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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saint John of Avila: 10 May !!!

St. John of Avila
St. John of Avila
St. John of Avila
Feastday: May 10
Patron of Andalusia, Spain, Spanish secular clergy
1500 - 1569

The Apostle of Andalusia and the spiritual advisor of St. Teresa, St. Francis Borgia, St. John of the Cross, St. Peter of Alcantara, and others. He was born on January 6, 1499, at Almodovar del Campo, Spain. After studying law at the University of Salamanca, he left the university to be a hermit. He then went to Alcala, where he was ordained. John drew great crowds with his fiery denunciations of evil and his many sermons. A brief imprisonment by the Inquisition in Seville made him even more popular. His missionary efforts were centered on Andalusia, and his letters and other writings have become Spanish classics. John was canonized in 1970.

from Wikipedia

For the co-founder of the Carmelites, see Saint John of the Cross

Saint John of Ávila, Apostle of Andalusia (Spanish: San Juan de Ávila) (6 January 1500 – 10 May 1569) was a Roman Catholic priest, Spanish preacher, scholastic author, religious mystic and saint. At the conclusion of a special World Youth Day Mass for seminarians at the Cathedral Church of Santa María La Real de la Almudena, in Madrid, Spain, on 20 August 2011, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would soon declare St. John the 34th Doctor of the Universal Church .

Early life and ministry

Saint John of Ávila was born in Almodóvar del Campo of a wealthy and pious family[1] of Jewish converso descent.[2] At the age of fourteen he was sent to the University of Salamanca to study law but returned after a year to his father's home, where he spent the next three years in the practice of austere piety. His sanctity impressed a Franciscan journeying through Almodóvar, on whose advice he took up the study of philosophy and theology at Alcalá de Henares, where he was fortunate to have as his teacher the famous Dominican Domingo de Soto. While he was a student his parents died and after his ordination he celebrated his first Mass in the church where they were buried, sold the family property and gave the proceeds to the poor.

He saw in the severing of natural ties a vocation to foreign missionary work and prepared to go to Mexico. In 1527, while he was in Seville looking for a favourable opportunity to set out for his new field of labour, his unusually great devotion in celebrating Mass attracted the attention of Hernando de Contreras, a priest of Seville, who mentioned him to the archbishop and Inquisitor General, Don Alonso Manrique de Lara. The archbishop saw in the young missionary a powerful instrument to stir up the faith in Andalusia, and after considerable persuasion Juan was induced to abandon his journey to America.

Apostle of Andalusia

His first sermon was preached on 22 July 1529, and immediately established his reputation. During his nine years of missionary work in Andalusia, crowds packed the churches at all his sermons. However, his strong pleas for reform and the denunciation of the behaviour of the high society brought him before the inquisitor at Seville. He was charged with exaggerating the dangers of wealth and with closing the gates of heaven to the rich. The charges were quickly refuted and he was declared innocent in 1533.[3] By special invitation of the court he was appointed to preach the sermon on the next great feast in the church of San Salvador, in Seville. Like other Spanish mystics of the period, including La Beata de Piedrahita, he was suspected several times during his career of belonging to the Alumbrados, deemed a heretical sect.[citation needed]

Reform of the clerical life in Spain

John of Avila is also remembered as a reformer of clerical life in Spain.[3] He founded several colleges where his disciples dedicated themselves to the teaching of youths. Among the disciples attracted by his preaching and saintly reputation were Saint Teresa of Ávila, Saint John of God, Saint Francis Borgia and the Venerable Louis of Granada.[4] Of special importance was the University of Baeza established in 1538 by a papal bull of Pope Paul III[5] Its first rector was Saint John of Ávila[6] and became a model for seminaries and for the schools of the Jesuits.[3]

He is especially revered by the Jesuits.[3] Their development in Spain is attributed to his friendship and support to the Society of Jesus.[3]


He began his career as apostolic preacher of Andalusia, aged thirty. After nine years he returned to Seville, only to depart for the wider fields of Cordova, Granada, Baeza, Montilla and Zafra. For eighteen years before his death he was the victim of constant illness, the result of the hardships of his apostolate of forty years. He died on 10 May 1569 in Montilla.

Sainthood and Doctor of the Church

He was declared Venerable by Pope Clement XIII on 8 February 1759 and beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 12 November 1893. In 31 May 1970 he was canonised by Pope Paul VI. On 20 August 2011 during World Youth Day, in the Santa María la Real de La Almudena Cathedral, Pope Benedict XVI announced his intention to soon declare Saint John of Ávila a Doctor of the Church; the specific date when this will occur was not announced.[7]


Saint John of Ávila's works were collected at Madrid in 1618, 1757, 1792 and 1805; a French translation by d'Andilly was published at Paris in 1673; and a German translation by Schermer in six volumes was issued at Regensburg between 1856 and 1881. His best-known works are the "Audi Fili" (English translation, 1620), one of the best tracts on Christian perfection, and his "Spiritual Letters" (English translation, 1631, reprinted London 1904) to his disciples.[8]



1.^ Wilke 2003, p. 963

2.^ Domínguez Ortiz 1992

3.^ a b c d e Wilke 2003, p. 964

4.^ Smith 1913

5.^ Introducción Histórica, Universidad de Jaén, 2005-09-26. Accessed online 2010-02-05.

6.^ José Biedma, Juan de Ávila y la Universidad de Baeza, Accessed online 2010-02-05.

7.^ "Pope to proclaim St John of Avila Doctor of the Universal Church". Holy See. 20 August 2011.Ávila-doctor-of-the-univ. Retrieved 21 August 2011.

8.^ St. John of Ávila 1904


•Domínguez Ortiz, Antonio (1992) (in Spanish). Los judeoconversos en la España moderna (2. ed. ed.). Madrid: Mapfre. ISBN 9788471003539.

• Smith, Ignatius (1913). "Bl. John of Avila". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

•St. John of Ávila (1904). Letters of Blessed John of Avila. Stanbrook Abbey: Burns & Oates Ltd.

•Wilke, J. C. (2003). "John of Avila, St.". In Catholic University of America. New Catholic Encyclopedia. 7 (Hol–Jub) (2d ed.). Washington, D.C.: Gale. pp. 446–449. ISBN 0787640042.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.

from Wikipedia