JEROME GRATIAN: St Teresa of Avila's Friend

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Ros, Carlos. Translated by John McGowan, OCD. Jerome Gratian has been the great unknown figure in the Reform undertaken by Teresa of Avila. 415pp PBK

Jerome Gratian has been the great unknown figure in the Reform undertaken by Teresa of Avila. Historically the outstanding figure of John of the Cross has, rightly and justifiably, been associated with Teresa. However, it may surprise many to know that she dealt more with Jerome Gratian and that her relationship with him was much closer. It was Gratian, rather than John, who fully understood Teresa and the Reform she was undertaking. She depended on him. She made a vow of obedience to him. He was the man for whom she had been looking. `This may come across as somewhat fanciful but it is true,' says Carlos Ros the author of this biography. `It is my hope that as you read through these pages it will become clear. In it I describe someone who, more than forgotten, was humiliated and slandered.' When Teresa met Gratian the effect in her was like an arrow in her heart. In the Spiritual Testimonies 36, she speaks of this friendship and how, in a sudden vision, she saw Christ as a `matchmaker': `The Lord took our right hands and joined them and told me He desired that I take this master to represent Him as long as I live, and that we both agree to everything.' Teresa decribed her new friend to the General of the Carmelite Order, Rossi: `He is like an angel.' Gratian once gently reprimanded Teresa for showing too much affection; her response is well known: `Do you not know that no matter how perfect a soul may be it still needs an outlet.'