By Brother Wenceslao Soto, SJ
was born around 1531 in Segovia. He married in 1558 and had several children. Life
looked good for him, but nine years later his children, his wife, and his mother
had died, and the family’s wool and cloth business had failed.
rebuilt his life with the help of the Jesuit rector of Segovia. He tried to
enter the Society but was not admitted because of his weak health, his age (he
was over 37), and his limited schooling. He did not give up. He followed his
spiritual companion to Valencia, where he resumed his studies. He again asked
for admission, either as a priest or as a brother. He finally entered on 1
January 1571. In August of that year, he left for Palma de Mallorca, where he
served as sacristan and porter until his death on 31 October 1617.
office of porter was a position of great trust and responsibility since it was
the public face of the community. He dealt with many different people,
including the Viceroy, and he gave spiritual guidance to many others, including
St. Peter Claver.
maintained an intense spiritual life of prayer and asceticism. He had mystical
experiences which, at the order of his rector, he described in a memoir called Memory of Some of the Things That Have Happened
to a Certain Person. His obituary stressed his poverty, his penance, and
his sense of obedience, as well as his prayer life and his special devotions to
Jesus, Mary, and the angels. He nicknamed different people according to the
virtues in which they excelled (“helpful,” “humble,” “industrious,” etc.), and he
sought to discover Christ in all those who knocked at the door of the college.
He was canonised by Leo XIII on 15 January 1888, together with his disciple
Peter Claver and the young Belgian Jesuit John Berchmans.
Alonso was a religious who was not a priest.
This is currently the case with more than 80% of the persons in consecrated
life, including women's congregations. In the Society of Jesus, however, this number
of religious who are not priests does not reach 7%, although in countries such
as Spain it exceeds 16%.