St Alphonsus Liguori was born in Naples, Italy in 1696. At the age of sixteen he acquired a doctorate in both canon and civil law. He practised very successfully as a barrister for about 8 years but gave this up to become a priest at the age of 30. He spent much of his time as a priest giving parish missions, forming small Christian groups and sodalities and hearing confessions.
In 1732 he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). This was an association of priests and religious brothers who lived their life in common and dedicated their lives in imitation of Christ. They served the peasantry in rural areas by giving popular missions. They had often been neglected but St Alphonsus had a particular love for the poor.
In 1762 he was consecrated Bishop of Sant’ Agata dei Gothi and set about reforming his Diocese. He had a great influence on the practice of confession and encouraging his priests to be gentler and more moderate with their penitents. His pastoral reforms arose from his preaching and from his advice and counsel in the confessional. He wrote works on Moral Theology as well as on Dogmatic and Spiritual Theology.
St Alphonsus Liguori died in 1787 and was canonised by Pope Gregory XVI on the 26th of May 1839 and made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871. Pope Pius XII made him patron of confessors and moral theologians on the 26th of April 1950.