Ignatius Loyola wrote to King John III of Portugal in 1545 about some of the difficulties he had experienced in his earlier life with the Inquisition. On eight separate occasions -- once each in Salamanca, Venice and Rome, twice in Paris, and three times in Alcala - he had been examined for his religious orthodoxy. (1) The reason for his difficulties, he explained, was that people were surprised that a man of so little learning, particularly during Loyola's early Spanish years, could speak at length on spiritual matters. Certainly, he told the Portuguese king, he had never been suspected of having any affinities with "schismatics, Lutherans or Illuminists, for I never conversed with such or knew such." However, that is not quite so, and it would have surprised Ignatius to know that during the year and a half of his residence in Alcala in 1526 and 1527, he actually did converse with and know some Illuminists. In fact, as he tells us himself, his first difficulties with the Inquisition arose from the suspicion that he was another one of these Illuminists they were after.
Ignatius came from Barcelona in February 1526, to study at the University of Alcala at a very sensitive time: Isabel de la Cruz was confessing her sins in jail, the Toledo inquisitors were drawing up lists of Illuminist suspects and were naturally on the lookout for anything that smelled heterodox. Ignatius, whose saintliness was yet to be
1. For full documentation of this account of Loyola see my article on the subject: John E. Longhurst, "Saint Ignatius at Alcala, 1526-1527," in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu (Rome), vol. xxvi (1957), pp. 252-6.
104 JOHN E. LONGHURST
established, was just another suspicious character. Within a few months after his arrival in Alcala he had already gathered a small group of followers of both sexes and all ages. They began to hold small conventicles in Ignatius' quarters in the Hospital of Antezana and in the homes of some of his followers. At these gatherings Ignatius, barefooted, and wearing a plain gray hood and habit, preached on the commandments, mortal sin, and the powers of the spirit, using as his text the writings of Saint Paul, the Evangel, and occasional works of other saints. His instruction produced some bizarre results. Some of his female followers showed some of the more neurotic symptoms of Illuminist stigmatism: they would fall into prolonged periods of insensibility, melancholia and catatonia.
An overwhelming sadness would enter their hearts; they would lose all power of the senses. Some would remain in positions of fixed rigidity, while others would roll about on the floor.
It took very little time for the news of these goings-on to reach the Inquisition. Nor is there any doubt, from the trial records of Ignatius (2) that the inquisitors thought Ignatius was an Illuminist. The latter himself tells us he heard that the inquisitors were calling him and his friends Illuminists. We find also that in the course of their investigation the inquisitors wanted to know if the people around Ignatius were conversos, for this had early become a kind of rule of thumb with Illuminists.
In November (1526) representatives of the Inquisition began taking testimony from Ignatius' followers in Alcala. Between that date and June 1527 Ignatius, with his four closest companions, was ordered to give up his distinctive clerical-type garb, to teach no doctrine, and to hold no private meetings anywhere for a period of three years.
So much for the facts. The interpretation of the facts has been quite another matter. Was Ignatius Loyola, consciously or unconsciously, influenced by the traditions of Illuminism? Marcel
2. The trial records have been printed: Fidel Fita, "Los tres procesos de S. Ignacio de Loyola en Alcala de Henares," in Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia, vol. 33 (1898), pp. 422-61.
LUTHER'S GHOST IN SPAIN 105
Bataillon thinks he was. (3) So too does Beltran de Heredia, (4) who is a Dominican, if that means anything here. Jesuit historians, however, are not about to accept such a conclusion. (5) I am sure I can contribute nothing to the dialectics of the argument, but I can provide some facts which are new. In the course of reading through the archival materials for this era I became so confused by the many fragmentary references to persons presumably compromised by heresy that I finally resorted to a card-file system used by "intelligence" agencies. In the trial records of Ignatius Loyola at Alcala, forty-some names are associated with his. By running these names through the file (forgive the odious terminology, dear reader) I came up with some information which, if not useful, is at least curious. It follows:(6) Of the persons involved with Ignatius Loyola at Alcala, the following also appear under circumstances connecting them with the Illuminist movement during the same years:
Beatriz Ramirez was a regular member of the group around Ignatius at Alcala, and in November 1526 she testified to this effect.
This same Beatriz Ramirez was denounced in 1532 to the Toledo Inquisition as an active participant in the Illuminist movement at Alcala. Also denounced at the same time were Luisa Arenas, whose sister and maid were associated with Ignatius, and Luisa Velazquez,
3. Marcel Bataillon, Erasmo y Espana, Mexico, 1950, vol.
i, pp. 247-50. See also Bataillon's remarks on this same subject in his Prologue
to Erasmo. El Enquiridion o Manual del Caballero Cristiano, ed. by
Damaso Alonso, Madrid, 1932, pp. 73-6.
106 JOHN E. LONGHURST
who, together with her mother, shared a similar enthusiasm for his teachings. Another member of the group was Ana Diaz, wife of one Alonso de la Cruz. Although Ana's name does not appear in the Illuminist trials, her husband was identified by the Toledo prosecutor in 1527 as one of the Illuminists who corresponded with Isabel de la Cruz and Pedro Ruiz de Alcaraz.
The name of Manuel de Miana is well known in the history of the Jesuit order. He was a Portuguese priest and professor at the University of Alcala who served as confessor to Ignatius at Alcala and later in Paris, becoming a member of the new Society of Jesus in 1544. In Toledo on May 27, 1532, one Diego Hernandez made a serious charge against Miona. The latter, he said, was a very close friend of Bernardino Tovar, who was reconciled as an Illuminist by the Inquisition in the 1530s. Hernandez, in his testimony of 1532, claimed that Miona had learned his Illuminist heresies from Tovar, and that Miona in turn had taught these same heresies to a friend of his at Alcala by the name of Alonso Garzon. Garzon was burned at the stake for what he learned from Miona, which persuaded the latter to flee Spain and go to Paris.
Equally well known is the name of Diego de Eguia. At Alcala, Eguia befriended Ignatius, inviting him to his home and giving him alms for the poor. In 1536 Eguia joined Ignatius in Venice and remained one of his most devoted followers for the rest of his life. In Rome he served as confessor to Ignatius, and until his death in 1556 was one of the most influential and esteemed members of the Society of Jesus. This Diego de Eguia was the brother of Miguel de Eguia, the printer at the University of Alcala who was tried for Illuminism and Lutheranism by the Inquisition of Toledo in the 1530s. The name of Diego himself turns up in four of the trials in this same period, where he is identified as a friend and associate of most of the Illuminist leaders of his day, including Juan del Castillo, who was burned at the stake in 1535.
LUTHER'S GHOST IN SPAIN 107
It is a common practice, where thinking is a form of black magic, to determine guilt by association. It certainly is tempting to do it here, but it would not make sense. I have combed through the records of these events and am absolutely certain that Ignatius Loyola was neither an Illuminist, a crypto-illuminist, soft on Illuminism or a dupe of same.
Consider, first, his personal behavior in the face of inquisitorial examination. His reaction to questioning was admirably straightforward. He had nothing to hide and, in fact, was eager to have the whole matter thoroughly aired. His followers behaved in the same way. They readily admitted attending his conventicles and insisted they were still convinced that Ignatius was a good and saintly man. In fact, one of his friends voluntarily sought to join him in his jail cell, while others visited him as often as they were permitted.
By contrast, the Illuminists almost without exception became evasive and vague when questioned by the Inquisition. One cannot read their twisted and contradictory testimony without feeling that they were trying to cover their tracks. Those who were involved with them strove mightily to dissociate themselves from their former friends, and the trials of this period degenerate into mutual orgies of recrimination and denunciation.
Superficially there appears to be some similarity between the teachings of Ignatius at Alcala and the Illuminists. Both speak at length of the importance of some kind of inner mystical force, or flooding, as a necessary ingredient in religious experience. But here the similarity ends. The Illuminists go on to the rejection of external religious practices on the ground that they are not necessary to true religious experience. Ignatius, on the other hand, insisted strenuously on the importance of all external practices prescribed by the church, because he felt they were absolutely essential first steps to religious understanding. In fact, his religious ideas in Alcala were essentially the same as those which we find in the Spiritual Exercises, already in his mind before he ever came to Alcala.
Furthermore, in the prolific and frequently indiscriminate denunciations made by the Illuminists of this period, not once do we hear the name of Ignatius Loyola in any form. Also, the inquisitors themselves, when they began their investigation, started with the predispo-
108 JOHN E. LONGHURST
sition that Ignatius was an Illuminist, and it was not easy to convince them otherwise. Yet, after thorough investigation, they decided that whatever Ignatius might have been, he was not an Illuminist.
How then do we explain the stubborn fact that some persons of Illuminist persuasion appeared in the group around Ignatius Loyola at Alcala? There were among the Illuminists a number of persons obviously concerned about the state of their souls. It is hardly surprising that some of them sought out the new man in town, Ignatius Loyola, who appeared to have a useful set of answers to their problems. What happened was that they found the answers with Ignatius - he, in effect, "converted" them. Perhaps they even saw themselves as modest counterparts of those ancient saints who had to taste heresy before they were permitted to see the Truth.
I never had anything to do with "Lutherans ar Illuminists," Loyola said in 1545. Whether he meant either...ar is irrelevant, because by 1545 Lutheranism and Illuminism were one and the same so far as the Inquisition was concerned. But this was not the case in 1525, when a general edict against Lutheran heresy appeared in which no mention was made of Illuminism. That heresy was dealt with in a separate edict the same year, in which forty eight propositions, drawn from the teachings of Isabel de la Cruz, were condemned as false, dangerous, scandalous, erroneous, mad, and heretical. An occasional reference was made to a certain "Lutheran flavor" in one or two instances, but that was all.
Still, one cannot leave the Illuminists without considering the question of their relationship (if any) to the Lutheran movement. Although in later years the Inquisition was to lump Lutheranism and Illuminism together in the same heretical package, in 1525 the two heresies were treated on a mutually exclusive basis. There was, in fact, no external evidence on which to establish any connection between them. The Illuminists preceded Luther by at least five years, and there is no evidence that either Isabel de la Cruz or Alcaraz had any knowledge of the religious opinions of the German reformer.
109 LUTHER'S GHOST IN SPAIN
However, the chronological parallels between the Illuminist movement and the early stages of the Lutheran revolt in Germany, as well as the association of Lutheran with Illuminist doctrine by the 1530s, have made amateur theologians out of many of us. Some contend that there was no relationship at all. Others see certain parallels, but consider the two movements to be independent of each other, and one student of the subject argues that the Illuminists represent a Spanish version of the Lutheran movement of Germany. (7) Certainly the Inquisition came to regard the Illuminists as Lutherans, but then "Lutheran" became a catchphrase in Spain, and indicates a general state of mind more than it does a precise theological definition. Whatever similarities there were between Illuminist and Lutheran teachings, it seems clear that they differed on at least three fundamental matters - free will, human depravity, and good works. Dejamiento and recogimiento, whatever their methodological differences, call for a complete surrender of the human will to the divine will. Both Isabel de la Cruz and Alcaraz maintained that the best way for one to use his free will was to subject himself to God:
Alonso Lopez de la Palomera said that it was good that men did the things they should, since God had given them knowledge of good and evil for this purpose, with the freedom to choose the good and avoid the evil. Alcaraz replied that in that case one made better use of his freedom of will when he subjected himself to God, since without God he could not choose well.(8)
Dejamiento, said Alcaraz, "is the offering of one's will and free spirit to God." Isabel de la Cruz made the same point: in choosing to surrender itself to God, "the free will had chosen that which was the highest work that it could choose." (9) If we take them at their
7. Angela Selke de Sanchez, "Algunos datos nuevos sobre los
primeros alumbrados. El edicto de 1525 y su relacion con el proceso de Alcaraz,"
in Bulletin Hispanique, vol. 54 (1952), pp. 125-52.
110 JOHN E. LONGHURST
word, we must say that not only did these two Illuminist captains believe in free will, but they used it as the basis of sublime choice. For them, the supreme act of the free will was to offer it to God - to choose freely to give it to Him in order to achieve a state of dejamiento.
This notion of submission to God through the special exercise of free will lies at the core of Catholic mysticism. If we have to associate it with something, we might suggest that since there were so many Franciscans who flirted with Illuminism perhaps we have here a manifestation of the tradition of spiritual Christianity of Joachim of Flores which plagued the Franciscan order with heresy in the thirteenth century. Alcaraz himself considered his religious views to be a product of medieval mysticism. In a lengthy statement before the Inquisition in 1526 he defended the orthodoxy of dejamiento on the ground that it was in harmony with the teachings of such medieval mystics as Saint Dionysius, Saint Bernard, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Angela of Foligno, and also Jean Gerson. (10) The edict against the Illuminists which appeared in 1525 likewise spoke of a background of medieval mysticism in dejamiento but traced it to the heretical Beghards and Beguines, whose views were condemned in the fourteenth century. A modern Jesuit author (11) describes Illuminist doctrine as a "sixteenth-century derivative from ancient Gnosticism," a recurrent heresy "which in medieval times took the shape of Albigensianism, Waldensianism, Lollardy, the errors of the Beghards and Beguines, and other similar aberrations of false mysticism." Whichever side they belonged to, the Illuminists believed firmly in the importance of free will, in the opinions of both friend and foe. This would be impossible for Luther, who held that because of the corruption of human nature all acts of human free will are evil per se, insofar as salvation is concerned.
In commenting on the nature of man, Alcaraz warned that man was naturally inclined to vice, and consequently should strive always
10. Ibid., fols.174r-188r.
111 LUTHER'S GHOST IN SPAIN
to guard against this tendency within himself. (12) This is simply the Catholic notion of concupiscence - that man, by nature, inclines toward sin rather than virtue, but that if he has plenty of help (that is, with good will and God's grace, as well as a determination to virtue) he can conquer this disagreeable tendency.
Concupiscence was quite a different thing for Martin Luther. Not only was it an evil in itself, but it was invincible and irresistible. As a result, man had no choice except to be unrighteous and wicked. Alcaraz urged man to be on guard against his inclination to sin; Luther knew that man could not avoid sin because he was totally depraved from the start.
A natural consequence of these different views on human nature appears in the contrasting attitudes of Illuminist and Lutheran toward good works. In a state of dejamiento the good works of the Illuminist were the works of God, operating through the individual, and were therefore of the highest order of merit in the quest for salvation. (Let the reader hear me out before identifying this with Lutheranism.) On the human level, however, man was at a decided disadvantage: without God, said Alcaraz, man cannot choose well between good and evil. He cannot choose well - "no podIa bien escoger." This is what Alcaraz said. But had he said instead, "no podia escoger," - he cannot choose - he would have committed himself to Luther's doctrine of the slavery of the will. He would also have tangled himself in the paradox of denying that one could choose (aught but evil, that is) and at the same time advising one to choose the ultimate good by surrendering his will freely to God. Alcaraz and Isabel de la Cruz even admitted that good works, such as observance of external Church forms, were not completely without merit, although they were not too taken with them: "Exterior works were good in their way, but were not of much substance." (13) Isabel and Alcaraz appear to be orthodox (Catholic) in their belief that the will of man, being essentially wayward, cannot be relied
12. Proceso contra Pedro Ruiz de Alcaraz (note 8 above),
fo1. 88r: "Man should always struggle against himself to conquer his passions,
because nature inclines us to wickedness."
112 JOHN E. LONGHURST
upon to choose good without God's help. For Luther, justification by faith naturally manifested itself in good works, but such good works were good only by reason of divine grace imputed (per accidens), and therefore possessed no merit for salvation. By himself, however, man was at much more than a mere disadvantage - his position was utterly hopeless. Without justification by faith he was inevitably committed to evil. His will, enslaved and corrupt, gave him no choice, for evil was his natural destiny.
Despite these fundamental differences, there was sufficient reason for the Spanish Inquisition to suspect the Illuminists of promoting "Lutheranism" in Spain. Their emphasis on mystical inner feeling led them to a disregard of external practices, which bordered on Luther's rejection of certain outer forms on the ground that they stood in the way of justification by faith. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the decade following the trials of Ruiz de Alcaraz and Isabel de la Cruz, the Inquisition frequently described as Lutheran a number of Illuminist opinions which were merely treated as erroneous or scandalous in the 1520s. In the trial of Maria de Cazalla in 1532, for example, the Illuminist opinions which she inherited from Isabel de la Cruz regarding confession, fasting, prayers, images and other external observances, were classified as Lutheran, and in the trial of Juan de Vergara the following year the Inquisition prosecutor described the errors of the Illuminists as "almost coinciding" with the errors of Luther. (14) The Illuminist doctrine of dejamiento also contained within itself certain heretical potentialities with which numerous mystics were forced to contend. Mysticism shades into heresy when one eliminates completely his human personality and his liberty in his desire to achieve ecstatic union, abandoning himself so completely to his inner impulses that he is convinced of his God-directed infallibility. It is interesting to note that Alcaraz was much closer to Catholic ortho-
113 LUTHER'S GHOST IN SPAIN
doxy on this point than was his Escalona rival, the Franciscan friar Francisco de Ocana. In 1524 Antonio de Baeza, who regularly listened to the preachings of both men, testified to the Inquisition that he had heard Ocana preach that it was possible in this life to arrive at a spiritual state in which it was impossible to sin. Alcaraz, however, disagreed, and warned against the perils of spiritual certainty, advising one not to trust spiritual feelings within himself:
Friar Francisco de Ocana said and preached that there was a spiritual state in this life in which one could not sin, but I [Antonio de Baeza) heard Alcaraz say that the greatest danger to a person was to believe he had any such certainty whatsoever, and that it was a very great gift of God for one always to feel suspicion and fear about spiritual things that passed through a person. (15)
The sentiments of Saint Teresa of Avila on this point are strikingly similar:
Another very treacherous temptation of Satan is that of a false sense of security. It consists in a certain confident conviction that we could never return to our former faults, or to worldly pleasures. We seem convinced of the nothingness of this world, and of its fleeting character, and we imagine that our sole delight is the service of God. This temptation is particularly dangerous when it appears at the beginning of the spiritual life, because the soul, blinded by this sense of security, takes no precautions against the occasions of sin, and so succumbs to them. God grant that this second fall be not worse than the first! (16)
15. AHN, Inquisicion de Toledo, Legajo 104, no. 15,
Proceso contra Antonio de Medrano, fol. 136v. Alcaraz gave the same advice
to the beata Juana Gomez: "He told her that when she felt some consolation in her
spirit, she should not think she was a saint, nor stop there, nor be content with
this feeling, but she should call to God to help her." Proceso contra Pedro Ruiz
de Alcaraz (note 8 above), fol. 73r. 16. Wm. J. Doheny, ed., The Pater Nosier
of Saint Teresa, St. Meinrad (Indiana), 1941, p. 114.
14. AHN, Inquisicion de Toledo, Legajo 223, no. 42, Proceso contra Juan de Vergara, fol. 134r. On July 12, 1533 Vergara was accused among other things - of believing in the heresies of Martin Luther and the errors of the Illuminists, "which errors almost coincide with the said Lutheran errors."
114 JOHN E. LONGHURST
It is important to note, for the sake of my argument, that the Supreme Council of the Inquisition felt it was just this kind of error into which Isabel de la Cruz and Alcaraz had fallen. After studying the trial records they concluded that Alcaraz (and Isabel) had fallen into Illuminist errors "through having read some books of contemplative doctrine which he misunderstood, because the material from which he formed his heresies was very delicate and subtle, in which material the devil, transfigured into an angel of light could, under the guise of greater spiritual perfection, easily deceive one." (17) Thomas Merton, who is most articulate on subtle topics, expresses the same viewpoint in terms which all of us can understand:
The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling is the more he is convinced of his own infallibility. And if the sheer force of his own self-confidence communicates itself to other people and gives them the impression that he is really a saint, such a man can wreck a whole city or a religious order or even a nation: and the world is covered with scars that have been left in its flesh by visionaries like these.(18)
I repeat, I do not mean to suggest that there are no similarities between the teachings of Illuminism and Lutheranism. Some of the Illuminists, by their disregard of external practices, arrived ultimately - consciously or unconsciously - at the Lutheran view which denied the utility of such external observances as a means to salvation. However, insofar as fundamental theological principles are concerned, the Illuminists represent a tradition of mystical spirituality which, while not necessarily unorthodox in itself, contains heretical pitfalls for the unwary and over-enthusiastic. One may insist that
17. Proceso contra Pedro Ruiz de Alcaraz (note 8 above),
LUTHER'S GHOST IN SPAIN 115
Lutheranism was a logical evolution from this tradition. But if that is so, then Lutheranism was only one - though perhaps the most spectacular and the most revolutionary - of a great many "heresies" which have sprung from the same seed. The theologians who qualified Illuminist propositions for the Inquisition in the edict of 1525 must certainly have been aware of this situation. Even an Inquisition prosecutor in 1533, anxious as he was to equate the heresies of the Illuminists with those of Martin Luther, could not bring himself to lump them completely together, but was constrained by the theological niceties involved to describe the two heresies as almost coinciding. I am, therefore, inclined to agree with the principle stated in the observations of Sainz Rodriguez on this same theme, but whatever he means by the "Protestant mentality" I leave to the Catholic mentality to decide:
In the mind of Protestant historians of the Inquisition, things which were very different are mixed together. . . . The Inquisition prosecuted a certain type of spirituality, certain doctrines in defense of a Catholic reform which [doctrines] were not considered prudent and which [reform] was not defined; but the Inquisition knew only too well that many of these men whom it punished and whose works it prohibited were not Lutherans [his italics]. The Protestant mentality does not discern these shades of meaning and considers them as martyrs of people persecuted for their [Protestant] religion.(19)
It may well be that the Inquisition knew some of its "Lutherans" were not Lutherans. Certainly they made that distinction publicly in 1525 in their edict against the lIIuminists. But as time went on and Luther's shadow seemed to stretch farther across the Pyrenees, such technical distinctions were soon dissipated and the subtle differences between appearance and reality could hardly have mattered either to the public or the accused.
19. Pedro Sainz Rodriguez, "Una apologia olvidada de San Ignacio y de la compania de Jesus por fray Domingo de Valtanas, O. P.," in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu (Rome), vol. xxv (1956), p. 10.