The Writings of Dona Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, Catholic Missionary to James I's London

The Writings of Dona Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, Catholic Missionary to James I's London

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In this book Margaret A. Rees quickly and vividly transports the raader to the London of James I and by the use of Dona Luisa's extant letters we are enabled to follow her adventurous and heroic life. To understand fully her deliberate decision to venture into England, a place at that time hostile to both her religion and her native land, we have to pay attention to what we can learn from her poetry. It is here that her deep commitment to the love of Christ and love of those who suffer in his name is revealed. Dona Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza has rarely been accorded, either in England or in Spain, the recognition she deserves. In this book Margaret A. Rees quickly and vividly transports the reader to the London of James I and by the use of Dona Luisa's extant letters we are enabled to follow her adventurous and heroic life. To understand fully her deliberate decision to venture into England, a place at that time hostile to both her religion and her native land, we have to pay attention to what we can learn from her poetry. As Dr Rees shows, it is here that her deep commitment to the love of Christ and love of those who suffer in his name is revealed.
Not only are we given an account of a life lived under the threat of persecution but this is accompanied by a study of the content and form of her mystical verse and its relationship to the Carmelite and Ignatian spirituality in which she was brought up from childhood. This treatment throws a fresh light on the background to seventeenth-century thought. It is said that John of the Cross began to write his poetry as a result of his sufferings while in prison. Dona Luisa seems to have progressed the other way: from her youthful poetic inspiration she was led to go and seek hardship in an alien land. Perhaps a case of following John's bidding in The Ascent of Mount Carmel: 'Procure siempre inclinarse no a lo mas facil sino a lo mas dificultoso' (Try always to take not the easiest path but the hardest). Luisa combines in her person characteristics which, taken in isolation, could easily be considered disadvantageous. She was a woman, a Catholic, a foreigner, an unwanted immigrant in England. Yet it is precisely the combination of these qualities that made her such an exceptional and formidable person and of interest to the contemporary reader.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 158.75 x 235 x 19.05mm | 521.63g
  • Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
  • New York, United States
  • English, Spanish
  • bibliography, index
  • 0773470379
  • 9780773470378

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix Foreword xi Preface xiii Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Luisa of London, the English martyr: letters from the Spanish diplomatic bag 11 Luisa's view of England 14 The British government and the persecution of Catholics 18 'Un chiquito monasterio' 23 The household of the 'little convent' 25 Luisa's activities 29 Luisa's finances 37 Health matters 38 Figures in the background: priests and laymen 39 Escapes 44 Exile 46 Lay-people 52 Catholic ambassadors 56 Correspondents, especially Jesuits and Carmelites 57 Conclusion 59 Chapter 2 Phoenix of Love: the poetry of Luisa's pre-mission years 61 Conclusion A mystic in action 83 Appendix 1 Luisa's family tree 89 Appendix 2 Luisa's second arrest as reported by the Spanish Ambassador 91 Appendix 3 Advice to a prospective Spanish ambassador in London (Luisa's letter to her brother Alonso, 7 December 1612) 99 Appendix 4 Fr Jarvis's last words at Tyburn 103 Text of the poems referred to in chapter 2 104 Bibliography 195 Index 199
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