Alonso Rodriguez, SJ (1526-1616)

Fr. Alonso Rodriguez, a Spanish Jesuit, was a writer on the topic of Christian virtue. Rodriguez’s three-volume work, The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection, has been printed and reprinted more than any other Catholic pious work of its time—next to Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ. More than 60 editions of Rodriguez’s work have appeared in French, 20 in Italian, at least 10 in German, eight in Latin and, of course, numerous English translations. The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection is still available today.

Perhaps the enduring popularity of this work rests in its avoidance of lofty rhetoric, flights of mysticism, and abstruse spiritual speculation in favor of down-to-earth, practical instruction on Christian virtue. Originally published in Seville, Spain, in 1609, the three volumes made Rodriguez something of a “one-hit wonder,” because he never published anything ever again.