A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
San Alfonso Rodríguez (St Alphonsus Rodríguez SJ) (1532-1617). Feast Day commemorating the death of the Segovian Jesuit lay brother and confessor whose life was punctuated by personal tragedies and disappointments but whose loving impact on the people he met was his legacy. A widower at 31, he began a life of prayer and mortification, separated from the world around him, and on the death of his third child his thoughts turned to a life in some religious order. Previous associations had brought him into contact with the first Jesuits who had come to Spain in 1540 and he was finally admitted into the Society of Jesus as a lay brother at 40. He began his term of probation in Valencia and was sent to the recently-founded college on Majorca, where he remained in the humble position of porter for the rest of his life, exercising a marvellous influence not only on the members of the household but on the great number of people who came to the porter’s lodge for advice and direction. As doorkeeper, his duties were to: receive visitors; search out the fathers or students they sought; deliver messages; run errands; console the sick at heart who, having no one to turn to, came to him; give advice to the troubled; and distribute alms to the needy. The bodily mortifications that he imposed on himself were extreme, the scruples and mental agitation to which he was subject were of frequent occurrence, his obedience was absolute and his absorption in spiritual things, even when engaged on distracting employments, was continual. He had a deep devotion to Our Lady, especially as the Immaculate Conception, and would copy the entire little office of the Blessed Virgin for private recitation for those who asked. His Jesuit superiors, seeing the good work he was doing among the townsfolk, were eager to have his influence spread far among his own religious community, so on feast days they often sent him into the pulpit in the dining room to preach a sermon. Bro Alphonsus became very feeble when he reached his eighties and in his last months his memory began to fail and he was not even able to remember his favourite prayers. He died on 31 October 1617 at Palma, Majorca. He left a considerable number of published manuscripts that are sometimes only reminiscences of domestic exhortations, the texts often repeated, the illustrations from everyday life and the treatment of one virtue occasionally embedding upon another. They were not written with a view to publication but put down in obedience to a positive command of his superiors. He is venerated in the Catholic Church (Society of Jesus). His major shrine is in the Jesuit College in Palma. He is one of the special patrons of the city of Palma and the island of Majorca. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
St Talorcan (Taraghláin, Talargy, Tarkin) (d726). Ancient Feast Day for the Ulsterman Tolarggan Maphan who became a Pictish churchman whose main cult was at Fordyce, Aberdeenshire and who left traces around the Moray Firth to the west, in Buchan to the south and on the Isle of Skye to the far west. Cill Taraghláin church and cemetery in Portree, now the capital of Skye, were named for him. Equally, the Parish of Cill Taraghláin, in Kiltarlity, Inverness Shire and a chaplainry (chaplaincy) at Tain, Ross-shire (Siorrachd Rois), connected with the collegiate church there. St Tarkin’s well is in a burn (watercourse) near the church in the parish of Kilsyth and may commemorate Talorcan. There is a miraculous spring, to the south of Woodend 25 miles northwest of Aberdeen, called St Mirrin’s Well, and another at Auchinvolle whose corrupted names seems to indicate St Talorcan as patron. Logyn Talargy in the deanery of Buchan (Logie Buchan) 16 miles north of Aberdeen had Talorcan as patron saint with an annual fair (in festo S. Tallericani). Patron of Fordyce. Image: ogilvie.rcda.scot.
Madonna della Mondevi (Our Lady of Mondevi) is located at Vic, in Piedmont, Italy. The 1540 image was painted by a charcoal burner and tile-maker and placed on a brick pillar erected for that purpose. Local people especially venerated Our Lady at this shrine and obtained numerous favours from her. The charcoal burners formed a Carbonari, at first an organisation similar to the medieval guilds whose prime purpose was efficiency and spirituality. However, the group became a secret political organisation, possibly spreading revolution to Spain, France and other countries. The pillar was enclosed in a 1645 church at the behest of Maria Cristina of France, in memory of the 1644 miraculous rescue of a child from the nearby river through the invocation of the image of the Blessed Virgin of the Annunciation, as the image had also come to be known. The miracles continued and many pilgrims visited the church and now visit the new 1730 sanctuary of Madonna del Pilone (Our Lady of the Pillar) outside the city. The image is so detailed that painters trying to emulate it act in vain. The church was enlarged in 1779 and a baptistery was added in 1807. Inside, enriched with precious furnishings donated by the Savoy princes and frescoes by Bartolomeo Guidobono and others, is kept on the altar the miraculous image of the Annunciation. The original image was almost completely repainted during Twentieth-Century restoration. Image: roman-catholic-saints.com.