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Jerome Gracián of the Mother of GodTranslated by Stephen Watson, O.C.D.
Jerome Gracián (1545–1614) was the first provincial of the Discalced Carmelite Order and a close collaborator of Saint Teresa of Ávila, the order's foundress. He brought stability and growth to St. Teresa's movement when it was still in its infancy, particularly among the friars. Praising Gracián in the Book of Her Foundations, Teresa writes: "Had I very much desired to ask His Majesty for a person to organize all things pertaining to the order in these initial stages, I would not have succeeded in asking for all that He gave me in Father Gracián. Our Lady has chosen him to help her order."
After certain intrigues resulted in Gracián's expulsion from the order, he appealed to Rome and was eventually exonerated. After hearing Gracián's account of his dramatic experiences, the pope exclaimed he was "a saint." Although the Pilgrimage of Anastasius is largely Gracián's apologia pro vita sua, a defense of his conduct on behalf of the Discalced Carmelites, it also serves as a first-hand chronicle of the beginning of the Discalced Carmelite Order and sheds light on St. Teresa's vision and charism. Gracián was simultaneously St. Teresa's most ardent disciple and the superior to whom she made an extraordinary vow of obedience. He confirms the special love that St. Teresa had for him, and he loved her no less in return.
Gracián fills his memoirs with captivating anecdotes involving influential historical figures and harrowing adventures. Notably, he relates the thrilling account of his capture at sea by slavers and his nearly two-year captivity in Tunisia. Above all, Pilgrimage of Anastasius offers readers a demonstration of Gracián's character, purity, and innocence. Observing how he maintained his faith amid his many trials, it is clear why St. Teresa loved him and had such confidence in him to carry out her vision for a religious renewal.