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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

As in the case of Protestantism


The Illuminist and Quietist heresies.]

Protestantism was not the only heterodoxy to menace the religious unity of the peninsula. The conversion of the Mud?jares of the eastern provinces and the expulsion of the Moriscos have already been mentioned. The Jews also gave occasional trouble. Of the other sects the most noteworthy was that of the _Iluminados_ (Illuminati). The origins of this faith are obscure. Many believe it to have been purely Spanish, a conclusion to which the peculiar mystical character of the creed lends color. Others hold that it was of German extraction. In any event, though the time of its founding is not clear, it antedated the Lutheran outbreak, for it was in existence at least as early as 1512. Many of the doctrines sustained by Luther were a part of its creed, and indeed it paved the way for the entry of Protestantism into Spain. In addition it upheld the following tenets: the abdication of one's own will in that of the divine; and the capacity of the faithful, by means of ecstacies, to put themselves in personal communication with the divine essence, on which occasions it was impossible for them to commit sin. The practical result of these beliefs was an indulgence in all manner of licentious practices while in the sinless state. As in the case of Protestantism, so in this, the devotees were usually members of the clergy, especially friars and nuns. The Inquisition attacked the new faith with vigor, but found it difficult

to extirpate in entirety. A notable derivation from Illuminism was that of _Quietismo_ (Quietism), or _Molinismo_, founded in the seventeenth century by Miguel de Molinos, a member of the clergy. This creed, though similar even in its licentiousness to Illuminism, was not at first considered unorthodox, wherefore it gained many converts, but in the end it was condemned.

[Sidenote: Spanish Mysticism.]

Similar in some respects to the two heretical creeds just mentioned was a peculiarly Spanish religious philosophy, that of Catholic Mysticism. It traces back through the ideas of Raymond Lull to those of the Arabic philosophers, but in the main it was a product of the Spanish religious thought of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The fundamental idea was that of direct communication with God through prayer, love of God, and the renunciation of earthly things, which enabled the purified soul in a state of ecstasy to appear in the divine presence. The whole process was accompanied by miracles, but without any loss to the individual of his spiritual existence or of his intelligence for an understanding of God. At first the ecclesiastical authorities were suspicious of it, prohibiting the writings of the mystics and conducting investigations into the conduct of those who professed a belief in it. At length, however, it was accepted as orthodox, and its devotees were not molested. They produced a rich literature, in which they set forth not only the fundamental bases of their belief but also the experiences they had in journeying to God. One of the mystics, Mar?a de Jes?s de ?greda, is famous as "the Blue Lady" of the American (United States) southwest and Pacific coast, for she is said to have visited these regions while in a state of ecstacy and to have converted many of the natives, recounting her travels in her published works. She is also famous for her correspondence with Philip IV. The greatest names, however, were those of Santa Teresa de Jes?s[57] and San Juan de la Cruz, the former notable in literature for the excellence of her prose, and the latter equally noteworthy as a poet. The writings of these and other mystics also displayed a profound psychological study, such, for example, as was required by their ability to distinguish between the processes of the soul on the way to communication with God, and as was evidenced by their skill in differentiating between the various elements in religious sentiment.

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