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St. Alphonsus Liguori icon

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By Theophilia   |   
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© 2016 - 2020 Theophilia
St. Alphonsus Liguori icon
© Cecilia Lawrence
November 8th 2015
4.5 x 6 inches
Ink, watercolor, gold leaf


“True, He is infinite Majesty, but He is also infinite Goodness and infinite Love. There can be no greater Lord than God; neither can there be a more ardent lover than He.”
~ St. Alphonsus Liguori

“O Mother of Sorrows, for the love of Your Son, accept me as Your servant and pray to Him for me. And You, my Redeemer, since you have died for me, allow me to love You, for I desire only You and nothing more. I love You, Jesus my Love, and I am sorry that I have offended You. Never let me offend You again. Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.”
- St. Alphonsus Liguori from The Way of the Cross

I have here depicted the great St. Alphonsus Liguori in the garb of a bishop, wearing a cope decorated with crosses, held by a morse (clasp) of a little “monstrance” with the Eucharist represented in the middle. He also wears a matching stole and pectoral crucifix. His miter bears the seal of the Redemptorist Order, as well as its motto in Latin: Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio (“With Him is Plentiful Redemption”). In his right hand he holds a quill pen, symbolizing his role as a great writer and Doctor of the Church. He also has a crosier with an image of the Crucifixion, flanked by the figures of the Virgin Mary and St. John. In his left hand, he holds an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (also known as “the Theotokos of the Passion”), an image particularly loved and promulgated by the Redemptorists. All of these symbols are tied to the three beloved devotions of St. Alphonsus Liguori, namely, the Blessed Sacrament, the Passion and Sufferings of Jesus Christ, and his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God.

St. Alphonsus Liguori is one of my own personal favorites. His love for God just gushes through and permeates every page of his work. I consider him to be a real spiritual father for me, considering how much influence his beautiful writings have had in my own spiritual life. I'm excited to share an icon of this great saint with you all!

:iconbeigerose1plz::iconbeigerose2plz::iconbeigerose3plz::iconrose1plz::iconbeigerose4plz::iconbeigerose5plz::iconbeigerose6plz:

:+: A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE SAINT :+:

Saint Alphonsus Liguori (September 27th 1696  – August 1st 1787 A.D.), or Alphonsus Maria d’Liguori was born to parents Anna and Giuseppe Liguori at Marienelli in the Kingdom of Naples. His parents belonged to an old and noble family, but were not enormously wealthy. Alphonsus, the eldest of seven children, was a very bright and gifted child and his father’s pride and joy. He was taught to ride and fence and learned other gentlemanly pursuits, including mastering the harpsichord, which he did at the age of thirteen. He was very fond of music—although not of theater—and loved to go to the opera to listen to musical performances. His father, Giuseppe Liguori, was an officer in the Neapolitan navy and held the post of Captain of the Royal Galleys. He had initially wanted his eldest son to follow him in the military profession, but when it became evident that Alphonsus suffered terribly from very poor near-sightedness and from chronic asthma, the idea was given up, and Alphonsus was groomed instead for the legal profession. For this end, Giuseppe hired private tutors to teach his son and the boy learned so quickly that soon thereafter he was sent to the University of Naples to continue his education. On January 21st 1713, he graduated and earned his doctorates in both civil and canon law when he was only sixteen. He himself later said that when he graduated he was so small that he was practically drowning in his doctor’s robes, which led a number of the spectators there to laugh.

By the age of nineteen, Alphonsus was working as a professional lawyer. He began his career of advocate and proved to be so good of a lawyer that he never lost a case. He was scrupulously truthful and just in his profession, and even wrote a list called “Twelve Commandments for Lawyers” which included: “One must deal with a client's case with the same care with which one deals with one's own” and “Justice and honesty are the inseparable companions of Catholic lawyers; in fact, they must always be treasured like the apple of their eye” and “One must not load one's client with unnecessary expenses. A lawyer has the obligation to issue a refund if this has been the case.” He worked very hard as a lawyer for eight years and became quite successful. His father had great ambitions for him and tried to arrange some very advantageous marriages for him. Alphonsus, however, declined, and continued to focus on his career, often to the detriment of his own prayer life. He wrote later, recalling these years: “Banquets, entertainments, theatres—these are the pleasures of the world, but pleasures which are filled with the bitterness of gall and sharp thorns. Believe me who have experienced it, and now weep over it.”

The major turning point of his life occurred in 1723 when Alphonsus was faced with the most important case of his career. There was a lawsuit between the Grand Duke of Tuscany and a Neapolitan nobleman over a piece of property that was worth a great sum of money. Alphonsus was one of the leading lawyers in the case and began with a brilliant opening speech. After he had sat down, the opposing lawyer told him he had overlooked a critical piece of evidence. Alphonsus, confident he had read and re-read every bit of information pertaining to the case, challenged his opponent to produce the incriminating document. The evidence was produced and handed to him, and when he read it again he realized that when he had read it initially he had mistaken its meaning entirely. Completely mortified and crushed, he turned pale and stammered out: "You are right. I have been mistaken. This document gives you the case." The young man looked so terrible that even the judge tried to console him, but as for himself, he felt his entire career was utterly ruined. He felt he had failed his client, but not only that, was horrified at the thought that they might attribute the loss of the case to deliberate deceit. He left the courtroom shocked and trembling and said to himself, "World, I know you now. Courts, you shall never see me again."

He was so shook up by the affair that he refused to eat for days and instead turned to prayer for God’s guidance. He eventually came to the realization that this crisis in his career as a lawyer was due to God’s intervention. Even while he had been immersed in his work in earlier years, he had lamented to his friends the fact that the lawyer’s life in both his work and in society was fraught with moral dangers. He accepted the humiliation as a grace from God and decided to rededicate himself to prayer and works of service to the poor while he awaited God’s guidance. On August 28th 1723, while visiting the sick in the Hospital of Incurables, he heard a voice say to him: “Leave the world and give yourself to Me.” This happened twice. Immediately, he left the Hospital, went to a nearby church, and laid his sword down at the foot of the statue of Our Lady. He vowed to become a priest in the service of God and His Church, and furthermore—if it was God’s will—to become an Oratorian.

His father was very unhappy about the matter when Alphonsus informed him of his intentions. For two months, things stood at an impasse, until they managed to come to a compromise (with the counsel of Alphonsus’ Oratorian confessor).  Alphonsus could become a priest, but he was to stay at home and not join the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. To this, Alphonsus agreed, and immediately after began his studies for the priesthood. Three years later, on December 21st 1726, he was ordained to the priesthood at the age of thirty. He joined an association of missionary secular priests and spent the next several years preaching, caring for and ministering to the poor in and around Naples. His sermons were simple and full of love, he later said: "I have never preached a sermon which the poorest old woman in the congregation could not understand." He was very successful in his preaching, and re-enkindled hope and religious fervor in the hearts of the poor. He lived with the homeless and marginalized in the city and cared for their needs, and eventually began to establish the Association of Chapels which were run by the youth themselves and became places for prayer, preaching, education, and other social activities.

In 1729, Alphonsus left his father’s house and went to live in the missionary “Chinese College” in Naples. From there, he set out to preach and minister to the poorest of the poor living all throughout the Kingdom of Naples. At the Chinese College, he met and became fast-friends with Fr. Thomas Falcoia. The latter had had a vision of a new religious order of men and women dedicated primarily to imitate the virtues of Jesus, but was unable to draw up a  Rule for it. Along with another priest, he had refounded a congregation of women at Scala, near Amalfi. One of the nuns there, named Sr. Maria Celeste, had a vision in which she saw a new order and along with the vision she received clear instructions to write down the Rule as it was given to her. She reported this to Falcoia, who realized that the Rule was what he had been looking for. He ran into difficulties in the acceptance of the Rule, however, and it was only after Alphonsus had given a retreat at the convent that the Rule was accepted. After another vision from Sr. Maria Celeste indicated that the Lord wanted to establish a men’s branch of the order, Falcoia—now bishop of Castellamare—persuaded Alphonsus to leave Naples and become head of the new order. And on November 9th 1732, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (or Redemptorists) was founded. The mission of the Redemptorists consisted in using popular missions to reach the people in the countryside and in the cities and slums and to teach and minister to the poorest of the poor.

The new Order was founded, but its founder and benefactors found themselves immediately buffeted and battered by dissensions, and furious opposition by former friends and fellow priests. Only a few months after its founding, Alphonsus was left with only one lay brother, as all the other members had abandoned them to set up a new congregation. Even Sr. Maria Celeste abandoned the project and founded her own convent in Foggia. Alphonsus redoubled his efforts, and soon more men began joining the order. The mission of the Redemptorists continued despite the opposition, and flourished, due to the hard work of Alphonsus. Both the Rule and the Congregation were approved by the Pope in 1749. However, due to the anti-clerical political policies of Tanucci, the Prime Minister of Naples, the state refused to recognize the Redemptorists, and many times the order seemed on the verge of suppression. Alphonsus used all of his prior training as a lawyer to work for and petition the King to allow the order to exist with the blessing of the state.

In 1747, the King of Naples tried to make Alphonsus Archbishop of Palermo, but he managed to avoid the appointment by citing his very poor health. However, he later became the bishop of Sant’Agata de’ Goti (Saint Agatha of the Goths) when constrained to do so in obedience to the Pope in 1762. He struggled and labored for thirteen long years in his diocese, constantly preaching, teaching, and serving his flock. He reformed his priests and seminaries, punished those priests who were lax, negligent or behaved scandalously, and tirelessly wrote books and sermons and preached to the people about devotion to the Holy Eucharist, to Our Lady, and the Passion of Jesus Christ. He fought against the spiritual harshness and rigor of the Jansenists, and also against the laxity and laziness found in many moral theologians. He wrote many popular spiritual classics and theological masterpieces, including Moral Theology, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, The Glories of Mary, The Way of the Cross, Uniformity with the Will of God, Sermons for all the Sundays of the Year and a hundred or so other works, as well as many letters, hymns and spiritual songs. One of his most popular poems, known as Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (“From Starry Skies Thou Comest”) is still a classic Italian Christmas carol.

All this time, Alphonsus had suffered excruciating pains from rheumatism, and a number of times he received Viaticum in preparation for death. He suffered from a rheumatic fever for over a year that left him paralyzed and hunched over. His head was initially so bent that his chin had begun to dig into his chest. Another further suffering was that he was unable to say Mass in his condition, until a kindly priest showed him how he would be able to drink from the chalice with additional assistance. His neck was eventually straightened a little by a doctor, but ever after he was forced to drink through a tube. Alphonsus petitioned the Pope to allow him to resign his see in light of these infirmities, but the Saint had been doing so much good there that both Pope Clement XIII and Clement XVI had him retained as bishop. When he asked Pope Pius VI for permission to resign, his request was at last granted, and Alphonsus retired to a small cell to await death in July of 1775.

More troubles were in store for the Saint, however. All this time he had worked to petition for the Redemptorists to have a legally protected status. The state had recognized the good the order was doing, but because of their anti-clerical policies (due mostly to the Prime Minister, Tanucci), relations with the Holy See were strained, and the state’s demands on the Redemptorists were untenable. In addition, two former friends of the order had turned on Alphonsus and his congregation and waged a legal battle in the courts against the order for twenty-four years. It seemed that the suppression of the order was imminent, when Tanucci suddenly fell out of favor with the King and was expelled from his position as Prime Minister. Finally, the prospects of the order began to look up, and they were granted a number of rights and privileges. Alphonsus also wanted to ensure that the Congregation enjoyed a legal status, and again appealed to the civil authorities to recognize the order. He submitted the Rule to the civil authorities for their approval, and was betrayed by his friends and fellow clergy in the order, who so altered the original Rule that it was no longer recognizable, and then tricked the nearly-blind and paralyzed Alphonusus—now eighty-five—to sign it.

The affair proved disastrous. Once he had learned of the treachery, he tried to petition the Holy Father in Rome, but others had arrived before his appeal could be heard, and turned the Pope against him. The Kingdom of Naples had already been on very hostile terms with Rome before, and the Pope was greatly displeased with this new attempt to submit a religious order to a secular anti-clerical regime. Alphonsus’ authority as superior of the Redemptiorists was stripped away from him until a thorough investigation could be made. Finally, in 1781, The Redemptorist Congregation in the Papal States was taken under the Pope’s special protection, and eventually was declared to be the only legitimate branch of the order, thus dissolving the houses in the Kingdom of Naples. Fr. Francis de Paula was made head of the Redemptorist Order, and Alphonsus himself was barred from the Order he had founded. It was only after his death that the Kingdom of Naples recognized the original Rule and the two provinces of the Redemptorist Order were again united in 1793.

St. Alphonsus continued to work and write and suffer. For the last three years of his life he was tormented and racked by terrible temptations and scruples, and went through “the Dark Night of the Soul” where he felt as if God had rejected and abandoned him. He further suffered from temptations to despair, and fought valiantly against the agonies of both body and soul that afflicted him. Finally, on August 1st 1787, at the age ninety, he had triumphantly passed through all the storms of his life and died peacefully around noon, just as the bells for the Angelus were ringing.

He was beatified on September 15th, 1816 by Pope Pius VII. He was then canonized by Pope Gregory XVI on May 26th 1839, and made a Doctor of the Church in 1871. He was further given the title “Doctor zelantissimus” (“Doctor Most Zealous”).

The relics of St. Alphonsus Liguori: shrinetower.files.wordpress.co…

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All holiness and perfection of soul lies in our love for Jesus Christ our God, who is our Redeemer and our supreme good. It is part of the love of God to acquire and to nurture all the virtues which make a man perfect.

Has not God in fact won for himself a claim on all our love? From all eternity he has loved us. And it is in this vein that he speaks to us: “O man, consider carefully that I first loved you. You had not yet appeared in the light of day, nor did the world yet exist, but already I loved you. From all eternity I have loved you.”

Since God knew that man is enticed by favors, he wished to bind him to his love by means of his gifts: “I want to catch men with the snares, those chains of love in which they allow themselves to be entrapped, so that they will love me.” And all the gifts which he bestowed on man were given to this end. He gave him a soul, made in his likeness, and endowed with memory, intellect and will; he gave him a body equipped with the senses; it was for him that he created heaven and earth and such an abundance of things. He made all these things out of love for man, so that all creation might serve man, and man in turn might love God out of gratitude for so many gifts.

But he did not wish to give us only beautiful creatures; the truth is that to win for himself our love, he went so far as to bestow upon us the fullness of himself. The eternal Father went so far as to give us his only Son. When he saw that we were all dead through sin and deprived of his grace, what did he do? Compelled, as the Apostle says, by the superabundance of his love for us, he sent his beloved Son to make reparation for us and to call us back to a sinless life.

By giving us his Son, whom he did not spare precisely so that he might spare us, he bestowed on us at once every good: grace, love and heaven; for all these goods are certainly inferior to the Son: He who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for all of us: how could he fail to give us along with his Son all good things?
from a homily by St. Alphonsus Liguroi

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:rose: The Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori is celebrated on August 1st. :rose:

St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron saint of confessors and moral theologians, as well as those who suffer from arthritis and rheumatism.

O God, who constantly raise up in your Church new examples of virtue,
grant that we may so closely follow in the footsteps
of the Bishop Saint Alphonsus in his zeal for souls
so as to attain the same rewards that are his in heaven.
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Image size
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Comments27
anonymous's avatar
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sedevacante's avatar
sedevacanteHobbyist Artisan Crafter
St. Alphonsus is a great doctor of the church. His works are worth reading and considering. I've listened to his sermons from time to time to give me fortitude in the faith. CURSE YOU! 
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Indeed! I really like his writings alot (at least,t he ones I've read!). :D
ReggieBear19's avatar
ReggieBear19 Interface Designer
Wow! I always heard of St. Alphonsus Liguori but I never studied his life. Thank you <3 
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Thank YOU!! :aww: One of the reasons I enjoy making these icons so much is that I always get to learn so much about the saints while I'm writing the descriptions! :D
DagoKrakus's avatar
DagoKrakusHobbyist Photographer
BEAUTIFULL ^^ :D Heart Heart Heart 
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
THANK YOU!!! :glomp:
DagoKrakus's avatar
DagoKrakusHobbyist Photographer
:D
BohemianBeachcomber's avatar
BohemianBeachcomberProfessional Writer
Yay!  I remember reading his Visits to the Blessed Sacrament meditations and his explication of the Salve Regina several years ago.  Both very good, as is your depiction of him.  :hug:
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Thank you! He does have a very warm, loving and charming style. :nod:
BohemianBeachcomber's avatar
BohemianBeachcomberProfessional Writer
:)
VirlandoPF's avatar
VirlandoPFHobbyist General Artist
So impressive :)
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Thank you! :aww:
AzabacheSilver's avatar
AzabacheSilverHobbyist General Artist
Nice work 😁
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
TomQuoVadis's avatar
TomQuoVadisHobbyist General Artist
Relevant given that it's Lent.
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Indeed! I didn't even think about that when I was posting it. :XD:
TomQuoVadis's avatar
TomQuoVadisHobbyist General Artist
Perhaps you were divinely inspired?
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Hah, I guess it's one more example of how God can turn my laziness into something more meaningful. :XD:
RebellingLemming's avatar
RebellingLemmingHobbyist Traditional Artist
Great art!
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Thanks!
ninllot's avatar
ME ENCANTA TU TRABAJO, haces hermosas imágenes y gracias por incluir la historia
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
Gracias! :hug:
DisplacedSoutherner's avatar
DisplacedSouthernerHobbyist Traditional Artist
Geez. Rough life, but incredibly inspiring. Lovely art, as always!
Theophilia's avatar
TheophiliaProfessional Traditional Artist
True, poor guy. :( His writings are beautiful--in case you've never read anything by St. Alphonsus Liguori, I'd highly recommend his works!

And thank you! :dance:
anonymous's avatar
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