Saint Alphonsus Ligouri was a renaissance man, whose kind was a rarity back then, and even more so now in our age of middle-aged undergrads receiving their ‘degrees’ in odd, esoteric subjects that would have puzzled anyone before, say, 1960. Alphonsus received a double doctorate in civil and canon law at the tender age of 16, and the gowns so drowned his small body that people laughed. He went on to a long and fruitful life, , as a priest, bishop, poet, musician, artist, lawyer, moral theologian, author of innumerable treatises, before going to his eternal reward after a final about of suffering – including being cast out of the very Order he founded – on the first day of August, 1787.
Born of noble lineage, Alphonsus was at first destined for a military career, learning to ride and fence, but poor eyesight and asthma prompted him to switch to the more sedate career of law. However, at the age of 27, he admitted to a confidante, with words that bear reflection on all those pursuing a profession which all-too-often cleans out the bank accounts of those desperate in the pursuit of what should be simple and easily obtainable earthly justice:
My friend, our profession is too full of difficulties and dangers; we lead an unhappy life and run risk of dying an unhappy death.