The Life of a Jesuit Mystic in Colonial Mexico – Written by the First Native Floridian Jesuit

Florencia, Francisco de, S.J. (b. San Augustín, Florida, ca. 1619 – d. Ciudad de México, 1695)

Relacion de la exemplar, y religiosa vida del Padre Nicolas de Guadalaxara, professo de nuestra Compañia de Jesus, a los Reverendos Padres, y charissimos Hermanos de la V. y Religiosa Provincia de Nueva-España a quienes la dirige, y dedica el P. Francisco de Florencia de la misma Compañia de Iesus ; con quatro breves tratados espirituales, para las almas, que tratan de virtud, compuestos por el mesmo Padre Nicolas de Guadalaxara.

Mexico: Juan de Ribera, impressor, y mercader de libros en el Empedradillo, 1684


Quarto: 19 x 15 cm. [4], 32, 23, [1] leaves. Collation: π4, A-H4, a-f4


Bound in near-contemporary vellum, small loss to lower front board. The text on the whole very fresh with the exception of some light marginal dampstains and more pronounced damp-staining in the 1st signature of the second part. With a contemporary ownership inscription "Maria del La Cruz" on the front endpaper. 

The life of the Mexican Jesuit priest, mystic, and poet Nicolás de Guadalajara (1631-1683), written by the Criollo Jesuit Francisco de Florencia, historian of the Society of Jesus in Mexico, and the first Jesuit born in what was to become the United States, more specifically, in San Augustín, Florida. The book includes four previously unpublished works by Padre Nicolás (see below.)

About the author: Francisco de Florencia, S.J. (1619-1695)

Prior to entering the Society of Jesus in 1641, the Florida-born criollo Francisco de Florenciawas a seminarian at San Ildefonso, where he later taught philosophy (from 1653 to 1660) before moving on to teach at the Colegio Máximo de México (from 1660-1668). Between 1669 and 1678 he was in Europe, first at Rome and then at Seville, where he served as Procurador General for the Indies. He returned to Mexico in 1679 and became rector of the college of the Holy Spirit, a position he held until his death. 

A pioneering writer in Mexican religious history, Florencia wrote the first history of the Society of Jesus in New Spain, biographies of important Mexican Jesuits (including Jerónimo de Figueroa), and a study on the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose feast he advanced at Rome.

Nicolás de Guadalajara, S.J. (1631-1683)

Born in Puebla de Los Angeles in 1631, Nicolás entered the Society of Jesus at age 17. He held a number of teaching positions, notably the chairs of philosophy and theology at the schools of San Ildefonso and San Jerónimo in Puebla. Throughout his life he was beset by severe physical maladies, including paralysis of his legs. While enduring one of his most excruciating illnesses, he had a vision of Christ, who descended from the cross and assured the Jesuit that his suffering was God's will. He spent the latter part of his life teaching philosophy and as spiritual director at the college of Espíritu Santo in Puebla, where he died in 1683.

Florencia gives an account of Padre Nicolás' vision of Christ, followed by a digression on how to judge true visions of God from those sent by the devil to deceive us. Florencia also includes accounts, drawn from Padre Nicolás' own papers, of two instances in which the Jesuit resisted the temptations and attacks of demons. In the first, a demon afflicts the priest with intense pain. In the second, another demon, lying by the priest's side, tries to tempt him with thoughts of sex, asking him what he would do if God ordered him to have sex with a woman or to renounce his celibacy and marry. Although Padre Nicolás is able to resist (an angel provides him with appropriate replies), Florencia finds this encounter troubling enough that he follows the account with a chapter analyzing it.

Nicolás de Guadalajara wrote four mystical treatises, all of which are printed here for the first time, as an appendix to the biography. They are: "Azote de vicios"(The Scourge of Vices), "Semilla de desengaños"(Seeds of Disappointment), "Cosecha de buenos afectos"(The Harvest of Good affections), and "Antorcha de justos"(The Torch of Righteousness). The book also includes the only published poem by Padre Nicolás.

Medina, Mexico 1305; Sabin 24818; Backer-Sommervogel; III, col. 795; Streit II, 2197; Puttick and Simpson, Bibl. Mej., 858 and 921