27. Fr. Gracian


To the Reverend Father Gracian, de la Madre de Dios.

This letter was written by the Saint, when the persecution which had been directed against the reform had in a great measure passed away. She congratulates the father on his victory over his enemies, and to him she still alludes under the name of Paul. In order to defray the expenses of having the Reformed Carmelites separated from the others, the Saint mentions how she borrowed from the convent at Valladolid two hundred crowns. At the time she wrote this letter, she had received orders from Father Salazar to proceed to Malaga, as prioress. Date, 1579. Carta XXV. Spanish ed.

JESUS. The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your Reverence.

My Father,–I wish the Holy Ghost may have given you, on this Feast of Pentecost, so many of His gifts and blessings, that by their means you might be able to discharge the numerous obligations you owe His Majesty, who has been pleased that, at the cost of your Reverence, his daughters1 should be assisted. May his name be praised by all men. This affair certainly furnishes abundant matter for reflection, and even for writing a history. Though I am unacquainted with the particulars of the conclusion, I believe everything passed off very well. If, however, our Lord should allow us to have a province, it cannot be established anywhere with more authority and precaution than in Spain; and this clearly shows that our Lord has destined the Carmelites for greater things than we imagine. May His Majesty grant Paul a long life, so that he may see these great things, and labour for their accomplishment. As for me, I hope to see them from Heaven, if ever I deserve to go there.

I have received the cheque from Valladolid, and am very glad they have sent the money. God grant the business may soon be accomplished, for though the Superior whom we now have is a very excellent man, yet he is not the man for us, nor is he capable of setting things right as they should be; in a word, we may say he is borrowed for a short time.2

Your Reverence will see by this letter what they intend to command me–a poor old woman. According to appearances, this order may rather be the effect of a desire on the part of the fathers,3 to keep me at a distance, than any necessity the Convent of Malagon can be in, of having me as prioress: this, however, may only be a suspicion, which has given me a little pain; not that I ever thought of objecting to go to Malagon, though I am troubled at the idea of going there as prioress, because I am not fit for such an office, and I fear I should grow negligent in the service of our Lord.4 I hope your Reverence will pray that I may ever remain firm and constant therein; and then as to the rest, I care not what may happen, for the more I suffer, the more merit I shall have. In any case, I beg of your Reverence to destroy this letter.

I am delighted to hear your Reverence enjoys such good health. But I should not like to see you here during the hot weather. O! what a solitude does not my soul feel day after day when I think at what a distance I am from your Reverence, though it seems as if I were always near Father Joseph; this reflection helps me to endure this life, though I enjoy not the pleasures of the world: still I am happy. With regard to your Reverence, I cannot consider you an inhabitant of this world, since our Lord has taken away from you all temptation of attaching yourself to it, and has given you such abundant opportunities of arriving at Heaven. Truly, the more I think of this persecution, and of the means our Lord has made use of to deliver you from it, the more am I surprised. If God should please to make the Andalusians return to their duty, I should consider it a very particular favour. But do not put yourself to much trouble in pressing them, as matters have taken a better turn; and this is what I always desired.

I was much pleased on reading the letter which Father Nicalo wrote be me on this matter, and on this account I send the letter to your Reverence. All the sisters desire to be kindly remembered to you. The thought of my going away is the only thing which grieves them. I will let your Reverence know the result. Recommend, for love of us, this matter earnestly to our Lord. You remember now what people used so unkindly to say against my journeys, undertaken for the foundations of the convents, and you know who those people are. Consider what a life mine has been! Still this matters but a little.

I mentioned to the Father Vicar5 the inconveniences that would arise from my being prioress because I could not follow the rules of the community; but that as regards all the rest, I had no difficulty, for I should be willing to go to the end of the world if obedience commanded me: nay, I believe that the greater the labour and trials were, the more should I rejoice in doing something for this great God to whom I am so much indebted; and above all, I know that what is done through obedience, is the best means of pleasing Him. As to obeying Paul, it were enough to know I gave him pleasure, to make me do with joy all that he commands me. I could mention several with the same disposition; but I am afraid of saying too much in this letter, especially on matters relating to the soul. I send your Reverence those verses which the nuns of the Incarnation composed; they may make you laugh a little, though the afflictions of that house may rather make you weep. The poor creatures endeavour to lessen their troubles–by amusing themselves with writing verses. My journey to Malagon they consider as something very important, for they (as well as myself) hope to see that convent established in peace and tranquillity.

The nuns of Valladolid have very willingly given 200 ducats,6 and the prioress would have borrowed this sum had it been necessary: she sent me 200 ducats also, making altogether 400, which I have received. She has done a great deal for us, and is an excellent manager of the affairs of her convent. I have written to thank her. Señora Doña Juana made me laugh, and at the same time surprised me by telling me in a letter, “that she felt some uneasiness in giving the money without having first told you.” She had no reason, I am sure, to be afraid, for, as regards Sister Mary of St. Joseph, I have always known her to be just and upright: she has a great esteem for your Reverence.

May God preserve you, my Father. Amen. Amen. Give my respects to the Father Rector, and to the father who wrote to me the other day. Yesterday was the last day of the feast of Pentecost. Mine is not yet arrived.

Your Reverence’s unworthy Servant,


1 Spanish, “su pueblo.”

2 “Que en fin es de prestado.”

3 Those who would not agree to, or approve the reform.

4 The Saint eventually went to Malagon, towards the end of the year 1579.

5 Father Salazar, vicar-general of the reform.

6 This money was borrowed, in order to pay the necessary expenses attendant on forming a distinct province for the Reformed Carmelites.

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