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Rodríguez, Alphonsus, St.


Jesuit lay brother and mystic; b. Segovia, Spain, July 25, 1532; d. Majorca, Oct. 31, 1617. This third son of the successful wool merchant Diego Rodríguez was instructed for his first Communion by Father Peter faber during a mission in Segovia. When 14 years old, he was sent to the Jesuit college at Alcalá, but the death of his father prevented him from completing the first term. He returned home and assisted his mother in conducting the family trade, and in 1558 he married Maria Suarez, by whom he had a daughter, Maria, and two sons, Gaspar and Alonzo. His married life was content and devout, and he was impressed by the sermons of Jesuits passing through Segovia, especially Louis Santander and St. Francis Borgia. After financial failure and his great sorrow at the deaths of his daughter, his son Gaspar, his wife, and his mother in quick succession, he sold his business, and with his remaining son Antonio, retired to the house of his maiden sisters, Juliana and Antonia. There he learned habits of prayer and the practice of austerity. At the death of Antonio, he asked admittance into the Society of Jesus, but was refused because of his ill health, his age (he was nearly 40), and his insufficient education for the priest-hood. Still hoping to become a priest, he tried to learn Latin, but without success, and for a time he considered the life of a hermit. On Jan. 31, 1571, against the advice of official Jesuit consultors, he was accepted as a lay brother, and after a six-month novitiate at Valencia, was sent to the college at Montesione on the island of Majorca. There he was house porter for 46 years, and is remembered particularly for his patience and humility in that office, his entire obedience to superiors, his mystical absorption in prayer, his welcome advice to the students, including St. Peter claver, Apostle of the Negroes, and his devotion to the Mother of God. Though not the author of the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, as has been wrongly alleged, he popularized its use. He was beatified on June 12, 1825, by Leo XII, and canonized on Jan. 15, 1888, by Leo XIII.

Feast: Oct. 30.

Bibliography: a. rodrÍguez, Obras espirituales, ed. j. nonell, 3 v. (Barcelona 188587); Autobiography, ed. w. yeomans (London 1965). p. dudon, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 1:395402. c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothéque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (Brussels-Paris 18901932; v. 12 suppl. 1960) 6:194346. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:225227. m. dietz, Zeitschrift für Aszese und Mystik 30 (Würzburg 1957) 418425. e. m. riviÈre, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 2:751752. l. koch, Jesuiten-Lexikon: Die Gesellschaft Jesu einst und jetzt (Paderborn 1934) 155253.

[e. d. mcshane]

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