The missionary method was above all based on prayer, remembered Pope Benedict. In fact, among the most important forms of prayer he advocated was Eucharistic adoration.
Although he died in 1787, the congregation continues its founder's work today well beyond Italy's borders. Its 5,500 members in 77 countries carry out much of their work in schools, parishes and missions.
Alphonsus was canonized in 1839 and declared a doctor of the Church in 1871 for his "accurately expressed" teachings on moral theology, Pope Benedict said. In this same vein, Pius XII proclaimed him "patron of all confessors and moralists."
He is a figure to which "we are all debtors, because he was a prominent moral theologian and master of the spiritual life for all, above all for the simple people."
The Pope highlighted St. Alphonsus' great respect for the value of priests as visible signs of God's infinite mercy in confession where they pardon and illuminate "the minds and hearts of sinners that they might convert and change their lives."
Today, he said, where there are signs that moral conscience and respect for confession are being lost, this saint's teachings remain valid.
Pope Benedict recalled St. Alphonsus' success in winning souls to Christ through teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments with a "gentle and mild manner."
"We thank the Lord that, with his providence, he raises saints and doctors in different places and times, who speak the same language to invite us to grow in the faith and live our Christian being with love and joy in the simple actions of every day, to walk on the path of holiness, on the path towards God and towards true joy."