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Liguori, Alphonsus, St (1696–1787)


Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198963.2005.x


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Italian Roman Catholic moral theologian. The son of a Neapolitan nobleman, he studied then practised law in Naples, until a professional error in 1723 led him to renounce his career. In 1726 he became a priest and in 1732 he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or ‘Redemptorists’, at Scale, near Amalfi. Bishop of Sant’ Agata dei Croti from 1762 to 1777, he was canonized in 1839. Alphonsus's first ideas on moral theology are outlined in his Annotations of 1748 to the work of the Jesuit casuist Hermann Busenbaum. These he later developed into his own system, contained in Theologia moralis , first published in 1753 and 1755, with an eighth, definitive edition appearing in 1779. The method he developed is known as ‘equiprobabilism’ and concerns the legitimacy of adopting a ‘probable’ opinion in moral matters, an approach accepted by the Roman Catholic church but bitterly opposed by some at the time. Often called ‘the father of moral theology’ and much read in the nineteenth century (by, inter alia , John Henry Newman), his spiritual writings were also popular; they emphasized devotion to the Sacred Heart and to Mary as co-redemptrix. [ 1900 ] 1905 : St Alphonsus de Liguori , 2 vols , trans. H. Castle . Dublin . 1961 : article in Bibliotheca Sanctorum . Rome, cols 837–59 . 1940 : Saint Alphonsus . Brooklyn . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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