The Redemptorists were founded in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori in the Amalfi region of Italy, near the city of Naples. St. Alphonsus was born into a family of privilege in 1696. His parents made sure he had the best of education. By the age of 16, he had received degrees in both civil and canon (Church) law. It pleased his family that the young Alphonsus became a respected lawyer. At the age of 27, after a disappointing court loss, Alphonsus began his studies to become a priest. At the age of 30, he was ordained a priest.
In 1732 Alphonsus founded the Redemptorists, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This was a unique religious community at the time, a community committed to preaching the Word of God and dedicated to the poor people in the hill country outside of Naples. After a difficult start, the Congregation spread to Northern Europe then to North America. In 1832 Redemptorists traveled to America from Vienna. Redemptorists from the United States settled in Canada, making their first foundation in 1874 at St. Patrick’s Church in Quebec City.
After Napoleon Bonaparte had conquered most of Europe, the Holy Roman Empire finally came to an end on 6 August 1806. The old world had been swept away. On the same day, Father Clement Mary Hofbauer wrote from the church of St. Benno in Warsaw to one of his friends:
“Presently my greatest pleasure is to think of the forests of Canada. God sends us by persecution there, where he wants us to go.” – Paul Laverdure, Redemption and Renewal; The Redemptorists of English Canada. Dundurn Press 1996