14. Don Alvaro


No. XIV.
To the Most Illustrious Lord Don Alvaro de Mendoza, Bishop of Avila, at Olmedo.

This holy prelate was afterwards bishop of Palencia. He was ennobled both by the lustre of his merits, as well as by the splendour of his birth. He protected and encouraged the Saint in her “Foundations of St. Joseph’s Convent.” Date, 1577. Carta V. Spanish ed. vol. i.

JESUS. The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your Lordship. Amen.

I have now recovered from the sickness which I had, though I am still troubled with the headache, which torments me almost continually with its noise. But provided I know your Lordship is well, I am quite willing to suffer still greater pain. I thank you a thousand times for the favour you did me in writing to me: your letters are a great comfort to us. The nuns came and showed them to me, and they feel, with great reason, highly flattered by them.

Could your Lordship see how much we stood in need of a visitation from a man who could properly explain the constitutions, and who knew what they were from having observed them himself, I believe you would have experienced a particular satisfaction; and at the same time your Lordship would have understood how great the favour was which our Lord bestowed upon this house in not having placed it under the jurisdiction of one who could not discover whence the devil could enter, nor even by what means he began to enter.1 This, indeed, was no one’s fault: it happened with the best intentions. I am truly grateful to God for His goodness. As to what your Lordship says about the difficulties we might be exposed to when a bishop does not take any interest in our affairs, you must not trouble yourself about this; for our monasteries will be the better able to help one another, since they cannot receive assistance from one who has not such love for us as your Lordship has. What afflicts us is, that we cannot enjoy your presence here: as to the rest, no change whatever has been made in us, we are as submissive to your orders as heretofore. You may always count on the obedience of our superiors, and especially of Father Gracian–to whom, it seems, we have communicated the same affection which we ourselves have for your Lordship. As he is not here, I shall send him your letter to-day. He has gone to Alcalá, in order to forward despatches by some religious who are going to Rome. All our sisters are much pleased with him, and with reason, for he is a zealous servant of God, and is of great assistance to us, since we see that in all things he follows the commands of your Lordship.

As to the Lady your Lordship speaks of, I will attend to your orders when an opportunity offers; for the person who has already spoken to me is not accustomed to come to this house: from what I could understand, it is not anything about marriage. But after I read your letter, I had some doubts about the matter, and thought the person wished to put some obstacles in the way. I cannot, however, believe that she really takes any interest in the affair, but she seems rather to be influenced by a zeal for the public good and for God’s honour. May His Majesty direct matters as He thinks best: but the affair has gone so far, that we may be obliged to write to your Lordship about it, even should you have no desire to know the particulars. It gives me great comfort to hear your Lordship is so resigned, that you feel no trouble about the matter. But consider, if it would not be proper to acquaint the abbess with the business, in order to show you are angry: this might do some good. I assure your Lordship that people speak to me very strongly about it.

With regard to Dr. Daza,2 all I can say is, that I wish your Lordship would do something for him, because I see he has a great regard for you: I should feel much pleased if something could be done–however little. He has assured me, that so highly does he esteem your Lordship, that even should he displease your Lordship by asking you to do him a favour, he would not fail to serve you, when an opportunity offered, without ever speaking of it to your Lordship. So sincere is his affection for you, that he cannot help feeling his small share of good luck, especially when he sees the favours your Lordship has already bestowed on others, and which you still continue to bestow. He has written to your Lordship on the subject of the benefice. He feels confident that if any office becomes vacant, your Lordship will kindly bestow it upon him before you depart. I should be exceeding pleased if he could meet with such good luck, being persuaded it would be pleasing to God and in accordance with every one’s wish. I take the liberty of telling your Lordship, you are in a manner bound to grant him this favour. May God grant your Lordship may soon be able to bestow the benefice, that so you may satisfy every one. However small the favour might be, even though it were less than being a canon, I think he would accept it. In a word, no persons have so disinterested a love for your Lordship, as the Carmelites have: they only wish you would love them, and they fervently pray Almighty God to preserve your Lordship many, many years. We have permitted my brother, who is now in the Locutory, to be informed of this matter. He sends his most respectful regards to your Lordship, and so does Teresa. We are all mortified at your Lordship requesting us to recommend you to God. Your Lordship must know that we do so; to suppose otherwise, would be doing us a kind of injury.

I am in such a hurry to send off this letter, that I can say no more, except that Dr. Daza will, I think, be content, provided your Lordship will have the goodness to promise, that the first vacant benefice shall be given to him.

Your Lordship’s unworthy Servant and Subject,


1 The Saint seems to allude to the abuses which had crept into the Monastery of the Incarnation, at Avila.

2 Gaspar Daza was one of the Saint’s chaplains. He was made canon of Avila, no doubt through St. Teresa’s influence with the bishop.

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