John of Ávila
|Saint John of Ávila
San Juan de Ávila (Spanish)
A portrait by Pierre Subleyras (1746)
|Doctor of the Church, Apostle of Andalusia|
6 January 1500|
Almodóvar del Campo, Ciudad Real, Spain
|Died||10 May 1569
Montilla, Córdoba, Spain
|Honored in||Catholic Church in Spain|
|Beatified||12 November 1893 by Pope Leo XIII|
|Canonized||31 May 1970 by Pope Paul VI|
|Major shrine||Church of the Incarnation
Montilla, Córdoba, Spain
|Patronage||Andalusia, Spain, Spanish secular clergy|
|Influenced||St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of God, St. Francis Borgia and Ven. Louis of Granada.|
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Saint John of Ávila, called the "Apostle of Andalusia" (Spanish: San Juan de Ávila; 6 January 1500 – 10 May 1569) was a Spanish priest, preacher, scholastic author, and religious mystic, who has been declared a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church.
Early life 
John was born in Almodóvar del Campo, in the Province of Ciudad Real, of a wealthy and pious family of Jewish converso descent. At the age of fourteen he was sent to the University of Salamanca to study law but returned home after a year, where he spent the next three years in the practice of austere piety.
His sanctity impressed a Franciscan friar journeying through Almodóvar, on whose advice he took up the study of philosophy and theology at Alcalá de Henares, where he was fortunate to have as his teacher the noted Dominican friar, Domingo de Soto. While he was a student his parents died and after his ordination he celebrated his first Mass in the church where they were buried, then he sold the family property and gave the proceeds to the poor.
He saw in the severing of natural ties a vocation to foreign missionary work and prepared to go to Mexico. In 1527, while he was in Seville looking for a favourable opportunity to set out for his new field of labour, his unusually great devotion in celebrating Mass attracted the attention of Hernando de Contreras, a local priest, who mentioned him to the Archbishop of Seville and Inquisitor General, Alonso Manrique de Lara. The archbishop saw in the young cleric a powerful instrument to stir up the faith in Andalusia, and after considerable persuasion Juan was induced to abandon his journey to America.
Apostle of Andalucía 
John's first sermon was preached on 22 July 1529, and immediately established his reputation. During his nine years of missionary work in Andalusia, crowds packed the churches at all his sermons. However, his strong pleas for reform and his denunciation of the behaviour of the aristocracy later brought him before the office of the Inquisition in Seville. He was charged with exaggerating the dangers of wealth and with closing the gates of heaven to the rich. The charges were refuted and he was declared innocent in 1533. By special invitation of the royal court, he was later appointed to preach a sermon for a major feast day in the Church of the Savior (Spanish: San Salvador) in Seville.
Reformation of the clergy 
John of Avila is also remembered as a reformer of clerical life in Spain. He founded several colleges where his disciples dedicated themselves to the teaching of youths. Among the disciples attracted by his preaching and saintly reputation were St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of God, St. Francis Borgia and the Venerable Louis of Granada. Of special importance was the University of Baeza established in 1538 by a papal bull of Pope Paul III He served as its first rector, and it became a model for seminaries and for the schools of the Jesuits.
He began his career as apostolic preacher of Andalusia, aged thirty. After nine years he returned to Seville, only to depart for the wider fields of Cordova, Granada, Baeza, Montilla and Zafra. For eighteen years before his death he was the victim of constant illness, the result of the hardships of his apostolate of forty years. He died on 10 May 1569 in the town of Montilla in the Province of Córdoba. He was buried in that city, in the Jesuit Church of the Incarnation, which now serves as the sanctuary to his memory.
Pope Benedict XVI named him a Doctor of the Church on 7 October 2012, the Feast of the Holy Rosary. The proclamation of the two new Doctors of the Church was made by Pope Benedict before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. During his homily, Pope Benedict said that John of Avila was a “profound expert on the sacred Scriptures, he was gifted with an ardent missionary spirit. He knew how to penetrate in a uniquely profound way the mysteries of the redemption worked by Christ for humanity. A man of God, he united constant prayer to apostolic action. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the more frequent practice of the sacraments, concentrating his commitment on improving the formation of candidates for the priesthood, of religious and of lay people, with a view to a fruitful reform of the Church.”
Saint John of Ávila's works were collected at Madrid in 1618, 1757, 1792 and 1805; a French translation by d'Andilly was published at Paris in 1673; and a German translation by Schermer in six volumes was issued at Regensburg between 1856 and 1881. His best-known works are the "Audi Fili" (English translation, 1620), one of the best tracts on Christian perfection, and his "Spiritual Letters" (English translation, 1631, reprinted London 1904) to his disciples.
- Wilke 2003, p. 963
- Domínguez Ortiz 1992
- Wilke 2003, p. 964
- Smith 1913
- Introducción Histórica, Universidad de Jaén, 2005-09-26. Accessed online 2010-02-05.
- José Biedma, Juan de Ávila y la Universidad de Baeza, cibernous.com. Accessed online 2010-02-05.
- Wikimapia "Iglesia de la Encarnación (Santuario de San Juan de Ávila)(Spanish)
- "Pope names 2 church doctors: preacher St. John of Avila and mystic St. Hildegard of Bingen". Washington Post. 7 October 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- "Pope Declares Spanish Saint a Doctor of the Church". Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- Pope opens synod on new evangelization, declares 2 new doctors of the Church
- St. John of Ávila 1904
- John of Avila, Audi, filia = Listen, O daughter, translated and introduced by Joan Frances Gormley; foreword by Francisco Javier Martínez Fernández, (New York: Paulist Press, 2006)
- Domínguez Ortiz, Antonio (1992). Los judeoconversos en la España moderna (in Spanish) (2. ed. ed.). Madrid: Mapfre. ISBN 978-84-7100-353-9.
- Smith, Ignatius (1913). "Bl. John of Avila". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- St. John of Ávila (1904). Letters of Blessed John of Avila. Stanbrook Abbey: Burns & Oates Ltd.
- Wilke, J. C. (2003). "John of Avila, St.". In Catholic University of America. New Catholic Encyclopedia. 7 (Hol–Jub) (2d ed.). Washington, D.C.: Gale. pp. 446–449. ISBN 0-7876-4004-2.
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