Alphonsus Rodriguez

Born in Segovia, Spain on July 25, 1533, Alphonsus Rodrigues was the second of eleven children born into a family of cloth and wool merchants. Peter Favre had known the family and stayed in their home; he prepared Alphonsus for his First Communion.

Alphonsus was sent to the Jesuit College in Segovia, but when he was about twelve years old, his father died suddenly and Alphonsus had to return home to help manage the family business. About 1560, Alphonsus married Maria Suarez and they had three children. After only about three years, his wife and children died in quick succession and the family wool business failed because of heavy taxation.

Through all these trials, Alphonsus went to the local Jesuits for spiritual direction. When he was about thirty-five, Alphonsus asked to enter the Society of Jesus, but was refused because of his age, his lack of education and his weak health. Alphonsus responded to the refusal by going to Valencia for two years to study theology. His second application to enter the Society was also rejected, but the intervention of the Father Provincial allowed Alphonsus to enter the Society, and on January 31, 1571, he was sent to the Jesuit College in Montesion near Palma, Majorca. Alphonsus made his profession of vows as a Jesuit on April 5, 1573.

After about six years of "various positions," in 1579, Alphonsus was made doorkeeper at the college in Palma. His role was "to receive visitors, deliver messages, run errands, console the sick at heart, give advice and distribute alms." In his memoire he wrote about his ministry: "God was seeking admission...and I replied "I am coming, Lord." Alphonsus held the position of doorkeeper for fifteen years before his declining health intervened. But still, students of the college came to him for advice and support. He responded through his devotion to Our Lady and the rosary.

In 1615, Alphonsus was confined to bed and rose only to attend Mass. He died on October 31, 1617. It was only after his death, when his superiors went through his notes that they learned of the mystical graces –visions and ecstasies—that he had received.

Alphonsus Rodriguez was beatified on May 20, 1825 and was canonized by Pope Leo on January 15, 1888.