THIS little volume contains the translation from the Spanish of a few spiritual letters of Blessed John of Avila. The author is probably not much known to English readers; certainly he is not as well known as he deserves to be both for his own merits as a writer and because in his own time, the sixteenth century, and even beyond the limits of his own country, Spain, he was a man of great renown. He was recognised everywhere as a special servant of God, and as a a true director of all souls desiring to walk the higher paths of perfection, or of those who needed help and encouragement to serve God in the humbler walks of life. He was also a preacher of exceptional power. St. Francis of Sales in his Practice of the Love of God speaks of him as the learned and saintly preacher of Andalusia, St. Francis Borgia as "the Great Master," and he was popularly known as the Apostle of Andalusia from the wonderful change which his preaching wrought in that district of Spain. His discourses were likened to fishermen's nets gathering in fishes of all sorts whenever and wheresoever he cast them, so plentiful was the harvest of souls which followed his expositions of the Christian teaching. It may perhaps seem somewhat strange that one endowed by God with such personal holiness and who had been called to guide the souls of St. John of God, St. Francis Borgia, St. Peter of Alcantara and St. Teresa, should have had to wait so long a time before being raised to the ranks of the formally beatified servants of God. It is fortunately not in any way necessary for us to explain such apparent neglect; but it was only on the 12th of November 1893, some three centuries and a half after his death, that Pope Leo XII!., of happy memory, decreed his Beatification, and the faithful were invited to invoke his protection and aid under the title of Blessed John of Avila. The writings of the great servant of God have hitherto been little known, at least in England, and it is with the confident expectation that those, who will read the letters here printed, will find in them spiritual comfort and solid christian teaching, that they have been translated from the Spanish. For the sake of those into whose hands this little volume may fall, who are unacquainted with the life of Blessed John of Avila, it may be useful to give a brief outline of his career. Letters and other writings of anyone wholly unknown to us do not as a rule interest us as much as when we have at least a general knowledge of their author and of the circumstances under which they were written. From a contemporary historian we learn that our author was born on 6th January 1500, at Almodovar del Campo, a town in the diocese of Toledo and in the kingdom of New Castile. Spain was then under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella and the Church was governed by Pope Alexander VI.
Blessed John of Avila, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1495922855, ISBN 13: 9781495922855