John of Avila

John Of Avila (Juan de Avila), the apostle of Andalusia in the 16th century, was born at Almodovar del Campo, a small city of the province. of Toledo, about the year 1500. His father intended him for the profession of law, but, after a short stay at the University of Salamanca, he returned home, and spent three years in strict asceticism. Then, after extended studies in philosophy and theology under Domingo de Soto, he commenced preaching with great success. His popularity excited envy, and he was imprisoned for a very short time by the Inquisition. After preaching for nine years in Andalusia, he visited also Cordova, Granada, Baeza, Montilla, etc., where his sermons — chiefly in honor of the Virgin Mary — proved a great success. The highest ecclesiastical offices were now offered him; pope Paul III contemplated even creating him cardinal, but John preferred to continue the work of an itinerant missionary. With a view to the early religious education of the people, and to elevate their moral standing permanently, he established schools at Seville, Ubeda, Baeza, Granada, Cordova, and Montilla. His health failed him, however, and he remained for twenty years sick at the latter place, which accounts for his not accompanying the archbishop of Granada to the Council of Trent. Here he composed his Epistolario espiritual (2 vols. 4to), which has been translated into several languages. He died May 10, 1569. His Life has been written by Luis le Granada (see Obras del V. P. AI. Luis de Granada, Madrid, 1849; Luis Munnoz, Vida del Ven. Varon el Maestro Juan de Avila; Antonio de Capmany, Teatro historico de la elocuencia Espannola). See Fr. J. Schirmer, Werke des Juan de Avila (Sermones del santissimo sacramento; de la incarnacion del Hijo de Dios; del Espiritu Santo; las festivitates de la santissima virgen Maria, etc.), Regensburg, 1856. — Herzog, Real- Encyklopädie, 6, 737.

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