TOMAS DE JESUS

(1564-1627)
Discalced Carmelite Tomas de Jesus founded the first Carmelite deserts and was responsible for the expansion of the Discalced Carmelite order into Belgium and Germany. After promoting exclusively the contemplative dimension of Discalced Carmelite life in his first twenty years of religious life, he sought to foster a missionary spirit in the order in his later years. He joined the Discalced Car­melites in 1585 in Granada, where Juan de la Cruz* was prior, after reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila.* He established in Spain the first houses where friars could live as recluses and devote themselves completely to religious contemplation. These houses were known as Carmelite deserts.
Called to Rome by Pope Paul VI in 1607, Tomas de Jesus promoted the first missionary activity of the Discalced. In 1613 he wrote a treatise to stimulate interest in the missions. His purpose was not only to prepare missionaries to evangelize the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but also to provide them with arguments to refute the convictions of any kind of unbeliever. His focus on missionary activity anticipated the creation of the church's missionary office, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
Tomas de Jesus also authored several ascetical and mystical texts in Latin and in Spanish. Although some question whether his writings agree with the teachings on the spiritual life he inherited from Teresa of Avila and Juan de la Cruz, he is the most important Discalced Carmelite theologian of the seventeenth century.
Bibliography
R. Hoffmann, Pioneer Theories of Missiology, 1960.
Evelyn Toft

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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