Alfonso Ratisbone’s Conversion
Alfonso Ratisbone was a lawyer and banker, a Jew of 27 years of age. He hated the Catholics because his brother Theodore had converted and became a priest, he had as a logo the miraculous medal and fought for the conversion of the Jews.
On January of 1842 on a tourist trip to Naples and Malta, there was a mistake made in the route and Alfonso arrived in Rome instead. Here he had the obligation of visiting a friend of the family, the Baron Theodore de Bussiere, a protestant converted to Catholicism.
The Baron received him with cordiality and offered to show him around Rome. In a meeting where Ratisbone spoke horrors about Catholics, the Baron heard him with much patience and finally said: “Well since you are so sure of self, promise me you will carry with you what I’m going to give you.” “What is it?”, his miraculous medal. Alfonso rejected the medal indignant and the Baron replied: “According to your ideas, to accept the medal should leave you indifferent. But on the other hand it pleases me”. Ratisbone smiled, put on the medal and said that he was not a fool. The Baron also asked Him to pray the Memorare which he did.
Later on the thee Baron requested prayers from several people, among them the Count of La Ferronays, saying to him: “I put the Miraculous Medal on him and made him pray the Memorare, I’m sure he will convert.” The Count of La Ferronays died suddenly two days later. It was known that he had gone on the two previous days to the Basilica of St. Mary Mayor to pray 100 Memorares for the conversion of Ratisbone.
The Baron meets with Ratisbone around the Spanish Square in his last day in Rome and invites him for a trip around the city. But first he had to go to the Church of St. Andres to arrange the funeral for the Count. Ratisbone also goes in the Church. Then a miracle occurs, he relates in his own words: “Within a few moments of entering the Church, I felt dominated by an unexplainable confusion. I raised my eyes and thought the entire building was disappearing before my eyes. One of the chapels (the chapel of St. Michael ) was covered with light, and in the midst of this splendor appeared the Blessed Virgin Mary, radiantly and and full of majesty and sweetness. She appeared as She was in the medal. An irresistible force drew me to the Chapel. Then the Blessed Virgin gave me a signal with her hand, as if telling me to kneel, and when I did, it seemed by the aspect of her face she was telling me: ‘Well . . . .’ The Virgin didn’t speak to me, but I understood it all.“
The Baron finds him kneeling, crying and praying with his hands together, and kissing the medal. Shortly after he is baptized in the Gesu Church in Rome. By order of the Pope, the canonical process begins and it is declared “true miracle“.
Alfonso Ratisbone entered the Company of Jesus and was ordained a priest. He was sent to Paris to help his brother Theodore in the catechumens for the conversion of the Jews. After being a Jesuit for 10 years, with permission he leaves the order and founds in 1848 the religious community of Our Lady of Sion and the Missions of Our Lady of Sion. In only the first 10 years Ratisbone obtained the conversion of 200 Jews and 32 Protestants. Father Alfonso Ratisbone worked hard in Holy Land, and was able to purchase Pilate’s old house, converted into a convent and church for the religious. He also made it possible for the religious to found a hospital in Ain-Karim, where he died a holy death in 1884 at age 70. Pierced Hearts.org
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.