« PrécédentContinuer »
what he sought in a wild and rugged solitude, situated about a league from Cordoba, in the lofty sierra which partly surrounds the city, where the utter loneliness, the ruggedness of the soil, and the forbidding aspect of the whole region, secured him perfectly against the distractions of human society. This locality possessed in his eyes the further recommendation of resembling in its topographical distribution the city of the Prophet. He gave to the spots in which the resemblance was principally marked the names of Calvary, Kedron, and the Mount of Olives.
A deep cavern, naturally formed in the rock, was his first habitation, but, after a short time, others gathered round him, attracted by the fame of his virtues, and animated with the same spirit of abnegation and asceticism ; and in their company, with the help of the plentiful alms of the pious, Fray Alvaro founded a monastery, in which not only was the rule of the Order scrupulously observed, but the severest penances were practised, and the community was unceasingly engaged in striving after the perfection of the spiritual life.
The death of the founder occasioned no relaxation in the zeal of his companions. For the space of a century did this nursery of pious men flourish. The causes of its sudden decay are unknown to us; but this decay was so complete that when Fray Luis took possession of his priorate he found nothing but ruins.
His ardour was in no degree cooled by the dreary prospect, nor was he dismayed by the many obstacles that opposed themselves to the success of his mission. By a judicious choice of companions, anxious like himself to exert themselves for the honour of the Order, and with the alms furnished by the liberality of the charitable, he succeeded in restoring the house of Scala Cœli to its primitive splendour, extending its reputation throughout the country, and propagating in these almost inacessible regions sound doctrine recommended by perfect examples.
The duties of this arduous ministry did not, however, furnish sufficient food for his indefatigable activity. He often descended from the monastery into the city of Cordoba, and the
neighbouring villages, to teach and preach the Word of GOD; and thus he became known to many of the chief persons in Andalusia, who sought his acquaintance, put themselves under his direction, and contracted intimate friendships with him. Amongst these were the Marques de Priego, the Conde de Feria, Fray Lorenzo de Figueroa, Bishop of Siguenza, the Jesuit Father Antonio de Cordoba, the Marquesa Dona Catalina, proprietress of the estate, and, above all, the celebrated Maestro Juan de Avila.
It has been handed down by tradition in Andalusia, and is generally credited, that the Count de Feria once asked Avila, in Fray Luis' presence, what he thought of a sermon that the latter had just preached. The Father, on being much pressed, replied that no sermon in which CHRIST crucified and S. Paul were not preached, and his doctrine inculcated, gave him much content. These words made a lively impression on the heart of Fray Luis, and gave rise to various discussions between the two on the way of becoming a judicious writer, a good preacher, and a spiritual man. From this day he chose Avila
as his master, consulted him in all his doubts, and followed his advice both as to his books and other matters.
It is likewise asserted that Avila counselled him to himself." On Fray Luis replying that he did not understand him, Avila said, "Do as the Counts did with the Azorians; they deprived them of food, that hunger might compel them to the chase. Hunger, thirst, long greatly for the conversion of souls, and you will experience great effects, and gather plenteous fruits."
The truth of this is confirmed by a circumstance related in the life of Avila, on the authority of many who were present, that after preaching one day at Santa Clara de Montilla, Fray Luis said to Avila in the sacristy, "I owe more to you, and to your counsels, than to many years of study, and therefore I acknowledge you to be my master." The saintly Juan de Avila answered with great humility, “The true Master is GOD, unto Whom alone all honour and glory is due."
It was while he lived at Scala Coeli that he wrote his book on Meditations and Prayers, and other works. He used to go
to a torrent near the convent, where he sat among the broken rocks, and dictated to two amanuenses. The torrent is called to this day "Fray Luis de Granada's brook."
Fray Luis had continued about eight years at Scala Cœli, when he was called to a different occupation, the house being now thoroughly restored, and the community in good order. He was about forty-eight years of age, having left the College of S. Gregorio probably in June 1534, after staying only five years instead of the full term of eight. In Granada, according to the tradition of the Convent of Santa Cruz, he lived ten years, and at Scala Cœli about eight.
PREACHES BEFORE THE PROVINCIAL CHAPTER. MADE COURT PREACHER TO THE DUKE OF MEDINA SIDONIA.
Fray Luis was summoned, as prior, to attend a Provincial Chapter of the Order, which was of more than ordinary importance, both on account of the grave matters that were to be laid before it, and of the attendance of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, a nobleman highly esteemed by the Dominicans, not only as a generous patron of their Order, but also as head of the house of Guzman, the family of their founder S. Dominic. The best preachers were selected to deliver the sermons on these occasions. Fray Luis was one of the number, and the Duke was so struck by his sermon that he asked leave of the Provincial to take him with him to exercise his ministry in his palace of San Lucar. It was impossible to refuse his request, and Fray Luis, in obedience to the precept of his Superior, left his conventual and retired life. This interruption lasted but a short time. The Duke's household liked the graces of rhetoric better than the simple Word of GOD. They were willing to praise or criticise the sermon. Much applause could be obtained, but no fruit in souls, as it is said in Ezekiel, "Thou art to them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument : for they hear Thy words, but they do
them not." The friar grew extremely disgusted with his new employment, and anxiously desired to bring it to an end. A favourable opportunity speedily presented itself.
FOUNDATION OF A MONASTERY AT BADAJOZ.
A design had been entertained for some time of founding a convent at Badajoz, and the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and other benefactors of the Order, took the warmest interest in it as well as the Fathers themselves. Fray Luis volunteered his services for this work, which required an abundant supply of alms, and a voice capable of obtaining them.
His Superiors approving, he crossed over into Estremadura, and began his task, in which he was so successful that in a short time the building was completed, and a community assembled, composed of members selected by Fray Luis himself from the houses of his own province. Here he composed his celebrated "Sinner's Guide," a work which made him famous throughout all Europe. *
* The Cardinal Enrique was the son of Emmanuel the Great of Portugal, and of Maria, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel. He was brother to Joao III., who married Catalina, sister of Charles V., Emperor of Germany, and had but one son married to his cousin, the daughter of Charles V. and of Isabel of Portugal. This son died young, leaving no child but the ill-fated Sebastian. On the death of Joaō, the only lives that remained between Philip II. of Spain and the Portuguese crown were those of the young child Sebastian and the elderly priest Enrique. Sebastian's mother had returned to Spain. Catalina was appointed Regent, which office she held till shortly before her death, when she resigned it to the Cardinal Enrique. Sebastian's history is too well known to need repeating. After his death, or, as the Portuguese persisted in calling it, his mysterious disappearance, Enrique was prevailed upon to solicit a dispensation from his vow of celibacy in order to save Portugal from the alternative of Philip II. or war. It was in vain, he died childless, and Philip became master of Portugal, to which he sent his sister Juana as Regent. When the dominion of Spain became unendurable, the whole of Portugal rose against it, and a new dynasty ascended the throne. These political affairs had something to do with the troubles of Luis de Granada's later years, for many of the revelations of the nun, Maria de la Visitacion, were political, and were dictated or made use of by favourers of the house of Braganza.
GOES INTO PORTUGAL AT THE INVITATION OF THE
Castile being now filled with his name, he passed over into the neighbouring kingdom, where the Cardinal Infante, Dom Enrique, son of the King Dom Manuel, and grandson by his mother of Fernando and Isabel, occupied the archiepiscopal see of Evora, having before filled that of Braga.
The Cardinal desired to have Fray Luis, and at his request the Provincial sent him to Evora, where he was most affectionately received by the Infante; and where, a few days after his arrival, he began to exercise his favourite ministry of preaching, which was attended with the same success here as elsewhere.
So great was Fray Luis' popularity among the Portuguese, and so firm and affectionate was the Cardinal's attachment to him, that the latter, unable to bear the thought of parting with him, requested and obtained Fray Luis' promotion to the Dominican provincialate of Portugal, by which a new and brilliant career was opened to him. It was in 1557 that the office became vacant. He was unanimously elected at a meeting in the celebrated monastery of Batalha. He refused the dignity many times, and only yielded at last to the persevering entreaties of his friend Dom Enrique.
In the discharge of his new functions he occupied himself as he had done in every office and charge that he had hitherto filled, not limiting himself to the strict fulfilment of his duties, but always aspiring to something beyond what their letter required.
He never intermitted his studies during the time that his office of Provincial lasted, he carried his books with him on his visitation journeys, and had a sort of desk or bookstand fitted to his saddle, so that he might be able to read as he travelled.
Under his rule the province made great acquisitions. Among them were-I. The conversion of the vicariate of Santa Maria de la Luz at Pedroagon into a vast and well-built convent. 2.