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4. Studies and Conflicts in Spain


[54] Having arrived in Barcelona, he told Isabel Roser of his inclination towards study, and also a certain Maestro Ardèvol who taught Latin language.73 To both this seemed very good; he offered to teach him free of charge, and she to give whatever was necessary for his sustenance. Now the pilgrim had a monk in Manresa (I think a Cistercian), a very spiritual man. It was with this person that he wanted to be so as to learn, and to be able to give himself with more ease to the Spirit, and even to be of benefit to souls.74 So he replied that he accepted the offer if he didn’t find in Manresa the favourable conditions he hoped for. But on going there he found that the monk was dead.

And so having returned to Barcelona, he began to study with quite some diligence. But one thing was hindering him a lot, and this was that, when he began to commit things to memory, as is necessary at the beginning of language study, new insights into spiritual things would occur to him, and new enjoyments, and this in so powerful a way that he couldn’t learn by heart, nor could he get rid of the insights however much he resisted them. [55] And so, thinking often about this, he said to himself, ‘Not even when I set myself to prayer and when I am at mass do these insights which are so vivid come to me’; and thus little by little he came to recognize that it was a temptation. And after some prayer he went to the church of Santa María del Mar, near his teacher’s house, having asked the latter kindly to listen to him for a short while in that church. And as they were thus seated there, he explained quite honestly all that was passing through his soul, and how little progress he had made up till then for that reason, but that now he was making a promise to this master, saying, ‘I promise you that I shall never fall short in paying attention to you in these two years as long as I can find bread and water in Barcelona on which I can survive’. And after he had made this promise, it was with considerable effect: he never again had those temptations.75

The stomach pain that had taken hold of him at Manresa, on account of which he had taken to wearing shoes,76 had left him, and he had been fine with his stomach ever since he had left for Jerusalem. And for this reason, while he was studying in Barcelona, the desire came to him to return to the penances he had done before. So he began to make a hole in the soles of his shoes. He continued widening these holes little by little, so that when the cold of winter came he was then wearing nothing but the uppers.

[56] When two years of study were over, during which (so they told him) he had made quite some progress, his master was telling him that he was now able to study an arts course, and that he should go to Alcalá.77 But he still had himself examined by a doctor of theology. He advised him the same, and so he set off for Alcalá alone, although, I think, he already had some companions.78


On arrival at Alcalá he began to beg and to live on alms. Then one day, after he had been living in this way for ten or twelve days, a cleric and others with him, seeing him beg for alms, began to laugh at him and to say some insulting things to him, as is often done with those who beg even though they are in good shape. At that point the man in charge of the new Antezana almshouse79 was passing, and, showing his pain at this, called him and took him to the almshouse. There he gave him a room and everything he needed. [57] He studied in Alcalá for almost a year and a half. Since it was 1524, during Lent, that he arrived in Barcelona, where he studied for two years, it was 1526 when he arrived at Alcalá; and he studied the Logic of Soto, the Physics of Albert, and Peter Lombard.80 While in Alcalá he was also occupied in giving spiritual exercises81 and in explaining Christian doctrine, and through this there was fruit borne for God’s glory. There were many people who came to considerable awareness and relish regarding spiritual matters, and others who were having various temptations, such as one woman who wanted to take the discipline but could not do it: it was as if her hand were being restrained. And there were other things like this which stimulated talk in the town, especially given the great crowd that used to gather wherever he was explaining doctrine.82

Shortly after his arrival at Alcalá he came to know Don Diego de Eguía, who was staying in the house belonging to his brother, a printer in Alcalá. He was well provided for,83 and so he and his brother could help him with alms for supporting poor people, and he had the pilgrim’s three companions in his house. Once when they came to him to ask for alms to meet some needs, Don Diego said he had no money. But he opened a chest for him in which he had various things, and thus gave him bed-coverings of various colours and some candlesticks and other similar things. The pilgrim took all of these wrapped in a sheet over his shoulder, and went to relieve the poor.

[58] As was mentioned earlier, there was a great deal of talk in the whole of that country about the things that were happening in Alcalá: some telling one version, some another. And the matter reached as far as Toledo and the inquisitors. When these came to Alcalá, the pilgrim was warned by their host, who told him that they were calling them ‘the sack-wearers’, and I think alumbrados [illuminists],84 and that they would make mincemeat of them. So it was that they then began to investigate their way of life and to draw up a process, but finally they returned to Toledo without summoning them, having come only for that purpose.85 They left the process to the Vicar General, Figueroa, who is now in the Emperor’s service.

A few days later Figueroa summoned them and told them how an investigation had been made and a process begun by the inquisitors regarding their way of life; that no error could be found in their doctrine or in their way of life; and hence they could do just as they were doing without any hindrance. But since they weren’t members of a religious order, it didn’t seem a good idea for them all to have the same habit. It would be better (and he was commanding them this) that one pair (he indicated the pilgrim and Arteaga) should dye their clothes black, and that another two (Calisto and Cáceres) should dye them light brown. And Juanico, who was a French lad, could stay as he was.86

[59] The pilgrim replied that they would do what was commanded. ‘But I don’t know’, he said, ‘what good these inquisitions do. The other day a priest refused to give communion to someone like us on the ground he went to communion every week. And they’ve been making things difficult for me. We’d like to know if they’ve found any heresy in us.’

‘No’, said Figueroa, ‘if they had found it, they’d have burnt you.’

‘And they’ll burn you too’, said the pilgrim, ‘if they find heresy in you.’

They dyed their clothes as was commanded them. And fifteen or twenty days later Figueroa ordered the pilgrim not to go around barefoot, but to put some shoes on. And he did so without fuss, as with all things of this kind that they commanded him.87


Four months later this same Figueroa again conducted an investigation into them. Apart from the normal kind of grounds, I think it was also some occasion when a well-to-do married lady had a particular devotion to the pilgrim, and, in order not to be seen, used to come to the almshouse wearing a veil, in the style customary in Alcalá de Henares, during the morning twilight. When she came in, she would uncover herself and go to the pilgrim’s room. But they didn’t do anything to them this time either, nor did they summon them after the process was completed, nor did they say anything.88


[60] A further four months later,89 by which time he was in a little house outside the almshouse, a policeman came one day to his door, called him and said, ‘Come along with me for a while’. And then leaving him in the prison, he said, ‘You’re not to leave here till you get another order’. This was in summertime, and he was not closely confined; thus many people came and visited him and he did the same things as when he was free, going through doctrine and giving exercises.90 He always refused to take an advocate or lawyer, though many were offering themselves. He remembers especially Doña Teresa de Cárdenas,91 who sent visitors to him, and many times offered to get him out of there. But he accepted nothing, always saying, ‘He for whose love I came in here will get me out if this will serve his purpose’.

[61] He was seventeen days in the prison without them cross-examining him and without his knowing why he was there. At the end of that time Figueroa came to the prison, and questioned him about many things, to the point of asking him if he got people to keep the Sabbath.92 Also, did he know a certain pair of women, mother and daughter? To this he said yes. Had he known of their departure before they left? He said no, on the oath he had taken. Then the Vicar General, putting his hand on his shoulder and showing happiness, said to him, ‘That was the reason why you’ve come here’.

Among the many people who were the pilgrim’s followers there was a mother and her daughter, both widows, and the daughter very young and very pretty. These had entered deeply into things spiritual, the daughter especially, so much so that, though noble ladies, they had gone on foot to the veil of Veronica at Jaén93 (I don’t know if they did this begging), and alone as well. This caused much talk in Alcalá, and Dr Ciruelo,94 who had some responsibility for them, thought that the prisoner had put them up to this, and thus had him taken in. So, when the prisoner saw what the Vicar General had said, he said to him, ‘Would you like me to talk a little more fully about this topic?’

‘Yes’, he replied.

‘Well, you should be aware’, said the prisoner, ‘that these two women have often pestered me because they wanted to go about the world serving the poor first in one almshouse and then in another. And I have always dissuaded them from this intention, because the daughter is so young and so pretty etc.; and I have told them that if they want to visit poor people they can do it in Alcalá and accompany the Blessed Sacrament.’95 When this conversation was finished, Figueroa went off along with his notary, having the whole thing in writing.

[62] At that time Calisto was in Segovia. Learning of his imprisonment, he came at once, though he was only newly recovered from a serious illness,96 and put himself in the prison with him. But Calisto for his part told him it would be better to go and report to the Vicar General. The latter treated him well, and said that he would have to order him to go to the prison because he had to be there until those women came back in order to see if they bore his statement out. Calisto was in the prison for a few days, but when the pilgrim saw he was doing damage to his physical health (for he was not yet completely well), he had him taken out through the mediation of a doctor, a very good friend of his.

From the day when the pilgrim went into the prison until they took him out, forty-two days passed. At the end of these, now that the two devout women had returned, the notary went to the prison to read him the verdict: he could go free, they were to dress like the other students, and they were not to talk about matters regarding the Faith within the four years that they still had to study, because they weren’t learned.97 For, to tell the truth, it was the pilgrim who knew most, and what he knew was with little foundation. And this was the first thing he normally said when they questioned him.

[63] As a result of this verdict he was a little doubtful as to what he would do, because it seemed that they were blocking the door to him against his helping souls, not giving him any reason except that he had not studied. In the end he decided to go to the Archbishop of Toledo, Fonseca, and put the case in his hands.98 He left Alcalá and met the Archbishop in Valladolid. And, recounting faithfully to him what had happened, he said to him that, although he was not now within his jurisdiction nor obliged to observe the verdict, nevertheless he would do what the Archbishop ordered (using vos with him, as he did with everyone).99 The Archbishop received him very well, and, on realizing that he wanted to move on to Salamanca, said that he had friends in Salamanca too, and a college, putting all this as an offer to him. And then as he was leaving he had four escudos given him.


[64] Having arrived at Salamanca, he was praying in a church when a devout woman recognized him as one of the society,100 for the four other companions had now been there for some days. And she asked him his name, and then took him to the companions’ lodging-place. When in Alcalá it had been ruled they were to dress as students, the pilgrim had said, ‘When you ordered us to dye our clothes, we did it, but this now we cannot do, because we don’t have anything with which to buy the clothes’. So the Vicar General himself had provided them with uniform and caps and everything else for students, and dressed in this way they had left Alcalá.

In Salamanca he was making his confession to a Dominican friar in San Esteban. Ten or twelve days after his arrival, the confessor said to him one day, ‘The Fathers in the house would like to talk to you’.

‘So be it, in God’s name’, he replied.

‘So’, said the confessor, ‘it will be good for you to come here for the main meal on Sunday. But I warn you of one thing: they’ll want to ask you many things.’ So on the Sunday he went with Calisto and, after the meal, the Subprior (the Prior being absent) together with the confessor, and I think another friar, went off with them into a chapel. And the Subprior began very cordially to say what good reports they had heard about their life and practices, and how they went about like the Apostles preaching. They would be glad to hear about these things in more detail.

So he began to ask what studies they had done, and the pilgrim replied, ‘Of all of us, I am the one who has studied the most’, and gave them a clear account of the little he had studied and of what little foundation he had.

[65] ‘So then, what do you preach?’

‘We’, said the pilgrim, ‘don’t preach, but speak about things of God with certain people in an informal way, such as after a meal with some people who invite us.’

‘But’, said the friar, ‘what things of God do you talk about? That’s what we want to know.’

‘We speak’, replied the pilgrim, ‘now of one virtue, now of another, in praise of it; now of this vice, now of that, and in criticism.’

‘You aren’t learned’, said the friar, ‘and you’re speaking of virtues and vices. About this no one can speak except in one of two ways: either through learning or through the Holy Spirit. If it’s not learning, then it’s the Holy Spirit. And this point: that it is of the Holy Spirit, is what we would like to know about.’

Here the pilgrim was a little wary, as this way of arguing did not seem good to him. And after having been silent a while, he said that there was no need to speak more about these matters. As the friar insisted, ‘Well, now that there are so many errors from Erasmus and so many others who have deceived the world, aren’t you willing to explain what you’re saying?’, [66] the pilgrim said, ‘Father, I won’t say any more than what I’ve already said, unless it be in front of my superiors who can require it of me’.101

Before this he had asked why Calisto had come dressed in the way he was, wearing a short tunic and a large hat on his head, together with a staff in his hand and some boots almost half-way up his legs. And because he was very tall he seemed the more outlandish. The pilgrim recounted to him how they had been imprisoned at Alcalá, how they had ordered them to dress as students, and how this companion of his had given his academic gown to a poor cleric. At this the friar muttered, ‘Charity begins at home’, showing that this did not please him.

So, to carry on the story: since the Subprior couldn’t get another word out of the pilgrim apart from this, he said, ‘Well then, stay here: we’ll make a proper job of getting you to tell everything’. And at that all the friars went off with some haste. On the pilgrim first asking if they wanted them to stay in that chapel or where did they want them to stay, the Subprior replied that they should stay in the chapel. Next, the friars had all the doors shut, and presumably began to talk to the judges. The two of them were still in the monastery three days later, with nothing having been said to them by the judiciary, eating with the friars in the refectory. Their room was almost always full of friars coming to see them, and the pilgrim always spoke on his usual topics. Consequently there was already something of a division among the friars, since there were many who were showing signs of being moved.


[67] At the end of the three days a notary came and took them to the prison. He didn’t put them below with the criminals but in a room above, where, because it was old and unused, there was a lot of dirt. And they tied them both to one and the same chain, each one by the foot, and the chain was attached to a post in the centre of the building; it would have been about five or six feet long. And every time one of them wanted to do anything the other would have to go with him. They were keeping vigil the whole of that night. The following day, when their being detained became known in the city, people sent bedding for them to the prison, and everything they needed in abundance. And there were always many people coming to visit them; the pilgrim continued his exercises of speaking about God etc.

Frías the bachelor102 came to question each of them individually, and the pilgrim gave him all his papers – these were the Exercises – so that he could examine them. When he asked them if they had companions, they said yes, and told him where they were. And straightaway, by order of the bachelor, they went there and brought Cáceres and Arteaga to the prison (they left Juanico who afterwards became a friar).103 But they didn’t put them above with the first two, but below where the ordinary prisoners were. Here too he refused to have an advocate or a lawyer.

[68] Some days later he was called before four judges: the three doctors, Santisidoro, Paravinhas and Frías, and the fourth being Frías the bachelor. All had already seen the Exercises. And at this point they asked him many things, not only regarding the Exercises, but also theology: for example, about the Trinity and the Blessed Sacrament; how did he understand such and such an article? He began in his normal way,104 and nevertheless, when commanded by the judges, spoke in such a way that they had nothing on which to criticize him. Frías the bachelor, who had always figured more prominently in these matters than the others, also asked him a canonical case, and he was obliged to answer everything, always saying first that he didn’t know what the learned people said about these things. Later they asked him to explain the first commandment as he normally explained it. He began to do this, and he took so long and said so many things about the first commandment that they had no wish to ask him more.

Prior to this, when they were talking about the Exercises, they laid much stress on one single point at the beginning of them: that of when a thought is a venial sin and when it is a mortal one.105 This was because he was defining that without being learned. His line of reply was, ‘You decide from there whether this is true or not; if it’s not, condemn it’. In the end they left without condemning anything.

[69] Among many who used to come and talk to him in the prison, there came once Don Francisco de Mendoza, who is now known as the Cardinal of Burgos,106 and he came with Frías the bachelor. He asked him as a friend would how he was coping with imprisonment, and if it was hard for him to be a prisoner. His reply was, ‘I shall answer you what I answered to a lady today, who spoke words of compassion at seeing me a prisoner. I said to her, “In this you are showing that you do not desire to be a prisoner for the love of God. Does imprisonment seem so bad to you then? Well, I tell you: there are not so many fetters or chains in Salamanca that I don’t want more for the love of God”’.

At this time it happened that all the prisoners in the jail escaped, but the two companions who were with them did not run away. And when they were found in the morning with the doors open, on their own without anyone else, this gave much edification to everybody and caused considerable talk through the city. And so later they were given as their prison a real palace of a place which was nearby.

[70] After twenty-two days of imprisonment, they were summoned to hear the verdict, which was that no error could be found either in their way of life or in their doctrine, and that they could therefore do as they had been doing, teaching doctrine and speaking about things of God, so long as they did not adjudicate: ‘this is a mortal sin’ or ‘this is a venial sin’ before four years had passed during which they had done further study. After this verdict was read out, the judges showed great affection for them, as if they wanted it to be agreed to. The pilgrim said that he would do all that the verdict commanded, but that he would not agree with it, since, without having convicted him of anything, they were muzzling him so that he couldn’t help others as far as he was capable. And however much Dr Frías, who appeared very friendly, pressed the point, the pilgrim said nothing further except that he would do what was being commanded as long as he was within the jurisdiction of Salamanca.

Then they were released from the prison, and he began to put before God the question of what he should do, and to think about it. He had great difficulty with staying in Salamanca, because it seemed to him that the door was shut on his doing good to souls with this prohibition against adjudicating mortal and venial sin. [71] So he decided to go to Paris to study.

When in Barcelona the pilgrim had been consulting as to whether he should study and how much, his whole question was whether, after he had studied, he should enter a religious order or continue to wander about the world.107 And when thoughts of entering a religious order came to him, at once there would come the desire to enter a decadent one, little reformed: he was to enter religious life so as to be able to suffer more in it. He also thought that perhaps God would help those in that order, and God would give him a great confidence that he would be able to suffer all the insults and hurts they would inflict on him. Now, since at this time of being imprisoned in Salamanca these same desires that he had hadn’t gone away – of doing good for souls, of studying first with this end in view, of gathering together some people with the same intention and of keeping those he already had – he came to an agreement with these latter, having decided to go to Paris, that they should wait behind, and that he would go so as to be able to see if he could find a means whereby they could study. [72] Many prominent people urged him strongly not to go, but they could never succeed with him in this. Instead, fifteen or twenty days after having come out of prison he went off alone, carrying some books, on a donkey. When he arrived in Barcelona, everyone who knew him advised him against the move to France because of the major wars taking place,108 recounting to him very specific examples, to the point of telling him that they were roasting Spaniards on spits. But he never had any kind of fear.

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