St Alphonsus & St Gerard Majella

Above: The resting place of St Alphonsus Liguori at Pagani, and St Gerard Majella at Materdomini

The Early days of St Alphonsus

Alphonsus was born on Thursday 27th September 1696 at Marianella on the outskirts of Naples. He was baptised in the Church Santa Maria die Vergini in Naples (below). The baptismal register of the Church is still preserved with his entry still visible.

The city of Naples…

Alphonsus went to law school at the age of sixteen and became a successful lawyer. At the age of 27, after a distinguished legal career, he lost an important case and had to concede defeat and retire leaving him confused and humiliated. Later, he decided to abandon his career and become a diocesan priest after a “conversion” retreat led by the Vincentian Fathers in Naples.

Above: It was here that Alphonsus first experienced real happiness in doing God’s service through his work among the poor of the Incurabli (Naples) for over eight years: His membership of the Congregation die Dottori entailed practical work of charity.It was here that his desire to become a priest was developed and his final decision was made. He presented himself to the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples on 23rd October 1723 and was accepted for ordination.

Above: Scala, the birthplace of the Redemptorists.
Alphonsus was ordained to the priesthood in 1726 when he was 31 years old. From 1729 – 1732, most of his ministry focused on trying to assemble a group of missionary priests to dedicate their lives to the preaching of the Word of God to the poor in and around Naples. It is a complicated story involving a long list of companions who joined him initially and then immediately abandoned him. He was in the depths of spiritual darkness in his personal journey towards God, tortured with scruples, unsure of his future, hesitant and indecisive as he found himself playing a key role in the establishment of a new missionary society. On the 9th November 1732, high in the mountains of Scala, the inauguration mass was celebrated in a private house belonging to the convent of nuns. The group saw themselves as Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior.

Below: more images from Scala (the grotto, the Cathedral, the Monastery of the Redemptoristines, the statue of our Lady of the Mountains, the Chapel of the Redemptorists)

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer: the later years of St Alphonsus

In 1743, seven priests of the group assembled in the one secure foundation of Ciorani to pronounce the first religious vows and to choose their superior. Alphonsus was elected and remained in Rector Mayor until his death, forty four years later. The next thirty years saw the spread of this new missionary group. Approval by Rome followed in 1749 that brought the change of name to Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Alphonsus preached far and wide and was known as the foremost missioner of the day. He also fought Jansenism that deprived Christian hearts of the warmth and tenderness of a loving God. Below: images from Pagani and Ciorani

The beautiful surrounding area of Sorrento

The Early Days of St Gerard Majella

St Gerard Majella 6 April 1726 – 16 October 1755 was a lay brother of the Congregation of the Redeemer. He was beatified in 1893. He grew up in Muro Lucano and spent his early years working as a sewing apprentice – the aim, to become a tailor like his late father. In 1749, at the age of 23, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and just three years later became a professed lay brother.

He worked closely with the poor as well as serving in various different jobs. His piety and wisdom was evident to many and he was regularly called on by the sick and religious. Wherever his presence was needed, he was there to do God’s will.

Above: Muro Lucano. Below: the childhood home of Gerard Majella

Above and Below: Materdomini, and the tomb of St Gerard Majella
Categories: faith, Uncategorized

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