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Lay Brothers: The Other Men in the Mendicant Orders of New Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 July 2015

Asunción Lavrin*
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona


In 1556 Franciscan missionaries from the city of Mexico arrived in the then remote area of Zacatecas to begin what was expected to be a crucial but difficult evangelization of the area. They had been preceded by several other brothers who had not settled there despite having spent several years in catechizing the indigenous. The intention of these four missionaries was to stay and found a convent. Along with Fr. Pedro de Espinareda and Fr. Diego de la Cadena came one lay brother, Fr. Jacinto de San Francisco, and one donado simply called Lucas. Fr. Joseph Arlegui, chronicler of the order, assumed the presence of those friars would lay the foundation for the difficult task of evangelizing such distant lands and such unwilling peoples.

Copyright © Academy of American Franciscan History 2015 

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1. Donados were men of low social status who lived in the convent to serve its needs and enjoyed the benefits of the spiritual blessings of the community. Only a few of them have been recorded in chronicles. See for example Padilla, Agustín Dávila, Historia de la Provincia de Santiago de Mexico, . . . y las vidas de sus varones insignes, 2nd ed. (Brussels: Casa de Francisco Vivien, 1648), pp. 196, 559, 575.Google Scholar On the historical origins of lay brothers, see France, James, Separate but Equal: Cistercian Lay Brothers, 1120–1350 (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2012)Google Scholar; Lekal, Louis. J., Los cistercienses:ideales y realidad (Tarragona, Spain: Abadía de Poblet, 1987)Google Scholar; and de Cortázar, José Ángel García and coords, Ramón Teja Casuso. Monasterios cistercienses en la España medieval (Aguilar de Campoo [Palencia]: Fundación Santa María la Real, 2008).Google Scholar In 1745, Fr. Manuel Barbado de la Torre y Angulo wrote a history of the lay brothers of the Franciscan order underlining their meritorious contribution. See y Angulo, Barbado de la Torre, Compendio histórico lego-seraphico. Fundación de la Orden de Menores (Madrid: Joseph González, 1745).Google Scholar The rules of Saint Augustine were the common base for the rules of the mendicant orders, which over time made changes to suit their characters. See Augustine of Hippo, The Monastic Rules, commentary by Gerald Bonner (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2004); Reglas de los Frayles Menores con el testamento del Bien Aventurado Padre San Francisco (Mexico: Pedro Balli, 1595); Ximenez, Juan, Exposición de la Regla de los Frayles Menores, 2d ed. (Valencia: Pedro Patricio May, 1622), pp. 174177 Google Scholar; and Regla de N.P.S. Agustín, y Constituciones de la Sagrada Orden de Predicadores con algunas de sus glosas, explicación de sus votos y práctica de la oración para el uso de sus religiosos legos (Barcelona: Bernardo Pla, Impresos, 1787). This work also extolled the memory of distinguished Dominican lay brothers.

2. Arlegui, Joseph, Chronica de la Provincia de N.S.P.S. Francisco de Zacatecas (Mexico: Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, 1737), pp. 31, 35.Google Scholar The task assigned to Fr. Jacinto and Lucas was to teach the children and adults to pray. Arlegui wrote a lengthy biography of Fr. Jacinto, who spent many years among the natives. Lucas perished as a martyr with Fr. Juan de Tapia, pp. 235, 278–287.

3. A beato is a person of heroic virtues and lofty repute that makes him or her eligible for veneration, as approved by the Catholic Church. Beatification grants the faithful permission to venerate the beato through a decree of beatification. The Franciscans could boast an array of lay brothers who had been beatified or canonized—that is, granted the rank of saints—such as Diego de Alcalá, canonized in 1588; Pascual Bailón, beatified in 1618 and canonized in 1690; and Felix de Canatalicio, canonized in 1712. They also had two men martyred in Morocco, Acursio and Adiuto, who were canonized in 1481. In South America the Dominican Martín de Porres attained recognition for heroic virtues in 1763. He had had a strong number of followers and supporters since the seventeenth century.

4. The historiography focusing on colonial men and masculine gender identity is very limited. See Stern, Steve, The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).Google Scholar Anne Twinam's work offers insights into paternity and fatherhood. See Twinam, Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999). See also Asunción Lavrin, “Los hombres de Dios: aproximación a un estudio de la masculinidad en Nueva España,”, accessed April 9, 2015; Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, “Contested Spaces and Masculinity in Colonial Mexico,” paper given at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Washington, D.C., January 3, 2014; and Lavrin, “Alternative Masculinity: The Sainted Men of Colonial Mexico,” paper given at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Washington, D.C, January 3, 2014. Literary and sociological studies broaden the parameters of inquiry. See for example Rivera-Ayala, Sergio, “Barbas, fierros y masculinidad dentro de la mirada colombina,” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 87:5 (2010), pp. 603618 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hernández, Oscar Misael, “Debates y aportes en los estudios sobre masculinidades en México,” Relaciones 29:116 (Autumn 2008), pp. 124 Google Scholar; Martini, Nelson Minello, “Masculinidad/es. Un concepto en construcción,” Nueva Antropología 18:61 (September 2002), pp. 1120 Google Scholar,, accessed April 14, 2015; Martini, Minello, “Los estudios de masculinidad,” Estudios Sociológicos 20:60, (September-December 2002), pp. 715732 Google Scholar; Cañedo, Natalia Fiorentini, “ Conviértete en lo que eres: construcción de la masculinidad y la feminidad en el discurso del derecho natural cristiano en la Nueva España del siglo XVI,” Dimensión Antropológica 52:18 (May–August 2011), pp. 3156 Google Scholar,, accessed April 14, 2015; and Routt, Kristin E., “‘Exercises’ in Masculinity: Models of Early Modern Manhood in the Acta of Ignatius of Loyola,” eHumanista: Journal of Iberian Studies 25 (2013), pp. 179194.Google Scholar On the other hand, the more abundant studies on sexuality and honor contain insights into cultural male behavioral patterns. Given the large number of publications in these fields, I refer the reader to Lavrin, Asunción, “Sexuality in Colonial Spanish America,” in The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, Moya, José C., ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 132152.Google Scholar

5. Reglas de los Frayles Menores [1595], pp. 27–28.

6. de Ojea, Hernando, Libro tercero de la historia religiosa de la provincia de México de la Orden de Sto. Domingo, (Mexico: Museo Nacional de México, 1897), p. 20.Google Scholar Convents did not always report on the number of legos in official documents. See Memoria de los religiosos en los monasterios de San Agustín, 1559, Archivo General de Indias [hereafter AGI], Mexico, leg. 291. In rural areas throughout the colonial period, convents sometimes had only a few frailes clérigos and no legos at all.

7. On the Christian care of the sick, see Arbiol, Antonio, Visita de enfermos y ejercicio santo de ayudar a bien morir (Zaragoza: Pedro Carreras, 1729).Google Scholar Only large convents had enough legos to fulfill some of these offices. Franciscan legos had an outstanding role in the administration of health services as infirmarians, pharmacists, and physicians in their Far East missions. See, von Collani, Claudia, “Healthcare in the Franciscans' Far East Missions (17th–18th Centuries), Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 107 (January 2014), pp. 61116.Google Scholar

8. Tello, Antonio, Libro Segundo de la Crónica Miscelánea . . . de la Santa Provincia de Xalisco en el Nuevo Reino de la Galicia y Nueva Vizcaya (Guadalajara: Imprenta La República Literaria, 1891), pp. 879880.Google Scholar Tabares, trained in pharmacopeia by his father, was also a “surgeon “and a “barber,” which meant that he could draw blood and operate.

9. de León, Nicolás Ponce, Historia de la singular vida de el Venerable Hermano Fray Christoval de Molina (Puebla: Diego Fernández de León, 1686).Google Scholar

10. de Mendieta, Jerónimo, Historia eclesiástica indiana, vol. 2 (Madrid: Atlas, 1973), p. 210.Google Scholar

11. Franco, Alonso, Segunda parte de la historia de la Provincia de Santiago de Mexico, Orden de Predicadores en la Nueva España (Mexico: Imprenta del Museo Nacional [1645], 1900), p. 135.Google Scholar While some friars vowed to eat no meat, not all followed this personal choice.

12. Ponce, Alonso, Relación breve y verdadera de algunas cosas de las muchas que sucedieron al padre Fray Alonso Ponce en las provincias de Nueva España, vol. 1 (Madrid: Imprenta de la Viuda de Calero, 1873), p. 526 Google Scholar; Ponce, , “Continúa la relación de las cosas que sucedieron al padre Fray Alonso Ponce en las Provincias de la Nueva España,” in Colección de documentos inéditos para la Historia de España, vol. 58, Miguel Salvá and the Marqués de la Fuensanta del Valle (Madrid: Imprenta de la Viuda de Calero, 1872), pp. 4, 6, 81, 91, 113, 238.Google Scholar

13. Rubial, Antonio, Una monarquía criolla. La provincia agustina en el siglo XVII (Mexico: CONACULTA, 1990), p. 85.Google Scholar This was strictly against the rules of the order, but no prelate challenged the usage.

14. The Dominicans enjoyed the contributions of their Indian labor and tithes and inherited properties from many donors. In the mid-seventeenth century, Franciscan nuns such as those of Santa Clara in Querétaro owned rural properties that at one point were administered by a certain member of the order. He was neither a lay brother nor a good administrator. See Lavrin, Asunción, “El Convento de Santa Clara de Querétaro: la administración de sus propiedades en el siglo XVII,” Historia Mexicana 97 (July–September 1975), pp. 76117 Google Scholar; and Myrna Lili de las Mercedes Jiménez Jácome, “El convento de Santa Clara de Jesús de Querétaro, mundo de privilegios y restricciones, 1607–1809 (Master's thesis: Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, 2012), pp. 129–130,, accessed April 9, 2015.

15. Franco, Segunda parte, pp. 126–127; Ojea, Libro tercero, pp. 28, 45.

16. The term procurador is also used to define the refitolero in other convents.

17. de la Puente, Juan González, Primera parte de la choronica avgustiana de Mechoacan, en que se tratan, y escriuen las vidas de nueue varones apostolicos, augustinianos. Mexico (Mexico: con licencia, 1624)Google Scholar; de Grijalva, Juan, Crónica de la Orden de N.P. S. Augustín en las provincias de la Nueva España (Mexico: Imprenta de Juan Ruiz, 1623).Google Scholar

18. Tello, Libro segundo, pp. 879–880, 882–884. See also Dávila Padilla, Historia, pp. 196, 559, 575.

19. de Medina, Balthassar [elsewhere, Balthasar], Chronica de la Santa Provincia de San Diego de México (Mexico: Juan de Ribera, 1682)Google Scholar; Arricivita, Juan Domingo, Chronica del Colegio de Propaganda Fide de la Santa Cruz de Querétaro (Mexico: Felipe de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1792), pp. 245320.Google Scholar

20. Mendieta, Historia, vol. 2, pp. 154–155; de la Torre Villar, Ernesto, “Fray Pedro de Gante. Maestro y civilizador de América,” Estudios de Historia Novohispana 5 (1974), pp. 977 Google Scholar, and, accessed April 9, 2015; Mulhare, Eileen M. and Sell, Barry D., “Bead-Prayers and the Spiritual Conquest of Nahua Mexico: Gante's ‘Coronas’ of 1553,” Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl 33 (January 2002), pp. 217252.Google Scholar In his Monarchia indiana, Fr. Juan de Torquemada, following Mendieta, praised Gante's perseverance as a lay brother. He pointed that other lay brothers, possibly unhappy with their rank, professed as clérigos. After that switch, in his opinion, some of them lost the esteem and good qualities they had as lay brothers. He praised Gante for having rejected three times the permits issued for him to profess as a clérigo. Torquemada, , Tercera parte de los veinte y un libros rituales y monarchia indiana (Madrid: Oficinas de Nicolás Rodríguez Franco, 1723), pp. 429430.Google Scholar

21. For the history of the reforms of the Spanish Franciscan orders, see Oro, José García, Cisneros y la reforma del clero español en tiempos de los Reyes Católicos (Madrid: CSIC, Instituto Jerónimo Zurita, 1971)Google Scholar; Andrés Martín, Melquíades, “La espiritualidad franciscana en España en tiempos de las observancias (1380–1517),” Studia Histórica: Historia Moderna 6 (1988), pp. 465479.Google Scholar For the Dominicans, see Nieva Ocampo, Guillermo, “Incorporarse a Jesucristo: prácticas sacramentales y penitenciales entre los dominicos castellanos en el siglo XVI,” Hispania Sacra 58 (January–June 2006), pp. 3967 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and de Guadalupe, Andrés, Historia de la Santa Provincia de los Ángeles (Madrid: Mateo Fernández, 1652).Google Scholar

22. Mendieta, Historia, vol. 2, p. 166.

23. Ibid., p. 201.

24. Juan de Torquemada, Tercera parte, pp. 596, 598–599. Fr. Juan Lozano was called Fr. Juan Gallina because he acted as a hen taking care of his chicks.

25. Mendieta, Historia, pp. 231–233, 246–247; Torquemada, Tercera parte, pp. 604–608, 617–622, 624, 626; Arlegui, Chrónica, p. 232. For the complex story of the settlement of northern New Spain, see Cruz Rangel, José Antonio, Chichimecas, misioneros, soldados y terratenientes. Estrategias de colonización, control y poder en Querétaro y la Sierra Gorda, siglos XVI–XVIII (Mexico: Secretaria de Gobernación, AGN, 2003)Google Scholar; Deeds, Susan, Defiance and Deference in Mexico's Colonial North: Indians Under Spanish Rule in Nueva Vizcaya (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003)Google Scholar; Assadourian, Carlos Sempat, Zacatecas. Conquista y transformación de la frontera en el siglo XVI. Minas de plata, guerra y evangelización (Mexico: El Colegio de México, 2008)Google Scholar, and Jiménez, Alfredo, El Gran Norte de Mexico. Una frontera imperial en la Nueva España (1540–1820), (Madrid: Tébar, 2006)Google Scholar. On martyrs, see Rubial, Antonio, La Justicia de Dios. La violencia física y simbólica de los santos en la historia del cristianismo (Mexico: Educación y Cultura/Trama Editorial, 2011), pp. 169218 Google Scholar; and Lavrin, Asunción, “Dying for Christ: Martyrdom in New Spain,” in Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas, Kirk, Stephanie and Rivett, Sarah, eds. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), pp. 131157.Google Scholar

26. de la Puente, Juan Gónzález, Primera parte de la Choronica en que se tratan y escriben las vidas de nueve varones apostólicos Augustinianos (Mexico: n.p., 1624).Google Scholar

27. Dávila Padilla, Historia, pp. 103, 185, 196, 388, 464, 472, 575. He cites Bartolomé de Calzadilla, Bartolomé Mateos, Miguel de Zamora, Juan de Neyra, Francisco García, and the donado Miguel Ortiz. He mentioned one other donado named Fuente as dying with the friars Luis de Cáncer and Diego de Tolosa, in Florida.

28. Ibid., pp. 103–104, 185, 196, 198, 464–472, 508, 559–561, 575. He forgave some of the lay brothers for rather disturbing pasts, such as Fr. Bartolome Mateos's escape from a Spanish prison where he had landed after supporting Gonzalo Pizarro's insurrection against the crown. Fr. Francisco García abandoned the order and returned after he had squandered his money. Such blunders were forgiven after personal repentance and subsequent observance of the rules of the order and subjection to conventual discipline.

29. Ibid., p. 559.

30. Ojea, Libro tercero, pp. 49, 51, 52–53, 58–62; Galván, José Rubén Romero, “De ejemplos de santidad en la Provincia de Santiago de México: la obra de Hernando de Ojea, O.P.,” in Camino a la santidad. Siglos XVI-XX, Manuel Ramos Medina, coord. (Mexico: Condumex, 2003), pp. 3947.Google Scholar

31. Ojea, Libro tercero, pp. 27–28.

32. Ibid., p. 67.

33. In the sixteenth century the Ten Commandments gained great influence in the indoctrination of the faith as part of the Catholic Reformation, and Ojea's remarks seem to bear that influence. See González Polvillo, Antonio, Decálogo y gestualidad social en la España de la Contrarreforma (Seville: Secretariado de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Sevilla, 2011).Google Scholar

34. Franco, Segunda parte, pp. 156–157.

35. Ojea, Libro tercero, p. 58; Franco, Segunda parte, p. 200.

36. Arricivita, Chronica, pp. 317–320.

37. Ibid., pp. 318–319.

38. Dávila Padilla, Historia, pp. 507, 509 559–560; Medina, Chronica, pp. 88–89, 95–103, 125–139, 141–146.

39. de la Rea, Alonso, Crónica de la Orden de N. Seráfico P.S. Francisco, Provincia de San Pedro y San Pablo de Michoacán [1643] (Mexico: Imprenta de J. R. Barbedillo y Ca., 1882).Google Scholar Chroniclers argued that lay brothers were satisfied with their status, as in the example of Alonso Ortiz, as told by De la Rea. From Extremadura, Ortiz joined the Franciscan order at age 40 as a lay brother after having “misspent” his youth. He was offered an upgrade to fraile clérigo and he left the judgment to God. When he became sick soon after the offer was made, he concluded he should remain a lay brother, pp. 364–368.

40. Arricivita, Chronica, pp. 312–317. Bartolome de Jesús y Torres was regarded as a model lay brother, a man who was efficient in collecting alms and preached in simple words to all kinds of people. Some of the sixteenth-century lay brothers preached to the indigenous in their own language, as did the Franciscan Juan de Herrera.

41. Medina, Chronica, pp. 95–103. Medina delighted in telling the stories of sainted lay brothers in his order and included one who was martyred in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1622.

42. Dávila Padilla, Historia, p. 460.

43. de Espinosa, Isidro Félix, El Cherubin Custodio. Vida del Ve. Siervo de Dios Fray Antonio de los Ángeles Bustamante (Mexico: Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, 1731).Google Scholar

44. Rodríguez, Joseph Manuel, Vida prodigiosa del V. Siervo de Dios Fray Sebastián de Aparicio (Mexico: D. Phelipe de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1769)Google Scholar. Rodríguez was the official chronicler of the Franciscan order and Custodian of the Province in charge of promoting Aparicio's cause. See also Vida de varios santos y beatos canonizados y beatificados en el presente siglo, compiled by Padre Eudaldo Corriols, vol. 1 (Barcelona: Sierra, Oliver y Martí, 1795), pp. 25–35; and de Vetancurt, Agustín, Menologio franciscano, included in Teatro Mexicano (Mexico: María de Benavides, 1698; reissued by Editorial Porrúa, Mexico, 1982)Google Scholar; Caparros, Juan Julián, Suplemento a la última edición del Año Christiano del Padre Juan de Croiset, vol. 1 (Madrid: Joseph García, 1793), pp. 116135 Google Scholar; Relación de la vida, muerte y milagros del bienaventurado Fray Sebastián de Aparicio de la Orden de San Francisco, AGI, Patronato, 1604, Puebla, leg. 250, ramo 1; Ragon, Pierre, “Sebastián de Aparicio: un santo mediterráneo en el Altiplano Mexicano,” Estudios de Historia Novohispana 123 (June 2000), pp. 1745 Google Scholar; Francisco Morales OFM, “La biografía del beato Sebastián de Aparicio,” in Camino a la santidad, Ramos Medina, coord., pp. 137–163; Norma Durán, “La construcción de la subjetividad en las hagiografías. Un caso: Sebastián de Aparicio,” in Ramos Medina, Camino a la santidad, pp. 165–201; Shean, Julie A., “From His Roots a Branch Will Bear Fruit: The Development of Missionary Iconography in Late Eighteenth-Century Cult Images of Sebastián de Aparicio (1502–1600),” Colonial Latin American Review 18:1 (2009), pp. 1750 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Rubial, Antonio, La santidad controvertida (Mexico: UNAM/Fondo de Cultura de Mexico, 1999), pp. 3542.Google Scholar

45. For Felipe de Jesús, see Conover, Cory, “Saintly Biography and the Cult of San Felipe de Jesús in Mexico City, 1597–1697, The Americas 67:4 (April 2011), pp. 441466 Google Scholar. The following titles are also useful as contemporary hagiographies: de Medina, Balthasar, Vida, martyrio y beatificación del invicto proto-martyr de el Japón, San Felipe de Jesús, 2d. ed. (Madrid: Los Herederos de la Viuda de Juan García Infanzón, 1751)Google Scholar; and de Ribadeneyra, Marcelo, Historia de las Islas del Archipelago y Reynos de la Gran China (Barcelona: Gabriel Graells y Giraldo Dotil, 1601).Google Scholar

46. Despite his Galician birth, he was considered Mexican by the Franciscans and the populace. He had lived a long time in the viceroyalty and had professed in Mexico, which made him a son of the province of Santo Evangelio.

47. The several versions of Aparicio's life offer enough variations to raise doubt about the exactitude of details. My brief narrative is a composite of what appears to be the most reliable information.

48. The church clearly stated that marriage was for the satisfaction of sexual needs, and apparently people took this part of Christian doctrine seriously. In the public consensus men should not marry to remain virginal. Apart from the problem of potential nullification, a willful non-consummation by a man cast doubts not only about his virility but about the desirability of the woman.

49. de Torquemada, Juan, Vida y milagros del sancto confessor de Cristo, F. Sebastián de Aparicio (Mexico: Santiago Tlatelolco, 1602).Google Scholar This book preceded Torquemada's history of the Franciscan order. See also Plumbensi, Nicolao, Opusculum Vitae, Virtutum, et Miraculorum. Ven Servi Dei Fr. Sebastian Ab Apparitio (Rome: Ex Officina Reveredae Camerae Apostolicae, 1696)Google Scholar; and de San Miguel, Isidro, Parayso cultivado de las sencilla prudencia. Virtudes practicadas en la Inocentísima vida del V. Siervo de Dios, y portentoso varón Fr. Sebastian de Aparicio (Naples: Stamperia de Ivan Vernuccio y Nicolas Layno, 1695).Google Scholar

50. Morales, “La biografia,” pp. 137–163.

51. Vetancurt, Menologio franciscano, pp. 17–24.

52. Joseph Manuel Rodríguez, Vida prodigiosa. Dedicated to Manuel Ventura Figueroa of the Council of Castile by the author, no pagination.

53. See for example Biempica, D. Salvador. La sencillez hermanada con la sabiduría. Oración panegírica . . . en la beatificación de B. Sebastián de Aparicio (Mexico: Felipe de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1791)Google Scholar. Today the beato Aparicio's cult is firmly entrenched in Puebla. His preserved body lies in a glass sarcophagus and he is venerated in his own chapel in the Church of San Francisco.

54. Nicolás Ponce de León, Historia de la singular vida.

55. Ibid., pp. 13, 16.

56. Ibid., pp. 45–47.

57. Ibid. pp. 34–35.

58. Ponce de León, Historia, p. 12.

59. Ibid., p. 74.

60. Ibid., pp. 53, 54, 76, 88.

61. Ibid., pp. 106, 118. The letter is barely one printed page, recto and verso, but the writer exaggerates its value and treats it as a theological work, showing his extraordinary capacities of amplification.

62. My narrative of Fr. Antonio's life is based on Espinosa's El Cherubin. A shorter biography of Fr. Antonio, included in Arricivita's Chronica, is also based on Espinosa's work. Espinosa, El Cherubin, pp. 245–312.

63. de Espinosa, Isidro Félix, Chronica apostólica y seraphica de todos los Colegios de Propaganda Fide de esta Nueva España (Mexico; Viuda de Bernardo de Hogal, 1746)Google Scholar; Espinosa, El Peregrino Septentrional. Atlante delineado en la ejemplarísima vida del Venerable Padre F. Antonio Margil de Jesús (Mexico: n.p., 1737); McCloskey, Michael B., “Fray Isidro Félix de Espinosa: Companion and Biographer of Margil,” The Americas 7:13 (January 1951), pp. 228295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

64. Bustamante took more than a year to make up his mind about profession, but the impression of the marquis's death was a key factor in his decision. This story reminds us of the conversion experience of Francisco de Borja, third general of the Society of Jesus, who was canonized in 1670. The sight of the decomposed body of Isabel of Portugal, Charles V's wife, suggested to him the vanity and meaningless of worldly life. See Nieremberg, Juan Eusebio SJ, Vida del Santo Padre y Gran Siervo de Dios el B. Francisco de Borja (Madrid: María de Quiñones, 1644).Google Scholar

65. Espinosa, El Cherubin, pp. 47, 58, 60–62.

66. Ibid., pp. 113, 125. His confessor of 12 years, Fr. Ángel García Duque, is said to have gathered information in preparation for writing his biography. Fr. Isidro does not explain when this project was abandoned or why.

67. McCloskey, Michael N. OFM, The Formative Years of the Missionary College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro, 1683–1833 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1955), p. 29.Google Scholar

68. Espinosa, El Cherubin, pp. 63, 82, 139.

69. Ibid., pp. 76, 81–82. Fr. Antonio used to do this exercise by himself as well as with a companion who remained unnamed until Margil joined him. Margil was his confessor for some time; how long is not specified by the biographer, p. 112.

70. Ibid., p. 74.

71. Ibid., Dedicatoria, no pagination. Saint Anthony of Padua served as a humble brother in the kitchen of the Franciscan hospice of San Paolo, near Forli in northern Italy. Unlike Anthony of Padua, Fr. Antonio never preached. A cherubim (or cherub) is a celestial being second to seraphs in the hierarchy of angels. They are sent to earth to perform very important tasks and direct the soul to knowledge. The have the power to know and see divinity. Gregory the Great described them as full of love of God and neighbor. Thus the comparison to a cherubim suited both Anthony of Padua and Anthony of the Angels, especially since the author may have been interested in promoting his candidacy to a higher level of “saintliness.” See Angelic Spirituality: Medieval Perspectives on the Ways of Angels, Steven Chase, trans., preface by Ewert H. Cousins (New York: Paulist Press, 2002), p. 100.

72. Espinosa, El Cherubin, For samples of Fr. Antonio's writings and what was written about him, see pp. 49–50, 63, 67, 76, 104, and 151–155.

73. Ibid., p. 69. “Una tribulación es antesala para un beneficio. Nunca fueron estos seguros si no trajeran por lastre anterior la purgativa de la tribulación.”

74. Ibid., p. 122. “Engendrad Señor en mi alma los ricos tesoros del oro y plata de la caridad; el bronce de la fortaleza; el plomo del celo de vuestra honra, aunque me haga insufrible a los malos y a los demonios. Enjugad y secar las humedades de los apetitos. Deshaced las tinieblas de los pecados, convirtiéndolos en agua de lágrimas y penitencia. Enciéndase el fuego de vuestro divino amor en mi alma.” Chronicler Arricivita quoted some passages of Fr. Antonio's writings, but more important are the testimonials given by Antonio Margil about Fr. Antonio's personality and the meaning of some of his writings. See Arricivita, Chronica, pp. 262, 269, 278, 290.

75. Saranyana, Josep Ignasi, dir., Teología en América Latina. Desde los orígenes a la Guerra de Sucesión (1493–1715), vol. 1 (Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 1999).Google Scholar

76. Ponce de León, Historia, p. 87. Fr. Cristóbal did not eat until the blacks and slaves in the convent had eaten, and treated them as his equals. The biographer extolls this behavior as exemplary, and a “great deed” [grande hazaña].

77. The intellectual achievements of lay brothers were the key preoccupation of Fr. Manuel Barbado's Compendio histórico lego-seraphico.

78. Dávila Padilla, Historia, pp. 103–104.”En esta ocupación pueden merecer mucho delante de Dios . . . Verdad es, que la obra de la predicación es de suyo más excelente que la de la vida activa, pero tal fuego de caridad se le puede llegar al humilde ejercicio del frayle lego, que se aventaje al predicador . . . Los frayles legos tienen un estado muy seguro y sin escrúpulos, donde por el atajo de la simple obediencia han llegado muchos a la cumbre de perfección.”