Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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Liguori, St Alphonsus (1696–1787). Christian moral theologian and founder of the Redemptorists. He intended to be a missionary in China, but was sent to the poor in Naples, where he soon built up a large following. He founded the Redemptorists with fellow-missionaries in 1732, stressing contemplation of the cross and the eucharist. He sought a middle way between Jansenist rigour and Jesuit laxity—associated with Probabilism, against which he set Equiprobabilism in discerning a course of action: this holds that a doubtful law does not oblige, and that a probable opinion may be followed, but that a law is doubtful only when the opinions for and against it are equally balanced. His views were set forth in Annotationes (1748) and more fully in Theologia Moralis (1753/5). He was beatified in 1813, made Doctor of the Church in 1871, and patron of confessors and moralists in 1950, when Pius XII stated that he was ‘a safe norm’ in the Church.

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Saint Alphonsus Liguori (ălfŏn´səs lĬgwô´rē), 1696–1787, Italian churchman, Doctor of the Church. He was named Alfonso Maria de' Liguori. In 1732 he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) for religious work among the poor, especially in the country. He refused the archiepiscopal see of Palermo, accepting instead (1762) the poor country diocese of Sant'Agata dei Goti. He labored incessantly until 1775, when sickness forced him to resign. He worked for his order under great difficulties caused by an anticlerical government and overzealous monks. Goatherds of the mountains were his special care. St. Alphonsus was an accomplished musician and wrote many hymns and instrumental pieces. His point of view in casuistry, which has become standard, is called equiprobabilism. St. Alphonsus was unusual, even among Roman Catholics, for his great devotion to the Virgin. Feast: Aug. 2.

See biography by D. F. Miller and L. X. Aubin (1940).