Alexander was born in 1534 in Milan, Italy, to an important Genoese family. He joined the Barnabites, which had been recently founded by St. Antony Zaccharia, at the age of seventeen, and studied at the Order’s college at Pavia, which he also endowed with a library and at which he taught philosophy and theology. He was ordained in 1556, at only 22 years old.
Alexander became the confessor for St. Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Sfondrati (later Pope Gregory XIV). He earned a reputation as a zealous preacher while in Pavia. When he was 33, Alexander was elected general of his congregation.
In 1570 Alexander began 20 years of service to the Church as a bishop of Corsica in Aleria, becoming known as the “Apostle of Corsica.” He made great efforts to reform the Church there, where the faith seemed all but dead and the people were involved in various corruptions. By personally visiting all of the parishes, he helped to rekindle the life of faith of the clergy and parishioners. Where the clergy and people were in a state of ignorance, Bishop Alexander would enlighten them, explaining the decrees of the Council of Trent. (His friend, St. Philip Neri, considered that Sauli’s reforms had transformed the disreputable Corsican diocese into a model for others.)
Pope Gregory XIV appointed him Bishop of Pavia in 1591. It is reported that Bishop Alexander performed miracles of prophecy, healing, and calming of storms both during his life and after his death. He was known to be a learned man with great aptitude for canon law, preaching, and catechesis, leaving a number of catechetical works.
Alexander died on October 11, 1592 in Pavia. He was beatified in 1742 by Pope Benedict XIV and canonized in 1904 by Pope St. Pius X.
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