Marriage and loss

St Alphonsus Rodriguez is one of those saints used as an example of the “little way”: someone of no obviously spectacular gifts who, by patiently carrying out his small tasks with care and devotion, became the great soul that God wished him to be.

Born into a poor family in 1530s Spain, he married at age 26. Five years later his wife died, leaving him with a son. This son died too, and Alphonsus was left without dependants, but seeking some way to give his life to God.

He was attracted to the Jesuits, then a relatively new order. But there were several obstacles. His love of mortification had caused him serious health problems; and coming from a poor background, he had very little education, normally a requirement to start religious life.

The preacher-porter

When he eventually entered the Jesuits, at the age of 38, it was clear that he would not become a priest. Instead he

served as a porter – and remained one for nearly 46 years. It wasn’t just his Jesuit brothers who loved him; people started coming to him for spiritual advice.

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