Today, October 31, is the feast of Jesuit St. Alphonsus Rodriguez.
Alphonsus worked as the porter for the Jesuit college in Majorca, Spain and would hold this position for most of his time in the Society. He was the first Jesuit that many people would encounter while visiting the college and as a result touched many lives. He would be there to talk to visitors, listen to their stories, and offer advice when needed. It was Alphonsus Rodriguez who encouraging his friend, the young Jesuit, Peter Claver, to go to the New World and minister to the slaves who were brought over from Africa.
Alphonsus was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1533, to wool and cloth merchants. When he grew of age, he was sent to a Jesuit college but had to leave when his father died. He married at 26 and had 3 children but this tranquility would not last. By the time he was 31 he would lose two of his children as well as his wife. Shortly after this, his last surviving child would also die.
This loss was difficult for Alphonsus. He turned to prayer and received spiritual direction from Jesuits. He felt called to join the Society but had some difficulty entering. He did not complete college and at 35 was considered too old to join the Society. He was persistent though, and eventually was able to join the Society as a brother.
Alphonsus grew weak in his old age and eventually died on October 31, 1617, at the age of 85. He was in the Society for 46 years and while he never held a position of leadership or taught at an institution, his holiness and humility would have been seen by every visitor to the Jesuit college. It was through his small acts of kindness and love that this humble porter is remembered as a saint.