“Here I am, Lord!”

Saint Alphonsus Rodríguez, patron saint of the Jesuit brothers, a man of hospitality and prayer

If you’re busy and the doorbell rings, is your first reaction to think that this could be Jesus himself at the door? Are you prepared to leave your work aside and say this short prayer: “Here I am, Lord”? This is what Saint Alphonsus Rodríguez, a Jesuit brother who lived from 1533 to 1617, did when he was the porter at the Jesuit college and chapel in Palma de Mallorca for more than 40 years.

There is so much to tell about this man, this holy man, who went through great trials and yet knew how to present the gentle face of the welcoming Lord to all those he met - especially those he welcomed at the reception of the school. He was born in Segovia, Spain, and when his father died while he was still a teenager, he had to take over the family business. He married and had three children. But his wife and children died within nine years of his marriage. What’s more, the family business went bankrupt. He was disorientated and sought advice from the Jesuits in Segovia. This led him to ask to join the Society of Jesus. As he was considered too old to enter the novitiate in preparation for the priesthood (37 years old!) and had had no formal education, he was accepted as a coadjutor brother, destined to support the work of the fathers through various tasks.


He was sent to Mallorca in 1571 and in 1576 became the school porter, a position he held for the rest of his life. In the obituaries of Saint Alphonsus, we read: “The position of porter was one of great trust and responsibility, for the porter was the public face of the community”. As well as welcoming all visitors as if they were Christ himself, he is said to have had a refined sense of human psychology. He always tried to qualify the people he met with the virtue in which each excelled: the useful, the humble, the hard-working.

If the “status” of a coadjutor brother in the 17th century was marked by assignment to secondary or ancillary tasks for the educational or pastoral work of the priests of the Society, the spiritual guide of Brother Alphonsus soon realised that he had a role to play. Alphonsus’ spiritual counsellor soon realised the great inner, spiritual quality of the latter. He advised him to write his memoirs. A suggestion that the brother took seriously, because his spiritual writings reveal the extent to which this man, wounded in so many ways, was able to find the loving presence of God’s grace in prayer and penance. He did not write for publication. Very humbly, he wrote either to give an account of his own spiritual journey, or to recall the inspirations he received in prayer and which could be useful to him in his conversations with others, or to record spiritual advice in response to requests made to him. In all, eight volumes, entitled “Memoirs or Autobiography”, were published after his death when his writings were brought together!

Take a look at the photo essay below. It features spiritual reflections full of human wisdom written by Brother Alphonsus Rodríguez. The photos and artwork evoke his life at the Colegio Montesión in Palma de Mallorca. As we celebrate Saint Alphonsus, let us give thanks to the Lord for the commitment to religious life of all the Jesuit brothers who, on 31 October, celebrate the feast of their patron saint.

Photo Essay

Download the photo essay with the spiritual reflections written by Brother Alphonsus Rodríguez [PDF 3,38 MB].


Alphonsus Rodriguez

Short biography on our Saints & Blessed section

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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