Alonso Rodríguez - not to be confused with the Brother Saint Alfonso Rodríguez de Palma de Mallorca - was born in Zamora, Spain, on 10 March 1598. He joined the Jesuits on 25 March 1614 and, in 1616, was sent to the missions of South America. After arriving in Buenos Aires, he and his companion Juan del Castillo went to Córdoba to study philosophy and theology. Ordained a priest in 1624, he was chosen for the missions in the reductions of the Rio del Plata.
He then had the opportunity to accompany Fr Roque González on his last mission to the natives. Fr González was an experienced missionary who had lived with the South American Indians since 1609. Young Alonso knew he had a lot to learn from this veteran. He was happy to be associated with such a giant of the missions, but it would only last a fortnight before both were martyred.
Arriving on 1 November 1628 at the site of a new reduction that Fr Roque wanted to set up, the Mission of All Saints, they quickly made progress on the pastoral front, which displeased the witch doctor Nezú who saw his influence threatened. He decided that all the missionaries should be put to death. On 15 November, Fr Rodríguez was working with young people from the community to erect a bell tower; Fr Roque González came out of the chapel where he had just celebrated mass. Fr Alonso in turn entered the chapel but soon heard unusual noises. He came out and, without even having time to see the body of his companion and mentor, Fr González, who had just been murdered, two of Nezú’s men attacked him and gave him a fatal blow to the head.
He was only 30 years old. This is how he came to be associated with his two fellow Jesuits, Roque González and Juan del Castillo, as “the martyrs of Paraguay”. They were beatified by Pope Pius XI in January 1934 and canonised by John Paul II on 16 May 1988.
Source: Joseph N. Tylenda, SJ, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs, Loyola University Press, Chicago.