Listen: Father Patrick Corbett speaks with Stephen O’Doherty
Child prodigy, master musician by 13, university graduate and lawyer at 16, Saint Alfonso de Liguori was an extraordinary and talented person from the beginning.
The epitome of a renaissance man, this 17th century priest left a legacy of music, poetry, liturgical and theological writing that speaks to people around the globe to this very day.
Yet perhaps equal to all of these was his model of devotion and service. With a strong sense of calling, Saint Alphonsus left privilege behind to live and work among the poorest and most abandoned people.
He encouraged them in their faith by using popular folk tunes as the basis of some of his sacred music — a tradition followed by many famous composers.
Alphonsus saw art, music and poetry not as an end in themselves but as a means to help people grow in faith and love for God and to praise him for all of creation.
St. Alfonso’s Christmas hymn has earned an important place in Italian culture. Composer Giuseppe Verdi reportedly said, “Christmas without Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle is not Christmas.”
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Alphonsus was the founder of the Redemptorist order of Catholic priests.
Centuries after his death, Australian Redemptorist Father Patrick Corbett, has edited a new book, O God of Loveliness – the Poetry of St Alphonsus.
It includes colour plates of Alphonus’ own art work and other religious art of the 16th and 17th century.
Our interview with Fr Patrick Corbett includes extracts of his music.
O God of Loveliness – the Poetry of St Alphonsus is available from St Pauls publishing