Alphonsus de Liguori had a life–long love of the Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady. The Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady was written in 1745 to spread that love and devotion. Alphonsus composed the Visits for lay people and they came to be particularly popular with them.
The Irish Redemptorists last published a translation of the Visits in 1953. In the present edition, Fr. Sean Cannon, CSsR, and Fr Raphael Gallagher, CSsR, have produced a modern translation, which is based on the original Italian. The aim is to remain faithful to what Alphonsus wrote, without being rigidly literal. Alphonsus produced the Visits for personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament The style of English in this new edition reflects that original purpose.
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady
Alphonsus de Liguori
Price: €6 plus postage
Redemptorists, Mount St Alphonsus, Limerick V94 F867
Telephone: 061 315099, 9 am to 5 pm weekdays
The love of the Mass was central for Alphonsus. He lived in the southern Italy of the eighteenth century, where most people, especially poor people in rural areas, had little opportunity for regular mass-going. Where they did attend, priests, often influenced by the Jansenist movement, presented God as a distant and controlling master.
The Visits of Alphonsus helped to present a more loving image of God in the minds of believers. Mass, in particular, was the occasion where God was close in the person of Jesus.
While Alphonsus was a realist in accepting that frequent mass-going was not possible for many poor people, they could always visit a church. Making a visit was a way of reminding them of how close and merciful God was. In the time of Alphonsus, receiving communion was usually the exception. Through the Visits, Alphonsus showed how the desire to receive communion should be the norm.
Scripture quotations are a notable feature of the Visits. The translations of them used in the new version of the Visits are mainly from the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB). There are also frequent references to saints and spiritual authors in the life of the church down the centuries. These are retained as they show how conscious Alphonsus was of church tradition.
Italian does not translate easily into English. The effusive Italian used in southern Italy is good for expressing feelings, but does not have the same appeal in English. The editors are conscious of this, but they have tried to choose simple and popular language to reflect the original style of Alphonsus.
The Visits of Saint Alphonsus are in harmony with the renewed practices of devotion to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. This is true of practices that encourage full participation in the Mass where the plentiful redemption of Jesus is celebrated as the sacrament of God’s merciful love for everyone.
Sean Cannon, CSsR
Raphael Gallagher, CSsR