Vatican City, Jul 31, 2011 / 05:14 am
On August 1, the Catholic Church celebrates St. Alphonsus Liguori, the eighteenth-century bishop who is honored as a Doctor of the Church for his missionary zeal and his accomplishments as a moral theologian.
Alphonsus Liguori was born in Naples, Italy in 1696, the son of a naval officer and his Spanish-Italian wife. He was the first of his parents' seven children, and known in the family for his stubbornness. However, he was also extremely bright and became a virtuoso harpsichordist by the age of 13. Alphonsus loved music, especially opera, and would go on to compose numerous classical works.
As a boy, he did not attend school, but received private tutoring that allowed him to make incredibly rapid progress. By the age of 16, Alphonsus had earned his degree in law. He passed the bar examination and became a practicing lawyer before he had even turned 20. By the age of 26 he had gained a formidable reputation in the courts.
By that time, however, he had also begun to neglect prayer in favor of social functions and a more luxurious lifestyle. He later wrote that these “pleasures of the world” were truly “pleasures which are filled with the bitterness of gall and sharp thorns.”