Biography of Baltasar Álvarez y Manrique (1533-1580)

Venerable Jesuit born day, May 15, 1533 in the street of the Balija number 3 of the Riojan town of Cervera del Río Alhama. He/She was baptized in the parish of San Gil of the villa the 17th of the same month and year. Son of Antonio Álvarez and Catalina Manrique, his parents were farmers and, according to testimony to the same fr. Baltasar interested highlight especially, taking into account have been born in a village inhabited by high proportion of moriscos, "old Christians who lived on his estate".

According to his biographer, P. Lapuente, learned his first letters and latin in the same village, "and had taken advantage of well", he/she was sent to the University of Alcalá, where he/she heard the arts and graduated as a master. In this same University he/she attended for two years most kinds of theology. 3 may 1555 he/she was admitted to the novitiate of the Jesuits in the same city. He/She subsequently continued his novitiate at Simancas, where maintained a relationship with the future San Francisco de Borja, and then he/she was transferred to a school, which his biographer does not determine, but likely would be the Medina del Campo, founded in 1551, and Valladolid, existing since 1546. Sent to Burgos to resume studies of Arts, a few days, in 1556, his superiors sent him to Avila College to hear the two years of theology he/she needed in the convent of Santo Tomás of the Dominicans, since they were the beginnings of the society of Jesus and the members of this order did not then have own masters of theology.

Ordained a priest in 1558, spent his life holding important positions within the society of Jesus. In 1566, he/she was rector of the College of Medina del Campo; in 1571, provincial procurator in Rome; In 1574, rector of the school of Salamanca and later rector of the novitiate of Villagarcía, visitor of the Jesuits of Aragon, provincial province of Peru, and in 1580, provincial of Toledo. He/She died on July 15, 1580 in Belmonte.

The four most important aspects in the biography of Baltasar Álvarez are your receiving activity of young rich for the fledgling company of Jesus, their relationship as confessor to Saint Teresa of Jesus, written and the international projection of his spirituality.

Julio Caro Baroja, in his work the complex forms of religious life (Akal, 1978) connects the persuasive activity of Fr. Baltasar Álvarez, uptake of vocations for your order, in the last phase of the scheme of the generational dynamics of the Spanish commercial bourgeoisie from the 16th century: "tornadizo Jewish grandfather, Dyer's son, the grandson of powerful banker, the granddaughters nuns and Jesuit grandchildren". Caro Baroja cites the work of the Jesuit Luis de la Puente: "this same effectively made other changes in some wealthy and dashing young men of Medina, and moved them into the company, while they so far one of those thoughts that most occupied in playing reeds and other Knights that exercises not to imagine to be religious." "From here it brought our Lord father Gabriel de Dueñas and then to his brother Bernardo de Dueñas, who built the villa with its new move and entry into the company (...) by choosing more notably live at the House of God with pains and torments, mixed with enough contempt, that live in the palaces of the world, with pleasures and breaks" (op. cit. 17, 1). The Dueñas brothers were children of Rodrigo of Dueñas, described by Ramón Carande his work Carlos V and their bankers as "a Castilian Medicis", who enriched the trade enjoyed all ostentatious behavior of his condition of "new rich" and the advantages and influences of its social status of lender to the Emperor Carlos V. The specialization of the FR. Baltasar Álvarez was the appeal to the Spanish bourgeoisie toward the society of Jesus: "also yielded and took there many of the merchants and business people that then flourished in Medina, persuading them that in the midst of their occupations, so foreign, take some time for interiors, working out some time in prayer and in dealing with God our Lord for the good of their souls." One one of those was Asensio Galiano, of the richest and most powerful that there had"(op. cit. 17, 1).

In addition to the importance for the development and enhancement of its order, the activity spiritual of the FR. Baltasar Álvarez had a decisive projection in Spanish spirituality from the relationship that remained, and the influence that served as confessor, with Santa Teresa de Jesús. Not the dynamics of these spiritual relationships between Dr. santa and the venerable Jesuit can refer in this biographical note, but yes it is required to emphasize the appreciation the Avila santa recognizing his spiritual master. So when a nun asked the santa about your relationship with him replied: "Hariaos God great mercy, because he/she is the person most due to who my soul in this life and that has most helped me to walk to perfection". This excellent opinion about Baltasar Álvarez ratified it in a letter dated in Toledo on April 8, 1580 to Doña Isabel de Osorio: "Jesus said I will be there presto - if it is not already - a provincial of the company." Know your worship which is of the best friends I have. Häme confessed a few years. Make sure your worship talk, which is a Saint... "." Also in the story of one of his frequent visions stressed the sanctity of Baltasar Álvarez:dios "it showed him the vantage place which had to have in heaven, and gave him to understand that he/she was in such a high degree of perfection on Earth, which was not then in he/she who had him more...". Finally, let's say, as a sign of appreciation of the Saint to the Jesuit, who when he/she was in Medina del Campo the news of his death wept disconsolately "because I know, I said, lack that makes and must do this servant in the Church of God".

As writer Baltasar Álvarez is the author of the following works: relationship that gave his way of prayer to the father General of the company, relationship extended his way of prayer to the father General of the company, Treaty of the prayer of silence, spiritual feelings, various spiritual exercises, meditations on the exercises of the first week, instructions and discussions, some spiritual noticesSpiritual letters, lectures and exhibition of the General rules of the society of Jesus.

The projection of the work of Fr. Baltasar Álvarez transcends geographic boundaries and institutional Church of Spain to acquire a popularity and international influences through the work he/she wrote his companion of order Luis de la Puente on his life and spirituality. The work of this Jesuit life of father Baltasar Álvarez was translated into several languages and published throughout Europe. It was first translated into latin and published in Cologne (1616), Lyon (1664) and in Antwerp and Rome (1670). In French was translated and published in 1618, was reissued in 1628 and reprinted four times in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1635 he/she translated it into Italian Luis Flori, and appeared in 1692 fourth printing, as well as two editions in Venice (1793 and 1795) and another two in Bologna (1665 and 1700). In English two editions, both from the 19th century, another two in the same century German and one in 1639 Flemish are known.

Although it is impossible to determine the influence that the spirituality of the modern age have been able to exercise the doctrines of Baltasar Álvarez through the work of Luis de la Puente its strong presence in two of the most important Catholic writers of spiritual matters must be mentioned. Thus the most important of Catholic moralists, San Alfonso María de Ligorio, Baltasar Álvarez CITES at least thirty-six times and summed up his thoughts of expressive and concise form as, for example, when sentence: "said Fr. Baltasar Álvarez who resigns in the works with love divine run to God for the posta".

But perhaps the most significant testimony of the esteem in which reached Europe in the work of this cerverano Jesuit in 17TH century text which Bossuet wrote in his famous book introduction on States of prayer (7, 8). By exposing the many ways as the quietists and semiquietistas and the true mystics, understood the passivity of mystical prayer after invoking the authority of San Juan de la Cruz, of its "wise interpreter" fr. Nicolás Jesús María and Santa Teresa of Jesusa, writes: "the same answer also fr. Baltasar Álvarez, one of the luminaries of the company and one of the confessors of Santa Teresa from whom the Saint saw things more big,"then described as"holy man, one of the most sublime contemplative of his century"and ends:"This is what your prayer says the P. Álvarez, in two excellent relations which the father Luis de la Puente, as one of the masters of the spirit of your company and its century, us has retained in the life of this admirable Jesuit"(op. cit. p. 526).


ABBOT, C. M.: Life and writings of the V. p.. Luis de la Puente, of the society of Jesus (1554-1624), Publisher of the Pontifical University, Comillas, 1957.

ASTRAIN, a.: History of the society of Jesus, in the assistance of Spain, I-VII, publishing successors of Rivadeneira and reason, Madrid, 1902-1925,

BAYLE, C.: "the spirit of Santa Teresa and San Ignacio", reason and faith, 62, 1922, pp. 294-434; 63, 1922, pp 5-21.

BOADO VÁZQUEZ, f.: "Baltasar Álvarez S. J., in the history of the spirituality of the 16th century", miscellaneous quotes, 1964, pp. 173-230.

BOSSUET, j. B.: Ouvres complètes de Bossuet, Edition Lachat, Paris, 1872.

CARO BAROJA, j.: Complex forms of religious life, Editorial Akal, 1978.

JORGE PARDO, e.: "St. Teresa of Avila and the society of Jesus in the sixteenth century", reason and faith, 778, 1962, pp. 293-306.

THE bridge, l.: Life of the V. P. Baltasar Álvarez, of the society of Jesus, publishing apostolate of the press, Madrid, 1943.

PAINTED, g.: Life of Fr. Baltasar Álvarez, S. J., Editorial Messenger, Bilbao, 1933.

RISCO, a.: "the three first confessors of Santa Teresa", Bulletin of the Academy of history, 80, 1922, pp. 446 SS.

SANTA TERESA DE JESUS: complete works, Editorial B. A. C, Madrid, 1962.