Saint Alphonsus Marie de Ligouri is the patron saint of confessors. He was born in 1696 near Naples and was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 30. He entered religious life after having become a lawyer, but left that profession for fear it could damage his eternal salvation.
He suffered from a condition known as scrupulosity, in which he doubted whether he had thoroughly confessed his sins and whether his thoughts, words and deeds were offending God.
As a priest, he worked with the downtrodden in and around Naples, and then later, in the countryside. He was elevated to the rank of bishop in 1762. Three decades earlier he had founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly referred to as the Redemptorists.
He was a great moral theologian and a kind, gentle confessor. He urged other priests to always treat their penitents in the same manner.
Saint Alphonsus was died in 1787 at 90 years of age. He was canonized in 1839.
Flickr image by Lawrence OP