On the 25th of February, the Redemptorists celebrate 275 years of the approval of the Rules and Constitutions

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On February 25, Redemptorists celebrate the 275th anniversary (1749) of the approval of their Congregation by the Holy See. The Congregation was founded on November 9, 1732, in Scala near Naples by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787). Its goal is to follow the example of Jesus Christ and proclaim the Good News of plentiful redemption to the most spiritually poor, especially the abandoned.

To achieve this goal, the Founder developed a special program of people’s missions. The motto of the Congregation is: “With Him there is Plentiful redemption.” The Redemptorists’ uniform is a black habit with a cincher and a rosary, and a wide white collar worn over the collar. After several years of conducting popular missions and mission renovations in various towns of the Kingdom of Naples, as well as teaching and administering the sacraments in their own churches or chapels, the Redemptorists already had 4 communities in the towns: Ciorani, Pagani, Deliceto and Materdomini.

In March 1748, when the conditions were right to ask the Holy See for recognition of the Institute, Alfonso Liguori wrote a letter to the Pope asking him to present a proposal for the Rule of the new Congregation. After receiving a positive response, Father Liguori, with the help of Fathers Sportelli, Mazzini, and Villani, prepared a “Summary of the Rules” to submit to the Pope. In his first article, he defined the idea of ​​the Congregation as follows: “The only goal will be to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in preaching the Word of God to the poor, as he himself said about himself: He sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor.”

On November 9, Father Andrea Villani, and Brother Francis Tartaglione set off for Rome with the documents necessary to begin negotiations for the approval of the Rule. After many revisions (including changing the original name of the Congregation from “Most Holy Savior” to “Most Holy Redeemer”), the Vatican Congregation for the Council issued a favourable opinion and sent the request to the Pope. On February 25, 1749, Pope Benedict XIV approved the Redemptorist Congregation and its Rule in the apostolic letter “Ad pastoralis dignitatis fastigium.” The papal approval contributed to an increase in the number of vocations to the new Institute.

Today, after so many years, Redemptorists spread throughout the world seek, in the midst of their daily lives and with their limitations, to be faithful to the mission and the contribution they have to make to the Gospel. In the history of the Church,  many religious families (congregations and institutes) began and ended when they stopped being faithful to their Mission Project. Others still end today, the Church continues, and above all, the Kingdom continues. And the Spirit continues “Blowing wherever he wants” (cf. Jn 3:8).

On this day, as on many others, Redemptorists recognize their mission as being attributed and guided by the Spirit: “Redemptorists have in the Church, as their main mission, the explicit proclamation of the Word of God for fundamental conversion” (cf. Constitution 10). And I understand that Redemptorists continue and will continue to have a place and a Mission in the service of this Kingdom — as long as we always renew, as disciples and as a community, our fidelity to the Spirit.

The event has a great symbolic value in itself, as the Church recognizes that the Redemptorists have a place and a mission. The preaching mission continues in different ways and formats. We the Redemptorists are proud to be the sons of St Alphonsus to walk in the footsteps of the Redeemer. Today, we are more than 4600 priests and brothers in 82 countries who continue to spread the plentiful redemption. The challenge for us is obvious to work for vocations in every unit of the Congregation to continue to proclaim the Gospel of Christ the Redeemer.   

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