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.
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 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.