent, to charge Cardinal Spi- 
nelli to take information and declare his sentiment on the 
subject. His Eminence asked for the rules, and gave them 
to the Canon Simede, and his auditor, the Abbe Blaschi, 
for examination. All three admired the wisdom with 
which every thing had been arranged. The Cardinal, 
however, wished some alterations, viz. with regard to fast 
ing, fearing for the health of the subjects, when undergo 
ing so much fatigue, and then with regard to the number 
of consultors, wishing to have the number limited to six, 
instead of twelve, which number Alphonsus had deter 
mined upon, to imitate the College of the Twelve Apostles. 

When he was thus assured of the approbation of Car 
dinal Spinelli, every one advised Alphonsus to go himself 
to Rome, but he concealed his humility under the pretence 
of his infirmities, and confided the whole affair to the man 
agement of F. Villarii, who was accompanied by another 
Father. Many Bishops, besides those in whose dioceses 
the Congregation was established, wrote to give them fa 
vorable testimony at the court of Rome; and they had 
letters from the most distinguished personages to the Car 
dinal Orsini, and the Duke of Tora. The general of the 
the Order of St. Basil, and the missionaries of St. Vincent 
of Paul, exerted themselves also in their favor, and the 
Abbot of another religious house gave them great assist 
ance. Cardinal Bisozzi was named Reporter; they had 
wished for Cardinal Orsini, but Cardinal Gentili, the prefect, 
said to F. Villani, that by this appointment he secured for 
them a man of still more weight, and when Orsini was 
told of it, he remarked : " You have now two instead of 
one," and afterwards went himself to deliver the request 
into Bisozzi s hands. 

When the rule was presented to the Sacred Congrega 
tion, they retrenched, as superfluous, the vow of placing 
themselves at the disposal of the Pope, to be sent, whenever 



136 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

he should be pleased, to preach to the heathen. " We sup 
pose," said the Cardinal, " that all religious orders are al 
ways ready to obey the first signal given by the Holy Fa 
ther." Besides, Alphonsus, in order to take from his Con 
gregation the means of amassing wealth, having fixed that 
the rents of no house should exceed the sum of twelve 
hundred ducats, the Cardinals, though admiring his mode 
ration, fixed the maximum at fifteen hundred for ordinary 
houses, and two thousand for the house of novices and stu 
dents, in consideration of unforeseen expenses that might 
come upon them. They were satisfied with every thing 
else, and full of admiration for the rule, they unanimously 
approved it. But the devil would not allow things to pro 
ceed without his interference. The auditor of Cardinal 
Bisozzi, having read the approbation of Cardinal Spi- 
nelli, which exalted the great good done by the Institute, 
and its utility to the kingdom, pretended that this meant it 
should be confined to the kingdom of Naples. But the 
Cardinal, having been consulted, said that Alphonsus had 
not applied to the Pope for the kingdom of Naples only, 
but to obtain his sanction for the Congregation throughout 
the whole Church. " It is but just," he added, " that a 
work of so much magnitude should be universal." 

Although all was in train, nothing was yet decreed. 
-At length, towards the end of February, (1749,) F. Villani 
went to Cardinal Orsini, who said to him : " Be comforted, 
this morning the Sacred Congregation has had one of the 
most difficult conferences." "But," said F. Villani, "what 
cannot be done in the Congregation, might it not be done in 
the house of the Cardinal Prefect ?" " True," said the Car 
dinal, " and I will go to him immediately, for I have some 
thing to say to him that concerns myself." " If you would 
succeed in your affairs," replied Villani, "begin by speak 
ing of mine." " Depend on it," said the Cardinal, "and 
since you say so, recommend my business to God with 
yours." That same day, the decree of approbation was 
given, and the Cardinal, with his own* hand, wrote to 
inform Villani of the news. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 137 

F. ViHani being presented to the Pope to thank him for 
his approbation, and ask the confirmation of it, his Holi 
ness inquired for the decree. He replied that it was an 
nexed to the rule. " That is what I wish to examine," 
said the Pope. The following day he read the decree and * 
rule. He was particularly pleased to find that the offices 
of Rector Major and his Counsellors were perpetual. " It 
is this," said he, " that hinders parties and divisions, so 
often met with among regulars." Seeing that the Congre 
gation bore the name of the Holy Saviour, and reflecting 
that there was a Congregation established at Venice, which 
already bore that name, he wished them to take the title of 
the "Most Holy Redeemer." The Pope named also AI- 
phonsus perpetual Superior of the Congregation. Hearing 
of this, Alphonsus wrote from Ciorani to beseech them to 
obtain for him deliverance from so heavy a burden, express 
ing in the humblest terms his weakness and incapacity for 
sustaining such a charge. F. Villani wrote to him re 
peatedly on the necessity and propriety of continuing Rec 
tor. In one of his last letters on the subject, he says : 
" Since your Reverence is named perpetual Rector, it is 
necessary to have patience and submit to the yoke. My 
Father, speak no more on the subject; I believe you are 
bound by duty, by justice, and by gratitude." 

There had been still another attempt made to crush the 
affair at Rome. A respectable Congregation at Naples, 
beheld with a jealous eye the success of Alphonsus and 
his Congregation, and sent with all haste one of its mem 
bers to Rome to oppose him as much as possible ; but he 
could do nothing. The same institute sent another Father 
for the same purpose, but he wrote back that he had come 
too late, for every thing was already concluded to the great 
satisfaction of both Pope and Cardinals. But if the au 
thor of evil could not hinder the Holy Father -from giving 
his approbation, he tried at least to paralyze it. We have 
already seen that the Sacred Congregation approved the 
rules and the Institute. Now, the person charged with the 
arrangement of the minutes, having been gained by the 
12* 



138 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

friends of the envoy mentioned above, wrote, " Regula et 
non Institutum." But the Pope, when the decree was 
presented to him, seeing the ruse, was very indignant, and 
taking the pen in his own hand, wrote, "Regula et Insti 
tutum," so that, to the confusion of the malevolent, Al- 
phonsus had the satisfaction of receiving from Rome, on 
the 25th of February, 1749, the confirmation of the Rule 
and the Institute. When he received this news, he burst 
into tears of joy, and cast himself with his face to the 
earth, all the others present following his example. After 
having in this posture thanked God for his mercies, they 
rang the bell of the community, when, all proceeding to 
the church, the Te Deum was chanted, after which !A1- 
phonsus exhorted all to correspond to so great a grace, by 
redoubled fervor in the exact observance of the rule, and in 
love towards Jesus Christ and his holy Mother Mary. 

The approbation of the Institute made a great noise at 
Rome ; they spoke of nothing but the new Congregation 
of missionaries approved by the Pope, of the fervor which- 
reigned among them, and the great good they did. In con 
sequence of this, a great number of subjects, distinguished 
for their virtue as well as for their science, applied to 
be admitted into the order. Two curates renounced their 
benefices and quitted Rome for Ciorani. About the same 
time, the Abbot mentioned before, as having been useful in 
obtaining the approbation of the rule, wished also to be 
admitted. He was a man of great merit, profoundly versed 
in science, divine and human. Though Alphonsus had 
made it a rule never to admit into his Congregation any 
regular, nor any one who had ever lived in community, yet 
in consideration of the distinguished merit of the Abbot, 
and the services he had rendered to the Congregation, he 
made no difficulty in receiving him. The Pope; by a brief, 
agreed to, and even encouraged, this determination, and the 
Abbot, after having, with the consent of Alphonsus, made 
the vows prescribed by the rule, to Cardinal Orsini, at the 
feet of St. Peter in the Vatican, laid aside his insignia, took 
the habit, and departed for Ciorani. When it became known 



LIFE OF ST. A.LPHONSUS. 139 

at Naples that the Congregation was confirmed by the 
Pope, a great many excellent young men and distinguished 
priests, presented themselves also for admission. The 
prince of Castellaneta, D. Matthias Miroballo, of Aragon, 
renewed his solicitation to be admitted, but Alphonsus be 
lieved himself bound to refuse him. F. Mandarini again 
began to solicit a re-union, but he refused again to yield to 
his entreaties, as also to those of his subjects who requested 
individually to be received. 

In the month of October of the same year, Alphonsus 
held his first General Chapter. At the opening of it, he 
invited all the members, through F. Cafaro. who opened 
the meeting, to accept the rules, and to proceed to a formal 
election to all the offices in general, and in order that the 
suffrages might be free, that each one should first divest 
himself of the office he held. All obeyed, and although 
the Pope had confirmed him in the perpetual Rectorship, 
he was the first to give the example, and kneeling in the 
midst of the chapter, laid down his authority, humbling 
himself before them, and asking pardon for all that had 
been amiss in his past conduct. Afterwards, that they 
might recommend themselves to God, he suggested that all 
should make a retreat of three days, and above all, he in 
sisted that, in electing the Rector Major, they should vote 
for him whom before God they thought best qualified to 
fill the office; in short, he neglected no means for exempt 
ing himself of the burden. The rules were read, and all 
joyfully accepted them, and renewed the vows of poverty, 
chastity and obedience, with the oath of persevering in the 
Congregation until death. After the three days retreat, 
they proceeded to the nomination of the Rector Major, and 
at the first scrutiny Alphonsus was unanimously elected 
for life. He adored the judgment of God, thanked the as 
sembly who deigned thus to honor him, and submitting to 
the divine will, again took up the heavy burden. They 
proceeded then to the election to all the other charges and 
offices, and established the necessary regulations for the no 
vitiate, as also for the house for studies, determining the 



140 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

system and authors to be followed in the teaching of belles- 
lettres, philosophy, and theology. The chapter finished 
by appointing the F. Abbot professor of philosophy and 
theology, for which office his vast erudition rendered him 
eminently qualified. 

It was during the sitting of the chapter, that the heart of 
Alphonsus, saddened at the temporal poverty in which they 
were plunged, was gladdened by the determination of some 
gentlemen of Pagani. They had seen, some months be 
fore, the young students walking in the neighborhood, and 
from their modesty and good behaviour, formed a very 
favorable judgment of the Institute. They earnestly re 
quested him to transfer the students to the house at Pa 
gani, promising that if the Congregation would not support 
the expense, they would willingly contribute to it them 
selves. Alphonsus consented to this, and they all sub 
scribed certain annual sums, and Dominic de Mayo, the 
Dean, signalised himself among them by his generosity. 
The Bishop also contributed largely, taking the greatest 
interest in the education of the students. 

When all was regulated for the interior of the Congre 
gation, Alphonsus recommenced in the autumn his course 
of missions. At the opening of the Jubilee in 1750, Mgr. 
de Novelles invited him to give a mission at Sarno. God 
showered abundant graces on this mission in particular. 
A great number of bravos by profession, placed in the 
hands of the missionaries their daggers, their pistols, and 
bayonets, and from that time, embraced a peaceful and 
pious life. It is on record, that for ten years after this, the 
taverns, were quite deserted. It was during this mission 
that Alphonsus gave an extraordinary example of submis 
sion and obedience. His beard had been clipped with 
scissors the previous evening, and its irregularities were 
quite in keeping with his mantle and cassock, both mended 
in a thousand places. The Bishop, wishing to try him, 
said laughingly: "Notwithstanding our wish to be eco 
nomical, a few grani are necessary to have you shaved, 
so I will pay for you myself;" at the same time, he made a 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 141 

sign to a servant to call a barber. Alphonsus said nothing, 
and when the barber came, he presented himself to be 
shaved with the most perfect indifference, although it was 
eighteen years since a razor had touched his chin. 

When he had finished the mission in this town, accom 
panied by fourteen missionaries, he commenced to go 
through the whole diocese. During his sojourn at Malfi, 
in the Pouille, where Mgr. Busti had invited him to preach 
in his cathedral, Alphonsus learned the happy passage to 
heaven of F. Cesar Sportelli, his first companion in the 
Congregation. This loss was a heavy blow to him, but he 
had to rejoice, because of the circumstances attending his 
death. A month previous, the saintly Father had foretold 
the day and the hour of his death, and when one of the 
Fathers set out to join Alphonsus on the mission, he said 
to him, "Kiss the hand of our Rector for me, and say to 
him that, when he shall receive at Malfi the news of my 
death, he must recommend my soul to Jesus Christ." He 
died in the odor of sanctity, and God glorified him by 
many miracles. Six months after his death, when they 
opened the coffin in presence of the ecclesiastical judges, 
the body was found uncorrupt, and blood was drawn from 
his veins. 

In the course of his missions in the diocese of Malfi, 
Alphonsus visited Ripacandida, where there was a convent 
of Carmelite nuns, strict observers of the rule. He gave 
them a retreat from which he drew not less profit than he 
gave. He modified, however, their bodily austerities, in 
which he wished them to use more discretion, and estab 
lished some relaxation both for the body and the mind. " I 
did not believe," he said, "that I should find on this rock 
such a beautiful flower." 

Having returned to Ciorani, he finished and published in 
the course of this year, 1750, his precious work entitled 
the " Glories of Mary." It was the fruit of years, in which 
he had employed himself to choose from among the works 
of holy Fathers and Theologians, the most conclusive 
proofs in favor of the prerogatives of Mary, and the fittest 



142 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

to engage the faithful to devote themselves to her service. 
The applause with which the book was received, and the 
number of editions through which it has gone, is scarcely 
to be credited. 

The contradiction which so many young men had to en 
counter who joined the Congregation, induced Alphonsus 
to write, about this time, a small work entitled "Advice re 
garding a Religious Vocation," in which he showed that a 
divine vocation is not to be subjected to the will of rela 
tions, and that, when God calls us, we must obey Him. He 
showed the excellence and advantages of the religious 
state, which is the most certain way of salvation, and 
pointed out the means of preserving the vocation. This 
last point he treated in particular in another little work 
called "Advice to Novices," to aid them in persevering in 
their vocation. He presented these two little works to all 
the novitiates in Naples, and it was every where favorably 
received. " If," said he, " I can hinder one vocation from 
being lost, the gain is not little." 

[9, Alphonsus was enjoying the greatest happiness in seeing 
his Congregation approved by the Pope, and each day 
making new progress, when a sad reverse came to change 
his joy and consolation into bitterness. The Father Ab 
bot was scarcely settled at Ciorani, when, by the brilliancy 
of his talents, he had gained the admiration of all the stu 
dents, and their hearts also by his edifying conduct. He 
had been sent with twelve of the most talented to Pagani. 
Besides philosophy, he taught them, with the greatest suc 
cess, the elements of sacred and profane history, and the 
learned languages. The Fathers in general rejoiced in his 
success, but Alphonsus feared that the pre-eminence of 
belles-lettres would hurt the spiritual advancement of the 
young men. The commencement with the Abbot had 
been good, but his fervor did not last ; habituated to com 
mand, he could not humble himself to obey. The rule 
became a restraint for him; the want of liberty preyed upon 
his mind; in his conversations with the young men, he 
would sometimes disapprove of one thing, sometimes 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 143 

would modify another; and with regard to certain practices 
of devotion, he would not even suffer them. Other prac 
tices of exterior humiliation, were in his opinion but grim 
aces, which produced no effect, though on his first arrival 
at Ciorani he had practised them himself, and considered 
them as being useful for promoting humility. F. Mazzini, 
being informed of all this, believed he ought to give him a 
friendly warning, but the Abbot received it with a very bad 
grace, and ceased not to spread maxims contrary to a re 
ligious life. When Alphonsus heard at Ciorani of this 
sad news, his heart was oppressed. He advised F. Maz 
zini to be prudent, and wrote at the same time to the Ab 
bot, representing to him the great evil that might result 
from diversity of opinion in a newly established institute ; 
but seeing that this only embittered him against F. Mazzini, 
he withdrew the latter from Nocera. Notwithstanding this, 
things did not take a better turn ; he troubled the minds of 
the students to such an extent, that they formed themselves 
into two opposite parties. When Alphonsus saw the evil 
thus grow worse, he summoned the Abbot to Ciorani, in 
the month of September, 1750, and as they were giving a 
retreat to the young men preparing for holy orders, he gave 
him the charge of it, that he might not think of returning 
to Pagani. The Abbot did not like this, and showed great 
discontent, when Alphonsus said to him firmly : " Either 
you must obey, or you are free to return to your own 
Order." He passed the night in consideration, and then 
agreed to give the exercises, but declared his intention of 
leaving the Congregation. He, however, entered into 
himself and became humble. The Fathers Villani and 
Cafaro interceded for him, and Alphonsus, not wishing to 
disgrace him, sent him back again to Nocera. Peace 
seemed re-established, but it was only a truce. The 
Abbot recommenced his instructions, and among the 
students one was of Paul, another of Apollo. Not to com 
promise every thing, Alphonsus tried another expedient. 
He recalled him to Ciorani. " Every Congregation," said 
he, " has an asylum at Rome, why should not we try to 



144 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

establish an hospice there?" And it was agreed to send 
him there with another Father. But the Abbot, beginning 
to see the reason why Alphonsus had taken this resolution, 
was exceedingly displeased, and yielding to the temptation, 
meditated the ruin of the students altogether. He pro 
posed to them to join with him and go to Rome, where 
they would found a new institute on a footing altogether 
different. Four of them, the flower of the whole, deter 
mined to follow this new founder, Alphonsus was igno 
rant of this plot, and engaged in arranging all things for 
the journey of the Abbot. He was to depart for Naples on 
the 15th of October; he had already taken leave of his 
friends; and on the 14th, Alphonsus had made the twelve 
students come to Ciorani. They arrived in the morning, 
and the same evening Alphonsus assembled a council, and 
all at once proposed the expulsion of the Abbot; he was 
opposed, but the very next day they changed their resolution, 
when the four young men presented themselves to Alphon 
sus with staves in hand and mantles under their arms, de 
manding dispensation from the vows. Alphonsus threw 
himself at their feet, the tears gushing from his eyes, as he 
strove to convince them of the snare into which they were 
falling. Finding them obstinate, he proposed to them to 
make a retreat of eight days, and after that to make their 
decision; but all was useless, they turned their back on 
him, and with an air of contempt, without having obtained 
their dispensation, they all four departed for Nocera. 

There was a circumstance which showed in a striking 
manner the protection God granted to Alphonsus. The 
Abbot, in order to justify himself, had drawn up a memorial 
signed by these four young men, and addressed to the 
Pope, in which they stated a thousand lies against Al 
phonsus and the Congregation, which they said was full 
of grave disorders. Thus he flattered himself he should 
not only obtain a dispensation for the four students, but 
that his Holiness would advise them to enter the institute 
he proposed to form. That same morning Alphonsus sent 
an order to F. Fiocchi, Rector at Nocera, to inform the 



LIFE OF ST. -ALPHONSUS. 145 

Abbot, in whatever spot he might be found, that he was 
no longer a member of the Congregation. The Abbot had 
gone to take leave of the Bishop, and F. Fiocchi followed 
him and told him the decision that had been come to. He 
had not the presence of mind to return to the house and 
remove his papers, and the memorial just alluded to was 
found in his table drawer: so he was minus his memorial, 
and fully unmasked. 

Such were the consequences of the conduct of a subject 
who had repaid with ingratitude the high estimation in 
which he had been held. At Naples, he joined the four 
students, where he seduced a young priest in the College 
of the Holy Family, under the pretence that he had already 
established at Rome his new Congregation, and that the 
Pope had himself designated the four students as so many 
apostles to gain the palm of martyrdom among the infidels. 
But the Abbot soon set out alone for Rome, and abandoned 
the four young victims without their having the least suspi 
cion of it. Alphonsus on this occasion made of him a 
prophecy, fulfilled a few years later; he said to one of the 
Fathers of the same order: "The Abbot has made us weep 
to-day; a time will come when he will make you weep 
also." Indeed, he troubled the whole order by dividing 
the abbeys of the kingdom of Naples from those of the 
Pontifical States, and making himself be declared by the 
Pope, Perpetual Abbot in Rome, and commissary-general 
for life to the abbeys in the Pontifical States, causing many 
other annoyances to the convents in both kingdoms. Al 
phonsus attributed the discovery of the plot to the special 
protection of St. Theresa, for all happened between the 
first and second vespers of the feast of that saint. Since 
that time the Congregation has taken her for one of its 
principal patrons. The affliction of Alphonsus was, how 
ever, partly tempered by the return of one of the four young 
men a few days after, who threw himself at his feet. Some 
time later, a second followed his example. He received 
them both as a tender father, and ever after showed them a 
special affection. 
13 



146 LIFE OF ST." ALPHONSUS. 

Several of the counsels Alphonsusgave to the young stu 
dents on this occasion, are still on record: "My dear 
brethren," he said, "I would earnestly recommend you not 
to keep your conscience closed, for if these unfortunates 
who have gone out from us had manifested the state of their 
souls to their Superiors, they would not now be where they 
are. Had they declared themselves not to any one indif 
ferently, but to him who holds towards us the place of God, 
and cannot deceive us, this had not happened." Again : 
"During a temptation, never take a resolution, whatever 
the case may be, and however holy it may appear, but go 
instantly, and discover it to your Superior. When the 
temptation is upon us, we do not recognise that it comes 
from the devil. He conceals himself under a veil, and 
puts before our eyes treacherous spectacles, making us see 
things, not as they are in themselves, but according to our 
passions. If we would avoid the snare, we should instantly 
recommend ourselves to God, and abandon ourselves into 
his hands." And again: "Sapere, et sapere ad sobrieta- 
tem." The Abbot had introduced among the students a 
forced application to study, but all this afflicted Alphonsus, 
and he would not suffer it. "I am not sorry," he said, 
after his departure, "when I see you retrench from your 
studies and give more time to prayer. We have been called 
to succor poor destitute souls in the country, for this rea 
son, we have more need of sanctity than of science. If 
we are not holy, we are exposed to the peril of falling into 
a thousand imperfections and a thousand impatiences with 
this sort of people. I repeat once more, if to give to spi 
rituality you retrench something from your studies, far from 
being sorry, I shall on the contrary experience great con 
solation." All this must be understood of a forced appli 
cation, as that introduced by the Abbot to the detriment of 
the spirit of piety. For nothing can be more strong than 
the terms in which he recommended, at other times ; as also 
in the rules, the proper application to science, and this as 
well in regard to the students, as in regard to the priests of 
the institute. His motto was: "A laborer without science, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 147 

though he be a man of prayer, is like a soldier without 
arms." He wrote, at the same time, to all the houses the 
following circular: 

"To my Brethren of the Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer. Blessed be Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Theresa. 

" My very dear Brethren, you know that I am not afflicted 
when I hear of some one among my brethren being called 
to another life. I am touched by it, because I am a crea 
ture of flesh and blood; but I am comforted, because he 
has died in a Congregation of which I am certain all the 
members will be saved. Neither am I afflicted when one 
among us, because of his faults, ceases to be a member of 
the Congregation; I am even consoled by seeing that we 
are delivered from a sickly sheep that might have infected 
others. Far less am I afflicted because of persecutions; 
on the contrary, they inspire me with courage; because if 
we conduct ourselves well, we are certain God will not 
abandon us. But that which alarms me is, to learn that 
there is among us one who is vicious, who is negligent in 
obeying, and who pays little regard to the rule. My 
brethren, you know it, some who have been with us, are 
now out of the Congregation. What will their end be? I 
cannot tell. But of this T am certain, they will lead a life 
of continued misfortune, they will live in trouble, and die 
without peace, for they have abandoned their vocation. . . . 
In mental prayer, they will be torn by remorse of conscience 
for having left God, and thus they will abandon it, and then 
God knows where they will end. 

"I beseech you to avoid faults of deliberation, arid above 

all, those for which you have been reprimanded. If cor- 

rection leads the delinquent to amend, the fault will be 

nothing, but when he will not amend, the devil employs 

every artifice to make him lose his vocation. 

"By the grace of God, wherever we go on mission we 
perform wonders, and people say they have never had a 
mission such as ours. And why? Because we go by obe 
dience, we go in poverty, we preach Christ crucified, and 
each one is attentive to acquit himself of the charge im- 



148 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



posed upon him. I have been deeply grieved to learn that 
some among you, when on mission, have been desirous of 
obtaining the more honorable employments, such as preach 
ing or instructing. But what fruit could he produce, who 
preaches from pride ? It is a thing which I have in horror. 
If the spirit of ambition enters the Congregation, the mis 
sions will do little good, or rather they will do none at all." 

Towards the end of the autumn of 1750, Alphonsus 
continued to give missions in different quarters, chiefly in 
the diocese of Salerno, and at Montemarano, in which 
place numbers of criminals came to him, touched by re 
morse, and were placed by him in the right way. The 
conversion of these malefactors was a subject of great 
consolation in the town, and still more in the neighboring 
country. 

He had scarcely returned to Nocera, when his heart was 
pierced by a new sorrow, the departure of an ancient 
Father whom he loved much, and who was very useful in 
the missions. Offended by a reasonable and moderate 
correction from his Superior, he communicated to no per 
son his temptation, and set off for Nocera, believing Al 
phonsus would give him satisfaction. But reflecting by 
the way on the inconsiderate step he had taken, and not 
feeling the courage to present himself before Alphonsus^ 
he directed his steps to his own house. All the efforts of 
Alphonsus and others, to induce him to return, were una 
vailing. This happened on the 25th of July, 1751, and as 
the inconstancy of this Father had produced a great sensa 
tion in the Congregation, he again wrote a circular to all 
the houses on the 27th. Among other things, he says in 
it: "I pray God that he may immediately chase from among 
us all those proud and haughty spirits who cannot brook a 
reprimand. ... He who refuses to be as potters clay, to be 
trodden under the feet of all, let him fly, and let him fly 
immediately. The Lord will be better satisfied if there re 
main but two who are truly humble and mortified, than if 
there remained a thousand who were imperfect. ... I would 
impress it also upon the heart of each one of you, never to 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 149 

speak evil of the conduct or any thing else of the Supe 
riors. The in-discreet zeal of some does far more harm than 
good to the Congregation. Those who are truly zealous, 
when they remark some disorder or inobservance, let them 
tell it in secret to the monitor of the house, &c. Be atten 
tive, to take count of the least faults, because they are the 
little foxes the devil makes use of to devastate our mind, 
and render us incapable of being solicitous to preserve our 
vocation. Let us, my dear brethren, sustain ourselves by 
prayer, and by continual prayer, otherwise we shall do 
nothing." After the apostolic courses of the year 1751, 
which were not less fruitful in conversions than the former 
ones, and having giving missions in the territory of Maria- 
nella, where he had first seen the light, he wished to pass 
through Naples on his return. He alighted at the door of 
the small hospice given to him by his brother Hercules. 
When the people saw a man riding on a white ass, his 
beard neglected, and his clothes ragged and worn, they did 
not recognise him, but mistaking him for a vagabond, they 
began hooting and ridiculing him. Alphonsus took it all 
with great good humor, till a merchant calling out his 
name, made them understand he was the brother of D. 
Hercules. It was evening when he arrived, worn out with 
fatigue; he would not sup, but said to the lay-brother that 
he would lie down. D. Hercules came to visit him, but 
fearing to disturb his sleep, he resolved to return in the 
morning; but when he came, Alphonsus had not yet risen ; 
he returned after a while, and fearing some accident, forced 
open the door. He found him extended on his bed in a 
fainting fit, and ran to obtain help. The doctors ordered 
him to be undressed, and they found his body enveloped in 
sackcloth, which hindered him from breathing. They bled 
him, and then he began to come to himself. Seeing that 
he was discovered, he bitterly complained to the brother for 
having permitted such a thing. Fatigued and weak though 
he was, he nevertheless consented to give a sermon to the 
students of the Archiepiscopal Seminary, and visited seve 
ral monasteries where he was invited. 
13* 



150 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

This same year a new annoyance had overtaken Alphon- 
sus unexpectedly, which threatened ruin, and caused him 
great anxiety. It happened towards the end of January 
that the King, while hunting in the territory of Iliceto, saw 
the house of the missionaries, which is built on an emi 
nence, and asked one of his courtiers to whom it belonged. 
"It is the house of F. Liguori s missionaries," he replied, 
"and they have made a good hit there, having fallen heir 
to no less than sixty thousand ducats." He referred to the 
will of the late Canon Curate of Iliceto, which was men 
tioned above. "Ah!" said the King, "these then are just 
like the others: scarcely do they begin, when they set 
themselves to acquire wealth." Deceived by what he had 
heard, the King conceived an unfavorable opinion of the 
Congregation; all the court soon knew it, and every one 
talked of their ambition and the certainty of the order be 
ing suppressed. A tempest so unexpected alarmed the 
whole Congregation. Alphonsus, however, full of confi 
dence in God, said to his brethren: "The Lord will make 
the Congregation prosper, not by the applause, and the 
protection of princes, but by means of poverty and con 
tempt, of misery and persecution; when have we ever seen 
the works of God begin in the midst of applause?" Con 
fiding in the integrity of his conscience, he went to Na 
ples; he found the ministers too much prejudiced against 
the Congregation; everywhere they spoke of the wealth 
the missionaries had acquired. Alphonsus had recourse 
to the protection of God, and tried to obtain mercy by in 
creased mortifications, exhorting at the same time his 
brethren to join him in penance and prayer, by reciting in 
all the houses the psalm, " Qui habitat," and taking a dis 
cipline in common, in addition to those appointed in the 
rule. They multiplied their alms and offered many masses. 
In these critical circumstances, their affairs were the 
object of research to notaries and their subalterns, to as 
certain, in consequence of orders from Naples, the acquisi 
tions they had made in the several houses. But his Ma 
jesty, who could not doubt the integrity of Alphonsus, was 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 151 

not slow to reflect on the improbability of his suspicions, 
and said to the Marquis Brancone, that Alphonsus himself 
should arrario-e an account of the revenues of the different 

O 

houses. Alphonsus declared that the house of Iliceto had 
in all a yearly rent of three hundred ducats, and that the 
deductions made in consequence of different charges upon 
it, reduced it to much less; that those of Ciorani and Ca- 
posele had each about five hundred ducats of revenue;, but 
that Nocera had only the bare walls, and a small bit of 
garden ground. The reports made by the local authorities 
attributed much less to each house than Alphonsus had 
done, and his great sincerity confirmed the King more and 
more in the high opinion he had of him. But even when 
the calumny was exposed, Alphonsus could not get rid of 
uneasiness, the ministers were yet asking whether or not 
the Congregation should be suppressed. All were inclined 
to abolish it, they thought the kingdom had already more 
than sufficient religious establishments, and rather than to 
consent to the establishment of new ones, they thought of 
diminishing those already in existence. Alphonsus was 
without any human support, but he did not lose courage; 
he said that the souls of the blessed would defend his cause, 
and abandoned the interests of his Congregation to the 
piety of the King and the protection of Providence. He 
quitted Naples, and withdrew to Nocera to prepare for the 
missions of autumn and winter, and went to preach pen 
ance in the Archdiocese of Salerno. After Easter, 1752, 
he went to Gragnano, accompanied by twenty-two mis 
sionaries. Prodigies of grace were performed, particularly 
among the malefactors, many of whom were seen deposit 
ing their daggers and pistols at the feet of the Blessed 
Virgin. Among these was a celebrated bandit, who, in the 
procession to erect the calvary, carried one of the crosses 
on his shoulders, weeping so as to cause the whole people 
to shed tears of joy. 

In the course of these missions, Alphonsus had written 
to the Marquis Brancone to intercede with the King. The 
Marquis embraced every opportunity of speaking with his 



152 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Majesty, and at length wrote to Alphonsus that matters 
were so arranged, that he should come to Naples himself, 
which he accordingly did as soon as the missions were fin 
ished. He presented himself to the King, told him how, for 
nineteen years, he and his companions had visited the most 
remote and destitute villages of the kingdom ; he told him of 
thousands that had been converted in his own royal domains ; 
that each year they had given more than forty missions; 
he represented to him that the Archbishop of Conza and 
Salerno, and the Bishops of Bovino and Nocera, seeing 
the good produced, had established houses of missionaries 
in their respective dioceses, and that the Pope, informed of 
of what had been done, had approved the Institute for the 
whole Church; but that it was also necessary that the ap 
probation of the sovereign should be given, to insure the 
future existence of so^great a work. As for the acquiring 
of riches, as this was the sole obstacle that the ministers 
could oppose, he opened his heart to the King, showing 
him how very far he was from wishing his Congregation Jo 
become rich. "I am persuaded," he said, "that wherever 
abundance reigns, the laborer will abandon the axe, and 
the spade, and seek only repose. I would not wish that 
opulence should reign in the Congregation. I seek only 
to procure a modest livelihood, according to the intention 
of the Pope, and I beseech your Majesty to establish a fixed 
revenue, beyond which we may not go." He also had re 
course to the intervention of the Queen, which he managed 
to secure through the celebrated Jesuit, Francis Pipi, and 
Mother Mary Angela of Divine Love, who had been his 
penitent in the world, but was now Superior of a Carmelite 
Convent at Caporea, to which the Queen often resorted. 
He visited also the ministers, to urge upon them the im 
portance of this affair, in promoting the salvation of multi 
tudes of people. He spoke to them with tears, but his 
illustrious birth and extraordinary merits were not sufficient 
to protect him from insult. Some rejected him with unpi- 
tying bitterness. One minister in particular treated him 
with the utmost rudeness, and after listening with marked 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 153 

incivility to what he said, almost turned him out of doors. 
"Do not talk nonsense to me," he said, "and tell your 
stories to some old woman." Alphonsus bowed his head, 
and said nothing. On another occasion he said to one of 
the ministry, "My Lord, I recommend to you the cause of 
Jesus Christ," who replied in the most contemptuous man 
ner, "Jesus Christ has no cause in the royal chambers." 

In the midst of these difficult affairs, which detained him 
at Naples, he did not forget the work to which he had 
devoted his life. Even his sojourn in that capital was a 
continual mission. He gave a retreat in the church of the 
Pilgrims, during which, besides the conversion of many old 
in sin, hundreds of infidels abjured their errors. He often 
preached in the Chinese College, and many convents pro 
fited by his labors, When the negociations approached a 
close, he had many masses said, and multiplied his pen 
ances, to force, as it were, the benedictions of Heaven. 
He made special vows to the souls in purgatory, to St. 
Joseph, and St. Theresa, and wrote to many monasteries, 
begging for prayers and novenas. His hope being thus 
fixed on Him, in whom it can never be confounded, the 
affair was again proposed in the council, and they were 
finally approved in November, 1752, on condition that they 
acquired no new revenues for the future, the king furnish 
ing each priest and lay-brother with about twenty cents (of 
our money) a day, the surplus revenue being to be distri 
buted to the poor, and the moveables already acquired be 
ing to be adrninisterered by the bishops of the dioceses in 
which their houses were situated, the king not recognising 
their houses or colleges as ecclesiastical communities. 
This decree caused great embarrassment to Alphonsus, 
because he feared the existence of the houses was still 
insecure; but the Marquis Brancone viewed it in another 
light, and re-assured him on the subject. Thus was par 
tially fulfilled a prophecy he had made before, writing to 
Mary Angela of Capua: "I believe," he wrote, "that God 
will mortify my pride, and that this approbation will not be 
given until after I am dead." Indeed, it was not until the 



154 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

next reign, after he was dead, that the Congregation was 
placed on a proper footing. 

Towards the commencement of the year 1753, notwith 
standing his grave and multiplied embarrassments, Alphon- 
sus published his Moral Theology. In the year 1748, he had, 
at the request of the Fathers of his Congregation, enriched 
Busembaum with notes, which they wished to have printed, 
that they might consult them with facility. At a later pe 
riod, he enlarged this work, and published it in two thick 
volumes, which he dedicated to Benedict XIV, who gave 
it his approbation. 

This work was the fruit of a pure zeal for the glory of 
God and the salvation of souls, and while he labored at it, 
he never embraced or rejected any opinion without having 
this double object in view, nor did he ever take up his pen 
without recommending* himself to Jesus Christ and the 
Blessed Virgin, whose images he had always before him. 
He was exceedingly careful to avoid the extremes of a re 
laxed probabilism, or a rigid austerity, both of which are, 
pernicious to souls; but he followed throughout the line 
of exact equity, equally free from that rigid spirit which 
turns into precept that which is not, wishing to make every 
thing sinful, and from that easy and accommodating spirit 
which gives liberty where there is precept. Attaching him 
self to no party, he respected all, but above all he revered 
reason, and made the authority of the Church his law. He 
several times reproached the decisions of the most rigid 
theologians with relaxation, and hesitated not sometimes to 
reject, as too rigid, the decisions of the most indulgent. 
When he hesitated between two opinions, he left the reader 
at liberty to choose between them for himself. Whenever 
he had a difficult case to consider, besides meditation and 
prayer, he passed entire months in examining different 
opinions, and when he was not convinced, not satisfied 
with consulting the Fathers of his own Congregation, he 
sent to Rome and Naples for the opinions of the best the 
ologians, and principally to the Sacred Congregations which 
are at Rome, as the organs of the Sovereign Pontiff. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 155 

Notwithstanding the favorable reception the first edition 
of this work met with, he reviewed the whole, to examine 
it with still more reflection before publishing a second edi 
tion, he corrected it in several points, as he himself an 
nounces in the preface. The respectable Congregations of 
Naples, however, did not agree in his retractations, judging 
that the opinions which he retracted were sufficiently pro 
bable. Some also said these retractations were not to his 
credit. "Let them say what they will," he replied; "I 
seek not my own glory, I seek only the glory of Jesus 
Christ, and the salvation of souls." The present time in 
which we live shows how much and in what manner God 
blessed his labors and upright intentions, not only in Italy, 
but in all other countries. The Pope spoke prophetically, 
when he assured him of universal approbation, this being 
literally the case in these our times. Benedict XIV had 
such a high esteem for his wisdom, that on one occasion, 
when a celebrated Neapolitan missionary came to consult 
him on a difficult case, this great Pope would not give a 
decision, but contented himself with replying: "You have 
the Father Liguori at Naples, consult him." 

The King, Charles III, showed during this year how 
much he was satisfied with the labors of Alphonsus and his 
companions. A respectable and very ancient order had 
fallen into decay, and a holy individual, charmed with the 
zeal of Alphonsus, proposed to his Majesty that he should 
undertake the reform of it, in order that the Congregation 
might thus be legally erected into a religious order in the 
kingdom, to perpetuate the work of the missions. The 
King and the Queen were delighted with the idea, and 
proposed to the Marquis Brancone to mention it to Al 
phonsus. Their plan was, that he and his companions, 
without abandoning their own rule, should take the habit 
and the name of the order in question, the ancient religious 
being permitted to retire in certain of their convents, with 
out being disquieted by the reform. Alphonsus begged the 
Marquis to give him time to consult with his companions 
before replying to the King. The project was advantageous 



156 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

in some respects, but they recognised that, besides many 
dangers and contradictions to which the enterprise would 
expose them, the work of the missions, instead of progress 
ing, would only be seriously impeded, and that if the King 
died before every thing was settled, the ancient order con 
tinuing to exist, they might find themselves some day nei 
ther missionaries nor religious. From these and other 
powerful considerations, he abandoned all idea of the 
scheme, although deeply grateful for the favor his sovereign 
had shown him. 

In the month of July, 1753, during the Novena of the 
feast of Mount Carmel, which, though overpowered by 
previous fatigue, he had accepted to give at Saragnano, the 
Virgin, his Mother, showed how agreeable he was to her. 
They were lodged in the house of a physician named Fran 
cis Mari, who had invited them. Twelve Fathers arrived 
one Thursday immediately before dinner, and as they were 
not expected, nothing was prepared for such a large party. 
The physician sent to his neighbors, but as he could get 
nothing, he requested Alphonsus to dispense with the rule 
and allow him to serve fowls. "No, no," said he smiling, 
"give yourself no further trouble, put the meat you have on 
the table, and God will supply what is wanting." And lo ! 
while they were cutting the meat in the kitchen, they saw 
the pieces becoming visibly larger, and so much so, that, 
after the whole party had been abundantly served, a con 
siderable quantity remained. Mari afterwards attested that 
the meat had increased at least seven-fold. Alphonsus, 
seeing the astonishment of Mari, said: "In all embarrass 
ments, let us have recourse to God, and never doubt his 
providence." 

The autumn and winter of this year were fruitful in mis 
sions as usual. The inhabitants of Resina asked for a mis 
sion, but because of its proximity to Naples, Alphonsus 
refused; the people, however, applied to the King, who laid 
his command on him and furnished all the expenses him 
self. They afterwards went into the royal territory of Per- 
sano, always at the expense of his Majesty, whose good 






LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 157 

heart delighted in affording his subjects means of grace. 
The Marquis Brancone, convinced of the greatness of the 
work, sent them also frequent subsidies, and many bishops 
contributed liberally towards the expenses of the mission. 
Alphonsus had, this year, to mourn over the death of F. 
Cafaro, who died at Caposele on the 13th of August. He 
loved and esteemed him, regarding him as a model of he 
roic sanctity, whose example drew others to sacrifice them 
selves for God. Prayer and mortification were his two in 
separable companions ; he was the director of Alphonsus. 
He besought the prayers of all, that this great support of 
the Congregation might be spared, but the hour was come, 
and Alphonsus bowed in submission, adoring the decrees 
of God. He himself wrote a short abstract of his life. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Jllphonsus founds a house in the Pontifical States. Various 
apostolical courses and labors. He founds a house in 
Sicily. 

A LTHOUGH approved by the Pope, the Congregation 
XL had not yet entered the Pontifical States. It was in 
the year 1753, that Mgr. Pacca, the Archbishop of Bene- 
vento, to supply the necessities of his vast diocese, applied 
to Alphonsus for the establishment of a house of the order 
in it; he was persuaded so to do by his Vicar-General, D. 
Joseph Fusco. To arrange matters, Alphonsus sent F. 
Villani, who set out for Benevento with Mgr. Nicolas Bor 
gia, Bishop of Cava, who had offered to accompany him, 
in order to second the measure. The two travellers expe 
rienced a special protection of God s providence. When 
they set out, the weather was beautiful and calm, but before 
they had proceeded far, a thunder-storm came on, the light 
ning flashed, and the rain fell in torrents. Twice within a 
short time a thunderbolt fell at Mgr. Borgia s feet, without 
14 



158 LIFE OF ST. ALFHONSUS, 

hurting him in the least, nor his companion. At Bene~ 
vento it was decided they should be established at St. An- 
gelo della Coupola, and to prevent delay, the Fathers were 
to lodge in the mean time in a country-house formerly in 
habited by Benedict XIII, when he was only Archbishop, 
in which they were established on the 6th of April, 1755. 
The Archbishop was so charmed with the resujts of their 
first labors, a retreat given to the students, regular and 
secular, and also to a part of the seminarists, and another 
given in the cathedral during a great drought, that he went 
to Nocera to visit Alphonsus, and thank him as the author 
of a work so salutary for the people. He invited him to 
give a mission at Benevento himself, which he agreed to do 
in November following. The Archbishop declared that it 
was to him, after God, he would confide the interests of 
his diocese, and offered every assistance in his power to 
promote the building of the establishment. 

Alphonsus having now resided at Nocera several years, 
F. Rossi invited him to give a retreat at Ciorani during 
Passion Week. As soon as his arrival was known, there 
was such a concourse of priests and gentlemen, that mes 
sengers had to be despatched in different directions, to 
warn them that there was no more room, but they would 
not return, and resolved to pass the night before the door 
rather than not hear Alphonsus. The Prince of Castella- 
neta was there with twelve officers of his regiment, and 
anany gentlemen, who slept four in a room, or on mattresses 
in the corridors. The Count d Aguila was so touched by 
grace, that hearing one of his soldiers swear by the blood 
of Jesus Christ, he condemned him to be tied to a pole, 
three hours morning and evening, by the hair of his head, 
with a gag in his mouth, for a whole week. 

It was at this time a discussion took place between Al 
phonsus and a polemic, who was displeased by his cen 
sures on Muratori for having shown himself too reserved in 
exalting Mary and speaking of her power. Alphonsus 
answered his attacks mildly, but at the snme time so 
convincingly, that his adversary, a disciple of Jansenius, set 
\ 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 159 

himself all at once to attack his Moral Theology, not sparing 
his very person. But the moderation with which Alphon- 
eus confounded his adversary, drew upon him the esteem 
of all Italy. 

In the course of the autumn, 1755, Alphonsus went, as 
he had promised, to give a mission at Benevento. He 
went by Naples, where he found his mother dangerously 
ill, but he had the consolation of seeing her delivered from 
the scruples which had formerly tormented her, and entire 
ly resigned to the will of God. He administered the sacra 
ments to her, and fortified her by his counsels during three 
days. As he could no longer delay his mission, he asked 
her parting benediction, and set out for Benevento, con 
soled by seeing his mother dying the death of the just, and 
full of joy, that her son left her only to conquer souls for 
Jesus Christ. He arrived at Benevento accompanied by 
twenty missionaries. A prelate who was present wrote 
thus: "It is long since we have seen such truly apostolic 
men ; one can form no idea of the effects they produce. 

The voice of the holy missionary was weakened 

by age, and still more by fatffrue, but the sight of his zeal 
was sufficient to soften the hardest hearts and melt them 
like wax. Benevento has been sanctified, and numerous 
malefactors, when they saw him there, became models of 
piety. All souls profited by his labors, so that a general 
reformation of manners succeeded." 

The fruits of this mission were so great that the renown 
of it reached Rome, and Cardinal Orsini wrote to Alphon 
sus, that the Pope had been so satisfied with what he had 
heard, that he spoke himself to the Duke of Cerisan to ob 
tain from his Majesty an exequatur to the brief of approba 
tion given to the Congregation. 

It was at this time that to render priests, particularly 
thrffee in remote parts of the country, more skilful in hear 
ing confessions, Alphonsus published his Moral Theology 
in Italian, in three volumes, giving it a new but abridged 
form, and adding three interesting appendices for the direc 
tion of souls. The work met with great applause at home, 



160 LljE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and when it became known out of Italy, and the demand 
for it in foreign countries increased, he wrote a similar one 
in Latin under the title of " Homo apostolicus." 

Different affairs connected with the Congregation obliged 
him to go to Naples towards the end of February, 1756. 
The Cardinal Sersales, who knew the talent God had given 
him of touching hearts, besought him to give the spiritual 
exercises in a hall of the palace to the ecclesiastics. He 
expected only the young students, but as soon as he was 
known to be there, there ran thither such multitudes of 
canons, missionaries, and entire religious communities, that 
the number of those who attended was not less than a thou 
sand. His Eminence assisted, and experienced indescrib 
able satisfaction in seeing such a concourse of penitents. 
Alphonsus on this occasion saw canons, superiors of orders, 
arid even bishops, pressing to the door of the saloon, in 
order to kiss his hand ; but he humbled himself interiorly, 
and enveloped himself in his mantle to escape observation. 

When the Cardinal saw the effect he had produced on. 
the young people of the seminary, he insisted on his return 
ing to preach to them once a week, to confirm them more 
and more in the good resolutions they had formed. The 
directors of the seminaries in the town and in the diocese 
also entreated him to grant them the same favor, so that he 
often preached two and three times in one day. 

The disorders of which Naples, like all other capitals, 
was not free, caused much pain to Alphonsus; but above all, 
the increase of homicide, caused by the doctrines of the 
materialists and deists propagated in Italy. Deploring the 
sad consequences which he foresaw would accrue from 
these doctrines to the Church and the State, he pointed out 
to the Cardinal the great evils produced by the introduction 
of impious books, which passed from Naples into the pro 
vinces, and urged him to remonstrate with the King rfnd 
the ministers on this subject. To inspire the people with 
horror for such productions, he spoke openly from the 
pulpit, condemning, as guilty of grave sin, those who sold 
such books, and also those who kept them in their houses] 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 161 

he spoke also to the most respectable ecclesiastics and 
confessors, advising them to devise means to warn the 
faithful against the anifices of impiety. He also published 
his learned treatise of the defence of Religion and of the 
State, against the materialists and deists; a work which was 
well received, and found to be particularly useful against 
the sophists who tried to pervert the minds of the people 
and sap the foundations of their faith. 

Alphonsus returned to Nocera in Holy Week, 1756, but 
scarcely had he reached the house, when he was called 
away by the queen-mother, who wished to consult him on 
affairs of conscience. The court was then at St. Lauro. 
The nuns of the monastery of St. .Lauro wished to obtain 
a piece of his clothing. They hit on the following expe 
dient. They invited him to visit a beautiful reliquary they 
preserved in their church, and begged him to give it to 
each of them to kiss, and while he bent forward for this 
purpose, one of the pensioners came behind and cut a 
large piece off his mantle. In the evening, as it was cold, 
he spread it over his bed; but finding it very short, he said 
to F. Galdieri, who had accompanied him: "This mantle 
is not mine; is it yours?" "It is your own," replied the 
Father; "the Nuns have played you that trick." "Yes," 
he replied, in confusion, "I see now; I could not com 
prehend how, in walking, I always felt something striking 
against my leg;" adding: "The fact is, it would require an 
old clothes shop to mend it." It was not seldom such 
thefts were committed when he stopped in any place. 

In the beginning of July, 1756, he went again to Naples. 
The interests of the Congregation detained him at the 
court, and he wished to assure himself more and more 
of the protection of the King, and obtain at length the 
exequatur of the Apostolic brief. On the tenth of the 
same month, he wrote to the different houses, ordering a 
Novena to be made for the success of this affair, and a 
discipline every evening. On this, as on former occasions, 
the invitations of curates for Triduos, and instructions for 
the people, and the convents, left him no repose. He 
14* 



162 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

published also at this time a little work, entitled, "Method 
for the Confessor to exercise his Ministry well." In it he 
considered the Confessor as a father, as a physician, as a 
teacher, and as a judge, giving rules of conduct proper to 
each of these characters. This work was so much admired, 
that the most learned men went the length of saying that he 
could not have composed it without the special assistance 
of his guardian angel. The author of the Dictionary of Illus 
trious Men, says of it: "It breathes a divine unction, all is 
charity, gentleness and moderation." And Fr. Zaccharie, 
in the 12th vol. of his History of Literature, speaks thus 
of it: "What a precious book! It is an antidote against 
the poison contained in the Instructions to Confessors and 
Penitents, published by Occhi; what a difference between 
these two books! The practice of F. Liguori breathes a 
divine unction; we see" in it but charity, gentleness, and 
moderation. ... In it we see the wise man who seeks the 
salvation of souls. . . . He follows a method just and wisely 
reasonable, which smooths the way for penitence." 

Alphonsus remained at Naples during the following 
month, but notwithstanding all his endeavors, the opinion 
of Mgr. Galiani, the Grand Almoner, prevailed; and under 
pretence that the King, in granting the exequatur 10 the 
bull, would not be free to suppress the Congregation, should 
it degenerate, the petition was refused. But the King, to 
console Alphonsus, took several opportunities of assuring 
him that he might rely on his continued protection. At 
this time Carmin Ventapane, one of the first physicians in 
Naples, a wealthy and zealous man, proposed to send the 
missionaries at his own expense into Calabria; the only pro 
vince of the kingdom which had not been benefited by the 
labors of the Congregation. Alphonsus, who knew the 
destitution of these provinces, rejoiced exceedingly, and 
had the pleasure of despatching a number of his mission 
aries to Calabria in November, 1756. While they labored 
successfully in that province, he himself went with fourteen 
others to give a mission at Amalfi. God blessed it in a 
most remarkable manner. Among others, there were two 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 163 

suburbs in this town, peopled entirely by women of bad 
character, who were the ruin of the inhabitants, and a 
scourge to all strangers. It is attested that every one, 
without exception, was converted, and persevered in her 
amendment. Tamborines and guitars were common in the 
streets, and gave occasion to scandalous dances, which were 
characterised by libertinism and effrontery. He preached 
with such force against these disorders, that the young 
people piled these instruments in front of the cathedral 
and burned them. God was pleased to concur in a miracu 
lous way in order to confirm the good done in this place. 
The evening before they left, Alphonsus said in his sermon 
We are much fatigued in laboring for you; but to-morrow, 
as soon as we shall be gone, a devil will come down from 
the mountain to destroy the fruit of this mission. Lislen to 
me, and look well to it, for you will draw upon yourselves 
the chastisement of an earthquake." Next day a buffalo 
was set loose for the amusement of the people, who all ran 
to the ring; but scarcely was the play begun, when a violent 
shock frightened the whole town, and the terrified people 
fled to the church. The Bishop ran thither, and while he 
recalled to them the prediction of Alphonsus, and the con 
tempt for it which they had shown, another shock was felt, 
so violent that the flambeaus and the chandeliers were over 
turned. The Bishop himself became alarmed, and ordered 
the priests to give absolution to all. Thus a new testimony 
was given to the truth of the words of Alphonsus. 

From Amalfi he was called to Nola by Mgr. Carracciolo, 
to aid him in the reform of his Seminary, in which the 
disorders had risen to such a deplorable height, that they 
seemed too great to be remedied. He went, but for several 
days he might as well have preached to the walls. The 
most awful truths of hell and eternity were but subjects of 
ridicule for many, who amused themselves by imitating the 
tone of his voice and his gestures. The Bishop was for 
reforming these disorders by gentle means, but Alphonsus 
said: "Mgr., do you know how many Bishops are damned 
because of the Seminaries? This will be your fate, if you 



164 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

do not change your system and employ rigor to banish the 
evil." He continued to preach, and when the exercises 
had nearly finished, in spite of the ridicule which still con 
tinued, all were suddenly seized with terror. Four of the 
most turbulent fled, others asked to be dismissed, ajid the 
remainder were filled with humility and repentance. A 
change so unexpected was regarded as the fruit of his 
prayers and penances. The reform was general; he estab 
lished morning meditation, visits to the Blessed Sacrament 
and the Blessed Virgin in the evening, and the practice of 
Christian mortification. All began to frequent the Sacra 
ments, and even those who had been among the worst, 
went to communion several times a week. He prescribed 
Novenas in honor of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin, 
with other practices of piety, and a day of retreat each 
month. When the morals were thus reformed, learning 
began also to flourish, and this Seminary became after 
wards eminent for the learning of those educated there. 
Alphonsus, during his long life, always took a deep interest 
in it, and, if he could not go in person, sent his missiona 
ries every year to give a retreat. 

From Nola he went to the diocese of Cerreto. On 
arriving at the palace of the Bishop, he requested a servant 
who was sweeping the saloon, to inform his master of his 
arrival. The man, seeing an ill-dressed individual with a 
long beard, continued his work without paying any attention 
to what he said; and when Alphonsus repeated his request, 
he began to mutter in bad humor, "I must finish this," and 
went on sweeping; as he approached where Alphonsus sat, 
he said: "Don t you see me here, why don t you rise?" 
Alphonsus rose without showing any annoyance, and when 
he had finished sweeping, again begged he would inform 
his master. The servant went and merely said a poor man 
wanted to speak to the Bishop; he was told to inquire his 
name, and what he wanted; but when the Bishop heard it 
was Alphonsus, he got up in a great hurry, calling first to 
one and then to another for different articles of attire, that 
he might receive him in a becoming manner. The valet, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 165 

seeing all this, ran in great fear to hide himself. Alphonsus 
desiring to say mass, Monsignor sought for the valet to 
serve him; at first he could not be found, but after being 
called repeatedly, he came and threw himself at the feet of 
Alphonsus, asking pardon for what he had done. The 
Bishop, astonished, demanded an explanation, when the 
valet with tears avowed what had happened, Alphonsus 
laughing good humoredly at the whole affair. 

From Cerreto he returned to Naples. It was whilst he 
Was staying there that the following example of bilocation 
occurred. A woman whom he had reclaimed from an 
abandoned life, was in the habit of coming every Saturday 
for alms. Being told this time Alphonsus had gone to 
Naples, she went to the church, sad and disappointed, to 
recommend herself to God, but while praying, she heard 
her protector, who called her to the door of the sacristy, 
and gave her the accustomed alms, beseeching her to re 
main faithful to God. The woman on leaving the church 
said to the porter: " How is it that people call you a saint, 
and you have told lies? you have said the superior was at 
Naples, and he is here." When the porter denied this, 
she said: "I know he is here, for he called me just now, 
and gave me this money ;" and she showed what she held 
in her hand. The porter, stopping the woman, ran to inform 
the Rector, who came with others of the Fathers to interro 
gate her, and convinced themselves that while laboring in 
Naples, he had been at the same time present at Nocera. 
A similar miracle happened in one of the missions at 
Amalfi, when he was confessing in the house and preach 
ing in the church at the same moment. 

Towards the end of May, the missionaries returned from 
Calabria, followed by numerous letters of thanks and sup 
plications for more missions. In the month of November 
he sent again two detachments into the same province, the 
Prince John Filomarino having besought him to send them 
to the more remote parts of it at his own expense, to evan 
gelise his poor vassals. Before their departure, the Blessed 
Sacrament was exposed, and Alphonsus gave them his 



166 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

benediction, almost envying their happiness at being sent 
on such a mission. 

In January, 1758, he went himself with twenty of his 
companions to Salerno. His voice was too weak to be 
heard through all the extent of the cathedral, but notwith 
standing, the geople were dissolved in tears, and the greatest 
sinners, touched to the heart and deeply contrite, came to 
cast themselves at his feet. One in particular, sobbing 
convulsively, exclaimed, "How should I not weep, I who 
have offended God so much, when I see this holy religious 
doing penance for me." Long after, when Mgr. Pento 
had become bishop of Tricarico, he wrote in reference to 
this mission: "The benefit was great and permanent, the 
conversions innumerable and astonishing, the aspect of the 
whole town was changed, beginning with the highest and 
going down to the lowest. The fruits of this mission were 
of long standing; I myself owe the grace of being enabled 
to quit the world, to the light I then received." All agreed 
that greater effects could not have been produced even by 
the Apostles themselves. 

In the course of this mission, Alphonsus had to bewail the 
loss of F. Xavier Rossi, the support of the house of Ciorani, 
and one of his oldest companions. But if he had reason 
to deplore his premature death, he had more reason to 
rejoice in his having died the death of a saint. This same 
Father had formerly been miraculously restored to health by 
the prayers and faith of Alphonsus. When he was told 
that the doctors despaired of his recovery, he wrote to him: 
"Invoke the peace of Jesus Christ, ask him to come and 
bless this malady and chase it away. I will that you live, 
and labor for the Congregation." This was sufficient, F. 
Rossi was cured. 

During Lent, Alphonsus was called to Naples, and gave 
retreats in many monasteries. In that of St. Gaudiosa 
there occurred a circumstance too remarkable to be omitted. 
Father Galdieri, who accompanied him, desiring to vene 
rate the blood of the Martyr St. Stephen, which was pre 
served there, Alphonsus having requested this favor from 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 167 

the nuns, they went in procession to bring the precious 
relic, and placed it near the tabernacle. Alphonsus in 
censed it, and two minutes had scarcely elapsed, when the 
blood liquified and became of a vermillion color, to the 
great astonishment of all present, for this miracle was never 
known to occur except on two occasions, the day of the 
celebration of his martyrdom, and that of the discovery of 
his relics. 

It was about this time, that the same Father being about to 
sail for Calabria, one evening Alphonsus called him and 
said : " I wish you would not go by water, especially by this 
ship, in which you have taken your passage. Wait a little, 
in a few days some priest or other will arrive who has 
travelled by land, and you can return on his mule." F. 
Galdieri obeyed, and in a few days a priest came from 
Mormanno, and all happened as Alphonsus had said. But 
this was not all ; the vessel in which he had taken his pas 
sage, was wrecked in the Gulf of Policastro, and all on 
board had perished. 

A few days after, an event occurred much similar to the 
foregoing. One evening, when Alphonsus had still to 
recite his office, and also to correct some proof-sheets 
which the printer waited for,, he was sent for in all haste to 
assist a certain duchess who was believed to be in ex 
tremity, and desired instantly to speak with him. He 
replied to the messenger: "Go, and tell the duke I am 
prevented from coming, but bid him take courage, the 
duchess will recover, and I shall see her to-morrow." 
During the night, although the case was thought desperate, 
the duchess recovered. 

On account of all these extraordinary gifts, Alphonsus 
became the object of universal veneration and respect, but 
he only humbled himself more and more, as the following 
instance proves. Invited by the Provincial of the Jesuits to 
dine at their convent, these Fathers were anxious to have 
something that had been worn by him, and had recourse to 
the following contrivance. They remarked that his cinc 
ture was completely worn out, and brought him another in 



168 LIFE OF ST. ALP-HONSUS. 

the hope of retaining the old one, but Ire, guessing their 
design, fastened the new one around him, without taking 
off the old. 

Being besought by the inhabitants of Amain to preach 
the novena of the Assumption, he went, and as usual gath 
ered much fruit. One evening, at the end of the sermon, 
he prayed to the Blessed Virgin for all present, and then 
besought his auditory to beseech her to bestow upon him 
some grace; when instantly a bright light, like a sunbeam, 
darted from the statue of the Virgin and rested on the 
figure of Alphonsus, who was elevated some height from 
the pulpit; his face glowed as fire, giving him more the 
appearance of a seraph than of a man. 

About this time he gathered together the most important 
maxims of our holy religion, in a work entitled "Prepara 
tion for death." It met with great success, producing 
throughout the kingdom the effect of a mission, and caus 
ing many remarkable conversions. He gave then also to 
the public nine discourses with meditations for Advent, an4 
a novena for Christmas, to excite a tender devotion towards 
the great mystery of the Incarnation and make its grandeur 
be comprehended, also a novena in honor of the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus, and considerations for the seven days 
which precede the feast of St. Joseph, all of which works 
had wonderful success. 

In the year 1758, many of the people of Asia, of the 
sect of the Nestorians, having opened- their eyes to the 
truth, declared to Clement XIII, their intention to re-unite 
themselves to the Roman Church, and be instructed in the 
Catholic faith. The Cardinals of the Propaganda, know 
ing the zeal of Alphonsus and the devotedness of his mis 
sionaries, asked him for workmen to labor for the salvation 
of these people. He agreed to their proposition, and in 
July of the same year wrote to the different houses to in 
form them of the circumstance, asking that those desirous 
of gaining the crown presented to them by the Lord in this 
work of so great difficulty, should inform him of their 
desire. This letter was responded to by all, every one 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 169 

being eager to give his life for Jesus Christ. Thirty of the 
novices offered themselves also for the work. Some even 
wrote their letters with their own blood, and Alphonsus 
was rilled with consolation at witnessing such zeal. This 
project however was never put in execution; the circum 
stances which interfered to prevent it are unknown. 

In the year 1759, Mgr. Lucchese, Bishop of Girgenti, in 
Sicily, applied to Alphonsus to have the assistance of his 
missionaries in his diocese. He had met him previously in 
Naples, and had it always in mind to claim their services, 
till the following curious circumstance made him think of 
it in earnest. A swindling Neapolitan took advantage of 
the veneration in which Alphonsus was so universally held, 
to write in his name to different dioceses, requesting pe 
cuniary assistance, and large sums were obtained in this 
way, for he was careful to inquire regularly at the post- 
office for the expected supplies. On one occasion, how 
ever, he was forestalled by the lay-brother who had charge 
of their affairs at Naples, and who received a letter from 
this prelate with twenty ducats. Alphonsus wrote to him to 
thank him for his bounty, and thus the cheat was dis 
covered ; but the correspondence ended in the missionaries 
going to Sicily. 

About this time, ^Alphonsus undertook, with the aid of 
his missionaries, another very important work, viz: the 
reform of a royal hospital for female foundlings at Gaeta, 
which was by mismanagement reduced to a most miserable 
condition, both temporally and spiritually, the younger 
children, about four hundred in number, being entrusted 
to the care of the older ones, so that every thing about the 
place breathed only misery and sin ; and this establishment, 
founded by piety, and liberally furnished with every thing 
from the hospital of the Annunciation at Naples, resembled 
rather a stable for the body and a hell for the soul. The 
case being represented to the King, he, knowing the zeal 
of Alphonsus and his missionaries, charged them with the 
reform, which had been attempted by different zealous 
priests, but without success. Alphonsus shed tears on 
15 



170 LIFE OF ST. 

hearing of such misery; he accepted the commission, and 
arranging a plan, sent the Fathers Mazzini, Fiocchi, and 
Gajano, as the best qualified to carry it into execution ; and, 
after a work not of months but of years, Alphonsus sending 
often Fathers who remained there six months at a time, 
with the aid of four skilful sisters from the hospital of St. 
Vincent of Paul, at Naples, this asylum was at length con 
verted from abandoned wretchedness into a little paradise, 
where prayer and mortification, silence and recollection 
reigned, and all virtues were practised, to the delight of 
Alphonsus and the great satisfaction of the King. 

Always burning with the desire of saving souls, Alphon 
sus published about this lime, 1759, several works calcu 
lated to promote this end. 1st, the Great Means of Prayer. 
This book may be said to be the essence of the soundest 
theology ; it was regarded as a chef-d oeuvre by the most 
learned theologians of Naples and Rome. He himself says 
in the preface to it, that he wished to have the means to 
print as many copies of it as there are men in the world,, 
in order to be able to place one in the hands of each, the 
neglect of prayer being the cause of the ruin of all the 
damned. 2d, a learned dissertation entitled, " Of the just 
Prohibition of Bad Books," in which he demonstrated the 
necessity of interdicting the sale of dangerous works, and 
proved that the Church, from her birth, had not ceased to 
prohibit and destroy them, replying also to the objections 
of adversaries who refused this power to the Pope. The 
Marquis Tanucci was displeased that such a work had been 
printed, and sent immediately the agents of police to the 
different booksellers to seize all the copies. This persecu 
tion vexed Alphonsus, who represented to the minister and 
other members of the council, that he had published the 
work only to obviate great evils, and without the slightest 
intention to give offence to the King. This representation 
was as water thrown on the fire, and produced immediate 
benefit. On the other hand the incident made a great noise, 
and the book, which had been previously little known, was 
so eagerly sought after, that the booksellers raised the 



LIFE OP ST. A.LPHONSUS. 



171 



price, and, to supply the demand, secretly printed many 
more copies in the course of two nights. 3d, the True 
Spouse of Jesus Christ, published while he was in Naples, 
during Lent, 1760, and, notwithstanding his weakness 
caused by excessive fatigues and many infirmities, gave 
retreats in several convents ; an admirable work, useful not 
only to monks and nuns in particular, but also to seculars. 
In it he treats of the practice of all Christian virtues, and 
gives lessons by which all may profit according to their 
state. 4th, Reflections and affections on the Passion of 
Jesus Christ, simply stated according to the writings of the 
Holy Evangelists, a book admirably calculated to imprint 
deeply in the hearts of the faithful the Passion of Jesus 
Christ, and to animate them in making it the object of their 
meditation. 5th, under the title of " Silva of Matters to 
be preached," he published about this time a collection of 
instructions extracted from the Holy Scriptures, the Canons, 
and the Fathers, by means of which ecclesiastics could 
give the exercises in retreats. In the first and second 
parts he treats of the sacerdotal dignity, its end and sanc 
tity, and of the virtues proper to the ministers of Jesus 
Christ. The third part contains the principal rules of pop 
ular eloquence, to aid preachers in acquitting themselves 
with success in the exercise of preaching and giving missions. 
All the arrangements necessary for the foundation at Gir- 
genti in Sicily, having now been agreed upon, Alphonsus 
sent a colony towards the middle of September, composed 
of F. Blasucci, Superior, and F. Francis Pentimalli, and 
two others. They embarked under a cloudless sky, and the 
vessel was soon in sight of Palermo ; but at the moment 
they were about to land, they were overtaken by a violent 
tempest, and the vessel was thrown back into the Gulf of 
Naples, where they were forced to run aground. When 
the sea became calm, they set sail a second time; but again 
a storm came on, when they were opposite Palermo, which 
drove them into the Straits of Procida; they made a third 
attempt; but the more they endeavored to reach the Sicilian 
shore, the more the powers of hell seemed to set all in 



172 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

motion to oppose them. Again they neared Palermo, 
when a third tempest was let loose upon the unfortunate 
boat, which, being tossed about, at length was nearly lost 
between the Islands of Corsica and Sardinia, the vessel 
being so much damaged, that the passengers were hopeless 
of escaping. All this was seen by Alphonsus in spirit, 
and at the moment of their danger, he was heard to cry, 
while he raised his tearful eyes to heaven: "My poor 
children! my poor children!" He approached the window, 
looked^at the weather, and sighed, then turned away, still 
repeating, "My poor children!" Those who witnessed 
this scene could not comprehend it, for they believed the 
Fathers had arrived in Sicily long before, and they said so 
to Alphonsus in order to calm him, but without success, 
he still continued to sigh and to repeat; "My poor chil 
dren !" The tempest lasted more than twenty-four hours. 
On the third day the vessel with great difficulty reached 
Baja; their safety was an evident miracle wrought by the 
prayers of Alphonsus. The terrified missionaries, more 
dead than alive, took the way to Nocera, and the joy of 
Alphonsus may be imagined, when he saw his dear children 
once more in safety. 

The missionaries had hardly taken a little breath in 
safety after their fatigues and dangers, when they were 
^gain despatched to embark anew, but another annoyance 
awaited them. Two vessels from the Levant had been 
shipwrecked near the port of Messina, and for fear of the 
plague all communication with Sicily was forbidden. 
Father Pentimalli, seeing it impossible, for the moment, to 
proceed, halted at St. Euphemia, his native place; but 
scarcely had he arrived, when he was seized by a violent 
fever, which carried him off in three days. This loss 
afflicted Alphonsus deeply, F. Pentimalli being one of his 
best missionaries. But this affliction was softened by hear 
ing at length of the safe arrival of the others at Girgenti, 
and their joyful reception. 

After their departure, Alphonsus, like an old soldier who 
wishes nothing so much as to die sword in hand, went to 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 173 

war against the enemies of God, on the old field of Amalfi. 
The Lord, in order to show the favor with which He re 
garded him, performed several miracles through his hands. 
The town was ravaged by an epidemic which seemed to 
defy the power of medicine. A canon who had great con 
fidence in the merits of Alphonsus, begged F. Galdieri to 
give him the shirt the Saint took off after the sermon. He did 
so, another always being brought in exchange. On being 
asked what he did with them, he replied : " During this 
mortal epidemic, all those who have put on one of F. Al 
phonsus shirts have immediately been cured." When he 
went to, and returned from, the church, he was the object of 
such veneration, that the canons were obliged to escort him 
to save him from the pressure of the crowd, who precipitated 
themselves upon him to get his benediction, while some, 
armed with scissors, cut pieces from his mantle. 

The nuns of Conca besought him to come and give a 
sermon to their community, and during the voyage by sea 
they passed several fishing vessels, whose crews had been 
casting their nets without success. The poor people com 
plained bitterly of their ill-luck, and besought Alphonsus 
to bless the sea, and scarcely had he done so, when the 
fish appeared in myriads, and their vessels were loaded. 

After finishing the exercises at Amalfi, several convents 
of nuns at Naples besought him to visit them. He accord 
ingly went, and preached with great success. At the con 
vent of St. Marcellina, he found one of the pupils, Catha 
rine Spinelli, dangerously ill ; he visited her when she was 
almost on the point of expiring. " Catharine," he said, 
would you wish to live, or die?" "I wish to live," 
replied the young girl. Alphonsus then made the sign of 
the cross upon her and said: "You will live, but you must 
become a saint." She was instantly cured ; after some 
time, she became a nun, and attained a high degree of 
sanctity. 

He returned again to the capital during the following 
Lent, when he gave a retreat in the church of Purgatory 
to a great many students and priests, strangers, as well as 
15* 



174 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Neapolitans. Inflamed with the desire of seeing priests 
attentive to the fitting celebration of the holy mysteries, he 
published, during this visit to Naples, a work in which he 
showed the necessity of observing the holy rubrics, and 
gives salutary instructions on the dispositions with which 
the holy sacrifice ought to be celebrated. He published 
also a letter addressed to a religious, on the manner of 
preaching Jesus crucified, with evangelical simplicity, and 
avoiding the vain ornaments of a florid style. He sent this 
letter to all the superiors of religious orders, and every one 
admired the high degree of sacred eloquence which he 
possessed, and his extreme desire that all should strive to 
excel in the same, so as to preach Jesus Christ and effec 
tually gain souls for him. Besides this retreat, he preached 
penance in the barracks, and scandals disappeared. He 
also gave missions in theMiflerent parishes. On one occa 
sion, preaching in the church of the Holy Spirit, he sud 
denly exclaimed in a transport : " thou who enterest 
here, and who flatterest thyself that thou canst be saved in 
the world as well as in a convent, unhappy that thou art, 
how far thou art wandering! but ere long thou shalt come 
to a deplorable end." At that moment, a young Calabrian 
had entered the church, who, led away by his passions, had 
long struggled against the grace that had been calling him 
to a religious life. He applied to himself the words of 
Alphonsus, and yet he dared to smile at the menace. But 
a month had scarcely elapsed, when he was killed by a 
musket shot. When dying, he told his friends what had 
happened in the church of the Holy Spirit. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 175 



CHAPTER XVII. 

J3.lphonsus Maxims and Conduct in his quality of Founder 
and Superior of a Religious Order. 

A LPHONSUS was now nearly seventy years of age. 
_1JL Laden with infirmities, he believed himself already at 
the end of his course, but God had ordained otherwise, 
viz: that he should be raised to the episcopal dignity, and 
become a perfect model of a fervent and zealous bishop, as 
he had successively been a perfect model of a fervent and 
perfect layman, ecclesiastic, and missionary. But before 
we follow him in this new career, let us relate some of his 
maxims and actions, particularly relating to his quality of 
Superior and Founder of a religious order. 

His first care was to inspire his missionaries with a true 
zeal for the salvation of souls. Therefore he was often 
heard to say to them : " What have we to do in the world, 
and for what purpose have we withdrawn into the Congre 
gation, if not to devote ourselves to the glory of God ? 
We are his adopted children, and more than all others 
ought to fight in the first ranks against his enemies without 
anxiety for life or death, since he has given His life for us." 
And again: "The love of Jesus Christ constrains us, irre 
sistibly forces us. to love Him and make others love Him. 
If sin be not pursued by us, against whom shall we make 
war? It makes me ready to die, when I see a priest in 
different about any thing that concerns the honor of God." 
"Our employment," he used to say, "is the same as that 
exercised by Jesus Christ himself and His Apostles. He 
who has not the spirit of Jesus Christ, nor the zeal of the 
Apostles, is riot fit for this ministry." 

Next he required humility, saying: "It is this virtue 
which makes us respected by the people ; it is this which 
gains and attracts sinners, however haughty and proud 
they may be. If the missionary wants humility, he wants 



176 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



all, and I know not whether the evil he will do will not be 
greater than the good he pretends to do, for how can God 
aid him who resists Him?" "It is not possible," he said, 
speaking of the humility and submission due to bishops, 
and particularly curates, with whom they came in more 
immediate contact, " it is not possible that God will bless 
our missions, if we fail in respect and humility towards the 
heads of the churches, and if we do. not put ourselves 
entirely under them." Having heard, on one occasion, that 
a missionary had shown a want of submission to a bishop, 
he punished him immediately, and sent him at once to 
make the fullest apology for his conduct. He also exacted 
from his missionaries, humility towards each other, and 
more especially towards superiors, whose will he would 
have respected and fulfilled without delay. Every other 
failing was pardonable irl his eyes, but this he considered 
inexcusable. Resistance on this point was always fill- 
lowed by expulsion. He was willing that every diffi 
culty which he might not have foreseen should be pointed 
out to the superior, but he required that it should be 
done simply, without the least intention of resisting." "If 
obedience is wanting in a religious institute," he said, "all 
is wanting, for disorders, confusion, and trouble will be the 
result ; a vessel guided by several pilots can hardly escape 
shipwreck, or at least she will make a very dangerous 
voyage." It was enough for any one to push himself 
forward, in order to be forgotten. A Father once com 
plained that it was long since he had been appointed for 
the principal sermon in the evening. This was enough, 
he was not allowed to preach at all ; and he was so vexed 
at the possibility of never appearing in the pulpit again, 
that he abandoned the Congregation. 

Another characteristic he exacted from his missionaries, 
was a spirit of mortification and a love of suffering. With 
out these qualifications, he considered them unfit to be 
employed. We have already seen how much he insisted, 
in missions, on mortification and austerity with regard to 
food. He gave once a severe reprimand to , and imposed a 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 177 

penance on, Father Villani, for a very slight deviation from 
the regulations he had established on this point. "Men 
of the world," he said, " pay more attention to what is 
done than to what is said, and above all they remark the 
conduct of missionaries." And again: "They will not 
fail, when you are in their house, to insist and entreat, they 
will even appear displeased, if you refuse what they offer, 
but always decline; they will be edified by your firmness, 
when they would have been surprised, and perhaps have made 
you the subject of raillery, had you yielded." He abhorred 
the slightest appearance of delicacy, above all in him who 
preached the evening sermon, whoever he might be. At 
the mission of Salerno they had every day rancid cheese, 
and a Father took the liberty of asking that his morsel 
might be roasted. Alphonsus reprimanded him on the 
instant, although he was an old man, and a most zealous 
missionary. He distinguished, however, between what was 
delicacy, and a reasonable care for health. " Health," said 
he, "is the capital of the missionary; if that fails, he 
becomes bankrupt." But he charged the Superior to 
attend to that, and forbade the others to interfere, and 
rigorously exacted that no discontent should be shown 
with regard to food or lodging. 

He disliked all familiarity and intimacy with laymen, and 
still less could he endure any species of idle discourse, 
unworthy as it is of the sacred character of the ministry. 
"I recommend," he said, "not to seek relaxation with any 
one whatever. It is necessary to be civil, but also to be 
serious, with every one, that they may conceive and also 
preserve esteem for the missionaries, in whom they ought 
to find men holy and without reproach ; this is necessary if 
we would produce good. When we hold too much conver 
sation with people of the world, and talk of things not spi 
ritual, we let them perceive in us a thousand faults, which 
hinders the success of the mission If any one neg 
lects to correct himself on this point, I will no longer send 
him on missions." He forbade with the same severity, as 
well in missions as at home, all species of unnecessary visits. 



178 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Preaching being one great means of laboring for the 
conversion of sinners, Alphonsus was anxious that his 
missionaries should acquit themselves well in this work. 
He desired they should in every sermon preach Christ 
crucified. "He who does not preach Christ crucified," 
he said, " preaches himself, violates his ministry, and does 
no good." He required a simple and popular style that 
every one could understand, and he compared to balloons 
filled with air, those who, puifed up with their own impor 
tance, made fine discourses which they could hardly com 
prehend themselves. "When the devil wishes to hinder the 
preaching of the Gospel," he said, " he makes use of such 
preachers, to paralyze its effects. Miserable wretches, they 
will be condemned, not for having hidden their talents in 
the earth, but for having drawn no profit from them." He 
insisted on reasons and v not on words, and clear and solid 
reasons too. He disliked studied and far-fetched com 
parisons, but recommended such as were suited to the 
people. "Jesus Christ," he said, "understood rhetoric better, 
than we, yet to be better comprehended by the multitude, 

He chose ordinary comparisons in His parables 

The end the preacher ought to propose to himself is to 
persuade and to move. If the people be not convinced, 
(and how should they, if they do not understand?) they will 
form no good resolutions, and they will not forsake sin. 

What would suit Boccacio, will not suit in a 

preacher of the Gospel, and many who study Dante and 
Boccacio will expiate their folly in purgatory." He was 
himself a perfect model of this apostolic simplicity, as we 
have already seen, and as is confirmed by the following 
testimony. Mgr. Carnovale having once been present at a 
sermon of Alphonsus, while yet very young, he said to 
himself, when he heard his simple and gentle manner: 
"This is time lost, F. Alphonsusdeceives himself, if he thinks 
to touch rocks with such mild words." But when the ser 
mon was finished, he beheld thousands weeping and sobbing 
bitterly; crowds of young men, known for their loose and 
irregular conduct, were converted by his simple eloquence. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 179 

He watched over the young preachers with the greatest 
care. One Saturday, on his return to Nocera from Naples, 
he was to preach the sermon of the Blessed Virgin, as he 
had vowed always to preach in her honor on that day of 
the week ; but being suddenly attacked by fever, the young 
F. Alexander de Meo was appointed in his place. Not 
being prepared, he enlarged on several learned subjects 
not suited to the people, and spoke of the times pre 
vious to the birth of Mary, and introduced the Sybils and 
the Argonauts. When Alphonsus, who had been brought 
to the choir in spite of his fever, heard these words, he be 
came restless, and leaning towards the others demanded : 
"Is it thus they preach here!" They knew not what to 
answer, and F. Alexander went on in the same style. Ai- 
phonsus rose, he sat down, he knelt, and said : " I must 
make him come down immediately. Go," said he to a lay- 
brother, "and tell him to descend instantly," and almost im 
mediately he interrupted the sermon by intoning the "Tan- 
turn Ergo." But this correction did not stop here ; on 
entering the house, the poor Father met Alphonsus on the 
stairs, and falling on his knees, begged pardon. After hav 
ing reproved him for the impropriety of his sermon, he con 
demned him to remain silent during three days, and also to 
abstain from saying mass. 

He exacted from confessors the greatest prudence and 
the most profound skill, as from their decisions there would 
be no appeal. He was scrupulous and even rigid in the 
examination of confessors, and would not confide this to 
another, but examined them himself, sometimes employing 
ten or twelve days, interrogating them upon all they had been 
taught, and if he did not think the candidate fully capable, 
he delayed giving him faculties. He inculcated upon con 
fessors, as the thing most essential of all, to use the greatest 
charity and gentleness towards sinners. ;*" The spirit of 
harshness and rigor," he said, " is what distinguishes the 
Jansenists, who do much more harm than good, and cer 
tainly have neither the spirit of Jesus Christ, nor that 
of those apostolic men whom we honor on our altars. . . . 



180 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

An energetic word is sometimes necessary to make the 
sinner comprehend the gravity of his crimes, but this ener 
getic word must not be repulsive, and before he .withdraws, 
he must be calmed by kind words, so that he be at the same 
time full of hatred for his sin and of confidence in his Con 
fessor." On another occasion he said: "If it happens 
that you feel yourself overpowered by bad humor, leave the 
confessional on the instant, because with your irritability 
you will cause your penitents to commit more sacrileges 
than you will do good to them." He could not suffer the 
least shadow of gallantry towards any woman, and recom 
mended the greatest reserve with them. He regarded as a 
scandal having respect of persons in the confessional, all 
the world being equal before God. " Show charity," he 
said, "but not partiality. Ladies of quality will make way 
for themselves, but it is, not the missionary s business to 
take care of them, we ought to be equally at the service of 
all, and ready to receive every body with kindness." 
Neither would he permit any preference to be given to a 
gentleman. 

When he noticed a Father much sought after in the 
church, he immediately changed his residence. There was 
a young Father whom he had been at great trouble to 
educate, and whom he loved for his excellent talents. 
When he was authorized to enter the confessional, a great 
number of young penitents came to him, apparently at 
tracted by his gracious manner. This displeased Alphon- 
sus, who, fearing unpleasant consequences, wished to send 
him to another house. He resisted ; but Alphonsus said : 
" Either obey, or leave the Congregation." He would not 
submit, and was expelled. 

On the other hand, to encourage the timid, and inspire 
all with a great desire to help souls by means of the con 
fessional, he said: "The preacher sows, but the confessor 
gathers the harvest. The confessional is the touchstone of 
the true laborer; he who loves not the confessional, loves 
not souls, to whom is applied there the blood of Jesus 
Christ, and the merits of His grace. In the sacred tribunal 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 181 

we gather fruit for ourselves and for our penitents; it is not 
so with the pulpit. If we do good by a sermon, a breath of 
vanity can make the preacher return with his hands empty. 
It is otherwise in the confessional, vanity does not enle 
there, but patience is necessary." He could not endure 
the idea of a confessor being shocked at the thought of 
hearing a very wicked individual, and who sought pretexts 
for refusing to listen to such persons. He considered this 
as a great fault, and insisted that they should willingly 
listen to all, and that if they could not give them absolu 
tion, they should at least point out to them the means of 
amending, and encourage them to return to them again. 
He was especially delighted when he saw any of his young 
priests desirous to seek out those abandoned souls. 

He exacted from the priests of his Congregation a pro 
found and continued study of moral theology. " This 
study," he said, " shows us our own ignorance, and hinders 
us from erring. The Rigorists and Jansenists of our day are 
ignorant on the science of morals, hence they are so extrava 
gant and absurd. They wish to be considered masters, al 
though they have never been disciples." A member of the 
Congregation, a learned and talented professor, fascinated 
by the opinions of the Rigorists, had constructed for him 
self a most incoherent system, and hesitated not to combat 
the opinions of Alphonsus, condemning the wisest authors, 
and speaking of them with contempt. As confessor, he ruined 
souls; as professor, he misled the young students. Alphonsus 
labored long to correct him, but seeing his efforts useless. 
he took his office from him, sent him to another house, and 
forbade him to hear confessions. The unfortunate man 
was offended by the correction, and not having the courage 
to suffer mortification, haughtily demanded a dispensation 
from his vows. Alphonsus employed the mediation of 
others to convince him of his errors, but all in vain. At 
length he said: "My son, you abandon the Congregation, 
and you persist in your errors, but tremble, for you will 
make a miserable end." He departed, but God was not 
low in chastising him ; in a very short time a horrible 
16 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

cancer appeared in his face, and finding peace nowhere, 
he ran about the streets, uttering cries of despair. When 
about to die, he besought with tears to be re-instated in the 
Congregation, that he might not die in despair. In con 
sideration of his condition, his request was granted by F. 
Villani, Alphonsus being then bishop. 

To inspire all with a true sense of humility, he said : 
" Humility is necessary in the mission, and it is necessary 
in the house; my brethren, Humility at all times and in all 

places, if we would please God He who has 

humility will have sanctity, but without humility all fails." 
The very name of pride and self-love was odious to him as 
blasphemy. "This accursed self-love," he used to say, 
" ruins daily multitudes of laymen, priests, and religious; it 
sends numbers into purgatory, and many into hell. If this 
accursed spirit comes into the Congregation, better it would 
be if it should be destroyed. I beseech God to destroy it, 
the moment such sentiments are tolerated." It happened 
one day, that a Father chanced to use the expression, " On 
my honor." This was worse than heresy in the eyes of Al 
phonsus. In the next conference he continually repeated, 
"On my honor!" "Our honor," said he, "is, to be de 
spised, vilified, and to be, like Jesus Christ, the opprobrium 
of men, and the abjection of the people." 

Alphonsus never approved of the indiscretions of exces 
sive zeal; he thought them a cause of unnecessary pain to 
others, and he dreaded the odium that they might cast on 
the Congregation. To give an example, there was a 
diocese which was dissatisfied with its bishop. Father 
Rizzi s zeal led him to write to the bishop to inform him of 
what had happened, and to remind him of his duty. When 
Alphonsus heard of it, he wrote to his Superior: "Tell 
Father Rizzi, that he has done wrong. He has acted 
through zeal, but he does not seem to know that we are 
forbidden to meddle with things out of the confessional, 

which may cause embarrassment to others He 

must say three Ave Marias as a penance, and when his 
lordship comes to the house, let him go to him privately 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 183 

and throw himself at his feet, confessing his indiscretion 
and asking for forgiveness." 

Poverty and obedience were the foundations on which 
Alphonsus erected the whole structure of his Congrega 
tion ; he said that if these two virtues always remained 
therein in full vigor, they would sustain it against all 
attacks, and that fervor would continue constantly to be on 
the increase. Although all about them had an air ot 
poverty and misery, it was still too sumptuous for Alphon 
sus, who forgot the magnificence and the grandeurs of the 
world, and had only St. Peter of Alcantara s cave before his 
eyes. He wished indeed that poverty should reign amongst 
his sons, but not such a degree of misery as to be contrary 
to decency. One day, he saw a young cleric in a pair of 
shoes which were thoroughly worn out ; he did not speak, 
but he cast such looks at the shoes and at the Superior, 
that the latter immediately understood his meaning; and 
if he saw any Superior was negligent in procuring what 
was necessary for the subjects, he became excited by a 
holy zeal, reprimanded him, and even chastised him for it. 
He was particularly dissatisfied when he saw a Superior 
act with indulgence towards himself on this point, and with 
severity towards others. "Oh," he exclaimed, " how many 
Superiors will be damned at the Day of Judgment for hav 
ing themselves violated the vow of poverty, and given a blow 
to charity and the common life in others." 

He heard that F. Fiocchi had caused pewter dishes to be 
used in the house of Iliceto, in place of earthenware ones; 
he immediately wrote to him to say that he must sell all 
these dishes. It was in vain that various reasons for keep 
ing them were alleged, and that he was told that, as earthen 
ware dishes easily broke, and the house was far from a 
pottery, they occasioned great expense every year. "Pov 
erty," he replied, "thinks of the quality of things, and 
that which suits it best, is that which is the vilest and 
coarsest. There is no example of such vanity, even in the 
less austere orders ; he who is poor and professes poverty, 
ought to be poor in all things." Father Sportelli, when 



184 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

building, asked if he approved of a cornice which had been 
commenced under the edge of the roof; but Alphorisus 
blamed this as a luxury ; he wished that nothing but the 
unpolished stones should be seen on the exterior of the 
buildings. "While F. Cajone was Superior at Caposele, the 
choir of the church was put in order, and a new library was 
put up. The brother put little cornices on the stalls in the 
choir, and round the upper part of the library. Alphonsus 
no sooner heard of these trifling ornaments, than he wrote 
to F. Cajone, in a tone of great reproof: " You ought to 
know, that I do not choose to have any ornaments either 
in the choir or in the library. You must submit to this. 
If you have put any, you must take them away, and let all 
be quite simple. Poverty loves what is simple and neces 
sary, but not what is superfluous." Some of the Fathers 
began to use snuff-boxes ef varnished paste-board or of yel 
low leather; as soon as Alphonsus saw it, he immediately 
forbade them to do so again, and wished wooden ones 
always to be used, as before. One day he saw a hat which 
shone more than the others ; that was enough to make him 
prohibit its further use and consider it as a scandal. Some 
of the Fathers told him that common cloth was not durable 
enough for the mantellas and capotes, and that this rnaterial 
was prejudicial to poverty instead of favoring it, and that 
the houses of the Congregation would gain by buying cloth 
of a better quality. "It is we," answered he, "who have 
made the vow of poverty, and not the houses ; and it is we, 
and not the houses, who must submit to the consequences 
of this vow. Common cloth humbles and abases, and that 
is required by poverty." F. Ferrara represented to him 
several times, that brass lamps would cause less expense 
than earthen ones, which easily break and cause the oil to 
be wasted. All these reasons were unavailing, Alphonsus 
remained firm, because his only motive for not yielding 
was that brass was a luxury, while earthenware was more 
conformable to evangelical poverty. The prompt and per 
fect obedience which he exacted to his own orders, as we 
have seen above, he exacted also to those of all other Su- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 185 

periors. "It is not wonderful," he often said, " if I am 
obeyed, but I wish an equal submission to be shown to 
whoever presides over any exercise, for, whatever maysbe 
his personal merits, he holds the office of Superior. If 
this is not attended to, mischief is done, and we shall see 
nothing but disorder and confusion." One of the most 
distinguished of the Fathers, but one tormented at times 
by a fretful temper, blamed, in a n t of melancholy, some 
regulations which his Superior had made about a mission. 
Alphonsus heard of this, and although he felt compassion 
for him on account of his illness, he nevertheless wrote to 
him in the following terms: "I have been relieved to hear 
of your recovery ; but I have been distressed to find, that 
you have given vent to some observations in regard to your 
Superior which were not at all right. Many things may 
appear absurd, which it is, however, reasonable to approve, 
because their motive is not known. If each subject wishes 
to do what seems to him to be the best, obedience no 
longer exists. I must, therefore, beg you, when things do 
not appear to you to be done as they might be at any other 
time, to state your opinion with simplicity, and then do 
nothing beyond writing to tell me what you think is wrong." 
He was still more alarmed at hearing that the subjects of 
the Congregation had united together against the will of a 
Superior, for this was a fault which he never pardoned. 
"Public murmurs against a Superior," he wrote on one 
occasion, " are unpardonable faults, and deserve a severe 
punishment." The lay-brothers once complained of hav 
ing been deprived of the siesta after dinner during the 
winter; as their discontent had been public, Alphonsus 
wished their penance to be so also. He deprived the two 
chief subjects of the habit for a considerable time, he con 
demned them to dine on their knees, to do without fruit or 
meat, and not to receive holy communion oftener than every 
eight days. Intercessions were made in their favor, but he 
was inexorable. He was accustomed to say that obedience 
works miracles, when it is exercised with promptitude and 
submission of mind; and that, on the other hand, the sub- 
16* 



186 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

ject goes astray, when he tries to set himself up to judge of 
the thing commanded, and to deviate from the will of his 
Superior. 

With regard to the observance of the rule in general, he 
was careful to see it always kept up in full vigor. He 
often said that he would prefer to see the Congregation 
dissolved, notwithstanding all the trouble its establishment 
had cost him, rather than see any want of discipline in 
it. When he was importuned by requests to found new 
houses, he replied : " Why should we wish to found new 
monasteries ? Where there is no family there can be no 
observance of the rule. What I am anxious for, is to see 
fervor increase in the Congregation, and not to increase 
the number of houses." He never consented to any foun 
dation, before he had enough subjects to form a community 
in which the rule would be perfectly observed. It happened 
once in the house of Nocera, that some dispensed them 
selves from assisting in the choir at the public exercises in 
the morning, either on the plea of not having slept well, 
or under some other pretext. Alphonsus, who attributed it 
to idle sloth, and not to any real necessity, ordered the 
brother innrmarian to take them a cup of tea after prayers, 
and to reiterate the same thing at every following hour, 
ordering them not to get up before the doctor s arrival. 
This had the desired effect, all the ills vanished, and the 
choir was filled before the time, every morning afterwards. 

Speaking one day about the necessity of silence and of 
interior recollection, he said : " This rule is the rule of 
rules; if we observe it faithfully, we shall become saints. 

The author of the Following of Christ says that 

the pious soul profits much by silence and repose ; it is 
through them that she penetrates into the secret things of 
the Scriptures ; it is there that she finds the source of those 
tears which wash and purify her. My fathers and brothers, 
let us not complain if we feel ourselves to be imperfect 
through dryness and want of recollection. Let us speak 
little to men, so as to be able to converse much with God, 
and he will act differently towards us, and will raise us up 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 187 

to a state of holiness." "Without recollection of mind," 
he also often said, "there can be no spirit of prayer, and 
those who go to the choir in this disposition of mind, go 
to torture ; every instant seems an age to them, they come 
distracted, and they go away distracted ; they lead a mise 
rable life, neither possessing God, nor enjoying the world." 
In a word, Alphonsus desired that his missionaries should 
be Apostles in missions, and Carthusians in the house. 
" When you are without," he said, "you ought to sanctify 
others, but when within, you must sanctify yourselves." 

With regard to tepidity, he one day said : "My fathers, 
let us drive away tepidity : the tepid soul is an object of 
disgust to God ; she is a burden to the community and to 
herself. Let us reform ourselves, and betake ourselves to 
our former fervor, if we wish to please God, to be a comfort 
to the Congregation, and to live a holy and happy life." 
When hemet with any who were afflicted by this malady, 
he did all he could to cure them. He called them to him, 
and warned them, as a father, of their danger. The incor- 
rigibles often caused him loss of sleep. He made use of 
the spiritual exercises, retreats for some days, and reite 
rated warnings, and did not give up his efforts, until he saw 
that the case was a desperate one. 

He made use of three methods for delivering the Con 
gregation from these incurables. The first was to torment 
them by frequent punishments, by mortifications, and pen 
ances. When they found themselves treated so severely, 
these miserable and unenergetic subjects declared that they 
would not bear such a burden, and asked for a dispense 
from the oath of perseverance. The second method was 
to keep them in the house, and to forbid them to practice 
any apostolic works whatever. "The rebels," he said, 
" have a stronger desire to labor than the most fervent 
subjects, not from a zealous wish to win souls to God, but 
to enjoy greater liberty." The third, and not the least 
efficacious one, consisted in causing them to change their 
abode, and in sending them to whatever monastery pleased 
them the least, because of being either the most incommo- 



188 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

dious or the least frequented. Besides the constraint 
which they experienced from this change, they were also 
subjected to the pains and privations of the first two 
methods. If they were dangerous and likely to cause 
trouble in the Congregation, Alphonsus tried the effect of 
leaving them in a sort of abandonment, by not appearing 
to take any further care of them ; he gave them leave to 
return to their families, without fixing the time of their 
return. Thus abandoned, they returned to the world, and 
themselves renounced the Congregation, to which they had 
no further desire to return, or else, he let them know after 
some time, that they had nothing more to do with the Con 
gregation. There was one who caused great torment to 
Alphonsus, and to several Superiors. Repeated correc 
tions and charitable offices had had no effect upon him. 
He asked for permission to go and see his relations, and 
obtained it; after some months had elapsed, Alphonsus 
pronounced his expulsion from the Congregation, and pre 
dicted that he would come to a most miserable end. In 
fact, after having committed several excesses, the unfortu 
nate man perished a victim to one of his enemies, who 
caused him to swallow poison at the altar on Holy Wed 
nesday, and on Good Friday, when all the bells were silent, 
he was buried as an infamous person, and his corpse was 
exposed to examination in presence of the officers of 
justice, and a crowd of spectators. 

To inspire his sons with a high idea of their vocation, 
and thus to encourage them to correspond with it and put 
off the old man, he said, that vocation and predestination 
were one and the same thing, and that the having been 
chosen by God to form a part of a rising Congregation, 
was a grace, which, of itself, required in us a great degree 
of perfection and holiness. "In calling us to this state," 
he said, "God has not conferred a merely ordinary grace 
on us, but one which is as great as it is uncommon. We 
must therefore pray that Almighty God may cause us to 
understand the value of this grace, for if we do not corres 
pond to so holy a vocation, we shall run the risk of eternal 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 189 

ruin. God has chosen us to be coadjutors of His Blessed 
Son, and to rescue souls from the grasp of the devil." 
" We ought to be most thankful to God," he said on 
another occasion, " for having taken us out of the world 
and led us to enter into His house, where the truths of 
faith are always put before our mind by frequent medita 
tions, spiritual reading, pious discourses, and good ex 
amples. All these things are a great help to us in difficult 
positions : whereas those who are in the world, from only 
thinking and speaking of the things in the world, have few 
good ideas and many depraved ones in their imagination 
which cause them to give way on the least temptation." 

When any one of them was on the point of death, the 
pious Superior felt a mixture of sadness and joy; he wept 
for the loss of a laborer, but he rejoiced much more at see 
ing a saint die ; he therefore wished that the day of his 
death should be one of common recreation at table, instead 
of mourning. 

He was not satisfied with ordinary holiness in those be 
longing to him; he wished them to aim higher. "We 
know not the secrets of God," he said, " nor on what con 
ditions He may have caused our predestination to depend. 
He who is called to great holiness does not satisfy the 
heart of Jesus Christ by a low degree ; if we do not aim 
very high, we shall not easily succeed in reaching the end 
which God has appointed for us." 

If any reverse of fortune had befallen the parents of any 
of them, he pitied their distress, and wishing to preserve 
their vocation, he did not hesitate to relieve their families, 
in spite of the great want under which he himself labored; 
he did so on many occasions, by giving up to them the 
fees of their masses. Some of the Fathers thought that 
such instances of charity were excessive, on account of 
the poverty of the Congregation ; but Alphonsus replied, 
that charity can never fall into excess, and that God repays 
all that is given in his name. His affliction was extreme, 
when he saw one overcome by temptation and ready to fall 
back. If these combats were caused by temptation, he 



190 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

pitied the subject, and tried to aid him by his prayers and 
those of others, he even forgave him some impertinence. 
In such a case he wrote to one most graciously : "St. Paul, 
the first hermit, said to St. Anthony the abbot, who begged 
him to open the door, or else he should die on the spot, 
this is a new way of begging, you beg with a menace. 
I say the same thing to you. I feel pity in seeing the 
strife that has arisen in your heart: who ever sent you to 
Iliceto as a punishment? And then, just observe what you 
say: Otherwise I shall ask for a dispensation. This is 
very well, but who will give it to you ? Another time I 
trust you will not be so angry. I repeat, that I forgive you, 
for it is not you who speak, it is temptation. But let us 
have patience, and wait till this noxious influence has 
passed away." These words drove away his temptation 
and restored him to peaoe. But when he was convinced, 
that in any one these combats rather proceeded from malice 
of self-will, and that he had lost the grace of God, and 
therefore no longer cared for his soul nor for him, Al- 
phonsus did riot hesitate an instant to free him from the oath 
of perseverance, although he did so with great regret, and 
often accompanied the act by the most fatal predictions; 
he considered such a dispensation as a very passport to 
the devil s house, and only gave it in tears. 

To one, carried away by excessive attachment to his 
mother, as nothing succeeded in turning him aside from 
his purpose, Alphonsus at last said, on seeing his obstinacy, 
" I give you leave, but you will come to a bad end." The 
prediction was fulfilled. The unhappy man went away, and 
returned home, where he became the victim of God s anger 
and that of man also : he was despised by all priests, and a 
prey to a thousand contradictions. But his own mother 
caused him the greatest distress of all; for though he was 
seriously ill, she turned him out of doors, and he ended 
his life, deprived of every sort of assistance, in a miserable 
out-of-the-way hovel. 

Alphonsus took no further pains about those who left the 
Congregation in this way, or who had caused themselves 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 191 

to be expelled from it, and there is no instance of any one 
of them ever having been admitted again by him. Any 
further intercourse with these deserters was forbidden, and 
they were considered as so many heathens and publicans. 
No reiterated requests to be admitted again, no interces 
sion in their favor, caused their wishes to be granted, the 
prayers of the most influential persons, such as those of 
our oldest fathers, or bishops, would not prevail on the holy 
Superior. One who had been sent away, perceiving what 
a deplorable state he was in, presented himself before Al- 
phonsus, threw himself at his feet, and all bathed in 
tears, entreated him to admit him again ; but he was im- 
moveable. This Father, knowing that he never refused 
any thing he was asked in the name of the Blessed Virgin, 
conjured him to pardon him for the love of Mary. But 
Alphonsus replied vehemently, " The Blessed Virgin Mary 
does not wish me to go to hell for you." 

The heart of the most tender father could not feel greater 
love for his children than Alphonsus did towards our stu 
dents. " We are their fathers;" said he, speaking to their 
Superiors, "and the Congregation is their mother. Since 
they have left their parents in order to give themselves to 
God, it is right that they should be treated with the great 
est charity." There were three things which he wished 
them never to forget in the course of their studies : first, he 
did not like them to seek to know any thing but what was 
useful and necessary, and always with suitable moderation; 
in the second place, he objected to any boasting before 
others of more knowledge than was really possessed, much 
more, to setting up for acquirements which one had not ; 
and in the third place, he wished for a continual growth 
in virtue, and especially in humility. "True knowledge," 
he said to them, "consists in knowing Jesus Christ well. 
Of what good will knowledge be to us, if its end is not to 

seek after God? We must study, it is true, as we 

are laborers ; but we ought to be fully persuaded that the 
one thing needful, and that which Jesus Christ requires 
above every thing else, is that we should endeavor to be 



192 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

saved as saints. We must study, but our sole object in 
studying ought to be that of pleasing God, otherwise it will 
only cause us to be a long time in purgatory, nay, even may 
lead some perhaps to the torments of hell, which may God 
forbid. Let your aim then always be the glory of God and 
the good of souls, and when an opportunity occurs for 
seeming ignorant, do not recoil from it, for it will not hurt 
you." 

He had also an extreme affection for the young novices. 
When the noviciate was in the house where he himself 
lived, he always passed the evening recreation with the 
novices. In order to inspire faithfulness in following the 
vocation, and fear of losing it, he was in the habit of say 
ing: Vocation and perseverance are two distinct graces; 
God may give us the former even in the midst of our infi 
delities, but we shall not have the grace of perseverance, if 
we do not deserve it through prayer and good works. It is 
this crown which the devil wishes to take from us, and 
God allows him tdfrtempt us, to try our constancy and to 
reward us proportionably." Three things he required in 
the novices, to insure their persevering arid triumphing over 
temptations, viz : humility, obedience, and openness of 
heart. " He who is humble and knows his own misery," 
said he, " is all-powerful against the devil, he can never go 
astray, if he blindly trusts to the guidance of his Superiors, 
and above all if he is candid in confiding all that he feels 
to his director. A temptation which is revealed to another 
is vanquished, or half vanquished, for the devil, who is pride 
itself, does not suffer his artifices to be disclosed to a crea 
ture of earth, such as man is." When he found these dis 
positions in a novice, he felt sure that there was nothing 
to fear. 

With regard to novices who became sick, his maxim was, 
that those who were patient and pious in illness, assisted 
the Congregation by their example, and that as they were 
themselves pleasing to God, they drew down innumerable 
graces upon it also. When a fervent novice was at the 
point of death, Alphonsus was not distressed, for he re- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 193 

joiced in the assurance that such a novice was happy. If 
on the contrary a sick person wished to leave us, he 
only granted it with pain. "If the doctors and remedies 
we have here," he said, "cannot restore their health, 
they will not recover it any better in the house of their 
parents. If God wills that they shall die, it is better for 
them to die in the Congregation, than in the midst of 
the world." 

Let us close this chapter by giving the wise rules Al- 
phonsus prescribed to himself, which directed his conduct, 
and caused him to be an eminent Superior: 

1st. A Superior ought to lead an exemplary life, for if 
he does not practice what he teaches, his government will 
be useless and dangerous. 

2d. The Superior ought constantly to labor for God, and 
to be persuaded that he will often meet with ingratitude 
from man. 

3d. Too severe a Superior makes the subjects imperfect 
and deceitful, because they will act only through servile 
fear. 

4th. Pride makes a Superior odious to all, it hinders his 
own sanctification and that of his subjects, as well as the 
preservation of order in the institute. 

5th. The Superior ought to possess heroic patience, he 
ought to bear all kinds of labor, fatigue, and contradictions, 
and always appear calm, and affable towards all. 

6th. The Superior ought to give every one a reception 
full of charity and affection, and be all to all on all 
occasions. 

7th. The Superior ought to be careful to cherish the 
same degree of love towards all, and to assist all alike in 
their spiritual and temporal wants. 

8th. The Superior who does not overcome his antipa 
thies, sympathies, or impressions caused by ill-temper, is 
hasty in his judgments, and falls into a thousand faults. 

9th. The Superior ought not to be so presumptuous as 
to try to govern the institute by means of his own lights 
only, he always stands in need of prayers and counsels. 
17 



194 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 

10th. The Superior ought to provide for the spiritual and 
temporal wants of his subjects, and to relieve them with all 
the care of a father and a brother. 

llth. The Superior ought to be vigilant as to the observ 
ance of the rule, he must therefore inquire into every 
thing with the greatest exactitude. 

12th. The Superior must not judge things hastily, but 
weigh them well, and reflect and inquire into them, before 
giving any decision. 

13th. The Superior ought to punish offences against the 
rule, but he ought first to give repeated warning, which 
should always be accompanied by charity. 

14th. The Superior ought to be firm with the incorri 
gible, and he must take care to prevent the contagion of 
bad example. 

15th. The Superior ought to be just, exemplary, prudent, 
charitable, affable, and vigilant, if he would not undergo a 
terrible judgment at the tribunal of God. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Alphonsus is chosen Bishop. His journey to Rome and 
-Loretto. His Consecration. 

WE are now arrived at that period of the life of our 
Saint, in which God, in His wonderful providence, 
placed him on the candlestick, to enlighten all those who 
were in the house of His holy Church, and that he might 
labor for His glory by new works, and in new combats 
The episcopal see of St. Agatha of the Goths, a town 
situated at the foot of Mount Taburno, between Bene- 
vento and Capua in the Abruzzi, buik by the Goths on 
the site of the ancient Saticola, mentioned by Titus Livi- 
us, 7th Book of the 1st Decade, chapter 8th, had become 
vacant by the death of Bishop Flaminius Danza. The 
succession to it was solicited by at least sixty candidates, 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 195 

amongst whom were bishops, and even archbishops. The 
Pope, Clement XIII, much embarrassed by the number of 
competitors, the claims of one not the most worthy, being, 
besides, singularly favored at Naples by a very high person 
age, consulted the Cardinals, and Cardinal Spinelli gave 
the advice to choose a man whose merits surpassed those 
of all the rest, and proposed Alphonsus, who, from the 
lustre of his origin, science, and sanctity, enjoyed an 
esteem as general as it was merited. This advice was 
followed, as being calculated to put to silence every pre 
tension, and to end every anxiety. The news of the Sov 
ereign Pontiff s decision being spread through Rome, filled 
all those who knew the future bishop, with joy, and the 
satisfaction was such that many prelates, and particularly 
the Cardinals Orsini and Cartelli, went to thank the Pope. 
Many other distinguished personages, among them, Prince 
Piombino and D. Gae tan Buon-Compagno, who had 
known Alphonsus at Naples, were so rejoiced at this nomi 
nation, that they presented themselves in person to his 
Holiness, and congratulated him on having raised so 
learned and holy a man to the episcopate. 

While this matter was being settled at Rome, the mind 
of Alphonsus was occupied with anything but this church 
and bishopric; one day, when conversing with Bishop 
Nicolas Borgia of Cava, on the mercy of God in rescuing 
him from the world, he said : " One of the greatest graces 
that I have received from the Lord, is that of having 
escaped the peril of being a bishop, a peril which I should 
have had difficulty in avoiding, had I remained with my 
family." Thus thought Alphonsus, but God had ordained 
otherwise. A courier arrived at Nocera on the 9th of 
March, 1762, with a letter from Cardinal Socatelli, Nuncio 
at Naples, inclosing one from Cardinal Negroni, which 
announced to him his election to the bishopric of St. 
Agatha, in the name of the Pope. On reading them, 
Alphonsus was thunderstruck; his senses became troubled, 
and he could not speak. As soon as the community were 
informed of it, they hastened to his room, and found him 



196 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

agitated, silent, and bathed in tears. After recovering 
himself, he became tranquil, persuaded that his refusal 
would immediately end all, and that the election was a 
mere mark of esteem which the Pope wished to give him. 
Alphonsus in consequence wrote a letter to the Cardinal- 
auditor, in which he thanked the Pope for his goodness, 
and exposed his own incapacity, his great age and infirmi 
ties, the vow by which he had engaged himself never to 
accept any dignity, and the scandal which his consent 
would give in the Congregation. When the courier was 
gone, Alphonsus said to F. Corsano: "See, this storm has 
cost me an hour and four ducats," alluding to the money 
he had had to give to the messenger, he then added, that 
he would not give the Congregation for all the kingdoms 
of the great Turk. He wrote at the same time to Cardinal 
Spinelli, to let him know the motives which had determined 
him to refuse the honor offered to him, and to beg him to 
cause his refusal to be accepted by the Pope. He wrote 
at the same time to his friend, the Abbe Bruni, who had 
much influence with the Cardinal. The next day, Bishop 
Borgia came to see him, and gave him a confidential letter 
from Cardinal Spinelli, who wrote, that his Holiness wished 
that he should immediately accept the bishopric, to take 
him out of his embarrassment, but that he should be at 
liberty to renounce it afterwards, when affairs should be 
come more tranquil. This threw Alphonsus into new con 
sternation, and greater than the first. Persuaded that the 

> o 

Pope would make difficulty to accept his resignation, he 
saw that he had no hope left but in God, and he made 
his brethren pray, that the Lord would deign to exempt 
him from this punishment, which he always acknowledged 
to have deserved by his sins. In his sermon on the follow 
ing Saturday, he recommended himself to the prayers of the 
people, he redoubled his penances, he condemned himself 
to a severe fast, he diminished his sleep, and neglected no 
means to appease what he considered so violent a tempest. 
As the time drew near, when the decision was to be 
given at Rome, the disquietude of Alphonsus increased; 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 197 

but in spite of his extreme agitation, he was heard often 
repeating : " May the will of God be done." He remained 
balancing between fear and hope, but fear had the prepon 
derance. " Tf the courier comes," he said several times 
to Fathers Ferrara and Mazzini, " do not let me see him. 
for he would seem to me like an executioner with the axe in 
his hand." At Rome, many well qualified personages who 
were acquainted with the reasons alleged by Alphonsus, 
hastened to intercede in his favor, especially dwelling on 
his age and his enfeebled frame. Cardinal Spinelli, in 
formed of the state of Alphonsus, pleaded his cause him 
self, though with regret. On the evening of the 14th of 
March, the Pope seemed disposed to accept the resigna 
tion, but the next morning he decided to the contrary, 
without any one knowing why he did so. On the morn 
ing of the 18th of March, 1762, the messenger of the 
Nuncio appeared again at Naples. Fathers Ferrara and 
Mazzini opened the letters, and when they saw the firm 
resolve of the Pope, they went to Alphonsus, but before 
letting him know the truth, they got him to recite an 
Ave Maria with them. Alphonsus felt his heart beat, 
and said: "The courier has returned." They confessed 
it, and told him the Pope commanded him to accept. Upon 
this he raised his eyes to heaven, bent his head in token of 
submission, and said: " Obmutui, quia tu fecisti;" then 
becoming thoughtful, he added : " It is the will of God, 
God sends me out of the Congregation for my sins." 
Then turning towards the Fathers, he said: "Do not 
forget me. Ah ! must it be that we shall separate, after 
having loved each other during thirty years ?" On this he 
was silent, and his eyes became bathed in tears. The 
Fathers observing that he lacked not friends in Rome, who 
would cause the motives of his resignation to prevail, "It 
is not possible," replied Alphonsus, "to make explana 
tions. The Pope has declared himself in absolute terms, 
which do not permit it: I must obey." At these words, 
he fell into such convulsions, that he remained speechless 
for five hours. When he came to himself, he wrote to the 
17* 



198 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Cardinal-auditor and to the Nuncio, that he was ready to 
accept, and to submit to the will of the Sovereign Pontiff. 
The refusal of Alphonsus had caused a great sensation, all 
Rome was edified, and this edification increased still more, 
when his unreasoning obedience and complete submission 
to the will of the Pope became known. 

When D. Hercules heard that his brother had accepted 
the episcopate, he rejoiced, and hastened to offer such ser 
vices as might be necessary to him under the circum 
stances. Alphonsus replied as follows: "My dear brother, I 
have been so stunned by the command of the Pope, that I 
should accept the bishopric on obedience, that my ideas 

seem to have left me I thank you for your offer 

of advancing the money What do you wish I 

should say? you rejoice; for my part, T can only weep. I 
have lost my sleep and appetite, I am beside myself, a fever 
seized me this morning, and this evening, whilst I write, it is 
not gone. I ask of myself, why my old age is to be afflicted 
by the painful labors of the episcopate, and how it is that the. 
Pope, who never gives such commands, has adopted a tone 
of such severity with me ? To conclude, may the will of 
God be done ; He desires the sacrifice of the rest of my 
Jife, I must submit, whatever I may wish." 

It being the custom of the bishops of the kingdom, who 
came to Naples, to establish themselves in a house accord 
ing with their high dignity, Alphonsus, having accepted 
the bishopric, wrote thus to his brother: "As regards th 
house, I do not want to charge myself with the expenses. 
I think that when I come to Naples, one or two rooms on 
the first floor will be enough for me to receive the people 
in, who may wish to speak to me." To the lay-brother he 
wrote : " I hope that I shall not return to Naples, but in 
any case four straw chairs will be enough for me. If I 
have accepted the bishopric out of obedience, I must follow 
the example of saintly bishops: do not speak to me, then, 
about a carriage or livery. What good will it do to me to act 
the great lord in Naples?" Bishops Borgia and Volpe, and 
ihis director F. Villani, having shown him the necessity of 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. ]9 

his having a carriage, he consented to it, and wrote to his 
brother: " Yes, I am resolved to buy one, but I wish to see 
beforehand whether the late bishop has not left a carriage 
which might do, because I should have that much cheaper. 
I shall be in Naples this week or next, and then we will 
speak about it, for the short stay I shall make in that town 
I have no need to buy a carriage and mules immediately. I 
will use that of the Cordeliers for tjie visits I shall have to 
make there." 

Great as was his submission to the will of the Pope, he 
made so violent an effort, and experienced such internal 
constraint, that the fever which had seized him on the 20th 
of March, became so alarming, that his life appeared in 
danger. "Just are the judgments of God," he exclaimed, 
"the Lord casts me out of the Congregation for my sins." 
One thing alone brought him relief, it was the hope of 
being able to re-enter the order. "I believe it is certain," 
he said, "that after God s anger is appeased, (and I hope 
that my prayers and zeal in fulfilling my duties may disarm 
it in a few years,) I am certain that then the Pope will have 
pity on my sorrows, and will willingly choose a more worthy 
person for St. Agatha ; then he will send me back here to 
die within these very walls whence I am now going out." 
The Pope, rejoicing at the obedience of Alphonsus, wished 
to testify to him the satisfaction he felt, and in conse 
quence the Cardinal-auditor wrote to the holy man to this 
effect, signifying at the same time, that his Holiness had 
consented to his deferring his journey to Rome, on account 
of the inclemency of the season. Hearing afterwards of 
his serious malady, the Pope was extremely afflicted, but 
said : " If he dies, we shall give him our apostolical bene 
diction, but if he lives, we wish to have him in Rome." 
D. Hercules, hearing at Naples of the dangerous state of 
his brother, hastened to Nocera, bringing one of the most 
skilful physicians of that capital with him. 

The submission of Alphonsus to the will of the Pope had 
caused great joy at St. Agatha. The chapter deputed several 
canons to congratulate him, but their sorrowful surprise on 



200 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

finding him in bed and in danger of death, was as great 
as their ardent desire o/ becoming acquainted with him 
whom God had destined to be their father, and of 
whose zeal and sanctity they had heard so much. On 
their return to St. Agatha, this news spread consternation 
among the inhabitants, and in unison with the clergy they 
addressed their prayers to God, that he would deign to 
restore the health of their future pastor. Public prayers 
were also offered to God in all the houses of the Con 
gregation, each feeling a deep interest in the life of him 
whom he looked on as his father. 

As his mind resumed its calmness, his body also re 
gained its strength, but that he escaped from death, was 
considered a real miracle. When his humility would 
oppose itself to the Pope, he was heard to say : " God 
wills that I should be a bishop, and for my part I will to 
be a bishop." He was in this disposition of mind when, 
on themorning of Easter day, finding that he was almost 
well, he took the sudden resolution of going to his bishop 
ric. He then, without loss of time, entered into one of 
those miserable carriages which are called mantice, and set 
out for Naples, from whence he had to repair to Rome. 
He was accompanied by F. Villani. On the Saturday 
before his departure, he did not omit to preach, according 
to custom, in honor of the Holy Virgin Mary, and 
he did it in so pathetic a tone, that he affected all his 
audience in an extraordinary degree. On leaving his 
brethren at Nocera, he begged all there present not to 
forget him in their prayers, in order that the Lord Jesus 
Christ and the Blessed Virgin might aid him to bear the 
load which had been placed upon him. After that, he 
added: "Do not grieve, my dear brethren, because I am 
going away ; I promise that I will return here again to end 
my days." On passing by the Tower of the Annunziata, 
he stopped for a few moments, in consequence of a pressing 
invitation, at the house of the Garganos, a family of which all 
the members were greatly devoted to him. " I go to Rome," 
he said to them, "but I -am sure that my representations, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 201 

which have been powerless at a distance, will be more 
favorably heard when I am on the spot; the holy Father 
will let me go and die among my brethren, when he finds 
in me only a miserable carcass." He found fresh subjects 
of distress on his arrival at Naples. Being obliged to pay 
his respects to the ministers and magistrates, and finding 
himself beset at home by the crowd who came to compli 
ment him, he required all his virtue to bear this new mode 
of life. "Recommend me, and let me be recommended 
by others very particularly, to Jesus Christ." he wrote to F. 
Mazzini on the 14th of April, " if I do not lose my senses 
now, I shall never lose them. Unhappy that I am, I left 
the world in my youth, and now in my old age I have to 
begin again to hold intercourse with it." 

Very touching was the meeting of Alphonsus with F. 
Janvier Fatigati. Some years before, Alphonsus, when at 
Naples, having heard that this, his friend, was going to be 
elected bishop, went to see him one morning, and met him 
on the threshold of the door. " F. Janvier," he said to 
him with ardor, "do not accept the episcopate, if you do, 
you will be damned." Alphonsus in his turn received, at 
the time we are speaking of, the visit of his friend, who, 
more fortunate than himself, had been able to decline the 
burden. When they met, they were mutually silent, their 
eyes were bathed in tears, and the features of Alphonsus 
showed the bitterness which rent his heart, while those of 
F. Fatigati depicted the compassion he felt for his friend. 

The expenditure of Alphonsus, when at Naples, for his 
equipment, was really extraordinary. His episcopal ring 
cost only a few carlins, it was adorned with a simple bit of 
glass; the brilliants in his pastoral cross were also made of 
false stones. When the jeweller gave it to him, Alphonsus 
said, "Oh what a heavy cross you bring me!" "What! 
heavy!" replied the workman with astonishment. "Yes, 
heavy," answered Alphonsus, bendinghis head twice, " alas! 
it is so weighty that I know nothing more overwhelming." 

On Monday, the 19th of April, after Easter week, Alphon 
sus, accompanied by F. Villani, set out for Rome. He 



202 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



went to Cisterna to see Cardinal Spinelli. His Eminence 
could not help smiling on seeing him ; but Alphonsus 
said at once: "My lord, you have not acted fairly towards 
me." The Cardinal related what had passed at Rome 
concerning him, and urged him to undertake the burden 
of the episcopate courageously, saying: "My lord, be 
sure of the assistance of God, for your divine vocation is 
most certain." The first thing which our saint did on 
arriving at Rome, was to visit the tomb of St. Peter. He 
remained before the altar in a sort of ecstasy for more 
than an hour, and he stayed for a long time on his knees 
before the image of the holy Apostle which is in the 
Vatican besides. They were so prepossessed in his favor 
at Rome, that he was welcomed every where with especial 
marks of esteem. The Fathers of the Congregation of the 
Pious Workers wished to have him in their house, and the 
Duke of Sora, Prince of Piombino, D. Gae tan Buon-Com- 
pagno, being at Frescati, and hearing of his arrival, begged 
him to lodge in his palace, and offered him the use of his 
carriage. Alphonsus declined the dwelling-place, but 
accepted the carriage, which his weakness and great age 
rendered indispensable to him. When the Abbe Bruni 
came to see him, Alphonsus, who knew that he had taken 
part with Cardinal Spinelli in his nomination, could not 
help gently reproaching him by representing his incapacity. 
"I have no quality which fits me in the least degree for a 
bishop," he said, "but I submit because the Pope com 
mands, and God wills that I should obey him." "The 
Pope wills that I should be a bishop," he said to the Abbe 
Troppi, a professor in Rome, " but I have come to let him 
see that I am but a machine out of order." 

His humility made him quick in finding pretexts for ex 
cusing himself courteously from the most of the invitations 
he received. The Fathers of the Mission of St. Vincent 
of Paul invited him to dinner one day: " My Fathers, ""he 
said to them, " please give my dinner to Jesus Christ s poor 
for me, in order that He may let me see His holy will dis 
tinctly while I am at Rome," Cardinal Orsini invited him 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 203 

to his table. Alphonsus wished to excuse himself again, 
but it was in vain; he was told that the Cardinal had in 
vited other great personages to meet him. When he was 
preparing to go to the Cardinal s, he was told that he 
ought not to present himself there in such a dress, (Al 
phonsus, even in Rome, gloried in wearing the habit of his 
order,) but should put on a court-dress. He did not attend 
to this advice, and when he met the Cardinal, he said to 
him: "My Lord, I am come as I was." The Cardinal 
smiled. "I know," added Alphonsus, "that you are 
ashamed of me." "Well my wish is, that you should 
shame me," answered the Cardinal ; then he embraced him 
heartily, and led him in his cabinet. 

Alphonsus had suffered a great deal at Naples from the 
numerous visits and compliments, but it was worse at 
Rome. "The time which must pass before I can leave 
Rome, seems like a thousand years," he wrote to his brother 
Hercules, "how I long to be free from all their ceremo 
nial!" On his arrival, he heard that the Pope was at Civita 
Vecchia, and would not return immediately. He resolved 
therefore to go in the meanwhile to visit the holy house at 
Loretto. F. Villani tried to dissuade him from it, to save 
him from this additional fatigue. "My good mother Mary 
will strengthen me," he answered; "when will so favora 
ble an opportunity offer itself again ? Nothing will hurt 
me, if I can have the satisfaction of visiting the house 
where the Eternal Word became man for me." This jour 
ney, like that from Naples to Rome, was to him a con 
tinual union with God. He commenced before day-break 
by a long meditation and other prayers ; then he said the 
canonical hours, paid a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and 
to the Blessed Virgin ; he then said the Rosary and Lita 
nies, and wished his servants also to recite the Rosary with 
uncovered heads. He said many prayers for the souls in 
purgatory, and passed the most of the time till twelve, in 
singing pious hymns, and in holy converse with F. Villani. 
He celebrated Mass every day, and when the hour ap 
proached, made his preparation, with a long thanksgiving 



204 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

after it, While he continued his route, he said Vespers 
and Compline ; he then made a long meditation, together 
with a visit to Jesus and Mary, and .recited the Rosary 
again. On arriving at the inn, he said Matins and Lauds 
for the following day. His attendants were humility and 
poverty. He fasted in the morning, and took his evening 
meal in a strange manner, for he went to the same table as 
the drivers, as if he had been the poorest of the travellers. 
He experienced ineffable consolation, the three weeks 
he passed at Loretto. He observed, or rather meditated on, 
the smallest local circumstance. "It is here," he ex 
claimed in unceasing rapture, " it is here that the Word 
became man. It is here that Mary held Him in her arms!" 
One day he told F. "Villani to retire, wishing to contemplate 
at his leisure the mysteries which this cradle of the divine hu 
manity recalled to his mind. During all the nights he passed 
at Loretto, he never went to bed ; he remained constantly on 
his knees, sometimes without any support, sometimes. with 
that of his bed. These details were given by his servant, who 
watched him through the crevices of his door. The same 
servant related also, that for his supper he took only an in 
fusion of sage, ate very little at dinner, and when he was 
urged to take some dishes which the inn-keeper brought 
for him, he always declined it adroitly. He never left the 
house to go to see the town, only going out to celebrate 
Mass in the morning, and to pay a visit in the evening to 
the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin. The pil 
grims came to the saintly man in crowds, and he neglected 
nothing in order to relieve their misery. One of them 
coming before him half-naked, he opened his trunk and 
gave him his best shirt, and a tolerably large alms besides. 
When he was obliged to leave Loretto, one may say he 
left his heart behind him on that holy spot. On his return, 
he did not cease to speak of the great mystery, the very 
scene of the accomplishment of which, he had been visiting. 
A heavy rain fell the night after his departure, which 
swelled the stream of the river Tarni. The next morning, 
in leaving Marino in a boat, an awkward evolution nearly 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 205 

upset the barge ; Alphonsus fell into the water, and disap 
peared in the middle of the river; but the servant threw 
himself into the stream, and miraculously succeeded in 
bearing him out on his shoulders to the other side. When 
they arrived at Spoletto, Mgr. Acqua, bishop of that city, 
being informed of the passage of his saintly colleague, 
sent his carriage to the hotel for him, being himself con 
fined to bed by gout, and under great uneasiness as to the 
state of his diocese. He opened his heart to him whose 
works he admired so much, and told him all his trials. 
Alphonsus consoled the holy bishop, who passed the greater 
part of the night with him, blessing God for having been 
able to converse with a man so full of the Spirit of God. 

Alphonsus returned to Rome on the evening of May 8th, 
1762; and the Pope arrived almost at the same time from 
Civita-Vecchia. He went to do homage to him immedi 
ately; as he bent to his feet, the Pope hastened to raise 
him, and embracing him, made him sit beside him; but 
Alphonsus threw himself anew at his feet, and supplicated 
with tears to be exempted from a charge which his infirmities, 
his age, and above all, his incapacity, rendered him unfit 
for. "Obedience," answered the Pope, "enables one to 
work miracles ; trust therefore in God, and he will assist 
you." He then made him sit down, and questioned him 
as to the state of Naples, both in its political and spiritual 
relations ; he kept him for an hour and a half, as he took 
very great pleasure in talking with him. 

When going to visit Cardinal Torregiani, secretary of 
state, he wished, before making himself known, to wait till 
all who had asked an audience were Satisfied ; so he staid 
humbly in the ante-chamber. But Bishop Molinari, who 
knew him, happening to enter the ante-room, informed the 
Cardinal s servant who he was. He had been taken for a 
mendicant; the Cardinal was immediately informed, and 
received him with distinction above every one else. The 
Pope wished often to see him, and conferred with him on 
many affairs of much importance to the Church. He con 
ceived the highest opinion of his virtues and science from 
18 



206 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

these interviews. He never spoke of him without admira 
tion, so much so that a rumor went about that Alphonsus 
would be made a Cardinal. Alphonsus himself seemed to 
confirm these reports, by the terms in which he wrote to 
his brother Hercules of what had passed between himself 
and the Sovereign Pontiff. 

In -one of these visits to the Holy Father the conversa 
tion fell upon frequent communion ; Alphonsus told him 
that he had been opposed at Naples on this subject by 
some men more rigorous than devout, who, by exaggerating 
the dispositions which this sacrament requires, discouraged 
the faithful and kept them at a distance from it. He dis 
approved of the silence of Alphonsus, and charged him to 
refute his adversaries. Alphonsus consented, and during 
his stay in Rome composed and published a treatise on this 
subject, which the Pqpe received with great satisfaction. 

He went to visit the examiners, and when he was asked 
on what treatises he wished to be examined, he wanted 
to leave it to their own choice ; but as they insisted to 
the contrary, he named those de Mutuo and de Legibus; 
but one of them, who knew how much he dreaded the 
episcopate, wished to propose a question which would 
please him ; it was this : "Is it lawful to wish for the epis 
copate?" On the eve of the examination, the thought of 
the burden which threatened him brought on a sick head 
ache, which took away all his rest; he would not eat, and 
indeed was incapable of taking anything ; however, he took 
a little in obedience to F. Villani, and the next day, in 
spite of the discomfort he felt, he presented himself for the 
examination. One of the examiners, having proposed the 
question, begged him to raise his voice a little, but Cardi 
nal Gallo, turning to the Pope, said : " Holy Father, he does 
not hear, because he does not wish to hear." The Pope 
smiled, so did the examiners and persons present. At the 
end of the meeting, one of the Cardinals suggested to him 
that he should return thanks to the Pope ; but either he 
did not understand it, or feigned not to understand it, as 
the Cardinal repeated it a second time. "Most Holy 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 207 

Father," said he then, "since you have deigned to make 
me a bishop, pray God that I lose not my soul." 

On St. Basil s day, the 14th of June, Alphonsus was 
consecrated bishop, in the church of Minerva, by Cardinal 
Rossi, assisted by two bishops. It was an overwhelming 
day for our saint. He confessed to his director afterwards 
that he had had two great battles in his life : the first, when 
he left the world, and had to struggle against the tender 
ness of a father who clasped him tightly in his arms ; the 
second, when he was forced to be ordained bishop when at 
Rome. " For then," said he, " I was cast down by fear in 
thinking of the burden I was loaded with, and the account 
I should have to give of it to God." After the consecra 
tion, some one said to him that if he wished to enjoy the 
privilege of wearing a cap at the altar, he must obtain a 
brief: "Oh!" he exclaimed, "what a thing it would beif.I 
should spend money in order to contract a wicked debt 
towards Jesus Christ!" 

Our Fathers, seeing what great harm might happen to 
the Congregation by his loss, had united to entreat the 
Pope to grant them that Alphonsus might continue to be 
superior and rector-major of the institute, and that a vicar- 
general should govern it in his name. This request was 
supported by F. Villani, to whom the Holy Father immedi 
ately replied with kindness : " I wish that this Congrega 
tion should go on and be well supplied with subjects, and 
I do not intend that it should suffer any harm from the 
elevation of its founder, for the great good it has effected 
in the Church and in the kingdom of Naples, is a great 
consolation to me." Thus his Holiness condescended to 
grant all their wishes, which helped in no small degree to 
alleviate the sorrow of Alphonsus, who had believed him 
self cast out of the Congregation in punishment for his sins. 

The Holy Father desired the new bishop to come to his 
private audience six or seven times ; at his last visit, in 
bidding him farewell, he loaded him with kindness, and 
seemed unable to separate from him ; he recommended the 
Church and himself to his prayers. He gave him his bulls 



208 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

gratuitously, and Cardinal Atitonelli, secretary of the con 
sistory, defrayed the other expenses. 

During all the time he staid in Rome, Alphonsus led the 
most edifying life ; he never went out but from necessity; 
or to visit the sacred places. After his consecration he 
revisited the tomb of the apostle St. Peter, and placed him 
self and those committed to his care under his protection. 
Cardinal Orsini invited him a second time, but Alphonsus 
declined the honor, excusing himself on the plea of his 
infirmities. He mortified himself at Rome as elsewhere. 
The great heat caused him to suffer much from his head ; 
he was asked one day to take an ice which was offered to 
him, but he refused to accept it, and contented himself with 
a glass of lemonade, which is called fresh water in Rome. 
He was always dressed as a missionary, and wore the Ro 
sary at his girdle, and & broad-brimmed hat. A person of 
high rank could not help telling him : "In not leaving off 
the habit of your order, you have given a most edifying 
example to Rome." The Pope himself did not cease to 
praise his virtues, and said to several Cardinals: "On the 
death of Bishop Liguori we shall have to honor another 
saint in the Church," 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Mphonsus leaves Rome and goes to his diocese. His manner 
of life as a bishop. He gives the Spiritual Exercises to 
the Clergy, and a Mission in his Cathedral. Some exam 
ples of his severity against hardened sinners. 

ON the 21st of June, after celebrating mass at the altar 
of St. Louis Gonzaga in the church of the Gesu, Al 
phonsus left Rome. In this journey, as in the preceding 
ones, poverty was his inseparable companion ; though a 
bishop, he sat at table with the drivers, without suffering 
any distinction to be made. He arrived at Naples on the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 209 

morning of the 25th. He visited among others the four 
ministers, and commended himself most particularly to the 
Marquis, of Marco. "I go into a diocese a little in disor 
der," he said to him, "and each one will wish to justify 
his conduct. I pray God that they may all really be able 
to do so ; but I entreat you to regard the honor of God 
and the welfare of souls." " Do not be distressed," the 
Marquis answered, " and if you require the King s support, 
be assured you will obtain it." He was invited to the 
royal table, and went there; but while he was in the ante 
chamber he was not recognised by the two young cheva 
liers in attendance. The Canon D. Fabricius Martini made 
it known that he was Bishop Liguori, and Alphonsus be 
came immediately an object of great attention and venera 
tion. Confused by this, he gently complained to Mgr. 
Martini for having made him known. In the drives through 
the town, he always told the coachman not to attempt pre 
cedence, but to give way on all occasions. At the gate of 
the Santo Spiritu, he met a prince s carriage, which seemed 
disposed to go first. His coachman wished to dispute this 
advantage, but when Alphonsus perceived it, he ordered 
him to leave the passage to the prince, and reprimanded 
the man on his return, enjoining him to give place for the 
future, even to a groom. The religious of the principal 
convents, and others, asked him to visit them and to 
say mass in their churches, but not wishing to prolong his 
stay in Naples uselessly, he gratified only a few, among 
them his cousin Francis Cavaliere, who, with the concur 
rence of the Cardinal, wished him to give the Sacrament 
of Confirmation to one of his daughters in the chapel of 
his palace. 

Before he left Naples, a priest of Arienzo went to visit 
him. He thought it meritorious to present himself before 
his bishop with a worldly affectation of dress; he was per 
fumed and curled, and wore buckles which covered all his 
shoes. Alphonsus felt pity on seeing such vanity of mind, 
and said to him with touching goodness: "My son, these 
are not the buckles of a priest, and this head-dress does 
18* 



210 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

not suit you at all ; if you act thus, you who should be an 
example to the people, what then will men of the world 
do?" The poor priest was quite confused, and changed 
his conduct. 

Alphonsus left Naples on the 3d of July. He visited 
Cardinal Sersale at the Tower of the Annunziata. He re 
ceived him with the tenderest proofs of friendship, and said 
smiling: "You are, then, caught." "Obedience so willed 
it," answered Alphonsus. The Cardinal accompanied him 
to the stairs, and on seeing his equipage, said jestingly : 
"But so, you have taken the livery of a Cardinal." "It 
was riot I who ordered it," replied Alphonsus, " it was the 
work of D. Hercules." Alphonsus had wished it to be of 
a dingy ash color, but to his great regret, Hercules had 
made it of crimson on blue ground. Casting his eyes after 
that on his shoe buckles, the Cardinal said laughingly: 
"You must have bought these at Rome, and no doubt they 
cost you a great deal!" They were little iron buckles, 
which had cost a carlin. 

He arrived at Nocera on a Saturday, and preached there 
according to custom, in honor of the Most Blessed Virgin 
Mary. On seeing the saintly bishop, the whole audience 
melted into tears. The Fathers, because of the visits which 
would be paid to him, did not put him in his ordinary cell, 
but gave him two in another part of the house, that he 
might sleep in the one, and receive visitors in the other. 
One evening passing before his old cell, he exclaimed: "0 
my cell, formerly thy sight consoled me, now it afflicts me." 
He was so overcome by regret that he could not banish 
tears from his eyes. 

On the morning of the 8th of the same month, after a 
tender farewell to his dear monastery of Nocera, he took 
leave of the missionaries and set out for Naples, accompa 
nied by F. Francis Margotta. " My brethren," he said, 
when going away, "do not forget me. I go into exile, far 
from my dear Congregation." He could say no more, for 
.his emotion was extreme. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 211 

As it was during the burning heats of summer, and at 
that period when the weather frequently changes, the doc 
tors of Nocera had given him the advice to defer the jour 
ney, but considering it the part of a good shepherd to give 
his life for his sheep, he braved the inconstancy of the 
season, and set out immediately to go and unite himself 
with his church. "A bishop," he said, "ought not to 
think of his own life, but should sacrifice himself for the 
souls which are entrusted to him." He was also strongly 
advised to stop at Arienzo, a town of his new diocese, on 
account of the comfortable house and more salubrious air 
he would have found there, but he wished to go to St. 
Agatha, as the place where God had fixed his abode. 

No triumph in the memory of man had ever been seen 
equal to that of Alphonsus when he entered the diocese of 
St. Agatha. He wept, being affected at the sight of the 
crowd of people who filled the road and had hastened from 
all parts to receive his first benediction. On arriving 
at the gate of Real- Vale, he was saluted by a discharge 
of mortars and brilliant fire-works. When passing be 
fore the parish church, he perceived an immense crowd, 
who had hastened from the country, desirous of having his 
episcopal blessing; affected by this pious eagerness, he 
got out of the carriage and entered the church, where after 
a short act of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he com 
forted all the faithful by a simple and pathetic discourse. 
In passing by Bagnoli, a fief of the see of St. Agatha, he 
was again saluted by roars of cannon and by a thousand 
acclamations from a joyous people. 

On his arrival at St. Agatha, he received, on descending 
from the carriage into the court of the episcopal palace, 
the congratulations and homage of both the secular and 
regular clergy, and of a number of distinguished inhabitants 
of the town and diocese. After a moment s repose, when 
they were making ready to conduct him to the church in 
procession, the canons discovered that he had no cap or 
green hat. Not being able to do better, they took that 
which was placed on the tomb of the deceased Bishop 



212 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Danza. After the Blessed Sacrament had been exposed, 
Alphonsus prostrated himself for a long time with his face 
on the ground, which he deluged with his tears. The 
cathedral was so crowded, that spacious as it was, a good 
many people were obliged to stay at the door. When they 
had chanted the Te Deum. the bishop descended from his 
throne, and placing himself on the right side of the altar, 
he comforted all present by a discourse in which his love 
and zeal were equally shown forth. All who assisted there 
shed tears of joy, and thanked God for having given them 
an angel for their pastor, and when they left the church 
were heard to repeat : " We have a saintly bishop, we have 
a saint among us." Such was the impression the first sight 
of his poverty and humility, and the words of his burning 
zeal, made on the mind of the people. 

During this first sermQn, Alphonsus had been suddenly 
attacked by an obstinate fit of coughing; one of the canons 
turned to the others, and said in joke: "Make ready, gen 
tlemen, to elect a new vicar-capitular, for if my lord has 
another such attack, we shall infallibly lose him." Al 
phonsus, to whom this remark was reported, together with 
the canon s name, said jestingly in his turn: "He does not 
know that green pears fall more easily than ripe ones." A 
short time afterwards, this priest, though in the prime of his 
life, was carried off by death, the first of all the chapter. 
The same evening, Alphonsus had occasion to give proofs 
of his great disinterestedness; several of the most dis 
tinguished people sent him a quantity of provisions of great 
price, for his table ; but he sent them all back, giving 
money to the servants who had brought him these presents, 
and expressing his gratitude for so much kindness. Some 
days after, the Provincial of the Dominicans sent him a 
great quantity of choice dishes, but he refused all, and 
caused him to be told that he never accepted of such pre 
sents. The Fathers Conventual also wished to show him 
their friendly inclinations, by sending him a basket of little 
cheeses, with a quantity of sweetmeats, and small wax 



, LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 213 

tapers. Alphonsus took one of the cheeses and sent back 
all the rest. Others were not more fortunate. 

The holy prelate s secretary, Don Verzella, seeing they 
had several distinguished guests, D. Hercules and others, 
thought he ought to provide a suitable supper, Alphonsus 
was dissatisfied, and sent for him and said: "Felix, may 
God forgive you, .what have you done ? I am not come 
here to give sumptuous repasts; I do not wish to treat you 
harshly, but I cannot understand any excess. When there 
are so many poor who die of hunger, it does not befit us 
to make good cheer." Not satisfied with this reprimand, 
he sent for him again, and fixed the fare for each day; he 
desired that for his dinner, soup and boiled meat should 
be prepared ; an extra dish was only to be had for those of 
his household, or for guests. 

Though raised to the episcopate, he did not change his 
manner of life ; he even followed a severer rule. Before 
his departure from Nocera, he had sent a lay-brother to ar 
range the palace of St. Agatha, and charged him to carry 
his empty palliasse there, as he did not wish to have any 
other bed. Not finding this, he complained to the brother, 
who excused himself by saying that the canons had pre 
vented it, and that they had not been able to procure suit 
able straw. " Let it be procured," said Alphonsus, "and 
let it be bought at any price." He had the mattrass re 
moved, and spread the empty palliasse on the boards of the 
bed, where he passed the night, and the next day was not 
at rest till he had seen his palliasse arranged according to 
custom for the following night. He went all over the 
palace, and chose the most inconvenient and the plainest 
room for himself, giving the best to his Grand-Vicar, to his 
secretary, and to F. Angelus Majone, who was to remain 
with him ; he did not go to bed the first evening till he had 
disciplined himself severely for a long time. He also visited 
the garden. He found it destitute of trees and vegetables; 
he sent for the brother, and ordered him to plant a number 
of kitchen plants, as if it were the month of February. 
The brother smiled at this order, and represented to him 



214 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

that it was not the proper season. " Do as I tell you," re 
plied Alphonsus. The brother obeyed, and every one 
laughed at it, but they were much surprised when, a little 
afterwards, they saw that all without exception throve won 
derfully. 

From the time of his arrival at St. Agatha, he made a rule 
of daily conduct, which he continued to follow throughout 
the thirteen years during which he sanctified his Churcb- 
As soon as he arose, he gave himself the discipline to blood 
each morning. After that, he made half an hour of medi 
tation with his whole household, the Vicar-General alone 
being free not to assist. The canonical hours followed, 
and after a suitable preparation, he celebrated Mass; he 
then heard on his knees that which his secretary or another 
priest said immediately after. Having thus done his duty 
towards God, he gave audience to those who had to speak 
with him, and occupied himself in satisfying the messen 
gers who came from divers parts of the diocese; to spare to 
all the tedium of the ante-chamber, he told his servant to 
usher in immediately every person, however poor. The 
cures and vicars, as well as confessors, had no need of 
being announced, he wished them to enter at all times with 
perfect confidence. "These are my privileged ones," he 
said, "they ought not to suffer any restraint." When no 
one asked an audience, he began to compose or to dictate 
immediately after mass, which he never did when he had 
to attend to the people of his diocese. As soon as there 
was any one to hear, he directly left his study and did not 
return till he had satisfied the visitors. 

The furniture of his room -consisted of little more than a 
writing table ; it was there he placed himself in the morn 
ing, with a crucifix and a figure of our Lady of Good Counsel 
before him, continually engaged in prayer, in work, and in 
giving audiences and attending to the affairs of his diocese. 
As his dislike to useless visits was known, no one went to 
him but for things worthy of notice, and if, after having 
satisfied them, they did not retire, he said : " Now then, do 
not let us lose time," or, "Recommend me to Jesus and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 215 

Mary." If he had to do with people he could not with 
propriety dismiss, the constraint he suffered interiorly, on 
account of the loss of time, of which he was only avari 
cious for the glory of God and the good of his neighbor, 
became visible. Every one had free access to him except 
females; if any one of these asked to speak to him, he 
desired to be informed first, and generally conversed with 
them out of his room, and always with a witness. A lady 
of rank and of a great age wished to speak to him alone: 
"There is no objection to this brother being present," Al- 
phonsus said to her; (it was brother Anthony,) "he is pru 
dent, depend upon it." Another day, he was seen to give 
audience in a drawing-room to an old lady who was quite 
decrepit; he made her sit on a long bench, of which he 
occupied the opposite extremity, and conversed with her, 
with his back half turned towards her. When he went to 
church, he wrapped his right hand in his handkerchief and 
held the left in the opening of his cassock; if a woman 
presented herself to kiss his hand, he said : "Kiss the 
habit, that will suffice." 

The habit which our saint had adopted of assisting &t all 
theoffices, was not discontinued when he was a bishop ; he 
liked to preside over all that was done in his cathedral, at 
the high masses, vespers and canonical hours, no indis 
position stopped him; he was known to officiate pontifi- 
cally when seized by fever; one day that he had applied a 
painful remedy to his legs, he officiated notwithstanding, 
and suffered so much that he was seen to tremble on his 
throne. 

During his meals, he took care to give food to the soul 
also; each one read in turn. It was generally from the 
life of St. Charles Borromeo. The time which he passed 
at table and in recreation did not exceed an hour and a 
quarter. When the fruit was brought, he conversed with 
his grand-vicar on the affairs of the diocese, or on some 
point of devotion, or received those who had not been able 
to speak to him in the morning, especially if they were 
poor, or messengers. After dinner he took some rest, 



21t> LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

which is so necessary in Italy; he was satisfied with twenty 
minutes, or at most half an hour, and before it he never 
failed to say the Five Psalms in honor of the name of Mary, 
a devotion which he had practised from his youth; but 
often he studied instead of taking this rest. As the exam 
ple of the saints, as he used to say, encourages us and 
excites us to do, good, he never omitted to employ half an 
hour each day in reading the lives of the saints, and above 
all those of holy bishops who had been distinguished by 
their zeal and contempt of themselves. This was followed 
by half an hour s meditation, vespers and compline. The 
rest of the day he gave to business or study. On feast 
days, and especially in Lent, after vespers, he instructed the 
children himself, and taught them the catechism. He 
knew how to attract them by giving them pictures and 
rosaries; with thesejittle ones, older persons attended in 
crowds. For visiting the poor, the sick, and those whose con 
sciences were neglected, he went at about five o clock in 
the evening; he took care not to forget ecclesiastics who 
might be ill, making it an indispensable duty to go and 
comfort them in their infirmities. At half past five, the bell 
rang for the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and he himself 
spoke to the people for half an hour, to inspire them with 
sentiments of faith and love towards Jesus Christ in this 
divine mystery. Though the sacristan placed a prie-dieu 
with a cushion for him, he knelt an the pavement near the 
altar. It was during this devotion that, wishing to banish 
profane and improper songs, he introduced hymns full of 
unction and piety, he gave the tone himself, and repeated 
the verses in union with the people. A doctor, observing 
to him that this weakened his chest, he replied: "I must 
make the people like these hymns, to disgust them with 
dangerous songs." 

When he had returned home, he gave audience and dis 
tributed his alms; then, said matins and lauds, which were 
followed by half an hour s meditation with the lay-brother, 
and after this, if it were in winter, he worked till nine or 
ten o clock, but in summer he immediately assembled all 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



217 



his household, without even excepting the Grand- Vicar, to 
say the rosary together, the litanies of the Blessed Virgin ? 
and some other prayers. Then came the examen of con 
science, followed by acts of faith, hope and charity. All 
those who happened to be in his house, servants, strangers, 
and even prelates, had to assist at these prayers; noticing 
one evening that a bishop who was then in the palace did 
not assist, he immediately sent to call him; even princes 
and great lords who visited him were not dispensed from 
it; and this same severity he practised, wherever he was. 
When these prayers were ended, supper came, after which 
he conversed for a few minutes with his Grand-Vicar and 
other members of the house, on subjects which might con 
cern the diocese ; after this every one retired, and Al- 
phonsus resumed his scientific occupations, or was em 
ployed in prayer. He did not suffer from this, as he ate so 
little as to be able to recommence prayer or study immedi 
ately. For a long time he took no supper, and only 
drank a glass of water before going to bed. F. Fabius 
Buonapane declared, that he regularly employed sixteen 
hours each day in work and prayer. 

Besides the Vicar and Br. Anthony, Alphonsus had a priest 
with him who filled the offices of secretary, steward, and 
almoner, one servant, and a watchman, who acted at the 
same time as groom and cook. His servants were obliged 
each day to assist at the mass of the Bishop and the Grand- 
Vicar, and to approach the sacraments at least every fort 
night, and on the principal feasts of our Blessed Lord and 
the Holy Virgin. They were obliged to communicate at 
the bishop s mass. Every sort of game was forbidden to them , 
above all, games at cards, where interest might be concerned . 
Public houses were prohibited to them still more strictly ; in 
a word, he wished the members of his household to edify 
every one by irreproachable conduct. Though indulgent for 
every other fault, yet, if holy purity were in question, who 
ever the culpable one might be, he was dismissed on the spot, 
He thought he perceived that the cook had some attachment 
for a woman ; not content with sending him away, he wished 
19 



218 LltfE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

that he should live in another place ; and, as he paid no 
tattention to his wishes, with the consent of the civil au 
thorities, he charged the constables to arrest him. He also 
dismissed another, who went out during the night. He 
made a rule never to receive any servant who was not mar 
ried, and who had not his wife at St. Agatha. Thus Al- 
phonsus, from the time of his entrance into the diocese, 
exerted himself to fulfil every duty which is included 
in the maxim of the Apostle, " He who knows not how to 
govern his own house, is not fit to rule the Church of God." 
Alphonsus found the diocese in a most lamentable con 
dition on his arrival, but on this very account it was a fit field 
for his apostolic zeal. On the Sunday which followed his 
entry into St. Agatha, he began to give spiritual exercises 
to all the clergy, in a retired part of the church, and on 
the same evening ha opened a mission for the people; he 
preached the principal sermon himself, and committed the 
catechisjng to F. Margotta, and requested several able canons 
to go through the town before the sermon, to give lively 
exhortations to the people. Floods of tears were she d in 
the church, and all owned that in the memory of man, St. 
Agatha had never had an example of such entire devotion 
and fervor. Grace triumphed over the most hardened sin- 
siers. To give complete liberty to consciences, and prevent 
sacrileges, all the priests of the town were forbidden to 
hear confessions, and in their stead were summoned the 
best curates of the diocese. The good done by the mission 
Was incalculable; there were reconciliations and wonderful 
acts of restitution made; sinners who had been sunk 
in disorder for years, embraced a new and exemplary course 
of life, and the spirit of penance infused into their hearts 
was such, that in the case of two individuals, who died 
shortly after, their death was wholly owing to their fervor in 
the exercises of penance. A young gentleman, well 
known as an usurer at St. Agatha, was so struck with ter 
ror, when he heard Alphonsus, with black stole, and torch in 
hand, pronouncing the malediction against usurers, blas 
phemers, and above all, against impenitent sinners, that 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 219 

he was seized with fever and carried off in a few days. On 
the following Sunday, the general communion, for which, 
Alphonsus had obtained a brief from the Pope granting a 
plenary indulgence, was so touching, that all those present 
burst into tears, rich as well as poor, clergy as well as 
laity. In short, the town of St. Agatha was sanctified; 
communions became frequent, the Most Blessed Sacrament 
and the Holy Virgin Mary became the objects of great de 
votion, and every evening the church was seen filled with 
fervent worshippers. 

So much labor in an old man already burthened with in 
firmities, filled every one with admiration. "We prayed 
God," exclaimed a Dean, "to send us a good bishop, and 
God has heard us favorably, but my lord will exhaust and 
kill himself." " What are you thinking of," said the trea 
surer to the Grand- Vicar, "do you not see that his lordship 
is shortening his days? have you forgotten the tears we 
shed, and how much it cost us to have him ? Curb his zeal 
therefore ; its excess will be fatal to him." And he advised 
him to speak to his confessor, to enjoin him to put bounds 
to his immoderate zeal. In this mission, Alphonsus had an 
opportunity of giving proof of his admirable patience and 
humility. He had only two teeth, and God permitted, to 
, augment the merits of his servant, that he should feel such 
sharp pain, in the middle of the mission, that it was impossible 
for him to take any rest. To the proposition of sending 
for a celebrated dentist from Naples, he replied: "Are not 
the dentists in this place as worthy as in Naples? Have 
we not the barber? let him come, and let us be patient, 
God wills that I should employ the people of my diocese." 
They had to wait for the next morning, for the intempe 
rate habits of the barber incapacitated him for work for 
the remainder of the day. When he arrived, Alphonsus 
seated himself on the ground, on a cushion, and his secre 
tary advancing to hold him, he took his crucifix from his 
neck, saying: " What better support can I have than Him 
who suffered such pain for me ?" Then he crossed his 
arms and pressed the crucifix to his breast, and bore the 



220 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

extraction without the smallest exclamation. Notwith 
standing his state of suffering, he did not omit to preach 
in the morning to the clergy, and in the evening, to the 
people. There remained one tooth, which, far from being 
useful to him, only served to incommode him ; when the 
mission was terminated, he had that also extracted by a 
most painful operation. The barber was obliged to recom 
mence three times, before he could succeed in taking it 
out. " Oh," Alphonsus exclaimed when all was done, 
" how firmly this tooth was fixed!" Then turning to the 
barber, he said gaily: "Master N., henceforth you will 
have no more of my custom." 

Alphonsus had waited, to celebrate pontifically at St. 
Agatha, until the Annunciation, under which title the Blessed 
Virgin was the patron of his church, though he had done 
so in other churches on various feast days. In order to 
enhance the solemnity of these first functions, he had ob 
tained from the Pope a plenary indulgence to all who 
should, after having assisted at them, approach the ^sa 
craments, or visit the cathedral, the same day. From 
morning till night the cathedral was filled with the faithful. 
He had obtained the same favor for the visitations in the 
diocese. Alphonsus was consoled at the happy success of 
these, his first labors. "I am well," he wrote to our Fathers at 
Nocera, . " and thanks be to God, our labors are fruitful." On 
the other hand, he wrote to F. Villani: " I am full of anxiety 
for my church, this spouse whom God has given me." 

However great had been Alphonsus zeal during the 
mission and spiritual exercises, he had not been able to 
convert all. A canon of his cathedral had for many years 
grieved his superiors and fellow-citizens by the most la 
mentable behaviour. Supported by the credit of his family, 
and strong in the protection of one of his colleagues in the 
chapter, he had not attended to the remonstrances of the 
preceding bishop, and he despised still more Alphonsus, in 
whom he only saw a little man, whose humble exterior an 
nounced nothing but poverty, and who was bent down 
under the weight of years > he did not care the least, there* 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 221 

fore, for the repeated kind warnings which he gave to him 
and carried his contempt so far as to use unbecoming ex 
pressions. Alphonsus invited him several times to his 
table; at last, he threw himself at his feet, and taking the 
crucifix from his breast, he presented it to him, and said with 
tears: "My son, if you will not do what I ask you in con 
sideration of the character with which I am invested, do it 
for Jesus Christ s sake, who died on the cross for you 
and forme:" nothing succeeded; equally indifferent to the 
name of God, and the entreaties of his bishop, he conti 
nued to live as he had done before. Alphonsus, after having, 
besides, had recourse to the mediation of several good peo 
ple, without success, at last sent for him, and told him that 
if he did not repair the scandal he gave, he would crave 
the aid of the sovereign s arm. This menace made the 
culprit very angry, and he became so furious, that he nearly 
used violence towards the bishop. 

^All the mild measures which Alphonsus used for the 
conversion of another individual, a beneficiary at Majano, 
equally failed, and so exasperated the man against the mo 
ther of the object of his passion, who had complained to 
Alphonsus, that on the night of the 4th of August, he fired 
against the door of the house, killed the mother, and 
wounded one of the little children. It was then that Al 
phonsus, seeing no other resource, applied to the King, 
and an order was despatched to the President of Monte- 
fusco, to arrest the two criminals, and place them in the 
prison of that town. The canon was arrested by the po 
lice, in the public place of St. Agatha. There was an ex 
traordinary consternation in consequence, but all were 
amazed at Alphonsus zeal arid courage. 

The relations of the canon used all their interest to con 
ciliate Alphonsus clemency, and to induce him to keep 
him in the prison of the officially. Alphonsus, wishing to 
pacify them, and prevent further excesses, sought for some 
one to inform them of the impossibility of satisfying thei 
request. As the secretary was too dejected to go, and be 
sides, did not wish to leave the bishop, Alphonsus hurried, 
19* 



222 LIFE OP ST. ALPHO^StfS. 

himself, to call a chaplain of the cathedral ; he met one, 
who, vested in his choir-dress, came out of the sacristy at 
the very moment. On seeing him, the bishop said, in a 

quick and animated way: " Take off these things " 

At these words the chaplain fainted, and fell at his. feet. 
The bishop could not understand the cause of such terror, 
but the mystery was soon cleared up. He had believed 
himself arrested like the canon, being also engaged in 
criminal courses. "Two birds are killed with one stone," 
said Alphonsus, " the finger of God is here, let us pray him 
to finish that which he has begun." The chaplain was so 
frightened at the meeting, that he thought no more of the 
past, but only of an entire change of conduct, which was 
so exemplary from that time, that Alphonsus, after some 
years, allowed him to hear confessions. 

The relations of the v canon obtained his re-entry into St. 
Agatha, on condition that they should place two guards at 
their own expense, to prevent his escape. One day Al- 
phonsus sent for him: "My dear canon," he said to him, 
" it is not you that I punish, but your sin ; I love your soul, 
and desire that it should not be lost. Remember then, that 
you have a soul, and remember that there is a God." He 
had the consolation to see that the canon insensibly began 
to think seriously ; he often sent him books of devotion^ 
figures of our Blessed Saviour on the cross, and of the 
Blessed Virgin. After one year s imprisonment, the epis 
copal court condemned him to a three years seclusion with 
the Conventual Fathers, and it was not until a long time 
after, that the canon was enabled to say mass again. The 
beneficiary, on the other hand, was arrested on the same 
day at Majano, and kept in the common prison at Hevano, 
Alphonsus refusing him the privilege of ecclesiastics, as 
he had never worn their dress. After a long imprisonment 
he was condemned to ten years incarceration in a fortress. 
These two examples of severity produced a salutary fear in 
many, who hastened to reform their conduct. 

Alphonsus zeal did not manifest itself with less ardor 
and energy, with regard to the regular clergy and to lay- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 223 

men. Among many others, we will give two examples. 
There was a monastery in the diocese, consisting of but four 
religious, including the Superior, who disgusted all repu 
table people by their scandalous behaviour. After being 
sent for by the bishop, and admonished, they laughed at it, 
and did not reform themselves in the least. Alphonsus 
then cited them before the episcopal court, and informed 
their provincial of it. He tried to defend his religious. 
11 Your Reverence must send your subjects an order to go," 
replied Alphonsus, " or I shall give them into the custody of 
the head of the police." This menace had its desired ef. 
feet; two of the religious went off with the Superior; as 
the third was less culpable, Alphonsus was satisfied by his 
repentance. In the first mission, a married woman, who 
had lived for a number of years in adultery with one of the 
first gentlemen of the town, was converted, and went so 
far as to ask pardon publicly in the church, for the scandal 
she had given. After this generous confession, she yielded 
to seduction again, which caused inexpressible sorrow to 
the pious bishop. He wept over it, and the next morning, 
before day-break, he sent for the gentleman, represented 
to him the grievousness of his sin, arid exhorted him to peni 
tence; the man, as proud as he was powerful, turned his 
back upon him with disdain. The bishop, seeing his mis 
conduct, still sent for him again, but the hardened offender, 
wearied by so many entreaties and reprimands, answered by 
insults, and even menaces. The bishop was not offended 
at it, but as he saw that the scandal continued, he informed 
the King. An order from the Minister of state being sent 
to the tribunal of Montefusco, a constable went to arrest 
the nobleman and the woman. Alphonsus was then at 
Airola ; the gentleman, whose passion had made him fu 
rious, had come to Airola also, accompanied by a troop of 
brigands, in order to ill-treat his bishop, and hasten his pas 
sage to the other world, as he said, which he would have 
done, if another gentleman had not succeeded in persuad 
ing him to retrace his steps. When Alphonsus heard of 
this, he said calmly: "He can assassinate me, if he likes: 



224 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

well! he will give me the crown of martyrdom." When 
the wretched man recovered from his rage, and saw that he 
was the object of judicial pursuit, he fled from the diocese 
and retired into a distant country. The woman was arrested 
by the constable, bound, chastised, and taken to Monte- 
fusco, where she suffered the rigor of justice for many 
months, and was afterwards banished forever from the dio 
cese. Alphonsus, hearing afterwards that the gentleman 
had returned, and was concealed in his house, feigned to 
be ignorant of it, in order to win him over the better, and 
succeeded in it so well through the medium of persons in 
authority, that he acknowledged his faults, cast himself at 
his bishop s feet, and consoled him as much by the sincer 
ity of his repentance, as he had grieved him at first by his 
scandalous conduct. 

The terror inspired by these and other examples of se 
verity, had its salutary effects, not only at St. Agatha and 
Airola, but all over the diocese and its neighborhood. The 
same was not less the case with the following occurrence. 
On the arrival of Alphonsus in the diocese, a young libe 
rated galley-slave was living in crime at St. Agatha. He 
was first reprimanded, but paid no attention to it. Al 
phonsus had recourse to the magistrate, who ordered his 
arrest. He was seized in the house of his accomplice, 
and as he resisted, he was killed on the spot. Alphonsus 
wept over the loss of his soul ; but to give libertines a 
spectacle as salutary as it was terrible, he ordered, in con 
cert with the authorities, that his corpse should be placed 
on a mule, between four lighted torches, and thus carried 
out of town, and thrown into a ditch. The blessing of the 
Lord, which was granted to this zeal of our saint, is the 
most glorious justification of his conduct. Nothing but 
this divine blessing on the exertions of the saintly bishop 
could have changed a field full of weeds into a flourishing 
vineyard. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 225 



CHAPTER XX. 

Jllphonsus commences his Episcopal Visitation. He reforms 
and regulates the Diocesan Seminary. His zeal, prudence 
and manner of life during the visitation of the diocese. 

A LPHONSUS commenced his episcopal visitation in the 
jLl_ town and surrounding country. "Why put off until 
to-morrow, that which can be corrected to-day?" he re 
plied to some who wished him to defer it on account of the 
heat, "it is wrong to temporise with abuses." He had 
convoked the treasurer, Cacciopuoti, the Dominican Mas 
ter, F. Caputo, the theological canon, D. Evangelist Dud- 
dio, and the archdeacon Francis Rainone, all men distin 
guished for their piety, prudence and knowledge, as well 
as several curates, with whom he consulted at once, in order 
to see what would be best suited to procure the good of 
the diocese. The seminary was the principal end of this 
first visitation : "It is on the seminary," said he, "that I 
found all my hope of sanctifying the diocese. If that does 
not second me, all my trouble will be of no avail." He 
found a great number of scholars in it, but all were not ac 
cording to his heart. He therefore ordered a general ex 
amination, at which he assisted in person, and afterwards, 
found an excuse for giving the vacation sooner than usual, 
When it was ended, he wrote to all the pupils, to tell them 
that all those who wished to re-enter the seminary, should 
address a request to him to that effect. Thus he was able 
to make his choice, and purify the house ; this decimation 
was painful to the relations of the rejected subjects, but, 
seeing, themselves, their misconduct, or want of aptitude, 
they began soon to appreciate the wisdom of their bishop. 
The buildings of the seminary had more the appearance of 
a prison, than of a house of education, being too confined, 
and unhealthy for want of air, and subject to a most trou 
blesome multiplication of insects in summer. He sent for 
two architects from Naples, to remedy these evils, and 



226 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

to repair the interior of the building, directing their labor 
himself. He conceived at the same time the grand project 
of pulling down all the old buildings entirely, and raising 
new ones instead. A plan was got ready, materials were 
procured, and without delay the work was begun. For the 
government of the seminary, he established new rules, full 
of wisdom and prudence, so much so, that many bishops 
adopted them afterwards for their own seminaries. Don 
Lucas, who had been at the head of the establishment for 
more than thirty years, was more than an octogenarian, 
and, in consequence of this, his advanced age, little fit for 
the government of it. In order not to hurt this poor 
old man, Alphonsus confirmed him in his post, and a co 
adjutor was given to him, in the person of F. Caputo, the 
Dominican Master. He spared nothing in order to choose 
good masters, whose knowledge and conduct might serve 
as models. He abolished the custom of giving the office 
of prefect to a student, wishing that exemplary priests 
alone should have the charge. He chose for porter, a dili 
gent man, full of the fear of God. "If death," said he , 
"enters into us by the windows, it enters into seminaries 
by the doors." A porter went out one evening, without 
leave from the president ; Alphonsus had him discharged 
immediately, notwithstanding his tears, and the interces 
sion of several persons. 

The autumn vacations were shortened, and replaced by 
innocent recreations and feasts. " A month s vacation," he 
said, "is enough to lose all that has been gained with much 
labor during the year, and which is replaced by sin and 
vice." He found the terms of the seminary were equitable, 
but he could not approve that when a pupil went away 
from infirmity, or any other cause, he was made to pay for 
the whole six months, and it was with difficulty he con 
sented to the seminary s receiving payment for the month 
of vacation, as was done every where else. He did not 
wish any distinction in the provisions for the Superiors, he 
called it a detestable abuse, and wished to see all treated 
equally well. They complained that the cook was not 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 227 

skilful ; Alphonsus sent his own, several times, to instruct 
him. Often, at the dinner hour, he went to examine the 
cleanliness of the dishes, and above all, if the bread and 
wine were good. Once he found the bread was not of a 
good quality. The Superior and the housekeeper were im 
mediately sent for and reprimanded, and he ordered that 
all the bread in the seminary should be immediately given 
to the poor. When he officiated pontifically, he was in the 
habit of giving each pupil a small tart, or slice of cake, pre 
pared by his own cook, and was, besides, always provided 
with sweetmeats for these family rejoicings. 

He forbade the dictation of lessons, and wished that 
printed books should be used. He prohibited Italian poe- 
try, and romances. Before this, Greek had also been 
taught, but he did not think it necessary, as the students 
were mostly of the diocese, and destined to supply the nu 
merous churches of the surrounding villages: "Greek is 
very good in the East," he said, "but for us, who are in 
the West, Latin is what we want. My diocese requires 
good confessors, who may aid me in helping the souls of a 
number of country people." However, he allowed a slight 
knowledge of it, sufficient for reading and understanding 
certain passages which occur in philosophical and theolo 
gical authors. Scholars who returned home for their meals, 
and to sleep, he would not allow, saying: " They serve as 
messengers for the seminarists, which is very dangerous for 
the morals of both." He was in the habit of being 
present at the lesson twice a week. He took pleasure in 
hearing the rehearsals, and took part in the discussions. He 
fixed that once a month, theses should be publicly main 
tained on philosophy or theology, and, when confined to 
bed by illness, he wished the meeting to take place in his 
room. He established also, an exercise for preaching, once 
a week, at which he made some of the canons, chaplains, 
curates, jand other ecclesiastics assist,, also. To cause virtue 
to dwell in the seminary, he established half an hour s me 
ditation in public, each morning, after mass, and prescribed 
examination of conscience, in common, twice a day, in the 



228 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

morning, before dinner, and in the evening, before night 
prayers ; and during the morning and evening meals, spiri 
tual reading took place by his orders, as it had not been 
the custom before. He prescribed, besides, a visit to the 
Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Virgin, together with the 
recitation of the Rosary. Usually, on Saturday, he went 
himself, before going to church, to give them a practical 
sermon on the beauty of virtue. He introduced the practice 
of Novenas, in honor of Jesus and Mary, with some morti 
fication, on certain days, recommending them to forego 
something at table, to eat kneeling, or sitting on the floor, to 
fast in the ordinary manner, or on bread and water, leading the 
young people to fly all effeminacy ; besides, he exhorted them 
strongly to the cultivation of humility, of obedience to their 
Superiors, and of fraternal love, instead of vain friendships, 
taking rise in sympathy and a spirit of worldly rivalry. He 
instituted a monthly retreat, and every year, before the re 
commencement of study, all had to go through the spiritual 
exercises for eight days. As a kind of relaxation, he gave 
them a virtuous and zealous ecclesiastic to teach them 
chanting. He set the hymns he had composed, to music, 
and had them taught to the young people in relaxation time, 
and liked to hear them sing them at recreation ; he often 
joined them himself, and was exceedingly pleased to see 
them joyous and contented. In order to be admitted into 
the seminary, it was necessary to give certain proofs of ex 
emplary conduct; he inquired if the subject frequented the 
sacraments, if he assisted at mass in the morning, and at 
the visit in the evening. 

When the seminary was thus regulated, all became edi 
fying there, and although he had not fixed communion 
every fortnight, as he had done for confession, many ap 
proached the sacred altar every week, and others, still more 
frequently. Charity dwelt amongst them, they studied di 
ligently, and each one advanced in virtue and knowledge. 
The saintly bishop rejoiced at it, and was accustomed to 
call the seminaryt he apple of his eye, or the jewel of his 
diocese. To preserve it in this state, he exerted himself, 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONStJS. 229 

and solicitously watched to prevent every seed of corrup 
tion, establishing secret inspectors, and frequent visits of 
the rooms. He spared no one ; a very orderly young man 
was surprised reading a Neapolitan poet, Alphonsus made 
him come down from the course of rhetoric, into that of 
grammar, in which he had to remain till a new course began. 
Having heard that some rather loose verses were circulated 
in the seminary, hex>rdered immediately a search, and such 
great terror spread among the pupils, that he who had 
those verses swallowed them, not having time to get rid of 
them otherwise. Two were found having forbidden knives, 
they were immediately dismissed. Three others committed 
an act of levity, through the windows, towards a woman 
who had often to pass in the court, he sent all three away 
on the spot, notwithstanding their submission and pro 
mises, and the entreaties of several respectable persons. 
After many years he admitted one of them to the sub-dia- 
conate, on the representations of his curate, who exposed 
the wants of his church, and made a protest as to the 
amendment of the candidate, but Alphonsus thought he 
perceived other faults in him, though less considerable, so 
he left him a subdeacon. He perceived a certain vice in 
the nephew of a professor; he dismissed him the same in 
stant, without any regard to his uncle, who asked in tears 
for his forgiveness, and who, when he saw the bishop s in 
flexibility, gave up his class and left the seminary. " What 
charity ! What charity !" he answered to those who wished 
to intercede on similar occasions, c< to pity one individual, 
and risk the ruin of all the rest ? that is not charity, it is 
cruelty." One example is known of a young man, who, 
after having fallen, found pardon from Alphonsus. He had 
not sinned against morality, but being wearied of study, he 
had run away from the seminary twice, and he found mercy 
only in consideration of his belonging to a place singularly 
abandoned, where there was not a single priest. 

Alphonsus, though inflexible towards the vicious, had a 
father s tenderness for those who were worthy of his care. 
One of these had maintained in a brilliant way, several 
20 



230 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOHSUS. 

thesas of theology ; as he was poor, he gave him several 
ducats each year; and when he noticed any young man of 
talent among the children of the inhabitants of small 
places, he tried to persuade him to embrace the ecclesias 
tical state, and generously gave him an entrance into the 
seminary. "The seminaries were only instituted for the 
help of the churches," he replied to the members of the com 
mission who objected to this charity, " and the pious per 
sons who left their goods in favor of these establishments, 
could have had no other intention than the good of the in 
habitants, and especially of the poor." It was thus, that he 
procured excellent priests for many villages and country 
places, of which they had till then been destitute. 

For preventing the vacations being of any injury to the 
morality of the young men, he prescribed that they should 
make half an hour s meditation every morning in their 
parish church, before mass ; they had to visit the Blessed 
Sacrament every evening, and on feast days, to be present at 
all the offices, as well as the instructions of the curate ; they 
were to approach the sacraments of penance, and the eu- 
charist, every eight days without fail, and never to leave the 
house without the soutane, collar, and cincture. They were 
not on any account to be present at vintages, and still less 
at hunts. These rules were sent to the curates of the young 
seminarists. No one was re-admitted into the seminary who 
had not an attestation of good conduct from the curate. 
Several pupils, for having committed very slight faults against 
these regulations, experienced all his severity. 

While Alphonsus labored for the reform of the seminary, 
he neglected nothing which could be conducive to the 
end of the visitation. Being informed of the disedifying 
conduct of several priests, he made some retire into mon 
asteries, and punished others by imprisonment; but the 
greater number yielded to his charitable remonstrances, 
and by their after-conduct consoled the heart of their 
pastor. The sacrifice of the altar and the sacrament of 
penance were the principal objects of his care during the 
visitation. He assembled the priests for examination on the 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 231 

rubrics at an altar erected for the purpose ; he instructed the 
least capable himself, and confided several to the care of 
others. Some he found so inobservant in regard to the 
most essential rubrics, that he was obliged to suspend 
them, and he only reinstated them with difficulty and after 
many months probation. This necessary rigor caused the 
rubrics to be studied, and mass was celebrated every where 
with an admirable degree of precision and devotion. He 
examined also the confessors, but to use the necessary 
prudence, he called o nly those before his council who were 
pointed out to him as relaxed or ignorant, and questioned 
them in order to know whether he could continue their facul 
ties. In a certain village, he found two in the most complete 
ignorance ; besides prohibiting them from hearing con 
fessions, he forbade them even to say mass ; some time 
after, he permitted them to celebrate, but continued to 
refuse to let them sit in the sacred tribunal. He found 
even several curates wanting in necessary knowledge. In 
the town and suburbs alone he found four completely in 
capable. He appointed them canons, in order not to 
injure their reputation, and to avoid the evil which might 
have resulted to those who would have been alarmed 
at severities exercised towards men whose functions had 
acquired their confidence. One of them had deviated so 
far from rule, that Alphonsus was obliged to propose his 
immediate resignation. He wished to resist, but was 
forced to yield whether with good or bad grace. After a 
scrupulous examination of the town and surrounding 
country, he commenced the following year to visit the 
other parts of the diocese. The following facts and ordi 
nances will serve to illustrate his zeal for the glory of God 
and the welfare of His Church, as also his prudence, wis 
dom, and firmness. 

He met with a curate, well informed and of excellent 
character, who could not resolve to reside, pretending that 
his church was too isolated, and that his parishioners were 
few and scattered about, and who, in consequence, lived in 
town. The most he did was to say mass on Sundays and 



232 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



feast days. Alphonsus enjoined him to reside in the pres 
bytery ; he resisted and was ordered immediately to resign. 
As he hesitated, Aiphonsus said to him: "Decide, give in 
your resignation, or I will suspend you." Afterwards, by 
mildness he was able to persuade him, and obtained all he 
had wished for. Wishing to spare him, he obtained a dis 
pensation from the Pope for him with regard to the fruits 
of his charge, which he had gathered so ill. 

He found that in a rural church there was a door in the 
interior which gave entrance into the" cell of a hermit; he 
immediately prohibited women from all access to the her 
mitage, under pain of excommunication ipso facto, and 
threatened the hermit with three months imprisonment and 
the deprivation of his hermitage, if he dared to introduce 
them there for the time to come. He ordered other hermits, 
in order to prevent them from enriching themselves by the 
alms of the faithful, to place all that was not necessary for 
their support in the hands of a canon, to be employed for 
the benefit of the respective churches. 

He met with a priest who had obtained permission from 
Rome to wear a wig, nevertheless not without his bishop s 
approbation. Alphonsus wished to see it, and not think 
ing it suitable, he sent for a vessel of boiling water, into 
which he plunged the wig, and thus straightened its curls. 
This is how it ought to be," said he, "and in no other 
way." In all ecclesiastics he blamed and prohibited the 
wearing of curled hair, and the use of perfumes. He for 
bade them also under pain of suspension latsc sententia? 
to wear colored mantles, and prohibited their entrance 
into the church without the soutane. To remedy the pre 
cipitation with which some celebrated mass, he declared 
that whoever did so in less than a quarter of an hour should 
incur suspension latre sententice. 

He found in a convent a nun, who forgetting her duties 
as a spouse of Christ, afflicted all the house by her irregu 
larities. She was a Neapolitan. Alphonsus sent her 
away, and had her conducted back to her home by several 
excellent priests; but she soon again presented herself at 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 233 

the convent door. The bishop on hearing that she acted 
with violence in order to enter it, and that she received the 
aid of her parents, who had accompanied her, went to the 
convent himself to prohibit her re-entering it. 

Finding that a great number of the laity transgressed the 
commandment of the paschal communion, he charged the 
curates to insist upon it, and not to give rest to those who 
refused to amend. He sent for several, to warn them him 
self and to urge them to perform their duties; to others he 
sent warnings in writing. It was a custom, or rather a 
general abuse in the diocese, that after the ceremony of 
betrothment, the parents received the young aspirant to 
their daughter s hand into their house. Despairing of 
being able to prevent these dangerous meetings, except by 
rigorous measures, he made it a reserved case, and alarmed 
the offenders by threatening them with excommunication. 

Throughout the diocese, the catechising of the children 
only took place in Lent. He ordered, under very severe 
penalties, that it should take place every Sunday and feast 
day, as well as every day during Lent. In order to remedy 
the ignorance of the people, he recapitulated the most 
essential points of Christian doctrine, and had them printed 
on one sheet for their convenience ; besides, he ordered 
that these instructions should be put on a tablet board, and 
be read by the curates and other priests, on every feast day, 
at the first mass, and at that at which the most people was 
present; and he prohibited confessors, under pain of sus 
pension, from admitting any one to the sacrament of 
penance, in paschal time, who had not been examined by 
his curate on Christian doctrine, and was not provided 
with his certificate. Fearing that the sacrament of baptism 
was not well administered in cases of danger, through the 
ignorance of the midwives, he examined them himself, and 
instructed them where there was need of it. 

He ordered all women of irregular life to come to him, 

and in presence of the curate he showed them on one 

hand his indignation, and on the other his mercy. "If 

you reform," he said, " you will find in me a father full of 

20* 



234 LIFE OP ST. A.LPHONSUS. 

charity; but if you remain obstinate in sin, I shall be to 
you a severe and importunate judge." He advised the 
curates to watch overthem-and inform him of their conduct. 
A great number of these repentant sinners experienced 
acts of love on Alphonsus part, but the incorrigible be 
came the objects of his justice and severity, so that he 
invoked even the civil authority against them. 

He established every where, the practise of paying in the 
evening a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Holy 
Virgin. 

As for the churches, he caused the walls to be white 
washed, the furniture as well as the buildings to be repaired, 
and ordered to dust every part of the church every week, and to 
clean the holy water stoups. "The house of God," he said, 
" demands cleanliness and decency, and too much pains 
cannot be taken to put it in proper order, for it is difficult 
for people to pray where their sight is painfully affected by 
what they see." A cobweb in a church was the cause of 
a severe reprimand to the curates and sacristans. He for 
bade images and altars to be preserved which had become 
disfigured by time, saying: "An image is useless, when it 
does not inspire devotion." He ordered that all chalices 
and^ciboriums, which had need of it, should be re-gilt in 
the space of two months. Many unsuitable ones were 
ordered to be replaced, and ornaments capable of repairs 
to be put in a good state. A great quantity of albs, cha 
subles, copes, and missals, &c., were rejected, and great 
cleanliness in corporals and linen for the altar was exacted. 
Where they were wanting, he ordered to be procured, cano 
pies for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and for 
the viaticum, as also remonstrances; and he had the cotton 
lining in tabernacles replaced by silk lining If little 
anxiety in making the necessary expenses for these things 
was shown, he declared that wherever omissions and faults 
in these points should be found, he would stop the 
revenues. 

At Airola, having been informed of the dissolute conduct 
Qf some laics, he sent for them and gave them a paternal 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 235 

correction; but finding them incorrigible, he imprisoned 
them, and afterwards banished them by the aid of the 
Prince della Riccia. A nobleman of the first rank, was 
eno-ao-ed in a criminal intercourse, and instead of amend- 

O G 

ing, as Alphonsus had succeeded in making him promise, 
he quarrelled with his wife, and for fear she should denounce 
him to Alphonsus, he threatened to take her life. Alphon 
sus immediately ordered his arrest, and had him banished 
with the prince s aid ; and as he continued to live in 
licentiousness, the prince, at the instigation of Alphon 
sus, shut him up in a state prison, where he died in 
impenitence. 

While Alphonsus thus performed the visitation of his 
diocese, God proved him by infirmities and sickness. His 
asthma tormented him again at Airola, and this tor 
ment was soon followed by a fever, accompanied by 
symptoms which appeared mortal. It was proposed to him 
to send for some skilful doctor from Naples: "The doctors 
of Airola will suffice for me," he replied, "have they not 
studied out of the same books as those at Naples? besides 
my life is not of so great value." The state in which he 
was did not prevent the continuation of the visitation ; his 
place was supplied by the Grand-Vicar, whom he ordered 
to go through the surrounding country, while he himself 
received accounts of the state of things from the curates 
and several gentlemen, and gave the necessary instructions 
and orders. 

During this illness he did not fail to communicate each 
day at a mass said in his own room, and to make his cus 
tomary meditations in the morning and evening. On the 
ninth day, the malady got worse, and he asked if there 
were any danger. The physician knowing the firmness of 
the saintly invalid s mind, partly avowed the real state of 
the case. Alphonsus then sent for his secretary, and 
ordered him to administer extreme unction to him without 
loss of time. He received it with pious confidence, his 
face manifested the joy of his soul and his entire submis 
sion to the will of God ; far from fearing death, he seemed 



236 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

to invite it as a friend, who would deliver him from his 
exile and lead him to his true country. 

The visits which were paid him were burthensome to 
him; if he did not expressly dismiss the visitors, they were 
obliged to retire, always finding him meditating or listen 
ing to the reading of some pious book, which was not in 
terrupted by the arrival of any one whatever. The doctor 
cautioning him not to fatigue himself by too much applica 
tion, he replied : "It is that which relieves me ; without it my 
illness would be too painful to me." His health improved 
after the fifteenth day, and he was scarcely convalescent, 
when he returned with ardor to the objects of his pastoral 
care. He was still in bed, when he examined priests on 
the rubrics and made them practice under his own eyes, 
and examined several on moral theology. 

In all populous parishes, he established the Congregation 
of " Cases of Morals" for the Clergy. In order that the 
same case should be discussed on the same day throughout 
the diocese, and that no one should find an excuse for not 
being prepared, he made a choice of several questions 
himself, and every year he had the list of cases for each 
week printed in the calendar of the diocese. He also 
wished that note should be taken of all the decisions and 
conferences, for future use. The rubrics of mass were also 
made the subject of special exercises in these conferences. 
Besides this re-union for the study of morals, he attached a 
school of moral theology to the cathedral, which had to 
assemble every week in his palace, he himself presiding at 
the sittings, whenever he could. This academy was a sweet 
source of consolation to Alphonsus, and its members were 
those he most frequently chose for curates. 

Besides, as there was a great number of young men 
unable to maintain themselves in the seminary for want of 
the means, Alphonsus anxious about their vocation, founded 
societies on purpose for their benefit, under the manage 
ment of learned priests, with all necessary regulations, cal 
culated to make them useful for the diocese. He also 
instituted a society of priests in his capita! 3 destined to give 



LIFE OP ST. A.LPHONSUS. 237 

missions. These new missionaries distinguished themselves 
so much, that Alphonsus attached them to the Congrega 
tion known at Naples by the name of the Conference. 
He established also in many places particular confraterni 
ties for gentlemen, for young men, and for girls, who 
received in them instruction on their duties, and mutually 
encouraged each other in virtue and goodness. At Arienzo, 
God was pleased to manifest that he was with the saintly 
prelate, and inspired him with His holy zeal. One day 
in a sermon which he preached before the gentlemen 
he had united in such a congregation, he suddenly fell 
into an ecstasy, in which he appeared quite transfigured ; 
his face became beaming with so brilliant a light, that 
the church became resplendent as from the rays of the 
sun. 

He introduced the practice of mental prayer in common 
in the cathedral, as well as in the other parish churches ; 
at the first mass, a priest, for the aid of the people, read at 
various intervals, a chapter on the eternal truths, the enor 
mity of sin, or the mysteries of the passion of Jesus Christ. 

To remedy several disorders and evils which he observed 
during his visitation, he composed his little book on hur 
ried mass, with acts of preparation and thanksgiving; also, 
another practical little book containing an easy and devout 
method of assisting the sick and dying, which he distri 
buted to all the priests, and especially to the curates and 
vicars; and lastly, he summed up all the most essential 
things for the right administration of the sacrament of pe 
nance, in one small volume, with all possible clearness, 
and in the vernacular tongue. He entitled it "The Guide 
to country confessors." For which work many bishops 
testified to him their gratitude, for it spread speedily over all 
the kingdom. 

Having terminated the visit at Airola, Alphonsus returned 
to St. Agatha, and charged his Grand-Vicar to finish the 
visitation in the other parts of the diocese. As long as he 
was bishop, he made it a rule to visit it every two years, 
each year doing half, and he never failed in this, 



238 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Humility and charity, penance and disinterestedness were 
his inseparable companions during these visitations. All 
the equipage consisted, besides himself, of his Grand- Vicar, 
his secretary, a canon of the cathedral, and a servant, who 
waited on them. A wretched hired beast was all his train, 
the saddle he had borrowed. He was seen seated as wo 
men sit, on an ass, the bridle of which was held by a child 
of ten or twelve years. On the other side was the child s 
father, who supported the bishop ; a sight that caused all 
who beheld it to shed tears of compassion. As he never 
omitted any of his ordinary devotions, and never let any poor 
person pass without consolation, he got on so slowly, that 
he was often on the road, in the burning heat of the sun, so 
that the Grand-Vicar often excused himself from starting at 
the same time, and did not set out till towards evening. 
At Frasso, a person of v distinction, who had prepared for 
his reception at his house, seeing him arrive on an ass, 
said: "Why, rny lord, do you travel on an ass?" Alphon- 
sus replied with a smile, " hi in curribus et hi in equis, 
DOS autem in nomine Domini." " Some in carriages, and 
others on horses, but we in the name of the Lord." At 
Mugnano, a gentleman offered him his carriage, but he de 
clined it and said: " I am so comfortable on this beast that 
it is wonderful." At Arpaja the canons exclaimed in their 
surprise at seeing such an equipage : " What ! to travel in 
this heat, and on an ass !" Alphonsus smiled, and point- - 
ing to a vender of poultry, who happened to pass, said : 
" Look at this poor man, which of us has come more easily, 
I on this ass, or he on foot, arid with this basket on his 
head." Here is another trait: one day he could not pro 
cure enough beasts for all his followers: not wishing to in 
commode any one, he set out on foot, accompanied by his 
servant. It was during the heat of the month of August. 
He had pity on the poor young man, who was bathed in 
perspiration. "My son," said he, " it is exceedingly hot, 
take off your waistcoat, and give it to me to hold." The 
servant at first would not consent, but Alphonsus gave such 
persuasive reasons for it, that he was induced to give him 





LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 239 

the waistcoat ; he went very nearly half the way on foot, 
and he would have done so for the whole, if he had not 
been overcome by fatigue. On the way, he observed always 
the rule which he had fixed for his journeys, during which he 
was constantly engaged in saying the Rosary with those 
who accompanied him, and the litanies of the Blessed Vir 
gin, with other prayers, in honor of his patron, and those of 
the different places through which he passed. 

Once, in going from Durasano to Frasso, being indis 
posed, he made use of a conveyance, rather in order to 
please the Grand-Vicar. The coachman, through awk 
wardness or drunkenness, upset them twice. The second 
time Alphonsus fell on the Vicar, and dislocated his wrist; 
he showed no sign of dissatisfaction, and though in great 
pain, he pursued his journey on a mule. He was to com 
mence the pastoral visit at Frasso, the same evening, and 
so he would not stop and take rest in St, Agatha, near 
which he had to pass, but passing through a place called 
the Steps, a rich merchant forced him to alight at his house, 
and it was there that a doctor set his wrist. On arriving at 
Frasso, he opened the visitation the same evening, and as 
if nothing had befallen him, preached, and was as cheerful 
as usual. The merchant who had received him in his house, 
was rewarded for his charity by the miraculous cure of his 
son, who was ill at the time, and had been given up by the 
physicians. Alphonsus went to see the dying boy. On 
approaching him, he made the sign of the cross on his fore 
head, and then turning to his father and mother, said to 
them : " Be of good courage, and be assured that your son 
will recover." Indeed, at the same moment, the child be 
gan to get better, and three days afterwards he was walking 
about. 

At Airola, the prince of Riccia had placed his palace at 
Alphonsus service, and he had accepted it, not to displease 
a nobleman who had so powerfully protected him. His 
steward had prepared a magnificent bed for him in the 
apartment which the prince was in the habit of occupying 
himself; when Alphonsus saw it, he praised it highly, but 



240 UFE OP ST. ALPHONStS. 

examining afterwards the rooms prepared for his Grand- 
Vicar, and that destined for his valet, he gave the preference 
to the latter, saying, " I shall be best off here, for I suffer 
from my chest ; large rooms where there is much air are 
hurtful to me." At Frasso, convenient rooms had been 
prepared for him and his Grand- Vicar, but for some reason 
or other, the Grand- Vicar was very much dissatisfied with 
his, and disturbed every one on account of it. Alphonsus 
heard of the thing, and said: "It is nothing, I know how 
to remedy it." When the Vicar was gone to church, he 
had his own bed, which was the plainest, moved in the 
Vicar s room, and that of the Vicar, into his, who, on his 
return, seemed not to notice any change, and was quiet. 

At Real- Vale, God manifested how agreeable His servant s 
humility was to him : the room which he inhabited in the 
house of D. Anthony di Martino, had been infested for a 
great many years, with beetles, and no means of getting 
rid of them could be found. The Saint passed a night 
there, and it was entirely freed. 

On arriving in a place, he went first to the principal 
church, where he opened the visitation by a discourse to 
the people, and announced the plenary indulgence. When 
the day after his arrival was a Sunday or feast day, he of 
ficiated pontifically, if the parish was populous enough, 
and if the church was not a collegiate one, he sent, at his 
own expense, for seven canons from the cathedral, or the 
nearest collegiate church, and also for the seminarists of 
the place. The second day he commenced the mission in 
the afternoon, which lasted for eight days. He preached 
himself every day, and in the evening visited the Blessed 
Sacrament with the people, which was in itself another ser 
mon. The people were so touched by his words, that at the 
first sound of the bell, every one hastened to the church, 
" to hear," as they said, "the Saint who smoothed their 
way to heaven." He also gave a retreat to the clergy every 
morning during those eight days, as well as at the convents 
which were in the town. He assembled the children after 
vespers for catechism, being anxious to see himself what 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 



241 



instruction they received. He instructed also the children 
for confirmation, himself. He wished that the children 
should be at least from seven to eight years old, to be ad 
mitted to the reception of this sacrament, and that all 
should be present at the first imposition of hands, recom 
mencing the imposition when others were assembled again. 
He was so scrupulous on this point, that if any one came 
too late, he administered the sacrament to him in the pri 
vate chapel, not to put him off till another year. For the 
infirm, who were not yet confirmed, he went to visit them, 
in order that they might not die without the benefit of this 
sacrament, or be too long deprived of it. On one such oc 
casion, at Airola, he predicted the death of the invalid. 
He was a young man, to whom he said : "My dear Pascal, 
be very glad, for in three days you will go to Paradise." 
The third day arrived, and the sick man seemed far from a 
speedy death, for he appeared to be better; however, to 
wards the close of the day, the symptoms of fever became 
more alarming, and before night, young Pascal was dead, as 
Alphonsus had foretold. 

The poor were also the object of his solicitude, in his 
visitations. He inquired into the miseries of all, from the 
curates and others. He strove particularly to know those 
whose houses were irregular, and who made their children 
sleep, pell-mell, in the same bed. When he was convinced 
that their indigence was real, he endeavored to supply beds, 
clothes, and all other necessaries; but he cared most for 
widows, as also for young women in danger, and spared no 
expense in aiding them. The sick, above all, the sick poor, 
were not forgotten, he inquired about them most solicit 
ously, went to visit them himself, and consoled them by 
his words, and by his alms; and desired their medicines to 
be furnished at his own expense. 

The spirit of mortification also accompanied Alphonsus 
on these visitations. His table was the same as at St. 
Agatha, wherever he went, both for himself, and his suite, 
and he never omitted his seasonings of bitter herbs. Neither 
did he exempt himself from mortifying himself daily by hair- 
21 



242 LIFE OF ST, ALPHONSUS. 

cloths and disciplines. Once, when setting out, he had 
forgotten the instruments of penance; he immediately sent 
his servant to seek for them secretly. The person who 
made his bed in the morning, when he was at Real-Vale, 
attested that the sheets were spotted with blood, and small 
stones were found in the bed. The valet de chambre of 
Prince della Riccia, at Airola, also attested that at his de 
parture he found nine stones as large as an egg, on the 
mattress. For a great number of years, and until his in 
firmities became extreme, he carried the covering of his 
straw bed about with him, and wherever he arrived, he had 
it filled with straw, and did not use the bed which had been 
prepared for him. In the morning, he occupied himself in 
meditating on sacred things, from the moment of his 
awaking, and in the evening, after his own prayers, he as 
sembled his family to* recite the Rosary, and the other ac 
customed prayers, in common. His disinterestedness was 
such, that he always returned from his rounds destitute of 
money, and burthened with debts; for h% scrupulously ob 
served the law he had made to himself, never to accept any 
present, and besides, reduced the fees of the visitation to 
nearly nothing. For the members of his household, he 
recommended them to keep to the maxim of St. Francis of 
Sales: "Ask for nothing, and refuse nothing." 

Such conduct gained him general esteem and respect, 
so much so, that people thought themselves happy if they 
could obtain a small piece of his garment. His mitres 
were several times found without pendants, and one day a 
piece was cut off his cloak. These relics were very care 
fully preserved ; they were applied to the sick, and every 
where they related what miraculous cures had been pro 
duced by their touch. 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 



243 



CHAPTER XXI. 

His Conduct at his Brother s second Marriage. His Zeal 
for the Preaching of the Word of God by Himself and 
Others. His Charity during a Famine. 

D HERCULES having become a widower about this 
i time, (1763,) and having no heir, resolved to enter into 
a second marriage. He imparted his design to Alphonsus, 
asking him to aid him by his prayers and by saying masses 
for this intention. With regard to the projected marriage, he 
answered him on the 9th of November, 1763: "Ibgofyou 
to be very careful to choose a young woman of moral habits, 
not a vain person, or one who would be disposed to take 

advantage of your advanced age It would be 

better, as I have already written to you, that she should 
have less of birth and fortune, than that you should run the 
risk of some vexatious embarrassments happening to you. 
Be sure to declare your intention from the first, both to her 
and her parents, and say to them that you do not like visits, 
meetings, &c. When the wedding has taken place, try to 
give your wife good habits from the first; for this purpose 
take her to Marianella, and make a long stay there." In 
another letter of the 12th of the same month, he says : "I 
am rejoiced that such good alliances are offered to you. 
Use all possible care to choose the wife who will make you 
least anxious, considering the times in which we live. Be 
persuaded, that young women have more affection for young 
men than for those in advanced age as you are. I would 
warn you of another thing, that now, when you are alone, 
you ought to take care to send all young female servants 
away from your house. The devil is always a devil, and 
with temptation so near, and in the liberty in which you 
are, I should tremble for myself. Can you not dismiss 
them for the present, and tell them that you will take them 
back when you again set up your establishment? You ask 
me for money, and I would wish that you could lend to 



244 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS , 

me, for this year has been a gulf of expenses. I had to 
repair two houses, and had to pay to the Nuncio four hun 
dred ducats for the dilapidation of the chapter. I have in 
curred a debt of four hundred more, to meet the costs of 

buildings erected at the seminary I sympathise 

with your pain in having to go to many expenses without 
having enough to supply for them. The misfortune is, that 
the episcopate is corne to me at the same time as your 
marriage. Besides, I may say that I too am married, 
*but to a spouse who leaves me no moment of rest." D. 
Hercules espoused D. Mariana Capano Orsini, of the illus 
trious house of Nilo, a lady of exemplary conduct and ex 
traordinary piety. Alphonsus rejoiced at her virtues more 
than at her titles, rendered thanks for it to God, arid con 
gratulated his brother. 

Alphonsus great an-xiety for his brother, proceeded from 
a heart, which, though full of charity, was otherwise wholly 
detached from all which concerned the interests of flesh 
and blood; of which detachment he gave proof on all occa 
sions. He never had the curiosity to inquire into the state 
of affairs of any of his relatives, and during the thirty years 
that he lived in the Congregation, though his journeys to 
Naples were so frequent, he only entered his paternal 
house once, when he had to fulfil a last duty to his mother, 
who was mortally ill. Though his brother lived in the same 
;house in which the hospice of the Congregation was, as 
we have said before, he never visited him. One day he 
went to Naples and found the door of the hospice shut; 
he chose rather to eat a morsel of bread with some fruit 
in the ante-chamber, rather than to enter his brother s 
apartment; and when the nuptials were celebrated, as 
custom seemed to require some present to the bride, Al 
phonsus, for his only wedding present, gave her a paper 
print of the Blessed Virgin, inclosed in a little wooden 
frame. Don Hercules was displeased at this conduct, and 
returned the little frame almost angrily. " My brother 
takes offence," said Alphonsus, "I have however more 
cause than he ; what did he expect to receive ? I have so 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 247 

As soon as he knew that any particular solemnity would 
attract a great concourse of people in any church, he was 
there to preach. He said: "Jesus Christ began to convert 
souls by preaching, and by preaching this must be conti 
nued. Every thing consists in preaching well, Jesus Christ 
crucified." One feast day, at St. Mary del Vico, he passed 
before the church of St. Nicholas, and noticed that it was 
filled by the faithful ; he immediately got out of the car 
riage and entered the church to preach. He did the same 
on all other similar occasions. There was another reason 
which prompted him, whether ill or well, to preach on such 
extraordinary occasions. " There is no festival," he said, 
" where many sins are not committed," and he wished to 
contribute, personally, towards the diminution or expiation 
of those sins. On Easter Monday, the people went in 
crowds to the convent of the Capuchins, at Arienzo, plea 
santly situated on a hill. Many parties of people, of all 
classes, went there to pass the day in various diversions, " to 
eat pigeons," as they said. In order to prevent the disorders 
which might be committed, Alphonsus went to this church 
after vespers; he had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 
and when the people were assembled together, he preached 
for hours. "The Word of God;" he was in the habit of 
saying, " always brings forth fruit, and there is nothing 
which hell labors more to hinder than preaching." His 
zeal was especially manifested when he had to preach to 
men, and particularly to nobles, or the learned ; he said : 
" When the men are converted, piety will reign among wo 
men also." He took also advantage of public calamities, 
to exercise the ministry of the Word. In the spring of the 
year 1768, there was so great a drought all over the diocese, 
but principally at Arienzo, that all the wells were dried up. 
In this general distress he celebrated a Novena in honor of 
our Blessed Lady, to implore the mercy of God ; this ex 
ercise became in fact a mission. On the first evening, after 
having addressed his numerous audience, he assured them, 
that if they would become truly converted, the Lord would 
comfort them, by sending an abundant rain on St. Anne s 



248 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

day. He continued to preach on the just punishments 
which overtake the sinner, and often struck himself severely 
with a thick rope. He sent two Capuchin Fathers of Na 
ples, through the neighboring country, after the sermon, to 
exhort people to penance ; after this, he kept these two 
fathers with him, together with some others, to hear con 
fessions. Dry weather continued, and there was no hope 
of rain ; but on St. Anne s day, towards noon, the heavens 
became covered with clouds, which poured forth an abun 
dant rain, and watered all the distressed country, as he had 
promised. The consequence of all this preaching, was, 
that every where piety flourished, sin was done away with, 
crime disappeared. "Since his lordship s arrival at St. 
Agatha, we have lost a great deal," said an officer of justice, 
who had the care of the diocese, to a Neapolitan incum 
bent, "for his sermons, and those he has caused to be 
preached, have made the people so peaceable, that there is 
no longer any disorder to be found." 

He was not satisfied with putting his own hand to the 
plough for the culture of his vineyard ; he wished to be as 
sisted by laborers, animated by the same spirit, and provided 
with necessary science, to aid him in his toils, and hasten 
the maturity of the fruit. As soon as he entered the dio 
cese, or rather, from the time he accepted the bishopric, 
he thought of missions. He applied, when at Naples, 
for laborers, to the Superior of the society of the Apostoli 
cal Missions, and of that of the Conferences; he also so 
licited the Superior of the Congregation of Pious Work 
men, as well as the Provincial of the Jesuits, and addressed 
petitions to the Superior of the Missionary Priests of the 
church of St. George, and to the Dominican Fathers. In 
the course of the autumn of 1762, the Superior of the 
Congregation of the Conference, placed more than five and 
twenty missonaries at his disposal; Alphonsus sent them 
to labor in several populous places, and caused the Pious 
Workmen to preach at Arienzo at this time, and the Jesuits 
at Durazzano. He repaired to Arienzo himself, " and I 
also," he said to the Pious Workmen, "I wish to do some- 






LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 



245 



many poor here who die of hunger! yes, so many poor 
mendicants, and they demand that I should make presents." 

Alphonsus held preaching, as among his first duties as a 
bishop. "This ministration," he said, "is almost the only 
one that Jesus Christ seems to have imposed on the 
Apostles, and it is one which he exacts from his bishops; 
to fail in it is to neglect an express command." So he 
became remarkable for his assiduity in preaching. When 
he was at St. Agatha, he never missed preaching every 
Sunday at the cathedral, after vespers, and on all feast days 
which fell during the week, he went to preach in the par 
ishes. Every Sunday before the sermon, he catechised the 
little children, whom he attracted by giving them rosaries, 
pictures, and sometimes even money. He went also every 
Sunday to give instructions to the Congregation of nobles, 
and that of the young girls, which he had established. 
When he was at Arienzo, as the people could not easily 
come to the collegiate church, he preached alternately in 
one of the seven parishes of the town, and as his sermon 
was always accompanied with exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament he furnished the candles on these occasions 
himself, saying : " I wish, for God s glory, not to burden 
you with expense." He was accustomed, before the ser 
mon, to sing one of the pious hymns he had himself corn- 
posed. Every Saturday, as he had vowed, he published 
also the praises of our Blessed Lady. Not satisfied with 
doing this himself, he established this devotion in the whole 
diocese, and according to the convenience of the people, it 
took place in one town on Saturday, and in another on 
Sunday, always with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 
At Arienzo and in other populous parishes, he wished it to 
to be done twice, both on Saturday and on Sunday. Each 
month he visited a church fixed on beforehand, and made 
the protestation for a good death there, with a sermon and 
exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It is impossible to 
believe what great good he effected by this exercise. 

During the three last days of the carnival, he was in the 
habit of having public adoration and exposition of the 
21* 



246 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOKSUS. 

Blessed Sacrament, to hinder the people from going to 
public shows, and from otherwise offending God. When 
he was at St. Agatha, there was a sermon in the morning, 
at which he assisted, and which was delivered by a deacon 
of the seminary. He preached, himself, in the evening, and 
enlarged on the exceeding love of Jesus Christ for man. 
He fixed that, at Arienzo, there should be in the church of 
the nuns of St. Philip, a sermon, with exposition, during the 
Sundays of Lent, after vespers, and this sermon he preached 
himself, whenever he was in the town ; however bad the 
weather might be, he never failed to go. One Sunday, a 
furious storm came on, notwithstanding which Alphonsus 
went, though ill, and urged not to go ; he caught a cold, 
from which he suffered a long time, in consequence. The 
Conventual Fathers of St. Agatha were in the habit of 
exposing the Blessed Sacrament every Saturday in March, 
and had a sermon each time from one of their clerks. 
Seeing that these discourses were merely an exercise for 
the young men, and without fruit to the people, he offered 
to preach there himself; when he had no carriage, he 
went there always on foot, however severe the weather 
might be. Before the sermon, he sang his hymn; " my 
Jesus," in so touching a manner, that all the people melted 
in tears. The convent generally gave the young preacher 
ten carlins ; Alphonsus, not to deprive the clerks of this 
retribution, wished they should continue to fix on some 
one who could preach in his stead, in case he should be 
prevented, and give him the same sum whether he preached 
or not. He also adopted the custom of celebrating the 
novena of the birth of our Blessed Lord in his cathedral, 
as well as that of the Assumption and that of St. Joseph; 
instead of which latter, he celebrated sometimes the seven 
days which precede the feast of this saint. The panegyric 
of the Saint, however, he left to one of the Capuchin fathers, 
not wishing to deprive these religious of the alms attached 
to it. During Lent, he was in the habit of giving the 
spiritual exercises to the regular and secular clergy at 
Arienzo, or at St. Agatha. 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 49 

thing." He gave the spiritual exercises to the gentlemen 
and noblemen, whom he united in a Congregation. In 
the sermon on the patronage of Mary, which he preached 
himself, he spoke with the fire of a seraph ; his face was 
illuminated, and its brightness shed a supernatural splen 
dor in the church: he exclaimed at the same time, carried 
away in an ecstasy, "See, here is the Virgin coming to 
scatter blessings ; ask her for these blessings ; she is ready 
to grant you every thing." Thus the Blessed Virgin, re 
compensed, on this, as she had done on many other occa 
sions, as we have seen above, the zeal of her servant for 
her honor; for it was Alphonsus who had introduced this 
sermon on the Blessed Virgin, and had made it a rule, that 
it should never be omitted. After the mission at Arienzo, 
he went with ten Dominican Fathers from Naples to St. 
Mary del Vico, a place of more than four thousand inhabi 
tants ; he himself undertook the principal sermon. Several 
times, while weeping over his people s sins, he struck him 
self in the pulpit most cruelly with a thick rope. The mis 
sion lasted twenty-two days, and every one marvelled to 
see how an old man of sixty-seven, broken down with in 
firmities, could bear up under so much fatigue. But what 
astonished them most was, his penitential life; for besides 
his other austerities, he never departed from the severe rules 
of diet, which he had prescribed to himself, especially for the 
time of missions, as we have seen before. 

One evening, after the Father who preached to the 
clergy had ended his sermon, Alphonsus unexpectedly 
presented himself before them, and said : " If any one has 
any scruple about having obtained his benefice by simony, 
let him come to me ; I am come here to help him." The 
fact was, that a young ecclesiastic was in this case, and 
that, after having been to Alphonsus, he was freed from his 
scruple and preserved his benefice. At the mission of 
Airola, he contented himself with being present only, and 
returned at Christmas to Arienzo, and celebrated pontifi- 
caily in the collegiate church. During mass, after having 
received the precious blood, he entered on a sudden into 



250 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSflS. 

an ecstasy, as many persons attested, and his face beamed 
with heavenly fire. 

After having visited all the diocese, he kept one of the 
most zealous missionaries with him, and caused him to 
give a spiritual renewal of the missions. Alphonsus, as we 
have said above, visited his diocese every two years, and 
hex also caused the missionaries to go through it in the 
same space of time, and to those who blamed this multi 
plicity of missions, he answered that skilful husbandmen 
are accustomed to throw a double quantity of seed into 
places where the earth is dry and barren, and he- added: 
" It is thus we must do, if we would have an ample harvest. 
When the seed is sown in abundance, if all does not come 
up, at least a part of it does. Jesus Christ compares the 
Word of God to wheat : if it is not sown, neither can it be 
gathered." Besides these missions, he had also recourse 
to divers other exercises, as novenas and triduos, in order 
to strengthen the good, and awaken the sinful. From the 
first, he also introduced the adoration of the forty hours, at 
the carnival, and caused, then, the most zealous preachers 
to ascend the pulpit. 

He did not like to employ missionaries of his own Con 
gregation, when he first arrived at St. Agatha, for fear that 
they might be suspected to be his spies. He founded his 
hopes on them, however, and in the end, caused some of 
them to come each year from Nocera, Ciorani, and St. 
Angelo. The two principal counsels he gave to all these 
missionaries were: charity towards sinners, and a popular 
style in preaching, and he was very ^anxious to see them 
followed. Once, he spoke very plainly to one of them, 
whom he knew to be guilty of rigorism. "My father," 
he said to him, "too much indulgence in a confessor is 
hurtful to souls, but too much rigor is not less prejudicial ; 
I blame certain rigid spirits, who act not according to 
knowledge, and destroy rather than edify ; with sinners, 
charity and mildness are necessary. Such was the method 
of Jesus Christ, and if we would lead souls to God and 
save them, we must not imitate Jansenius, but Jesus Christ, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 251 

the chief of missionaries." As to preaching: "When 
Jesus Christ preached," he said, " He did not use turns of 
sentences nor rhetorical expressions ; all His words were 
on a level with the people s comprehension ; His proofs 
were natural, and never abstract. He used parables and 
comparisons, which, by striking the mind and heart, tri 
umphed over the will. The Apostles were instructed by 
Him, and they imitated Him, and we also must do as they 
did ; otherwise journeys, expense, and fatigue of every 
sort, will all be useless." One day, when he was present at a 
mission, he was seen to move about uneasily on his throne, 
because the preacher used chosen terms and studied phrases. 
The sermon was hardly ended, before he sent for the 
preacher, and reprimanded him severely, saying: "That is 
to betray the people and Jesus Christ; if you only seek to 
preach yourself, and not Jesus crucified, why did you take 
the trouble to leave Naples. I do not excuse you from 
mortal sin." 

The expenses of these missions, except those that were 
provided for by foundations, were all placed to his own 
account. He paid for the journeys, lodgings, and food, 
even in case of labors which the missionaries undertook of 
their own accord. He freed the incumbent and the towns 
from all expense, furnishing even the oil and candles for the 
churches, and enabled the missionaries, besides, to give beds 
and other indispensable things to the poor, whose misery 
caused them to make their children sleep together, exhort 
ing them to take particular care of necessitous families, 
converted females, and young girls in danger. Notwith 
standing all this, he had sometimes much difficulty in over 
coming the obstacles he met with from the incumbents. 
We give the following example, as it shows at the same 
time his incomparable forbearance and readiness to forgive. 
One incumbent had excused himself, saying that he had 
no house and could not procure one. Alphonsus, who 
divined his real feelings, answered that he must procure 
one, at any price, and that it would be defrayed for him. 
The priest replied in terms any thing but respectful. In- 



LIFE OP ST. ALFHONStfS. 

dignant at this refusal, the grand-vicar and others wished 
him to be imprisoned, but Alphonsus blamed their hastiness 
and pitied the incumbent s weakness, who in the end asked 
for the mission. On this, Alphonsus far from showing any 
further dissatisfaction, even begged his pardon. " I do not 
say," he wrote to him, " that your reverence has put any 
impediment in the way, but I said that you did not show 
the anxiety I should have wished ; if I have been wrong 
in this, I hope that now all will be as before. Blessed be 
God, who has permitted this unpleasantness to arise to you 
as well as to me." 

To cause the Lenten sermons to be as profitable as those 
of the missions, he also exacted their being in a popular 
style. As in many localities, the parishioners had the right, 
founded on ancient usage, of electing the preachers, he 
had often the sorrow to v see elected persons who were far 
from being according to his own heart. In order to remedy 
this abuse, he never failed to speak to the most influential 
persons in each place, to get them to choose subjects who 
were well known, and according to his wishes, and lastly, h e 
asked and obtained that the preachers should be chosen 
from among the Capuchin Fathers exclusively. Before 
giving his approbation to the preachers selected, he obliged 
them to engage to give the spiritual exercises during Pas 
sion week, in the form of a mission, and those who showed 
repugnance to do so were always refused. He was in the 
habit of saying to those who nominated the preachers : 
"The right of election belongs to you, but it is for me to 
regulate the subject, and the form of the sermons." 

During this time of Lent, he was attentive in seeing that 
the confessors should mutually exchange parishes, pro 
viding himself for their food and other expenses by means 
of the rural deans ; and in this way, the Lenten exercises pro 
duced general advantage, thanks to the pains-taking care 
of the vigilant bishop. Besides, when the preachers and 
confessors presented themselves before him to receive his 
benediction, he liked to keep them, for some days, with him, 
and in conversing with them, he judged of their capability 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 253 

and knowledge. The obligations of the sacred ministry, 
charity towards sinners, and the necessity of encouraging 
them to penance, furnished him with inexhaustible subjects , 
of conversation, but above all, with the motives for very 
particular exhortations. Even in panegyrics and sermons, 
on festivals, he wished, as we have seen, that the preacher 
should speak simply, in order that the people might profit 
by them. One day, on the celebration of the feast of the 
Sacred Heart, at Arienzo, they invited a celebrated preacher, 
of a well known order in Naples. Alphonsus, too ill to 
officiate, wished, notwithstanding, to be present, but suf 
fered much in hearing flowery expressions and high flown 
phrases delivered by the preacher ! If he did not quit the 
church, it was only to avoid creating disturbance in the 
ceremony. At last he turned towards the altar, arid turned 
his back on the pulpit and preacher, and on reaching his 
house he sent for him, and in a tone of authority, thus ad 
dressed him: "Is it not to wish to betray Jesus Christ and 
the people, to preach in that way ? If I did not make you 
come down from the pulpit, it was from respect to the 
habit you wear. What fruit have the people gathered from 
all the tropes, from all the figures of speech and pompous 
descriptions with which you ornamented your discourse? 
All that was only the fruit of vanity, and can only merit 
the fire of purgatory. Your end ought to have been to 
touch hearts, and cause tears to be shed ; but the people 
were insensible, because they understood nothing." 

In the year 1763, all Italy was a prey to most fearful dis 
tress, a famine, which caused our saint to have an increase 
of sorrow and merits. He predicted this calamity, even 
before his election to the bishopric; for preaching once in 
Naples, and becoming more animated than usual, he ex 
claimed: "Beware, beware, God will overtake us with fa 
mine." This he predicted on other occasions, and during 
the Mission of St. Agatha, he said : "My children, cease to 
sin, for a great calamity is threatening us," and on another 
occasion : " Amend your lives, I repeat to you, and recom 
mend yourselves to God, for a great famine will soon aftlict 
22 



254 LIFE OF ST. ALPHGNStfg. 

you." The same prediction he repeated twice at Arienza, 
in the year which preceded the fatal winter of 1763-1764, 
and expressed himself still more definitely. The people 
were wearied with these reiterated predictions, and said : 
" Where is this bishop come from ? He only fortells famine 
and bad seasons." After the harvest of 1763, he ordered 
his secretary to buy a great quantity of kidney and French 
beans, and other vegetables. No body understood the 
mystery, and all laughed at it, the secretary being the first 
to do so, for the harvest had been at least a tolerable one. 
But the month of November had not terminated, before the 
scarcity spread from one end of the kingdom to the other. 
It is difficult to imagine the holy bishop s sorrow in seeing 
the multitude of starving poor; they had no bread left, and 
so all recurred to their common father for aid in their dis 
tress. The large halUof the episcopal palace was some 
times crowded with four or five hundred of these distressed 
people, who in the most suppliant posture, and with tearful 
eyes, begged for a morsel of bread. Alphonsus tried to 
relieve them all, saying to the servant: "Make them all go 
away satisfied, they only ask for what belongs to them." 
He sent in every direction to obtain corn, and applied to 
D. Hercules, then governor of Naples, from whom he ob 
tained plenty of corn, though it had already begun to be 
sold at six ducats the measure. He applied to his rich pa 
trons, and received numerous donations, and was overjoyed 
at being able to assist his poor children. 213-1 

He had a large list placed in the great hall, on which all 
the necessitous families were noted down, alphabetically, 
and as they presented themselves, they received according 
to their poverty, a portion of beans or vegetables, together 
with some money. Besides this, he had arranged a private 
list of families, who were prevented from coming to his 
palace through shame or some other cause. But as he soon 
became destitute of money, he wished to borrow, by paying 
interest, but was constantly refused, nobody being willing 
to be satisfied with the guarantee of an old man, asthmatic, 
and broken down with infirmities. In this extremity he 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 



255 



sold the ring, which he had received as a present from Jane 
Versale, as well as that which he had received from Bishop 
Giannifii, (and which had belonged to his uncle, the bishop 
of Troy,) with his pectoral cross, only keeping one, silver 
gilt, for pontifical ceremonies. He ordered also his secre 
tary to sell the little plate he had. Not knowing what else 
to sell, he was on the point of getting rid of his rochet and 
watch, but he gave up this idea on its being represented to 
him, that they were of little value, while to him a watch 
was indispensable. As the scarcity increased, he resolved 
to sell his carriage. Being opposed in this by the Grand- 
Vicar and others, he said: "St. Peter was Pope, and he 
had no carriage, why should I have one, I, who am not 
greater than St. Peter?" When D. Hercules interfered, 
and joined his opponents, he replied : "All these pretexts 
to induce me to keep my carriage, are only a temptation of 
the devil, in my opinion. I am old, I have already one 
foot in the grave ; I am burthened with debts, I want a 
great deal of money, and am distressed to death at being 
able to do nothing. Do not trouble me any longer about 
this affair, for I will not answer you any more. You know 
very well, besides, that when I come to a resolution, after a 
careful examination, I never go back from it. I cannot 
bear to see the mules remaining in the stable nearly all the 
year with nothing to do, while the coachman is wasting his 
time, and the poor are asking for bread." That which he 
had resolved on, he executed, and on the 5th of January, 
sent his carriage and mules to Naples. His brother, D. 
Gaetan, not wishing them to pass into the hands of stran 
gers, bought them himself, and at a very high price. When 
he had nothing more to sell, he thought of getting rid of 
the plate which had belonged to his predecessors, the pas 
toral cross, the ewer, and candlestick, as well as the pre 
cious stone which adorned the clasp of the cope. But being 
resisted by the canons, he asked to be allowed, at least, to 
pledge these things ; but this also was denied. This second 
refusal grieved him so much, that he was seen walkino- 
about, alone in his room, weeping and giving way to all the 



256 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

bitterness of his heart. While in this great sorrow, he en 
vied rich bishops, as they had more .power to do good. 
Oh, that I merited as much before God, as St. Thomas of 
Villanova," said he one day, "I might find my granaries 
filled with corn, as he did." 

The scourge continuing to increase its ravages, the 
zealous pastor applied to the Pope, supplicating him to 
grant him the permission to mortgage all his income, in 
order to be able to succor the poor. But though the Pope 
consented to this, the answer did not arrive in time. He 
assembled, moreover, all the heads of the chapels together, 
and begged, or rather commanded them, to pawn all their 
plate. This was done, but it was only as a few drops of 
water cast on a great conflagration. The indefatigable 
pastor, however, took no rest ; he daily assembled the prin 
cipal gentlemen, canons, and chief functionaries, and con 
sulted with them as to the means of relieving the town, and 
preventing the death of the poor by hunger. Many refused 
to give him money, but many others being moved with 
compassion, placed generous donations in his hands; others 
supplied him with money under the name of a loan, but, no 
doubt, never expected to recover the advances they made. 

But the pious pastor considered himself as charged with 
the sins of his people, and offered himself as a victim to 
the justice of heaven, he bound himself with hair-cloths, 
and disciplined himself most severely every day, and did 
not cease to excite the people also to do penance for their 
sins. One evening, after such a fervent exhortation, on 
his return home, a woman of the town ran after him, and 
exclaimed in fury: "Would to God you had never come 
among us ! since you have been here you have only an 
nounced calamities, and now you make us eat bread at 
seven grains the pound." Then raising her hand in a 
menacing way, she added: "You have plenty of money, 
you, I say, to eat it at this price." Alphonsus, far from 
being moved at these violent and undeserved reproaches, 
gave his blessing to the woman. The sacristan, who ac 
companied him, began to scold her, and took her by the 



OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 259 

people rebelled, and chose as the victim of their blind re 
sentment, the syndic Dominico Carvo, the superintendent 
of provisions at St. Agatha. The mutinous people, desir 
ing to assassinate him, attacked him in his house, and 
broke down his door. The unfortunate man happily suc 
ceeded in escaping, and took refuge in the episcopal 
palace. The mob having heard of this, hurried thither, and 
besieged the palace ; they penetrated into the interior, and 
sought for the syndic in order to murder him. Alphonsus, 
in alarm, appeared before the furious mob, and offered him 
self as a victim to their anger; he ran into the midst of 
them, pressed them to his heart, and in tears endeavored 
to exculpate the syndic. " Life for life," cried the multi 
tude. Alphonsus, not knowing what more he could do to 
calm their fury, famine rendering them deaf to all his 
reasons, distributed to them all the meat and bread which 
he had kept for the most necessitous poor, as also all the 
bread and provisions of the seminary. This alarm had 
scarcely ended, when another sorrow succeeded. The 
court at Naples, being informed of the revolt, despatched 
sixty horsemen to St. Agatha, to prevent still more serious 
disturbances ; which measure, far from intimidating the 
people, only served to exasperate them more. Alphonsus, 
considering this sad state of things, could neither eat nor 
sleep; he consulted, every moment, with the officers, in 
order to prevent the soldiers causing inconvenience to any 
one, while he at the same time negotiated at Naples for the 
recall of the military. He spoke to the most influential of 
the populace, to urge them to be peaceful; he procured 
new stores of corn and vegetables, and his active charity 
took no rest, until he saw the soldiers depart, and tran 
quillity re-established. 

Assisted by divine light from on high, he often foresaw 
the misfortunes which would happen, even out of town, 
and was thus enabled to obviate them. At Arienzo in 
particular, he saved D. Giro Lettieri, the first magistrate of 
this town, from a great disaster. The brother of Giro was 
employed by Alphonsus to put the archives of the bishopric 



S60 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONStJS. 

in order. It was supposed he would have to be occupied 
in this, at least a fortnight. But eight days had scarcely 
elapsed, before Alphonsus suddenly sent for him one Sa 
turday, arid said: "I wish you to return to Arienzo this 
very evening, for your presence will be necessary there." 
Greatly surprised at such a dismissal, he set out, little satis 
fied with the bishop s proceedings. On the Sunday morn 
ing, being at Arienzo, he heard the sound of the tocsin, he 
went to the piazza, and found the people collected to 
gether, and with arms in hand, proceeding tumultuously 
towards his brother s house. He understood then what 
that necessity for his presence was, and he was just in 
time to save his brother, who but for him would have been 
killed. He got before the populace, and caused D. Giro to 
take refuge in the monastery of the Fathers of St. Augustine, 
whence, clothed in a refigious habit, he fled from the town 
and escaped from the seditious mob. The tribunal of Mon- 
tefusco, being informed of this tumult, commissioned an 
officer to seek for the principal rioters. Thirty fathers o 
families were denounced by the subordinates; they were 
innocent, but were all obliged to appear at Montefusco. 
The governors of the town, out of consideration for the 
ruin of so many families, applied to their common father. 
At this news, Alphonsus was filled with grief, and wept 
over the possible consequences of this denunciation, and, 
without loss of time, represented to the president of the 
tribunal the innocence of the accused, and entreated him 
to stop the prosecution. His representations were so ef 
ficacious, that the court granted all that he desired. 

As the spring of 1764 advanced, it brought with it new 
resources, which gradually put an end to the fearful scarcity, 
and the holy bishop was able to resume the course of his 
visitation. Many disorders had arisen during the famine ; 
some people had profited by the general misery to practice 
usury extensively ; others tortured their debtors, and con 
strained them to subscribe to exaggerated claims. He in 
veighed against these abuses, and used every means to 
remedy them. He sent for the merchants and moneyed men. 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSXTS. 257 

shoulder in order to force her to go away ; Alphonsus was 
indignant at this and punished him for it, by four days im 
prisonment. "These unhappy people deserve compas 
sion," said he, " it is not their heart, but famine which 
makes them speak." God, however, did not leave such a 
wicked act unpunished, and this woman, who had lived in 
ease before, was soon reduced to the lowest beggary. 

Poverty increased, particularly in Naples, to such a 
degree, that the scourge spared no one; the starving poor 
were seen, as Alphonsus had predicted, eating the grass 
of the hedges, and seeking in the country for the nourish 
ment which beasts had refused to eat, so as even to feed 
on noxious herbs. On seeing thousands of these poor 
people going about the streets like spectres, Alphonsus 
was ready to die for sorrow. He confined himself to bread 
and broth, and one day said to his secretary and grand- 
vicar: " You see how the people are dying with hunger, 
it is necessary that we should do without something more; 
and so you must bear patiently yourself as well as others." 
In consequence, his table was only supplied with broth and 
boiled meat, with which every one, without exception, had 
to be satisfied. He invoked also the superiors of all the 
convents of the diocese, and not only begged, but com 
manded them, to contribute to the relief of the poor, by 
retrenching some part of their ordinary expenditures. He 
heard that the superior of a wealthy convent was very 
stingy towards the poor; he sent for him and reproached 
him for his hard-heartedness. "I am obliged," replied the 
religious, "to maintain my family; I give what is over to 
the poor, and no more." This answer pained our saint: 
he rose from his chair full of indignation, and said : 
"Do you know what maintain means? It signifies that 
it is necessary to eat enough to preserve life, and the 
surplus ought to be given to the poor. When you became 
a religious, you said that you wished to lead a life of 
poverty and penance. Do you believe in the Gospel, or 
are you a Turk ?" The religious changed his line of con 
duct, and the poor of the place were quite differently 
22* 



258 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

treated, from this time. He begged also the monasteries 
in Naples, and his penitents and relations, to bestow gifts 
on him for the sick. 

Thus Alphonsus acted like a true apostle of charity, 
during this calamity. He was delighted when he could 
assist the poor, and wept when he had nothing to give 
them. Every thing was open to them, and there was not 
a single room in the palace, where one did not see some 
poor person being comforted or snatched from the grasp of 
death. One evening, after all had been relieved, the Sec 
retary, in going to bed, saw a man stretched on a bench in 
the hall, motionless and nearly expiring. Alphonsus, being 
informed of this, hastened hither, and at the sight of the 
unfortunate man was filled with sorrow; he sent for 
vinegar and other things to try and revive him ; he ran to 
his room himself and took a piece of chocolate, which he 
succeeded with difficulty in placing in the mouth of the 
dying man. At length by dint of much pains, he had the 
happiness to see him come to his senses again, and his 
heart rejoiced at the sight of the poor man thus restored 
to life. 

As St. Agatha was not the only town which suffered 
from the famine, and as there was a dearth of bread 
throughout the diocese, all had recourse to him, and he 
had a helping hand for all. There was no place in the 
diocese which he did not aid with a quantity of corn and 
lentils, as well as with money. As bishop, he was lord of 
the fief of Baynoli ; the inhabitants of this domain also de 
manded his assistance, and more than this, they used men 
aces. He succeeded in procuring a great quantity of 
corn from Naples, secretly, and distributed bread to the 
poor of this estate every day. Thus the diocese of St. 
Agatha had much less to surfer than the other dioceses, for 

o 

while, every where, bread was from ten to twelve grains the 
pound, at St. Agatha, it only cost six and a half. 

But however great was his solicitude, he could not 
satisfy the wants of all. On the 20th of February, 1764, 
the horrors of famine having become still more felt, the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 261 

and enjoined them not to deviate from the rules of equity. 
After having thus contributed to the restoration of order at 
St. Agatha, and in the neighboring country, he especially 
enjoined on the parish priests the relief of many sick per 
sons, convalescents, and the most necessitous families, and 
then set out to visit the other parts of the diocese ; he was 
greeted in all parts with shouts of joy, which showed plainly 
the delight which the presence of their charitable bishop 
caused in the hearts of the faithful. 



CHAPTER XXII, 

Jllphonsus presides at a general Chapter of his Congregation. 
He defends his Moral Theology . He publishes Ordinances 
for the Regulation of his Diocese. He establishes new 
Parishes. Becomes dangerously ill. He publishes his 
Book on the Truth of Faith. Circular to his Congregation. 

ABOUT this time, his Congregation had to assemble in a 
general chapter, and the saintly founder was begged 
to preside. He accepted the invitation, though he was then 
overcharged with business. He went, in consequence, to 
Nocera, towards the end of September. In passing by 
Nola, he stopped at the seminary, and, at the invitation of 
the Superior, gave an exhortation to the seminarists, which 
lasted more than an hour; he also saw Bishop Carracciolo, 
who, as well as our saint, was ao enemy to those pompous 
titles which were adopted by certain bishops at that time. 
He related to Alphonsus, that, having been addressed in a 
letter from one of his colleagues by the title of Excellency, 
he had not returned the compliment. " You did very 
right," replied Alphonsus, " I cannot understand what 
gave rise to this plaguing Excellency. The Council of 
Trent condescended to grant us the title of Right Reve 
rend, and now they wish to introduce, Most Illustrious., If 



262 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS, 

we had wished for Excellency, we could have staid at 
home." When he entered the Church to visit the Blessed 
Sacrament, he was given an arm-chair, which was used by 
the bishop; he refused it, and placed himself on a bench, 
saying, " This place befits D. Alphonsus;" wishing to say, 
that not being in his own diocese, he ought not to usurp 
any mark of distinction. 

The chapter lasted a month. The customs and rules 
already in vigor, were revised and confirmed. Every thing 
was done in the most satisfactory manner, thanks to his 
prudence and wisdom. The chapter was scarcely termi 
nated when he set out again for St. Agatha, where he un 
dertook to combat a new enemy. A distinguished Domini 
can, F. Vincent Patuzzi, unceasingly criticised the Moral 
Theology of the saintly doctor. Alphonsus, after his return 
from Rome, had already published a long and learned dis 
sertation, wherein all the most weighty authorities were 
brought forward in support of his system, and which was 
considered as a master-piece. Father Patuzzi, not being 
willing to give up the combat, had taken up arms again. 
Patuzzi s work was but a libel, under the name of Adolphus 
Dositheus, entitled, "The cause of probabilism re-pro 
duced after the examination of Bishop Liguori, and again 
convicted of falsity." Alphonsus replied now in a learned 
and moderate address, in which he supported his doctrine by 
the authority of the canons, of the Holy Fathers, and of the 
most celebrated theologians, principally of St. Thomas. 
He dedicated his book to his Holiness, Clement XIII, with 
this declaration : " I protest that in all which I have written 
on this subject, I had no other intention than to make the 
truth clear in so grave a matter, on which depends the good 
or evil direction of consciences, and as I had the honor of 
dedicating my Moral Theology to the Sovereign Pontiff, 
Benedict XIV, some years ago, I venture to present and 
submit to your Holiness, this treatise, which is an appendix 
to the same Moral Theology, in order that you may deign 
to look over it, to correct, modify, and cancel all which may 
be opposed to the rules of Christian wisdom." Alphonsus 



LIFE OF ST. ALFHOHSUS. 263 

sent his apology to the bishops and archbishops, as well as 
to the other theological doctors, who all united with one 
voice in praising the author s great learning, but not less, 
the great humility and moderation with which he defended 
his system, as is proved by many letters of approbation he 
received on the occasion, the greater portion of which are 
quoted by Alphonsus himself at the end of his apology. 
Patuzzi, notwithstanding, sharpened his pen anew, and 
published another libel, which contained the same abuse as 
his former writings, only under another form. Alphonsus, 
without departing from his usual moderation, replied to 
him on the 16th of January, 1764: "I have received your 
well meant letter, wherein are mingled praises and coun 
sels, admonitions, reproaches, and menaces." Then, after 
having apologised for not being able to reply more at 
length, on account of the business of his diocese, he adds: 
"You tell me that you are astonished, that, while leading 
an edifying life, (you had better said that I deceive the 
public,) I, notwithstanding, profess an erroneous doctrine. 
My Father, I judge and see precisely the contrary ; I see 
that my life is neither good nor exemplary, but full of faults, 
and on the contrary, I am sure that my system is very wise 
and certain." He then continues to overthrow his adver 
sary s objections with admirable skill and learning, sup 
porting his arguments principally by St. Thomas, and other 
learned writers. F. Patuzzi was conquered, but not con 
vinced, and thus the controversy ended. 

When Alpho-nsus had made himself thoroughly ac 
quainted with the state of his diocese, he informed the 
Pope that he thought he ought to assemble a synod, in 
order to remedy numerous abuses, and supported by the 
approbation of his Holiness, regulate many things which he 
judged necessary. The Pope heard this determination with 
pleasure, and to favor his undertaking, he granted, by a brief 
of the 21st of June, a plenary indulgence to all who, after 
havingconfessed, should communicate and visit the cathedral 
of St. Agatha, on the day of the opening of the synod, 
and also every year, on its anniversary. But Alphonsus 



264 LIFE Of ST. ALPHONStJS, 

consulting Bishop Borgia, of Aversa, about this matter, as 
well as F. Fatigati, the founder of the Congregation of the 
Holy Family, they both disapproved of the project, and their 
opinion was shared by several bishops who were friends of 
our saint. After reflecting on their reasons, he said: "I 
will accomplish what I wished to regulate in a synod, by 
simple decrees, and thus I shall not have to fear some un 
quiet spirit preventing my obtaining the roya) assent, at 
Naples." He consulted then several times the most judi 
cious members of his clergy, and thus the articles which 
he had prepared for the synodical assembly, were replaced 
by six ordinances, which he promulgated in due form, and 
caused to be rigorously observed throughout the diocese. 

The first referred to the canons, the priests of the ca 
thedral, and the chaplains, concerning the rubrics, the 
ecclesiastical discipline, of the choir, and the conditions of 
gaining the distributions, with divers regulations, concern 
ing the divine service in the cathedral, and the meetings of 
the chapter. 

The second referred to the duties of the archpriests, 
vicars, and rectors, throughout the diocese. He renewed 
the order given after his first visitation, that the summary 
of the Christian doctrine, composed by himself, should be 
read twice to the people every Sunday and feast day ; and 
ordered that every Sunday morning, the parish priests 
should give a detailed instruction on the truths of faith, 
especially to little children ; that the children should be 
made to know the meaning of the words their lips uttered; 
and that they should be taught the acts for holy commu 
nion, several weeks before Easter, in order that they might 
understand well the importance of this sacrament, the 
benefits it procures, and the dispositions it requires; that 
they should be admitted to this sacrament when nine or 
ten, or at most, twelve years old. He ordered also, that 
all who wished to enter into matrimony, should be exam 
ined on the most essential points of Christian doctrine, and 
this indispensably and without distinction of persons, ac 
cording to the prescriptions of the Roman ritual, and the 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 265 

doctrine of Pope Benedict XIV. In the same ordinance 
he set before the parochial clergy, their strict obligation to 
preach every Sunday, reminding them also, that accord 
ing to the Council of Trent, preaching should be familiar 
and level to the people s capacity. In order to prevent 
serious evils, and many sins, he obliged them to receive no 
promise of betrothal, without the certainty of a speedy 
marriage, and wished that parents should be repeatedly ad 
vised not to receive young men into their houses, who might 
prove an occasion of scandal to their daughters, this being 
a reserved case. He also ordered, that no one should be 
admitted to Easter communion, without having been previ 
ously examined by his parish priest, on the things necessary 
to salvation, and forbadeWonfessors to administer this sa 
crament to those who were not provided with a certificate 
of having been thus examined; that those who had not 
fulfilled the paschal duty, should be warned of the. excom 
munication they would incur, if they did not fulfil it in their 
parish church, and that if any one had not performed his 
duty, by Trinity Sunday, the incumbent should then report 
it to the bishop, without delay. For the young of both 
sexes, he ordered two general communions, the one on the 
Sunday after the Assumption, and the other at Christmas. 
This same ordinance reminded the parish priests, that ac 
cording to the Roman catechism, they sinned grievously, if 
they did not administer extreme unction till the dying person 
had lost the use of his reason. Rectors and other priests 
were ordered to have a list in the sacristy, in which should 
be noted, the days, and the altars, at which the perpetual 
masses ought to be celebrated, and that, when a legacy was 
left in favor of the church, the payment should be required 
from the heirs in a month after the death of the testator, 
and that in case of refusal, recourse should be had to a 
competent judge, to compel them, or else the bishop should 
be informed ; and besides, informing the bishop before ac 
cepting any legacy, that a list of the foundations should be 
made every ten years, and a copy of it remitted to the 
heirs, and another deposited in the hands of the chapter. 



266 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

This same ordinance concluded with several regulations 
concerning the reserved cases, the distribution of the holy 
oils, the mass to be said for the people on Sundays and 
feast days, the residence of the curates, &c. 

The third was addressed to all confessors, secular and 
regular. He reminded them of the necessity they lay under, 
to study moral theology, and ordered them to join 
some Congregation for discussing cases of conscience. 
He wished them to ask parents, whether they sent their 
children to be catechised, this being a reserved case, and 
especially, minutely to interrogate those who confessed 
seldom, or, whose consciences were not known to them. 
He told them to refuse absolution to backsliding, and ha 
bitual sinners, except they gave extraordinary signs of con 
trition, and to those in occasion of sin, before they had 
quitted the occasion. He inculcated on them the duty of 
reminding physicians of the strict obligation which the bull 
of Pius V, imposes on them, of ordering the sacraments to 
be administered to those of their patients whom they found, 
after the third visit, to be in danger, or likely to become so. 
He condemned the facility with which many confessors 
granted absolution to venial sins, without being certain that 
the penitents repented of them, and were resolved to amend. 
He advised confessors to exhort their penitents to frequent 
prayer, and to urge them to invoke the sacred names of 
Jesus and Mary, unceasingly, when in temptation, and 
above all, to recommend to them, devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin, the recitation of the Rosary, as well as three Aves, 
morning and evening, in honor of the Mother of purity and 
perseverance, and to teach briefly, the exercise of mental 
prayer to those whom they saw most disposed to piety. 

The fourth renewed the pain of suspension, ipso facto, 
for all those who should finish mass in less than a quarter 
of an hour, and contained several other regulations re 
garding the holy sacrifice. He reminded besides, all eccle 
siastics, of the suspension, ipso facto, to be incurred by 
amusing themselves at games of chance, or any other 
game in public. He equally forbade hunting with a gun, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 267 

or with nets, without the written permission of the bishop, 
&c. f and lastly, exhorted all the clerics to second their 
parish priests in the instruction on Christian doctrine. 

The sixth, (we shall speak of the fifth hereafter,) provided 
that which was becoming, in regard to clerical dress and 
tonsure. These were the principal regulations Alphonsus 
felt it necessary to make, for the good of his clergy and 
diocese. He confessed that, in consequence of the cir 
cumstances of the times, he had riot acted after the rigor of 
the ancient canons, but he also declared, that in proportion 
to this indulgence, would be his severity towards trans 
gressors. "Any kind of contempt for myself, does not 
affect me at all," said he, "on the contrary, I thank God 
for it; but I cannot suffer any disregard for my ordi 
nances." He was therefore very attentive in watching to 
see that they were kept, and not satisfied with the reports 
which were addressed to him by the rural vicars, who were 
especially bound to attend to what was going on in the 
different parts of the diocese, he commissioned certain per 
sons, to inform him privately, of all kinds of infraction of 
these ordinances, and when he saw that the offences were 
in consequence of contempt of his wishes, he acted with 
severity, and more than one ecclesiastic suffered an exem 
plary punishment in consequence. One was deprived of 
the revenues of his parish; another for having twice failed 
to be present at the meetings of the discussion of moral 
cases, was sent for by the bishop, who reprimanded him 
with severity. 

One of the greatest evils which Alphonsus had remarked 
during his pastoral visitation, was the spiritual abandon 
ment, in which thousands of souls were to be found, who 
were dispersed through the country, and above all, in the 
neighborhood of St. Agatha. The population of this town 
and its environs, amounted to more than twenty-four thou 
sand inhabitants, who were scattered about in a number of 
villages, hamlets, and farm-houses. In the suburbs and 
villages, there were not less than two hundred families, who 
comprised altogether, more than thirteen hundred souls, 



268 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and formed, what was called, the parish of St. Thomas, 
divided into several sections, some of which were four or 
five miles from the church. This occasioned serious incon 
veniences, for while the heat of summer caused the access 
to the church to be very painful, winter rendered it nearly 
impossible; the old and very young, never saw their parish 
priest. There was no catechising for the young, nor in 
struction for the adults, and what is worse, nearly all the 
sick were deprived of the viaticum, and extreme unction. 
The vigilant bishop, grieving over such a deplorable state 
-of things, determined to divide the parish of St. Thomas, 
and to form three others, which should be supported by 
some benefices of free gift, which till then, had only been 
.conferred on clerics, attached to the bishop, or on strangers. 
The execution of this project was far from being an easy 
matter, but our saint s,.zeal and constancy triumphed over 
all obstacles, and three parishes were established in three 
ancient churches, at convenient distances. 

At Cancello, a place within three miles from Arienzo, 
there were dispersed about in various estates, a great 
number of families, dependant on the parish of St. Felix 
of Arienzo, which being four miles distant, at the least, the 
inhabitants for the most part, died without any religious aid. 
Alphonsus resolved to make a parochial chapel of the one 
to be found there, but finding opposition, he contented 
.himself with establishing there a chaplain, to say mass on 
Sundays and festivals, for which, the Duke of Maddalon, 
who possessed large farms on this domain, gave him yearly 
twelve ducats, to which Alphonsus added six more, out of 
.his own income, in order to induce him to consent to 
.preach, and teach the catechism to the children. He pre 
sented to the church, a beautiful missal, and other books, 
for the celebration of the offices, and promised the priest 
not to forget him, when a vacancy should occur in the 
livings. He made the same, or similar arrangements in 
many other parts of the diocese, so that the word of God 
was announced in many rural chapels which were distant 
from the parish churches, he himself supplying what was 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 269 

necessary for the maintenance of these chaplains. Olher 
churches, where the revenues were inadequate, were by 
his care endowed with rentals and benefices, taken from 
those which were superabundantly provided. By these 
means he attracted a number of meritorious priests, who, 
till then, had been kept at a distance, through fear and 
distress. 

Alphonsus, exhausted with austerity and fatigue, became 
ill, at the close of the year 1764. The fever made such pro 
gress, that his life was soon despaired of, and they hastened 
to administer to him the viaticum, and extreme unction. 
It was an affecting sight, to see the bishop of St. Agatha, 
lie on a bed of straw, between two sheets of coarse cloth, 
and covered with all the emblems of poverty, with a dying 
voice, asking the two clergymen who assisted him, to 
suggest some sentiments of love to him. One of them 
tried to suggest some holy thoughts, but tears stifled his 
voice, and he could not utter a single word. "My lord," 
said then the other, "When St. Martin was near death, he 
addressed the following prayer to God: Lord, if I am still 
necessary to thy people, I refuse not to work; " and Al 
phonsus, who could scarcely move his lips, immediately 
repeated, " Non recuso laborem," " I refuse not to work." 
No children ever wept more bitterly, at the death bed of a 
father, than the inhabitants of St. Agatha did, at the pros 
pect of so soon losing their bishop. Public prayers were 
had in every place, throughout the diocese, and several re 
ligious communities at Naples, offered up Novenas, and 
other prayers, in order that the Lord would deign to preserve 
the pastor to his diocese, or rather to the whole Church. 

As the invalid s danger had been seen from the first, they 
proposed to him to send for a physician, to Naples, but he 
would not hear of it, saying that his life was not worth so 
much trouble, and that he ought to employ the physicians 
of St. Agatha, since God had given them to him. Never 
theless, his brother Hercules was no sooner informed of his 
state, than he came to see him, accompanied by two of the 
first doctors of the capital. He escaped from death at 
23* 



270 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 

last, but it may truly be said, that his recovery was a re 
compense for the tears of the poor, and it was plainly seen, 
that the Lord wished, for the salvation of his flock, to pre 
serve his life, of which they had still the greatest need. 
God also manifested his servant s sanctity, during his illness, 
by a miracle. One day, while he was still in bed, he re 
ceived a visit from a canon, who brought him some fig- 
peckers, which he had shot. He was accompanied by his 
nephew, who, although four years old, could not say a 
single word. Alphorisus asked the canon what was his 
nephew s name ; the uncle replied, that the child was called 
Thomas, but could not yet speak, and that they believed 
he would continue to be dumb. Alphonsus immediately 
made the sign of the cross on the child s forehead, and 
taking a picture of our Lady of Power, gave it to Thomas, 
to kiss, and asked hkn what this Lady was called. The 
child kissed the picture, and his tongue being unloosed 
at the moment, he replied, "The Madonna." Alphonsus 
turned to the canon, and to conceal the miracle, said to 
him: "This child is not dumb ; it is true that there is an 
impediment in his speech, but you will see that it will 
gradually disappear." From that time, the child had the 
use of speech, in fact, he articulated every sound perfectly, 
and asked for all he wanted. 

The doctors foreseeing the tediousness of his recovery, 
and fearing that, if he were not entirely set up before the 
autumn, he would languish all the winter, advised him to 
go to breathe the salubrious air of Nocera. This proposi 
tion alarmed him. "I cannot go far from my residence," 
said he, "let us place ourselves in the hands of the Lord, 
and he will do the rest." It required a command from 
F. Villani, then present at St. Agatha, to cause him to 
consent to go. From the time that he was among his Con 
gregation again, he never failed, even though not well, to 
follow all the exercises of the community; he resumed his 
scientific occupations at the same time, not allowing him 
self a moment s relaxation. Being asked one day, by a 
.priest, to play the harpsichord, he replied: " What will be 



LIFE OP ST. ALPKONSUS 1 

said, if I pass my time at an idle instrument, in place of em 
ploying it in thinking of my diocese. My duty, arid that of 
every bishop, is to give audience to all, to pray, to study, 
and never to play the harpsichord." He preached again, 
each Saturday, in honor of the Blessed Virgin, and from 
time to time was called on to give familiar instructions to 
nuns in their convents. The Rector caused him to be 
treated with some distinction, with regard to food, because 
of his indisposition ; these attentions were a martyrdom to 
him, he wished no distinction to be made between himself 
and the rest of the community. 

He ate in an upper room, and this was the occasion of a 
heroic act of mortification for him. As he drank no wine, 
he once asked for a glass of water, and the brother who 
was waiting on him, saw a vase, which was full of it, and 
presented it to him; Alphonsus took it and drank, but a 
Father who was beside him, smelt a bad odor, and saw that 
the vase was filled with corrupted water, which had been 
used for keeping flowers in, a few days before. Alphonsus 
did not show the least displeasure, or say a word to find 
fault with one who had waited on him so badly. Here also, 
God favored him with special graces. Once, when he was 
saying mass in the domestic chapel of the Mother of Sor 
rows, and had come to the psalm, "Judica me Deus," he cast 
his eyes on the Image, and suddenly broke off and stopped 
in the middle of the verse he had commenced. The Father 
who served his mass, thinking he was distracted, wished to 
recall him to the place again, and said the end of the verse 
a second and a third time, but Alphonsus did not say a 
word, he was in ecstasy. It was not till the Father had 
shaken him several times, that he continued the psalm. 

Though far from St. Agatha, the holy bishop had the 
wants of his diocese before him every instant; and as he 
wished to be informed of every thing, couriers arrived at 
Nocera constantly, from his Grand-Vicar, the parish priests, 
and others. One day he received as many as eight, to all 
of whom he gave an answer, so that one matter was hardly 
ended, when he began another. 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

He had been barely a month at Nocera, when he heard 
that a person, who, for her disorderly conduct, had been 
sent out of the diocese, was endeavoring to re-enter it. 
This news tormented him so much, that without regard for 
his health, he hastened his return, the prayers of the Fa 
thers, and of his friends, being unable to retain him. "God 
wills," said he, "that I should be at Sf. Agatha, and not at 
Nocera, I have overwhelming scruples already." As he 
had suffered a good deal during the preceding winter, from 
coughs and affections of the chest, the doctors advised him 
to reside at Arienzo, as it had a better climate; he yielded, 
but not without having, consulted F. Villani, as he had 
scruples at leaving St. Agatha, where he had his cathedral, 
his chapter, and what was of more consequence to him, 
his seminary. "I wish to have your opinion," he wrote 
to him, "to take away- my fears." F. Villani, as well as 
bishops Borgia and Volpi, and others whom he had con 
sulted, also wished him to banish every scruple, and go to 
Arienzo. 

When his health was re-established, he recommenced his 
visitation. F. Villani forbade him to make use of his straw 
bed during the visitation, in consideration of his age and 
infirmities, and the numerous maladies which had ex 
hausted his strength. Alphonsus obeyed, but this submis 
sion cost him a great deal when he had no fever, for then 
he thought, that he enjoyed too good health ; and he was 
scarcely recovered, when he recommenced his penances 
and macerations, but not without the sanction of his direc 
tor, so he wrote to F. Villani, on the 28th October: "I 
have not slept on straw again, but the milk diet has quite 
restored me, and so if you will permit it, I wish to resume 

the straw bed I have begun to wear the chains on 

the part where the old blisters" (new ones had been ap 
plied) "have been taken away. I beg for your blessing." 
And in another letter : " I have only taken .boiled meat at 
dinner, till now, leaving the first dish untouched ; but as I 
am obliged to eat only once a day, I have consulted F. Ma- 
jone, and he has told me to take a second dish. In case 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 273 

the boiled meat is sufficient, I wish to ask your Reverence, 
as my principal director, to allow me to eat the bouilli only. 
If you do not approve of my request, I will submit to your 
decision." 

Alphonsus mind was agitated by painful anxieties, at 
this time. Every day he heard of the great number of evil 
books, which spread their contagious influence in Europe, 
and particularly in France, and were clandestinely intro 
duced into Italy by the librarians, who spread them in the 
provinces. He was constantly protesting against these 
works at the court, and entreated the Marquises of Marco, 
and Tanucci, to forbid the importation and sale of them. 
He enforced on confessors, and preachers, the duty of in 
spiring a horror of such reading, and especially commanded 
this to be done, by his missionaries, and those who went 
through the provinces. Basnage s abominable book, af 
flicted him very much. He would have liked to enter the 
lists against this dangerous writer, but being prevented from 
so doing, he manifested to F. de Meo, his desire to see him 
abor, to refute his errors, at least, as to matters of religion. 
He was again attacked on account of his Moral Theology, 
by Fathers Patuzzi, and Gonzales. "Let them do as they 
please," he replied on the 7th of January, 1766, to F. 
Sapio, of the Oratory, who had apprised him of it, " I did 
not write to gain honor, but only to make truth known. If 
what I have written is convincing, it is well ; if otherwise, 
I do not wish to be victorious by obstinacy .... I re 
gret, that the learned have a prejudice, that he who does 
not write to defend tutiorism, so in fashion in our days, is 
not well informed. The ultramontane party has spread in 
many Catholic countries, it triumphs, and souls go to their 
ruin. Let us pray to God to put a stop to this. A book 
has been published, entitled, The Realization of the pro 
ject of Boury-Fontaine, which shows the Jansenists in 
tention of overthrowing the Church. This book is im 
portant, your Reverence must procure and read it." He 
also was transported with zeal, against the sect of the Free 
masons. "JThis sect," he said, with tears in his 



274 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

" will cause evil, not only to the Church, but also to king 
doms and sovereigns. Kings do not attend to them, but 
they will recognise their fatal negligence, when too late. 
Free-masons act against God at present, and the,y will soon 
attack kings." Besides addressing a great number of letters 
to the members of the regency, established at Naples after 
King Charles III, had quitted that town, he also wrote to 
Cardinal Sersale, to engage him to use all his influence, 
in order to free Naples, and the provinces, from this abomi 
nable sect. He composed his great work, on The Truth of 
Faith, at this time, against the unbelievers of modern times. 
And as the infallibility of the Pope was then also attacked, 
and questioned, particularly by the defenders of the decla 
ration of the Assembly, in Paris, in 1682, he undertook to 
refute them, in a treatise, which he published, under the 
title of "Reflections on v the declaration of the Assembly of 
Paris, on the subject of the infallibility of the Sovereign 
Pontiff." 

Another thing caused him much sorrow, and that was 
the storm raised up throughout Europe, against the Jesuits. 
He wrote to the F. Provincial de Mattei, as follows: "I 
have not received any tidings about the affairs of your so 
ciety : I feel almost as much uneasiness, as if it related to 
our Congregation. A society is menaced, which one may 
say, has sanctified the world, and which continues, unceas 
ingly, to sanctify it." "The Jansenists, and all innova 
tors," he said, on another accasion, "would like to anni 
hilate it, in order to overthrow the bulwark of the Church 
of God. Against such enemies, where shall we find 
vigorous champions, such as those which the company of 
Jesus alone can train up?" When Pope Clement XIII, 
issued a bull, by which he confirmed the company anew, 
Alphonsus was full of joy, and felt that he must write to the 
Sovereign Pontiff, to thank him, which he did, in a letter, 
dated the 19th of June, 1765, to which the Pope answered 
most affectionately. 

Amidst these labors and anxieties, he did not forget his 
own little Congregation. He wrote a circular, dated 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 275 

the 27th of August, in order to stir up a daily increasing 
fervor, from his great wish to see it become more and more 
perfect. He cherished this work as the apple of his eye, 
and the smallest spot which he observed in it, afflicted him 
deeply, and always appeared to him considerable. "I per 
ceive with sorrow," said he, in the exaggeration of his feel 
ings, " that fervor is much decayed amongst the subjects of 
the Congregation, and I beg each of you to watch over 
himself attentively for the time to come, because I cannot 
suffer any relaxation in the rule during my life. I am told 
that there is very little inclination for poverty and mortifi 
cation. Ah ! have we then entered the Congregation to 
enjoy our ease, and to exclaim against pain ? . . . I hear 
also, that obedience to Superiors is lessened; if obedience 

ceases, the Congregation will not survive it Lhave 

told the F. Vicar-General, D. Andrew Villani, to punish 
public faults by public mortifications, and to expel such as 
shall show themselves to be incorrigible. The Congrega 
tion has no need of subjects : it only seeks for those who 
wish to become saints. It is enough for it, if ten remain, 
who truly love God. It is being too ungrateful towards 
God, to repay him, for the love with which he protects the 
Congregation, by failings and neglects. Do we wish to 
become like so many others, who cause the Church scan 
dal, rather than edification ? I have told F. Villani, that 
his government is too weak and mild, and that, for the 
future, I wish to be better informed of all that occurs of an 
important nature Above all, it is necessary to mor 
tify ourselves and to please God, otherwise God will not 
aid us, and we shall preach in vain. I bless you all, I 
mean, all those who are well-intentioned ; if there are 
others, I do not curse them, but God will curse them, and 
will expel them from the Congregation," 



276 LIFE OP ST. ALPttOKStTS. 



CHAPTER X X 1 1 I m . 

JLlphonsus seeks to resign the Episcopate. He establishes at 
St. Jlgatha a Convent of Nuns. His great Solicitude in 
conferring Holy Orders, in giving Jurisdiction to Confes 
sors, and in choosing Subjects for Parishes and Benefices. 

A LREADY, in the year 1764, Alphonsus had thought of 
JLJL resigning the burthen of the episcopate, as he had 
been told, when he was nominated bishop, that circum 
stances required he should accept, and that he could re 
nounce it afterwards; the Pope had then answered him 
that he must not think of quitting his diocese, but that ill 
and infirm as he was, he should govern it. But his infirm 
ities increasing daily, he thought of it again this year, and 
asked the opinion of several enlightened persons, in order 
to be sure of the will of God in regard to it. Amongst 
others, he consulted Mgr. Borgia. This prelate approved 
of his resolution, but his reasons did not satisfy Alphon 
sus, nor give rest to his conscience. He wrote to F. Vi!- 
lani on the 14th of January. 1765, " . . .At present I beg 
you again to speak before your departure to D. Janvier 
Fatigati, and to the Fathers Alasio, Porcara, and de Mat- 
teis. The principal reason for my resignation must not be 
the desire for retirement, as Mgr. Borgia says, for this 
cause is rejected in the chap. Nisi de Renuntiat, but it 
ought to be, my advanced age, for I shall enter my 70th 
year in September, and besides my usual affection of the 
chest, I was almost constantly ill during the winter, last 
year ; this year, I may say, I have been so even till now. 
I have been confined to bed, with asthma, for upwards of 
a month. It is true, (for I must tell all, to prevent scru 
ples,) that I continue to attend to business, and that every 
thing is done as usual ; but as long as winter lasts, I am un 
able to go about on visitation, or to assist in the choir. In 
summer, as I am then free from my malady of the chest, I 
go through my diocese, during three or four months. I 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 277 

feel forced to ask for my dismissal, for I have a host of 
scruples, at seeing the dissatisfaction that arises from scan 
dals of which I am a witness, and which I ought not to 
tolerate. I tremble most from the fear, that I have sought 
for my own ease in this resignation, and not God s glory: 
this is why I wish to be sure as to what will really conduce 
to the glory of God." In another letter he said : " I wish that 
my conscience should be free from a load of disquietudes; 
I meet with many things to disgust me, but I hear it said 
to me, Si diligis me, pasce oves meas, and it matters little, 
whether I die or succumb. The uncertainty I am in, not 
knowing whether I am doing the will of God or not, in giving 
in my resignation, is a greater anxiety to me than all the rest." 

Having taken all these opinions, (Fathers Alasio and 
Poscara having coincided with Mgr. Borgia,) he resolved, 
at last, to represent his age and infirmities to the Pope in 
a simple manner, to propose his resignation, and to leave 
the decision with his Holiness. The Pope was entirely 
opposed to the holy bishop s wishes, and Cardinal Negroni 
answered him, in a letter of the 18th of June, 1765: ". . . . 
The Holy Father thanks God for the great good which you 
have effected by His aid until now, and he is persuaded 
that you can continue this good by your authority, your 
direction, and your example, even should your malady 
become still more serious, and should your physical weak 
ness become still greater His Holiness charges me 

then, to reply to you, and to encourage you, in his name, 
to cast aside every scruple on this subject, to be in perfect 
tranquillity of mind, and to persevere in your vocation, 
which is most certain, laboring for the good of the souls 
which are entrusted to you, and for the glory of God, who 
will assuredly grant you all needful succor." 

At the request of the saintly old man, Cardinals Spinelli 
and Rossi, and Mgr. de Simone, who was Auditor, had 
supported his request to the Pope, but he answered: "His 
shadow alone would suffice to govern the whole diocese." 
Alphonsus did become tranquil, and was content, even if 
he had to die under the burthen. In the midst of all these 
24 



278 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

anxieties, quite a mysterious circumstance happened to 
him. From the 1st of June, 1765, he, as well as those 
who were near him, heard a great number of little blows 
from the cross he wore at his neck, every time lie said 
the Rosary. They examined to see whether there was 
some insect there, and made other searches, but they could 
discover nothing. As soon as he had received the answer 
of the Pope, the little blows were heard no more. He 
concluded that there had been a mystery therein, and that 
God had wished him to understand that he ought to con 
tinue to bear the cross with which he had been charged. 

At this time Alphonsus succeeded in establishing at St. 
Agatha, a convent of the nuns of the Most Holy Redeemer. 
The want of such an institution, wherein young ladies of 
high family could receive their education, or consecrate 
themselves to God, was regretted, but no one had yet been 
able to supply it. The work had been attempted several 
times during two centuries, but all the plans had remained 
imperfect. Alphonsus took it in hand and succeeded 
gloriously. All the other obstacles having been removed, 
one still remained ; there was no sufficient revenue. Al 
phonsus fortified himself by trust in God, and managed so 
well that he obtained from the Pope an annual subsidy of 
ninety-seven ducats, on the ecclesiastical chapels, and a 
rent of twenty-five ducats from the King, on the lay 
chapels. The town granted fifty ducats annually for ten 
years, which being added to the four hundred and twenty- 
two which the church he had chosen for this establishment 
already possessed, formed an income of six hundred and 
ninety-four ducats, which, together with the portions, was 
sufficient for the support of the convent. He caused the 
buildings to be repaired ; it was an old convent, built a 
century and a half before, but now abandoned, and des 
tined to lodge the soldiers who might come to St. Agatha; 
he went to the spot nearly every day to encourage the 
workmen and hasten the work, saying : " Who knows how 
much longer I may have to live." He arranged that the 
religious from the convent at Scala should come there as 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 279 

foundresses, and the Pope permitted him to instal them in 
the new cloister, in the month of June, 1765. Sister Mary 
Raphael of Charity, whose sanctity was well known, was 
chosen to preside over the beginning of this convent; she 
was accompanied by two other choir-sisters and one lay- 
sister. Mother Raphael had the consolation of receiving 
two recruits on the road, the daughters of the family of 
Speltri de Vitulano. 

Alphonsus, filled with joy at the arrival of the religious, 
persuaded the people to adorn the gates of the town with 
magnificence and to ornament the streets with wreaths of 
myrtle, rosemary, and boughs of trees. He advanced, in 
his pontifical vestments, at the head of the chapter and of 
all the clergy, to meet them at the cathedral door, while 
the firing of cannon and the ringing of the bells testified 
the joy of the inhabitants. After having adored the Blessed 
Sacrament, they went in procession to the new church of 
the convent, where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and 
the Te Deum solemnly chanted, during which the foun 
dresses took possession ofthe convent. Alphonsus had taken 
care to provide every thing which was wanted for the 
nuns. He sent eatables, already prepared, to the new 
comers, for the first eight days. He wished to continue to 
do so for a month, but the nuns dispensed him from it, 
wishing to live in the poverty prescribed by their rule. 
When the new foundation made under the auspices of 
Bishop Liguori became known in the province, as well as 
the great regularity which existed there, and, above all, the 
holiness of its foundresses, the convent was soon filled with 
pupils from St. Agatha, Arienzo, and Naples. 

Soon, two pupils determined to take the novices habit, 
with the two recruits mentioned above, and Alphonsus 
gave them the exercises ofthe retreat. One of them began 
to be tormented by melancholy in such a degree, that full 
of regrets, she unceasingly wept and sighed for her father s 
house. One evening, after the meditation, Alphonsus 
called her to the grate, encouraged her, and succeeded in 
restoring her serenity; he then gave her a crucifix to kiss, 



280 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and made her promise to take Jesus Christ for her spouse; 
the young lady immediately experienced a complete change, 
she returned gaily to the noviciate, and from that time was 
freed from all thoughts of regret. He did not exercise the 
same compassion towards another pupil : "We must dis 
tinguish," he said, "between temptation and obstinacy." 
The one of whom we speak, repented of the step she had 
taken, and lived in a manner little edifying, thus doing harm 
,t herself as well as to others; though she was archdeacon 
Rainone s neice, Alphonsus silenced all human respect, 
and sent her back to her parents. 

The two young pupils who had joined the religious on 
he road, were the objects of his peculiar kindness. These 
young ladies two brothers were dissatisfied with the part 
they had taken, and for several years refused to pay their 
pension. His Lordship, aware of the distress they felt, 
paid it for them, and amongst other things, supplied thirty 
measures of corn to the convent: the brothers gave up 
their opposition, in the end, and they received their portion, 
and made their profession. Alphonsus, considering this 
convent as his own work, continued to assist it as far as 
possible, although he was himself in great poverty. He 
gave fifty measures of corn to it yearly, and also a great 
quantity of oil. He even went so far as to promise, that 
he would maintain the four foundresses, as long as he lived. 
He very often made them a present of from ten to thirty 
ducats. He sent them their allowance weekly, whilst he 
lived at St. Agatha, and let them have it at least monthly, 
even when he resided at Arienzo. He sent them various 
little treats on feast days; and when he received any pre 
sents from his relations in religion, or others, he bestowed 
the greatest part on the pensioners and novices. 

The most formidable responsibility of the episcopacy, to 
our saint, was, the imposition of hands. He required 
learning and virtue from the young Levites. In one of the 
regulations that he made for the good administration of his 
diocese, he determined on the points on which the young 
clerics ought to be examined. Those who received the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 281 

tonsure, were obliged to give an account of Christian doc 
trine, and to specify the different parts of meditation which 
are necessary to reap fruit from it. Those for minor or 
ders, had to know the matter and form of orders, all that 
appertains to the sacraments, and the Latin grammar. 
Those for the subdiaconate, had to know the treatises on 
oaths, vows, canonical hours, censures, as well as on what 
belongs to orders. Those for the diaconate, the treatises 
on conscience, laws, human acts and sins, as also the trea 
tises on the theological virtues, on religion and its opposite 
vices, and on simony. Those for the priesthood, had to 
repeat, besides the things which relate to this holy order, 
that which they had already known before, and to know the 
treatises on the eucharist, the sacrifice of mass, on pe 
nance, extreme unction, and marriage, with all that belongs 
to the commandments of God, and of "the Church. 

He presided over the examinations in person, and caused 
all the examiners to assist thereat, as also the other candi 
dates to be present, both to instruct them, and also to show 
them that there was no partiality, for he always acted as a 
father, rather than as a superior, speaking to them with so 
much kindness, that, far from disconcerting them, his pre 
sence inspired them with courage. When he reprimanded, 
he always did it in a way to encourage the subjects to study, 
and promised that he would not delay in comforting them. 
The dean told him, that he ought at least to make them 
stand, during the interrogatories. Alphonsus replied : "I 
am a father, let us not forget what it is to be examined." 
A deacon, who had been sent away several times, present 
ed himself at the examination again, but, in spite of the 
efforts made by one of the examiners, to cause him to pass, 
by suggesting the answers, he could not succeed. "My 
son," said Alphonsus to him, " I can do nothing more in 
this, study well, and with application, and I will ordain 
you by-and-by." This cleric was the nephew of a priest, 
whom he esteemed greatly. He came to see him, and Al 
phonsus let him see how much he was distressed. "For 
give me," he said, "for I am myself distressed about your 
24* 



282 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

nephew; forgive me for the love of God. for my conscience 
does not reproach me at all. Ask canon Wichella, with 
what charity we treated him." Another time, a young 
man of excellent conduct, was attacked by a pain in the 
chest, which prevented him from learning the treatise, "de 
censuris." When he presented himself for examination 
for the priesthood, he was found wanting. "The rules are 
made to be observed," said Alphonsus to him, " not 
merely to be posted up in the sacristy." But when the 
parish priest, whose pupil the young man had been, as 
sured him that he was well acquainted with the other mat 
ters of examination, his lordship listened to him, and finding 
that this was really the case, he made no further difficulty 
in admitting him. 

Of all the orders, the subdiaconate, as being the first of 
the major orders, was the one which caused most embar 
rassment to the young men, as well as to Alphonsus him 
self. One priest has affirmed, that he was kept sitting 
during five hours, at an examination for the subdiaconate. 
The seminarists themselves, who had already given proofs? 
of their capacity, in examinations undergone in the semi 
nary, in his presence, were still obliged to go through the 
usual examination before entering into holy orders. If 
one of these latter were found wanting, and wished to 
trust to the indulgence of the examiners, imagining that 
his attending the course of lectures would supply the place 
of the rest, Alphonsus immediately overthrew his hopes. 
" I wish," said he, "the thing done, and not the thing to be 
done, and in this matter I know of no future tense in my 
grammar, I know only of the past tense." 

From the time of his arrival in the diocese, he had de 
clared, by an edict, that no one need hope to obtain orders 
or benefices through influence, and that to manifest such 
a disposition, would be sufficient cause for being excluded, 
and declared unworthy. The real qualities of the candi 
date, and the testimony of respectable persons, were the 
only claims which prevailed ; if these were wanting, the 
case was desperate. A gentleman tried to make him or- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHCmSUS. 283 

dain a subject whom he loved, believing Alphonsus would 
be satisfied with his testimony, and attempted to persuade 
him with many plausible reasons, on which he enlarged for 
an hour. Alphonsus listened to him with immoyeable pa 
tience ; at last, when the gentleman had exhausted the 
matter, and thought he had gained his cause, Alphonsus 
asked him if he had said all. " I think," replied the gen 
tleman, "that I have wearied you long enough." "Well, 
that may be," answered Alphonsus, smilingly, "but ima 
gine that you have spoken to a dead man." "What do 
you mean by that?" replied the gentleman. "A dead 
person," answered Alphonsus, "could not reply to you. 
Well, no more can I." Alphonsus had a serious reason 
for rejecting the candidate, and therefore endeavored to 
extricate himself in this manner. 

The Prince della Riccia, also tried to induce him to 
admit one of his tenants to the subdiaconate, whom he had 
previously rejected. "My most honored Prince," -he an 
swered him, "I beg you to pardon me for not doing your 
pleasure, because in conscience I cannot do it. It is a 
thing which could not be done, without injury to my soul, 
and I was not made a bishop in order to damn myself." 
The prince was edified by this proof of zeal and apostol 
ical firmness, and promised not to disquiet the tenderness 
of his conscience by similar requests again. 

Those candidates for holy orders, who presented them- 
elves with dismissory letters from their bishops, were also 
obliged to give proofs of their learning, in order to be ad 
mitted to ordination. A young man having been sent by 
the bishop of Caserte, Alphonsus did not admit him with 
out making him undergo an examination. The bishop, in 
retaliation, caused a cleric, whom Alphonsus had sent to 
him when he himself was ill, to be examined also. This 
caused dissatisfaction at St. Agatha, but Alphonsus said : 
"If he has acted so, he has done his duty." The regulars 
were obliged to pass through the same ordeal, in spite of 
the dismissory letters of their provincials. In order to make 
the thing agreeable to them, he sent for two fathers be- 



284 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

longing to their order, and caused them to examine them 
in his presence; but if there was no monastery of the 
order in the neighborhood, he examined them himself, as 
sisted by his grand-vicar, and a canon. Once, when he 
was administering holy orders, at the moment he was going 
to officiate, the master of ceremonies told him that a young 
religious had just arrived. "That is very Well," replied Al- 
phonsus, "but he must be examined." He sent for him, 
and told him that he was going to question him; the young 
man replied, that he had already been examined by his 
provincial. " I am quite persuaded of that," said Alphon- 
sus to him, "but it is I who must impose hands on you, 
and not the Father Provincial ;" and as he was firm in ex 
acting the examination, the young religious thought he had 
better not expose himself to it, so he took of his surplice, 
and departed. k - 

Alphonsus wished the candidates to present certificates 
of good conduct, at least a month before the ordination, 
and all at the same time, in order to have facility in making 
his secret investigations in case of need. In order that the 
parish priests should only give sincere testimonials, he re 
presented the duty of so doing, very strongly to them. He 
was not contented with a simple attestation, but wished 
they should testify, on oath, that the candidate had not 
failed to assist at church, on any Sunday, or day of obliga 
tion; that he had assembled the little children, and taught 
them the catechism; that he had confessed, and communi 
cated, at least, every fortnight; that he had not been seen 
without a cassock ; that he had never played at cards ; and 
that he had never engaged in any kind of sport. He was 
especially severe towards young men who had studied at 
Naples. He used every method to be sure of their merits, 
and never seemed satisfied ; he inquired of the master under 
whom they had studied, and asked if they had been dili 
gent in following the lectures ; what persons they had visit 
ed, and if they had avoided games and theatres ; above 
all, he wished to know if they had often received the 
sacraments, and assisted at the congregation of foreign 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 285 

clergy, every Sunday. He never decided, under a consi 
derable time, and did not neglect to charge some friends at 
Naples, to furnish him with the most exact information 
about them. 

If, after all this information, he was not entirely satisfied 
as to the conduct of the candidate, he was refused at once. 
Thus he refused to receive a young man to minor orders, 
though his conduct was very exemplary, because he some 
times conversed with a suspected priest. He had no 
more pity for another seminarist, who was several times 
excluded from orders, as being little studious, and little 
edifying; and who, despairing of entering into favor with 
the prelate, laid down the clerical dress, and quitted the 
seminary. A deacon having walked about during the 
night, in company with some singers with whom he had 
amused himself, Alphonsus refused to make him priest, at 
which the young man shed tears, and got several persons 
of distinction to intercede for him, but all was useless. A 
cleric in minor orders, was refused, for a number of years, 
without being able to be made a subdeacon, because he 
was fond of wine, although he protested that he had put 
himself on a regimen of water; nor was he permitted to 
stay in the seminary. The young man went to another, 
but in spite of the good testimonials of his new director, 
Alphonsus always remained inflexible. In order to be sure 
of his amendment, he made him return to St. Agatha, and 
did not ordain him until he was convinced of his constant 
temperance. He who did any thing to cause a shadow of 
suspicion with regard to purity, was obliged to renounce 
all hope of ever being a priest; he was not only excluded 
from orders, but was also obliged to give up the clerical 
habit. With all this solicitude, Alphonsus had, notwith 
standing, two misfortunes to deplore, in regard to ordina 
tion. The first was, in regard to a deacon he found in the 
seminary at his arrival at St. Agatha, who was so distin 
guished in his studies, that he solved the most difficult 
questions in theology and philosophy; but Alphonsus 
heard that he was addicted to wine, and from that time he 



286 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

determined not to admit him to the priesthood. Some per 
son of distinction interfered, but without success. After 
several years, the parish priest, and other ecclesiastics of 
the chapfer, again endeavored to speak in his favor. Al- 
phonsus resisted for a long time, but at length he could 
not refuse to yield to the numerous reasons they gave, to 
assure him of his amendment. " I consent to ordain him 
priest," said he, "but he will enjoy the dignity but a short 
time, he will fall back into sin, and die miserably." The 
deacon was made a priest, but in a little time he took to 
drinking again. Alphonsus grieved over this ; he sent for 
him one day, and said to him, before his parish priest: "If 
you do not give up drinking, woe will be to you ! Wine 
will be your ruin." A year after this prediction, the in 
corrigible man got drunk again, and fell into a ditch, where 
he lost his life. The other case was that of another dea 
con, who had been excluded from the priesthood for several 
years, as he did not appear to possess the requisite disposi 
tions. An ecclesiastic of merit tried to overcome the 
bishop s repugnance, and represented to him this deacon s 
regularity in frequenting the sacraments, and his retired 
and constantly exemplary life. Alphonsus was prevailed 
on, but he had scarcely ordained him, before his conduct 
became a source of continual scandal to the diocese ; he 
was soon thrown. into prison, but he broke his irons, and 
banished himself. 

He required that those who were to be admitted to holy 
orders, should also present proofs of a suitable patrimony. 
He wished them to have five hundred ducats, free from any 
burden. He examined into the property, as well as the 
rental, himself, and if the income of twenty-four ducats was 
not clear, he rejected the case. 

Alphonsus was neither too easy nor too cautious in or 
daining new clerics, but he admitted all in whom he recog 
nized a real vocation. "It is not our business," said he, 
" to call any one to this holy state, nor to reject him from 
it; it is God who calls, and He does it as He pleases." 
He liked to see young men eager to consecrate themselves 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 287 

to the service of the altar, and if they showed themselves 
worthy of it, he was happy to receive them. He was par 
ticular in observing the degrees of advancement, and only 
granted a dispensation in cases of necessity. Above all, 
he never consented to give a dispensation, on account of 
age, unless there was a real necessity, and for a subject of 
most exemplary conduct. He attached, also, great im 
portance to the spiritual exercises before ordination, re 
garding them as the only means of instructing young men 
in their duties, but he did not allow them to be gone through 
in a religious house of relaxed observance. He wished them 
to perform them in one of the houses of his Congregation, 
or of the Fathers of St. Vincent of Paul. And if he knew 
any one who was really poor, he himself paid the neces 
sary expenses. 

On the day of ordination, Alphonsus was in the habit of 
assembling the young men in the chapel, beforehand, and 
of giving them a sermon on the greatness of their state, 
and their obligation to live in it holily ; moreover, during 
mass, he usually gave them a little exhortation, in order to 
excite them to receive holy communion with fervor, and he 
did it with so much unction, that it caused the candidates 
and spectators to shed tears. 

Alphonsus, fully convinced of the wants of the diocese, 
desired to have the new priests, not only of good character 
and well instructed, but also truly disposed to aid souls, 
and to cause religion to be honored. " I do not try," said 
he, to the examiners, "to approve the candidates, simply 
that they may be able to say mass, for masses will not be 
wanting, but in order to have useful workmen for the 
Church. I wish that, after having ordained them, they 
may be capable of hearing confessions, and of serving me 
in time of need, not only in the parishes, but also in the 
monasteries; and that they may be capable of serving in 
the missions, and attending to all the wants of my diocese." 
He himself instructed all the candidates, as to the manner 
of hearing confessions, and gave them methods of con 
duct to be used towards habitual sinners, towards the back- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

sliding, and towards those who were living in occasions 
of sin. When he noticed any among these young 
priests, of very promising dispositions, he immediately 
managed to place them as curates. Having found two 
deacons whom he judged fit to receive the priesthood, and 
to hear confessions, but, who were poor, and still under 
the required age, he obtained a dispensation for them, at 
bis own expense. 

He gave no one power to celebrate his first mass, if he 
were not, beforehand, assured that he knew even the mi 
nutest rubrics. " When a person begins in a bungling 
manner," said he, " he never gets right again." He often 
made young clerics celebrate in his presence. Neither did 
he allow the first mass to be an occasion of feastin^ and 

O 

worldly rejoicing; he even forbade the giving of extraor 
dinary repasts at that time, and the inviting of strangers to 
them. "Wine has sway at table," he said, "and when 
wine has sway, sin is not far off." He wished that the 
young priest should preserve a state of recollection on this 
day, in order to merit from God the plenitude of graces so 
necessary in this sublime state. He called this day, that 
of the solemn marriage of Jesus Christ with the soul, and 
for this reason, he wished that the mass should then be 
celebrated in a retired place. He urged, also, the newly 
ordained priest to make a good preparation before cele 
brating mass, and to excite in himself good dispositions 
by repeated acts of faith and charity, so that he might wor 
thily handle so awful a mystery, and recommended him, 
moreover, not to leave the church without making his 
thanksgiving. "By the acts which precede," said he, 
" above all, by those of contrition, the vessel is emptied 
and purified ; and by the acts which follow, it is filled with 
the gifts of grace." As he detested all precipitation in 
saying mass, so he equally condemned lengthiness, which 
is always wearisome to the people. "A mass," said he, 
" which exceeds half an hour, creates weariness, and not 
devotion in those who hear it." And he was in the habit 
of adducing St. Philip Neri s example, who prescribed this 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 289 

rule, to himself, when he celebrated in public. He ex 
horted them also, to recite the office without hurrying it 
over. "Mass and the office," he said, "will sanctify us if 
we go through them as we ought; but they will destroy us, 
or deprive us of very great graces, if we perform them ne 
gligently." Such were, among many others, the measures 
which Alphonsus took, in order to have well instructed 
and edifying priests, who might save the people, and con 
sole the Church. 

Alphonsus was very careful and prudent in giving an ap 
probation to new confessors. The examination, however, 
was not rigorous, but was conducted with a wise degree of 
slowness; it was sometimes prolonged for several weeks, 
during which the subject was obliged to return very often, 
and to undergo new interrogatories each time. He caused 
all the questions to be published, and they filled twenty- 
four pages. If he saw that one was weak and hesitating, 
he put him off to another time. At times, several were 
found to be capable who did not receive their powers, or 
at least, only on condition of returning after two or three 
months. When the parish priests, or others, came to ask 
him to give a priest the faculty to hear confessions, saying 
that their parish was in want of confessors, he admitted no 
one to examination, without being informed whether he 
was a man of prayer ; whether he made his thanksgiving 
as he ought after mass, whether he ever failed to visit the 
Blessed Sacrament every evening, and above all, whether he 
ever visited suspicious or dangerous people. If any doubt 
remained on his mind, he was not even admitted to 
examination. 

He was not less severe with the regulars; so that when 
a regular presented himself to obtain the faculties for con 
fessing, the testimony of his provincial, and letters certi 
fying that he had been a confessor in other dioceses, did 
not in the least exempt him from the examination. A 
newly elected abbot of a certain monastery, when he came 
the first time to see Alphonsus, asked him for faculties for 
two of his religious. Alphonsus begged to be excused, as 
25 



290 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

he could not acquiesce, without scruple of conscience, 
before having had proofs of their capability. The abbot 
insisted and entreated, but all was in vain. When he saw 
such immoveable firmness, he had not the courage to ask 
for jurisdiction for himself, and did it through the medium 
of a person of influence, but this was without success ; he 
was obliged to present himself in person. His lordship 
acted, however, with prudence; he conversed with him 
alone, and without formality, and proposed some doubts to 
him, after the removal of which, he conferred the powers 
on him. As to the two religious, they did not present 
themselves, until after they had studied morals for a con 
siderable time. When Abbot Pignatelli, who afterwards 
became Archbishop of Bari and Capua, went to the abbey 
of Ariola, Alphonsus, who did not know him well, replied, 
when asked to give the abbot faculties for hearing confes 
sion, that he could not*give them if the abbot did not pre 
viously answer to the questions which he would put to him. 
This offended the abbot; he came to visit Alphonsus how 
ever, who treated him with every mark of attention, but 
never spoke of the jurisdiction. The Grand- Vicar, at lastj 
said to him, to do away with his scruples : " Suppose, my 
Lord, that when the abbot comes again to visit you, we try 
to make the conversation fall upon theology, and, if he 
proves his capacity by his answers, you can give him juris 
diction, without fear." Alphonsus agreed to the plan, and 
put it in execution on the very next visit of the abbot, and 
the result was completely in favor of the learned religious. 
Abbot Pignatelli was able to appreciate Alphonsus impar 
tiality, and had the most sincere attachment to him from 
that time. Alphonsus, on his part, was convinced of the 
abbot s merit, and took a great deal of pains to cause him 
to be nominated archbishop. 

It may be said that Alphonsus was as prompt in with 
drawing faculties for hearing confessions from those who 
proved to be unworthy of them, as he was prudent in giving 
them. Having heard that a religious, at Arpaja, was in the 
habit of despising the poor, and occupying himself too 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 291 

much with the direction of some devotees, he sent for him, 
and immediately withdrew his powers. He also suspended 
several others, and some he even expelled from his diocese. 
Convinced of the importance of the duties of parish 
priests, Alphonsus gave the most scrupulous attention to 
their election. "A zealous priest," said he, "sanctifies 
all his people, but an indifferent one does not preserve 
the good, and can only do harm." He did not require 
great learning in them, but wished that they should have a 
sufficiency of information, and, above all, that they should 
be versed in moral theology, and capable of instructing the 
people properly. The concourses for the parishes always 
took place in his presence, and he wished the examinations 
to be made with severity, and urged the examiners to fulfil 
their office faithfully, representing to them, how much he 
sins who co-operates in the nomination of a parish priest 
who is unworthy of his ministry. An admirable delicacy, 
also, presided in these examinations. A priest was once 
rejected by the examiners, for having followed authors op 
posed to the system of Alphonsus. When he heard of 
this, he said : "The authors whom he follows, are standard 
and approved ones ; I have no authority to act as a law, in 
matters of opinion ; every one is at liberty to follow his 
own, when the Church has not condemned it." He thus, 
undertook the defence of the priest, and the consequence 
was that he obtained the benefice. At another time, a 
living having become vacant, a deacon was the one who 
answered the best among the candidates. Alphonsus wit 
nessed it with satisfaction, but in consideration of the age, 
and merits of a priest, who was also a candidate, he 
begged the deacon to be patient for this time, and he spoke 
to him with so much humility, that the young man was 
quite confused at it. However, if charity made him give 
preference to the priest, he did not wish the deacon s rights 
to be neglected, and the Cathedral parish having become 
vacant shortly after, the right of election to which belonged 
to the chapter, Alphonsus immediately wrote to Arch- 



292 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

deacon Rainone, to beg that, for his sake, the parish should 
be given to the deacon, and his request was granted. 

He always preferred sanctity to learning; moderate abil 
ities and exemplary conduct were in his eyes sufficient to 
make a good parish priest. "Those of great talents," he 
said, "are more solicitous about the dead, than the living. 
They are full of erudition and speculation only. If they 
preach, they are not understood ; they do not lower them 
selves to teach children, and will only instruct clerics. I 
wish the priest to find pleasure in remaining with the dying, 
;aml that he should be able to pass his time in talking to 
one of little capacity, while endeavoring to teach him the 
Pater noster." He therefore chose subjects who proved 
themselves humble and submissive, in preference to those 
who set up for learned; provided, always, they were not 
wanting in aptness for acquitting themselves of the func 
tions of the ministry. .A holy man destitute of energy, 
or a man whose sanctity did not extend further than to 
think of himself without anxiety for others, could not, 
according to him, make a good parish priest. 

He wished, from the first, to cause the livings to be con 
sidered honorable, so as to have good occupants; and he 
therefore raised the parish priests to the prebends. It may 
be said, that, before his time, those who were candidates 
for parishes, were only the priests who were thought least 
of, among the clergy, and who, for the most part, were 
distinguished in no way, and were of no rank ; but when 
the parishes became as the ladders whereby to reach a 
more elevated position, the first gentlemen labored to ob 
tain them, and in this way the livings were administered 
with zeal, and to the great advantage of souls. 

The holy bishop was still more solicitous, when he had 
to make the collation to benefices.* Even those which 

* Although the diocese of St. Agatha was not so extensive, num 
bering only 30,000 souls, yet, with the exception of that of Capua, 
there was not one in the kingdom which had a greater number of bene 
fices. Besides the chapter of the cathedral, there were in it six col 
leges of canons. * 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 293 

were simple, and without the care of souls, but which re 
quired residence, caused him great anxiety. Not satisfied 
with the good conduct of the subjects, he further wished 
that they should have great merit, as regarded the Church 
and the people. "The Church and the people," he said, 
"are both interested in the collation of benefices." He 
had a little book, wherein the names of the priests and 
clerics of the whole diocese were inserted, with the merits 
and demerits of each, so that when it was necessary to 
make an appointment, he had usually no need of any 
further inquiry. A nomination was made without delay ; 
as soon as one incumbent expired, a successor was ap 
pointed. When it happened that he could not decide im 
mediately, because he saw good conduct counterbalanced 
by some defect, or because he had several ecclesiastics of 
equal merit, he took the opinion of impartial persons, and 
then weighed the merits and demerits of each in the bal 
ance of the sanctuary, and took the matter in considera 
tion, several times, before God. On such occasions, he 
went often through a real martyrdom, as Archdeacon Rai- 
none, who enjoyed his entire confidence, has declared. 
One day, Alphonsus said to him " The anguish which the 
death of this canon will cause me, is so great, that I would 
willingly give my life for his ; the canon will only die once, 
while I shall die more than a hundred times." He did 
not confine himself merely to the town of St. Agatha, 
when looking for a successor to one who was dead, but 
searched throughout the whole diocese and, for the same 
reason, he never favored any stranger; he would have con 
sidered it as an injustice to stand in the way of those of 
his own diocese. 

There is recorded an instance, in which Divine Provi 
dence visibly interposed, as it were, in the nomination to 
a vacant prebend. He had sealed the letter containing the 
nomination, and the servant was all ready to take it, when 
a violent storm came on, which kept him in the house, 
and thus deferred its delivery. Alphonsus received a letter 
from the archdeacon, during this interval, which informed 
25* 



294 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSU8, 

him of the merits of another candidate. He directly look 
back his own, destroyed it, and nominated the more worth) 
competitor who had just been pointed out to him. How 
ever, the merits of the second candidate -must have ap 
peared to him incontestibly great, for, otherwise, he always 
remained unmoveably fixed in his first determination. 

From the time he had entered the diocese, he had de 
clared, as we have seen above, that no one s influence was 
to be used in order to obtain livings or benefices, and that 
all the efforts of the sort which might be made would be 
so many means of becoming unworthy of them; and, 
during all the time that he was bishop of St. Agatha, he 
never listened to the solicitations of persons even of the 
highest rank. Merit was the only claim in his sight, and 
even merit vanished when it sought the support of a pro 
tector. Out of many examples on record, let the follow 
ing suffice as an illustration of the strictness with which he 
adhered to this rule. A prebend became vacant at Ari- 
enzo, and Alphonsus decided on giving it to a priest who 
seemed to surpass the others, especially because he was 
the only one amongst the canons who had not got some* 
one to intercede for him. He was ready to expedite the 
nomination, when he saw him present himself with a letter 
of recommendation from the Prince della Riccia. "God 
forgive you," he then said to him, "I was determined to 
give you the prebend, but since you have brought me this 
letter, I have changed my mind, indignus quia petiisli." 
He said to the prince, afterwards, that he hoped he would 
not take his refusal amiss, since, if he gave such a prece 
dent, he would open the way to other and scandalous in 
trigues. He used to say, that recourse to recommenda 
tions, and simony, were twin sisters, and that they had the 
same devil for their father. 

The Marquis of Marco, the king s minister, once wrote 
to him, quite in a friendly manner, to beg him to confer a 
living which was vacant, on a young ecclesiastic, whose 
merits, he said, had caused him to take this liberty ; but 
even this recommendation only served to throw discredit 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 295 

on the protege. Another living became vacant, and a 
priest induced another priest, whom he believed to possess 
great influence with the bishop, to intercede for him ; he 
wrote 1o tell his friend to ask it for him, for the love of the 
Blessed Virgin, saying, that if he adopted this method, he 
would certainly be heard, as the Saint never refused any 
thing which was asked in her name : but as Alphonsus did 
not consider him worthy to be appointed because he had 
procured this recommendation, he replied: "Tell him 
that I refuse to give him the living for the love of the 
Blessed Virgin, for our Lady only likes what is good." 
In several cathedrals, and even in the collegiate estab 
lishments, they professed to consider the chaplains as 
merely the prebendary s servants, which caused the latter 
to look down on them, and to dislike seeing them raised 
to their own dignity. Alphonsus, however, who only 
thought of merit, was always ready to advance such of 
them, as were worthy of it, to the prebendal stalls, so that 
the situation of chaplain, being as a ladder whereby to as 
cend to the prebends, became more honorable. The elec 
tion of the chaplains of St. Agatha was made by the bishop, 
and Alphonsus, in order to promote the greater good of the 
Church, decreed that these situations should be the reward 
of particular merit. As their office is to chant in the choir, 
he established meetings for chanting; and in consequence, 
all the clerics, in the hope of becoming chaplains, applied 
themselves to the Gregorian plain chant, and the choir was 
thus greatly improved. 

The holy bishop, who had the Church s good and glory 
alone at heart, obliged the canons to residence as strictly 
as he had done in regard to priests, (as we have seen 
above,) and was careful to prevent them from taking upon 
themselves charges incompatible with their duties. A 
chaplain was secretary to Count Cerreto, and only went to 
the cathedral from time to time. A prebend became va 
cant, and _he immediately entered the lists, confident that, 
as the bishop was just, (so he said,) the prebend would be 
thought due to him as being the oldest of all the chaplains. 



296 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

He presented himself, and exposed all his claims. "You 
are quite new to me," answered Alphonsus, "for I have 
never seen you at church." "That is true," replied the 
chaplain with a complacent air, "for I have had the honor 
of being Count Cerreto s secretary fora number of years." 
"Well," answered the bishop, " but why did not the count 
make you a prebendary ?" Then he added, in a more se 
rious tone: "You must either give up your situation as 
secretary as soon as possible, and come and perform your 
duties at church, or I shall cause you to be no longer a 
chaplain." " Either quit your new employment," he said 
to another, who was employed in an important charge 
which prevented his frequenting the church, " or give up 
being a prebendary." 

Alphonsus great impartiality and equity in giving bene 
fices naturally displeased candidates of unjust pretensions. 
He had a great deal to suffer on this account, and was 
often put in dangerous positions in consequence. They 
even went the length of insulting him, and saying before 
his face ; " you are unjust, you have neither conscience nor 
equity, you ought to blush at being a bishop." At such 
speeches, Alphonsus was never either disturbed or dis 
tressed. He pitied their anger, and never opened his 
mouth except to bless those who cursed him. Such 
rare goodness and meekness, however, did not always put 
the unjust pretenders to silence. One individual, who had 
been unable to get a prebend, to which he had aspired, got 
angry with him in consequence, slandered him, and even 
accused him with the king. The sovereign, who knew Al 
phonsus justice and impartiality, answered : "I can do 
nothing; Bishop Liguori exercises his right as a bishop." 
Another prebend became vacant about the same time, and 
Alphonsus then forgot his injuries, and bestowed it on the 
very man who had appealed against him. " If you give to 
those who oppose you," F. Caputo then observed to him, 
" you will have no peace, for the future." " That is true," 
replied Alphonsus, "but at the time of the first gift, I 
thought the competitor more worthy than the appealer, and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 297 

at the second, I found that the latter was the most worthy." 
As F. Caputo observed further, that people would think 
otherwise, and believe that saying abusive things and ap 
pealing against*him was the means of obtaining what they 
aspired to, he answered: "Poor creatures, they do not 
know what they wish for, and they try to get what they 
can ; but for me, I ought to bear with them, and to do my 
duty." 

Another pretender, having failed, addressed a statement 
to the king, filled with falsehoods against Alphonsus, whom 
he designated as unjust. The accusation was sent to the 
bishop, that he might justify himself; he did so, but so far 
from seeking to injure his calumniator, he only tried to 
excuse him. The man was not free from blame for other 
causes, and people endeavored to get Alphonsus to bring 
him to justice before his own tribunal ; but he not only re 
jected the advice with horror, buT always treated this priest 
with great kindness from that time. A prebend became 
vacant after this, and Alphonsus, considering his merits 
equal to those of another candidate, gave the preference to 
him who had accused him. In another similar case, Al 
phonsus was again not only loaded with injuries but also 
accused with the king by the brother of the rejected pre 
tender, a public notary, who designated him in his libel, as 
a rebel against the royal will, asserting that he did not 
make promotions, but let the parishes suffer, in order that 
they might depend more on the Pope than on his majesty, 
and asking, besides, that the canons and chaplains should 
be no longer elected by the bishop, but by the people in 
public assembly. When this appeal was given to Alphon 
sus, in order that he might justify himself, he said : " It is 
true that I cause suffering to the parishes, but all the rest 
is false." After he had sent in his justification, the king 
answered through the Marquis of Marco: "The king is 
persuaded of the wisdom of your conduct, and he trusts in 
your prudence in the appointments to livings." Alphonsus 
again took a saintly revenge. One day, when a prebend was 
vacant, he was, as usual with him at dinner, listening to 



298 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

spiritual reading, and that part of the life of D Innico Ca- 
racciolo, cardinal and bishop of Averso, being read to him, 
where it is said that he revenged himself for a great offence 
on the part of a priest, by conferring a large benefice on 
him ; at these words, he said to the reader: " Stop, and re 
peat what you have just read." When this was done, he 
sent for the Grand-Vicar, and said : " I have resolved to 
give consolation to the notary ;" and he ordered him to 
have prepared the necessary papers for conferring the pre 
bend on the brother of the notary. When the Grand-Vicar 
observed, that, as the king had not yet declared that he was 
satisfied with his justification, it might be said that he had 
been intimidated, he replied: "Oh indeed, are we then 
obliged to attend to all that is said ? Let them think and 
speak what they please; what concerns me is the notary s 
soul, and not my own glory." And not being able to en 
dure any delay, he sent for the notary, and said to him, as 
if he had been his intimate friend, " send for your young 
brother from Naples, I intend to make him a prebendary." 
Another solicitor, whose pretensions were not complied 
with, applied also to the king, and slanderously accused Al- 
phonsus of a thousand evil things. One of the greatest 
causes of offence alleged, was that he despised the episco 
pal town, and overlooked its citizens in bestowing livings, 
to give them to other inhabitants of the diocese. The king 
having again given the accused bishop the power of justifying 
himself and of replying to these accusations, he sent his 
justification, in a very elaborate and erudite letter on the 
ecclesiastical laws concerning the conferring of livings and 
benefices, which was published, for the first lime, at the 
period of our Saint s canonization. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 299 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

Alphonsus solicitude for the Sanctification of Religious. 
His zeal for the material Churches. The Congregation of 
Jilphonsus is persecuted. He publishes two new works. 
He goes to Naples for the defence of his Congregation. 
How he exercises his zeal at Naples. 

A LPHONSUS zeal in laboring for the good of the min- 
.11. isters of the altar, led him, also, to attempt to sanctify 
the religious, who are more especially consecrated to God. 
He wished that the ancient monastic regularity should be 
revived in all the convents, and he tried, at least, to renew 
their piety, and to prevent their falling into still further 
decay. " If we succeed in this," he said, " it will not be 
a trifling thing." In consequence, he sent for F. Villani 
and other missionaries from Naples, at the time of his arrival 
in the diocese, to give the spiritual exercises to all the mon 
asteries, and he caused this to be repeated at least once every 
year. The spiritual exercises were in his eyes the best 
method, or rather, the only method for sanctifying souls. 
11 A retreat is a fire," he said, " in which the most rusty iron 
ought to become softened and purified." When he was at 
Arienzo, he received and entertained the preachers in his 
palace, in order not to cause any expense to the commu 
nities. Moreover, he often seized opportunities of going to 
visit one or the other of these convents in person, and spent 
two or three days in preaching, at the grate, on the duties 
of religious. He by this means caused them to love prayer 
and mortification, and led them in the paths of the sub- 
limest perfection. 

He considered Nuns, in particular, as the most precious 
portion of his flock, and, following the example of the 
good shepherd, he neglected no method of saving them 
from ravenous wolves. Open grates were to him as so 
many thorns which pierced his heart: "A shut grate, and 
a sanctified monastery," he said, " an open grate and a 



300 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

relaxed convent." He enjoined the abbesses, and still 
more the confessors, to watch over this point, and wished 
to be informed of all disorders, in order to be able to 
remedy them immediately; relations within the second 
degree alone had access to the parlor. His vigilance and 
pains in preventing any one from frequenting the con 
vents, extended to those belonging to his own household. 
He considered it a great fault for any one, under any pre 
text, to violate the rule in this respect, the Grand-Vicar 
alone was excepted. He dismissed, successively, two 
secretaries from his service for this reason alone, saying, 
" if the law is not observed by my own household, who 
then will observe it?" 

Alphonsus was also very prudent in his choice of con 
fessors for the convents. No examination was enough to 
satisfy him ; he weighed the gestures, the words, and 
searched even into the opinions of the subject. He made 
a new nomination every three years, and, if a lack of con 
fessors compelled him to confirm the same, he only did so 
with trembling ; when, on the contrary, he was able to re 
place him, all the entreaties of the nuns could not prevail 
on him to confirm the former one. Frequent conversation 
with the religious at the grate, was a sacrilege in his sight: 
" God speaks in the confessional," he said, f( but not at 
the grate." He allowed the confessor to receive some 
token of gratitude on certain days of solemnity, but he did 
not suffer him to receive frequent presents, and they were 
always required to be given by the whole community. He 
was delighted to hear of any young pensioner who wished 
to consecrate herself to Jesus Christ. He hastened to 
assist at the ceremony, and left every other occupation for 
the purpose. He also accepted every invitation for the 
profession of even a lay-sister, never omitting to preach on 
each occasion. He never required the least recompense, 
on these occasions, or permitted any attention of the sort 
to be paid to him. "A bishop," said he, "ought to have 
no other recompense than is necessary to enable him to fulfil 
the obligations of his ministry." On another occasion, he 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 301 

said: "It is my privilege and it is my duty to consecrate 
these victims of charity to God." 

In order to give the religious every advantage possible, 
he sent an extraordinary confessor to them, every three 
months, without their asking for one. He thought, also, 
that a new confessor ought always to be granted to a re 
ligious, when she asks for it. He heard that the nuns of 
a certain convent could only write to their ordinary con 
fessor, through a regulation on that subject, which was in 
force therein. He immediately sent for the Superior, and 
desired that this rule should be relaxed, whenever any of 
them wished to apply to any confessor of well known 
probity. 

In his zeal for the re-establishment of religious disci 
pline, he wished to introduce living in community, in some 
of the convents, at least, and chose for this purpose, one 
in which he expected to find the least difficulty. But as 
soon as he had informed the nuns of his project, they all 
united against it, and as he saw that more harm than good 
would result from it, he said: "Calm yourselves, I pur 
posed it for your good, but as you judge otherwise, forget 
all I have said about it." He had a maxim, that when re 
ligious are not all agreed, the discontent of even one will 
give birth to a party, and, that will cause disorders, and the 
final ruin of the convent; so, far from being offended at 
the opposition of these religious, he paid them quite a pa 
ternal visit on the following day. 

In another convent, the circumstances of the times, and 
the severity of the rules prevented several points from being 
observed. "What is the use of preserving a written rule of 
one sort, if one practises another ?" said Alphonsus, and 
he reformed the rule and caused it to be printed. He 
acted like another Francis of Sales, in the reforms which 
he made in these rules, with a rare wisdom, condescending 
to every want and yet avoiding too great indulgence. 

While he endeavored to ameliorate the state of the con 
vents, he also tried to extirpate their abuses. It was the 
custom among the Franciscans of Airola, that when a 
26 



302 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

young person was clothed or professed, she should remain 
seated at the door during the rest of the day, to receive 
the congratulations of her relations and friends. Alphon- 
sus, wishing this day to be one of recollection and thanks 
giving rather than of dissipation of mind, ordered, that 
neither the door nor the grate should be opened after 
dinner, but that the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed 
in the church, in order that the new spouse of Jesus Christ 
might then be able, in a special manner, to obtain abundant 
blessings. Another abuse had been that the young person 
dined in the parlor with her relations and friends, and it 
was all arranged like any worldly entertainment. When 
Alphonsus saw the preparations for this repast, on the day 
the two daughters of a noble lady of St. Agatha made their 
profession, he was indignant, and immediately ordered 
them to be put an end to. The noble lady and the abbess 
came to entreat, but he would not yield; the lady s em 
barrassment was then represented to him, (for she had 
invited relations and friends from various parts, and had no 
house in the neighborhood in which she could receive 
them,) and Alphonsus so far yielded to this consideration 
as to consent to the repast taking place in the convent, but 
on condition that the grate and the door should remain 
shut, and that the keys should be placed in the hands of 
the abbess. 

Alphonsus was once present at the profession of a novice 
in a convent of Arienzo ; at the instant when she was to 
pronounce the formula of the vows, the master of the cere 
monies asked him to pass his hands through the grate. 
Alphonsus did not understand this mystery, and was at a 
loss what to do, but as the canon insisted, and said that the 
novice ought to place her hands in his whilst uttering the 
vows, interpreting thus literally the direction of the ritual 
that she should make the vows in the hands of the bishop, 
he exclaimed : " Oh, Jesus ! Oh, Jesus! What has that to 
do with the profession ? Let her keep her hands to herself, 
and I will keep mine," and explaining the meaning of the 
rubric, forever suppressed this strange ceremony. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 303 

Figured music, although forbidden to religious by several 
decrees at Rome, was quite in fashion in another convent. 
Alphonsus forbade its use in this convent, as well as in 
others, and prescribed the sole use of the Gregorian chant. 
" The church is not a theatre," said he, " and religious are 
no opera singers." He forbade anthems on festivals, with 
still greater severity, and wished that, if they were ever 
anxious to sing something extra, it should never be a solo. 
They were, however, not over scrupulous in following these 
orders. One evening, a nun was singing the Litany of the 
Blessed Virgin to figured music, when Alphonsus suddenly 
entered the church; the nun perceived him, and directly 
commenced to sing it to the Gregorian chant. He seemed 
not to take any notice of it at first, but when he came to 
the grate, he said to the nun : " You wished to deceive me 
just now, and that was not. right; I forbade it because I did 
not think it proper. Light music is a decoy to young liber 
tines, who do not hasten to it through devotion, but to hear 
the nun who sings; and who does not see that she is thus 
the cause of a number of disorders and sins?" Alphonsus 
made two predictions in regard to singers in this convent. 
They told him they wished to receive a lay-sister, a young 
person who was a good musician, to teach plain chant to 
the novices and young parishioners. " I grant your request, " 
he replied, "but she will not persevere." And so it was; 
the new lay-sister left the convent, a short time afterwards. 
They solicited him again in favor of another, who also 
understood music. "This one will not persevere any 
better," he said with a smile, and the young novice re 
turned home after a few months. "God evidently con 
demns our duplicity," the religious then said, " since our 
plans are found out by his Lordship," and they made a firm 
resolution never to think of having any thing but Grego 
rian chant for the time to come. 

In some convents the entrance of little children was per 
mitted, through an abuse. The Council of Trent forbids it, 
and Alphonsus immediately confirmed this prohibition, and 
caused it strictly to be observed. 



304 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

He took still more pains to prevent the introduction of 
new abuses, than to extirpate the old ones. The nuns of 
a convent intended to make new windows, which would 
open on the street, and which were to be furnished with 
blinds; they asked permission from Alphonsus, but he re 
fused it. Persons in authority interfered in their behalf, 
but he let the nuns know, that if they did not desist from 
their project they would displease him very much, because 
he could not consent to an improper thing. The religious 
then followed his advice, and took no further steps in the 
affair. The Pope granted, from time to time, to cloistered 
nuns, permission to absent themselves from the convent. 
Alphonsus, knowing some in the diocese inclined to ask 
for a similar dispensation, warned them to abstain from so 
doing. "The Pope refers it to the Ordinary," he said, 
and I will never consent to grant it, for I know what a 
bad reputation these goings out have, and the very least 
evil which results from them is a very great dissipation of 
mind." Some nuns complained that he never granted 
them any thing, and that they had met with three refusals 
consecutively. "Let them ask me for things that are just 
and right," he replied, "and I will take care not to refuse 
them; but whenever they address unreasonable requests to 
me, they must not expect to obtain any thing. 

The material churches were no less the objects of Al 
phonsus solicitude than the living temples; and as all 
that enhances the glory of God s house must be considered 
amongst the objects of a perfect zeal, Alphonsus also sig 
nalized himself in this respect, after the example of King 
David. "I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house, 
and the place where thy glory dwelleth." Psal. xxv, 8. 
When he entered the diocese, he particularly aimed at in 
creasing the magnificence of the churches, and he spared 
neither labor, fatigue, nor expense, to attain this end. The 
old church of St. Agnes, at Arienzo, was so much out of 
repairs, that it was nearly in ruins; Alphonsus at once en 
gaged the canons belonging to the chapter, to restore it,, 
and so inflamed their zeal, that, soon, instead of a low and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 305 

mean looking building, an edifice of a noble elevation, and 
with a beautiful roof, was obtained ; it was adorned also 
with statues and other tasteful ornaments, which made the 
church extremely beautiful. 

The church of St. Stephen, also at Arienzo, was like 
wise in a deplorable state. He caused it to be examined, 
and ascertained the expenses for the necessary repairs, and, 
as the incumbent had sold a felling of wood for three 
thousand three hundred ducats, he sequestered three hun 
dred ducats to be applied to the first third of the payment; 
with that he repaired the roof, embellished the stucco of 
the high altar, restored the pavement with taste, and made 
a large window to remedy the dampness. The principal 
church of St. Angelus was in a bad state, and presented 
the appearance of a barracks rather than that of a temple of 
God, and it would soon have fallen to entire ruin. Al- 
phonsus endeavored to repair it, in spite of the complaints 
of the incumbent, who cared more for his revenues than 
for the restoration of the church. The restoration of these 
two churches was a work of time ; but our Saint made ar 
rangements that the labors should continue after his resig 
nation, and it is to his care, that the good state in which 
they are now to be found is to be attributed. 

At Ducento, the church of the Arch-presbytery of St. 
Andrew had been in a state of abandonment and ruin for 
a number of years, through the avarice and carelessness of 
the incumbents; the arch-priest s house itself presented an 
equally unsatisfactory appearance. All this, added to the 
unhealthiness of the place, caused the rector of the church 
to be almost constantly absent, and, in consequence, the 
faithful of the parish to be neglected. Alphonsus was dis 
tressed at this sad state of things, but could find no method 
of remedying it, when the arch-priest offered his resigna 
tion. He thought then that he ought not to nominate 
another in his place, and he accordingly appointed a priest 
to perform the duties, assigning him a convenient sum for 
his support, and reserved the rest of the income of the living 
for the repairs of the buildings, which were soon completed. 
26* 



306 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 

The very large and spacious parish church at Majano 
was so neglected that it looked more like a barn than a 
house of prayer. It was said that there was no means of 
repairing it; but Alphonsus, seconded by the worthy in 
cumbent and aided by the generosity of the faithful, 
changed this church into a real basilica, worthy to rank 
with those which are admired in Naples and Rome. 

He did not take less pains in beautifying the Cathedral, 
although it was in a very good state. This church" is a 
magnificent one ; thanks to the deceased Bishop Gaeta, 
who, seeing the ancient Cathedral out of repair, had rebuilt 
it entirely. Alphonsus found the roof injured in several 
places, he immediately sent for experienced workmen, and 
it was put in order; he effected, moreover, a great many 
other repairs of this kind, without ever flinching from any 
expense. He spent about four hundred ducats in em 
bellishing the cross pillars^of marble, and the horns of plenty 
of brass. The church had not yet been consecrated; Mgr. 
Puoti, the bishop of Amalfi, hastened thither at his call, and 
the consecration took place in the year 1763. 

But there is a still more remarkable instance of Alphon 
sus zeal for the house of God. The village of St. Mary de 
Vico, containing more than three thousand souls, was di 
vided into two parishes, the two priests of which had to 
exercise their respective functions in the same church, 
which was, moreover, so small that it could not hold more 
than three hundred persons. As soon as he saw such a 
state of things, he immediately conceived the bold scheme 
of building a church capable of holding all the inhabitants. 
The priests wanted to form two distinct parishes, but he 
feared that if too much were attempted nothing would be 
done, and so he decided that there should be established 
only one, as formerly. He held several meetings, in con 
cert with the two priests, assembling the clergy and gen 
tlemen of the place, and persuaded the two priests to 
give up their tithes, which might have amounted to three 
or four hundred ducats, for the benefit of the building; and 
the parishioners promised to contribute an annual sum of 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 307 

two hundred ducats towards it. Alphonsus, in consequence, 
sent for two architects from Naples, and had prepared a 
plan for a beautiful and spacious church. The two priests 
would have liked to have had the whole of the needed 
sum in hand, before commencing the building. "If you 
mean to act thus," said Alphonsus to them, "you will 
never obtain the desired end ; I wish the work to be com 
menced at once, if it is not, the church will never be 
finished." A committee of four ecclesiastics and four lay 
men was formed, and the foundations were commenced. 
Alphonsus went to the spot to look after it all himself; the 
circumference of the church appeared to him to be still too 
small to hold all the people during the time of a mission, 
so he ordered them to enlarge it. He went full of joy, in 
pontifical vestments, preteded by his clergy, to bless the 
first stone of the edifice, in the year 1763. The generous 
prelate contributed, himself, no small sum towards the ex 
penses of the building. He had only ten ducats at first, 
yet he furnished money for a work, the cost of which 
amounted to more than fifteen thousand ducats; his faith 
did the whole. 

The people, encouraged by his magnanimity, aided in 
the undertaking by spontaneous gifts; the two priests wrote 
to tell him, that they would be satisfied with retaining, 
from the two hundred ducats which had remained, only 
enough for their sustenance, and from the surplice fees, the 
surn requisite for the food and the clothing of a servant. 
But troubles did not fail to come, for good things are always 
opposed. The people grew cold, and as the tithes had 
been prohibited for the sums they had promised, they ap 
plied to the royal council for permission to give up contri 
buting to the expenses. Alphonsus, however, was not at 
all discouraged ; he related all that had happened to the 
president of the council, D. Balthasar Cito, his friend, and 
obtained leave for the tithes to be continued until the 
building was finished, after which other measures could 
be taken. He also triumphed over many other obstacles, 
which only served to cause his courage and firmness to 



308 LIFE OP ST. ALPHOKSUS. 

be still more admired. He entertained the two architects 
with their servants and horses at his palace at his own 
expense, and obtained an abatement of four or five hun 
dred ducats through their generosity. Through his in 
defatigable energy, he conducted so great an undertaking 
to a happy termination, and when he left the dioce.se, there 
was nothing remaining to be finished but some stuccoing 
and flagging. 

Alphonsus had at heart the interior embellishment of the 
churches, and the decency which becomes the house of 
God, as well as the substantial construction of the build 
ings. He especially wished the altars to be furnished with 
suitable ornaments. " I have never seen a priest," said he, 
"make use of dirty and worn-out linen at table: every 
thing they themselves use is clean, and it is only for Jesus 
Christ, that dirty things are allowed." 

God never granted peace or repose to Alphonsus, but 
unceasingly exercised him in resignation and patience. 
The Congregation was in a flourishing state, but an enemy, 
or to speak more justly, hell, was irritated at the success of 
this work of God, and could not allow it to go on tran 
quilly. A quarrel occurred, three years back, between those 
belonging to the house of Iliceto, and Francis Anthony 
Maffey, a man of great authority, which caused the greatest 
difficulties to that house, as well as to the whole Congrega 
tion. This person had become engaged in a dispute with 
the people, about the fief of Iliceto ; the fathers, to avoid 
evil consequences, wished to preserve neutrality, and ob 
tained an exemption from the necessity of appearing at the 
trial. MafTey got angry at their course of conduct, saying: 
" he who is not for me is against me," and swore to extir 
pate, not only the house of Iliceto, but the whole Congre 
gation. Baron Sarnelli, at Ciorani, also felt a secret re 
sentment against the fathers there, on account of some 
property which his brother had bequeathed to Alphonsus, 
and which formed the only support of this house. Till 
then, the fathers had always been able to live in harmony 
with him, though he had more than once brought forward 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 309 

his designs, but an unintentional mistake, on their part, 
caused him again to rise up against them. It so happened 
that some mark of attention, in church, was omitted to 
wards his wife, the baroness, and that was enough to cause 
the rupture. Maffey seized on the opportunity of exciting 
the baron, and he became very violent against them. After 
the flame was once kindled, Maffey accused them, in direct 
terms, of crimes, to the king, saying that they, to the scandal 
of the public, had degenerated from what they were when 
the institution was so much praised by his Catholic Majesty. 
The minister s offices were daily besieged by letters and 
claims, and there was not a court of justice in Naples which 
did not receive some petition against them. The truth 
only reached the king s ears by slow degrees, and adul 
terated by falsehood. 

Every one may see what grief all this opposition must 
have caused to Alphonsus. He groaned over it, and 
humbling himself before God, adored his righteous judg 
ments. He was most moved at MafTey s animosity. " The 
matter is more serious than you imagine," he said to one 
of the Fathers. " If D. Maffey is offended, I grieve for the 
poor house ! I know his disposition, and what he caused 
the venerable Mgr. Lucci to suffer. May God deign to be 
our Protector." He ordered fasts and prayers in all the 
houses; he recommended that discretion and charity should 
be exercised towards their adversaries, and, above all, that 
nothing should be undertaken against them, even in self- 
defence, and that recourse should be had to no other arms 
than those of prayer and observance of the rule. But, not 
withstanding, the flame gained ground daily; Alphonsus, 
therefore, in a circular to the members of the Congregation, 
wrote: "Behold, my dear brothers, how the Lord has 
visited us in sending us so many tribulations. sJlow . It 
is our negligence in observing the rule which God now 
chastises let us hope in the mercy of Almighty God, who 
will not permit the Congregation to be destroyed ; let us 
now try to appease His anger by our prayers, and by avoid 
ing all voluntary transgressions, especially that of disobedi- 



310 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

ence, because in this respect there is no punishment which 
we have not merited." 

Maffey wished that the Fathers should be deprived of the 
privilege of possessing the rights of citizens, by a sentence 
of the supreme court, although he had already robbed them 
of these rights as far as practice went. They were obliged 
to appear before the royal council of Sommaria, to which 
the king had referred the decision, in regard to some pre 
tended claims of trifling value. The royal council were 
greatly surprised at such grievances, and, finding that the 
demand for depriving them of civil rights had been dictated 
by a malicious spirit, they decreed, unanimously, on the 
1st of January, 1767, that the members of the Congregation 
should enjoy the same privileges as the other subjects be 
longing to the kingdom. Disappointed in this manner, 
Maffey had recourse to intrigue, and obtained access to the 
royal council; and the procurator, allowing himself to be 
prejudiced, forbade the Fathers to administer their pro 
perty, and the little they possessed was entrusted to a 
strange commissioner, named by Maffey. Alphonsus 
sorrow, on hearing these tidings, and on seeing his children 
in such distress, may be well imagined. " Let us not cease 
to pray," he wrote to them, "because all my hope is in 
God;" and to F. Villani, he said: "Let us behave well, 
and Jesus Christ will protect us ; He does not cease to give us 
warnings, but if we prove unfaithful He will abandon us." 

Things being in this state, Maffey tried by every possible 
means, to prejudice against them the mind of the king and 
his ministers, by false or exaggerated accounts and distorted 
reports, and even by the calumnious accusation that they 
had excited the people to revolt. And he succeeded so 
well, that the suppression of the Congregation was spoken 
of, as well as the chastisement which awaited its members. 
The same miserable attempts were resorted to, at the same 
time, at Ciorani. Their conduct was misrepresented; they 
endeavored to find them guilty of offences against the 
Sovereign and the state. They pretended to prove that 
they led a scandalous life, and that they oppressed the peo- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSTJS. 311 

pie. The Fathers had daily visits from constables and other 
inferior officers. The work of the missions suffered very 
much from these interruptions, to the great sorrow of the 
missionaries, and of all good people. 

Alphonsus grieved by such sad events, besides urging the 
members of the Congregation to penance, and redoubling 
his own mortifications, solicited the prayers of several mon 
asteries and holy persons at Naples. He also sent a great 
quantity of wax candles to the hermitage of the Camaldulese 
Fathers, in order that they might expose the Blessed Sa 
crament, and intercede for the Congregation with God, and 
he repeatedly sent large alms to the Capuchin Nuns at 
Naples, and got them to make novenas and other pious 
exercises. 

His children, fearing as to the result of the accusations 
at Naples, asked him to go there himself. On this subject 
he wrote to F. Villani, on the 7th of July, 1767, saying: 
"I have not gone to Naples, but I have written to the 
President, D. Cito, in a way that will be very efficacious. 
If he does not protect me after that letter, a hundred visits 
would be equally useless. I am prevented from going out, 
by fever, which is constantly attacking me ; the doctors say 
that the least chill or excessive motion might occasion a 
relapse, and if I am not cured while summer lasts, there 
is no chance of being so for the whole winter." Alphon 
sus, however, was filled with confidence and security, when 
the tempest was at his height, and, in spite of the peril to 
which the little bark of his Congregation was exposed, he 
reposed on the goodness of God, the innocence of his 
sons, and the king s good disposition. 

In this same year, 1767, while the Congregation was 
thus persecuted, he published his great work for the defence 
of the Catholic Church, called, " The truths of the Faith;" 
in which he shows that the Church is of divine institution, 
and that out of it there is no salvation. To this work, whilst 
it was in press, he added two appendixes; the first was 
against Helvetius, or rather against his book, entitled, 
"The Spirit," which he refuted in two points: First, with 



312 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

regard to physical sensibility, which Helvetius calls the 
producing cause of our thoughts, and in the second place, 
with regard to that other proposition of Helvetius, viz: that 
pleasure and interest form the morality of man, that is to 
say, that all which increases pleasure is honest, and all 
which favors interest is just. The object of the second ap 
pendix is to refute a French work, entitled, " De la Predi 
cation," &c., in which the author attacks evangelical 
preaching openly, and establishes a distinction between the 
conversion of the mind and that of the heart, and main 
tains that the first and not the second is effected through 
preaching. Alphonsus demonstrates the impiety of this as 
sertion. 

This work was received with general applause; a canon 
of the Cathedral of Naples, said of it in a report to Car 
dinal Sersale ; "Nothing can hinder or slacken the zeal of 
this apostolical man; in his devotion to the salvation of 
souls, he enters into the lists with indefatigable courage 
in order to maintain a generous combat for truth, notwith 
standing the double burthen of the episcopate, and of ad 
vanced age. One can see that he has purposed in this 
book to re-establish the integrity of faith and morals 
amongst the faithful, to avenge the calumnies of the wicked, 
and to scatter the darkness of error. He completely over 
throws all the dreams of materialists, deists, and other 
impious men." Pope Clement XIII was extremely grati 
fied on reading our saint s work, and he replied to the 
dedication, which had been addressed to him, by a brief, 
dated August 4th, 1769, in which the Holy Father testified 
his esteem for our bishop s learning in very flattering terms. 

The ignorance which overspread the diocese, and the 
wish to aid the people, led Alphonsus to compose an ex 
tremely useful work, at this time, which he published under 
the title of "Instructions on the precepts of the Deca 
logue, in order that they may be properly kept; and on the 
sacraments, in order that they may be rightly received." 
This treatise is short, but its great utility caused it to be 
highly prized, especially by the parish priests. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 313 

The disturbances in regard to the two houses of Iliceto 
and Ciorani went on increasing, and as the storm became 
more and more alarming, the Fathers of the Congregation 
redoubled their entreaties to Alphonsus, to go to Naples in 
person, in order to hold a conference with the Marquis 
Tanucci. On this occasion he wrote to F. Villani: 
"Tanucci has had an interview with Mgr. Albertini; if he 
has not attached faith to this prelate s words, he would be 
still less disposed to believe me, who am an interested 
party. If I see that I can be of any use, I will not fail to 
exert myself, .... and you ought never to fear that I 
shall neglect the least thing which I may know would be of 
use to the Congregation." F. Villani then went to see 
him, in great sorrow, and in all haste, to inform him that 
the cause was shortly to be brought before the royal tri 
bunal. At these tidings, Alphonsus sent by his secretary 
two letters, one to the Marquis of Tanucci, and the other 
to the Marquis of Marco, begging them to deign to com 
mence the cause in consideration of the reasons which he 
assigned. But the tempest became still more furious; the 
alarm of the Fathers was redoubled, and F. Villani, ac 
companied by some other Fathers, repaired to St. Agatha, 
and all, with tearful eyes, represented to Alphonsus their 
adversaries superiority, and the imminent danger which, 
menaced them ; adding, that if he wished to save the Con 
gregation, his presence at Naples was necessary. " What 
could I do by my presence?" he replied; "that which my 
letters cannot obtain, I shall be unable to obtain myself." 
He was moved, however, at seeing their affliction, and ill 
as he was, he resolved to set out. All his retinue on this 
journey and all his methods of defence were masses and 
prayers; confidence in God and hope for protection from 
on high strengthened his courage. As he had no carriage, 
he borrowed one from a gentleman, and he arrived at Na 
ples on the 16th of July, 1767. 

As soon as he reached Naples, he went to the Cardinal 
Archbishop. His eminence was at dinner when Mgr. Li- 
guori was announced to him ; he immediately arose, and 
27 



314 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

with eyes bathed in tears through joy at this unexpected 
visit, he hastened to meet Alphonsus, and embraced him, 
saying: " What has brought you to Naples so unexpect 
edly?" "My Congregation is passing through a great 
crisis, your Eminence," answered Alphonsus, "our ene 
mies wish to destroy it, but I hope that God will grant us 
the assistance of his arm." Before he left, the Cardinal 
said to him, "Know that you are Archbishop of Naples; 
you must obtain the victory and dispose of every thing as you 
wish." Mgr. Liguori s arrival put the whole town in motion. 
The canons, the superiors of the orders, the chevaliers and 
ministers came to greet him. Almost all the prelates who 
were in Naples went to visit him. As for himself, as he 
had only come for urgent business, he begged every one to 
excuse him if he reluctantly failed in the duties of civility. 
Humility and poverty were his attendants ; he lived in his 
brother s house, but he flid not wish to be treated with dis 
tinction; and he gave up the room and state-bed which his 
brother had had prepared for him to his secretary, and se 
lected for himself quite a plain little apartment, which was 
used as a lumber-room, and had nothing in it but a miser 
able bed, and some straw chairs. When he had not to 
officiate in any church, he merely put on the cassock of his 
Congregation which he had worn every day at St. Agatha, 
and which was then quite worn out. His shoes were the 
same he had had made when he went to Rome; he had the 
same hat, too, which was now no longer in fashion, and 
which had only cost three carlins when new. His brother, 
D. Hercules, who was more annoyed at the hat than at 
any thing else, secretly took it away and substituted a valu 
able one in its place. Alphonsus was very sorry to be 
obliged to wear it, but before he left Naples he caused 
it to be sold, and with the proceeds he bought four more 
common hats; he kept one for himself, and gave the re 
maining three to some of his Congregation. As he had 
no cloak, he made use of a kind of mantilla; bu*t being 
told that it was not fit for him, he sent it to a pawnbroker 
in exchange for an old cloak. Some people gave him the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 315 

title of Excellency. " Excellency," said Alphonsus, "what 
do you mean by this title? Drop this excellency." He 
had a singular altercation with a servant in a monastery, on 
this head, who was continually addressing him by this title. 
"Come now," said Alphonsus, "give up this word ex 
cellency." "But," replied the servant, " why am I not to 
call you thus? you are a chevalier, and this title belongs to 
you." "That is enough," replied his lordship, "do not 
speak to me any more about your excellency." He said 
this in a tone which made the poor servant hurry to the 
door as fast as possible. A gentleman observing to him 
that he carried humility too far: "Humility," Alphonsus 
replied, "has never injured any one." 

Our saint was always preceded by humility, but glory 
and veneration followed him wherever he went. When he 
went to the royal palace, to implore the protection of the 
Prince della Riccia, his majesty s grand equerry, he was 
received there not as a mere man but as a messenger from 
heaven. As soon as the prince heard that he was in the 
ante-room, he hastened to go to him, and respectfully kissed 
his hand, and when Alphonsus took leave of him he ac 
companied him to the staircase with affectionate kindness. 
" I thank God," exclaimed the prince on leaving him, "for 
having allowed me to see this saintly man once more." 
The same or similar marks of veneration were given him 
by the highest personages he had occasion to visit. This 
veneration was much increased by the manner in which he 
defended the cause of his children. He managed to justify 
the missionaries and defend their innocence without injuring 
those who had calumniated them. He attributed their at 
tacks to interest, and their irritation to passionate temper, 
and he only sought to procure tranquillity to those belonging 
to him, and to obtain the prince s protection for the Con 
gregation. Alphonsus very appearance at Naples put the 
adversaries of the Congregation to confusion ; even their 
counsel said that the case had an altered aspect, and the 
advocates, who, till then, believed that they were sure of 
victory and sought to have the cause brought on, tried now 



316 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



to delay it, and would have liked to suspend it altogether, 
no longer thinking it expedient to venture further. This 
delay displeased Alphonsus, arid by his solicitations with 
the ministers he obtained the king s leave to have the 
affair terminated without loss of time, and the llth of 
September was fixed for the discussion of the cause of 
Sarnelli, at the royal court of St. Clare. It was at. this 
time that our saint met with an accident, which one is 
tempted to consider the work of the devil, who foreseeing 
his defeat, wished to cause Alphonsus to perish. He was 
one day in a carriage with the counsellor, Gaetan Celano ; 
night was approaching, and the rain was falling in torrents, 
their coachman urged the horses on as fast as possible to 
wards the court of counsellor Pirelli in order to o-ain 

t> 

shelter, but other carriages had already taken refuge there 
and he was obliged to turn back ; at that moment, another 
carriage came up at a rapid rate, and struck with such vio 
lence against that of Alphonsus that in the fall he was 
thrown under the counsellor. The windows were broken 
to pieces, and the coachman was wounded as well as the 
footman. Alphonsus was not seriously hurt, but the coun- 
sellor had his hand cut; they both disengaged themselves 
from the carriage, but with great difficulty, and took refuge 
in a grocer s shop more dead than alive. The duchess of 
Pirelli heard of the accident, and sent for Alphonsus and 
the counsellor; they rested in her palace for some time, 
after which the duchess lent them her own equipage to take 
them home again. In this disaster Alphonsus regretted 
nothing but his beautiful hat, which was lost in the con 
fusion as well as the wooden stick which he used as a cane. 
The proceedings in reference to the cause were at length 
commenced, but the advocates of the adverse party had not 
the courage to show themselves. One of them indeed 
came, but it was only to declare that he had not the heart 
to speak against a bishop whose sanctity was proclaimed 
by all Naples. Our enemies inaction was displeasing to 
Alphonsus; he sent his secretary to the President Cito, to 
complain of this disappointment. " He need not be an- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 317 

noyed at seeing his enemies put to flight," replied the 
magistrate, " let him take courage, and return to his dio 
cese." Such was Alphonsus success in this visit to Na 
ples. He took leave of all his acquaintances, after a sojourn 
of two months and three days, and set out for Arienzo on 
the 10th of September, 1767. 

Although Alphonsus only went to Naples on account of 
the interests of his Congregation, he nevertheless made his 
visit subserve the glory of God, and fatal to sin and hell. 
Great disorders had taken place in the convent called "of 
the Religious of the Wood." These nuns, without respect 
for the Superior, who tried to unite them, had proceeded 
to sad lengths on several occasions. Being entreated to 
lend his aid, Alphonsus went to the convent several times 
and preached there, and that which others had not been 
able to effect by their words, was obtained by his humility 
and mildness. He put an end to all the dissensions which 
existed in the convent, and was able to re-establish there 
peace, the love of prayer, and the frequent use of the 
sacraments. 

The Superior of the Congregation of the Propaganda re 
solved to ask him to preach the Novenaofthe Assumption 
of the Blessed Virgin, in the church of the Restitution. 
The canon fearing that Alphonsus would not be able to 
grant his request, (as he was ill, and overloaded with busi 
ness,) it was observed to him, that he had an infallible means 
of obtaining what he wanted, viz: his authority as Supe 
rior; Alphonsus being yet a member of the Congregation. 
When the humble bishop received this order, he made no 
opposition, but bent his head and said : " Pray that the 
Blessed Virgin may give me strength, for I have nothing 
written, and no time to prepare any thing; you must be 
satisfied with what God and the Blessed Virgin may deign 
to suggest to me." 

One evening during this Novena, our Saint was obliged 

to go to the Archbishop s, but the carriage, the one which 

D. Gaetan had bought, had been sent to be repaired ; the 

servant took another, belonging to D. Hercules, which 

27* 



318 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

was rich and handsome. Such luxury alarmed the Saint, 
and nothing could reconcile him to it. In order to pre 
vent his going on foot, old harness was put on the 
horses, and an old covering was put over the seat; which 
mixture of old and new together caused the Bishop of St. 
Agatha to present a somewhat singular appearance, but 
satisfied his humility. During the Novena, the church was 
crowded to overflowing, from the first day, and he preached 
with such wonderful effect, that floods of tears were shed 
in the church, arid his Eminence, Cardinal Sersale, who 
made it a duty to assist at this Novena daily with his suite, 
could not refrain from weeping at the touching spectacle 
of an entire people in contrition. Canon Sparano declared, 
that ten missions would not have done so much good nor 
have effected so many conversions, as God did during this 
Novena through Mgr. Liguori. Again, on this occasion, 
pieces of his garments were taken from him in secret ; 
amongst others a piece of his cloak was cut off. Mgr. 
! Bergamo, at that time a priest and afterwards Bishop 
of Gaeta, thought himself very fortunate in being able to 
take his hat in exchange for another. He attempted the 
same thing with his rosary, but Alphonsus found it out; 
Ihe complained of it, and wished to have it restored to him 
-again on account of the indulgences attached to it. 

On the Eve of the Assumption, he went to pay his visit 
to the Blessed Sacrament in the church of the convent Re- 
.gina Coeli; while the nuns were chanting vespers, he knelt 
down before a chair in a corner of the church. Three 
abbots were officiating pontifically; one of them, who knew 
him, no sooner saw him in his shabby dress than he turned 
towards the others and said: "Look what a figure this 
bishop is ! does he not disgrace his character !" The abbot 
soon found that he was not a good judge. The Prince of 
Monte Miletto who was present, also saw Alphonsus, and 
immediately asked his valet who that Prelate was ; on hear 
ing that it was Mgr. Liguori, he approached him respect 
fully, kissed his hand, and held it to his forehead for some 
time. The Duke of Andria also presented himself to him, 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 319 

or rather cast himself at his feet, and would not consent to 
arise until after he had received the sign of the cross on his 
head ; some other noblemen also hastened to render him 
the same homage. The abashed abbots then sent him a 
velvet cushion by the sacristan, but Alphonsus would not 
use it. 

When the barefooted Carmelite Fathers commenced the 
solemnity of the Wednesdays in honor of St. Theresa, Al 
phonsus did not fail to attend, and mixing with the people, 
he placed himself according to custom on one of the benches 
in the church. When the Fathers perceived him they 
wished to show him some token of respect, but Alphonsus 
refused it. On the following Wednesday they prepared a 
special chair with a velvet cushion for him, but in vain, 
for he made no use of it. 

Alphonsus had the gift of prophecy, as well as those of 
knowledge and counsel. A daughter of the Duchess of 
Bovino, who was on the point of leaving a convent, in 
order to embrace the state of marriage, still hesitated in 
regard to her vocation; the duchess went to Alphonsus 
and begged him to remember her in his prayers. iNo, 
no;" replied he, "she will not marry. God will detach 
her from the world and draw her to himself." The young 
lady s mind, up to this time, had been occupied about any 
thing rather than becoming a religious; her mother was 
therefore much surprised to hear these words from the 
saintly man, but she was still more so when, on her return 
home, a note was handed to her from her daughter, stating 
her intention of taking the religious habit in the convent. 

Lady Marianne Cayano Orsini gave birth to a son at 
Marianella about this time. D. Hercules wished that the 
ceremony of baptism should be performed by Alphonsus 
himself, to which he assented. During the ceremony, the 
priest, in addressing Alphonsus, gave him the title of Ex 
cellency, at every instant; he bore it at first, in order not 
to interrupt the ceremony, but at last he could endure it 
no longer, and exclaimed: "Rev. Sir, if you wish to call 
me most illustrious, you can of course do so, but you will 



320 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

oblige me very much by only using the most simple ex 
pressions in speaking to me." 

Besides the Novena of which we have spoken, Alplion- 
sus also preached a sermon in the church of the Advocate, 
for the confraternity of the coachmen, footmen, and other 
domestics. His dear brethren of the chapels, amongst 
whom was the celebrated Peter Barberese, his former peni 
tent, also heard his holy exhortations once more ; he re 
joiced in thus being employed for the good of the poorest 
and most obscure. A head saddler also begged him to 
come and preach in his chapel, which was situated beyond 
the gate of Capua, and he went there most willingly. He 
found a very large assemblage of the lower classes, but as 
the chapel could not hold them all, he re-assembled them 
all in the church of St. Onuphrius. These good people 
assembled together on another occasion, in the hospital 
of the Annunziata ; the Blessed Sacrament was exposed 
on both occasions, and he exhorted them all to the prac 
tice of Christian virtue. He was alto asked to preach 
to them on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and he 
yielded to their wis-hes. On the following Sunday he 
preached to the orphans who were brought up in this 
hospital, amounting to the number of more thaw three 
hundred. 

The people were not satisfied with profiting by his 
words in church, but they hastened in crowds to his house, 
and as he had not chairs enough for all, they sat on the 
ground. He rejoiced in being in the midst of this multi 
tude of poor people much more than in receiving the 
visits of priests, confessors, magistrates, the knights of St. 
Januarius, the Duchesses, Princesses, and the many others, 
who not being able to speak to him in the confessional, 
came to see him, and left him no moment of leisure time 
until a late hour in the evening; and his loving kindness 
towards these poor people won him the admiration of 
all the town of Naples, not less than the fact, that, not 
withstanding his advanced age, his infirmities, and the im 
portant affairs that had brought him to Naples, he under- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 3*21 

went so much fatigue for the glory of God and the good 
of souls. He visited also the convents of Donna Alvina, 
of St. Clare, of Sapienza, of St. Marcellinus, of St. Gau- 
dioso, of St. Liguori, of the Blessed Sacrament, of St. 
Jerome, of Little St. John s, of Donna Romita, of St. Po- 
titus, of St. Andrew s, of the Nuns, and others. He 
preached in each of them, and returned several times to 
some of them to hear confessions. Being invited, on the 
feast of St. Jane de Chantal, to the convent of the Nuns 
of the Visitation, he went with pleasure and preached 
there. Nothing, in a word, whereby he could encourage 
hearts in the practice of virtue and the love of Jesus Christ, 
was accounted by him as too much. 

In all this he never deviated from his profound humility, 
and though the Cardinal had told him that he was Arch 
bishop of Naples, he never did anything without informing 
his eminence. A religious asked him one day to hear her 
confession. He immediately sent to ask for the faculty to 
do so from the Cardinal, who replied half displeased : 
"What does Mgr. Liguori want? Did I not tell him that 
he was Archbishop of Naples? He may confirm, confess, 
preach, and officiate, and do whatever he pleases, for he 
has power to do anything?" 

Besides the prophecy mentioned above, he made several 
others in regard to inmates of convents, of which we will 
only cite the following. Alphonsus sister, Marianne Li 
guori, a nun in the convent of St. Jerome, manifested a 
want of submission towards her director; Alphonsus pre 
dicted that she would die mad, and it speedily came to 
pass. The Princess Zurlo, a pensioner at the convent of 
St. Marcellinus, had an earnest desire to become a reli 
gious; when this young lady s fervor was mentioned to 
him, he answered: "No, she will not be a nun, but she 
will return to the world, and lead a saintly life there." 
And his words proved to be true. At St. Clare, a nun 
tried to interest him in a niece of hers, whom she wished 
to get admitted in the convent, although she had already 
left it, "Leave her alone," said he, "she is not fit for a 



322 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

convent." Arid so it was; she no longer wished to con 
secrate herself to God. 

Alphonsus made no distinction of persons; he acted 
just in the same manner towards the convents of women 
of no rank as towards those of women of noble birth. He 
willingly consented to go and visit the convents of the 
Little Rosary, of St. Margaret, of St. Monica, of the Mira 
cles, of Jesus and Mary, of St. Catherine, of St. Joseph, and 
of St. Theresa; of St. Philip and St. James also, where 
he gave a sermon on the prodigal son : and his visits were 
always marked by great blessings, as God assisted his 
efforts. He also preached several times at the Refuge of 
St. Clare, and visited the penitents of St. Raphael, as also 
those of the Crucifix; it was especially edifying to see him 
return from the most humble and despised places, with still 
more pleasure than from the convents for the nobility. 

He did not omit to g6 and comfort a great many infirm 
nuns, and particularly his old penitents. He evinced his 
scrupulosity in regard to holy modesty, during these visits. 
In order to prevent his hands from being kissed, he kept, 
his left across his breast and wrapped up the other in a 
handkerchief. When asked to make the sign of the cross 
on a sick person s forehead, he only consented to give her 
his blessing from a distance, and whenever he entered a 
convent he wished to be accompanied by a priest, to help 
him, as he said, but in reality as a precaution; nor did he 
ever omit to provide himself with hair shirts and iron 
chains, and to discipline himself to blood. 

He also accepted several invitations from different reli 
gious societies. The Missionaries of St. Pavone, now call 
ed, "of the Conference," wished to hear him speak at one 
of their assemblies, as a fellow-member. Alphonsus spoke 
1o them of the zeal which every priest ought to have for the 
salvation of souls, exhorted them to preach in an apostolic 
style, and declaimed against a far-fetched style. " This is 
indeed a true apostle," said they, "thanks be to God for 
having given us a bishop of primitive times in this age." 
Cardinal Sersale, also, wished the fervor of the young peo- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 323 

pie of the establishment which he had himself founded for 
the instruction of young clerics in sacris in the exercises of 
the Mission, to be animated by the words of our Saint. 
He conducted Alphonsus thither, and, concealing his own 
hands under his arms, made all the young people kiss 
the bishop of St. Agatha s hand, despite his humility. 
Alphonsus spoke to them on the practice of sacerdotal 
virtues, and incited them to devote themselves zealously 
to the salvation of souls, and to be filled with love to 
Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Visits which were 
only of compliment and useless, he tried always to avoid. 
The nuns of Little St. John, not satisfied with having seen 
him at the grate and with having assisted at his mass, soli 
cited him, through F. Fatigati, to repeat his visit; as this, 
however, was not in order to consult him as their director, 
he did not accede to their invitation, but answered : " I like 
much to go to St. John, but not to Little St. John s; they 
have caused me to lose an hour, and I am scrupulous about 
time." Although Alphonsus effected so much good in 
Naples, and although his presence there drew down so 
many blessings, he never ceased to grieve at being so far 
from his diocese, but counted the moments, and only longed 
to return. "If it were not on account of the interests of 
the Congregation which is persecuted," he said, "and 
which labors so successfully for God s glory and the salva 
tion of souls, I should believe that I sinned mortally in 
remaining so long at Naples." It must not, however, be 
believed that he ever lost sight of the wants of his diocese. 
Not a day passed on which he did not receive some courier 
from thence. Being again asked for a Novena, he re 
plied : "What Novena do you wish me to give ? I will go 
and make one in my diocese, where God only knows what 
disorders I shall find. Jesus Christ no longer wishes me 
to be at Naples, but at St. Agatha." 

Let us give one more instance of Alphonsus humility, 
while in the capital. He went to visit the Prince della 
Riccia, to get. through his protection, a woman, a servant 
of the Prince s, admitted into the Refuse of St. Raphael; 



324 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

but the valet remembered that he had received nothing from 
Alphonsus on his first visit to the Prince, so he said that 
the Prince was in attendance on the King. A soldier of 
the Italian guard, who was on duty, said to a comrade, on 
seeing this old man, whose long beard and neglected ex 
terior seemed unsuitable to his dignity as a bishop, "Look 
at this shabby lord. He has not a half-penny to be shaved." 
Alphonsus heard it and smiled. "I thank thee, O my 
God," he said, " for causing me also to receive the censure 
of the soldiers." But the guard was soon undeceived 
when he saw the first noblemen hasten to pay their re 
spects to the holy bishop. He returned a second time to 
the Prince s palace, and was again dismissed, on some 
other pretext; he then went a third time, when, on the 
advice of his secretary, who suspected the real cause of 
the mystery, he slipt some money into the valet s hand, and 
the Prince was made visible. Angry at the refusals which 
Alphonsus had met with, he offered to provide for all need 
ful expenses in regard to the penitent woman, and in 
formed the director of the house that she was one of his 
tenants; nothing further was required for her admission, 
and Alphonsus had the consolation to see one more of his 
sheep in a place of safety. 

When he left Naples at last, it was with the firm resolu 
tion, if we should not rather call it a prediction, that he 
would not return there any more. When he visited, for 
the last time, his dear Mother, in the church of the Re 
demption where he had received so many graces, he said 
to her: " My Queen, we shall see each other again in Par 
adise, but we shall meet no more in Naples." "Tell D. 
Hercules," he wrote from St. Agatha to a brother of the 
Congregation who was in Naples, " that he may freely dis 
pose of the apartments which he keeps at my service, for 
I shall return there no more." 

Although Alphonsus was unceasingly, and we may al 
most say, excessively solicitous for the right government of 
his diocese, and though his conduct in this respect obtained 
the admiration of the most distinguished men, and the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 325 

praises of the Sovereign Pontiff, yet he could not escape 
the darts of malignity and censure. His reputation for 
sanctity caused him to be attentively watched, and as his 
administration seemed rather like that of an angel than of 
an ordinary man, people fancied that he ought to make sin 
disappear from the world. As soon as any disorder in his 
diocese was spoken of, people began to blame and calum 
niate him; for some were too ready to listen to the dis 
courses of the wicked, and co-operated, through inexcusa 
ble credulity, in what others did through malice. A reli 
gious, at Naples, found fault with, and condemned things 
in Alphonsus which he had not seen, but of which he had 
heard; and Alphonsus, being begged to justify himself, 
answered: "I have heard of this bad opinion of me. 
There is no need of writing to him. St. Francis of Sales, 
F. Torres, and so many others, have not defended them 
selves. The three who rule, are the Grand-Vicar, who aids 
me by counsel, Archdeacon Rainone, who performs his 
duty at St. Agatha, and the Secretary, who governs still 
less." And in another letter: "Every thing passes through 
my hands, with the single exception of the ordinary de 
crees as to temporals, which are under the charge of the 
Grand-Vicar, and of my Vicar-General at St. Agatha. Tell 
me where there is a diocese in which there is nothing 
wanting. As to me, I do what I can, but all ground pro 
duces its thorns; one may pluck out one here, but another 
will spring up elsewhere. I see that I cannot avoid the 
reproaches made against me ; it is enough if God does not 
complain : however, complaints are of use to me, for my 
spiritual welfare, by humbling me through the contempt 
and want of favor which I must meet with from some peo 
ple. I should be very glad if you would tell Father N. to 
come and see me, because he may then be enlightened as 
to the real state of things." The good Father went to 
him, and was his panegyrist from that time. He liked 
to be told of all that was said to his dispraise, and never 
hesitated to make amends if he found he had made a 
mistake. 
28 



326 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

An idle person circulated a report through Naples, that 
they were much dissatisfied with Msr- Lio-uori s adminis- 

* o O 

tration at Rome. It was even added that the Pope was 
very far from rejoicing at having made him bishop. When 
F. Villani informed him of this, he replied thus: "You 
say that the accusation of which you speak, may very 
probably have been made at Rome ; I have heard nothing 
about it yet. For the rest, and as to the government, I 
do not know how I could have been more careful than I 
was. I always note down in writing all that has to be 
done for the present day and for the following one, and 
when any business connected with the diocese is in ques 
tion, I leave every thing to occupy myself about it. All 
belonging to my diocese may see this plainly; God will do 
the rest, but this will enable me to get rny resignation 
more easily accepted." 

With an inconsistency, which is a characteristic of false 
hood, others accused him of governing with too much 
rigor; but Alphonsus was certain of the good he had done, 
and cared equally little, for being thought too lenient, o,r 
too severe. "Human respect," said F. Raphael de Ruvo, 
"could never succeed in influencing Mgr. Liguori." One 
day, in presence of several gentlemen, it was said that 
people talked a great deal about a priest who, as they 
alleged, had been banished unjustly. He was guilty of 
several hidden offences, for which Alphonsus had felt con 
strained to recur to this punishment, without wishing to 
publish things against him which were unknown. When 
he heard that he was censured for it, he got out of the dif 
ficulty by a smile, and said nothing to exculpate himself. 
Some even in the Congregation said, that in the publica 
tion of his works he sought for an uncertain good, while 
he neglected the certain good he could have effected, had 
he been exclusively engaged in the affairs of his diocese. 
Being informed of this, he wrote to F. Villani : " In regard 
to the murmurs relative to my publications, I will say that 
those bishops who are most celebrated for their great zeal, 
preached and published works while ruling over their dio- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 327 

ceses I am always shut up during winter, and con 
verse with no one ; besides, every one avoids my conver 
sation, because it is not agreeable. I make meditation 
three times a day; I make an hour s thanksgiving after 
mass, as well as a spiritual lecture, at least when I am at 
liberty. After that I try to profit by all the time remaining 
to me, in laboring in things which seem useful." 

Alphonsus published, about this lime, " The Way of Sal 
vation," which is a work of great utility for all classes of 
men. It is divided into three parts: the first contains 
meditations for all seasons of the year; the second for 
divers times in particular: and the third contains a rule of 
life for a Christian, the practice of virtue, and considera 
tions on the love of Jesus Christ, entitled "Darts of Fire." 



CHAPTER XXV. 

JHphonsus is visited by sickness and great sufferings. He 
finishes his work on Dogmatics. His Congregation is per 
secuted in Sicily. His mode of life and apostolic labors 
when paralytic . Interest he takes in the education of his 
Nephews. Circular to his Congregation. His Mission 
aries abandon Sicily. 

WHEN Almighty God wishes to raise one of His ser 
vants to great sanctity, the usual course of His provi 
dence is to throw him into a sea of troubles and sorrows. 
Alphonsus, whom God had destined to become a shining 
pillar in the heavenly Jerusalem, was also obliged to pass 
through the crucible of tribulation. On the 23d of June, 
1768, in the seventy-second year of his age, and the seventh 
of his episcopate, he was attacked by a fever, which at first 
seemed so slight that it was believed to be only the conse 
quence of a cold; but it increased on the second and third 
day, and made such progress that it was taken for a danger 
ous putrid fever. However it disappeared three day after 
wards, and, contrary to all expectation, he was attacked by 



328 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

acute pains in the right side. The doctors called it the com 
mencement of sciatica, arising from rheumatic tendencies; 
in fact he experienced constant pain in the bone of the 
thigh, these however were not very severe. 

As he had no fever, and his head was free, he never 
ceased to give audience, nor interrupted his scientific and 
spiritual occupations. Not being able to visit his diocese 
himself, he sent his Grand-Vicar into the estates of Trasso 
and Arpaja, as well as to the village of Forchia. " I con 
tinue," he wrote to F. Villani, " to be tormented with in 
ternal pains in nearly one-half of my body, and it seems 
as if the pain would fix in the hip bone. Blessed for ever 
be God for having sent me this suffering ! I shall have 
difficulty in going out, this year, to make my accustomed 
visitation." On the approach of the feast of the Assumption, 
he tried to give the Novena, in the church of the Annun- 
ziata; and, notwithstanding his suffering, he succeeded in 
crawling into the pulpit: but the pain ere long seized him 
in a most violent mariner, and fixed itself obstinately in 
the hip bone, so as to render it impossible for him to go, 
on, and a Neapolitan missionary, who had accompanied 
him, took his place on the sixth day. From this time, the 
malady made such progress that he no longer knew in 
what position to place himself: in this state, he was un 
ceasingly occupied in his bed about the affairs of his dio 
cese ; he dictated his works, and continued to perform with 
the members of his household all the accustomed exercises. 

However, the fever went on increasing day by day, so 
that fears were entertained for his life. When it was pro 
posed to him to send for a doctor from Naples, he replied: 
"Do you, then, think that the doctors in Naples work mira 
cles, or that they have studied other books than the doctors 
here? I am in the hands of God, and of the doctors he 
has given me." His two worthy doctors, however, were 
not of the same opinion, but sent for F. Villani and the 
Grand- Vicar, and said to them : " We do not wish to bear 
the responsibility of his lordship s death; we want to have 
a consultation." A physician was therefore summoned 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 3*29 

from Naples. Alphonsus said nothing on seeing him, but 
his face betokened the suffering of his heart. 

He affected every one, while in this state, by his ejacu 
lations of love towards Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin. 
He showed great confidence in their merits, but seemed 
quite confounded at his own conduct, which, he said, had 
not corresponded to their goodness. A Father of the Con 
gregation was just going to say mass, when he called him, 
and said with a profound sentiment of humility: "Pray 
that God may deign to be merciful towards me." Although 
he had confidence, he still trembled in thinking of the 
judgments of God. "Non intres in judicium cum servo 
tuo,"he repeated, and, "fac cum servo tuo secundum mise- 
ricordiam tuam." " Enter not into judgment with Thy 

servant, Lord Do unto Thy servant according to 

Thy mercy." 

After receiving the last Sacraments on the 26th of Au 
gust, 1768, he made his will. He would not have had 
matter for one, if his steward had not received four hundred 
and twenty-three ducats, some days before, arising from 
the rents belonging to him. He wished this sum to be 
placed in the hands of the Arch-priest Romano, and fixed 
on the number of masses to be celebrated for him at Ari- 
enzo, and at St. Agatha; he pointed out what alms he 
wished to be given to the poor, and ordered that the sur 
plus should be distributed to all who were in his service, as 
a token of gratitude, two hours after his death ; finally, 
he asked that his body should be taken to the Cathedral of 
St. Agatha. 

The fever, however, visibly abated, although the suffer 
ings were still very sharp. The pains, too, caused by the 
rheumatism were violent and continual, so that he could 
find no position in which he could lie in bed, and was 
obliged, though with great difficulty, to get into an arm 
chair, where he remained as if nailed down by his suffer 
ings. It is easy to imagine how he passed the nights and 
days, as he could neither move, nor dress himself; his 
state caused all who saw him to shed tears of compassion. 
28* 



330 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

The rheumatism was constantly making fresh progress, and 
from the hip bone soon reached the leg, and extended 
through the nerves of the limbs, which caused a great in 
crease of pain. He bore it with unalterable patience: no 
groan ever issued from his lips, but that which filled up the 
measure of admiration in regard to him, was that he never 
ceased to be still occupied with the affairs of his diocese. 
The following are some of the lively aspirations collected 
by one who attended on him: "Lord. I thank Thee for 
having given me some share in the sufferings Thou didst 
endure in Thy nerves, when Thou wast nailed to the cross. 
I wish to suffer, my Jesus, as Thou wiliest, and as much 
as Thou wiliest, only give me patience." " Hie ure, hie 
seca, hie non parcas, ut in aeternum parcas." "Unhappy 
damned souls ! how can you suffer without merit ? My Je 
sus, my hope, the only remedy for all my ills." " Oh, how 
happy a thing it is to^die, fastened to the cross." "A 
poor person who loves God, dies more contented than all 
the rich in the world. An hour of suffering is worth more 
than . all the treasures of the earth." "I should like td 
have a little sleep, but God does not will it, and I do not 
wish it either." " Oh, my palliass ! thou art worth more 
for one day than all the thrones of the world." 

At last, the rheumatism settled in the vertebrae of his 
neck, and his head was so bent forwards, and rested so 
much on his chest, that on looking at him from behind he 
appeared like a body without a head. " Nothing but a 
miracle," said a doctor, " could have prevented this curva 
ture from taking away respiration altogether." But even 
this was only a part of his martyrdom. In consequence of 
this displacement of the head, his chin sank down into the 
middle of his chest, and his beard being strong and bristly 
caused a considerable wound there. This could not be 
seen, and he bore it without any complaint; it did not at 
first attract attention, but the humor, which soon issued 
from it, caused the doctors to entertain the most lively 
fears ; they wanted to raise his head in order to examine it, 
but Alphonsus was obliged to raise his hand, as a sign for 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 331 

them to desist, for any force used in that direction would 
have broken his neck. They then placed him on a sofa, 
in a horizontal position, and thus they were able to exam 
ine the wound. It was so deep and dangerous, that it had 
very nearly laid bare the bone of the chest. They, how 
ever, succeeded in preventing mortification, and it was 
soon completely healed. 

He began to get better at the end of a few months, but 
the malignant humor settled on the nerves, the body was 
contracted, and his head rested on his chest during the 
seventeen years he lived after this. During the course of 
this cruel malady he evinced superhuman patience : " Mgr. 
Liguori," said F. Raphael de Ruvo, the ex-provincial of 
the religious of St. Peter of Alcantara, " was a true picture 
of the saintly Job. Though having become, as it were, one 
mass of pains, he never opened his mouth to utter even 
the slightest complaint. One look raised up to heaven 
with some pious aspiration, was the sign of his suffering; 
he still expressed himself so calmly that he consoled and 
confounded me, as well as all who were present." One 
of the first surgeons of the capital, having witnessed his 
patience at Arienzo, said: "If I had had to endure such 
torments, I should have become frantic." He could not 
conceive how the Saint had been able to preserve unalter 
able serenity in the midst of such terrible sufferings. 

At length the invalid was placed on a poor mattress, 
though not without great suffering, on which he lay in an 
uneasy and painful position. It was not without difficulty 
that they succeeded in putting on his cassock, and as he 
could not undress himself, he remained in this garb night 
and day, and in the same position. In all these pains, he 
showed the truth of St. Augustine s words, that he who loves, 
does not suffer, and wishes to suffer more. " He was fixed 
on his poor bed," said a canon of Avella, "once, while I 
was arranging the sheets with Brother Francis Anthony, I 
saw that he had his large rosary by him, and that there were 
as many holes in his flesh as there were beads in it. As I 
attributed this to accident, I told the brother to take it away. 



332 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

But he answered in a way which made me understand that 
this servant of God was not satisfied with only bearing his 
infirmity, but sought to crucify himself still more." His 
submission to the doctors was no less admirable. " Let 
us obey them," he often said, " and resign ourselves 
to die." They had scarcely spoken when they were 
obeyed; however painful or disagreeable the prescribed 
remedy might have been, he took it, riot through a wish 
to prolong life, but because he recognized God s will in 
theirs. One day he said to one of the doctors: "I am 
nothing but an old man now, what can I hope for, or 
aspire to? I obey, in order to fulfil your will and that of 
God." He was not only contented and serene, but he 
carried his heroism so far as to be quite joyous. One day 
he said to the same doctor: "You endeavor to hold me 
up, by means of props and stays, but if you happen to put 
a new prop some day, and raise it up too much, all the rest 
will fall, and you will lose your trouble." A priest once 
asked him how he had passed the night : " I chase flies by 
day," he replied laughingly, " and I take spiders by night." 
"There," said he to a canon, slightly moving his head, 
"that is the ne plus ultra, my head can do no more." 
Another time he said to the same canon: "They have so 
often called me crippled, that I am caught at last." 

Although reduced to this state of infirmity, he never dis 
pensed himself from any of his exercises of piety. In the 
evening, especially, he wished all his household to come 
to his room, together with the Grand-Vicar, to recite the 
Rosary together, with the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin, 
and the other accustomed prayers. He passed nearly the 
whole day in hearing some spiritual reading, which was 
made for him alternately by Brother Anthony and the 
priest who attended him. Neither did he, in this state of 
oppression, forget his flock, but dictated, ordered, and did 
every thing as if he had been quite well. Thus he caused 
several noblemen to be written to, touching the reform of 
abuses, and addressed some Congregations at Naples, and 
F. Villani, in order to obtain Missionaries, that year, for 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 333 

all his diocese. "That which most astonished me," said 
a canon, " was, that he not only never ceased to watch 
and labor for the good of souls and the glory of Jesus 
Christ, during this excess of suffering, but that he also did 
so beyond the bounds of the province. Having been in 
formed that a bishop had been guilty of an abuse, which 
was most prejudicial to souls, he hastened to dictate a let 
ter, which he sent by an express, to inform him of his 
error, after which he turned towards me and said : My 
dear Benedict, we are obliged mutually to aid each other. " 

It was on this bed of pain that he revised, for the last 
time, a great work which he published, entitled "The 
Practice of Love towards Jesus Christ." It manifests the 
sentiments of his heart, and every where breathes the spirit 
of the pious author, showing the necessity, and teaching 
the way, of loving Jesus Christ our God, who ought to be 
the sole object of the affections of our hearts, and to whom 
all the actions of our life should be referred. 

The convalescence of Alphonsus was very painful, and 
lasted more than a year. " I continue to be without fever," 
he wrote to F. Villani, on the 8th of October, 1768, "but 
the pain is just the same. They make me walk about on 
crutches, supported however by two people, and this is the 
sixth day since I began to do this; but I do not see that 
this or the carriage does me any good. lam awake nearly 
all the night; nature feels it, but I think that my will is 
resigned to that of God. Remember me during mass, that 
God may give me perfect resignation." And, on the 2d of 
November, "I am in a state which renders me incapable of 
moving, and fever attacks me from time to time. How 
ever, my head is clear, and by God s grace, I am cheerful 
and resigned." 

At this time, a learned man of Naples published a treatise 
against the authority of the Church, and particularly against 
her privileges; Alphonsus, though in the midst of such 
sufferings, did not hesitate to enter the lists. He prepared 
the manuscript of a refutation, and he would have finished 
it, but on account of several circumstances, and on the 



334 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



advice of F. Villani, he did not think fit to put the finish 
ing stroke to it. During this convalescence, he also com 
posed and published a treatise on the ceremonies of mass, 
expounding most clearly all the rubrics to be observed, and 
urging upon all priests the necessity of making that pre 
paration and thanksgiving which are required by so august 
a mystery. Whilst he was bringing out this treatise, he 
received a dissertation against the fees for masses, which 
was written in an angry spirit, and published at Naples. 
The author, who wished to abolish masses and the ec 
clesiastical state altogether, pretended to demonstrate the 
great disorders, as he said, the sins of simony, the sacri 
leges, and the scandals which result from the retributions 
which priests receive from masses. In conclusion he pro 
posed that paid masses should be abolished altogether, and 
that the custom of the primitive ages should be re-establish- 
hed, of having but oneonass, and that the oblations should 
be made, as formerly, for the support of the priest, and for 
the wants of the Church and the poor. Alphonsus zealously 
took up arms and published a learned reply, in which he 
refutes the impious doctrine of the anonymous author by 
the true Catholic doctrine. He added this refutation to the 
aforesaid treatise, of which it forms the third part. 

When his Holiness, Pope Clement XIII, passed to a 
better world, Alphonsus never ceased to pray fervently that 
God would deign to grant a worthy Pastor to His Church, 
and immediately enjoined on all priests that the prayer joro 
etigendo summo Pontifice, should be recited in the diocese, 
and he recommended this matter to all who came to see him. 
" After God," he said, "is the Pope." When Clement 
XIV ascended the pontifical throne on the 19th of May, 
1769, Alphonsus rejoiced greatly on hearing that the elec 
tion had fallen on a prelate who was so full of knowledge 
and zeal. In spite of all the sufferings which had come 
upon him, he succeeded in finishing his work on dogmatics, 
which was extracted from the Council of Trent, and against 
the pretended Reformers, and he hastened to dedicate it 
to the newly elected Pontiff. This work is one of singular 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 335 

merit, and was applauded even beyond the borders of 
Italy. The Pope received with pleasure, this new evidence 
of the zeal of the indefatigable bishop in propagating the 
knowledge of true religion amongst unbelievers and moral 
ity amongst Catholics, to the latter of whom is also shown 
in this work what attachment they owe to the holy faith 
they profess. The Pope manifested his satisfaction to him, 
and thanked him kindly in a brief. 

As afflictions are sisters, they always go together; thus 
in addition to all these anxieties and sufferings, Alphonsus 
heart was oppressed by other sorrows. The Congregation 
had prospered wonderfully in Sicily up to this period. 
Besides the diocese of Girgenti, the missionaries were 
welcomed in those of Messina, and Palermo. The bishops 
of Syracuse and of Massara also wished to have them, 
though they were not sufficiently numerous to satisfy all 
these demands. All this prosperity, which consoled them, 
caused the bishop of St. Agatha to reflect seriously. "If 
the works of God," said he, " are not contradicted, they 
are not well rooted." " I am rejoiced," he wrote several 
times to F. Peter Blasucci, " at the progress of our Con 
gregation in Sicily, and am much comforted by it, but this 
universal applause makes me tremble." But soon Al 
mighty God, who willed that he should go through a mar 
tyrdom of mind as well as of body, permitted a furious 
storm to be raised up against his dear children in Sicily. 

From the month of February, 1767, a Jansenist gloried 
in accusing them to the Viceroy, as men of corrupt mor 
als, as followers of the Jesuits, and as relaxed probabilists. 
The calumny was a dangerous one and the missionaries 
began to be only spoken of as men unworthy of their po 
sition. However, they justified themselves with so much 
energy that the minister was undeceived and assured them 
of his favor and protection. In October, 1768, Mgr. Luc- 
chesi, who had been their warm friend and benefactor, 
passed to a better world, and the Prince of Campo-Franco 
declared himself his heir, ab intestat, and pretended that 
the hundred ounces annually, which had been assigned to 



336 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

them by the defunct bishop for the work of the missions 
and for their maintenance, were not validly given, and that 
the missionaries had no power to make acquisitions. He, 
in consequence, proceeded to sequester their revenues, 
and the Fathers, on finding themselves without provi 
sions, began to make preparations for leaving Sicily. The 
tidings of these sad reverses reached Alphonsus in the 
very height of his cruel malady; he was deeply affected, 
but did not allow himself to be cast down. " I received the 
disastrous news which you give me," he wrote to F. Blas- 
ucci, " but I say wrongly, for nothing that God wills can 
be disastrous. He wishes to mortify us; may His name be 
praised for ever. I specially beg you not to lose confi 
dence in Jesus Christ. If you are turned out of your 
house, try to procure another. It will not do to yield so 
soon; on the contrary, you must persevere till God shows 
that he He longer wills you to be at Girgenti. There will 
be fewer missions, but you will not lack a morsel of bread 
to keep up life. Wait and see what the deputies will do, 
what will be done by the new bishop; and, above all, what 
God s will may be. I believe that God does not will the 
destruction of this house. I continue to have no use of 
my body from* head to foot, but I am contented, and bless 
God, and thank Him, for having given me peace and 
patience." 

As Alphonsus heard that his moral theology was also 
attacked on this occasion, he sent a letter to the bishop of 
Sicily, to justify his doctrine. He also represented the 
true state of things to the Marquis of Fogliani, the Vice 
roy of Palermo, and implored his protection. They both, 
in reply, did justice to his merit and eulogized his virtue 
and knowledge. 

But a new misfortune, and one more painful than the 
first, came to increase his alarm as to the fate of his chil 
dren in Sicily. Mgr. Lanza, who succeeded to Mgr. Luc- 
chesi in the see of Girgenti, discovered in his seminary a 
traitor, who was a wolf in sheep s clothing, and sought to 
corrupt both the doctrine and the morals of this holy spot. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 337 

Ho was a chaplain belonging to the Cathedral, and profes 
sor of the Holy Scriptures, and gloried in publishing that 
the Jansenists were the true disciples of St. Augustine, that 
the Holy Roman Church was contrary to this holy doctor, 
and that in condemning the doctrine of Quesnel she con 
demned the doctrine of this and the other holy Fathers, 
and that the bull Unigenitus was impious. The new bishop 
no sooner heard of his blasphemies than he dismissed him, 
and suspended his faculties as a confessor. Now from the 
time of his arrival at Girgenti, the bishop had chosen F. 
Blasucci for his confessor and theologian, hence the chap 
lain thought that this blow could only have come to him 
through the means of this Father. Though it was the 
masters of the seminary and the pupils themselves who 
had complained of him, yet his suspicions appeared to 
have some foundation, and not being able to lay the blame 
on the bishop, he thought he had better turn his weapons 
against the missionaries; arid, as his own disgrace had be 
fallen him on account of his doctrine, he tried to assail 
that held by them. He won over several important per 
sonages to his party, and, after having obtained fourteen 
certificates, he went to Palermo, in February, 1769, and 
presented himself to the royal junta of the president and 
to the Viceroy, as having been persecuted by the mission 
aries on account of his doctrine having been in opposition 
to that they had spread to the prejudice of souls and of 
the stale. 

Mgr. Lanza hastened to represent to the viceroy and the 
junta how unjust and slanderous these reports were, and 
to inform them, at the same time, of the errors of the 
plaintiff, which were rendered public by his obstinacy. 
Calumny tarnishes what it cannot blacken ; and thus, at 
Palermo, some judged well of the missionaries, others ill, 
and several hesitated about making a judgment, being em 
barrassed by the falsehoods alleged against them. These 
divers sentiments engendered such a confusion, and things 
wore such an inauspicious aspect, that the suppression of 
the house of the missionaries and their departure were 
29 



338 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

talked of, to the great dismay of many pious persons, some 
of whom mortified themselves and fasted on bread and 
water, in order to avert such a calamity, while others dis 
tributed abundant alms, and caused a great number of 
masses to be celebrated. 

When Alphonsus was informed of all this, he adored 
the judgments of God, and never ceased to urge the mem 
bers of the Congregation to be humble and respectful to 
wards all, to keep silence and to be patient, and if the 
truth was to be made known, to declare it without injuring 
those who had shown such perfidy towards them. "Your 
Reverence seems much afraid," replied he, full of confi 
dence, to one of the Fathers, " for rne, I put all my trust 
in God, who will protect us, as He has always protected the 
holy Church, which has also been persecuted throughout 
all ages. Let us act as we ought towards God, and God 
will comfort us." However, the storm becoming more 
and more threatening, in the spring of 1769, F. Blasucci 
presented a sincere but energetic explanation to the Vice 
roy, in favor of the doctrine of Alphonsus and that of the 
missionaries. This apology, notwithstanding an anoriym6us 
address full of horrible impostures which it drew forth from 
the chaplain in whose hand it had chanced to fall, disa 
bused the Viceroy and the other ministers of the monarch, 
and peace seemed fully restored to the missionaries; but it 
was only a treacherous calm, as we shall see hereafter. 

We have admired the patience with which our saint en 
dured the tedious sufferings of a painful illness, and the 
energy with which he surmounted them and devoted him 
self to the cares of the government of his diocese, the 
labors of controversy, and the spiritual exercises which 
he had been in the habit of performing: we shall find 
equal reason to admire the mode of life he adopted as 
soon as his state became less painful. He generally took 
only five hours of sleep. The mattress he was obliged to 
use, as he did not allow it to be shaken, was just like a 
board. Fastened down to this painful bed, he was ready 
for every thing, and occupied himself about his diocese, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 339 

and listened to, and satisfied, every one. After the morning 
meditation he made his preparation for holy communion, 
which he never omitted, and assisted at the mass which 
was celebrated by his secretary. After his thanksgiving, 
which lasted an hour, he recited the canonical hours, 
although with great difficulty, and, in the course of the 
day, performed all his other exercises of private devotion 
at their appointed hours. He took half an hour s rest, 
after dinner, which was his only repast; he then made a 
spiritual reading and a meditation of half an hour each, 
made a visit to the Holy Sacrament, and the Blessed Vir 
gin, and recited vespers and compline; after that he gave 
audience, or began to study as in the morning. In fact, 
he lay on his little bed, surrounded by books, and was 
occupied without any intermission. "If it has been said 
of St. Jerome," said a venerable ecclesiastic of Naples 
who visited him, "that he triumphed over his maladies by 
not ceasing to read and write, perpetua lectione et scrip- 
tione superabat; if there is reason to marvel at seeing all 
that St. Gregory has written, although he was infirm arid in 
bad health, infirma et aegra valetudine : Mgr. Liguori 
ought to excite still more admiration, on account of the 
numerous labors to which he devoted himself when in a 
worse state than St. Jerome and St. Gregory ever were." 
Those who took the greatest interest in him personally, 
applied to F. Villani, to get him, in his capacity of director, 
to moderate such great application, that thereby he might 
not shorten his days. But our saint justified himself 
mildly, and replied : " I do not think that I ought to remain 
idle. I could employ myself in reading, without dictating, 
but my head would gain nothing by that. When I have 
read for twenty minutes, or half an hour at most, I can do 
no more; besides, I do not neglect my devotions; .... 
but there are many days which are entirely taken up by the 
affairs of my diocese, and while the visitation I have com 
menced continues, all the writings must slumber. I have 
been anxious to enter into all these details with your Rev 
erence, in order to obtain your blessing." 



340 LIFE OF ST. A.LPHONSUS. 

To take his nourishment caused him extreme pain ; he 
experienced the greatest difficulty in introducing any thing 
like food into his mouth, and could only drink by means of 
a quill. It was suggested to him to get a silver pipe made ; 
but he rejected the idea with horror. At first he only made 
use of a wooden pipe, but the use of hot drinks caused seve 
ral of them to split. One of the lay-brothers of the Con 
gregation having manufactured another sort of pipe, it 
had to be thrown away because the rust destroyed it, al 
though Alphonsus did not complain of it. Application 
was at length made to a silversmith, who made one of sil 
ver, but he was obliged to pretend that it was of some other 
metal. 

He was distressed at first at not being able to visit his 
cherished sick. However, he supplied his place by priests 
and different ecclesiastics, never neglecting to supply them, 
or other poor people he heard of, with what they might 
require, by means of Br. Francis, or his servant. He 
wished to know about the state of those in greatest suffer 
ing, day by day, and what they required in regard to fopd 
and medicine. On hearing that a poor cloistered nun had 
met with an accident which obliged her never to leave her 
chair, although she could still sew and knit, he assigned 
her an assistance of five carlins a month. 

God also aided him in the exercise of his charity, and 
several sick persons were cured through his prayers. F. 
Joseph Morgillo, of the Congregation of Pious Workmen, 
fell and broke his leg ; the bone was reset, but the opera 
tion did not suceeed, and he was for ten days in great suf 
fering and unable to take any rest. When Alphonsus 
heard of his sad state, he sent his servant to him with a 
little picture of the Blessed Virgin, telling him to have 
confidence in her, and she would obtain his cure. The 
Father placed the picture on his face, saying : " My Queen ! 
by the merits of Mgr. Liguori, deliver me from this tor 
ment," and he was cured that very instant. F. Morgillo 
honored this picture as long as he lived, as a relic of the 
blessed bishop from whom he had received it. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 341 

Alphonsus had sold his carriage during the time of the 
scarcity, as we have already said, and had not since thought 
of procuring another; but the doctors, on seeing his body 
so paralyzed, and his mind so devoted to study, ordered 
him to take a daily drive, in order to preserve a remnant of 
life. Although he was always anxious to follow their ad 
vice, he manifested indifference about it this time, and 
when the doctors and those of his own household insisted, 
he answered: " What is the use of these drives? I am well 
enough as I am, and I do not suffer. The money which a 
carriage and horses would cost me ought to be employed 
by me in relieving the poor." On seeing, however, the 
real necessity of his having it, Br. Francis and others re 
solved to buy him a poor sort of a carriage, which, to 
gether with the horses, caused an expense of one hundred 
and thirteen ducats. At first he was told that it was a pre 
sent from D. Hercules, but when he knew how it was, he 
complained to Br. Tartaglione for having caused so much 
expense for these things. " You could have economized," 
he wrote to him, "by buying a carriage and horses of an 
inferior quality." He also wished the horses to be treated 
and equipped in a manner conformable to his own ideas, 
that is to say, as poorly as possible ; so his drives afforded 
great diversion to the gentlemen of Arienzo. "An old 
bishop," said they, " an old coachman, an old carriage, 
and old horses." 

These drives, though ordered for his relief, often ended 
in being most painful to him. If the carriage met with any 
shock by coming in contact with a stone, or from any 
other cause, it was a martyrdom to Alphonsus, whose head 
was as it were dislocated by each jolt. One evening, one 
of the wheels met with such a shock that the spokes were all 
scattered about, the carriage was upset, and it was a mira 
cle that he was not killed by the blow. Br. Anthony and 
the servant lifted him up in their arms with great difficulty, 
but as they were not able to bear such a weight long at a 
time, they were obliged to put him down on the road, at 
intervals ; some poor women who were going home, per- 
29* 



342 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

ceived him, arid in compassion lent him a chair. On other 
occasions, a shaft or other part of the harness broke, 
and he had to wait in the middle of the street till it was 
mended. Moreover, one of the horses had a singular 

O 

habit ; after having gone through various contortions of 
the head, he would suddenly lie down, and would not get 
up agnin until after having been pulled by the ears for a 
long while. Several times, Alphonsus was obliged to get 
out of the carriage, in the middle of the road, and to re 
main there patiently, if he could not be dragged to the 
palace, supported by those who were with him. The in 
capacity of the coachman multiplied these accidents, for 
either he did not see what was in the way, or else, not 
knowing how to avoid it, he ran up against something or 
other at every step. Alphonsus was the only one who did 
not appear to suffer, and he never thought of changing the 
horses, the carriage, OK the coaclnnan. At first he went out 
in the mornings and evenings, but at a later period he only 
took his drive in the evening, and always in the country, 
to avoid the frequent meetings which interrupted him when 
driving through the town. Not to lose an instant of time, 
as soon as he was seated in the carriage, he began to recite 
an Ave Maria to the Blessed Virgin, and then said the Gloria 
Patri three times in honor of his patron-saints, and the De 
Profundis for the souls in purgatory. He had then the 
life of some saint, or some other book on ecclesiastical 
matters, read to him ; as he was a little deaf, they were 
obliged to read in a very loud tone of voice. He most 
frequently went to St. Mary de Vico, visited the Blessed 
Sacrament there, and excited the people to fervor by some 
holy exhortation. When he left the church, the book was 
re-opened and not closed again until he re-entered the 
palace court. After he had gone on with this regimen for 
nearly two years, he became scrupulous about the expense 
which the horses and coachman occasioned, and wished 
the carriage to be sold, that its value might be distributed to 
the poor. The representations of the doctors, of the Grand- 
Vicar and the whole household were useless, or moved 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

him but little; but he yielded to the command of F. Vil- 
lani. 

After the evening meditation with his household, he re 
cited matins and lauds with his secretary, and then resumed 
his studies. All his household assembled again about nine 
o clock, and recited the rosary and night prayers. The 
grand-vicar then went to supper with the rest, while Al- 
phonsus prolonged his studies until midnight, and when 
they brought him a miserable collation, which generally 
consisted of a little coffee or milk, or even of nothing but 
lemonade or pure water, he took it with the watch in hand. 
" I have witnessed the long sufferings of the saint," said 
F. Buonoparie, " and I have admired his marvellous and 
truly Christian modesty; this appeared in things almost 
too undignified to be related; when, for example, he went 
to bed at midnight, he took off his under garments himself, 
and after he had got into bed with great pain, he had his 
stockings pulled off, underneath the clothes." 

The celebration of mass was the only thing wanting in 
the life of Alphonsus. This privation, and it was one 
which he felt the most, lasted for more than two years, dur 
ing which time he had been obliged to be satisfied with 
receiving holy communion from the hands of the priest 
whose mass he heard. One day he related his distress to 
F. Marcorio. an Augustinian, who had come to invite him 
to preach in their church on the occasion of the feast of the 
Girdle; this Father told him that necessity dispensed him 
from the less essential parts, and that by placing himself on 
a chair he could easily take the precious blood. Alphon 
sus received this advice with a transport of joy, and tried 
to put it in practice, and after two or three attempts, he 
had the exceeding consolation to celebrate on the following 
day. After vespers he went to preach at St. Augustine s, 
and could not cease thanking him who had suggested 
such a happy expedient. From this time he celebrated 
mass every day, and obtained permission from Rome to say 
that of the Blessed Virgin at all times. As he was most 
exact in observing all the rubrics, he would bend his knee 



344 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOJVSUS. 

until he touched the platform, which rendered the genu 
flexions most painful to him ; and when he wished to raise 
the knee again, it fell heavily back, and he only succeeded 
in standing up again by the aid of another person, so that 
when the mass was over, he was in a perspiration, and 
quite exhausted. But, notwithstanding, the fervor of his 
devotion was so great that he appeared like an angel, and 
when he prepared to take the precious blood, his face be 
came inflamed like that of a man ravished out of himself. 
For his thanksgiving, he heard the mass of his chaplain, or 
of another priest, sitting down, but at the words " Et incar- 
natus est," he fell to the ground, full of compunction, and 
remained there bending profoundly; he did the same at the 
consecration, and each time he required assistance in sit 
ing down again. All the time he had been unable to say 
mass, he never forgot his people, but had mass said for 
them by one or the other of the Fathers of his Congregation. 
Such was Alphonsus condition during all the remaining 
time of his episcopate; and, all the while, he retrenched 
none of his austerities or labors. In order to be accessible 
to all, he caused his bed to be placed in a room where every 
one might come to him, and this was his only apartment, or 
to speak more correctly, his sole apartment was his bed: ex 
cept for the meditation, he had no fixed hours, and wished 
the door to be open to every body, but the poor were es 
pecially privileged. Not a day passed in which he did not 
receive or dispatch several messages, either for remedy 
ing some disorder or to inquire into the state of things. 
However great had been his vigilance up to this time, it ap 
peared to be redoubled in these latter years, and as he who 
fears that he will not be able to attain his end hastens his 
steps in order to reach it, so Alphonsus, always imagining 
that he did not fulfil his office well, unceasingly redoubled 
his solicitude in order to accomplish his duties better. As 
soon as he heard of any disorder, he took no rest; he asked 
advice, examined into it, and provided for its removal. 
There was not a single day that he did not cause some 
priest or episcopal vicar to come to Arienzo, in order to 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 345 

become acquainted with all that could concern him. " You 
see in what state I am," he said to the priests, " if you are 
not careful in informing me of all the disorders which oc 
cur, you will be responsible for all the mischief, and should 
you not do so, remember that from this time I accuse you 
of them before the tribunal of God." When he was in 
formed of any abuse through the medium of some one 
else, and not by the priest, especially if this latter had kept 
silence through human respect, he lost all peace, and in 
spite of all his mildness, he never concealed from any one 
how much he felt it. 

This vigilance had for its objects, as usual, the clergy, 
the religious, and the laity ; and when there was any scandal, 
and when paternal exhortations were of no avail, he had 
recourse to the help of the great, and even to that of the 
king in case of need. When any disorder was to be 
checked, he did not suffer it to be deferred until the fol 
lowing day, if it could be done at once. " He neither 
took food nor rest," said his grand-vicar, "until he saw 
the evil cut down to the roots, arid when any matter of this 
sort was in question, the only meal he took in the whole 
course of that day was the evening one." 

He required to be informed of the way in which things 
were going on in the seminary, several times a week. He 
very often caused F. Caputo to come to Arienzo. Some 
times he sent for those students whose conduct and labors 
were distinguished as being exemplary, and made them 
give an account of the conduct of the others. He was es 
pecially vigilant over those who stayed at home on account 
of indisposition, taking every possible care to ascertain 
whether the necessity for thus staying away was real or 
only pretended, and he particularly recommended them to 
the care of the priests and episcopal vicars. When he re 
ceived information of the misconduct of a seminarist, he 
caused him to be reproved, and if this was not followed by 
amendment, the subject was expelled ; so that the young 
pupils were much more afraid of displeasing their bishop, 
when he was paralytic and stretched on his sick bed, than 



346 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

when he was up and well. After the few first years, he 
had forbidden the vacations being passed out of the estab 
lishment; but he wished that all suitable recreations should 
be afforded in the seminary, and that nothing should be 
spared which could in this respect conduce to the health 
of the pupils. The reason of this redoubled severity and 
vigilance towards the seminarists, as well as towards the 
candidates for ordination and the faculties of confessors, 
was, as he said to a canon, that he did not wish to aive his 

O 

successor occasion to weep over sin. 

He no sooner gained a little strength than he wished to 
perform also the ministry of the word, and again went about 
preaching, wherever any solemnity gave a prospect of a 
numerous audience. On account of his great infirmities, 
he required several persons to place him in the carriage, 
and to aid him in ascending the pulpit. Whilst he preached, 
his face could not be $een ; his arm only moved about to 
wards the people ; however, he went on unhesitatingly for 
hours, and it was uncertain whether his words, or the touch 
ing spectacle he himself presented, were the most affecting. 
He was conducted to the church, every year, when mass 
was celebrated on Holy Saturday, after which he seated 
himself at the side of the altar, and announced the Easter 
feast to the people, endeavoring, by a picture of the resur 
rection of Jesus Christ, to excite his children to rise to life 
by a spiritual resurrection, and strongly urged all those 
who had not yet fulfilled their Easter duty to comply with 
this holy command. He was particularly watchful in see 
ing that the priests did not omit to instruct the people and 
catechise the children. 

He opened, in person, the Visitation, on the 2d of July, 
in the year 1769, in the collegiate church of Arienzo, being 
assisted thither and supported by his servants. It was a 
sight which caused all present to shed tears; he preached 
to the people and to the clergy, and made all the necessary 
arrangements. He also continued to visit this college and 
the adjacent villages every year himself, until 1774, a year 
before his resignation, when his state made it quite impos- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 347 

sible for him to do so. He always felt the greatest interest 
in these pastoral visitations. " However flourishing a graft 
may be," said he, "if the trunk on which it is grafted is 
not pruned of its wild shoots, they will be like so many 
natural branches which will exhaust the graft. The same 
thing occurs in the culture of souls," continued he, "if 
one does not cut away all that is wild, that is to say, all 
that nature produces of herself, the good that one has 
grafted in cannot fail to perish." As he was unable to go 
to distant places in person, he supplied his place by the 
grand-vicar, to whom he especially commended the poor, 
the widows, and those innocent souls whom indigence ex 
poses to the danger of being lost. 

As the observance of discipline in regard to the choir, 
and vestments, had suffered a little in consequence of his 
absence from the Cathedral of St. Agatha, he issued an 
edict, in 1770, renewing the ordinances he had formerly 
decreed on these subjects. He was informed that a priest 
had transgressed some of his decrees, especially in regard 
to some church furniture which he ought to have renewed, 
whereupon he sequestered twelve ducats from his income, 
in order to make these repairs, which he entrusted to the 
management of a canon. He noticed that the church of 
Bucciano was dirty and too small for the people, and, sev 
eral times, let the priest know that it required to be en 
larged. The priest was afraid of the trouble and expense, 
and could not resolve to commence the work, but as Al- 
phonsus thought that the holy mysteries could not be 
decently celebrated in the church, he ordered, in the visi 
tation of 1773, that some adjacent ground should be 
bought within the space of one month, and he had the sat 
isfaction of seeing a large edifice erected, and one worthy 
of the purpose for which it was consecrated. 

Though he had not sufficient strength to give the spiritual 
exercises to the priests and religious, as before, he assem 
bled them together at his palace, and during at least three 
days, reminded them of the duties of their state. Thus 
Alphonsus, although paralytic, was always vigilant in driv- 



348 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

ing away wolves from his flock, and in procuring the 
spiritual advantage of his sheep by every possible means. 
He unceasingly fortified his people by his counsels and 
the bread of the Word, and sent zealous missionaries 
wherever he could not go himself. The zeal for the glory 
of God, which formed a chief trait in his character, actuated 
him unceasingly, up to the moment when he quitted the 
diocese. " A hundred bishops put together," Archdeacon 
Rainone said, " would not have done what Mgr. Liguori 
alone did, notwithstanding all his infirmities." 

We have seen the wise counsels Alphonsus gave to his 
brother, D. Hercules, on his second marriage; he took, 
however, a still greater interest in the spiritual welfare of 
his nephews. D. Hercules had four children by his second 
wife, three boys and one daughter, and he wished Alphon 
sus to be the god-father for all four. During D. Marianne s 
first pregnancy, D. Hercules took her to Arienzo. Both 
wished that they would obtain a male child; Alphonsus, 
however, gave a little picture of the Blessed Virgin to 
Marianne, and said : " You will not give birth to a boy, but 
to a girl, and I should like you to call her Maria Theresa 
And this really came to pass. His gift to her, on occa 
sion of the baptism, was a relic of St. Agatha, which he 
had himself received as a present; it was in a little silver 
box which did not exceed a few cents in value. D. Her 
cules then entreated Alphonsus to pray to God to grant 
him a male child. He went with his wife to Ariola, where 
Alphonsus then was, during her second pregnancy. When 
they took leave of him, they again asked of him to pray 
to God to grant them a son. In reply, he gave D. Marianne 
two pictures of St. Louis, and told her to be of good 
courage, and that God would certainly comfort her. Two 
pictures of the same saint seemed undoubtedly a mystery; 
but D. Marianne was delivered of twin sons. They were 
comforted by the birth of a third son after this. 

Alphonsus took a great interest in the education of his 
nephews, that they might imbibe the milk of piety, be 
times. The priest, their tutor, related that there came no 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 349 

letter from St. Agatha in which he did not urge his brother 
to attend to the education of his children. He even com 
posed a short rule for them, which was appropriate to their 
age, in order that they might pass the day devoutly. In a 
letter to D. Hercules, of the 4th of December, 1770, he 
expresses himself thus: "For the love of God often call to 
mind what I have urged upon you so frequently in regard to 
the business of your eternal salvation. I am pleased to hear 
that my little god-sons practice the devotions I have recom 
mended for them. I hope they will be inclined to become 
saints." When, once, D. Hercules introduced his three sons 
to their uncle, at Arienzo, he looked at the twins, and said : 
" If you should lose one of these two, should you be very sad 
at it?" Alphonsus had prophesied ; for after some months, 
one of the twin-brothers died. The disconsolate and aged 
father came to St. Agatha to seek for comfort from his 
saintly brother, when he reminded him of his prophecy. 
"Do not say any more to me," he said to him, "for your 
prophecies are too inauspicious." "Fear no more," re 
plied Alphonsus, "for you will preserve the sons who 
now remain to you, and you will see them live and grow 
old." 

He himself, after having instructed them, gave them con 
firmation, and whenever they came to see him, he explained 
to them their duties towards God and their parents, the 
hideousness of sin, and how much bad conduct dishonors 
a Christian and a gentleman. He, above all, tried to in 
spire them with love for Jesus Christ, and a tender devo 
tion towards the Blessed Virgin. When they grew up, D. 
Hercules intended to place them in the college of the 
nobility, and communicated his design to his brother, who 
replied on the 15th of December, 1771, saying: "I cannot 
approve of your project, because I have not an over good 
opinion of that establishment; besides, boys are not fit to 
enter a college until they are at least ten or twelve years of 
age. In order to prevent their imbibing vice in their very 
infancy, it is good for them at present to remain with you, 
and when God wills it, it will be time to think of their going 
30 



350 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

elsewhere; but I repeat, that they ought not to go to the 
college now. I should like to know where they may best 
be placed so as to become virtuous as well as learned." 
He heard that the college of Nunziatella would pass into 
the hands of the Fathers of the Pious Schools, otherwise 
called the Tommasque Fathers; he therefore wrote to his 
brother, saying: "Should this college be under the direc 
tion of these Fathers, I should be inclined to wish that my 
nephews should be entrusted to the management of these 
good priests, because they are especially pains-taking, from 
the first, in forming the children who are confided to them 
properly, and thus your sons would make more progress in 
three or four years, than they would make elsewhere in 
twice that time." In another letter,"he had said, "The 
malice of but one is enough to cause the ruin of a hundred. 
Keep them under your own eyes, and God will provide for 
the rest, when the proper time shall come. For your part, 
have their spiritual good at heart, and Providence will take 
care to supply their temporal wants, without injury to those 
of the soul." 

D. Hercules wished to present his two sons to the king, 
but Alphonsus wished him not to do it. " If the king were 
to tell you," he wrote to him, "that he wishes to have 
them as cadets in the brigade or some other regiment, you 
will be obliged to make them cadets or soldiers, and thus 
to risk the loss of their souls as well as that of their bodies. 
I see that you do not enter into my sentiments as to the 
way of bringing up these dear little children, and you do 
the contrary of what I tell you. You are their father, there 
fore you can do what you please, but I am greatly afraid 
that you will one day have cause to repent of some misfor 
tune, which you will then be unable to remedy. The love 
which I bear towards you and your children has made me 
write thus." 

It came to pass that D. Marianne became tormented with 
scruples, and at last lost her senses. "I sympathize in 
your sorrow," Alphonsus wrote to D. Hercules, on the 5th 
of April, 1768, "in regard to the calamity which has be- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 351 

fallen D. Marianne, and I beg God to give you patience. 
Since he has sent you this cross, you must accept it with 
good courage, otherwise it will become more weighty, and 
you will be still obliged to bear it." " I beg your reverence," 
he wrote to F. Villani, on this subject, " to recommend my 
brother to God, and to write to all our houses to pray for 
D. Marianne, for my poor brother is in great distress." 

D. Charles Cavalieri, the general, and governor of Man 
tua, a cousin of Alphonsus, died in the beginning of the 
year 1770, and left to him and D. Hercules sixty thousand 
ducats. Alphonsus did not hesitate to yield it all without 
reserve to his brother. He expressed himself in the fol 
lowing terms on this subject, and in regard to all that might 
happen of a similar sort at any other time : " I do not wish 
for rents, or possessions, or for any thing else I may have 
a claim to; even were I to be no longer bishop, I could 
live on my income from the college of doctors. Be satis 
fied, therefore, and be not uneasy on this head ; it is enough 
for you to know that I lay no claim to any money from you, 
either for the past or for the future." 

By all this, we see that neither his various and great in 
firmities, nor his solicitude as a pastor, could stifle the senti 
ments of tenderness he owed to his nephews. Neither did 
he forget his dear children of the Congregation. In order 
to cause virtue and evangelical perfection to flourish, which 
he had formerly taught by his example, he wrote the fol 
lowing circular on the 26th of February, 1771 : " You al 
ready know that within a short time God has called several 
of our companions into eternity ; you also know how much 
the Congregation is persecuted. However, none of all this 
gives me any alarm. But I am alarmed at seeing some 
amongst us who have little fervor and numerous faults. St. 
Philip Neri said that ten holy workmen would suffice for 
the conversion of the whole world. I write to you this 
time with tearful eyes, for I hear that several amongst you 
correspond badly with the end for which God called them 
into our little Congregation, and that they allow themselves 
to be governed by a spirit of pride. God cannot dwell in 



352 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

hearts where Christian humility, fraternal charity, and peace 
are absent. Our sin in not corresponding to God s grace 
makes me tremble more than the most furious persecutions 
from men and devils ; God will protect us against these 
enemies, when we live according to His will, and then we 
can say: c Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nosT but if we 
behave ill towards God, He will chastise instead of protect 
ing us. T feel great displeasure when I hear that any of the 
young amongst you do not live according to evangelical 
perfection, which is the peculiar duty of laborers of Jesus 
Christ; but the pain I suffer is still more keen, and the 
sadness of my heart is still greater, when I am told that 
faults of insubordination and of non-observance of the rule 
are committed by the fathers, or by the most aged and most 
ancient brothers, by those, in short, who ought to serve as 
models for the younger and those recently received. 

11 In my letters and my discourses, I have always enforced 
fioly obedience and submission to superiors, who are the 
interpreters of the will of God here below. On these de 
pend good order, the glory of God, the success of the Mis,- 
sions, and the peace of our souls. . . . Reform and zeal 
are talked of by some, but no thoughts are entertained by 
them of reforming their own conduct, which is more evil 
than that of the rest. . . . God wishes to have obedience 
and respectful submission to superiors from you, rather than 
a hundred sacrifices, and a thousand more striking works. 
God wishes us to be poor, and contented with the poverty 
we profess ; and we ought to thank Him if by His mercy we 
have bread to eat, and if He provides us with the necessa 
ries of life. He who is not satisfied to lead a life of poverty 
amongst us, in food and clothing, had better take leave of 
our society without troubling us further, and can go and 
live as he likes at home. 

" What ought to be the principal aim of him who enters 
the Congregation, but that of pleasing God and making a 
good death ? and this grace has already been obtained by 
many of our good brothers, who have now passed into 
eternity, and who are at present, I feel assured, all occu- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 353 

pied in thanking God for having caused them to die in the 
Congregation. 

"Let each of you renounce the vain glory of shining, in 
preaching the word of God. . . . We must not preach 
ourselves, but Jesus Christ crucified ; we must proclaim His 
glory, and not display our vanity ; I pray God to send His 
chastisements down on those who preach with vanity ; I 
wish, yes, I wish that they may be rendered unable to as 
cend the pulpit of truth, and I hope that my desires will be 
granted. . . . 

"I am persuaded that God preserves my life at so 
advanced an age, in order to remedy the disorders which 
have arisen, to the detriment of the work of the Mission 
aries; and I am resolved to remedy them at all costs. God 
does not require many. It is sufficient if but few remain, 
if those few be good : a few of this latter sort will do more 
good than a great number of the imperfect, proud, and dis 
obedient. ... I say to all who may despise the advice I 
have just given, that at the judgment day they will find that 
I shall be their first accuser before the tribunal of Jesus 
Christ. I have never ceased to give the same warnings to 
all my brothers, but notwithstanding all that I have said, 
many turn their backs on God by quitting the Congregation. 
I shall expect to see these miserable beings, and all who 
may resemble them, at the day of judgment. . . . 

"I advise you all to observe exactly the praiseworthy 
practices in use amongst us for the promotion of piety and 
sanctification. I enforce obedience to superiors, and love 
towards Jesus Christ and His adorable passion. I do the 
same also in regard to prayer, the spiritual exercises, and 
the customary retreat. Let him who loves Jesus Christ 
be obedient, let him be contented with all, and always re 
main in tranquillity." 

It is thus that the saintly founder encouraged his sons, 
and never let them stand still in the way of perfection. 
However slight an infraction of the rule might be commit 
ted in the Congregation, it did not remain unpunished. 
" Uncorrected faults," said he, "become an established 
30* 



354 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

evil." On hearing that some clerics had become lax in the 
practice of virtue, and unsteady in the observance of the 
rule, he was not satisfied with forbidding them to receive 
holy orders, but wished that they should be sent back into the 
Noviciate, in order that they might there regain the fervor 
which was lacking in them, and he did not pardon them un 
til he was assured of their amendment. The exterior trials 
of the Congregation, however, caused him to act with more 
circumspection, and he was not so prompt as usual in pro 
nouncing sentence of exclusion, in order not to increase 
the fire, and cast oil on the flames, by giving the discon 
tented the occasion to join the enemies without. Two 
subjects were tired of the rule, and no longer took the 
trouble to observe it; Alphonsus sent for them to Arienzo 
and spoke to them, but without success. In their blind 
ness they went so far as to say that they would remain 
in the Congregation in v spite even of him, and that if any 
attempt were made to dismiss them, they would know how 
to act. Alphonsus, in sorrow that the circumstances of the 
times did not allow them to be expelled, said that that, 
which he did not do God would do for him ; and so it came 
to pass, one of them asked for a dispensation to go that 
same year, and the other speedily followed his example. 
" I know," he wrote to the Superior of Frosinone, " that it is 
necessary to have the patience of a saint with some, and to 
go on waiting without gaining what one wishes for; but 
what can be done ? Let us aid the bark as much as we can, 
and if we meet with scandals, let us not hesitate: let us re 
press them by the punishments they deserve. It is our 
duty to punish them, and we must fulfil our duty, let what 
will happen." And to F. Cajone, he wrote, "I beg your 
reverence, to govern with all possible mildness, added to 
great firmness against all attacks against the rule, for they 
do us more harm than all our persecutions. When it is 
necessary to use correction, do it privately in the first place, 
and with charity, and treat every one with affability and 
kindness." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 355 

The persecutions mentioned in these letters were those 
of which we have spoken above, on occasion of which he 
had visited Naples; for the enemies of his Congregation 
had only desisted from their attacks while he was there, re 
solved to return to the assault at a more opportune time, 
with renewed strength, and with expedients which it would 
be more difficult to ward off. Thus they gave a false inter 
pretation to the decision of the king when he said that he 
did not acknowledge the houses as religious communities, 
and drew matter for accusation from it, whiah seemed to 
furnish them with an engine too formidable to resist. They 
applied also to the king, and obtained an order to get a 
copy of the rule which had been approved of by the Pope, in 
the hope of finding therein arms wherewith to combat the 
Missionaries advantageously; and then drew up a fresh peti 
tion filled with calumnies. As nothing was then talked of 
but Jesuitism, they took advantage of this and represented 
the Congregation as forming only a branch of the Jesuits, or 
rather as being Jesuits in disguise. They thought themselves 
so sure of success that they considered the Missionaries as 
already lost. However, all their boasts did not succeed in 
discouraging Alphonsus. He tried to make his children 
share in his confidence, and constantly repeated to them: 
" People say that all will be put an end to, after my death ; 
I maintain that this Congregation does not come from me, 
and that it does not depend on my existence. It is the 
work of God, who has preserved it for forty-two years, and 
he will continue to maintain it. ... Our stability depends 
on God in the first place, and then upon our own good 
conduct ; let us therefore be careful to unite ourselves to 
God, to observe our rules, and to be charitable towards all; 
let us be contented even with our miseries, and above all, 
let us strive to be humble, because a little pride may destroy 
us in the same manner as it has so many other societies." 
The Fathers of the Congregation had not so much confi 
dence ; their fears were founded on the old age and the 
impaired health of the bishop of St. Agatha. F. Villani 
went to Arienzo in 1772, accompanied by some of the 



356 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

other fathers, and with tearful eyes implored him to repair 
again to Naples to appease so furious a tempest. They 
spoke so plainly that Alphonsus discovered the real cause 
of their fears, and told them to tranquilize themselves. 
"Do not be afraid that I shall die yet," he added ; but as 
they continued to urge him still more earnestly, he said to 
them several times over: "Do not fear for the Congrega 
tion, and be assured that I shall live some time longer." 

Maffey, at this time, changed his course and his artifices; 
he applied to the prime minister and left off addressing 
himself to the minister of ecclesiastical affairs, who had 
begun to be aware of his character. The prime minister, 
Marquis Tanucci, looked, or pretended to look on Maffey 
in a favorable point of view, and attributed all he did to 
nothing but zeal, the more so as the latter had also gained 
over some of the minister s clerks by means of his gifts; he 
therefore ordered the advocate of the king to proceed with 
the utmost rigor in regard to the heads put forth in the pe 
tition, and particularly as to the accusation, that acquisi 
tions had been made by the Missionaries in the kingdom 
and in the State of Benevento which had been carefully 
concealed by equivocation, while they ought not to possess 
anything. When these details were related to Alphonsus, 
he was not discouraged : " Let us act as we ought towards 
God," said he, "and He will aid us; for God can do more 
than man. Let us have recourse to the assistance of pray 
er. Innocence and prayer are all-powerful." He recom 
mended that prayers should be offered in all the houses, 
and he never wrote any letters to his friends in which he 
did not also beg their prayers. 

Another cause of distress to our Saint also happened 
about this time at Palermo. A period of repose had been 
enjoyed there since the first anxieties that their enemies had 
caused the Missionaries, though Alphonsus had always 
feared this calm more than a storm ; he had written to them 
on the 30th of April, 1771, saying: "I feel great consola 
tion at the exercises you have given, I derive comfort from 
them, but on the other hand these very consolations fill me 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 357 

with fear. St. Theresa said that persecutions are signs that 
the seed sown produces fruit ; you are without persecu 
tions, but here we are plentifully supplied with them; how 
ever, God assists us." He was so ill and in such suffering 
that he signed this letter: Brother Alphonsus Maria the 
cripple. And indeed this tranquillity was not of long dura 
tion in Sicily. Their adversaries returned to attack them 
with renewed strength ; they heaped up calumnies upon 
calumnies, and stirred up again those which they had al 
ready spread against the Missionaries, as being Molinists 
and Probabilists, dangerous to the State and to the Church, 
and pursued their persecutions against them even in Naples. 
When Alphonsus saw affairs take this turn, he did not fail 
to justify himself and his Congregation to the king and his 
ministers. 

About the same time, Maffey devised a snare into which 
the Missionaries would have fallen, if Alphonsus, assisted by 
light from on high, had not been able to avoid it. Maffey 
got into new difficulties with the people of Iliceto, and 
tried to secure the Missionaries as mediators between him 
and his adversaries; there were several influential persons, 
their friends, who approved of this proposal, and exhorted 
them to bring the negociation to a satisfactory end ; but 
Alphonsus, being informed of all this, answered : " It 
would be the means of alienating the minds of the inhab 
itants from us, without giving any hope of a reconciliation 
with Maffey; he is an untractable man, whom it is impos 
sible to pacify, besides, what we might say to the people in 
favor of Maffey would be of no avail ; they would all be 
lieve that we speak, not because he is right, but to win his 
friendship. On the other hand, everything makes me be 
lieve, that in whatever way one may turn in the matter, 
right will always be found on the side of the people. . . . 
I am then decidedly of opinion, that no one belonging to 
the Congregation must accept the office of mediator on any 
terms." When Maffey saw that his scheme on the subject 
of mediation was disconcerted, he endeavored to render 
the complaints of the people against him ineffectual, by 



358 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

representing the Missionaries as instigators and as the 
leaders of a party, and the credit he enjoyed with the Mar 
quis of Tanucci influenced that minister in his favor. 
When Alphonsus saw that the fire was lit at both extremi 
ties, he felt that it was time to try and prevent a general 
conflagration; he therefore recalled his sons from Sicily. 
"If God wishes us to be there," he said to them, "he will 
not lack means of .procuring our return, and you will then 
return blessing God and the king." This retreat was a 
cause of lively distress to Mgr. Lanza. " Who cannot see 
the triumph of hell therein ?" he said. "You will go away 
from Sicily, but you shall return there again, in spite of 
hell; and if it is necessary for me to sell my mitre and my 
cross in order to attain this end, I will sell them for God, 
for you, and for this work." The most respectable of the 
people of the town and of the clergy shared in their pastor s 
sentiments; and though the departure of the Missionaries 
took place secretly, and during the night, a great multitude 
accompanied them to the shore, deploring the loss which 
their departure would be to the town, and the blank they 
would leave there ; and they had scarcely embarked, whe n 
the clergy and all the religious orders of Girgenti, the cheva 
liers and ladies, magistrates and men of letters, united to 
address petitions to the king to obtain their return. Some 
of them had also recourse to Alphonsus for the same pur 
pose; and thirty-eight ladies in particular, and twenty-eight 
chevaliers, wrote to him, saying: "As we have addressed 
an energetic petition to the king to implore his clemency, 
the urgency of our spiritual wants also compels us to 
implore your lordship s assistance." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 359 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Jllphonsus seeks io resign. He publishes several Works. 
His Congregation is established in the States of the 
Church. He publishes still other Works. He assists at 
the death of Pope Clement XIV. His sentiments on the 
Election of a new Pope. His Missionaries return to 
Sicily. 

A LPHONSUS, seeing the dangers his Congregation in- 
J\. curred, on one hand, and believing, on the other, that 
his infirmities and great age rendered him of little use to his 
Church while he could still be of service to his sons, resolved 
again to resign the episcopate. He had thought of doing so 
before, but the differences which existed between the court 
of Naples and that of Rome in regard to the election of 
bishops, had made him defer taking any step in the matter, 
from the fear that his Church would be left without a shep 
herd for a long time. When the two courts had settled 
the matter in debate, he represented to the Pope in the 
year 1772, through Cardinal Castelli, all the reasons which 
led him to tender his resignation, protesting at the same 
time that he was far from wishing to do his own will, and that 
he meant to depend entirely on that of his Holiness, and 
that he was equally ready to give up the bishopric, or to 
die under the burden of his office. The Pope was greatly 
edified by his submission to the head of the Church ; but as 
he was aware of the very great good Alphonsus still effected, 
he replied to him in a brief, in which he expressed himself 
in the most consolatory manner, in order to encourage him 
to continue his administration ; and when Cardinal Cas 
telli solicited him to consider the old age of the saintly 
bishop, arid to release him from his burthen, his Holiness 
replied: "That it would suffice if D. Alphonsus ruled over 
his diocese from his bed:" and when the Cardinal wanted 
to show him his incapacity in regard to making his visita 
tions, the Pope answered him: "One simple prayer ad- 



360 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

dressed by him to God from his bed, is worth more than if 
he went about his diocese a hundred times." Alphon- 
sus, when he heard that the Pope s opinion was contrary 
to his request, bent his head, and submitted his will to that 
of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. 

The Fathers of the Congregation, and several bishops, 
his friends, seeing him in such a deplorable state that his 
very appearance inspired compassion, thought they ought 
to persuade him to make a formal resignation, but however 
feeble he felt for so weighty a charge, he would never con 
sent to this. " The voice of the Pope," said he, "is to me 
as the voice of God, and I shall die content now under the 
burthen of the episcopate." As they went on to urge him 
with reasons which seemed to authorize this step, he one 
day extricated himself from their importunities by answer 
ing cheerfully: " The present Pope is a man who does not 
yield easily; if I wpre to give him my resignation, he 
would not accept it; let us be patient, and wait for his suc 
cessor." At this every one burst out laughing, as Alphon- 
sus was nearly broken down and paralytic, while the Pope 
was still robust and young, numbering seventeen years less 
in age. He had prophesied truly, however. Pope Clement 
XIV, contrary to all expectations, died two years after this, 
while Alphonsus continued to live on and to labor. An 
other reason made him afterwards renounce the idea of 
abdicating, and even caused him to expel the thought of it 
as a temptation. Numerous candidates aspired to succeed 
him in the church of St. Agatha, and he heard that the 
Pope would be obliged, in order to supply his place, to 
yield to the efforts of a powerful party, who favored a sub 
ject who was unfit to govern the diocese. He said on this 
occasion : " I would rather die the most painful death, than 
see my beloved sheep in the mouth of a wolf." 

In a circular, addressed, about this time, to all the houses 
of his Congregation, after having exhorted them to a more 
exact observance of the rule, and a more fervent practice 
of virtue, in order to merit the favor and assistance of God, 
he says: "I repeat to you, the tempest rages "iolently. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 361 

Let each one recommend the Congregation to God, and 
let three litanies be said daily, in common, with three De 
Profuntlis. We stand in need of prayer, and there is no one 
who will aid us but the Blessed Virgin ; but prayers will be 
of little use to us, if we do not correct our faults. I can 
do no more; I who am very decrepid, and in bed, all para 
lyzed. What should I or could I do? It is you, my chil 
dren, who must support the Congregation, and be assured, 
that, if we behave properly, God will always assist us, and 
the more poor, and despised, and persecuted we may be, 
the more good we shall do, and the greater also will be the 
reward which Jesus Christ will give us in heaven." 

Notwithstanding all the bodily and mental sufferings with 
which he was laden, Alphonsus did not cease to think 
and labor for the welfare of the Church in general. In 
order to impress the sacred wounds of Jesus crucified in 
the hearts of the faithful, he wrote down the points of his 
meditations on the subject. The title of this little book is : 
" Reflections on divers spirtual subjects." It is considered 
by every one to be admirably adapted to win the hearts of men 
to that of Jesus Christ. It contains a lively description of 
the whole passion of our Blessed Saviour, as well as of the 
most powerful motives to excite us to love Him. Although 
he had combatted the unbelieving in a dissertation which* 
was published in the year 1756, and had done so again 
still more recently, in his book On the Truth of Faith/ 
yet in consideration of the ravages they were continually 
making, he once more attacked them, in a dissertation 
entitled, Reflections on the Truth of Divine Revela 
tion, against the opposing principles of the Deists. "If 
the enemies of our religion," said he, " are never satisfied, 
although they fight against it by thousands of books, which 
they publish daily, why should the friends of religion get 
tired of defending it?" 

In his zeal which knew no bounds, he also undertook 

another work, which was intended to be of use to religion, 

and to separate the true doctrine from the errors which in 

former ages had endeavored to stifle it. In order to place 

31 



362 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

all the evils which the Church has suffered before the eyes 
of the faithful, and to show them all the noxious things 
which error has at all time emitted against her, he put to 
gether in three volumes the history of all the heresies which 
have existed since the birth of Christianity up to our own 
days. In this work he also animadverts particularly on the 
innovators of modern times, and shows the contradictions 
of their doctrine, and the invariable stability of the Roman 
Church. This history of the heresies was finished in 1772, 
and published under the title of " The triumph of the 
Church." The author defends the infallibility of the Pope 
and his pre-eminence in the Church in a special manner, 
and combats the errors of Jansenius and his followers, in 
particular. For this reason, a canon who held the Gallican 
opinions strongly, did not approve of the work and op 
posed it, but this opposition was of no consequence ; it 
was printed after the saintly author had written a letter to 
the ecclesiastical examiner. 

Another work caused him more serious embarrassment; 
it was his collection of Sermons, which he published about 
the same time. One of his enemies denounced this work 
to the authorities, as containing things which might be 
displeasing to the Sovereign, and therefore the publica 
tion of it was hindered for nearly a year. But at last when 
the report of the examiner became known, the intrigue 
was put an end to, and the work was published, to the sat 
isfaction of the minister, and the glory of Alphonsus. 
Some letters were added to this book, in the form of an ap 
pendix. The first is written to a young student, deliberating 
on the choice of a state of life. It places before him the 
great good he may derive from the spiritual exercises made 
during a retreat. In the second, Alphonsus represents the 
great utility of missions to a bishop, and settles all the dif 
ficulties concerning them ; and in the last, which is ad 
dressed to a religious, he treats of the manner of preaching 
with apostolical simplicity. 

We have also another very precious little book which the 
saintly bishop published at this time, under the title of 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 363 

The true Happiness of Man, and on his submission to 
the will of God. One may truly say that this treatise was 
inspired, rather than composed. A pious person was so 
moved by the benefit he had himself derived from it, that 
he caused it to be printed and gratuitously distributed 
every where. 

In the year 1773, God willed, that, though in the midst of 
so many troubles, Alphonsus should yet see his Congrega 
tion happily augmented by two new foundations, in the 
states of the Church. Mgr. Sarni, the Bishop of Aquinas, 
having ardently wished for his Missionaries for many years 
without being able to obtain them, renewed his entreaties 
in March of this year. In the following November, Al 
phonsus destined nine fathers for these missions, under 
the direction of D. Francis of Paul. The labors of the 
missionaries, who were divided in two companies, were 
every where attended with the greatest success, and the 
fruits of salvation which they produced caused them 
to be earnestly asked for, to preach also in other dio 
ceses. During the course of these missions, D. Francis, 
with another father, visited the celebrated abbey of Casa- 
mary, of the Order of the Trappists. These religious 
proposed to them to establish a house of the Congrega 
tion, for the advantage of the numerous inhabitants of the 
neighboring country, at Scifelli, (which is not far from 
La Trappe,) where there was a church, just then vacated by 
John Louis Arnaud, who, in his zeal for aiding the villages 
in these parts, had erected it as well as a commodious 
habitation for himself, and who had been lately nominated 
by Mgr. Giacomini, Bishop of Verali, as his Grand Vicar. 
The bishop, when he heard of this plan of the Trappists, 
was filled with joy, and agreed with D. Arnaud in wishing 
for the projected foundation, and wrote to Alphonsus to 
inform him of the neglected state of the souls in those parts, 
in order to obtain his consent to it. When the bishop had 
obtained also the consent of Pope Clement XIV, the 
foundation was decided on, Alphonsus looking on it as in 
spiration from on high. "I have consented to let this 



364 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

foundation be made," he wrote to D. Francis of Paul on 
the 28th of May, 1773. " I have written to thank the 
Abbe Arnaud for it ; it is to him that we are indebted for 
all concerning it." The fathers were to live with D. Ar 
naud ; so Alphonsus was most anxious that perfect harmony 
should exist between them and him, and took particular 
pains in advising F. Francis of Paul, the Rector of the new 
house, to do all that he could to obtain this end. "Take 
care," he wrote to him, " not to displease him in things 
which are not absolutely contrary to the good order of the 
iiouse. Many things must be yielded for the sake of peace 
and convenience. He has conferred good on us, and may 
do so again. Let him see that you esteem him, and listen 
to his opinions as far as possible. Nevertheless, I advise 
jou to keep up the observance of the rule from the com 
mencement of this foundation. I beg you to do this for 
the love of God and your neighbor." 

Poverty and misery were also the portion of this new 
Iiouse. Alphonsus did not fail to assist it; not, however, 
with the revenues of his diocese, but with that which he 
received at Naples from the College of Doctors. " Tell 
^11 the subjects in my name," he wrote to F. Francis of 
Paul, " to remember that this foundation is new, and situ 
ated in another kingdom. In all new foundations it is 
necessary to suffer, and to suffer much, both on account of 
their poverty, and also because one has to deal with people 
one does not know. If they wish to please Jesus Christ, 
let them read what the saints suffered in the first establish 
ments, and how they thereby became saints." 

At this period, the Fathers were also laboring to be es 
tablished in Rome, but Alphonsus did not approve of this 
project ; he replied to him who had made to him this propo 
sition: " I have read your long letter, but I do not approve 
of your reasons; what is the good of wasting time about 
these things, since God does not wish for them :" When 
the Jesuits were suppressed, the Pope, of his own accord, 
conceived the idea of giving those of the Congregation a 
convent in Rome. F. Francis of Paul believed that Al- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 365 

phonsus would at length favor his wishes, but he answered 
him as follows, on the 25th August, 1774 : " I am rejoiced 
at what you tell me about Mgr. Macedonio, and about the 
Pope s favorable disposition in our regard. But we have 
cause to thank God that this affair has come to nothing. 
If the Pope had persisted in such a design, I would have 
written energetically to him, even if I had had the whole 
Congregation against me, to try and get him to abandon 
this project. What have we to do in Rome, let me ask 
you? The Congregation would be lost, because we should 
be distracted from the work of our mission, and we should 
lose sight of the end of our institute. A bastard work 
would result from this, and that would be all the profit we 
should derive from it. There are many besides us, who can 
do all that we have been asked to do in Rome, and in the 
midst of the great multitudes who inhabit this town, what 
good can we produce there ? .... If we are placed in the 
midst of prelates, lords, and courtly people, adieu to mis 
sions, and adieu to the country ; we shall become courtiers, 
greedy after praise and riches. May Jesus Christ deliver 
us from this. Finally, let us thank God for the good 
opinion the Pope has of us." He was more pleased with 
foundations in towns or villages which he saw were desti 
tute and deprived of the bread of life, as was seen, when, 
about the same time, he was applied to for a new founda 
tion at Frosinone, also in the ecclesiastical States, and in 
the diocese of Verali. The discalceated Augustinian 
Fathers had abandoned a church and a hospice which they 
had had under the title of St. Mary of Grace ; these were of 
fered to the Missionaries, and Alphonsus did not hesitate 
to accept the foundation. Besides, there being a great 
number of little villages around, which wanted evangelical 
laborers, there were two other considerations which caused 
our saint to agree to this proposition. The first was, that 
in those houses there would be freedom from the persecu 
tions which were suffered in the others, and no obstacle 
to the exact observance of the rule in all its rigor, which 
appeared to him as a manifest sign of the will of God. In 
31* 



366 . LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the second place, he thought, as the two houses were to be 
near each other, they would be of mutual assistance; how 
ever, they were not established there before the 20th of 
June, 1776. 

In the year 1774, Alphonsus gave a new proof how 
deeply he had been impressed by that saying of the Holy 
Ghost, " Particula boni doni ne te praetereat," and how 
faithful he was, (considering the time allotted to each man 
by God to be employed in promoting His glory, to be this 
good gift,) in fulfilling the vow he had made not to lose 
any part of it. It was the publishing of his explication of 
the Psalms, of which he himself says, dedicating it to Pope 
Clement XIV: "This is a book which I have written in 
the last years of my life, and at an age when my exhausted 
strength announces my approaching end. . . . I hope that 
your Holiness will approve of this work, which may be 
useful to a great number of the faithful who say the divine 
office in a language which they do not understand, who 
are ignorant of the signification of the words, and far more 
of the sense of the Psalms." This work, which was a dif 
ficult one, and composed at such an advanced age, was 
the admiration of the most learned men at Naples. Of all 
the eulogiums passed upon it, let the following suffice : 
* Alphonsus, by his labors," said B. Cervone, who after 
wards became Bishop of Aquila, " has shown that he is 
worthy to rival the holy bishops of the primitive Church ; 
for without speaking of the many other works by which he 
brought back to the road of virtue many who had wandered 
from it, or strengthened in goodness many who were al 
ready walking in it, had the saintly bishop not written any 
thing else in support of religion and the Church, this work 
alone would have sufficed to render him worthy of immor 
tality." Alphonsus had added a statement of his system 
on the rule of moral actions, in an appendix to this work, 
which he also submitted to the Pope for correction, if any 
error should be found therein. 

The same year, 1774, brought to light his book on the 
"Triumphs of the Martyrs." In writing which, he had in- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 367 

tended to kindle in all hearts a greater degree of love 
towards Jesus Christ, and a greater zeal for that faith for 
which the martyrs have so cheerfully given their lives, 
their blood, their all, and which was, in his time, the ob 
ject of so many attacks from the mis-called philosophers of 
the eighteenth century ; thus showing himself, as the same 
B. Cervone expressed it, " full of solicitude for the grand 
affair, that of salvation, and omitting nothing which could 
open or facilitate the road to the celestial country, either to 
himself or to others." 

While he was thus occupied for the glory of God and 
for the good of souls, Baron Sarnelli and D. Maffey never 
rested, and left nothing undone in order to calumniate his 
Missionaries with fresh accusations, not seeing any better 
method of insuring the success of their cause. Laden 
with infirmity and occupations as was the poor old man, he 
showed that he still remembered his former profession as a 
lawyer, and arranged the plan of defence himself. "I have 
got ready my answers," he wrote to F. Villani, on the 2d 
of June, 1774, " on the most important point. As this 
answer must be presented in writing, I will place it in the 
hands of Advocate Celano, in order that he may arrange it 
in his own way." However, he was in a state of great un 
easiness. I have caused prayers to be said every where," 
he wrote in another letter, " I have had masses celebrated, 
and I know not what more I can do. . . . Get the people 
to say an Ave before the sermon, and get prayers said in as 
many monasteries and places as you can." And in an 
other to F. Majone, who resided in Naples: "When the 
ministers are spoken to, the Congregation must not be 
named, I only ought to be spoken of, for I am the person 
principally aimed at in this affair." He recommended also 
the matter, in writing, to the counsellors of St. Clare, and 
got some persons of great influence to mediate for them, 
and especially the Prince della Riccia. He wrote himself to 
the Marquis of Cito, at that time the President of the royal 
council, and also solicited Nicholas Vincenzio, the chief 
minister of the Court della Sommaria, for his intervention 



368 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOJN SUS. 

in their favor with the President. He addressed also a 
memorial to the king, in which he, without injuring any 
one. represented the innocence of his Missionaries, the 
labor to which they daily ga\ 7 e themselves up for the wel 
fare of the kingdom, and their respectful submission to all 
the royal decisions ; and especially reminded him of the 
real intentions of his father, King Charles III, who had 
authorized the four houses in the kingdom. He also wrote 

to 

a long circular to all the houses of the Congregation, in 
which he exhorts all to increased fervor in the exercise of all 
virtues and the observance of rule, as the best means to 
secure divine protection for the Congregation, of which he 
says, prophesying its future prosperity: "I am sure that 
Jesus Christ looks upon our little Congregation with most 
loving eyes, that he loves it as the apple of his eye, as we 
see by experience; for in the midst of so many persecu 
tions, he never ceases to protect us and to render us more 
worthy to labor for his glory in divers countries, by the as 
sistance of His manifest graces. I shall not see it, for my 
death is at hand, but I feel assured that our little flock will 
increase more and more, not by becoming richer and more 
highly thought of by the world, but by procuring the glory 
of God, and that, through our labors, Jesus Christ will be 
better known and loved by others. A day will come when 
we shall see each other again, and be re-united together in 
that eternal abode where we shall never more be separated ; 
and where we shall also be united to hundreds of thousands 
of persons, who once lived without the love of God, and 
who through our means recovered grace, and who will dwell 
with the Lord forever, and form our glory and joy for all 
eternity. Ought not this thought alone to stimulate us to 
love Jesus Christ with all our hearts, and to cause others 
to love Him also ?" He had certainly been favored with 
some special revelation, which his humility made him con 
ceal, for the same year he wrote to F. Majone, " I am 
full of joy, because it seems to me that the Blessed Virgin 
will bring us safe and sound out of this tempest. There 
fore let us abandon ourselves into the hands of Jesus 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 369 

Christ ; let us pray to Him, and He will do all for His greater 
glory." 

Alphonsus, who had so many times given proof of his 
solicitude, not only for his diocese and the Congregation, 
but also for the Church in general, by the many books he 
composed and published, as soon as he was aware of a par 
ticular want of the faithful, or whenever there appeared a 
wolf threatening the flock of Christ ; could not but be pain 
fully affected by the troubles which disquieted the Church 
during the pontificate of Clement XIV, and by the misfor 
tunes these troubles forbode to religion : they caused him 
the greatest alarm, and he continually offered up prayers to 
Heaven for the peace of the Sovereign Pontiff and of the 
much persecuted Church. No one can well imagine how 
he sorrowed over the storm which raged against the Jesuits 
on all sides ; he never spoke of it without the deepest sense 
of distress. "It is nothing but intrigue on the part of the 
Jansenists and unbelieving," said he, " if they succeed in 
overthrowing the company, their wishes will be accom 
plished ; and if this bulwark falls, what convulsions will 
there not be in the Church and State? If the Jesuits are 
once destroyed, the Pope and the Church will be in a most 
disastrous situation. The Jesuits are not the only aim of 
the Jansenists; they aim at the company in order thereby 
to be more certain of striking at the Church and State." 

Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus, in a brief 
dated the 22d of July, 1773; this was a terrible blow to 
Alphonsus. When he received the brief of the Pope, he 
adored the judgment of God in silence for some time, then 
he said: "The will of the Pope is the will of God ;" and 
did not utter another word to manifest how much he suf 
fered interiorly. One day, the Grand-Vicar and other per 
sons of distinction wished to cast blame on the dispositions 
of the Sovereign Pontiff. "Poor Pope," exclaimed the 
saintly bishop, " what could he do in the difficult circum 
stances in which he was placed, and when so many crown 
ed heads united in demanding their suppression? As for 
us, we have only to adore the secret judgment of God, and 



370 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

be at peace. However, I assert, that if but one single 
Jesuit be left in the world, he alone would be enough to 
re-establish the company." 

No one is ignorant of the constantly increasing troubles 
in which the Pope found himself after this suppression; 
the deplorable state of the Church and of its head filled 
the Bishop of St. Agatha with the deepest sorrow. "Pray 
for the Pope," he wrote to F. Francis of Paul, on the 27th 
of June, 1774. " N., who has come from Rome, told me 
that the Pope is overwhelmed with sadness, and in fact he 
has cause to be so, for there does not seem to be a shadow 
of peace for the Church. Pray for the Pope ; God knows 
how I feel for his afflictions!" "Pray for the Pope," he 
said in another letter, to F. Villani. " For my part I never 
cease to do so. Pray for the Pope ; I have heard that he 
wishes for death, so great is his distress at all the trials 
which afflict the Church." In another letter, of the 23d of 
July, to F. Paul, he says: "The Pope suffers a great deal 
on account of the pretensions of the crowns, and espe 
cially on account of Venice. ... I do nothing but repeat 
over and over again, Poor Pope, poor Pope, who is tried 
on all sides ! I pray for him that God may come to his aid." 
On the 25th of August, he again wrote, saying: " I hear 
from various quarters that the Pope is in sorrow, that he is 
shut up and does no business. Let us pray to God to de 
liver him from this profound melancholy." 

On the morning of the 21st of September, Alphonsus, 
after having ended Mass, threw himself, contrary to his 
custom, into his arm-chair; he was cast down and silent, 
he made no movement of any kind, and never articulated a 
word. He remained in that state, all that day and all the 
following night. The servants, seeing the state he was in, 
did not know what was going to happen, and remained up, 
and at the door of his room, but no one dared enter it. On 
the morning of the 22d, he had not changed his position, 
and no one knew what to think of it. However, when the 
day became further advanced, he rang the bell to announce 
that he intended to celebrate Mass. At this signal, all the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 371 

people in the house hurried to him with eagerness. On see 
ing so many people, the Saint asked what was the matter, 
with an air of surprise. " You have," they replied, 
" neither spoken nor eaten any thing for two days, and 
you ceased to give any signs of life." " That is true," re 
plied he, " but you do not know that I have been with the 
Pope, who has just died." Ere long, the tidings of the 
death of Pope Clement XIV was received; he had passed 
to a better life on the 22d September, at seven o clock in 
the morning, the very moment when Alphonsus came to 
himself. 

Cardinal Castelli, well aware of the high reputation for 
sanctity possessed by Alphonsus, and knowing what a 
great veneration the sacred college of Cardinals had for the 
holy man, determined to ask him to write, before the Con 
clave began, a long letter on all the abuses which ought to 
be reformed in the various orders of the ecclesiastical 
hierarchy. The Cardinal wished this memorial to be pre 
sented to the Conclave, and that it should serve to deter 
mine the election of a Pope capable of remedying all the 
ills of the Church. Some people who were attached friends 
of the Saint, were commissioned to make this request to 
him to overcome his humility. The following letter, of the 
23d of October, 1774, was his reply : 

" Most Rev. Cardinal : You ask for rny sentiments on 
the present affairs of the Church and on the election of a 
Pope. Alas! what sentiments can I worthily express to 
you, who am but a poor bishop? All I can find to say is, 
that it is necessary to pray, and to pray much ; for in order 
to raise the Church from the state of remissness and con 
fusion into which all classes have fallen, prudence and 
human wisdom are insufficient, and nothing less than the 
powerful arm of God will suffice. There are few among 
the bishops who have a true zeal for the salvation of souls. 
Most, if not all, of the communities of religious are relaxed ; 
and in the confusion which surrounds us, observances are 
destroyed, and rules are despised and treated as if they 
were not. The secular clergy are in a still worse state, so 



372 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

that there is an absolute necessity for a general reform 
among all ecclesiastics, in order, afterwards, to be able to 
reform the conduct and the manners of the laity. There 
fore we must pray to Jesus Christ to give His Church a head 
who has something more than knowledge and human pru 
dence, to give her one who through the spirit of God may 
be filled with a great love and zeal for His glory, and who 
may be totally detached from all parties, so as to be able to 
resist the suggestions of human respect. If we ever have 
the misfortune to have a Pope who has not God s glory in 
view, He will not assist him, and things will become worse 
and worse. Prajer is the sole remedy for such great mis 
fortunes. For my part, 1 have not only enjoined all the 
houses of my Congregation to pray with more than ordi 
nary fervor for the election of a new Pontiff, but I have 
also ordered all the secular and regular clergy of my dio 
cese to say the Collect, Pro eligendo summo Pontijice, 
during mass. This is the best advice I can give you; I 
often pray about this election during the day myself, but 
what can my poor prayers avail ? Nevertheless, I put all 
my trust in the merits of Jesus Christ and of the Blessed 
Virgin, and I hope that God will comfort me by letting me 
see the Church relieved, before my death, which my age 
and infirmities tell me cannot be far distant. 

" I also wish to see all the disorders which exist done 
away with, and a thousand different ideas come into my 
mind on the subject which I should ardently wish to com 
municate to you, if the knowledge of what I am did not 
take all boldness from me, by convincing me that it is not 
for me to wish to reform the world. I should also like the 
future Pope, when he has to supply any vacancies in the 
College of Cardinals, to select only the best informed and 
the most zealous among those who may be proposed to 
him, and that he should request all princes not to present 
any but men of well-known piety and learning as candi 
dates for a Cardinalship. I should also wish him to exer 
cise firmness, in refusing livings to those who are already 
sufficiently provided for in all their state can demand ; to 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 373 

repress luxury in all prelates, and to fix the number of their 
servants of all sorts, so that they should only have so many 
valets-de-chambre, so many other servants, so many horses, 
&c. This would be a method of putting a stop to the 
slander and detraction of our enemies. He ought to take 
pains never to confer benefices on any, but those who have ^ 
merited well on account of what they have done for the 
Church. 

" I should wish him to be very strict in choosing bishops, 
and that he should obtain information, on all hands, about 
those who are proposed as candidates for this high and im 
portant office in the Church, and that he should be certified 
as to the goodness of their character and their doctrine, 
which are indispensable qualities in ruling over a diocese. 
It is on these chief pastors that the good of religion and 
the salvation of souls chiefly depend. I should like him to 
require all metropolitans, and others, to inform him, in 
secret, as to any bishops who are careless as to the welfare 
of their flocks. I should also wish him to threaten with 
suspension, or the supervision of a Vicar-Apostolic, both 
negligent bishops and those who are non-resident, as well 
as those who scandalize the world by the luxury of their at 
tendants, and by the excessive expense of their equipage r 
their festivities, &c. In some cases it does not do to be 
afraid of putting these threats into execution ; for such cor 
rections not only purify the Church from the corruptions- 
which sully her, but they hinder other delinquent bishops- 
from falling, through the fear of public blame, which ad 
monishes them of their backslidings and causes them to 
return to a sense of their duty, to the great advantage of 
their flocks. 

"In fine, why should not the future Pope be backward 
in granting favors which are injurious to the maintenance 
of discipline ; such, for instance, as that of permitting nuns- 
to leave their enclosure to enter into the world without any 
real necessity for it? He ought not readily to consent to 
the secularization of religious, on account of the number 
of evils which result from it, and above all, he ought to> 
32 



374 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

constrain all religious whatsoever, to the primitive observ 
ance of the rules of their institute, at least, in all the most 
important points. 

"I will not tire you by saying more; I can do nothing 
further than pray God to give us a Pastor full of His own 
Spirit. And now I conclude with profound respect, and 
assure you that I am," &c. 

While the saintly bishop was thus occupied for the well- 
being of the Church at large, for the administration of his 
diocese, and for the existence of his Congregation, hell 
too did not slumber, but was on the watch for opportuni 
ties of injuring its dreaded antagonist. Up to this time, 
the enemies of the Congregation had spared its head, and 
had only fought against its members ; but on seeing they 
could not injure the members while they respected the 
head, they turned their weapons against him too. As they 
could find nothing to c6ndemn in his private life, they blamed 
his doctrine, and raised a cry that his work on Moral 
Theology was full of decisions of too indulgent a nature, 
and above all, that it contained the lax sentiments ajt- 
tributed to the Jesuits. This was a sure means of pro 
ducing a sensation and of exciting suspicion, at that time. 
Thus the whole Congregation became an object of sus 
picion, for it seemed impossible for it to escape the taint 
of the errors of which its founder was accused. But God, 
who kills and brings to life, caused this same Moral 
Theology to be approved by the king at the very time that 
its adversaries expected to see it condemned. Some copies 
of the work were sent from Naples and reached the cus 
tom-house, where they were stopped by the king s procura 
tor-general, who was prejudiced against it, and wished it to 
be examined with all possible strictness by a Conventual 
Father. This learned religious assured him in the report, 
that the doctrine was perfectly sound, and that there was 
not any proposition which deserved censure. The pro 
curator was rejoiced at this news, and regretted having 
been obliged to give pain to the saintly old man. It was 
thus that Heaven frustrated the plots of the wicked, and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 375 

turned them to the confusion of their authors and the glory 
of the servant of God. 

D. Maffey and Baron Sarnelli, on the other hand, were 
impatient for the overthrow of the Congregation, and did 
all they could, in order to accelerate the coming of the day 
when the debates occasioned by their accusations were to 
be held in the royal court; and as they flattered themselves 
with the expectation of victory, they were continually mul 
tiplying petitions for hastening this day, which they re 
garded as that of the Missionaries defeat. These, and 
especially F. Villani, again begged Alphonsus to go and 
cast himself personally at the feet of the king. He replied 
to them with a smile : " What a figure I should cut before 
the king in my present state! Would he not take me for a 
phantom, and order me out of his presence? My brothers, 
let us place ourselves in God s hands and let us not trust 
in human means; for the Congregation is a divine work, and 
not the work of man, who is incapable of supporting it." 
The adversaries succeeded in fixing the opening of the de 
bates in the royal court for the 24th of December. But 
while they endeavored to move heaven and earth in order 
to injure the Missionaries, Alphonsus, on his side, as he 
was accustomed, did not neglect anything in order to ob 
tain God s mercy. Besides the accustomed penances and 
mortifications, he had recourse again to the celebration of 
Masses, the prayers of pious souls, and alms. By his order 
the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in all the houses, and 
the psalm " Qui habitat" was recited in common in the 
church, together with an Ave to the Blessed Virgin for the 
persecutors. Another cause of trouble arose, which was 
unlocked for. As the Missionaries kept on the defensive, 
the attacks of the accusation were immediately warded off 
by their counsel, so that the projectors began to fear that all 
the plots which they had contrived would be useless, and 
that the truth would be manifest to the sight of the royal 
counsellors. They therefore thought of a fresh contri 
vance; by means of a protector who supported them with 
the ministers, they managed so that the end of the debate 



376 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

should not take place before the royal council, and that 
the papers containing the complaints and wrongs, (or rather 
the calumnies of the adversaries,) should pass through the 
hands of the commissioner, Ferdinand de Leo, who was 
to make himself acquainted with their contents, and to 
make his report of them to the royal court. The appoint 
ment of this commissioner took away from the Missionaries 
all hope ; for he was an enemy to all new monasteries in 
the kingdom, as well as new institutes, and indeed he 
could scarcely bear the ancient ones. And from some 
words he had dropped, they could easily conjecture how 
unfavorable his report would be. 

The Missionaries had manifested a wish to come to an 
amicable arrangement with Sarnelli, for three years, and 
some mediators had labored to manage so that he should 
keep the vineyard left to the Congregation by his brother, 
and give a sum of money in compensation for the pious 
works his brother had intended to establish, but Alphonsus 
thought that he ought in conscience to oppose such an 
arrangement : " I must weigh these matters well," he wrote 
to F. Majone, on the 4th of December, 1774. "If this 
conciliatory plan should ever be acted on, I shall have to 
consult the learned and those versed in spiritual matters, 
in order to put my conscience to rest;" and to F. D. Mat 
thias Corrado, he wrote : " In case I were to give up the 
vineyard to the Baron, in return for the equivalent indem 
nity, my conscience would become uneasy, for I should 
have interpreted the wishes of the dead man." But there 
was no need of all th-is ; the Baron, who believed himself 
sure of victory, wanted to enter into possession of the pro 
perty without being obliged to give an account of the 
charitable intentions of his brother s will. 

As the Congregation was in imminent danger of being 
destroyed, Alphonsus was advised to write to Naples in 
order to gain the patronage of a lady who had great influ 
ence with the procurator; but as he entertained some fears 
that God might be displeased at it, he replied as follows, to 
F. Majone: " I will never do such a thing ; let the Congrega- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 377 

tion be destroyed rather than become the occasion for even 
the shadow of any sin." 

The tears of the just are never shed in vain, and the 
Lord, who never permits them to be persecuted except to 
show forth His mercy and His glory more brightly, also com 
forted Alphonsus in the midst of these trying circumstances. 
The inhabitants of Girgenti had never ceased to petition 
for the return of the Missionaries, as we have already seen. 
The Prince of Trabbia amongst others, who enjoyed the 
king s favor, did not forget to intercede for them with his 
majesty, through the medium of his brother, the bishop. 
The king gave a favorable hearing to these representations, 
and permitted them to return to the island, by a royal de 
cree. Their adversaries, on seeing their wishes thus de 
feated, put an end to their intrigues, and Alphonsus, 
having, in concert with the bishops, decided on the return 
of the Missionaries, their departure took place in April, 
1775. In order to render their entrance into Girgenti as 
glorious as possible, Mgr. Lanza had wished them to stop 
at Aragone, three miles from the town, there to be met and 
received by a brilliant suite of carriages and a retinue of 
ecclesiastics and gentlemen, but the Fathers declined this 
honor. However, several carriages and persons of dis 
tinction came to meet them, though they had not an 
nounced the time of their arrival ; and they were received 
at the gates of Girgenti by the clergy and the citizens, who 
were perfectly delighted to see them. When Mgr. Lanza 
saw them again, he could not help exclaiming with the 
holy old Simeon : " Now dost Thou dismiss Thy servant, 
Lord, according to Thy words, in peace ; because mine eyes 
have seen Thy salvation !" And in fact, on the 23d of this 
same month of May, this zealous and worthy prelate fell 
asleep in the arms of the Missionaries, to go and enter into 
eternal rest. However, God provided them another pro 
tector, and one as full of zeal and love for the Congrega 
tion, in his eminence, Cardinal Branciforti, who succeeded 
him in February of the following year, 1776. 
32* 



378 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

fllphonsus zeal during his Episcopate in reforming his seen- 
lar and regular Clergy in removing scandals in general, 
and preventing sin in all classes of the Laity. How God 
assists him in his efforts. 

[TAVING now reached the termination of Alphonsus 
JZL episcopate, when he resigned the bishopric and re 
tired into his Congregation, it is not right that we should 
follow him into his retreat, without giving more in detail 
an account of his conduct in the administration of his dio 
cese, as otherwise we should omit many particulars and 
many of his maxims and actions, which will manifest more 
especially his virtues and his zeal during his government. 
F. Caputo thus describes the holy bishop s conduct in his 
endeavors to make his clergy edifying and worthy of the 
sacred ministry : <; His lordship s first reproof was full of 
sweetness and humility ; if he saw no amendment, he gave 
a second reprimand of mingled sweetness and severity. If 
after this he found that the person was incorrigible, chas 
tisement soon followed, and in such a case if the king and 
"the Pope himself had wished to interpose in his favor, they 
would have met with a refusal." Amongst all the sins, 
drunkenness and incontinence, were those he abhorred 
the most. He said that the drunkard is not a man, but a 
brute ; that one can even expect more from the brute than 
from the drunkard; and he looked upon drunkenness as 
the source of the most infamous vices: it was, in his eyes, 
even when indulged in only in private, a complete dis 
honor to a minister of the Church. He had an equal 
abomination for the vice of impurity, and was in the habit 
of saying, that he saw no difference between a sow which 
wallows in the mire, and a man who is addicted to this 
vice. He compassionated him who had made a false step 
through weakness, but he could not put up with him who 
was the voluntary and obstinate slave of passion. He had 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 379 

always salutary remedies at hand for the first, and did not 
recur to very severe measures with them; his principal 
mode of causing them to think seriously was the spiritual 
exercises. But when he saw that the vice had taken root, 
he did not make any compromise, but used the strongest 
methods for destroying the evil. One day, not knowing 
what more to do in order to cure one of these miserable 
men, he sent for him to speak to him, but took care to 
place a large crucifix on the floor at the entrance of his 
room. On seeing this, the wretched man was seized with 
terror and wanted to draw back. "No," said Alphonsus, 
"enter and trample it underfoot, it would not be perhaps 
the first time." He then gave free vent to the ardor of his 
zeal, and set before him the enormity of his sin. The 
guilty man was full of confusion and repentance; he burst 
into tears, and promised to amend ; and really did so, 
giving afterwards full satisfaction to his bishop. When he 
had in vain exhausted mild measures, in trying to deliver 
men from these passions, his ordinary remedies were exile 
and suspension ; exile, in order to break through the at 
tachment, and suspension, to avenge the dignity of the 
sacred ministry. He had also recourse to the aid of the 
secular power, when there was need, (as we have seen 
him do in his visitations,) and no personal considerations 
were ever able to move him, or shake his firmness. His 
severity in regard to the refractory was so well known, that 
it soon was a commonly received opinion in the diocese, 
that if one had begun to be an object of the bishop s 
watchful observation, there was no further chance of rest 
for him unless he gave clear proofs of amendment. God 
also assisted him by exemplary chastisements. One of 
these weak men he had warned in a paternal manner, but 
when he saw that he fell back into vice again, he had him 
shut up in the prison of St. Agatha ; even after this chas 
tisement, the miserable man did not amend: "Let him 
alone," he said then to the episcopal vicar, " God s justice 
will reach him." He was carried off by sudden death 
some time afterwards, although he was in the prime of life. 



380 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

In his dealings towards those whom he had suspended 
or banished, he never lost sight of the spirit of charity, es 
pecially when sin was united to poverty. He once sent 
for one whose conduct scandalized the people, and kept 
him for a fortnight in his palace, after which he sent him 
to the house of St. Angelo, at his own expense. Another, 
also, was kept for a long while in the house of Ciorani, 
and supported at his cost. The same course was pursued 
towards a great many others. Two others, whom he had 
suspended and banished out of the diocese, received from 
him two carlins a day for their maintenance; to others, 
who were suspended, he assigned an adequate indemni 
fication for their fees out of his own revenue, till after a 
lapse of time, he thought them in a right state of mind, and 
sent them the pardon, with the power of celebrating. 

His inflexibility towards those who remained obstinate 
in sin, changed into v mercy, when he saw that they re 
pented. He had even an admirable degree of charity for 
those whom he had reproved and who gave proof of real 
amendment; he received them to his arms with all the tep- 
derness of a father, and put an end to all proceedings 
begun against them in the ecclesiastical court. One, be 
longing to a noble and distinguished family, who lived in a 
scandalous way, had been sent for three times, but he did 
not deign to give any satisfaction. Alphonsus told his 
Grand-Vicar to prepare the cause, and gave orders that he 
should not be shown in if he should come to speak to him, 
but should be sent to the Grand-Vicar. The culprit not 
being willing to see his name figure in the courts of jus 
tice, hastened to the palace; but being refused admittance, 
he made a great noise in the ante-chamber, so that Alphon 
sus, who was making his meditation, in bed, sent for his 
secretary in order to have silence kept, but at the same 
moment he entered after the secretary. Alphonsus, on 
seeing him, told him to go to the Grand-Vicar, but the gen 
tleman fell on his knees at the foot of his bed and said : 
" I do not know the Vicar, but I acknowledge Mgr. Liguori 
as my father." At these words, Alphonsus became affected : 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 381 

"My son, he said, "I sent for you and you did not 
come ; I was obliged to place you in the hands of justice ; 
you know what scandals you have given." The culprit 
was ashamed, began to shed tears, and after confessing his 
faults, said : " Do whatever you please with me." " Since 
you acknowledge your fault," said then Alphonsus, " and 
confess the truth to me, I leave you to chose your penance 
yourself." "I choose the house of St. Angelo for my 
place of retirement," he answered, sobbing, " and only 
when God tells me that He has forgiven me, then only will 
T depart from it." Alphonsus, on seeing that his repent 
ance was sincere, sent for the papers connected with his 
suit, and said to him while tearing them: "My son, may 
God do the same in heaven." He went to St. Angelo, 
and remained there for a month, and was afterwards a 
source of edification to all. 

But if impurity and drunkenness were the two vices 
which he was the most zealous in extirpating, he was 
equally an enemy to every other kind of irregularity, and 
the slightest fault was a considerable sin in his eyes. He 
took the greatest care to be informed of the conduct of 
each and all, so that no distance could shelter any one. 
On one occasion, the culprits finding themselves reproved 
without being able to discover how Alphonsus had been 
informed as to their conduct, exclaimed: "It is either an 
angel or a devil who betrays us, and tells him everything." 
By this indefatigable zeal and by the assistance of divine 
grace, he succeeded in doing away with a great number of 
scandals in his diocese, and he insensibly worked a reason 
able reform among the clergy. A gentleman, on hearing 
once that he was seriously ill and in danger of death, re 
plied to those who announced these sad tidings to him : 
"St. Agatha will lose a great deal if Mgr. Liguori dies. 
Who cannot see what regularity his zeal has succeeded in 
establishing amongst so many who formerly lived in a state 
of the most deplorable licentiousness?" As to the regular 
clergy, Alphonsus said: "Edifying religious are a conso 
lation to bishops and priests, but if they are imperfect and 



382 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

irregular, they are a burthen to their bishops and a misfor 
tune to the people." Therefore when he met with such, 
he did all he could to amend them : " For if they are not 
cured, said he, "their malady will be communicated to 
others; it is with them as it is with fruits those which are 
bad spoil the good by contact with them, and in order to 
avoid the loss of all, it is necessary to throw the bad away." 
He, therefore, besides private admonitions and reprimands, 
had recourse to their superiors and provincials, and if 
speedy amendment did not follow, insisted on their being 
sent away from his diocese, and showed so much firmness 
that the superiors had to make up their minds to yield, and 
the religious had to be transferred elsewhere without loss of 
time. On one occasion, a religious frequenting a family of 
high rank too assiduously, Alphonsus urged his superior to 
send him to another monastery, but in vain. As just con 
siderations prevented riis then authoritatively exacting what 
he had asked, he determined at least to deprive the su 
perior of the faculties to hear confessions, saying to him : 
" How can you feed the flocks of others, if you allo;v 
wolves to ravage your own with impunity?" And he was 
not satisfied until this religious was out of his diocese. 
Another, who was a dishonor to his Order, not heeding 
the paternal admonitions he had given him, was advised to 
leave the diocese of his own accord. This religious en 
joyed the favor of his superior-general, who endeavored to 
defend him. Other great personages also interceded for 
him, but Alphonsus persisted, and he had to go away. In 
the year 1769, when he was at Naples, the Duke of Mad- 
dalon came in person to solicit the return of this religious, 
but he could not succeed. "Even supposing all the re 
ports of his amendment were well founded," he said, " he 
has not acted in this way for a sufficiently long time, and 
then he is now so much older. As long as I am bishop," 
he added, " he shall not enter my diocese." 

When the immediate superiors and the provincials would 
not assist him in thus purging the monasteries from reli 
gious who were a dishonour to them, he had recourse to 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 383 

more rigorous measures, and in order not to do any thing to 
the prejudice of regulars, he applied at Rome to the gene 
ral of the Order to which the culprit belonged, and when he 
met with negligence even in the generals, he implored the 
intervention of the king; many instances in which he had 
recourse to both of these methods are on record. Thus, in 
the year 1768 alone, when he especially labored to purify 
the monasteries, he expelled as many as fifty-two religious, 
according to the testimony of F. Caputo. " The superiors 
of the Order, besides, knew him too well," said his Grand- 
Vicar Rubini, il and often hastened to send away certain 
subjects who were displeasing to him, of their own accord. 
I can truly say," he added, " that during his lordship s 
time, the monasteries of the diocese were as so many gar 
dens, where all breathed forth the sweet odors of innocence 
and virtue." But on the other hand, he took as much 
pleasure, in being able to honor by his kindness those re 
ligious who proved worthy of their vocation, as he was 
resolute in punishing those who were dissolute and un 
worthy. He entrusted them with important employments, 
and chose them for synodal examiners. It was to them 
that he confided the care of the convents: he liked to send 
them to preach during Lent in different places, and often 
consulted them and rewarded their merit. 

Alphonsus waged an equally severe warfare against the 
laity, whose irregularities were an injury to religion and 
morality. "I am not merely the shepherd of priests and 
religious," said he, " they form but a part of my flock. 
The flock confided to bishops includes all classes ; God 
has committed all these souls to us, and we must render 
him an account of them." "We may be assured," said a 
priest on this subject, " that there never was a bishop in 
the world who employed himself in putting a stop to 
offences against God, and in procuring the good of the 
faithful, with more ardor than Mgr. Liguori. He held sin 
in such abomination that he was implacable in hunting it 
out, even from its most hidden entrenchments." To this 
end, he secured to himself the assistance of the magistrates 



384 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

and syndics of the villages, recommending them, with tears 
in his e.yes, to seek after the glory of God and the happi 
ness of families. " You can do what I cannot do," he 
said to them, " you can remedy every thing, for you are 
on the spot ; you can do more than the king." Besides, 
he spent a good part of his revenues in making presents 
to persons who could inform him of existing scandals, and 
he possessed so much influence with the lords of the places, 
that he caused chastisements to be inflicted on the guilty 
persons ; they were imprisoned, or sent away from the 
places in which they lived, and if this did not stop the 
evil or scandal, he had recourse to the king, to have them 
banished from the diocese. But before coming to these 
extremities, he made it a rule to try all the methods he 
could adopt as a father. He sent, several times, if need 
ful, for the offender, and, whether peasant, or gentleman, 
reprimanded and threatened him. If that were not enough, 
he had recourse to the interposition of the friends of the 
guilty one, or of those who had influence over him ; but 
as soon as he was convinced of the inutility of such cor 
rection, he adopted rigorous measures. Of all this we 
could relate instances by thousands, as such facts were of 
almost daily occurrence in the life of our zealous bishop. 
We shall however confine ourselves to a few, in which, 
one or another of the virtues of the saint, or some other 
divine favor bestowed on him, particularly shines forth. 

He was informed that a physician at St. Agatha had 
improper relations with the mistress of the hospital ; he 
did all he could to convert him, but on finding that his 
remonstrances were useless, he wrote to the president of 
the council and superintendent of the house. He dismissed 
the doctor from his employment, who thereupon came to 
the bishop in a fury, and loaded him with a thousand in 
vectives. " My son," said Alphonsus to him, " you 
brought this misfortune on yourself; remember how many 
times I reproved you with mildness and charity, but you 
were deaf to my voice : if I have had recourse to a more 
powerful arm, it has not been through passion, but on 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHOiNSUS. 38 

account of the scruples which my allowing you to go on 
in sin caused me." 

A gentleman of high standing, whose conduct was ex 
tremely scandalous, on seeing that his lordship thwarted 
him in his excesses, went to him, and, transported with 
anger, reproached him for not letting him alone. Al- 
phonsus only answered by still stronger threats, and declared 
to him that he would inform the king of it ; at these words 
the gentleman got up in a great fury, loaded his bishop 
with invectives, and made a gesture as if he meant to draw 
his sword. The alarm which he spread caused all the 
people of the house to run into the room, where they found 
Alphonsus perfectly calm before his aggressor. "Ill-treat 
me," he said to him, " abuse me, if you like, I do my 
duty: I did not accept the episcopate in order to be 
damned. Would to God that I might have the honor to 
die a martyr! My dear child, I pity you! return from your 
evil ways, but know that I will never leave you at peace 
in your sin." 

A stranger, who was an officer, carried on an adulterous 
intercourse at St. Agatha, and Alphonsus warned him 
several times. The officer was tired of these troublesome 
reprimands, and constantly repeated in vexation, " what 
does this withered old man want?" He even used 
menaces, and went so far, that fear was entertained for 
the saint s life. They informed him of this and of the 
violent character of the officer; but, fortified with the 
heart of an apostle, he answered : " I have no cause to 
fear him; if he wishes to send a ball through my head, I am 
ready to die, but I am determined that he shall put an end 
to his excesses." As the scandal continued the same as 
ever, he informed the chevalier Negroni of it, who caused 
the woman to be banished, and compelled the officer to 
submit to the shame of coming to promise amendment at 
the feet of the bishop. 

Being informed that a woman of Arienzo lived in sin, 
and apart from her husband, he immediately sent hi 
secretary to the governor s house, but not finding him i P 
33 



386 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the secretary did not take the trouble of going back to 
him again. After the lapse of a short time, Alphonsus 
did not forget to inquire into the result of the visit. The 
secretary wanted to excuse himself, and said that he had 
not been able to see the magistrate, and had not had time to 
go to his house again. Alphonsus was exceedingly pained 
at this negligence: " O Felix," he said to him, with deep 
sorrow, " when an offence against God is in question, we 
should leave every thing to put a stop to it." He sent 
him back to the governor s with all speed, and did not 
become tranquil again until he knew that the woman was 
in prison. Another day, the grand-vicar came to him just 
as he was taking his repast, in bed : " We have bad news," 
he said to him, " a most suspicious stranger has come to 
establish herself at Arieiizo." " Only one," replied Al 
phonsus, laughing, "we shall have more than one; adven 
turers of this sort never come singly." The secretary and 
the grand-vicar fancied that these tidings had made no 
great impression on him ; but they were mistaken. He 
had scarcely finished his meal before he dismissed every 
one, and sent for Br. Francis, to dictate to him a most 
energetic letter to the Count of Cereto ; informing him 
of the scandal, and begging him to send to Arienzo im 
mediately, that it might be forcibly removed. On the 
same evening four soldiers drove away the infamous 
woman. 

He expended a good deal of money in similar cases ; 
he had to pay large sums to the inferior people whom he 
employed, and even to the higher officers, but there was 
no sacrifice he was not ready to make in order to hinder 
an offence against God, or to extricate some unhappy crea 
ture from sin and misery. Having heard that several 
soldiers in his diocese gave themselves up to shameful ex 
cesses, he immediately wrote a letter, the result of which 
was, that the regiment s quarters were changed, and that 
the commanding officer received the strictest orders to 
take care that none of the men came near that place 
again. An inhabitant, who had derived benefit from the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 387 

troops being quartered there, went to complain of their 
going away and to expose his distress to Alphonsus; he 
was touched with compassion, and sent for one of the 
syndics of the parish, and begged him to give the peti 
tioner something in compensation. The syndic replied 
that he could not take it upon himself, and the others got 
out of it in the same way, and Alphonsus ended by himself 
indemnifying the man who had recourse to him, in order 
not to incur the danger of a return of the military to the 
place through the complaints and intrigues of interested 
parties. 

Alphonsus, hearing that a prostitute after a banishment 
of eleven years had come back, wrote the following letter 
to the priest of the place: "As this woman has come 
back here again, let her know from me that I will give her 
six carlins every month if she conducts herself properly ; 
but I must first be convinced as to her persevering." On 
hearing that a poor widow had caused the ruin of her two 
daughters, he gave her a severe reprimand ; she was con 
verted however, whereupon he assigned to her, as well as to 
each of her children, a daily allowance of money, besides 
many alms in furniture, clothes, &c., in order that by ad 
ding to these gifts the fruits of their own labors, they might 
have enough to live on honestly. Another, returning to 
the diocese after being converted, he let her know that, if 
she persevered, he would insure her an allowance of fifteen 
carlins a month. A wicked girl, who had ruined both her 
body and soul by her debaucheries, when she was reduced 
to the last extremity, applied to the house of the Incura 
bles at Naples; Alphonsus hastened to recommend her 
to the notice of several priests, and the unhappy creature 
at last opened her eyes and wept over her past misconduct. 
This moved him to tears, and he wrote to one of those 
priests: "I have sent for the mother, she appears to me 
to be a good woman, although she is very poor; for this 
reason I intend to send her to Naples to seek her daughter. 
I have promised to assist her and to give her a monthly 
allowance, but I hear that the girl is in the greatest desti- 



388 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

tution ; she must then be clothed from head to foot. Will 
you have the charity to provide for this at my expense, but 
with as little outlay as possible ? First, procure for her two 
new chemises, a kerchief for the head, and another for the 
neck, a serge petticoat, an underdress of canvass, a 
mantle, a pair of white stockings, and a pair of shoes; but 
I do not wish them all to be quite new, because that would 
cost too much. They may be met with at the old-clothes 
shops, where such things may be found in good condition ; 
if one were to take really old goods, the thing would have 
to be done over again next day. I should not take the 
liberty to burthen you with all these commissions, if I did 
not know your great charity." Who does not admire the 
true minister of the Lord throughout all these details ? 

Archdeacon Rainone attested that he spent considerable 
sums of money, from the time he came to the diocese, in 
thus aiding a great number whose indigence had led them 
to crime. Nor were these gifts confined to the towns of 
St. Agatha and Arienzo alone, he spread them throughout 
all parts of his diocese without any distinction. The 
curate of the parish of St. Anthony affirmed that Alphon- 
sus assisted a very great number in that place, and caused 
them to receive a stipend every month through his hands; 
other priests and curates affirmed the same of their respec 
tive places. When informed that he was often deceived 
by his goodness; "It matters little if I am deceived," he 
used to answer, " provided I thwart the plans of the devil : 
it is no little gain if one can prevent an offence against 
God, were it but for a quarter of an hour; and besides it 
often happens that several abstain from their disorders for 
good." Archdeacon Rainone also one day told him he 
ought to withdraw the allowance from some whose perse 
verance was doubtful. "That is not certain," he replied, 
"but if I abandon them, they may perhaps.be led to yield 
to despair; and besides, if they commit but one mortal 
sin less, is it not a great thing for God s glory?" Such 
persons he recommended to the missionaries whom he sent 
through the diocese, and whom he furnished with all they 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 389 

could require for such purposes. A priest was speaking 
one day to him of the good dispositions which two of 
these women manifested, when he replied to him : " I am 
ready to give my blood and my life for them ; and if they 
act with sincerity, I will not fail to assist them, were I 
obliged to go without my food to do so." Alphonsus put 
the finishing stroke to his zeal by causing a great number of 
these penitents to enter into the married state, and, in 
order to establish them, he often did not hesitate to contri 
bute from thirty to forty ducats for their portion, but this 
he especially tried to do in good time ; as soon as he 
heard of any young person s deviating from the right path, 
he immediately endeavored to get her married, attaching 
at the same time the greatest importance to its being to 
her seducer. One day, a Father of his congregation, while 
on a mission in the diocese, came to see him to settle 
about six marriages of this sort in one place alone. Be 
sides dispensing in such cases with all his fees, he willingly 
procured the necessary dispenses at his own expense; and 
when it happened at times that his own means were not 
enough for the charity of his heart, he had recourse to the 
charity of those in affluent circumstances, and to the 
houses of relief. These unions were generally happy ones. 
" It is true," he said, " that there are certain kinds of 
forced unions of which I cannot approve ; but of two 
evils, one must choose the least." 

He succeeded also in placing a good number of such 
penitents in the convents, at Naples, and at Nola, not 
withstanding the great difficulties he often had to surmount 
in so doing, and this was always the greatest consolation 
to his heart. He was often obliged to go to expense for 
this purpose ; the superior of the asylum of St. Raphael, 
at Naples, once agreed to such a request, on the condition 
that he would furnish the applicant with her wardrobe, and 
he did so cheerfully. Certain missionaries, giving in the 
year 1765 the mission in the diocese of Bojano, met with 
a married woman who lived in a state of concubinage. 
She told them in confession that she belonged to Trasso 
33* 



390 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

which was in Mgr. Liguori s diocese, and added that the 
child she had with her was by her lawful husband. The 
missionaries lost no time in informing Alphonsus of all 
this, and the saintly old man, filled with very great joy at 
seeing the sincere repentance of this woman and her 
wish to enter a convent, succeeded in placing her in the 
refuge of St. Clare, at Naples; where he supplied her 
with what necessaries she required, and besides many 
other gifts, assigned her an unusual pension of thirty-six 
ducats. He had the little child brought up at St. Agatha, 
and when old enough, maintained him at Naples at his 
own expense, in order that he might learn a trade. 
After this woman had been thus supported for five years, 
her husband died, and she had the opportunity of making 
an honorable second marriage, and Alphonsus did not 
fail to assist her to the end with his accustomed generosity. 
Besides all this, hundreds of poor girls owed the 
preservation of their honor to his alms-deeds. Without 
entering into a detailed account of the assistance he ren 
dered them, we shall confine ourselves to saying that he, 
went so far as even to procure innocent adornments for 
them, in order to take away from them all temptation to 
envy or to sin. That which gave him the greatest alarm 
was, when any engagement of marriage took place 
between young people whose parents refused to consent 
to it. When this occurred, he sent for the parents, in 
order to ascertain whether the grounds of their opposition 
were reasonable; he united with the priests in doing all 
that was possible, either to break off engagements entered 
into rashly, or to overcome the opposition of parents 
by showing that delay on their part must inevitably lead 
to sin. It often happened therefore that young people 
who wished to settle, but were unjustly prevented from 
so doing by their parents, had recourse to the saintly 
Bishop, who immediately sent for the parents and managed 
so well that he obtained their consent. When young 
people had given public scandal by illicit intercourse, 
their marriage was preceded by a public penance at the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 391 

door of the church. He always most carefully tried to 
stifle evil in its beginning. A troop of actors came to St. 
Agatha, intending to remain there. He at once entreated 
for the aid of the Duke of Maddalon s arm against them, 
and succeeded in getting an order for their withdrawal. 
They begged for one day s delay, in order to act a play 
which they said was very good indeed; but there was no 
reprieve for them, and they were obliged to set out at once. 
Not being able to prevent, in the lime of Carnival, the 
representation of a play about which the gentlemen of 
Airola had arranged, he asked that he might at least be 
allowed to read it, and they were obliged to submit to act 
it with the retrenchments he made in it. He did not fail 
to manifest his great displeasure to one of the gentlemen : 
"You are men of age," he said to him, "and this is the 
example you give to the young! I do not know how you 
will be able to think of it at the hour of death." One day, 
some mountebanks arrived at Arienzo, accompanied by 
two young female rope dancers, who were dressed up as 
men. As soon as Alphonsus was informed of it, he ap 
plied both to the Governor and to the agent of the Duke, 
in order that they might be sent away. The players quitted 
the town, saying they were going to Naples, but they 
stopped at Airola. " I thought that they had left my dio 
cese," he immediately wrote to the Prince della Riccia, 
"but yesterday I had the sorrow of hearing that they are 
at Airola, and that they mean to perform in your excel 
lency s palace. I must entreat you to send your orders to 
Airola, and prevent its being thought that you consent to 
this. Nothing more was necessary to cause them to be 
banished from the diocese. 

He dreaded the disorders too common in large assem 
blages, even those which had religion as their end, and he 
was therefore in the habit of suspending the confessors for 
reserved cases, on fetes where there was too great a con 
course of people. "This is the way," he said, "to pre 
vent people from coming to unburthen their consciences 
without any fruit, and then from loading them with new 



392 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

sins through the contempt they show for the sacraments." 
At Arienzo, on Christmas night, the people were in the 
habit of going out of the town, with the inhabitants of the 
adjoining villages, to assist at the offices in the church of 
the Capuchin Fathers. There was no devotion in this; on 
the contrary, this concourse of people of both sexes gave 
opportunity for all sorts of disorders. In order to put a 
stop to these evils, Alphonsus wished to be present in per 
son, but the doctors opposed this, on account of the ob 
vious danger there was that it might kill him. He then 
forbade the church to be opened before six o clock in the 
morning, and he afterwards issued the same prohibition in 
regard to all the other churches. 

He also looked on himself as the peace-maker of his 
people, and took all possible pains to reconcile spirits at 
variance with each other, and to put a stop to discord and 
prevent its spread in families, and much more so among 
the clergy. Out of many facts on record, let us relate the 
two following. One day, at Airola, when on his pastoral 
visitation, he heard that a young man had been mortally 
wounded in a combat; he immediately hastened to see the 
unhappy man, and manifested all the feeling of a tender 
father towards him, and assured him that he would assist 
both himself and his family; and having appeased his re 
sentment, he succeeded in obtaining from him the pardon 
of his murderer. Another day, he heard that two young 
gentlemen had challenged each other to fight a duel ; he 
instantly sent for both, and represented to them the conse 
quences of their guilty project, and did not dismiss them 
until he felt sure that his remonstrance had been effectual. 

This barbarous custom of duelling caused Alphonsus 
great grief, and he addressed a memorial to the king to try 
and get him to be severe in punishing the ferocious prac 
tice. He had embodied therein all the various dispositions 
both of the canon law, and the civil law of different coun 
tries, with the arguments from reason, against this detest 
able custom. His zeal was not unfruitful, for his petition 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 393 

obtained the promulgation of a very severe law against 
duelling. 

Among the vices which Alphonsus combated the most 
vigorously was that of blasphemy. As the law, which re 
quired those guilty of it to be punished at the public square 
with a bit in their mouths, had been abolished, he enjoined 
the magistrates to punish them by at least imprisoning 
them. He had sent several times for a public crier, who, 
from having been once a novice with the Capuchins, had 
become a horrible blasphemer in order to warn and cor 
rect him paternally, but he always had refused to come. 
One day he commissioned his servant Alexis to bring him 
in the palace, on the pretext of inquiring about the price 
of corn, but when he saw him, Alphonsus said: "It is not 
the price of corn, but you that I am anxious about ; I hear 
that there is not a saint whom you do not blaspheme :" he 
then threatened to have him arrested and condemned to 
the galleys. The crier was so terrified that he left off his 
guilty habit, from that day forward. He died shortly after, 
in sentiments of penitence and resignation. 

Another blasphemer, at Forchia, had been excommuni 
cated for several years, and persisted in his impenitence. 
Alphonsus, unable to put up with him any longer, applied 
to the Prince of Riccia to have his trial got ready; how 
ever, he once more tried to win him by paternal counsels, 
and sent for him to the palace. As the man did not ven 
ture to appear before him, Alphonsus inquired as to the 
time when he would pass through the street; he then went 
to the window and called him by his name ; then putting 
his hand on his head, he reproved him kindly, and repre 
sented to him the impiety of his words. He was overcome 
by this excessive goodness, humbled himself and was con 
verted. Alphonsus sent him to confession the next morn 
ing, and wished him, in order to repair the scandal he had 
given, to remain, before being admitted to holy com 
munion, at the church door for three Sundays, with a heavy 
cross on his shoulders and a large stone hung round his 
neck. He submitted to every thing, and his return to God 



394 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

was so sincere, that he lived as a good Christian from that 
time; he approached the sacraments every eight days, and 
became a member of the Society of the Rosary. 

Another, who was not satisfied with insulting the Saints, 
but went to the length of reviling God himself and of 
blaspheming against heaven, had already been imprisoned 
for his blasphemies, but he had begun them again, and 
was worse than before ; after this a monition had been 
issued against him, without success, by the ecclesiastical 
court. Alphonsusgot the Prince della Riccia to cause sen 
tence to be pronounced against him as an incorrigible. 
He had therefore to spend many a dreary day in prison, and 
his purse suffered as well as his person, through the fines 
he was obliged to pay to justice. 

His severity in punishing those who did not fulfil the 
Paschal precept, was not stopped by any earthly considera 
tions ; even the first gentlemen had to submit to see their 
names affixed to the church door, and if the Church s 
power were not strong enough to compel them to do their 
duty, he implored the intervention of the temporal lords. 
Thus he wrote once to the Prince della Riccia, saying: 
"For some years N. has not fulfilled the Paschal precept, 
on a false pretence of insanity, and worse than this, he has 
prevented his sister from frequenting the sacraments. I 
know that your excellency is full of zeal for the salvation 
of your vassals, and therefore I am sure that you will give 
orders to have this scandal remedied." And in order to 
lessen the difficulties in the way of the punishment of the 
culprit, he offered to keep him in prison at his own ex 
pense. His request was granted ; the pretended maniac 
was put in prison, and his sister was thus enabled to fulfil 
her duties with all freedom. 

He had ordered the priests to refuse the sacraments to 
those who gave public scandal or neglected their duties, 
however noble they might be, and he set them the example 
himself. All his charitable efforts to cause a gentleman, 
who was a notorious adulterer, to think seriously, failed ut 
terly, and yet this person presented himself to receive the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 395 

Holy Communion on Holy Thursday: Alphonsus, who was 
administering the Holy Communion to the people, stopped 
short before him, and said to him: "What! do you not 
blush to approach the altar? We do not give pearls to 
swine here. Unhappy man ! change your mode of life." 
At these words he passed on and left him full of confusion. 

These are some of the many striking instances of our 
Saint s admirable zeal, which might at first sight seem ex 
cessive, but which was nothing more than the necessary 
consequence of his ardor for the glory of God and his dread 
of the awful account he felt he must one day render to him. 
This thought of the responsibility of a bishop made him 
really tremble. Mgr. Albertini asked him, one day, how 
many souls he had in his diocese. "There are forty thou 
sand," Alphonsus replied. "There are as many in mine," 
said Mgr. Albertini;" upon which Alphonsus bent his head 
several times, and added : " My Lord, we have each of us 
a burden of forty thousand hundred-weight on our shoul 
ders ; woe to us if one of these souls be lost through our 
negligence !" 

This zeal of our Saint was so pleasing to God thai He 
assisted him in a particular manner by the blessings with 
which He favored his efforts, viz : by striking punishments 
inflicted on the incorrigible, and by particular lights from on 
high. "It was a marvellous thing," said a priest, "that 
what we were ignorant of, was always known to his lord 
ship. Many times, iniquity was committed at night in the 
country, or in a distant village, yet the day had scarcely 
dawned ere we were warned of it at the bishop s house." 
We will give an example, which happened at his palace at 
Arienzo. One night, the coachman and the cook tried to 
perpetrate an abominable act, but at the instant when they 
were going to commit the crime, they were suddenly seized 
with fear, and their accomplice, who was as terrified as they 
were, took to flight, and hid herself. As soon as it was 
day, Alphonsus sent for his two servants, reproached them 
with their fault, and exhorted them to confession. 



396 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

At Arienzo, a woman of bad character, who was unhap 
pily an adept in her trade, taught it even to others and had 
several women in her service, receiving strangers at her 
dwelling, particularly soldiers. Alphonsus had several 
times brought her before the courts of justice, but always in 
vain ; on seeing how incorrigible she was, he once said to 
her: "Miserable wretch that you are, you will not give 
over your crimes, but God will know how to put an end 
to them. You will die in a state of damnation, and in a 
most tragic manner." This prediction was not long in 
being verified ; for the unhappy creature, in order to escape 
from a prison, fled from the town, and was obliged to 
wander about on the neighboring mountains in the depth 
of winter, and was several times forced to sleep in the 
woods. Nevertheless, she came near to the town every 
night to abandon herself to her criminal courses; but the 
companion of her debaucheries, having also been threat 
ened with imprisonment, one evening determined to have 
nothing to do with her, and pursued her, casting stones at 
her. In her flight she fell in a deep ditch, where she died. 
Alphonsus caused her body to be carried, between three 
lighted torches, to the trench into which it was thrown, as 
an example to those of a similar description. 

A cleric, who, for his evil courses, had been imprisoned 
for several years, was at last released and sent by the Prince 
della Riccia to humble himself before Alphonsus. But, 
instead of this, he went and bitterly reproached him for the 
persecutions he had made him suffer. Alphonsus took up 
his book on the " Way of Salvation." and presented it to 
him, saying: "Read this, and you will be satisfied." But 
the priest went on Ip the same tone. Alphonsus made no 
reply, but looking at him with compassion and grief at so 
deplorable a state of mind, dismissed him and said: "May 
Jesus Christ have mercy on you, but divine justice is threat 
ening you." And so it was; he returned to his evil ways, 
and soon afterwards was shot, and thus perished. 

A notary distressed him by his misconduct; after he had 
reprimanded him several times, and always without success, 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 397 

he said to him one day: "My son, the life you lead will 
bring you to a deplorable end;" and putting his hand on 
his shoulder, he repeated, almost weeping : " Yes! you will 
die a tragic death." This unhappy man went from bad to 
worse, and at length he was involved in the conspiracy of 
the Jacobins, and was condemned to lose his head on the 
scaffold, in the January of 1800. While he was waiting in 
the chapel for the movement to the place of execution, 
he said weeping to a monk: "This death was foretold me, 
in my youth, by Mgr. Liguori." This reflection caused 
him to enter into himself with serious thought, and, having 
been hardened till then, he died full of penitence, invoking 
the saint in heaven. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

JUphonsus? patience in bearing injuries, and great Meekness. 
His admirable Humility. His Spirit of Poverty, Penance 
and Moi tijication. 

IN spite of the admiration which his zeal generally ex 
cited, those who were its objects were usually offended, 
and resented its effects with bitterness; and it often hap 
pened that in the effervescence of their Italian character, 
they loaded their good bishop with injuries, and nearly laid 
hands on him. How undaunted his courage was, we have 
seen above in similar occurrences, where threats even 
against his life had been uttered. We are going to relate, 
among many facts, some in which shone forth an incom 
parable patience and meekness, united with such charity 
that often he loaded those who offended him with benefits. 
"When charity is patient," said he, "it is also kind ; if we 
are really anxious to win over those who do us harm to 
Jesus Christ, we must do them good." 

A priest who had an office in the diocese, fancied him 
self offended on account of the manner in which Alphon- 
sus treated his brother, and had the impudence to go to 
34 



398 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

him and heap insults upon him. "Do you not see," he 
said, " that you are unfit to fulfil your duties ? How much 
better it would have been if you had remained at Ciorani 
to weep over your sins, than to come to St. Agatha to fill 
the office of bishop. 3 Alphonsus answered with a smile. 
The grand-vicar asked that this man should be deprived of 
his post, but he was kept in it, arid afterwards was made 
a canon. 

Alphonsus labored to put an end to the scandalous con 
duct of a certain gentleman ; the latter came to the palace 
full of rage, arid asked to see the bishop. The servants 
seeing a man in a great passion, prevented his being ad 
mitted, whereupon he uttered a volley of abuse. This 
scene became talked of, and reached the ears of the go 
vernor, who hastened to put the offender in prison. When 
Alphonsus heard of it he was greatly distressed, and sent 
for the governor, to whom he excused the gentleman, and 
asked for his pardon ; nor did he rest until he had got him 
set at liberty that very day. 

One day, when Alphonsus was driving out, he met a 
villager of bad character, who was full of anger for the cor 
rection he had received from him ; and who loaded him with 
abuse and bad language. Alphonsus bore it all in silence. 
On his return to the palace, the grand-vicar wanted this 
impudent man to be punished as an example. Alphonsus 
was indignant at the idea, and positively forbade any thing 
of the kind to be attempted. However, the grand-vicar 
informed the governor of it, and the daring offender was 
imprisoned that same evening. Alphonsus heard of it the 
next day; he made loud complaints about it, and de 
manded that the man should be immediately set at liberty: 
in the evening, having heard that the governor had not yet 
done so, he sent for the grand-vicar, and manifested his 
dissatisfaction to him, and as the latter represented to him 
the dignity of his position, he exclaimed : " What position, 
if it is necessary for people to be put in prison on my ac 
count!" He was not pacified until he had tidings of the 
release of the offender. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

A priest who was convicted of falsehood and serious 
deception towards his bishop, was so far from humbling 
himself in consequence, that he even uttered a torrent 
of abusive language against him. "I am on the point o 
abandoning my home in order not to be under you an/ 
longer," he said to him, amongst many other disrespectful 
things. From the fear of making him still more angry, the 
saintly man quietly replied: "My son, what do you wish 
me to say to you? You are right, and I am wrong; calm 
yourself I entreat you :" he then made him sit down near 
him and tried to pacify him. 

Another day, a priest came in who set up claims to a 
prebend, of which he was totally unworthy. Alphonsus 
gave him a tacit refusal, by saying that he had promised it 
to another. At these words the priest got outrageously 
angry, and assailed his bishop with the most abusive in 
vectives. " Is it you they call a saint!" he said. "A 
pretty kind of sanctity yours is ! He only is a saint who 
knows how to be just." Alphonsus listened in silence, but 
on seeing that he went on, he said to him gently : " This is 
too much;" and taking up his pen again, he went on with 
his work. The other went on abusing him in the same 
tone, until he had vented all his spleen. The eye-witness 
of this scene stated that Alphonsus seemed like a marble 
statue all the time, and that he could scarcely even per 
ceive a faint flush which tinged his face, it was so slight; 
and he added, that when the priest retired, Alphonsus did 
not say a word to him about what had just happened. 

A layman boldly entered his palace one day, and abused 
him most violently ; he bore it all without saying any thing, 
and without in the least losing his serenity. When the 
scene ended, he went to the seminary as if nothing had 
happened. He visited the different classes, manifested 
great cheerfulness, assisted at the repetitions, and made 
the youngest pupils sing a pious song. When he retired 
the superior followed him, and on seeing him so cheerful, 
he begged him to diminish the amount of the pension for 
a young man with whom he was greatly satisfied. The 
I 



400 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

bishop granted him all he asked, with pleasure. When he 
went away, and the superior heard of the insult he had re 
ceived just before this visit, he was stupified, and could 
not sufficiently admire the immovable sweetness of the 
saintly bishop. 

One day he sent the servant to the administrator of the 
annunciator, to ask his kind assistance in behalf of a poor 
woman whom he had converted. The administrator was 
in a bad humor at that time, and sent the bishop, the 
woman, and the servant about their business. The indig 
nant servant repeated the speech to Alphonsus, and as he 
blamed the administrator, he said to him: "be silent, he 
is a holy man. Who knows what was the matter with 
him ? Go back again to-morrow, and you will see that he 
will give you a large donation." And so it was; the 
servant went and received more than thirty carlins. 

The good bishop s meekness towards those of his house 
hold was no less admirable. When they annoyed him in 
any way, his greatest complaint was to say : " How foolish 
you are!" or else, "May you become a saint!" If the 
matter were of more importance, and he saw no way of 
remedying it, he raised his eyes to heaven and gently said: 
"Thy will be done;" and if he could not control some 
emotion, he used to exclaim : " Gloria Patri," &c. A 
canon related that he always exercised extraordinary mild 
ness towards a priest belonging to his palace, who treated 
him as if he were his inferior. Every one was indignant at 
the effrontery and impertinence of this person. Alphonsus 
alone never showed the least emotion at it. 

He one day gently reproved a cleric who was writing 
under his dictation ; the cleric, whether through stupidity 
or malice, threw the papers down in a heap on the table, 
and then hastily and angrily retired. When Alphonsus 
thought he had got calm again, he sent for him and said: 
" Well, why did you do such a thing? Do you know that 
you vexed me? now go on writing again." 

This calmness in the midst of affronts and insults was 
not natural to him, however, for he had by nature a fiery 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 401 

and irascible temper. It was the happy result of the vio 
lent efforts he made to overcome himself, and to break off 
all human attachment in his heart. From the moment he 
left the world, he set the mildness and humility of Jesus 
Christ before him as a model. Archdeacon Rainone, who 
was once present when a country priest insulted him, said : 
"My lord, that is not the proper way to act; it is de 
grading to your character, and encourages the wicked." 
" Oh, my dear canon," answered Alphonsus, "I have la 
bored to gain a little patience for forty years, and you want 
me to lose it in an instant." On a similar occasion he an 
swered to a like remark of the superior of the seminary, with 
a smile: "I have had no slight struggle to gain a little pa~ 
tience ; God knows how much it has cost me. It is the fruit 
of continued effort, and shall I go and lose it in an instant r" 
But this meekness did not prevent him from showing the 
proper firmness, when, not his own person, but the glory 
of God, or the welfare of souls was in any way concerned ; 
he became then even terrible as a lion. F. Caputo, who 
lived in his intimacy, was in the habit of saying, "When 
this old man wants to manifest his authority, he intimidates 
and terrifies one." A gentleman, who was rich, but dissi 
pated all his possessions in gaming, had a son at the semi 
nary, and on the plea of poverty, he wanted him to be 
kept there for the half pension. Alphonsus wished to 
correct him, so he refused his request. The gentleman then 
raised his voice and tried to obtain it by intimidating him. 
Alphonsus, upon this, said to him: "But do you know 
how unbending I am ? He then struck the table with the 
back of his hand, and added : " When I tell you that I ought 
not to do the thing for God s sake, you might as well give 
it up." Another gentleman of Airola went on obstinately 
in sin ; Alphonsus sent for him to the palace and repri 
manded him, and on seeing his indifference he got more 
animated and reproved him more warmly. The gentleman 
was much nettled, and began to abuse him excessively; 
this did not move Alphonsus, who merely said to him more 
than once, while walking up and down : " Sir, you wish me 
34* 



402 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

to act as a bishop, and I will make you see that I am one." 
We could give a thousand instances of this truly apostoli 
cal firmness. But it was not without suffering an interior 
pang that he decided on resorting to firmness or severity. 
" You cannot imagine," he wrote to one of his penitents 
at Naples, " how much it costs me to treat certain persons 
with severity ; and I think that one succeeds better by gen 
tleness than by violence." He was once seen to weep, in 
giving a severe reprimand to a gentleman whose deplorable 
conduct had not yielded to repeated warnings. At this, the 
licentious man could not help being affected himself, not 
withstanding his being so hardened. Often after uttering 
words which he thought a little too strong, he would think 
of some pretext for recalling the person to whom they had 
been addressed, and giving him some token of kindness. 
Thus, having on one occasion spoken authoritatively to a 
doctor, he sent for him" on the following day to feel his 
pulse. " He was very well, however," said the doctor af 
terwards, "but he made use of this innocent stratagem to 
show me that he felt no ill-will towards me." 

This meekness and the control which he had gained over 
himself also enabled him to rule over the hearts of others, 
so that often one word from him sufficed to make all parties 
agree, and the most obstinate hearts submit. Of this, let 
us give the following most remarkable instance. One day, 
the cook, who had forced Alphonsus to give him an assist 
ant for the dirty work, had a dispute with this latter, who 
carried it so far as to run after him with a knife. The poor 
servant ran to take refuge in Alphonsus room, and held 
the door firmly closed; but the scullion, who seemed de 
termined to kill him, pushed at the door violently from out 
side. Alphonsus ordered it to be immediately opened, 
and with a few words succeeded in completely calming the 
infuriated scullion. The grand-vicar and all the others 
wished the man to be imprisoned and dismissed ; but the 
saintly bishop only sought to reconcile him to the cook, 
and he succeeded so well that these two servants were the 
best possible friends from that time. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 403 

In a word, we may say that Alphonsus meekness was 
perfect. " There is nothing," said he, "which is more un 
seemly in a bishop than anger. A bishop who gives way 
to this passion, is no longer the father of his flock; he is 
an intractable tyrant, who draws down the hatred of every 
one." Br. Francis, who lived with our saint for fifty years, 
and a Father who was in intimate intercourse with him for 
forty years, attested, that, whether in his relations with them 
or with strangers, he constantly evinced unutterable sweet 
ness and equanimity, however annoying that intercourse 
might have been; and a priest, a man whose sanctity made 
him venerable, never called him any thing but the Francis 
de Sales of our age. 

As the inseparable companion of meekness is humility, 
so Alphonsus, who was a model of sweetness, rendered 
himself no less admirable by the low opinion he had of 
himself. Being entirely detached from the world, wherein 
he saw nothing but illusion and vanity, he seemed to have 
forgotten what he once had been, and to seek for nothing 
but obscurity and contempt during the whole time of his 
episcopate. He no longer thought of the nobility of his 
origin, nor of the great achievements of his forefathers, 
and if any one attempted to speak to him of them, he im 
mediately stopped them. On one occasion, some one 
talked a great deal about the honors and dignities which 
his cousin, D. Charles Caralini, had enjoyed at Mantua, as 
governor of that town; far from taking pleasure in all this, 
Alphonsus thought it a matter for sorrow, and said : " How 
much more I should rejoice at hearing him praised for hav 
ing been full of virtue ! How much more cause should I 
have for pride, had his death been that of a saint." How 
he hated the title of excellency , we have seen above ; and 
his persevering way of rejecting it was such, that every one 
in the diocese gave it up, in spite of the habit of using it to 
the bishops who were his predecessors. 

As he delighted in serving others, and never in being 
waited on himself, he was like one of the servants in his 
house: he made his bed himself, dressed his own issue, and 



404 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

never allowed a valet to come near his person for such ser 
vices ; and although Bishop of St. Agatha, he seemed 
rather to consider himself the sacristan. " By God s 
grace," he one day said, "I have never felt vain-glorious. 
Once only, when I was being incensed on my throne, I 
felt a sort of pleasing sensation. Now see," he added, 
"see how the devil tried to tempt me." When he went 
out of his palace, he never would be accompanied by more 
than one priest, whoever that one might be ; and he very 
often went out alone, or only accompanied by the sacristan, 
who was a layman. The canons, on finding out this man 
ner of proceeding, several times complained to the persons 
belonging to the episcopal house that they were not 
warned when he went out by the usual ringing of bells; 
but that was precisely what Alphonsus did not wish for. 
When he went to church for his private devotions, he went 
alone ; and thus it severaf times happened that he came too 
soon, and found the door shut, and waited then patiently 
until the sacristan arrived to open it. When he arrived 
alone in this way, he would not allow a cushion to be put 
on his chair, and when the servant accompanied him, as he 
knew his wishes, he took care to take it away, if it had 
been placed there. The slightest mark of deference was 
distasteful to him ; thus, when he went out in the carriage, 
he would not allow the secretary or any other priest to seat 
themselves in the front part of the carriage ; and he never 
consented to take the right side unless it were quite indis 
pensable to do so. Even at Naples he made his grand- 
vicar take it, who, though distressed at such pre-eminence, 
was obliged to yield through obedience, and in order to 
avoid vexing his superior. Far from domineering over the 
clergy, he even manifested submissiveness towards the 
lowest of his servants, to whom he never spoke but in 
these terms: Do me the kindness. ... I beg you to 
do such a thing. . . . Have patience. . . . Please to 
do that, &c. No word ever issued from his mouth which 
denoted command or superiority. He was, above all, re 
spectful in his expressions and conduct towards ecclesias- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 405 

tics. "One day when I was in his room," said a priest, 
"he did not venture to say to me, give me that pen, but 
he rung the bell to summon the lay-brother who had to 
attend to him ; he was paralyzed and in bed." Even 
when he gave an order to a priest relating to his office, he 
did so in the form of a request. He once said to a priest 
who gave the spiritual exercises to the nuns at Arienzo : 
"D. Paschal, the nuns would like to have you for two days 
more." "Your lordship can dispose of me; you have but 
to command, and I will obey," was his reply. "Very 
true," replied Alphonsus, "but a superior ought to be dis 
creet." He was in the habit of saying that a tone of 
superiority and disdain can only diminish the authority of 
a bishop. If, however, he were resisted in a thing he had 
a right to demand, he then remembered that he was a 
bishop, and changed his love into firmness, but always 
spoke in a polite manner, and never said any thing offen 
sive. When he wrote to the episcopal vicars and to the 
priests, he gave them the title of most illustrious, and he 
was as respectful towards those he cited before his tribunal, 
thus liking to give to others what he would not receive 
himself. When he had to deal with any superior of a 
monastery, he almost put himself in the position of a sub 
ject. Having gone to the Capuchin Fathers on St. An 
thony s day, while he was at Arienzo, and seeing there 
was a crowd of people in the church, he said to the F. 
Guardian in the most humble tone: " F. Guardian, if you 
allow it, I should like to say a few words to these people." 
He treated all kinds of ecclesiastics in office with the same 
deference, in regard to the affairs relating to their church; 
and he addressed the priests, and above all the canons, in 
the same way, when he wanted to officiate at an unusual 
time in any church. 

He would never allow even the simplest cleric to remain 
standing in his presence, and all who went to see him 
were admitted to his table, if they came in the morning. 
Thus no formal invitation was needed beforehand to en 
able persons to be admitted to it; every priest, and even 



406 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

every layman who came to see him, might hope to dine 
with him. He disliked having his hand kissed, and he did 
not even present it to the clergy, unless they manifested a 
wish for it, and then he did so unwillingly. He liked to 
converse with the most vulgar peasantry, and to inquire 
into their affairs and their wants. 

His profound science caused him to be consulted on the 
most delicate affairs, and recourse was had to him from all 
parts of Italy, and even from beyond the mountains; yet 
he never decided any thing of consequence without him 
self taking advice, and always behaved as if he were inca 
pable of deciding any thing himself. He often took the 
opinion even of persons of but moderate talents, and he 
never hesitated in submitting his judgment to that of 
another, when he thought it more in accordance with the 
truth. He was the first to condemn himself, if he happened 
to make any mistake. Ee did this with joy, and always 
manifested gratitude for the explanations he had received. 
But if it happened that he was wrongfully condemned, he 
>was equally sincere, exposed his reasons with candor, 
and justified himself without blaming others. A common 
place writer, "of whom Alphonsus had made an honorable 
mention in one of his books, not satisfied with having bit 
terly censured an opinion which he had had grounds for 
defending, wrote a letter to him, as indiscreet a% it was 
impertinent, in which he did not scruple to call him an im 
postor. Alphonsus received this piece of impertinence 
with the greatest calmness, and took care not to complain 
of it even to a canon, who, as he knew, was a friend of his 
detractor. 

A foreign merchant, who called himself a convert from 
Protestantism, after having obtained the ordinary letter of 
recommendation to the diocese from the grand-vicar, 
wished to speak with his lordship. When he was in his 
presence he began to talk of the different works which Al 
phonsus had published, and did not scruple boldly to blame 
several of his opinions, which he accused of being unten 
able and scandalous, and went at length so far as to treat 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 407 

him to his face as an ignorant fool. Alphonsus not knowing 
what to think of such impudence, defended his opinions 
with humility, without losing his affability. A canon who 
was present, afterwards said to him: " I cannot imagine 
how you managed to bear it." Alphonsus only answered 
by a sweet smile, and then added that very likely he was a 
Jansenist. 

The publisher wishing to give an increased value to Al 
phonsus Moral Theology, begged him in January, 1762, to 
have his portrait taken. Alphonsus answered : " As to the 
portrait, that would throw discredit on the work; is it 
fitting for an author to have his picture taken while he is 
alive ? ... When I shall be no more, let them do what 
they please with my body ; I care but little : but during my 
life, I wish no notice to be taken of me, and that my name 
may never be quoted anywhere. I have put it in my books, 
it is true; but that was to excite the curiosity of people, 
and to get them to read them, otherwise I should have had 
them printed without my name." When his secretary, at 
the instigation of the publisher, made use of some solici 
tation on this subject, Alphonsus answered: "Do not 
speak to me more about that, my work would not get more 
credit, but on the contrary, it would be depreciated in value 
if the head of such a mummy were put in it." If we have 
his portrait, we owe it to his servant Alexis and to his 
secretary, who being pressed by fresh entreaties from the 
publisher, secretly made a hole in the door of the room 
where Alphonsus dined; and thus the painter was able to 
trace his features whilst he took his repast. 

The arms of his house were to be seen only in the 
chapter, they were neither to be found in the church nor in 
his palace ; and the seats which he used, bore no other 
impression than a cross, or a calvary. There was a magni 
ficent chasuble in the treasury of the cathedral, left there by 
Mgr. Danza; Alphonsus wanted to have a complete set of 
vestments of the same sort, and he added some of his own 
money to what the church funds could supply, and ordered 
a cope, dalmatics, a humeral veil, and cushions, to match, 



408 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

from Naples. When these things arrived at St. Agatha, 
the canons fancied that the sight of the arms of Mgr. Danza 
would be offensive to Alphonsus ; they therefore had them 
immediately taken down, and were just going to send them 
back to have the arms of Liguori affixed instead, when Al 
phonsus heard of it and declared that it mattered little that 
these vestments were adorned by Mgr. Danza s arms, and 
asked if the ceremonies wherein these would appear, would 
be of less value on that account. He made them replace 
every thing as the embroiderer had put it. His brother 
Hercules made him once a present of a magnificently em 
broidered piece of cloth, which Alphonsus had made into a 
chasuble and dalmatics, but he rejected the proposition 
which the canons made of placing his arms on them ; giving 
as the reason of this refusal, that what he had expended in 
the making of these things was not out of his personal in 
come, but that he had taken it from the episcopal revenues, 
of which he did not consider himself to be the owner. 

While he thus declined all personal privileges, he also 
forbade all his household to take advantage of the position 
they held, in the least degree. The general agent of the 
duke of Maddalon, said on this head: "In the time of the 
former bishops, no one dared to bring before the courts of 
justice any of those who were attached to the bishop s 
establishments, such as farmers, &c., but in the time of 
Mgr. Liguori, the horror which he had for all sorts of unjust 
pre-eminence, caused him to abolish these privileges." 

The following is the last proof we shall give of his pro 
found humility. As founder of the Congregation, and Su 
perior General, he had a perfect right to employ any 
member of it in all his wants as he might please : but it 
was not thus he acted. F. Villani had destined F. D. 
Angelo Majone for St. Agatha; but he did not like such a 
tranquil mode of life, and manifested repugnance to it, so 
he sent him to give a mission at Gaeto, in order to over 
come his aversion, and informed Alphonsus of it. " This 
news has given me great pain," he answered ; "I want an 
able subject who can assist me in a multitude of difficult 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 409 

cases; for I am surrounded by a thousand difficulties which 
arise on all sides: but God wills it to be thus, and his will 

be done Try and get him to aid me willingly ; me, 

a poor old man loaded with trials and cares. Tell him that 
he will thereby be sure of doing God s will, and that he 
will do me a great charity. I like him because he leads an 
edifying and retired life, and does not meddle with any 
thing that does not concern him ; besides, he is a good ad 
viser and a good preacher. I say, willingly, for otherwise 
it would be better for him not to come ; for he would then 
be more burthensome than useful. 

The virtues of poverty and penance are the inseparable 
companions of humility, or rather its most certain outward 
expressions. We will therefore show how these two virtues 
also shone forth in our saint during the time of his episco 
pate. With the exception of one violet suit, he only made 
use of Mgr. Danza s old clothes, and they were the only 
ones he wore during the thirteen years he was bishop of 
St. Agatha. Except when he had to officiate, he always 
wore the habit of his Congregation, which became dearer 
to him and more to his taste from its appearing humble and 
poor; but even this cassock had no fellow. One day, a 
gentleman coming to see him, found him clothed in violet, 
and believing that he must therefore be going out, he said 
to him: "Are you going to officiate? " "No," he replied, 
"but my cassock is being mended." Another day, as he 
was passing a monastery of the Dominican Fathers, dressed 
in an old gown full of patches and in a cassock which 
was out at the elbows, a father showing compassion for 
such great poverty, Alphonsus excused himself for it by 
frankly saying that he had given a commission for four 
articles of clothing to be bought for him in Naples at the 
old clothes-shop, but that they had not yet arrived. 

He had a cassock which was so bad that the lay-brother 
was ashamed of it, and determined to take it away from 
him during the night, and make a new one of the same 
kind. The next morning while he was assisting him ta 
dress, which he could not then do alone on account of an 
35 



410 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

issue in his arm, the brother adroitly substituted the new 
habit. Alphonsus did not find it out at first, but on looking 
at the sleeves, he saw that they were new. "Ah," he said 
to him, "you have put new sleeves." "Yes," answered 
the brother, "the others were too much torn." But some 
time afterwards he saw that it was not his old cassock at 
all. "I am master," said he then, raising his voice, "I 
think this cassock is perfectly new." " So it is," replied 
the brother, " the other was no longer decent for you to 
put on." "Never mind," he answered in a tone of 
authority, "go and fetch me the old cassock." "If you 
will not have this one," said then the brother, "you must 
do without any, for the other has been given to a poor 
man." Alphonsus could not help regretting it, and said to 
the brother: "You always will act of your own accord." 
His underclothes were of coarse stuff; in summer they 
were of common cloth dyed black. A tailor said that on 
receiving a pair of small-clothes to mend, he did not know 
where to put the needle, and that a beggar would not have 
taken them. "Although sick and old," said a priest, "he 
only used hemp shirts, and a wooden rosary was suspended 
at his neck, similar to those which poor beggars use." The 
laundress often complained that the shirts were so tattered 
that the pieces remained in her hands, and wished him to 
be persuaded to get four new ones. " I undertook the 
office," said F. Telesca, "and seizing on a good oppor 
tunity, which the sight of the rents in the collar of his shirt 
gave me, I told him that he ought to get new ones." " Old 
things," he replied with a smile, "suit an old bishop; and 
then I ought to think of clothing the poor." He was seen 
in his visitations, mounted on an ass, and with such tattered 
clothes on that his hair shirt was seen through them. His 
stockings were of coarse wool; when he officiated he wore 
spun silk ones, but he never would make use of real silk 
stockings. The shoes which he had made at his election, 

& 

were the only ones he wore during the thirteen years he 
governed St. Agatha, and he still wore them after his resig 
nation, until his death. The walking-stick, which he used 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 411 

for the sole purpose of supporting himself, was of no value, 
having cost at most, twenty carlins. The little silken twist 
upon it got so shabby that it looked quite discreditable, and 
a priest not being able to bear its unsightliness, substituted 
a simple riband in its stead. When Alphonsus perceived 
it, he said: "What is that riband for?" Being told who 
had put it on, he said: "Yes, it could only have been put 
on by him." His bedstead was of wood, and of coarse 
workmanship, and he could never be induced to make use 
of an iron one. He had no curtains, and the sheets were 
of coarse linen ; his blanket in winter was one of coarse 
wool, like those which the poor use : it was also old and 
worn out, and however severe the cold might be, he never 
allowed another to be bought, nor would he have a coun 
terpane, but spread his cloak and his cassock on the bed. 
"I have admired Naples," wrote the grand chanter of the 
Cathedral of Girgenti, who had visited Alphonsus at Ari- 
enzo, " I have felt admiration for the magnificence of Rome, 
but the life of Mgr. Liguori has made a much greater im 
pression on me ; it has effaced all the beauties of these two 
capitals from my eyes. I have seen a saintly bishop of the 
primitive age; he lies on a bed to which he is confined by 
the most painful infirmities, but his serene countenance 
betokens the tranquillity of his soul. The glory of God, 
and the government of his diocese, occupy him unceas 
ingly : in him have I seen extreme moderation in sleep and 
in food, and such absolute poverty in all things, that the 
only covering he has on his straw bed is his cassock; his 
pastoral ring would not excite the envy of a beggar, a false 
stone is its only ornament; his cross equals it in its sim 
plicity." 

At St. Agatha, as well as at Arienzo, he always chose 
the smallest room in an obscure recess for himself. He 
had not* one valuable chair; those he had were of the sort 
all the poor use. His table was of unpolished wood, its 
value consisting in its antiquity, and he had on it a miser 
able little inkstand of bone. The paper which he used 
for every thing he wrote was very common, and he was so 



412 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

careful in turning the least piece to advantage, that he used 
the envelopes of letters for his composition, and for writing 
to the members of his Congregation. His snuff box was 
the same that he had used in the Congregation, that is a 
wooden one, worth only a few grains; in a word, he used 
nothing which was not very poor and very coarse. The 
bare floor was his Prie-Dieu. The only ornaments which 
adorned his room, besides his books, were a large crucifix, 
(which he had received as a present, and which he had 
always before him,) and a little picture of our Lady of good 
counsel, which was placed on his table. All the other 
rooms in the palace also betokened poverty. Mgr. Danza 
had left handsome furniture, but Alphonsus did not make 
use of it, and the palace was a mirror of evangelical poverty. 
With the exception of some common beds for those who 
might come to see him, some chairs, and deal tables, all 
the rest evinced distress. There were no valuable paint 
ings, but on all sides devotional pictures of Jesus Christ 
and the Blessed Virgin. In the vestibule of the house at 
Arienzo, he placed a cross, which he kissed every time he 
went in or out of the house. The best piece of furniture 
for any person of distinction, was a bed which was covered 
with some old damask cloth, which had belonged to Mgr. 
Danza; and this was called the bed of state. He had, in 
a word, such an ardent love for holy poverty, that even the 
shadow of gold or silver made him afraid. He often went 
to see, at Arienzo, F. Mascia, the ex-provincial of the 
Capuchins, and each time he went into his room he ten 
derly kissed a beautiful parchment picture representing the 
Ecce homo. F. Mascia on seeing this devotion, offered the 
picture to him, and he accepted it. It was surrounded by 
the cloth of which the Capuchins make use ; he wanted 
to take it off as a superfluous ornament, but it concealed a 
little silver frame. He at once returned it, saying he would 
not deprive F. Mascia of this object of devotion; but when 
it had left the house, he said to the secretary, " the picture 
is very beautiful, it is a pity that it has that silver frame." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 413 

On the pretext of health, he would only use the com 
monest sort of bread, which is made of bran with a very 
small quantity of flour. All the dishes at his table were 
equally common. He ate only veal or mutton, there being 
no other kind of meat to be had at Arienzo. " What 
scandal would it give," he said, " if the people saw one 
fare daintily." Even when he was ill, he would not allow 
any thing to be sent for to Naples or elsewhere, saying, 
"I ought to use the produce of my diocese;" and among 
the things which were sold in the place, he wished those 
which were the cheapest to be selected. The secretary 
one day bought a rare fish ; as soon as Alphonsus saw it, 
he hastened to send it back again, saying, Met it not be 
said that the bishop eats the best fish. If any sort of deli 
cacy were prepared for him during his illness, he said, 
shaking his head : " I am satisfied with what the others 
have, I do not wish for any thing in particular." His great 
maxim in this as in other things was: "All that is super 
fluous is taken from the poor." 

When the Archbishop of Amalfi came, as we have seen 
above, to consecrate the Cathedral of St. Agatha, the cook 
thought that this was an occasion on which he could get 
credit through a grand feast; but when he heard that only 
two dishes were ordered, he crossly replied : " My lord, 
the scullion could prepare the dinner which you have 
ordered." "What do you want to say?" answered Al 
phonsus, " we received persons of great consequence at 
Nocera, and we did not treat them differently." "Your 
lordship was free to do so," boldly replied the cook, who 
then went out of the room grumbling. " There now," 
said Alphonsus, " what a passion he has put himself in ! 
God knows all the plans he had concerted." However, the 
secretary had a third dish prepared ; Alphonsus seemed as 
if he did not observe it while at dinner, but he gave him a 
severe reprimand afterwards, and said: "A bishop s table 
ought not to resemble those of the great, it would be a real 
scandal: poverty does not injure a bishop; on the con 
trary it does him honor." When Mgr. Albertini, bishop of 
35* 



414 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Caserto, came to Arienzo with his suite, Alphonsus ordered 
three more dishes than usual to be prepared ; Br. Francis 
remembered the brilliant reception Alphonsus had received 
in passing through Caserto, and applied to a Father of the 
Congregation to obtain some more. The father had a 
lively discussion with him about it. "I cannot waste 
money," replied Alphonsus, " which belongs to the poor, 
in feasts; I am their father and their steward, but not the 
dilapidator of their possessions. I know not with what 
face one can eat of dishes prepared with the blood of those 
unhappy creatures who have no bread." The father 
managed so that he got some more dishes at dessert, three 
good dishes having been sent as a present. When Al 
phonsus saw them he was quite annoyed, and would only 
allow one to be touched. " The good nuns of the Holy 
Redeemer," he said to v the bishop, "are so poor, we must 
send them something:" then addressing the other guests, 
he added, " His lordship does not want any more, he pre 
fers conferring a charity on these poor females;" and he 
despatched the bearer to St. Agatha that same instant. 

His table linen was so common that it looked quite dis 
creditable, and the dishes were in keeping. His only 
candlesticks were of brass, and the salt cellars of earthen 
ware. On extraordinary occasions, he sent to borrow 
plates and dishes from the Lords of Lucca, until the brother 
attendant and the secretary provided them, unknown to 
him. In conclusion, let us add the following testimony 
given to his apostolical poverty by a gentleman who went 
to visit him at Arienzo, in 1769, and who could not help 
weeping at seeing the great destitution of his host. " I 
have seen the ideal of poverty in Mgr. Liguori," he said 
to every body, " what indigence is there throughout the 
palace! some of the rooms are quite bare, others have 
three straw chairs made of unpolished poplar-wood in them, 
the simplest sort of tables, and a bed equally poor. If the 
saintly bishop required to be moved about, his servant drew 
him up and down in the room by means of a rope attached 
;to a shabby wheel-chair." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 415 

As for the spirit of penance which animated him, he 
never omitted to discipline himself to blood every day, and 
the wallsof his chamber would have borne constant witness 
to these macerations, if Mgr. Rossi, his successor, had not 
had them covered over by several coats of white-wash. It 
was asserted that his drawers were steeped in blood, as if 
they had been plunged in it. The prior of the Dominicans 
at Durazzano once dwelt in the bishop s house, on account 
of the examinations. The very day they terminated, he 
wished to set out immediately, (although it was late in the 
day,) and being urged to remain, he said: "I would return 
were it midnight, for I have not the heart to hear the flagel 
lations of this poor old man any longer." 

In order to obtain an increase of grace from God for 
himself and his flock, he used generally, on the vigils of 
feasts, to scourge himself with various cruel instruments, 
and especially with small cords armed with sharp steel 
stars. He also redoubled his macerations at the carnival 
and other profane fetes. Not satisfied with these bloody 
disciplines, he also mortified his flesh by horse-hair shirts 
studded with iron points, or by sharp little crosses with 
which he covered his shoulders, his arms and legs; when he 
sat down or got up again, his motions betrayed his suffer 
ings. All the particulars of these instruments of penance 
would have been unknown, if the curiosity of some people 
had not revealed them to us. " I saw them all secretly," 
said a canon, who had lived in filial intimacy with him, " in 
a strong box, of which his lordship kept the key under his 
bed: I could not help shuddering the first time I opened 
it." How little he ate, we have seen above. There was a 
time when he lived on abstinence food entirely; and what 
was left of his food was so bad on account of the bitter 
herbs with which he had seasoned it, that not only the 
poor, but even animals, would not touch it. During the 
day also, he used to chew these herbs in order to mortify 
his palate, and he kept such a quantity of them, that one 
quite smelt them on entering his room. 



416 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

When he ate any where but at home, he had a thousand 
stratagems for avoiding partaking of what was before him : 
sometimes he carved, or distributed portions ; sometimes 
he appeared to be giving his attention to a little dog; at 
other times, when he thought that it would not be noticed, 
he mingled bitter herbs with the little that he took. Dur 
ing the whole time he was bishop, he never once com 
plained of any dish being badly cooked, although accidents 
of this sort were not rare in his house. One day at dinner, 
he asked for something to drink, and instead of wine, the 
servant gave him a bottle of vinegar, but Alphonsus drank 
it without manifesting the least displeasure. A little while 
afterwards, the grand-vicar also asked to drink, and no 
sooner had he raised the glass to his lips than he began to 
scold the servant; but Alphonsus laughed, and excused 
him. On another occasion, when he was taking his meals 
in bed, the same thing happened again, and although the 
vinegar was very strong, he said nothing about it. Only, 
the next day he said to the servant: "Do not give me the 
same wine I had yesterday, for I took it for vinegar." 

He liked fresh fruit, and used it as a remedy on account 
of his sedentary life, but, when for this reason D. Hercules 
supplied him with excellent fruit from Naples, Alphonsus 
gave it to the nuns of the Holy Redeemer: he did the 
same when he got rare fish, sweet things, or other delica 
cies, from his brother, or those nuns who were related to 
him. 

In the midst of the sufferings which continually tor 
mented him, he never sought for any other alleviations than 
those which were prescribed for him by the physician. 
One day, when he was oppressed by a very bad sick head 
ache, F. Caputo offered to procure him some of the waters 
of St. Vincent Ferrer, in the hope that the saint would 
cure him, or at least relieve him. " Shall we go and apply 
to St. Vincent for such a little thing?" answered he. "If 
we want to address him, let us pray to him for the salva 
tion of our souls, and for a good passage into eternity ; as 
to what I suffer, it is nothing." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 417 

Although he was sinking under the weight of years and 
infirmities, he was always careful to mortify his senses. 
He never indulged in any gratification of the eyes, how 
ever innocent it might be. " I am certain," said F. Ca- 
puto, " that he scarcely knew that there was such a town 
as Arienzo or St. Agatha in the world." Another Father, 
who was intimate with him, said : " Alphonsus was so great 
an enemy to himself, that he had a universal hatred for all 
kinds of recreation." " His mortified life," added another, 
" filled all who saw it with confusion, and sufficed to change 
their lives." He slept as frequently on the floor as in bed. 
His bed, besides, was a place of penance rather than of 
rest, the palliasse being so thin that his body rested on the 
bare boards. He never had it shaken during all the years 
which preceded his great infirmity. Let us add one other 
testimony of our saint s penances during his episcopate; 
it is that of his grand-vicar, Rubini : "His lordship was 
as cruel towards himself as he was kind towards others," 
said he. "I should make you shudder, were I to relate to 
you all the particulars of his macerations, his abstinences 
from food, his daily scourgings to blood, of the hair shirts 
and iron chains which kept his body in a continual state of 
mortification, his watchings ; in short, all which can afflict 
the flesh was made use of unceasingly." 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

Jllphonsus charity in relieving all kinds of bodily suffer 
ing. His detachment from all self-interest. 

TIO complete the description of the virtues of our saint 
during his episcopate, we must add that of his charity 
towards his neighbor in regard to their bodily necessities. 
Full of love for all works of mercy enjoined in the Gospel, 
he said that a bishop is especially bound to perform them. 
The numerous poor of his diocese were therefore the first 
objects of his charity. His heroic charity during the famine 



418 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

of 17 , and the frequent assistance given to persons in 
danger of sin, we have seen above. On Wednesday and 
Friday of each week, he had a general and public distribu 
tion of alms; but whenever any assistance was needed, 
all days were alike to him, none were exempted, even we 
might say that there was not an hour in the day, in which 
he could not be seen, purse in hand, giving liberally to all. 
The grand-vicar, Rubini, affirmed, that after subtracting 
what was necessary to pay the grand-vicar s salary, and 
the monthly salary to which the chaplain, the cook and 
the attendant were entitled, and also the expenses for the 
table, all the rest of his income was employed in alms, or 
else to meet the outlays which the suppression of disorders 
entailed. Archdeacon Rainone said that one day he saw 
the hall of the palace filled with poor: some asked for 
salt, others for lard, some for sugar, others for delicacies 
for their sick relatives at home. He was particularly care 
ful in signing bonds, in exchange for which the apothecary 
was bound to furnish remedies; and he gave quinine, and 
other simple medicines with which he was provided to 
those who required them. The same archdeacon one day 
represented to him the excess of his generosity, as he was 
sometimes for whole days without having any thing left to 
give, (giving usually to each person at least from five to six 
grains,) and asked him what would remain for himself 
when he had given all away; reminding him that summer 
is not unending, and that the wants of winter are still 
greater. "Providence is never at a loss," replied Alphon- 
sus. A light from on high directed his alms. Alexis, the 
servant, related that when he announced any poor person, 
he was in the habit of giving the first time a considerable 
sum of money; if the same person came back again, he 
diminished the alms each time, without personally seeing 
him. But if he were asked for charity for others, he again 
gave the large sum. During the bad weather in winter, 
when the poor could not work, his charity became still 
more striking. He was then in the habit of spending 
among them six, nine, and even ten ducats a day. " He 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 419 

was so generous in his alms," said a canon, "that he not 
only deprived himself of what was necessary for himself 
and for his family, but he did not hesitate even to contract 
heavy debts for the relief of the destitute." " Repeatedly," 
said another canon, " I went to borrow fifty, a hundred, 
and even two hundred ducats for him. When he could 
find no one to lend him any thing, he had recourse to the 
liberality of the great, especially of the Prince della Riccia. 
The Duchess of Maddalon also sent him several hundred 
ducats at once, which were specially intended for the poor 
of St. Agatha and of Arienzo. Any expense for purposes 
not necessary, he did not know, or rather considered as a 
robbery. We have given his sentiments on this head in 
several instances above; let us add the following. "When 
D. Hercules came to visit him, for the first time, with his 
second wife, D. Marianne, the grand-vicar and others told 
the pious bishop that he ought to think of making some 
present to his sister-in-law. He consented ; but they were 
much astonished when they saw that this present consisted 
in a garland of flowers, which he had himself received as 
a gift, and when the trifling value of the thing he had se 
lected was objected to, he replied : " Do you then wish 
that I should take away from the poor, in order to make 
presents to my sister-in-law ?" The lady took pleasure in 
prolonging her stay at St. Agatha, but Alphonsus felt dis 
tress at the expenses which this caused him, and for this 
reason he ingenuously said to his brother: " It would be 
very pleasant to me to keep you longer, but how can I 
meet the expenses it would entail ? All my money comes 
from the church, and what one takes from the church, one 
takes from the poor also." 

There are in the diocese sixty-four very rich chapels, of 
which the bishop has the administration. Alphonsus put 
aside, out of this, enough to meet the expenses of keeping 
them up, and for the services in them ; and all the rest 
went for the relief of the poor, whether to the orphans, or 
to clothe the nakedness of a great number of other indi 
gent persons; nay, he was so lavish in these alms that he 



420 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

sometimes obliged the rectors of these chapels to contract 
debts. Although several of these chapels were withdrawn 
from his administration, he did not lose courage, but 
managed so well with regard to the new managers, that 
they still distributed many alms according to his wishes. 
Besides, he was ingenious in turning to advantage every 
occasion, and in creating new resources for his beloved 
poor, as for instance, in appointing to offices, &c. When 
ever he received any one in his own service, as a secretary, 
a chaplain, or a servant, he always gave the preference to 
the poorest, if he were fit for the post. Another instance 
is the following. A prior of a convent recently elected, 
sent him some pounds of excellent fish; Alphonsus 
thought it right to accept the gift, and to manifest his satis 
faction at it, especially as he wanted to show that he felt 
no resentment for an annoyance which he had received 
from the fathers of tha convent some days before. In the 
spiritual reading of that day out of the life of the Ven. 
Bartholomew, Br. Francis, who read for him, came to the 
passage where it is said that the archbishops of Prague 
were in the habit of sending a certain fish to the king every 
year, on the occasion of a particular solemnity, and that 
the venerable Bartholomew resolved to employ the money 
in the service of the poor, instead. As soon as Alphon 
sus heard this passage, he said to the brother: "To-morrow 
there will be a fair at Maddalon ; take care to sell the fish, 
and give the money in charity." It was objected that it 
was too trifling a thing, and that the payment of the porter 
would amount to more than the fish was worth ; he an 
swered : " I know nothing about all that ; do as I tell you." 
Not content with assisting the indigent who presented 
themselves at the palace, Alphonsus took care to antici 
pate the wants of the bashful poor, and always ordered 
their priests to make them known to him. "I know," 
said a religious, " how many entire families he secretly 
supplied with provisions and clothing; to one he allotted 
ten carlins a month, to another thirty, and to a third five or 
six ducats, and even more, according to their station, and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHOPsSUS. 421 

the number of individuals to be provided for." A young 
orphan of rank was destitute of relations, and lived in great 
misery. When he heard of her situation, he sent her a 
considerable sum of money through the medium of her 
parish priest, and then continued to send her a monthly 
allowance. A lady who had several children was in great 
distress, on account of her husband being a professed 
gambler. He supplied her with half a measure of corn 
every month, unknown to her husband ; but he found it out 
and got some body to go for the alms in the name of his 
wife, sold it, and gambled with the proceeds. Alphonsus, 
in embarrassment what to do, sent three measures of corn 
to the wife during the absence of her husband; but on 
hearing that he had again got hold of it, he determined 
secretly to send the poor mother a monthly allowance 
through the hands of the priest. 

Notwithstanding his known dislike to visits, Alphonsus, 
during his sojourn at Airola, went every evening to see an 
indigent nobleman, who was the father of a large family. 
He relieved his poverty, exercising the most refined deli 
cacy in deceiving the very excusable pride of this nobleman. 

One of the king s officers, also a stranger, was in want, 
on account of having a large family whom he was unable 
to supply with all they required ; he informed Alphonsus 
of his position, and received six ducats a month during the 
whole time that his regiment remained at St. Agatha. 

It was especially in secret alms, that Alphonsus charity 
was most remarkable. "He who is a bishop," he was in 
the habit of saying, "ought to think a great deal about the 
poor whose tears no one thinks of drying: it is they who 
are chiefly recommended to us by Jesus Christ." One day 
when he was with Mgr. Bergame, the bishop of Gaeta, 
and Mgr. Tosti, the bishop of Fondi, who were both his 
penitents, he asked them in what way they regulated their 
alms. "As to that," answered Mgr. Bergame, "I do not 
believe that I am in fault; thanks be to God, I give largely 
to all that ask of me." " It strikes me," Alphonsus then 
said, " that you act as a priest and not as a bishop, you do 
36 



422 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

not understand the meaning of these words of the Gospel: 
{ Let not your left hand know what your right hand giveth. 
I advise you to think of alms-giving in secret, to widows, 
to families in trouble, and to the poor who conceal them 
selves." 

If Alphonsus was liberal towards all the poor, he was 
prodigal we might say, when through their poverty they 
were in danger of offending God. We have already re 
lated, above, many facts which abundantly prove this; let us 
give here some more. A canon relates that one day he 
heard that a poor old woman had six children, of both 
sexes, and of a considerable age, who all shared the same 
bed. Alphonsus was horrified at this, and exclaimed : f< 
God, send for Br. Francis directly," and he instantly sent 
the poor woman all that was necessary to remedy this sad 
state of tilings. The parish priest of Talanico also found 
a number of families^ who, through poverty, huddled all 
their children in the same bed ; he informed Alphonsus of 
it, who hastened to procure beds for them all. He bought 
every year a great quantity of cloth and various kinds of 
merchandise, that he might clothe the naked in proportion 
to their wants. 

Amongst the privileged poor, as Alphonsus called them, 
were, besides the nuns of the new convent of the Holy Re 
deemer, (of his charities towards whom we have spoken 
above,) the Capuchinesses of St. Peter of Alcantara, and 
the poor nuns of the convent of St. Philip Neri. Inde 
pendently of alms in money, he supplied them with a store 
of oil, corn, and wine, each year. 

The money he received in his pastoral visitations, was 
remitted to the episcopal vicars to be distributed among 
poor families, for his charity embraced the poor of the 
whole diocese. If he found a petition from a poor person 
in the number which came to him from all parts of the dio 
cese, he was accustomed to say in a joyous manner: "Ah, 
this pleases me, it is a request for charity." 

His charity extended even to strangers who were not of 
his diocese. A priest asked him, one day, for an annuity 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 423 

for a person who did not reside in the diocese. "You 
know very well," he replied, " that I am bound to assist all 
the poor in my own diocese; now they are so numerous 
that I cannot find enough for them. However, tell the 
canon, Joachim de Cassare, in my name, to give four carlins 
a month to the person of whom you speak. I am poor 
and cannot give more." When strangers came to ask for 
his charity and he was unable to satisfy them, he said 
^sorrowfully: "Charity must be regulated; if I have not 
enough to give my own poor, how can I give to others ? " 
The pilgrims also did not ask for his assistance in vain. 
The following two most extraordinary instances of charity 
towards strangers are on record. One day, a pilgrim who 
stated that he was of noble birth, and a recent convert, 
asked him for alms. Alphonsus told his secretary to give 
him two carlins; the other refused them, saying that it 
was not enough. Alphonsus heard this in his room, and 
hastened to add something to the sum, but on the pilgrim s 
requiring still more, he ordered all that he had asked for to 
be given to him. Another indigent person, not belonging 
to his diocese, often came to ask him for alms; as he was 
sensible of the distress of this man, who appeared to have 
sprung from a good family, he was in the habit of sending 
him from ten to fifteen carlins through Br. Francis. This 
man loudly complained to the brother one day, and told 
him that the alms he got were insufficient. Alphonsus 
happened to come out of his room at this moment, and 
heard these words of discontent. "My son," he said to 
him, " I am overburthened with poor, arid I know riot what 
more I can sell for their aid; be satisfied with that for the 
present, and God will provide the rest." However, as the 
stranger went away murmuring, and with a bad grace, he 
took compassion on his distress, sent for him again and 
ordered twenty carlins to be given to him. Another in 
stance of such (we may say) imperious poverty, and of 
submissive charity, is the following, though this person 
was of his own diocese. The inhabitants of the village of 
Cava are almost all attacked with the goitre. A woman of 



4*24 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

this place carne one day to Alphonsus, accompanied by 
her daughter, (who was afflicted with this disease,) for 
whom she told him that she had an offer of marriage, but 
that she did not know how to get a ionino. Alphonsus 
could not make out what sort of a thing a tonino was, so 
-the secretary asked the woman for an explanation of the 
word, when she replied that it was a collar of small gold 
beads for an ornament of the neck. The secretary burst 
out laughing, and said that all the toninos in the world^ 
would not be enough to ornament a neck like that. Al- 
.phonsus smiled, but touched with compassion, he ordered 
ten carlins to be given to her, and on her insisting on having 
imore, he added four carlins besides. 

Such extended liberality could not fail to be abused, and 
he was several times in consequence the dupe of the hvpo- 
Crilical poor. Several of their cheating tricks came to the 
ears of his friends, arvd they did not fail to warn him of it. 
Alphonsus replied without any astonishment, "that does 
me no harm ; it is better to give an unnecessary alms and 
to be cheated, than to run the risk of being reproved for 
not having given what was necessary." 

We have seen above how he supplied with medicine, 
-eatables, and delicacies, those poor whom he knew to be 
sick; so also he did not fail to send money for their relief. 
We have seen also in another place, that when five o clock 
struck, his relaxation was to go and console the sick who 
were in the greatest suffering, and he did not forget those 
whose misery made them repulsive. His solicitude was 
redoubled in the case of the dying; he left every thing to 
go and prepare them to make a good end. And there 
was nothing which he more inculcated on the priests, than 
the care of the sick, particularly if they were poor and deso 
late. When his servant Alexis became ill, he went several 
times to console him by his presence. One day he left 
four ducats for his wife, and as she was hopeless, the 
doctors having giving her cause to fear for her husband s 
life, he said that he would continue her husband s wages 
to her as lon<r as he himself should live. When he heard 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 425 

that there were any incurable in the diocese, he caused them 
to be taken to one of the hospitals at Naples, at his own 
expense, arid as he often had not enough wherewith to 
assist them, he applied to the administrators of the chapels,, 
and to other persons. 

The following is the testimony of a priest on this matter. 
"I was filled with admiration at seeing his lordship prac 
tice certain acts of charity, above all, those towards the 
sick. He numbered seventy-seven years, and although 
himself infirm, paralytic, and nearly sinking under the 
weight of old age, he still continued to go about the neigh 
borhood and to visit the sick. To see an old man, ail 
wasted away, his head bent down, so weak as to require 
not only the aid of my arm in getting in and out of the 
carriage, but also of that of his attendant; to see, I say, 
such an old man enter into houses to visit the suffering ob 
jects therein, was a sight which filled me with admiration, 
and I could not contemplate it without shedding tears. I 
one day asked him how he could still visit the sick, he who 
daily received the visits of two medical men. What sort 
of charity should I have, he replied, if I were notable to 
suffer something for the benefit of my children ? Oh ! how 
much greater are the obligations of a bishop than those of 
any other Christian ! I will even say, of any other ecclesi 
astic ! The shepherd who wishes to watch over his flock 
properly, ought not to forget the sick sheep, but must take 
care of them in proportion to the magnitude of their 
wants/ His arrival amongst the sick was not without 
profit to them : ... he exhorted them to patience, and 
encouraged them to accept their sickness as a penance 
sent them by God ; he disposed them to receive the sacra 
ments, he filled them with love and confidence towards 
the Blessed Virgin, whose picture he always gave to them. 
He inquired into their wants, and did not leave them with 
out giving them an alms." 

If any were ill and tormented by scruples, or had met 

with a fatal accident, he quitted every thing to go to their 

immediate assistance, and to dispose them to make a 

36* 



426 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

confession. This once gave occasion to a singular mistake. 
He saw the viaticum being carried to some place in the 
neighborhood of his palace, at Arienzo, and asked to whom 
it was taken. Some one replied by the one word: Pec- 
catore, (sinner.) Upon that he was troubled and alarmed, 
and believing that the sick person was a great sinner, he 
sent to inquire what signs of repentance he had given. A 
canon who then saw the mistake said to him : " Peccatore 
is the name of the sick person ; but he is a good man." 
However Alphonsus could not rest until he had crawled to 
the house of the dying man, examined into his state of 
mind, and satisfied himself as to his probity and piety. 

On another occasion he heard that a villager had received 
a mortal wound ; he immediately hurried off to see him and 
induce him to pardon his enemy. He repeated his visits 
daily while the sick man lived, and sent him provisions for 
himself and all his family. To the mother of the man, as 
she cheerfully forgave the murderer, he assigned a pension ; 
but her daughter resisted all persuasions and would not for 
give, though he visited her twice, so that he could but aban 
don her and pronounce the divine malediction against her. 

His solicitude became extreme if the illness of an eccle 
siastic were in question, and especially if it were that of an 
ecclesiastic still in the prime of life, and in a doubtful state 
of mind. When therefore he heard that a priest was in 
danger of death, he multiplied his visits, until he saw that 
he was contented and well disposed. 

God often deigned to manifest, in a miraculous manner, 
what pleasure he had in the visits which Alphonsus paid 
to the bedside of those who were ill. Thus he predicted 
the death of the brother of the Archbishop of Amalfi, whom 
he had gone to comfort by his presence, and also that of a 
lady he went to see; in both cases contrary to the expec 
tations of the medical men, and in the first, even though 
two celebrated doctors, who had been called from Naples, 
had held out confident hopes of a speedy recovery. So 
likewise when Mgr. Albertini was ill at Caserto, Al 
phonsus having gone to see him, and having heard that 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 427 

two physicians had pronounced him out of danger, knelt 
down before an image of the Blessed Virgin, and after a 
short prayer arose and said to the doctors, " It is useless to 
give yourselves more trouble; his lordship will die." He 
then entered the sick man s chamber and said to him: 
"My lord, do not trust to the flattering promises of the 
doctors ; if God were to call you to himself, would you not 
wish to have received the sacraments?" "Undoubtedly I 
should, my dear friend," answered Mgr. Albertini, who 
immediately asked to receive the viaticum and extreme 
unction. Alphonsus after this said mass for the happy 
death of the prelate. One of his relations, the Duchess of 
Cimitile, did not approve of such sad preparations, and the 
doctors were still more dissatisfied. However, Alphonsus 
returned to Arienzo. He met the Governor of St. Agatha 
next day at the church, and inquired about Mgr. Albertini : 
"He is better," answered the governor, "at least so D. N. 
writes me word, and the doctors allowed him to take an 
egg this morning." After this Alphonsus ascended the 
pulpit, and at the end of the sermon, he said to the people : 
" Pray for Mgr. of Caserto, who is now in his last agony." 
He spoke truly, for on the following night Mgr. Albertini 
passed to another life. 

It was just the contrary to this in regard to D. Blase 
Trossi : the doctor had given him over, and the people in 
the house told the bishop of the slate in which he was, for 
Alphonsus knew the sick man well, and had often borrowed 
large sums of money from him. Distressed at such sad 
tidings, he said mass for him that very day. He then took 
a picture of the Blessed Virgin and sent it to him, telling 
him to recommend himself to her, and to be sure that he 
would obtain a cure. The sick man had no sooner re 
ceived the picture and kissed it, than his state began to 
mend sensibly, and the improvement went on so rapidly, 
that he was quite well again in a few days. 

Prisoners were as great objects of commiseration to the 
charitable bishop as the sick. He frequently visited them, 
to encourage them and incite them to patience, and if they 



428 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

were poor, he did not fail to relieve them by his alms. He 
gave six grains to each of them every Saturday. A priest 
stated that even when Alphonsus was at Arienzo, he sent 
the same for all the prisoners at St. Agatha every Saturday. 
But as these latter spent what they received in gambling, 
he ceased to give them money, and the alms were made in 
provisions. When there were any prisoners for debt, Al- 
phonsus interceded for them with their creditors, whose 
claims he often satisfied with his own money. Let us re 
late the two following instances. At the opening of one 
of his pastoral visitations at Arienzo, he told the people 
how much it was his heart s wish to relieve all poor, and 
that if he could not satisfy all it was not from want of love, 
but through his own poverty. A man, on hearing these 
words, turning to a priest near him, said jestingly : "We 
have at last found our prefect," in allusion to a confrater 
nity which was called^ in derision, of St. Misery. When 
this speech was reported to Alphonsus, he only smiled at 
it. But sometime after he was told that this same man 
was in prison for debt, arid that his family were starving; he 
then remembered his joke and said : " He is our fellow- 
member, we must assist him." He then paid the debt, 
which amounted to six ducats, and as he owed a great deal 
more in other ways, he allowed him ten carlins monthly. 

A poor man had been in prison for three months for 
having smuggled salt; being ill besides, he had recourse to 
Alphonsus, who wrote to the royal administrator of salt at 
the tower of the Annunziata : "I entreat you to release 
this man from prison, because he is dying of hunger; he 
has nothing but alms to live on, for he possesses absolutely 
nothing of his own. I hope that my request may lead you 
to have pity on this unfortunate man, and that you will not 
have the cruelty to let him die in prison. My dear N., do 
me this kindness, and I will not fail to recommend you to 
God." The administrator asked him for a medical certi 
ficate as a security; Alphonsus wrote to him a few days 
after: "I send you the certificate you asked me for, and I 
hope that it will produce the desired effect, and that in 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 429 

reply I shnll hear that this poor old man has been set at 
liberty. Believe me, my dear N., you could not do a better 
deed. I try to assist this unhappy man by alms, but I 
cannot remedy his imprisonment; this is why I hope you 
will kindly give me consolation by releasing him, and spare 
me the sorrow of hearing that he has died in this mournful 
prison, and perhaps destitute of spiritual aid." 

He also interceded for criminals, and implored the cle 
mency of the barons and judges for them. A soldier in a 
country regiment having been found carrying prohibited 
arms, was arrested and put in prison. Alphonsus pitied 
the young prisoner, and also his aged father, and lost no 
time in writing to the Duke of Maddalon s agent, to beg 
him to intercede for him with the commissioner in his 
name. He wrote also to the governor of the fortress of 
St. Agatha to the same effect, and obtained what he de 
sired. 

This kind of charity by intercession, he even extended 
to persons out of his diocese. Thus he wrote to the above 
mentioned administrator of salt in favor of the farmer of 
salt at Salerno : " I assure you, that this farmer is an honest 
man, and if he has not satisfied you, it has riot been his 
fault. I therefore earnestly entreat you to leave this man 
in his farm, and to treat him with all the charity with which 
your good heart is filled ; I shall always be grateful to you 
for what you will deign to do in his favor/ 

Compassion often ceases when one has to exercise it at 
his own expense, but that of Alphonsus knew no bounds. 
Alphonsus store of apples once visibly diminished. A 
canon had suspicions about a person who frequented the 
palace, and went with Alexis and the commissioner to his 
hou.se, and found there the missing apples and an iron in 
strument by means of which the theft had been committed. 
The magistrate was informed of it, and the thief was put 
in prison. The canon and Alexis carried the news to 
Alphonsus, expecting to receive praises for their zeal. 
But Alphonsus exclaimed : "What! imprison a poor crea 
ture for a few apples! go to the magistrate directly, and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS, 

get him to set him at liberty; and as to the npples, I will 
buy them." "The apples are your own," replied Alexis. 
"Well," answered Alphonsus, "do not trouble yourself 
about that, arid make haste and deliver this unfortunate 
man." Meanwhile, the grand-vicar and several gentle 
men came in, and they all told him that he ought to let an 
example be made of the delinquent. Alphonsus yielded 
through prudence, but he immediately wrote to the magis 
trate to beg him to stop all proceedings, and to send him 
the iron which had been the instrument whereby the of 
fence had been committed. He sent food to the prisoner 
morning and evening, and even gave something to the 
guards and the gaoler to cause them to deal well with the 
poor man ; and as soon as he was set at liberty, he sent 
for him, remonstrated with him, and gave him a large alms. 
As mass was not said for the numerous prisoners who were 
confined at Arienzo, whither the country courts also sent 
their prisoners, Alphonsus managed to get the Duke of 
Maddalon to allow a chapel to be erected for them. 

Among other instances of his procuring the release of 
prisoners, we will relate only the two following, where one 
of the immunities of the church, that is, the right of asy 
lum, was in question. The constables met with a man at 
Arienzo, who was a dealer in tobacco, and arrested him, to 
examine if it were not the produce of fraud. As this was 
probably the case, the man had made away with it, not 
seeing any other means of escape. The constables were 
irritated at having missed their aim ; they bastinadoed him, 
and wanted to put him in prison. The poor man took 
refuge in a church, from which they tore him away, and 
dragged him to prison. When Alphonsus heard of this, 
he immediately sent for the gaoler, and demanded that the 
prisoner should be set free. He then turned to the grand- 
vicar, and ordered him to write out the statement of all 
that had passed, and he added: "Our immunities are in 
question ; if I had to sell my mitre, I would do so to ob 
tain justice." He was not at rest till the prisoner was 
released. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 431 

Five Albanian soldiers deserted at the bridge of the 
Magdalene, and had the rashness to turn their arms against 
the officers who were sent in pursuit of them. Two of 
them were killed in the mountains of Arienzo, and the 
three others took refuge in a little country church. The 
suit was got ready, and application was made to Alphon- 
sus to decide if they might or might not enjoy the privi 
lege of sanctuary. They could not; but as he was in 
horror at the idea of delivering these men into the hands 
of justice, to be put to death, he let the allotted month pass 
without giving any decision, so that the matter might be 
left to the mixed court, from which he, expected a more 
favorable decision. However, an officer of justice came 
from Naples for the papers relating to the trial ; but on 
seeing that Alphonsus decision was not there, he said to 
him : !t My lord, your pity injures the culprits ; for now that 
the mixed court must decide their case, they will assuredly 
be condemned to death." At these words, Alphonsus be 
came much alarmed, and immediately sent for an officer 
quartered with a company at Arienzo, and asked him what 
he could do for these unfortunate men. "Nothing but 
your intercession can save them," answered the officer. 
Immediately, that is to say, at six o clock in the evening, 
Alphonsus despatched a courier to General Prince Taci, to 
the Marquisses of Tanucci and of Marco, as well as to D. 
Anthony del Rio, secretary of war, to ask for the pardon 
of these criminals, saying that if he were not assured of 
their safety, his own life would be endangered, for, para 
lytic as he was, he would then go in person and throw 
himself at the feet of the king. Alphonsus obtained 
more than he had asked : the deserters received a full par 
don, and all three, by order of the colonel, accompanied by 
an officer of justice, came to thank their deliverer. On see 
ing them he was filled with joy ; he remonstrated with them 
in a paternal manner and showed that, not satisfied with 
having saved their lives, he also wished to save their souls. 

Let us cite a last instance of Alphonsus charity towards 
prisoners and persons accused. A chanter belonging to 



432 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the cathedral became an accomplice in a homicide, and 
was put in prison, but as the evidence was not sufficient, 
he was set at liberty. As he could not, however, justify 
himself from having taken some part in the murder, he was 
suspended. He was very poor, and when Alphonsus saw 
his misery, he interceded for him with the treasurer, to beg 
that they would grant him the half of what he would have 
gained by his presence in the choir. "What you do for 
this poor creature," he said, "I shall feel as if done to 
myself." Touched by this request, they gave the unhappy 
man the whole of it. Alphonsus, still sorrowing over his 
position, took the opinion of enlightened persons, to know 
if he could not reinstate him. He sent him to Rome, with a 
statement of the case, and at his own expense; but as the 
matter could not be cleared up, he assisted the chanter arid 
his parents by allowing him a pension. He had, more 
over, appointed a canon as an advocate in favor of the 
poor, who was bound to defend them gratuitously in case of 
need, doing thus by others what he could not do by himself. 
Hospitality is numbered by St. Paul among the duties of 
a bishop, and Alphonsus was also remarkable for that vir 
tue ; indeed, his palace was like a hotel, for it was always 
open. If any one of the clergy went to the palace in the 
evening, even if he were the lowest of all, he was sure of 
finding a lodging there. All strange ecclesiastics, arid es 
pecially the candidates lor holy orders who had no ac 
quaintances at St. Agatha or at Arienzo, were also invited 
to dinner; if they came from a distant place, he made 
them also pass the night at the palace: and it was the 
same in regard to the agents of the priests, who daily 
carne in great numbers to see him. When there was a 
meeting for the election to a living, he used to make the 
examiners dine at his table, as well as the candidates. 
"At dinner," he once said to a priest, "1 am obliged to 
give and take of what I destine for the poor, for it does not 
do to send any of these priests to an inn." During the first 
period of his residence at St. Agatha, an arch-priest came 
at the dinner hour, accompanied by two ecclesiastics. He 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 433 

was ignorant of Alphonsus way of acting, and begged 
him to receive him into the palace. "By all means," said 
Alphonsus, and as the two companions were getting up to 
go to the hotel, he caused them to stay, telling them that 
the house of a bishop is at the service of all, and particu 
larly of priests. 

D. Salvador Tramontana, who did nothing without con 
sulting him, very often came to visit. him ; he never arrived 
without bringing either fruit or some cake, but Alphonsus 
perceived his delicacy and said : " When you come here, 
do not trouble yourself to bring any thing ; a bishop is 
bound to be hospitable." Another time, he wrote to him : 
"If you will come here for four days, I shall be glad, but 
let it be without thinking of paying me for the little bread 
you may eat; remember that I lodge a great many other 
people." The grand chanter of the Cathedral of Girgeriti, 
when visiting him, noticed that the table was well sup 
plied, and said laughingly to Alphonsus : "How does this 
sumptuousness agree with your poverty ?" "Hospitality," 
he answered, "is the daughter of charity, and not of pov 
erty." However, this sumptuousness only consisted in an 
extra dish ; and this was all the difference he made for the 
Duchesses of Borino and of Salandro, and other gentlemen 
and ladies who came to consult him, not even excepting 
his brother Hercules on his first visit after his second mar 
riage. The pilgrims who applied to him, were lodged at 
the palace, besides receiving provisions for their journey. 
The members of his own Congregation were always wel 
come, and he treated them just like strangers, giving them 
the same kind of food ; but he did not allow them any 
lengthened stay without there being a necessity for it, and 
when the business in question was terminated, he kindly 
dismissed whomsoever it might be. 

We may also say, that in Alphonsus time, the episcopal 
palace was turned into a public hospital. When any trav 
eller fell ill, they appealed to the charity of the bishop. A 
hermit, who had come to ask his advice, was taken ill. He 
charitably received him into the palace, often visited him, 
37 



434 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

paid for the doctors and the medicines, and did not let him 
go away till after a month, when he was entirely recovered. 
Mgrs. Borgia and Pallante coming once to speak with him, 
their coachman fell ill, and Alphonsus immediately gave 
him a bed and a room. The illness became serious, the 
last sacraments were administered to him, and Alphonsus 
did not fail to console him frequently by his own presence. 
The son of the coachman hastened to visit his father, and 
was received also with the greatest kindness. When the 
father was convalescent, Alphonsus caused light food to be 
procured for him, and treated him with the greatest atten 
tion. The father and the son remained in the palace for 
upwards of a month. 

Although Alphonsus was so careful in fulfilling the duty 
of hospitality, he could not escape censure on this score, 
from those who would have liked to see at his house a 
splendid table whei^e they might have good cheer and 
amusement. "They say," Alphonsus wrote to a priest 
who had informed him of this, "that I do not practice 
hospitality properly! I know, however, how much it costs 
me; as Arienzo is a town through which a great many 
people pass, my palace is almost always full of strangers, 
for whom I always keep several beds prepared, and the 
guests are sometimes so numerous that I am obliged to 
borrow beds." 

Alphonsus, who was only economical in order to be 
liberal, was also admirable in his detachment from all self- 
interest. He detested the shadow of that cupidity which 
the apostle anathematises so severely. From the time of 
his arrival at St. Agatha, he regulated all the fees of the 
episcopal court according to the customs at Benevento, 
which considerably lessened the tax on a great many regis 
trations. As to those relating to the ordinations, he wished 
them to be gratuitous, and when the secretary complained, 
he answered: "I sacrifice what accrued to me ; you can 
take what is your due." See what he wrote to F. Villani 
on this subject: " As to the revenues of my bishopric, 
which are said to amount to four thousand ducats, I should 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 435 

be thankful if I had two thousand two hundred! I have 
retrenched many of the suras which I formerly received, but 
which I felt scrupulous about, and I think with reason. I 
have greatly reduced my income, because I consider it a 
very good kind of alms to abandon the fees on marriages, 
especially when there is poverty or danger in the case." 
When he resigned the episcopate, a canon examined the 
archives of the church at Arienzo, and said that he did not 
find a single marriage celebrated for nothing by the pre 
ceding bishops, while in Alphonsus time there were a 
great many, especially among the poor. He himself wrote 
to one of his friends: " I often remit considerable sums, 
and those who serve me know what horror I feel in vio 
lently exacting the payment of what is due to me." He 
moreover generously abandoned all that was due to him for 
the patents for livings. The sixty-four rich chapels, of 
which he had the administration, as was said above, were 
each bound to pay him four ducats at the principal solem 
nity ; but this sum he generally left in the hands of the 
administrators for the poor. 

As to gifts and presents, which formerly formed a large 
part of the income of the bishopric of St. Agatha, we have 
seen above how particular he was in refusing them, for he 
would not receive any other than the dust from the feet of 
the poor. Let us give some other instances of this. The 
dean of the cathedral, after his appointment to the charge, 
sent a present to the bishop, who refused it. The dean on 
complaining of it, received this answer: "I have only 
done my duty in making you dean, and no recompense 
ought to be expected or received for doing what one ought 
to do." One day in the spring, he wished to have some of 
the fruits of the season, and knowing that a priest . had a 
quantity of melons, he sent to buy four from him. The 
priest hastened to send him a dozen. When Alphonsus 
saw them he asked what they would cost, and the porter 
replied that it was a present. He immediately sent them 
back. The priest then came in person, and assured him 
that these melons cost him nothing. It was quite a con- 



436 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

test, in which the priest got the victory, however, as he 
was set upon it. Alphonsus yielded, in order not to pain 
him; but he did it with so much regret that he took care 
in future never to ask for any thing of the sort from this 
priest or any other. On another occasion, a canon made 
him a present of three melons : Alphonsus positively de 
termined that they should either be paid for or sent 
back again. But the canon, in order to get out of the 
difficulty, told him what they cost him, and said that he left 
the money in his hands for the poor. This agreement 
pleased Alphonsus. 

He also showed the greatest disinterestedness, or rather 
liberality, in the farming of the property of the bishopric; 
and whatever conditions the farmers might have entered 
into, it sufficed for them to expose their distress and the 
hardness of the times, to insure their being released from 
ZL good part of their rents, especially if they were men who 
feared God. A great number of them obtained great re 
ductions on considerable arrears. One of the farmers 
complained one day of the bad harvest, and "Alphonsus at 
once released him," said F. Buonopane, " from more than 
two hundred ducats of what he owed him." "In a word," 
^aid the grand-vicar Rubini, "he made so many such dis- 
counts, that he never had a farmer who paid the full 
.amount of his lease." 

Alphonsus dismissed a woman from a house belonging 
to his see, whom he had been led to suspect of bad char 
acter through a false report. The poor woman began a no- 
vena to St. Joseph, and went to Arienzo. When she was 
ushered into his presence, he asked her to what saint she 
was most devoted. "To St. Joseph," she answered. "Ah 
well," said he, for he had been previously undeceived, 
" St. Joseph has been gracious to you, arid has told me not 
to turn you out." The woman encouraged by this good 
beginning, said that the rent was very high. Alphonsus 
touched by her poverty, asked her how much she wished to 
pay him. Her rent amounted to twenty-seven ducats; she 
offered one and twenty. Alphonsus agreed to this, and 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 437 

she continued to pay the same sum during the whole time 
he was bishop, though afterwards she had to pay thirty-one 
instead of twenty-one. 

A steward was found to have a deficit of about four 
hundred ducats; Alphonsus, on seeing him shed tears and 
confess his negligence, was satisfied with discharging him, 
and sent him away in peace. Several persons said that he 
ought to bring him to justice. " What do you say about 
courts of justice ?" said he with emotion, "this man has 
satisfied justice by confessing his fault. What a thing it 
would be to see a bishop bring an unfortunate man to 
justice, to ruin him outright, for the sake of his own 
interest! " 

When he nominated D. Virgil Cimino as his secretary, 
the grand-vicar thought that as he was of the diocese he 
might give him only four ducats a month, instead of the 
ordinary sum of six. "Why be parsimonious?" replied 
Alphonsus. "D.Virgil is poor, why deprive him of any 
thing? let him receive what has been given before." 

To give a final proof, which is very striking and touching, 
let us add the testimony of F. Raphael de Nuvo, the trea 
surer of St. Peter of Alcantara. <; I am an old man of 
ninety," he said, " and yet I never saw a prelate so chari 
table and disinterested as Mgr. Liguori. His purse was 
always open to give, and only closed against receiving. 
Every thing was gratis for others, but he doubly paid what 
he himself owed." 

But though his disinterestedness was so great, it did not 
go so far as to injure his successors, for he knew how to 
distinguish between his own individual interests and those 
of the episcopal revenue. Nay, his vigilance on this point 
was extreme. On the first Christmas after his arrival at 
St. Agatha, every priest or rector, even those of the monas 
teries, presented him with four capons; believing that this 
was a spontaneous present, he did not wish to receive it. 
But when Archbishop Rainone had brought the deeds and 
shown that this gift was not optional but a part of the 
revenues of the diocese, he not only received them, but 
37* 



438 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

even exacted them for the future, and in order to make a 
capital out of them, he applied to a poulterer each time, in 
order to know the price, and said to those around him 
jestingly: This is a dish for the poor; it is not one for 
us, who are people of no consequence." 

The archpriests, priests, rectors and superiors of monas 
teries, renewed their protestation of obedience on the As 
sumption, and according to old custom, they brought the 
bishop a present as a testimony of their submission. Al- 
phonsus predecessors had substituted a large sum of 
money instead of the present, without caring about receiv 
ing the accustomed homage; when Alphonsus heard of 
this, he required that they should renew their promise of 
obedience, and that in place of the prescribed sum, each 
one should again make him a little present. 

The steward of the episcopal revenue demanded that an 
archpriest should give to the bishop the fifteen measures of 
corn due according to the terms of the ancient quit-rent; 
the archpriest replied that he was not bound to do so, since 
the payment of tithes had been forbidden. "I am sur 
prised," answered Alphonsus, "that your reverence can 
thus forget your obligations after having taken an oath to 
defend the rights of the church. ... If mild measures are 
not enough to make you pay what you owe, we will have 
recourse to the tribunals, because I am determined to re 
ceive the tribute which is due to me, at any price." Learn 
ing from the priest, in answer to this, that the squire at 
Arienzo had forbidden his paying the accustomed tithes, 
he hastened to write to all his priests to tell them to repair 
:lo Naples, and to state their rights before the royal council; 
.adding that if the squire or others prevented justice being 
rendered, he would in that event himself undertake to de 
fend the common law. In spite of his representations, the 
archpriest would not have recourse to Naples to defend his 
rights, nor would he pay the rental in question to the 
revenue. Alphonsus then felt obliged to denounce him to 
the Metropolitan of Benevento, but the cause remained 
undecided, as Alphonsus gave in his resignation mean- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 439 

while. However, in order not to neglect the interests of 
the revenue, when Mgr. Rossi went to St. Agatha, he in 
formed him of the reasons which proved his claims. The 
episcopal income had been lessened by the contribution of 
wood furnished to the troops quartered at St. Agatha. As 
Alphonsus was not able to obtain any compensation for 
this, he appealed to the royal court. He alleged strong 
reasons in his favor, and the ministers, who were moved by 
their respect for his person, rejected the claims of the 
parish. "That which is taken from Mgr. Liguori," they 
said, "is taken from the poor." 

These measures were very painful to Alphonsus, and he 
only determined to resort to them through necessity ; 
for he was opposed to law suits, and tried, whenever any 
difficulty arose, to bring things to a happy end by gentle 
means, saying that a bad accommodation is better than a 
good law suit. Before proceeding against the arch-priest, 
he wrote to ask him to come and have an interview with 
him, and as he did not even deign to answer him, Alphon 
sus again wrote to him, and humbly said : " If I had a car 
riage I would have sent it for you long ago ; come, I 
entreat you." It was only when he found that these ad 
vances were useless, that he at length resolved to have 
recourse to the law. A dispute arose between Alphonsus 
and the Duke of Maddalon, on the subject of the right of 
pasturage over a fief which belonged to the episcopal reve 
nue, and as these rights had been refused for two years, 
he defended himself with apostolical courage. "I am 
obliged," he wrote to the Duke s agent, "to defend the 
property of the see, which possesses the double right of 
pasturage and lordship ; I beg you to tell the officers of the 
Duke not to act with violence, because I will only yield to 
evident reasons for so doing, for I am bound in conscience 
to defend the revenue. If I am pushed to extremities, I 
will apply directly to the regency, by whom I hope to be 
heard. And in another letter, he said : " If I could recon 
cile it to my conscience, I would yield and say no more 
about this affair. God knows what a horror I have for 



440 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

law suits; the very name makes me tremble ; but how can 
I yield, after having taken an oath to defend the rights of 
my church?" He wrote also to the Count of Cerreto, the 
young Duke s governor, and the affair ended to the advan 
tage of Alphonsus, thanks to his firmness and prudence. 
The Count had a great veneration for the saintly bishop, 
who, not to be outdone in civility, placed the case in the 
hands of one of the Duke s advocates. The Count was 
satisfied with such a generous proceeding, and wrote to tell 
the agent to observe the ancient custom, and to pay up the 
arrears. It was a beautiful sight to see interest and disin 
terestedness thus struggling together in our saint, or rather 
to see his justice contending with his charity. 

A poor gentleman, who was burthened with a numerous 
family, owed the revenue about twelve ducats for quit-rent. 
As he was summoned by the steward, he implored the in 
tercession of a pious widow, who told Alphonsus of the 
state in which the gentleman was. He forgave him the 
debt at once, but reflecting on the difficulties in which he 
was placed, he added: "What shall be done for this 
man?" and assigned him a measure of corn every month. 
Nevertheless, in order to prevent the right as to the rent 
from being injured, he caused the steward to oblige the 
debtor to appear every year, in order to pay it, and then 
to give him the money under the title of an alms. He 
thus preserved all the rights of the revenue uninjured, 
and was in the habit of satisfying the claims of charity at 
his own private expense alone. 

From the moment he came to St. Agatha, and saw that 
the see possessed a good deal of property, he took all pos 
sible care to prevent its being depreciated in value. Where 
olive trees were wanting, he caused them to be replanted ; 
he every year had the dead trees replaced, and when any 
of the ground was uncultivated, he had its value increased 
by plantations. As one wing of the palace was in a bad 
state, he immediately ordered the suitable repairs, which 
cost him more than six hundred ducats. A house belong 
ing to the episcopal revenue being also out of repair, the 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 441 

enant was unwilling to do any thing to it, but he insisted 
on it. " I feel scrupulous about it," he wrote to a canon, 
"and I wish to do all that is necessary in order to repair 
this house thoroughly, rather than diminish the ground- 
rent." He not only took care that the value of all this 
property did riot become lessened ; he even sought to make 
it still more valuable. As he knew that silk was much 
sought after, and that a great quantity of mulberry trees 
were needed for its production, he wished to have a number 
of plants of those trees, and even inquired as to whether 
white mulberry trees were more profitable than black ones. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

jllphomus resigns ihe Episcopate. He leaves his Diocese, and 
returns to Nocera. His manner of life in his retirement. 

HAVING thus seen in detail how Alphonsus shone 
forth in all the duties and virtues of the episcopal 
state, let us now follow him into his retreat. The successor 
of Clement XIV was not even elected, ere he again 
thought of resigning his bishopric; being then an octoge 
narian and paralytic, the burthen of the episcopate seemed 
no longer endurable to him. He was not, however, free 
from his accustomed fears, and as he felt doubts as to the 
validity of his reasons, he again opened his heart to F Vil- 
lani, to ask his advice and the assistance of his prayers. 
He also consulted various zealous bishops, and in particu 
lar, Mgr. Borgia, and Mgr. Lusco, bishop of Lucero, and 
they all thought that he need have no scruples in resigning 
his office. But he took no resolution until he had received 
the decision of his director, F. Villani, who, though he 
had not approved of this resignation at first, yet on account 
of the state to which Alphonsus was reduced, now ad 
vised it, and told him that he ought to resign without any 
scruples, and that he was even bound to do so as he 
would abridge his life were he to continue to support the 



442 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

painful burthen, F. Villani, however, doubted whether 
the Pope would accept the resignation. "There is no 
reason to doubt about it," he answered to one of the 
Fathers of the Congregation, "he will accept it, for I am 
certain that I ought to die in the Congregation, and you 
will see that I shall die in it as a subject ;" and he twice 
repeated that he must die as a subject. He prophesied, 
but the mystery was not then understood. 

On the 15th of February, 1775, Cardinal Braschi was 
elected Pope under the title of Pius VI. After the coro 
nation of the new pontiff, Alphonsus anxiety to be set 
free from the weight of the episcopate increased. How 
ever, during the proceedings which ensued upon this, he 
still felt his accustomed scruples. " God only knows how 
I am tormented," he wrote to F. Villani, on the 9th of 
March. " The fear of abandoning my church in order to 
escape the cross, disturbs me anew. I should have been 
very glad if your reverence had spoken to Mgr. Borgia 
again ; I fear that the apprehension of having acted through 
self-love will torment me during the whole of the short 
time I may have to live." The following is the petition he 
presented to the Pope. We give it entire, as it describes 
perfectly the state of health he was then in, and also gives 
a short account of the diocese: 

"Most Holy Father, I wish to represent to your Holi 
ness that I, the Bishop of St. Agatha de Goti, in the king 
dom of Naples, have attained the advanced age of severity- 
nine years. By the aid of God, I have continued to bear the 
burden of the episcopate for thirteen years ; but I am in 
capable of bearing it any longer. I have many infirmities 
which foretell a speedy death : I suffer from an affection 
of the chest, which has several times reduced me to great 
extremities ; the palpitations of my heart have also several 
times brought me to the brink of the grave ; besides this, I 
have at present such a great weakness of head that I feel 
often quite stupified. 

" Besides all these maladies, I am also subject to divers 
dangerous attacks, for which I have to make use of bleed- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 443 

ing, blistering, and other remedies. I have received the 
holy viaticum four times, and extreme unction twice, dur 
ing the time that I have been bishop. 

" I must add to what I have just stated, that I have other 
infirmities which prevent my fulfiling rny duties as a bishop. 
My hearing is much impaired, and my subjects suffer much 
from it; for when they wish to speak to me of private mat 
ters, I cannot hear them unless they raise their voices. 
The paralysis has made such progress, that I cannot now 
write a single line; I can scarcely sign my name, and I do 
it so badly that it is very difficult to read it. I have become 
such a cripple, that I cannot walk a step, and I require the 
aid of two people in making the least movement. I pass 
my time on my bed, or I sit helpless in my chair. I can 
not go through ordinations now, nor can I preach, and 
what is still worse, I cannot now visit my diocese, which 
necessarily suffers thereby. All this being the case, I 
think I am bound to beseech your Holiness to accept my 
resignation of rny bishopric, which I formally tender in 
this petition, because I see that the state in which I am 
causes me to fail in the duties of my office, and in the 
right government of my flock. I confidently hope that 
your Holiness will take pity on me, in consideration of the 
miserable state to which I am reduced ; and that you will 
console me by accepting my resignation, in order that my 
flock may be relieved, for they obtain little assistance from 
so incapable a shepherd, and also that I may be freed from 
the scruples which torment me when I reflect on my un- 
fitness for government. 

"I wish to lay the state of my church before you : The 
diocese contains about thirty thousand souls; the income 
amounts to about twenty-six thousand ducats annually, ac 
cording to a calculation made during the last four years. 
The cathedral has thirty-one canons, with five prebendaries. 
In the territory of Arienzo, there is a college which num 
bers twenty-four canonries. There are three convents of 
cloistered nuns, namely, those of St. Agatha, those in the 
town of Airola, and in the territory of Arienzo, and also 



444 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

two asylums where there is also a church in which the 
sacred functions are celebrated. 

" I very confidently look forward to receiving (he consent 
of your Holiness, as well as your blessing, so that I may 
have nothing else to think of than to prepare myself for 
death, which will shortly befall me." 

He sent this letter to Cardinal Crescensi, who loved him 
and favored him very much, begging him to consent to pre 
sent it to the Pope, and to support it by his mediation. 
He wrote also to the same effect to Mgr. Calcagnini, the 
Pope s chamberlain, and to Cardinal Castelli. No sooner 
was it discovered at Arienzo that Alphonsus had sent in 
his resignation to the Pope, than the news spread through 
out all the diocese, and caused general affliction. People 
consoled themselves, however, by the thought that the pre 
sent Pope would not accept it any more than his prede 
cessor had done. The superiors of the religious orders 
wept for the loss of a protector who was both powerful and 
zealous; the nuns, for that of a father and a comforter; 
the clergy felt as if in him they lost the soul of the eccle 
siastical state, and the seculars, a tender and vigilant pastor : 
and so they all addressed the most ardent supplications to 
heaven for the preservation of their saintly bishop. 

In the meantime Alphonsus was not idle, but redoubled 
his exertions and labors for the welfare of the diocese, en 
couraging the priests to labor for the salvation of souls, and 
to edify them by their own examples. The students of the 
seminary were always especially in his thoughts, for said 
he, "I do not wish to leave my successor overbnrthened 
with old debts;" he was therefore, to the last, as kind in 
rewarding the zealous as he was vigilant in chastising the 
tepid and expelling the incorrigible. Before he left his 
vineyard, he was also careful to have it entirely visited 
throughout by faithful laborers, having applied, from the 
preceding September, to the various Congregations, in or 
der to have a sufficient number of missioners to preach 
throughout all the diocese ; he had even written to Rome 
to the general of the Dominicans, in order to obtain a good 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 445 

number of his religious from La Sanita in Naples. Thus 
he succeeded in riot leaving an estate, a village, or a ham 
let throughout the diocese, which had not been cultivated 
by zealous missionaries, having joined, for this purpose, to 
those of his own Congregation the missionaries he had 
himself formed at Airola, Arienzo and Durazzano. He 
himself, from his bed or arm-chair, arranged the smallest 
details of this great work, even to the providing for the ac 
commodation of the missionaries and all they required. 
From the following fact, we might almost fancy he was pre 
sent every where to watch over every thing. On the 12th of 
April, 1775, he caused his secretary to write to one of the 
missionaries : " You must be careful in watching N. the lay- 
brother. You know the convent where he lives, and you 
must see whether he continues to visit the house of N. to 
the scandal of the neighborhood. He wishes you to in 
form him about this as soon as possible, and to come here 
to him this morning to speak to him by word of mouth 
touching this monk." 

In order that the passion of Jesus Christ should be well 
impressed on all hearts, he caused a picture of it, as large 
as life, to be painted in the most moving manner, and 
to be carried in procession through the church on the 
last evening of the exercises of each mission. In order 
also to excite the faithful to compassionate the dolors of 
the Blessed Virgin, he caused the statue of our Lady of 
Dolors to be exposed and carried processionally in the 
same way. Besides, he pointed out in a circular, all thai 
must be done in order to succeed in inspiring the people 
with compunction through the picture of Jesus crucified, 
as well as by the image of our Lady of Sorrows, prescrib 
ing at the same time the malediction of habitual sinners in 
all places where corruption or any special vice existed, 
such, for instance, as blasphemy or licentiousness, and 
pointing out what was to be observed in order to awaken 
obstinate sinners. 

The Holy Father, knowing too well how to appreciate 
Alphonsus zeal and the great good which he was con- 
38 



446 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

tinually effecting in his diocese, was not in the least disposed 
to accept his resignation. But two fathers of the Congre 
gation happening, after giving the mission in the Abbruz- 
zes, to pass through Rome, and going to pay their homage 
to the Holy Father, he asked them about Mgr. Liguori. 
They answered: "Most Holy Father, he is in a state 
which quite makes one grieve for him: he is deaf, blind, 
and laden with so many infirmities, that he has no longer 
even the appearance of a man." The Pope then turning 
to Mgr. Calcagnini, said : " Do you hear what these fathers 
say? If this be the case, we must not distress him." 
Upon this he determined to accept his resignation, though 
he did so with much regret, and ordered this to be signi 
fied to Alphonsus, on the 9th of May, 1775. 

This news filled Alphonsus with joy, but in the diocese 
the lamentations became universal. Archdeacon Rainone, 
on receiving the letter,, of Alphonsus which announced it 
to the chapter, said : "It is a chastisement from God, we 
have not known how to appreciate him." As soon as the 
news spread, there was not a single canon or priest who 
did not go to Arienzo to see him at his palace, and who 
did not complain of the step he had taken, with tearful 
eyes ; and even those who had experienced his severity 
were now undeceived, and did justice to his merits, feel 
ing only regret at hearing the tidings of his departure. 
But the poor were the most afflicted of all. Penitent 
women, poor girls, and a great number of indigent fami 
lies who had relied on his assistance, were inconsolable at 
losing him. These, as well as the infirm, said, weeping, 
" We shall not have Mgr. Liguori any more, who used to 
send us comfort or to come and console us himself. Who 
will now intercede for us with our creditors, and who will 
plead our cause with the magistrates? His lordship could 
do every thing, for he was a saint, and every one honored 
him as such." We cannot forbear quoting here the words 
of a poor villager, as they show how far Alphonsus charity 
went: "When we used to go to the mountain," he said, 
" we left our children at his lordship s palace, and we felt 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 447 

sure they would be fed; but now that he is going away, to 
whom shall we have recourse?" 

The resignation was formally accepted by the consistory, 
on the 17th of July; on hearing this news, some one said 
to him jestingly, that since his resignation had been ac 
cepted he appeared to hold his head straighter than before. 
" Yes," replied Alphonsus, " because the weight of Mount 
Taburno, (a very high mountain which overtops St. Aga 
tha,) has been taken off my shoulders." After he had 
thanked the Pope for the great favor he had deigned to 
confer on him, he asked him to allow him to preserve all 
the privileges annexed to the episcopate, especially in re 
gard to the portable altar. The Pope granted this request 
in the fullest sense, and added another favor which Al 
phonsus had not asked for. " Our Holy Father," Car 
dinal Giraud wrote to him, " thinks of reserving to you a 
suitable pension secured on your church, and he wishes to 
settle as to its amount with yourself." Alphonsus replied 
that if the Pope deigned to grant him a pension, four hun 
dred ducats would be enough for him. This moderation 
was extremely edifying to the Holy Father, who, in con 
sideration of his circumstances, graciously assigned him 
eight hundred ducats, and also released a debt of one hun 
dred and five ducats he owed to the apostolical chamber. 
He caused him also to be freed from all expenses for the 
composition and despatch of the letters, saying : " One can 
not do enough for Mgr. Liguori." The college of Doctors at 
Naples decreed also to give him the whole of his pension, 
just as he had been receiving it up to that time, though he 
was not entitled to it unless on the condition of residing 
in Naples. 

Mgr. Rossi, bishop of Ischia, was elected as the succes 
sor of Alphonsus. Before this election was decided on by 
the Pope, divers reports were spread about concerning the 
person who would succeed to the vacant see, the candi 
dates being very numerous. Alphonsus himself inquired 
as to which of the conjectures on this subject had any 
foundation; several names were mentioned to him, but he 



448 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOKSUS. 

heard them with indifference, until a canon one day said: 
"Mgr. Rossi, the bishop of Ischia, is talked of as the one 
who will be elected." " Mgr. Rossi!" replied Alphonsus 
with earnestness. {i My God! My God! I will at once 
write to Rome to be allowed to reside here until the arrival 
of the new bishop." He then became more animated, and 
exclaimed: " My poor church, how long wilt thou have to 
remain a widow, and without a pastor?" He hastened to 
write to Rome, in hopes that the Pope would allow him to 
continue to rule over his church until the arrival of his 
successor, but, according to a new rule of discipline, a 
ibishop who had resigned was obliged to leave his diocese 
immediately. Alphonsus had prophesied truly, however, 
for the clergy of Ischia, contrary to all expectation, opposed 
the translation of their bishop to the church of St. Agatha, 
which remained a widow for nearly five years. 

As soon as Mgr. Rossi was duly elected by the Pope, 
Alphonsus, wishing to "be useful to his church up to the 
last moment, wrote to him on the 17th of June, as follows: 
" When your lordship shall have taken possession of this 
church, I trust you will do me the favor to come to No- 
cera for two days, when I will give you full particulars of 
all that can interest you regarding the bishopric, and of all 
that I have learned during thirteen years of labor. Two 
days will suffice to inform you of all. I hope that your 
lordship, by means of what I will tell you and your own 
experience, will be able to carry on the government in an 
excellent manner and for God s glory." Mgr. Rossi went 
afterwards to Nocera, and Alphonsus informed him of the 
state of the diocese with tearful eyes. 

When Alphonsus was on the point of separating from 
his dear church of St. Agatha, he wished to visit* his chil 
dren once more in person, although he was so infirm and 
broken down. In making this visitation of the parishes, 
he for the last time inculcated on them all, perseverance in 
well-doing, the avoidance of sin, the frequentation of the 
sacraments, and above all, the love of Jesus Christ, and 
devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary ; asking at the same 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 449 

time pardon for his numerous failings, as he called them, 
and the scandal he might have given, and recommending 
himself to their prayers, particularly when they should hear 
of his death. He was every where answered by sobs and 
floods of tears. How much impression these his last 
words of exhortation must have made, we may conclude 
from the following instance. He determined to make a 
last appeal to a hardened sinner, a surgeon, whom he had 
imprisoned at Nevano. " Now that I am going away to 
leave my church," he said to him, "do you also leave off 
sin." The emotion with which he pronounced these 
words penetrated the heart of the unhappy man, who be 
fore long became converted, and being attacked by a sick 
ness which made him think seriously, he made a public 
confession of his sins, and died in sentiments of the most 
sincere repentance, rendering a thousand thanks to Mgr. 
Liguori. 

He visited also all religious communities, of both sexes, 
reminding them of his paternal lessons and exhorting them 
to a zealous observance of their rules and a fervent striving 
after perfection. As he was unable, on account of the 
fatigue, to go to St. Agatha, in order to make his farewell 
in person, he wrote a letter to the chapter, the reading of 
which caused many tears to be shed. As Sister Mary 
Raphael, the foundress of the Nuns of the Holy Redeemer, 
could not see him at St. Agatha, she wrote to him a most 
affectionate letter. Among other things, she said that she 
hoped he would not forget his daughters in Jesus Christ, 
and would bequeath his heart to them by will. " Bequeath 
my heart!" Alphonsus said, when he came to these words, 
"I have always considered Mother Raphael as a sensible 
woman, but I have now lost my good opinion of her. My 
heart indeed ! what dish do they want to make of it? It 
is the soul that has value ; as for my body, if they wish to 
please me, they will throw it away." The present he sent 
to them was, besides a letter of advice and counsel for 
Mother Raphael, a simple wooden cross with the emblems 
of the passion, which he had kept in his room, and which 
38* 



450 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

he was in the habit of kissing whenever he entered or 
went out of it. To the Nuns of the Annunziato, who had 
asked for a little keepsake, he sent the little picture of our 
Lady of good counsel, which he had had always on his 
table begging them to say a Salve Regina for him every 
Saturday, and to recite the litanies for him for three days 
after his death. To the canons, who also asked him for a 
remembrance, he gave the large cross with the emblems of 
the passion, which had been on the first landing place of 
the stair-case, and which he had also been in the habit of 
kissing whenever he went in or out of the house. To the 
Capuchin Fathers he left some artificial flowers which had 
adorned the altar of the Blessed Sacrament in his chapel. 
To the Seminarists who had come to Arienzo, he gave 
some books which belonged to him, as well as all his own 
works. The furniture and valuable goods he left in the 
palace as belonging to the chapter of St. Agatha, were 
some few miserable beds and some cooking utensils. The 
mattress and arm chair he asked to be allowed to take with 
him as an alms from the two canons who were deputies 
from the chapter of St. Agatha, who readily granted what 
he wished for, but shed tears at the affecting scene of such 
humility and poverty. The other things of which he had 
made use were carried off as relics. Some asked ; others 
-took what they wanted secretly, and as each wished to 
have something, every thing disappeared, even the little 
images he had at the head of his bed. A little wooden 
crucifix was even violently carried off by a gentleman of 
Arienzo, and as the barber of the house did not see any 
thing else to take, he asked Alphonsus for a crutch of 
which he had made use when he had the rheumatism. 
" Take it," he said, " for it may be serviceable to you some 
day." In fact, his son s wife being some years afterwards 
in labor for three days, he remembered the crutch and 
these words, and taking it, said to her: "This crutch be 
longed to our late bishop, who worked so many miracles ; 
if you have faith, and will only take it, you will be cured." 
She had scarcely touched it, when she was delivered and 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 451 

out of danger, though all had despaired of her safety. As 
to his beloved poor, as soon as his departure had been cer 
tain, he had considerably increased his alms to them, and 
on the day he left Arienzo, the palace was, as it were, be 
sieged by them, and they all had the gratification of sharing 
in his last donations. 

At last, on the 27th of July 1775, after having ruled 
over the church of St. Agatha for thirteen years and fifteen 
days, early in the morning, he gave his last blessing in his 
dear church of St. Agatha to an immense concourse of 
people ; he distributed large alms to a crowd of poor per 
sons who solicited his charity, and amidst the groans of 
these, as well as the tears of the clergy and the people, he 
got into his carriage, aided by his household, and accom 
panied by F. Villani. The sight of the affliction of the 
people was like a two-edged sword that pierced his heart, 
and tears began to flow from his eyes. When he saw that 
the priests, canons and gentlemen intended to follow him, 
he thanked them and assured them of his gratitude for this 
mark of their affection, but would not permit them to do 
so. However, four of the canons were determined to ac 
company him, as well as F. Caputo and a great number 
of gentlemen. When they had gone on for some miles, 
Alphonsus was anxious they should return, and assured 
them that their presence only increased instead of relieving 
his distress, but the treasurer and some others would not 
yield to his entreaties, and accompanied him to Nocera. 

On the way he addressed his usual prayers to his saintly 
patron, and particularly commended the whole diocese to 
the protection of Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother; 
and continued the journey while reciting the rosary and 
canonical hours with F. Villani. He had not said mass in 
the morning on account of the emotion which his depar 
ture caused him to feel ; he therefore went to the Semi 
nary at Nola, and celebrated it in presence of the whole 
seminary, although he was in a stale of great suffering and 
weakness. Every one shed tears of tenderness at seeing 
the devotion with which he celebrated the august sacrifice, 



45*2 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

without omitting the most minute rubric, notwithstanding 
his age and sufferings. When the mass was ended, he heard 
that of F. Villani, making his thanksgiving, after which, at 
the request of the superior, he addressed an exhortation to 
all the pupils and gave them his blessing. When his 
arrival had become known at Nola, several gentlemen came 

; o 

to pay him their respects ; among these was D. Michael 
Menichino, whose sight had been so much weakened for 
upwards of a year through inflammation, that he was no 
longer able to walk without being led. Various remedies 
had been fruitlessly tried at Naples and at Nola; and the 
complaint had got so much worse that he had become at 
length completely blind. He arrived just when Alphonsus 
was going to get in his carriage ; he threw himself at his 
feet, arid shedding tears, entreated him to make the sign of 
the cross on his eyes. Alphonsus had no sooner done so, 
than the blind man recovered his sight. 

As soon as he had entered the carriage again, Alphonsus 
recommenced the recitation of the rosary with F. Villani, 
and the rest of the time was employed in saying the office 
and other prayers. When he arrived at Nocera, Mgr. San- 
felice ordered that all the bells should ring out to welcome 
him. Great rejoicing, though mingled with compassion at 
the state he was in, was felt by the inhabitants, arid tears 
of emotion were in all eyes. All the clergy and a great 
number of gentlemen, hastened to kiss his hand and to re 
ceive his blessing. When he was on the steps, he ex 
claimed with transport: "Gloria Patri, &c. The cross 
which I wear at my breast was very heavy when I ascended 
the stair-case at Arienzo, but how light has it become to 
day ! Gloria Patri," &c. When he reached the choir, he 
cast himself on his face before the Blessed Sacrament, and 
was heard to say : " My God ! I thank Thee for having re 
leased me from so heavy a burden. My Jesus ! I could 
endure it no longer." The fathers in the meanwhile sang 
the Te Deurn, to thank God for having restored their com 
mon father to them. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 453 

A comfortable room, till then used for strangers, had 
been prepared for him; when he was conducted there, he 
observed a piece of tapestry with a kind of black border, 
which formed the ceiling, and exclaimed: " What, must I 
live in the midst of ornaments? I will have my old room." 
He was told F. Villani occupied it, but he would not yield 
till it was represented to him that he ought to have a room 
for visitors, when he consented to take two little rooms on 
the third floor. When he saw that he was lodged as the 
poor are, he joyfully said to the gentlemen who surrounded 
him: "0 how much better satisfied I am in this cell than 
in the palace at Arienzo," and taking his little cross in his 
hand, repeated several times: "This cross has become 
very light here ; but there I sank under its weight." The 
grand-vicar of Nocera came to see him the same evening, 
to pay his respects to him as the deputy of Mgr. Sanfelice. 
In the course of the conversation, the grand-vicar observing 
that he thought that the diocese was very much displeased 
at his departure, Alphonsus asked, "why?" "Because it 
has lost a pastor who did much good," answered the 
grand-vicar. Alphonsus was disturbed at these words. 
"Jesus and Mary!" he exclaimed, "what does the grand- 
vicar say of me, who have done no good at all, none, none, 
none ! If any good has been done, it was God, God alone 
who has done all." Mgr. Sanfelice carne to visit him him 
self next day, and conferred full powers on him to exercise 
all authority in the diocese. He received also the visits of 
the bishops and grand-vicars in the neighborhood, as well 
as those of all the superiors of the monasteries, and of the 
nobles and persons of rank of the neighboring places in 
the diocese, which prevented him from resting for several 
days. 

If Alphonsus mode of life at Arienzo was admirable and 
laborious, it was no less so at Nocera. He was only re 
lieved from the burden of the episcopate in order to bear 
that of the Congregation, as now all had recourse to their 
common father and left him no rest. "I had hoped to 
find relief at Nocera," he wrote to F. Majone, on the 26th 



454 LIFE OF ST, ALPHONSUS. 

of January 1776, "but I have met with a thousand thorns, 
which deprive me of all rest. God be praised! My head 
is exhausted, and I am forced to have a wet cloth con 
stantly beside me, to prevent giddiness or fainting through 
the number of letters I have to write. ... I feel scrupu 
lous in neglecting to write the inspirations which God gives 
me, for God gives knowledge to superiors which he does 
not grant to others, and it is this thought which makes me 
write so many letters." He never omitted to drag himself 
to the chapel every Saturday, to assist at the chapter, and 
to animate his sons to greater perfection. "Why are we 
in the Congregation," he one day said, "if it is not in or 
der to become saints? The end which God had in view in 
delivering us from the world, is our sanctification ; if this 
had not been his intention, he would have left us in the 
midst of its dangers." 

In consequence of the vow he had made of preaching 
on the glories of (he Blessed Virgin every Saturday, he did 
not fail to have himself conducted to the church by the lay- 
brother and his servant on the Saturday after his arrival, 
though they had the greatest difficulty in placing him in 
the pulpit. As soon as he appeared before the people, 
who had hastened in crowds to hear him, they all uttered 
a cry of compassion, and wept at seeing the saintly bishop 
broken down by infirmities, but rejoiced also in seeing ful 
filled the prophecy he had made of coming to die amongst 
them. He preached as if he had been quite well, and 
afterwards did the same on all Saturdays. 

A constant concourse of persons of distinction, of 
priests, and of monks, hastened to be directed by his 
counsels; and all the bishops who went to Naples or re 
turned from thence, made it a point to consult him on 
their own necessities, and on those of their dioceses. A 
congregation of zealous priests, established at Nocera, de 
voting themselves to the apostolical ministry by giving mis 
sions and the exercises of Lent, preaching, and daily hear 
ing confessions in their own church, wished often to have 
him in their midst to obtain a constantly increasing fervor 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 455 

through his exhortations and the nuns also wished to 
hear his instructions; he did not fail to visit both places 
from time to time, to comply with their wishes and exer 
cise his zeal. He visited also the asylum, called the Car- 
minella. When he first arrived at Nocera, he effected in 
this asylum what several confessors had attempted in vain. 
Two of the inmates, though consecrated to God, were 
living there in a state of scandalous enmity; but one of 
them, upon merely seeing him, humbled herself, and ran 
and cast herself at the feet of her enemy, and they both 
asked each other s forgiveness for their offences. On an 
other day, the mother prioress asked him to remember her 
in his prayers in order that he might obtain for her the cure 
of a cancer which she had in her left breast, and which 
the doctors looked upon as incurable. He encouraged 
her to bear the malady patiently, by placing herself in the 
hands of God and embracing the cross. When he returned 
to the house, he sent her a bottle of pure water, telling her 
to bathe the diseased part with it ; after she had done so, 
the tumor disappeared, and she was perfectly cured. 

One of his rooms served him as an oratory ; on the altar 
there was to be seen a large crucifix, and at the foot of it a 
beautiful figure of the Blessed Virgin, placed between two 
others of the divine Shepherd and the Blessed Virgin with 
the Holy Ghost on her breast. From morning till night, 
except the time he went, according to the express com 
mand of the doctors and F. Villani, to take a short airing 
in the carriage, he was to be seen before these objects of 
his devotion, engaged in his exercises of piety, or occu 
pied in reading and in the composition of his works. 
This room was also adorned by German figures represent 
ing the different mysteries of the passion on a grand scale, 
so that wherever he turned his eyes, they met with objects 
which served to gratify his devotion. Other ornaments it 
had none: three or four straw chairs and a little table 
formed its whole furniture, with the roughly made arm 
chair which he had received as an alms at St. Agatha. It 
was covered with some old damask silk which the grand- 



456 LIFE OF ST. ALPHOJN SUS. 

vicar and others obliged him to keep while at Arienzo ; 
but at Nocera this stuff, although torn, was a great pain to 
him, and as it inflicted a wound on his love of poverty, he 
several times declared to F. Villani that he could not en 
dure it, and so at last he had it taken off the chair, which 
he had covered with leather. His bed-room was orna 
mented with the same kind of pious pictures, with some 
others of St. Michael, St. Margaret of Cortona, and the 
seraphic St. Bonaventure ; and these were its sole orna 
ments. The poor were his privileged friends at Nocera 
also. After he had paid the wages of his servant and his 
coachman, and for what the keeping of his horses and his 
own miserable nourishment cost, he gave all the rest to the 
poor. 

He went through all the exercises of the community, 
and had himself brought, or rather dragged from the third 
floor to the church^ before the Blessed Sacrament, for 
making his visit there, which lasted often for hours ; the 
way of the cross he performed daily, riot in his chair as at 
Arienzo, but by going to the different stations in a long 
corridor. 

He put the finishing stroke to his book on Divine Provi 
dence, that is to say, on the Economy of the Redemption 
of Man, the year of his arrival at Nocera. He added to 
this work two treatises, the first, on the love of God, and 
the methods of acquiring it, the second containing vari 
ous counsels fitted to encourage a soul in desolation. At 
this time he took up also the pen against an enemy of the 
devotion to the Blessed Virgin : "I am determined," he 
says himself, "to write these few pages from seeing that 
Abbe Rolli (a Calabrian priest) wishes to throw discredit 
on the devout prayers and titles commonly given to the 
Blessed Virgin by the faithful in the litanies and in the 
Salve Regina as well as from hearing him call the scapular 
and the rosary childish devotions, whereas they are most 
religious practices, and have been dear to me from my 
earliest infancy." 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHOJN SUS. 457 

Alphonsus was full of gratitude to the Holy Father Pius 
VI, and embraced an opportunity of testifying it to him 
by dedicating to him his work on Divine Providence, which 
he sent him together with his last writings. Pius VI ac 
cepted this little present, and testified his satisfaction to 
him by a brief of the 19th of November. Alphonsus, over 
whelmed by so much kindness, hastened to offer his most 
humble thanks to the Holy Father, and recommended his 
Congregation to him, and Pius VI, who was sensible of 
his gratitude, replied to him in a new brief dated the 16th 
of December 1776, saying that his thanks were super 
fluous both as regarded the augmentation of his pension 
and the dues which were remitted to him, as he had over 
paid for all by the present of his works. "They are," he 
said, " a fresh and convincing proof to us of your inde 
fatigable zeal in feeding the flock of Jesus Christ as far as 
lies in your power; so that, although you have resigned the 
episcopate, you have not, however, renounced the solici 
tude and the duties of a bishop. As to the protection of 
the apostolic see which you implore for the Congregation 
of the Holy Redeemer, you cannot ask us for any thing 
which is more just, and I will never refuse it to you, whose 
piety we delight in acknowledging nor to your Congre 
gation." 

There is also another work of Alphonsus , composed 
after his return to Nocera. It is a treatise on the sacrifice 
of Jesus Christ on the cross and on the altar, and a short 
explanation of the prayers used at mass. As there was no 
lack of individuals who wished to act like free-thinkers^ 
and who therefore designated eternal truths, such as the 
resurrection, judgment, hell and such like, as mere fables, 
Alphonsus again attacked them in 1776, in a book entitled 
Dogmatical Dissertations, in which he sets forth each of 
these dogmas in all its parts on the authority of the Scrip 
ture, of the holy fathers, and of theologians; he also there 
treats of private judgment, purgatory and antichrist, and 
speaks of the signs and the circumstances of the end of 
39 



458 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

the world, of the state of the damned, of the blessed, and 
of infants who have died without baptism. 

He had to endure again some opposition from the ec 
clesiastical examiner at Naples, on account of this work ; 
viz : first, in regard to an assertion that there is no dif 
ference between the love of the blessed in heaven and that 
of the souls on earth, though it is the common opinion 
of theologians ; and secondly, in regard to infants who 
died without baptism, on which subject the examiner 
wanted him to prefer the doctrine of St. Augustine to that 
of St. Thomas. After having written three times to the 
examiner, he appealed to the archbishop, and thus his 
opinion in favor of St. Thomas prevailed and the dispute 
was terminated. He was very ill when he published this 
work, for he wrote to F. Cajone, at the commencement of 
1777: "I cannot now either read or write; I am troubled 
with a constant headache, and I have been obliged to give 
up all kinds of study." 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

The Congregation is bitterly persecuted at Naples. JlJphon- 
sus labors in its defence. His anxieties in regard to the 
houses in the Pontifical States. 

rpHESE were the pious and useful occupations of the 
JL saintly bishop in his retreat at Nocera. But he had all 
the time, moreover, to drink the cup of bitterness which 
God had prepared for him in the continual persecutions to 
which his beloved Congregation was exposed. We have 
seen above, on several occasions, how fierce, how intrigu- 
ino- and obstinate were its adversaries, and that three not 

o 

over well-intentioned individuals had been commissioned 
to take information with regard to it and make their re 
ports. The Marquis of Tanucci, on the 3d of October 
1775, moved by incessant calumnious petitions, published 
three ordinances, enjoining it upon those three commis- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 459 

sioners, after a compilation of all the proceedings and ac 
cusations in the council of St. Clare, that of Sommaria, 
and in the royal council, and after having examined every 
thing, to make their opinions known to his majesty, and to 
transmit all the documents to the chief ministerial council. 
The suppression of the Jesuits, which had happened not 
long before, confirmed the forebodings of the speedy sup 
pression of the Congregation ; and, besides, very serious 
difficulties had arisen between the courts of Naples and 
Rome. The enemies of the missionaries already began to 
glory in their triumph and in the destruction of the Con 
gregation. 

In these critical circumstances, Alphonsus despaired 
of the aid of men, and therefore, as usual, turned to God 
with redoubled fervor. He recommended himself again to 
the prayers of several monasteries, and wrote a circular to 
all the houses, on the 4th of November, in which, among 
other advice and exhortations, he says: "My very dear 
brethren, redouble your fervor in prayer, for our enemies 
redouble their fury against us. ... Do not cease to pray, 
for if you neglect prayer our ruin is certain. If we pray 
and act as we ought towards God, he will preserve us ; if 
not, we shall assuredly be destroyed. . . . What pains me 
most is not the seeing one of you ill, or even leaving the 
Congregation ; I wish him well but to see one commit 
faults, especially against obedience and poverty, that rends 
my very heart. I bless you all, one by one. Pray about 
the persecution which we endure, and which is more in 
tense now than ever; but I trust in Jesus Christ and the 
Blessed Virgin^ who will not abandon us." 

Thus Alphonsus was affected by hope and fear, but hope 
preponderated. "I am quite contented," he wrote to the 
fathers at Naples, "because I feel sure that our Lady will 
protect us during this storm." In order to comfort the 
subjects of the Congregation who were cast down by the 
constant fear of being turned out of their houses, and the 
many vexations they were daily exposed to, he used to 
say : " Persecutions are to the work of God, what a storm 



460 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

is to trees in winter; far from hurting them, it helps them 
to put forth deeper roots, and renders them more fruitful. 
There is nothing but the worm which can injure plants. 
The worms which we ought to avoid are faults and volun 
tary failures. . . . Let us kiss the walls of our cells, and in 
proportion to the amount of our persecutions, let us keep 
all the more closely united to Jesus Christ." 

In the meantime, the procurator advocate, one of the 
commissioners mentioned above, had allowed himself to 
be persuaded by the adversaries ; they also succeeded in 
acting on the mind of the prime minister by means of in 
trigue, and this was cause for new shouts of triumph. 
* The casuistical tribe is extirpated," they exclaimed. " We 
can see now," said others, " what this Liguori is, and what 
kind of people he has for disciples." The advocates and 
the other magistrates on the missionaries side themselves 
looked upon their cause as a desperate one when they 
saw it in the hands of the three persons of whom we have 
spoken. The fathers therefore were anxious to see Al- 
phonsus in Naples. But he answered, on the 26th of 
January 1776, to F. Majone, who had solicited him to 
come: " Your reverence has again written to tell me that 
it would be a good plan were I to come and speak to the 
Marquis of Tanucci; but you well know that I am no 
longer fit for any thing. Last night I suffered from my 
asthma, and had such palpitations of the heart that I 
thought I should have died. Yes, certainly, my father, I 
am ready to give my life to prevent the destruction of this 
work of God, but it would require an extreme necessity to 
justify rny placing it in evident peril, and that would be the 
case now." 

The adversaries on the other hand, on seeing Alphon- 
sus impaired health, predicted his speedy death, and every 
where said that if the Congregation were not forced to 
come to an end by the weight of their accusations, it would 
at least become extinct with the life of Mgr. Liguori. 
"They say," he wrote to the houses of Scifelli and Frosi- 
none, "that when I die all will be ended; I say, for my 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 461 

part, that this Congregation, which is not my work but 
that of God, will endure after my death, as it has done for 
forty-four years." To other fathers he said : " Fear nothing, 
I shall not die yet, God wills that I shall die a subject, and 
not a chief superior of the Congregation." We have seen 
that he had already predicted this in the year 1774, and the 
event will show but too well that he had indeed prophesied. 

While things went on thus, some people proposed to 
Alphonsus to render the houses independent, like those of 
the Fathers of the Oratory; others, that he should open 
seminaries for the education of youth, and that they should 
also preach Latin sermons. But he rejected all these pro 
positions with horror, putting his confidence in God, who 
would most certainly bless his Congregation if it adhered 
faithfully to its special vocation, in which it had till then 
done so much good for the benefit of souls. 

The affairs of the Congregation had become still more 
involved by the two following circumstances. Its enemies 
by attacking anew the doctrine of Alphonsus, accusing 
him and his missionaries of laxity, error and malice, and 
representing his doctrine as opposed to the Gospel and de 
structive both to church and state, succeeded, (being favored 
by one of the chief functionaries in the royal ministry,) in 
making an impression on the mind of the Marquis of Ta- 
nucci; who therefore declared that the cause should not 
be discussed in the royal council, but that it should be 
rigorously examined in the junta of abuses. This decision 
was a new signal of triumph to the adversaries, and Al 
phonsus himself appeared to be disconcerted at it, and 
considered it as an insurmountable barrier. The other cir 
cumstance was that they carried their calumnies so far as 
to accuse the missionaries of having carried money from 
the kingdom into the Papal states, in order to elude the re 
strictions imposed according to the tenor of the approba 
tion given to the houses in the kingdom. This accusation 
was also of great weight with the Marquis, who was 
already prejudiced by the former calumnies, and it was no 
sooner made than commissioners were sent with urgent 
39* 



462 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

despatches, to go through the houses of the states and 
make inquiries about the purchases of property which, ac 
cording to the adversaries, (who had gone so far in their ef 
forts against the Congregation as to corrupt inferior agents 
by means of money,) had been made there. Alphonsus 
considered this last circumstance as the principal grievance, 
and the only one which could hurt the Congregation. "It 
seems to me," he wrote to F.-Majone on the 26th of Janu 
ary, " that we must justify ourselves before Tanucci regard 
ing the acquisition as soon as possible, and that we must 
labor unceasingly for this. Whilst he is persuaded that we 
have acquired possessions contrary to the decree of his 
Catholic majesty, we shall only sail against the wind, for he 
will always look on us as transgressors, and in that case 
what good can we hope for? It is, I believe, through this 
false impression (hat so many despatches have been issued 
against us." - The president himself," he says in another 
letter, " believes us guilty, as he told the Cardinal Jerrale, 
and the cardinal did not know what to reply. His emi 
nence wishes to support us, and to speak to Tanucci, but 
he must be informed of all the answers to the general as 
well as to the particular accusations. I am ready to write 
to Mgr. Guttilieri (the queen s confessor,) but first it will 
be necessary for the cardinal to have spoken to the queen." 
By this we see that Alphonsus did not neglect human 
means, though he put all his trust in God as we have seen 
by the many prayers he offered himself, and by his asking 
those of the Congregation and of others. 

As an answer to these multiplied prayers, may be con 
sidered an unexpected return of good fortune for Alphon 
sus, viz: that on the 16th of October 1776, the king al 
lowed the Marquis of Tanucci to retire, and the Marquis 
of Sambuca was made prime minister in his stead, who had 
the most favorable opinion of Alphonsus, and was as favor 
ably inclined to the Congregation as Tanucci was to its 
enemies. This gave Alphonsus and the Fathers courage, 
without, however, lessening that of their adversaries. 

The report of the Procurator Leon was at length pre- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 463 

sented to the throne, on the 13th of February 1777. As 
nothing equalled the animosity of the procurator, the sword 
of opposition had become doubly formidable in his hands; 
he had styled the missionaries rising Jesuits, and had sworn 
to have the Congregation suppressed and the missionaries 
ruined. This report, a master-piece worthy of the age in 
which the Society of Jesus was suppressed, was as a thun 
derbolt which cast terror into the hearts of all the mem 
bers of the Congregation as well as of their friends. Al- 
phonsus immediately had recourse to his anchor of daily 
safety; he recommended himself to the prayers of many 
devout souls, especially of various convents of religious, 
both at Naples and in the provinces, and ordered that be 
sides prayers and masses in all the houses of the Congre 
gation, the discipline in common should be continued 
every Monday, and that Saturday should be kept as a fast 
in honor of the Blessed Virgin. He inculcated on the 
rectors that they must especially watch closely over the 
observance of that same rule which the adversaries chose 
to aim at. He several times sent alms to the Capuchin- 
esses at Naples, as well as wax candles to the Camaldolese 
Fathers, that they might have prayers for his intention and 
exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 

When the bishops heard of this state of things, those 
who had the greatest interest hastened to present petitions 
to the king, attesting the probity of the missionaries, the 
poverty in which they lived, their disinterestedness, their 
submission to orders from those in authority, and the good 
they effected in the provinces and their respective dioceses.* 

*An authentic record shows that from the end of 1777 until the 
month of May, 1778, thirty-five missions were given with benefit and 
satisfaction to the bishops. The holy exercises were given to eight 
clergymen, seven seminaries, and nineteen convents, in the dioceses of 
Caserto, Avuso, Capua, Benevento, Cerreta, Avellino, Nari, Aurenza 
and Matera, besides a great many triduos during the Carnival, the 
devotion of the forty hours, and the time of Advent. Alphonsus said: 
" Redeemed souls ought to be the advocates of our cause," and he 
therefore caused his sons to redouble their efforts and zeal to win souls 
to Jesus Christ. 



464 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

Alphonsus also addressed letters of supplication to the 
new prime minister, and at last, through the intervention 
of Cardinal Branciforte, the Bishop of Girgenti, who was 
then at Naples, and Mgr. Filomarino, the Bishop of 
Caserto, obtained, that the cause, after it had been exam 
ined by the minister, should be sent back to the royal 
council. This consoled Alphonsus much, and he gained 
new strength at seeing this dispensation of Providence. 
" I can do nothing/ he wrote to D. Francis de Paul, "but 
thank Jesus and Mary for all the many blessings they have 
conferred on me during these last days of my life. . . We 
have good news from Naples of the action with Sarnelli, 
for it has been remanded to the royal council. . . These 
matters have now an altered appearance. Blessed for ever 
be Jesus and Mary." 

As one of the chief points of the opposition referred to 
his Moral Theology, he therefore wrote a long pamphlet, 
in which, appearing both as a theologian and a canonist, 
he justified it fully ; he resumed also his former spirit of a 
lawyer, and without abandoning that of Jesus Christ, he 
digested an ample defence in reply to all the accusa 
tions. Every one was affected by this petition of the ven 
erable old man, the talent of which was no less admirable 
than its moderation. He also addressed letters to the 
ministers of the royal council, to the Prince of Riccia, to 
the President Cito and the Marquis of Marco. Being 
again asked by the Fathers to go to Naples in person, he 
replied, on the 2d of September: "he who could see to 
what a miserable state I am now reduced, would not, I 
think, have the courage to require me to repair to Naples. 
My arrival would only serve to attract the hootings of a 
crowd of children, who would be curious to know if the 
man in the carriage were dead or alive. It is a thing 
which cannot be thought of, because I cannot do it; and 
besides, my presence would not make the cause succeed. 
. . . The weakness of my head prevents my being able to 
express my thoughts clearly, and I cannot now pronounce 
my words promptly. . . . Let us place ourselves in God s 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 465 

hands; he will know better than we how to defend this 
cause, which is more his than ours." 

Although matters appeared now under a favorable aspect, 
Alphonsus did not wish the cause to be immediately dis 
cussed in the council ; his adversaries, on the contrary, 
aware that delay would certainly be disadvantageous to 
them, were eager in demanding this discussion. They 
had made all their preparations; there were no less than 
seven advocates appointed to assist them in the council. 
They visited all the officers of the ministry, and the procu 
rator himself, who was jealous of his honor, went round 
about every where making comments pn his famous report. 
The cause was, however, deferred until the month of Au 
gust 1779, when the Marquis of Marco wrote to Alphon 
sus as follows : " I stated to the king the representations 
of your lordship against the allegations tending to the de 
struction of the Congregation which you direct. His ma 
jesty has commanded me to reply, that as the Catholic 
king, his august father, permitted the missionaries of whom 
your lordship is the head to give missions and to live in 
the four houses of Ciorani, Nocera, Caposele and Iliceto, 
and prescribed the means and conditions under which this 
great undertaking might be maintained, his majesty also 
consents to there being a superior in the four above named 
houses, to watch over the internal order therein, and to 
see that the other offices are properly distributed ; and as 
it was the intention of the deceased Catholic king that this 
salutary work should never cease to exist, his majesty also 
approves of young men being received and taught those 
things which shall be needful to enable them to supply the 
place of those who have become incapacitated through 
great age or any other reason." 

Alphonsus rejoiced at this act of clemency on the part 
of the sovereign, thanked God for it, and exhorted his 
brethren to do the same by offering up prayers and masses. 
The procurator advocate, on the contrary, was enraged, 
with his whole party, and felt it most keenly. "If the 
Grand Duke of Tuscany had come here in person," he said 



466 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

several times, "he would not have obtained from the court 
what this handful of upstarts have got." Thus God, who 
never forsakes his children, protected Alphonsus and his 
Congregation from the wicked designs of its enemies, even 
whilst the debate and the particulars regarding the offences 
alleged against the Congregation were before the royal 
council. 

It was evidently the same kind Providence which, after 
all the calumnies spread concerning the doctrine and the 
practice of Alphonsus and his sons, had already some time 
before inspired the king to adopt a new course, which had, 
not less than this decision, filled their enemies with con 
fusion and the procurator with dejection. The king had 
obtained leave to celebrate the jubilee in his kingdom, 
from Pope Pius VI, on the 21st of November 1777. His 
majesty principally selected Mgr. Liguori and his mission 
aries to announce the attendant spiritual graces. In con 
sequence, on the 22d of October of the following year, 
the Marquis of Tambuca wrote to him as follows : " In 
consideration of the constant labors of the missionaries of 
the most Holy Redeemer, which tend to instruct the peo 
ple and to their being led to true piety, arid of the solici 
tude with which they disseminate good principles which 
are calculated to form virtuous Christians and faithful citi 
zens, his majesty has determined to make use of your Con 
gregation to publish a jubilee, the only object of which is 
the salvation of the faithful, and the good of the state. 
Therefore the king has commanded me to let your lordship 
know, that in return for the happy success which will at 
tend the labors of your missionaries in this respect, he will 
not fail to give you proofs of his royal gratitude." Alphon 
sus seconded the piety of the king by his own zeal, and 
addressed his sons, on the 8th November, in a circular, in 
which he sets forth the excellence of this work and its 
utility for the good of souls, and exhorts them to prepare 
themselves with all possible zeal, as being nothing less 
than the accomplishment of the very end of their institute. 
He was at the same time full of gratitude for all these 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 467 

blessings of Divine Providence, and wished therefore that 
due thanks should be offered to God for them. In conse 
quence, he wrote, on the 24th of January 1779, to all the 
houses, to direct that every evening the following prayer 
should be recited in common, and repeated three times, 
adding each time a Pater, an Ave, and Gloria Patri : 
" What have I desired in heaven or on earth but thee, oh 
thou God of my heart and my portion for ever ? My Jesus, 
I devote myself wholly to thee; I wish for nothing but 
thee; I wish for nothing more." "Prayer," said he, un 
ceasingly, " is all-powerful with God." 

The honorable preference which the king bestowed thus 
on the missionaries, and particularly the promise of future 
liberality, filled their adversaries, and especially the procu 
rator, with dismay and the bitterest sorrow. "Strange 
fancy!" exclaimed the procurator; "it would seem as if 
scandal is to be made lawful, and even rewarded, although 
it causes ruin to the State and to the Church." He lost 
courage, as did also the commissioner, but they made one 
last effort in despair of gaining their cause; they entreated 
the royal council for a new appeal, hoping that at least the 
baron might then be able to recover the property left by 
his brother, and that they might thus escape entire confu 
sion. But neither the one nor the other saw the end of 
this affair. They were both prematurely cited before the 
tribunal of Jesus Christ: the one died on coming out of a 
bath, without being able to have the sacraments adminis 
tered to him, and the other was found dead in his carriage. 
As the other supporters of the baron disappeared also, he 
had no longer any heart or strength to go on with his 
wicked prosecution. 

Having thus shown at length all the anxieties, troubles 
and labors occasioned to our saint by the persecutions 
raging against his Congregation up to this time, let us re 
late his other occupations and doings in the meanwhile, 
that is, from the commencement of the year 1777, when 
we left him. He was applied to by Cardinal Banditi for 
the establishment of a house of his missionaries at Bene- 



468 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

vento. After this town had been given up to the Pope, 
on the entrance of the Neapolitan army on the 5th of Feb 
ruary 1774, various petitions were addressed to the Holy 
Father, to expose to him, (the see being vacant,) the spiri 
tual necessities of the people. When Mgr. Banditi, the 
Bishop of Montefiascone, was elected archbishop of this 
town and made cardinal, the Holy Father Pius VI charged 
him to suggest some expedient by which he might further 
the glory of God and the good of souls at Benevento, and 
supply the void which the Jesuits had left there from 
the time of their suppression. Cardinal Banditi consulted 
the canons of the Cathedral and the nobles of the town, 
and all agreed to give up the church and college of the 
suppressed Jesuits to the Redemptorist Fathers, as well as 
all the rentals attached to them. The Cardinal applied to 
Alphonsus, who declined the offer with thanks, saying that 
Benevento already possessed a great many eminent reli 
gious who could supply the spiritual wants of the people, 
while his missionaries were more profitably engaged 
among the poor in the country. 

Neither the clergy nor the nobles of Benevento would 
give up the point, and as they were unable to prevail on 
Alphonsus, they addressed themselves to F. Villani; who, 
being moved by the reasons exposed to him by the Cardi 
nal, succeeded in persuading Alphonsus, (who was himself 
forced to acknowledge the justice of these representations,) 
no longer to refuse to acquiesce in the foundation. When 
Pius VI was informed of it, he rejoiced greatly, and in a 
letter written with his own hand, on the 22d of April 
1777, he granted to the missionaries the said church and 
college, and on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 
the 6th of June of the same year, they entered in posses 
sion of this house. 

The other two houses in the Pontifical States were in 
great poverty and distress, and in consequence were a 
source of solicitude and anxiety to Alphonsus, the more 
so as he thought and said : " In the event of a tempest 
these houses will be our refuge." We will confine our- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 469 

selves to transcribe some passages of the many letters l:e 
wrote to them during this year. " The house of Frosi- 
none," he wrote to F. de Paul, on the 7th of July 1777, 
"interests me more than that of Girgenti, because that 
house is independent of the kingdom. The persecutions 
we endured at Naples have not yet terminated, and I 
attach the greatest importance to maintaining this founda 
tion, for which we are indebted to the Pope :" and on the 
17th of September: " I have again been suffering from one 
of those catarrhs which will one day deprive me of life. . . . 
If it be God s pleasure, I should like to live until I can 
succeed, through my pension, in completing the affair of 
the patronage of the church, and in finishing the building 
now commenced. Tell me what state the little rooms 
near the church are in. For the present I can only dis 
pose of about ten carlins ; but I hope to receive some money 
from St. Agatha shortly. Do not doubt that I will send 
you as much as I can." Alphonsus attached weight to 
each subject s having his own room : " Without that," said 
he, "a religious is a most miserable man." " I will do all 
in rny power," he said, in another letter, "to assist you as 
soon as possible. . , Father Landi has just written to tell 
me that they are in the greatest misery at Scifelli ; I have 
been obliged to divide the small sum of which I have been 
able to dispose by causing six ducats to be borrowed. . . . 
I have a great many debts. I am in continual distress, 
from seeing that I cannot assist Frosinone and Scifelli as I 
should wish. ... I have been begging alms, and I have got 
thirteen ducats, which added to the other twenty-seven, 
amount to forty." " F. Constant," he says in another 
letter, "has twice reproved me sharply for not having sent 
him more than two hundred ducats, whilst he was four 
hundred and fifty scudi in debt. Yes, it is true that I told 
him to procure some money by borrowing, but I meant 
that it should be a moderate sum. ... If I do not take 
some money from the pension, where shall I find any? 
Even were I to sell my cassock I should not obtain twenty 
carlins. I will beg and provide for it as well as I can." 4 
40 



470 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

"I have never dispensed you," he wrote to F. de Paul, 
who had entered into some agreement about the patronage 
of a chapel at Frosinone, " I have never dispensed you 
from giving me information of what you do. Thank 
God, I am riot yet dead, and have not lost my senses. 
On the contrary, I have been an advocate and a bishop, 
and I have several times had to do with such things. 
I am now superior-general ; what reason can there be for 
not informing me ? . . . For the future, I wish to be in 
formed of every thing that takes place. . . . There is per 
haps no house which has given me more trouble than that 
of Frosinone. God be praised !" " Do not arrange about 
any mission," he wrote to the same Father, on the 15th of 
October, " without having previously informed me all about 
it; you must excuse yourself to the bishops who ask you 
for missions, by saying that you cannot allow them without 
my leave. ... I wish the missions to be conducted with all 
possible prudence and^edification, and in quite an apos 
tolical spirit." Thus we see how Alphonsus solicitude 
extended itself to every thing; and above all, how anxious 
he always was about the great work of the missions, never 
being satisfied with all he said about them in his works, 
and in the many instructions, circulars, and letters which 
he never ceased to write about them. 

In order to increase still further the good produced in 
them, by the happy influence of those graces which are ac 
corded by the head of the church, he addressed, on the 12th 
of September 1777, a detailed recital to Pope Pius VI, of 
the origin and progress of the Congregation, its labors and 
sufferings, as well as of the good which the missions ef 
fected, and entreated his Holiness to communicate to him 
the graces, privileges, and indulgences which had been 
granted to the Passionist Fathers; and he obtained all that 
he had asked for. 

" I have heard that your reverence," he wrote on the 
12th of September of the same year to F. D. Diodates 
Crisenoli, " has accepted an exercise for Lent in the dio 
cese of Sora, and that F. de Paul has done so at Atin, in 



Ltffi OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 471 

the diocese of Aquino. ... I do not wish your reverence, 
or any one else, to agree to undertake such exercises, es 
pecially in the kingdom. Our institute forbids it, and it 
would become a cause for jealousies. In any event, your 
reverence must try to excuse yourself to Mgr. de Sora, and F. 
de Paul to the bishop of Aquino, by representing my prohi 
bition to them, and the observance of rule which I require. 
I wish you to be solely engaged in missions ; they are what 
God wishes from us, and not Lenten sermons. Obey, how 
ever great be the solicitations of parishes and bishops. To 
F. de Paul, who had asked to be allowed to preach during 
Lent in the college of Frosinone, and to accept the remu 
neration for it, he answered : " As for preaching this Lent, 
it is true there are some reasons for so doing on account 
of our extreme want, but I will not have the rule broken 
which expressly forbids it. Leave all to our good God. If 
we labor for Him, He will never allow us to want what is 
necessary." "You know," he wrote on the 12th of Octo 
ber to the same F. de Paul, " that I keep up these houses 
in Romagna to see the rule vigorously attended to. Man 
age so that the fathers make the accustomed retreat, or if 
they are ill, at least a part of it." " You tell me," he said in 
another letter, " that the house might very well be inhabited, 
but the doctor thinks that it ought not to be used before 
October, and I will not endure remorse for having caused 
the death of some one of my brethren." 

When the necessary buildings were finished, he wrote as 
follows: "I send you thirty ducats as a subsidy for the 
house of St. Cecily, (at Frosinone.) I do not wish them 
to be spent in building, but only for the maintenance of the 
subjects. Extraordinary expenses must not be incurred 
for the church, nor for pictures, statues, chasubles, or 
other rich ornaments without my permission. On solemni 
ties, decorations and illuminations must be spared, even 
if others are willing to bear the cost. I also forbid every 
kind of adornment of the altar, such as decorations in 
silk or any other rich material ; let it be ornamented with 
garlands, candles, and flowers: these are befitting the stat 



472 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

of poverty in which we are at present." "I have always 
felt as much affection for Frosinone as for Scifelli," he says 
in another letter, "but there are a great number of young 
men at Scifelli who are now in want of bread, F. Landi 
has written me word. Foundations in their commence 
ment occasion distress, confusion, contradiction, and 
misery; but if we remain entirely resigned to the will of 
God, he will remedy every thing. Let us behave properly, 
and Jesus Christ will protect us." " I entreat your rever 
ence," he wrote to F. de Paul, then superior at Frosinone, 
"to be humble towards your companions and affable to 
wards all, especially in mission time, and to treat your 
brothers with all possible consideration, remembering that 
they are far from their country and their family, and that 
thus they have a right to have the exercise of charity re 
doubled in their regard." 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

Jllphonsus exerts himself incessantly for the welfare of the 
Church at large, and for the general promotion of piety. 
His efforts to maintain discipline in the Congregation. 

SUCH was Alphonsus admirable solicitude for the well- 
being and perfection of his subjects in the pontifical 
states, while in his retreat at Nocera, amidst the unceasing 
persecutions in the kingdom. It was in the same retreat, 
and about this time, that he composed a work, entitled, 
"The fidelity of subjects towards God is a sure pledge of 
that which they have for their prince." "They deceive 
themselves," said he, speaking of monarchs, "they will 
never have any peace, if they have not the prevention 
of immorality at heart; where religion does not reign 5 
iniquity triumphs, as well as perfidy; admit sin, and all is 
in peril ; but if they make their subjects faithful towards 
God, they will find that they will be equally faithful to 
wards them." When he wrote this work, he said to one 



LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 473 

of the fathers in a transport of zeal: "Have as many mis 
sions as you please ; but if I gain one sovereign, it is 
worth more than a thousand missions, for the good which 
a sovereign who is touched by the grace of God can do, 
could not be effected by a thousand missions. He sent 
several copies of this work to Cardinal Castelli, and through 
him to all the ministers of foreign powers. He also ap 
plied to Canon Henry Hennequifi to get it conveyed to the 
august Maria Theresa, to the electoral Princes of Cologne 
and of Treves, as well as to the archbishops and bishops of 
the empire who had temporal possessions. He also trans 
mitted it to Prinee Charles, the governor of the Nether 
lands, to the kings of Spain and Portugal, to the king of 
Turin, to the duke of Parrna, and to the grand-duke of 
Tuscany; in a word, to all the Catholic sovereigns and 
principal ministers. None of the answers of these person 
ages to Alphonsus are in existence, for, according to cus 
tom, he sacrificed them to his humility. The work became 
so celebrated that it was translated into French and sold in 
different kingdoms. "This work," said the translator, "is 
the voice of a soul which thirsts for nothing but the glory 
of religion, the spread of morality, and the happiness of 
sovereigns and their subjects, and which has no other am 
bition than that of leading men to virtue and rendering 
them happy." By this, as well as by his other publications, 
Alphonsus has shown a zeal as universal as ardent. It 
was this zeal also which caused him to weep bitterly at 
seeing what progress infidelity and libertinism made in 
France, through the fatal influence of the writings of Vol 
taire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau ; the more so as their 
contagion had begun to penetrate into Italy, and the works 
of Voltaire formed the fashionable reading at Naples, so 
that even ladies made them the pastime for their idleness. 
As his age and infirmities no longer left him strength 
enough to combat them, he unceasingly encouraged dif 
ferent literary friends of his at Naples to labor in their re 
futation. In the midst of this grief, a refutation of the 
errors of Voltaire by he Abbe Nonnote fell into his hands; 
40* 



474 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

he was full of joy at this, and could not cease to thank 
God for having raised up a man who braved the spirit of the 
age, and occupied himself for his glory with such courage 
ous devotion. Animated by holy zeal, he wrote a letter of 
congratulation and encouragement to him on his having 
dared to undertake the refutation of the most impious of 
blasphemers. No tongue can express with what consola 
tion this letter filled the heart of the worthy priest of Be- 
sangon, who, as we shall presently show by his own words, 
found little encouragement in his own country, though he 
so zealously and triumphantly fought the battles of the 
Lord. He testified his gratitude to the saintly bishop, in 
a letter dated the 21st of April 1778, in the most glowing 
terms: "I am accustomed," he says among other things, 
<: to appreciate nothing except in conformity to the spirit 
of God ; it is an unspeakable pleasure to me to meet with 
men who also value the things of God alone, and who being 
in themselves greater "than great dignities could make 
them, cause one to be in doubt whether most to admire in 
them the gifts of genius which they possess or the bright 
lustre of the greatest virtue. I have often sought for such 
men ; I had not found any such, when your letter arrived 
to inform me that there is one in Naples. . . . All who 
have read your excellent and very celebrated work on 
Moral Theology congratulate me on my having received 
rsuch a flattering letter from so learned a prelate, and I 
congratulate myself in turn for having received the appro 
bation of so distinguished a man for my works." 

In order to encourage this generous confessor to strive 
more and more against these impious and furious enemies 
of the church, Alphonsus undertook to present a petition 
to the sovereign pontiff to obtain an apostolical brief in 
favor of the Philosophical Dictionary of Religion. "It is 
with unspeakable pleasure and gratitude," Abbe Nonnotte 
wrote to him, " that I have heard that you have resolved to 
address a petition to the sovereign pontiff, to ask him for 
an approbation of my dictionary, such as Clement XIII 
deigned to give to my book called < The Errors of Vol- 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 475 

taire. It is indeed a tiling which I most ardently desire, 
and for this reason I sent him my works, but have not re 
ceived any answer, although Cardinal Pallavicini told me 
that he had transmitted them to the sovereign pontiff. 
Have I then to believe that my work has been despised by 
this great pope ? . . . You exhort me to attack and to 
combat unceasingly all the new sophisms which may again 
be brought forth by the followers of this infernal philoso 
phy. ... I have already undertaken to do all that you 
wish for and hint at, nay, I have even completed it; but 
the want of suitable and necessary assistance has pre 
vented me from publishing what I have written. ... I 
should have been exceedingly glad to have this work 
printed at Paris . . . but every one here is so full of wild 
admiration for Voltaire, or rather, the fear which this ex 
tremely sarcastic man inspires is so great, that I have not 
been able to succeed in finding a friendly examiner; on 
the contrary, even the archbishop of Paris himself told me 
that I should never find a censor of this kind. ... I shall 
perhaps be obliged to cause a book which I have written 
in defence of religion to be printed at Geneva, because 
Catholics have not courage to doit. . . . For upwards of 
twenty years I have been constantly under arms to fight for 
the Lord, and I have never received any aid from man ; on 
the contrary, I have been loaded with invectives from the 
impious." 

This reply of the Abbe filled Alphonsus with sorrow and 
regret. "0 God!" exclaimed he, "at Paris, where there 
are so many Christian orators, there is not any one to be 
found who will oppose this monster who is so great an 
enemy to the Church and to religion, and this defence must 
be published at Geneva! Miserable beings that we are! 
This is the authority the Church lias at Paris! She cannot 
face an infidel and reprove his audacity ! Poor archbishop ! 
Poor church ! This abuse will undoubtedly not remain 
unpunished! Poor France! I pity thee, and 1 pity the 
many innocent people who will be involved in thy dis 
grace !" Let us remember that these words were uttered 



478 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

only eleven years before the catastrophe of 1789, that is, 
the first French revolution, with all its horrors and expia 
tory rivers of blood. Alphousus would have liked to send 
letters to the king. "But how could I effect at a dis 
tance, 1 said he, " what the archbishop and so many good 
bishops cannot obtain although they are on the spot?" 

A ray of false consolation came for a moment to soften 
the grief of the afflicted old man : in the May of this same 
year, 1778, there was a report that Voltaire had retracted 
his errors and blasphemies, and that corresponding with 
the influence of grace, he had declared himself to be a sin 
cere Catholic. It is impossible to express what joy Al- 
phonsus felt when he heard of this conversion. Animated 
by fresh zeal, he at once wrote a letter to congratulate him 
on his return to grace, and on the great good which his 
conversion would confer on the whole church, and at the 
same time to encourage him to write something as a refu 
tation of his errors arid" sophisms, or if possible to use his 
pen against another modern writer, Rousseau ; promising 
earnestly to pray to God to give him strength, if not to 
write, at least to dictate (Voltaire suffered then from his 
eyes) something against the unbelievers of those times. 
But soon Alphonsus received the tidings that the rumor of 
Voltaire s conversion was unfounded, or rather grew out of 
one of his many hypocritical simulations of conversion, and 
that he persisted in his obstinacy. He was on the point of 
sending his letter, but had to keep it back. " Such con 
versions," he then said, "are not ordinary graces; they are 
the effects of divine mercy, but not of a common degree 
of mercy. God only grants blessings of this sort to those 
whose errors have not arisen from a bad intention, like those 
of St. Paul. But all is very bad in Voltaire." On the 30th 
of May, in this same year, 1778, Voltaire passed out of 
this life, having died in impenitence and despair. On the 
2d of July following, his colleague in evil, J. J. Rousseau, 
also died a sudden death. " I received the tidings of the 
death of the unhappy Rousseau," Alphonsus wrote to a 
friend, on the 13th of September: "God be praised for 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 477 

having delivered the church from two of its greatest ene 
mies in so short a time." 

Alphonsus had one source of consolation about this 
time, however. Let us hear himself speaking of it in one 
of his works ; (" Spiritual Reflections ;" p. 2, p. 25) " may 
I be permitted here to manifest the great joy I have lately 
experienced. I have been positively assured, that the cele 
brated Abb P. Metastasio, after having received so many 
praises for his poetry throughout Europe, which is all the 
more dangerous from its being so very beautiful, because his 
tender and ardent expressions are thereby all the more 
calculated to kindle the flames of impure love in the heart, 
(I only allude to his profane poems,) I have been assured, 
I say, that he is going to publish a little book in prose, 
wherein he protests his profound repentance for his dan 
gerous poetry, and the wish he has, if possible, to with 
draw this kind of works from the hands of the public, at 
any price whatever, even at the expense of his own 
blood. ... It is also said that he leads quite a retired life, 
spent in prayer arid devotional exercises. This has given 
me unspeakable consolation, because this public declara 
tion and the great and good example he gives, will cause 
many misguided young people to think seriously, who 
have tried to gain a name and glory through amorous 
poems of a similar description. . . . Thus, whilst I for 
merly detested the vanity which made him glory in pro 
ducing such compositions, I cannot now cease to praise 
him, and, were it in my power, I would kiss his feet on 
seeing him become the censor of his own works, and pro 
fessing a wish to stop their circulation in the world, even 
at the price of his own blood, as he himself said." 

Let us give here another instance of the horror Alphon 
sus had of all amorous poetry, which is so pernicious to 
youth, and with what joy he was filled when any remark 
able composition of sacred poetry came before him. He 
was so much pleased with the compositions of X. Mafiei, 
that he was always praising the labor of this distinguished 
mm. " If all occupied themselves thus," said he, " we 



478 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

should see lascivious poetry banished from the lips of the 
young." Maffei, full of gratitude for Alphonsus praise 
and esteem for him and his works, did not forget to offer 
his thanks to him in the preface to his translation of the 
Psalms. On the 30th of November 1774, Alphonsus re 
plied to him as follows : " It gives me great comfort to re 
ceive your little work on the Psalms, and I keep your much 
esteemed letter before me whilst I am composing my work, 
(also on the Psalms.) This is fitted for the learned as well 
as for the ignorant, because it both instructs and pleases, 
while mine is only for the ignorant, and has nothing at 
tractive. Your translation has been applauded by the lite 
rary men throughout all Italy, and I may even say through 
out all Europe ; what I have done is scarcely able to 
please even a small number of devout persons. I see what 
progress you make as a lawyer, but how much I should 
have preferred to see^you continue to make use of the 
great talents and knowledge which God has given you by 
exercising them for the good of His church. However, 
even in the position in which you are, you can do a great 
deal for the service of religion, since every one takes upon 
himself to speak of theology and of the Holy Scriptures, 
and to put forth whatever propositions he pleases." 

In the year 1779, Alphonsus humility made him become, 
like another St. Charles Borromeo, a public penitent. For 
six months, that is to say, from the 16th of December 1778, 
the heavens had become like brass, and there had not been 
a drop of rain. The whole country was in distress, fear 
ing the loss of the corn and the fruit. Alphonsus was 
moved at the sight of such a scourge, and wept over the 
sins of the people. One Sunday, (it was the 13th of May 
1779,) notwithstanding his weakness, he undertook to 
make a penitential procession, in order to obtain God s 
pardon and the favor which was so much longed for. After 
having put on his purple vestments, which he was never in 
the habit of doing, he covered himself with ashes; and ac 
companying his sons with a rope around his neck, he re 
solved to go and place a large cross in the parish church. 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 479 

The way was long, but all efforts to dissuade him from 
going were useless. It was with great difficulty that he 
was persuaded to go half the way in a carriage. He was 
determined to go the rest of the way on foot; and as his 
state of exhaustion no longer allowed him to walk without 
support, the lay-brother and others aided him in perform 
ing this painful pilgrimage. 

All the inhabitants assisted at this ceremony the church 
and the square were crowded with people. In order to 
satisfy all, the pulpit was placed at the church door, and as 
Alphonsus was not able to ascend it, he was carried up to 
it. He preached for upwards of an hour upon the punish 
ment which sinners deserve, and exhorted all his hearers 
to do penance. His words, added to such a touching 
spectacle, made a general impression, and on that very 
evening the salutary effects were seen by the great number 
of those who went to cast themselves at the feet of the con 
fessors. But heaven appeared to be insensible. The next 
day. after vespers, when Alphonsus was returning from his 
accustomed drive, and had nearly reached the house, he or 
dered the coachman to turn back, and to go to the chapel 
where the month of Mary was celebrated. He entered the 
church, and went and prostrated himself before the altar of 
the Blessed Virgin. This drew a crowd together, and Al 
phonsus caused the image of Mary to be exposed, and ex 
horted all present to have recourse to their divine Mother. 
After he had prayed in silence for some time, he again 
turned towards the crowd: "Continue," said he to them, 
"to recommend yourself to our Lady with confidence; 
confess and communicate this week, and you will have 
rain on Sunday." And so it was, for on the predicted 
day, just when it was least expected, and when the impa 
tient people were murmuring and saying that he was mis 
taken for this time, a sudden change was perceived in the 
atmosphere, and the rain fell in such great abundance that 
all the country was deluged. It was impossible not to see 
the favor which the Blessed Virgin had granted to the 
prayers of her servant; but as to Alphonsus, it seemed 



480 LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 

almost a cause of confusion to him, and he said, when he 
returned: "The words I addressed the people are taken as 
a prophecy.: they merely escaped from me by chance, 
however, for I am no prophet." 

We have seen above how the persecutions to which the 
Congregation had been so long exposed, ended in this 
year, 1779. The greatest evil resulting from them had 
been a certain interior derangement and relaxation in the 
regular observance of the rule; some taking advantage of 
these troubles to have their own way, and in many instances, 
the superiors, to their great regret, being forced to bear with 
this, or at least to be very careful when they gave any 
reprimand, and in the expulsion of an incorrigible sub 
ject finding still more difficulty. But as the pilot, after the 
tempest, causes all the damages which the vessel has sus 
tained to be repaired, and gets the rigging renewed, so 
Alphonsus, after the storm of these persecutions, occupied 
himself in remedying the injuries which the observance of 
the rule had sustained. He became inflamed with zeal, 
and rigorously required that discipline should be respected. 
" In the Congregation," said he, " one must either edify, 
or go." Therefore he wrote a circular to all the superiors 
of the houses to encourage them and enkindle in them 
the same zeal for regular observance, and he set himself, 
without respect of persons, to correct what was wrong, 
and to give both verbal and written warnings to the 
rectors, as well as to the subjects. He insisted on this 
point, and never rested until he was satisfied ; he was re 
solved to dismiss all the rebellious spirits from the Congre 
gation, and he unceasingly prayed to God for this end. 
Several of those to whom the yoke of the religious life 
seemed too heavy, returned into the world, and Alphonsus, 
whilst he deplored their misfortune, was more consoled at 
their departure than at the reception of those who were 
fervent. 

Some had taken the liberty to retire to their homes on 
frivolous pretexts. Alphonsus had complained of this to 
F. Villani before his resignation, but during the troubles 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 481 

this father had to shut his eyes to a great many things. As 
soon as peace was restored, Alphonsus took the most effica 
cious means to cause all the subjects to return to their respec 
tive houses. One of them would not obey, and got several 
persons to intercede for him. Alphonsus delayed action 
for a while, but on seeing that he was incorrigible, he ulti 
mately sent him away, saying: "I pity this unhappy man ; 
God knows how to punish these wilfully deaf persons, 
who set no value on their vocation." And as if he had 
prophesied, this subject was afterwards miserably assassi 
nated, on account of the crime of usury, which he had 
practised in favor of his nephews, for the love of whom he 
had become unfaithful to his vows. 

Although circumstances thus forced Alphonsus to act 
with severity, he did not fail to use at the same time all 
possible circumspection and prudence: "I have let all the 
subjects know," he wrote to a subject who also was absent, 
" that they must each return to the house assigned to them 
within fifteen days. I have sent this announcement to all, 
couched in the same terms, and in the same form. How 
ever, as I have a peculiar degree of esteem for you, I take 
the trouble of addressing a separate letter to you, different 
from the others. I do not write to tell you that you must 
positively return in the space of fifteen days; I only beg 
you to let me know what necessity there is for your rever 
ence s remaining with your relations. . . . My dear D. Bar 
tholomew, your reverence is one of the oldest fathers, 
your example will therefore cause the more harm and will 
be a precedent for others. ... I beg you at least to write 
and tell me the reason which keeps you in the world, be 
cause I shall exercise all possible indulgence towards you 
provided it be a reasonable one, and I must give some kind 
of reason for your absence. I have for some time wanted 
to beg you to come and remain with me at Nocera, where I. 
am superior, in the midst of difficulties, and in continual 
need of some prudent person whose advice lean ask." 

In the following letter we will see an instance of his 
firmness: "Your reverence," he wrote to a rector, "must 
41 



482 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 



give Father N. a sharp reprimand ; I have not wished to 
dismiss him, as he has deserved, as a punishment for his 
fault and also for his habitual obstinacy, but tell him in 
my name, that I shall be obliged to do it the first time he 
again commits a fault of a similar nature. I think it arises 
from his going out too much. Your reverence must there 
fore not send him out any more, nor allow him to go out 
again unless you have my written consent for it; and you 
must not continue his faculties, because he must have for 
gotten the little he knew by going about from place to place 
in this way without ever studying moral theology, and this 
makes me afraid to allow him to continue as a confessor. " 
On hearing that a subject entertained too loose opinions, 
he positively forbade him to hear confessions, and he was 
so strict with him that he himself asked to be released 
from the vows. He also dismissed another in a similar 
manner who would not conquer a certain levity of conduct. 
As we have already seen, in Alphonsus, firmness was 
never severed from prudence. On hearing that a certain 
subject disliked going on missions, he did not give him any 
definite order to do so, as he feared a refusal; but once 
when this subject was in his room with others, he dexter 
ously began to speak of the value of obedience, and of 
the injury which he who is intractable inflicts on himself; 
this caused him to reflect seriously, and he of himself of 
fered to do what was wished. In general, whenever the 
resistance proceeded rather from nature than from the will, 
Alphonsus had compassion on the weakness of the man, 
and tried by his gentleness to soften the bitterness of his 
command. "I have received your letter;" he wrote to the 
superior of a house, " in one part you console me, and in 
another you distress me. I find therein certain words 
which I did not expect from your submission and your love 
of obedience. You say, T am resolved to return to the king 
dom. I pity you, for I see that you wrote these words in 
distress of mind. . . . My letter could not have provoked 
such language, because I wrote it with all the affection I 
have ever felt towards you. And then, you say, some think 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 483 

that you are of a peevish temper, as F. Villani has told you. 
But did not your piety demand that you should have re 
ceived this mortification peacefully, and the more so be 
cause you know how much I esteem and love you? F. 
Villani gave me a similar reprimand myself; but, thank 
God, I received it quietly, and it has caused me to be more 
moderate and humble." 

On the 8th of September 1779, D. Hercules expired, of 
a disease which was as violent as it was unexpected. Al- 
phonsus had had a presentiment of it three months before, 
though his brother was then robust and in perfect health. 
One day when he was meditating according to custom, he 
suddenly turned towards F. Costanzo and said : " Hercu 
les will cause m sorrow this year." Alphonsus was al 
ways united to the will of God, so he received the tidings 
with calmness. "Good God!" he exclaimed; he then 
clasped his hands and was silent. When he heard that 
D. Hercules had left the advocate, D. Peter Gavolti, as 
tutor to his children, but under his authority and that of 
counsellor D. Nicholas Vespoli, their relation, he felt com 
forted, and instantly dictated a letter to the former, not so 
much in order to secure the temporal interests of his 
nephews, as to urge him to attend to their religious edu 
cation. D. Gavotti replied: "lam quite at your service, 
and I will devote myself as far as I can to the good of your 
nephews, but your Lordship must pray to God to deliver 
me from the headache which continually afflicts me." 
"Take care of these little children," Alphonsus replied to 
him, "and be sure that{*o.d will relieve you." Don Ga 
votti has attested that when he received this letter, he felt 
instantly cured, and he never suffered again from this 
malady as long as he lived. 

Alphonsus felt the greatest interest in the welfare of D. 
Theresa, his niece, who was sixteen years of age at this 
time, and a pensioner at the convent of St. Marcelline. 
His only wish was to see her consecrated to Jesus Christ, 
as she had manifested a desire to that effect some time be 
fore, He wrote to her to remind her of her former reso- 



484 LIFE OP ST. ALPHONSUS. 

lution, and exhorted her to be faithful to God, who had 
inspired her with this desire. "If any one advises you to 
leave the convent," he wrote to her in one of his letters, 
"and to go and throw yourself down a precipice, that is 
to say, to marry, do not listen to such counsel, for you 
will certainly repent of it the second day. . . . Take the 
advice of a good confessor, and of some nun of exemplary 
life." He prayed most fervently for this object, and he 
wrote to his cousin, Antonia Liguori, also a nun, to beg 
ilier to watch over her, as also to D. Gavotti, to urge him to 
attend to her vocation. " T have begged her confessor," 
(he wrote to him, " to be most careful in directing her so 
that she may become a riun, and I also beg you to assist 
Ihim in this, because if she marries in this corrupt age I 
shall look upon her as lost." 

Alphonsus obtained what he so ardently desired. D. 
Theresa soon declared that she wished to embrace the reli 
gious state ; Counsellor Vespoli and D. Gavotti opposed her 
on the ground that she was yet too young, but she insisted 
upon it, and Alphonsus did not fail to second her. When 
she had to leave the convent, according to custom, before 
-entering on the noviciate, he feared to entrust her to her 
/relations, saying: "If we place her in the house of her 
parents, she will incur a thousand dangers ; there will be 
parties, theatres and soirees ; this will be quite enough to 
cause her to lose her vocation." In consequence, he ap 
plied to his penitent the Duchess of Bovino, who willingly 
consented to receive her into her house. Whilst with the 
Duchess, the only recreation D. Theresa asked for was to 
go to Nocera to kiss the hand of her uncle. 

Although the visits of ladies were usually disagreeable 
to Alphonsus, that of his niece was an exception, and gave 
him the greatest pleasure. The duchess and her daughter 
stayed three days at Nocera. The presents he gave them 
were confined to copies of the Visits to the Blessed Sacra 
ment, and of the Preparation for Death, with a relic, in a 
little box of no value. D. Theresa had been suffering from 
a wound in her leg for six months. When Alphonsus 



LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSUS. 485 

heard of it, he was much distressed ; and when she knelt 
down and asked him for his blessing on taking leave of 
him, he said to her: "I bless yau as your uncle, and as a 
bishop." This took place in the morning, and in the even 
ing when the wound was unbandaged at Naples, the sur 
geon, the duchess, and the other members of the house 
hold found, to their great admiration, ihat it was entirely 
healed. 

On the 16th of June 1781, D. Theresa returned to the 
convent. After her noviciat