Saint Alphonsus Liguori was born in Marianella near Naples in 1696. He was the first born of a rather large family belonging to the Neapolitan nobility. He received a broad education in the humanities, classical and modern languages, painting and music. He composed a Duetto on the Passion, as well as the most popular Christmas carol in Italy, Tu Scendi dalle Stelle, and numerous other hymns. He finished his university studies earning a Doctorate in both civil and canon law and began his practice in the legal profession.

After a long process of discernment, Alphonsus abandoned his legal career and, despite his father's strong opposition, began his seminary studies. He was ordained a priest in 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized young people of Naples. He founded the "evening chapels." Run by the young people themselves, these chapels were centers of prayer, community, the Word of God, social activities and education. At the time of his death, there were 72 of these chapels with over 10,000 active participants.

In 1732 Alphonsus with two other followers went to the hillsides of Scala to announce the Good News to the poor and the most abandoned. The formal founding of the new society of missioners took place on November 9, 1732. They were to be called the Congregation of the Most Holy Savior. They chose a badge: three hills, with the cross, lance and sponge stick above, symbols of the Passion, plus the letters J and M, for Jesus and Mary. Underneath was their motto: Copiosa apud eum Redemptio, meaning, With him is plentiful Redemption.

Alphonsus was a lover of beauty: musician, painter, poet and author. He put all his artistic and literary creativity at the service of the mission and he asked the same of those who joined his Congregation. He wrote 111 works on spirituality and theology. His greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of Moral Theology, putting theological reflection at the service of the greatness and dignity of the person, of a moral conscience, and of evangelical mercy, contrary to the rigorist mentality of the time which concentrated on punishment for sin. The merciful love of God, revealed especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, would typify Alphonsus' entire life. He was a man who knew how to listen as a friend, openly, and lovingly. He is the man of reconciliation, declaring that the confessor must be "rich in love and sweet as honey". Alphonsus also wrote about the goodness of Our Lady in The Glories of Mary. He also left us the Practice of the Love of God and the Visits to the Blessed Sacrament. One of his sentences is very famous: "The one who prays will be saved, the one who doesn't pray will be lost". Alphonsus wrote of the mysteries of Christ, the Incarnation, the Passion and the Death of Jesus. He wrote for religious in cloisters and he wrote for laity in society. Alphonsus put all his talents to use in the evangelization of the poorest, showing that his whole life was in their service. He shaped the religious thinking of his time, and is regarded as the best writer on religious subjects of eighteenth century Italy.

Alphonsus was consecrated bishop of St. Agatha of the Goths in 1762. He was 66 years old. He tried to refuse the appointment because he felt too old and too sick to properly care for the diocese. For thirteen years he showed indefatigable energy by renewing the seminary, organizing general missions throughout the diocese, arranging in-service training for the clergy, and prompting all the people to be aware of and on the side of the poor. In 1775 he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani where he died at the age of 91 on August 1, 1787. He was canonized in 1831, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871, and Patron of Confessors and Moralists in 1950.

Adapted from various lives of Saint Alphonsus Liguori.