Common section

7. Italy


Having arrived at Genoa, he took the road towards Bologna, along which he endured a lot, especially once when he lost the route and began to walk alongside a river. The river was low beneath while the road went high above, and the further he made his way along the latter, the narrower it became. And it got to be so narrow that he could neither move further forward nor turn back. So he began to walk on all fours, and in this fashion he went on a good bit, with great trepidation because, every time he moved, he thought he would fall into the river. And this was the greatest exertion and physical effort he ever experienced, but in the end he made it.

Wishing to enter Bologna, and having to cross a little wooden bridge, he fell off the bridge, and thus, as he was picking himself up full of mud and water, he made many of those present laugh. And entering Bologna, he began to ask for alms and didn’t get even one farthing, even though he searched the whole city.143 He remained some time in Bologna sick, and then went on to Venice, always in the same way.

[92] In Venice at that time he occupied himself in giving the Exercises and in other spiritual conversations. The most notable people to whom he gave them are Master Pietro Contarini, Master Gasparo de Dotti and a Spaniard called by the name of Rozas.144 And there was also another Spaniard there, who called himself Bachelor Hoces.145 This man had a lot to do with the pilgrim, and also with the Bishop of Chieti,146 and although he had a slight inclination to make the Exercises, nevertheless he didn’t put it into practice. In the end he made up his mind to start making them, and after he had made them for three or four days, he told the pilgrim his state of mind, telling him that he was afraid (on account of the things so-and-so had told him) he might teach him in the Exercises some bad doctrine, and that for this reason he had brought certain books with him so as to be able to refer to them if by chance he might be wanting to lead him astray. This person made very remarkable progress during the Exercises, and at the end made up his mind to follow the pilgrim’s life. This one was also the first who died. [93] In Venice the pilgrim also had another persecution, there being many who were saying that his effigy had been burnt in Spain and Paris, and this matter went so far that a process was held. The verdict was given in favour of the pilgrim.


The nine companions came to Venice at the beginning of 1537.147 There they split up and went to serve in various almshouses. After two or three months they all went off to Rome to ask for the blessing for the passage to Jerusalem. The pilgrim didn’t go because of Dr Ortiz and also of the new Theatine Cardinal. The companions came back from Rome with letters of credit for 200 or 300 scudi, which had been given them as alms for the passage to Jerusalem. And they had refused to accept these except as letters of credit, which later, being unable to go to Jerusalem, they returned to those who had given them. The companions came back from Venice in the way they had gone, that is, on foot and begging, but divided into three groups, and in such a way that they were always from different nations.

There in Venice those who were not ordained were ordained for mass, and the Nuncio who was then in Venice gave them faculties: he who was later called Cardinal Verallo. They were ordained under the title of poverty, with all making vows of chastity and poverty. [94] In that year ships were not crossing to the East because the Venetians had broken with the Turks.148 And so, seeing the hope of a passage getting further away, they split up over the Venetian territory with the intention of waiting out the year they had determined. After it was over, should there have been no passage, they would go off to Rome.

To the pilgrim it fell to go with Favre and Laínez to Vicenza. There they found outside the city area a certain house149 which had neither doors nor windows, and in this they used to sleep on a little straw which they had brought. Two of them used always to go in search of alms in the area twice daily, and they brought in so very little that they were almost unable to sustain themselves. As a rule they would eat a little toast, when they had it, which the one who stayed in the house would take care of toasting. In this way they spent forty days, not attending to anything but prayers.

[95] When the forty days were up Master Jean Codure arrived and all four resolved to begin preaching. And with each of the four going into different squares on the same day and at the same hour, they began their sermons, first shouting loudly and calling the people with their caps. With these sermons there arose a great deal of talk in the city, and many people were moved with devotion. And they got the necessary bodily goods in more abundance.

In that time when he was in Vicenza he had many spiritual visions, and many consolations, as if they were a matter of course (the opposite to when he was in Paris) and most of all when he began to prepare himself to be a priest in Venice and when he was preparing himself to say mass. Throughout all these journeys he had great supernatural visitations of the kind he was accustomed to having while he was in Manresa.

While he was still in Vicenza he learnt that one of the companions, who was at Bassano, was sick to the point of death.150 He himself was also at the time ill with fever. Nevertheless he set off on the journey, and walked so vigorously that Favre, his companion, could not keep up with him. And on this journey he had an assurance from God, and told Favre so, that the companion would not the of that sickness. And on his arriving at Bassano, the sick person was greatly consoled and recovered quickly. Then they all returned to Vicenza and all ten were there for some time, with some going to look for alms in the villages around Vicenza.151


[96] Then, with the year ended and no passage to be found, they resolved to go to Rome, and the pilgrim too, because the other time that the companions had gone those two people about whom he was doubtful had shown themselves very well-disposed.152 They went to Rome split up into three or four groups, and the pilgrim with Favre and Laínez, and on this journey he was very specially visited by God.153

He had resolved to remain a year, once he became a priest, without saying mass, preparing himself and praying Our Lady to be pleased to put him with her Son. And being one day in a church some miles before arrival in Rome, and making prayer, he sensed such a change in his soul, and he saw so clearly that God the Father was putting him with Christ, his Son, that he would not have the wilfulness to have any doubt about this: it could only be that God the Father was putting him with his Son.*

[97] Then, coming to Rome, he told his companions that he saw the windows shut, meaning that they were to have many things opposing them.

And he also said, ‘We need to be very much on our guard and not take on conversation with women unless they be illustrious’. Later in Rome – to speak of this subject – Master Francis154 used to hear a lady’s confession, and visited her a few times to practise spiritual things, and this lady was later found to be pregnant. But the Lord willed that the man who had done this misdeed was discovered. The like happened to Jean Codure with one of his spiritual daughters who was caught with a man.

[98] From Rome the pilgrim went to Monte Cassino to give the Exercises to Dr Ortiz, and was there for forty days, during which he once saw Bachelor Hoces entering heaven, and at this had great tears and great spiritual consolation. And he saw this so clearly that, were he to say the contrary, it would seem to him to be telling a lie. From Monte Cassino he brought Francisco de Estrada.155 Returning to Rome, he occupied himself in helping souls. They were still at the vineyard,156 and he was giving spiritual exercises to different people at one and the same time. Of these one was staying at Santa Maria Maggiore and the other at Ponte Sesto.157

Then the persecutions began.158 Miguel began to cause trouble and to speak ill of the pilgrim. The latter had him called before the governor, having first shown the governor a letter of Miguel’s in which he greatly praised the pilgrim. The governor examined Miguel and the conclusion was to banish him from Rome. Then Mudarra and Barreda began persecuting, saying that the pilgrim and his companions were fleeing from Spain, from Paris and from Venice. In the end, in the presence of the governor and of the legate who was then the one for Rome, both of them confessed that they had nothing evil to say of them, neither about their habits, nor their doctrine. The legate ordered a silence to be drawn over the whole business but the pilgrim wouldn’t accept it, saying that he wanted a final verdict. This didn’t please the legate, or the governor either, nor even those who at first were favourable to the pilgrim. But in the end, after a few months, the Pope came to Rome. The pilgrim went to talk to him at Frascati and represented some arguments to him. The Pope was persuaded, and commanded that a verdict be given, which was given in favour etc.

There were set up in Rome with the help of the pilgrim and the companions some works of piety, like the Catechumens, Santa Martha, the orphans, etc.159 The other things Master Nadal will be able to recount.



[99] After these matters of narrative, I asked the pilgrim on 20 October161 about the Exercises and the Constitutions, wanting to find out how he had produced them. He said to me that as for the Exercises he had not produced them all at one time, rather that some things which he used to observe in his soul and find useful for himself it seemed to him could also be useful for others, and so he used to put them in writing: for example, regarding the examination of conscience with that method of the lines etc.162 As for the elections, he told me specifically that he had drawn them from that variety of spirit and thoughts which he had had when he was in Loyola, when he was still ill from his leg. And he told me that as for the Constitutions he would speak to me in the evening.

The same day before he had supper he called me, with a look of a person who was more recollected than normal, and he made a sort of formal declaration to me, the gist of which was to demonstrate the intention and simplicity with which he had narrated these things, saying that he was quite sure he had not overdone anything in the narrative, and that he had committed many offences against Our Lord after he had begun to serve him, but that he had never given consent to a mortal sin: on the contrary, always growing in devotion, i.e. in facility in finding God, and now more than ever in his whole life. And every time and hour he wanted to find God, he found him.

And that now too he had visions often, especially those which have been talked about above, when he saw Christ like a sun.163 This often used to happen as he was going along talking about important things, and that would make him arrive at assurance. [100] When he was saying mass he would have many visions too, and when he was producing the Constitutions he had them too, very often.

And this he could now affirm more easily because every day he used to write down what passed through his soul, and could now find these things in writing. And thus he showed me quite a large bundle of written notes, from which he read me a good part. The majority were visions which he saw in confirmation of one of the Constitutions, seeing sometimes God the Father, at other times all the three persons of the Trinity, at other times Our Lady interceding, at other times her confirming, in particular, he told me, in the course of the decisions over which he had been forty days saying mass every day, and every day with many tears. And the question was whether the church should have any income, and if the Society could take advantage of that.164

[101] The method he used to observe when he was producing the Constitutions was to say mass every day and present the point he was dealing with to God and make prayer over that. And he always made his prayer and said mass with tears. I wanted to see those papers for all the Constitutions and I asked him if he would let me have them for a bit: he was unwilling.

* This was the first reflection he made on the things of God; and later, when he produced the Exercises, it was from here that he began to get clarity regarding the matter of the difference in kind of spirits.

* He had such great loathing of his past sins, and so lively a desire to do great things fot the love of God that, without making the judgement that his sins were forgiven, nevertheless in the penances he undertook to perform he did not pay much attention to them.

* And I, who am writing these things, said to the pilgrim, when he was narrating this to me, that Laínez used to recount this with other details, as I had understood. And he told me that all that Laínez said was the truth – it was because his own memory was not so detailed – but that he knew for certain that, at the time when he was narrating this, he had not said anything except the truth. He said the same as this to me on other things.

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