Saint John of Avila

detail of a portrait of Saint John of Avila by Pierre Subleyras, 1746Also known as



Born to a wealthy Castilian family with Jewish ancestry. Studied law at the University of Salamanca from age 14, and felt a call to religious life. Studied theology and philosophy at Alcala, Spain at age 17. Lawyer. Following the death of his parents, he liquidated most of his large fortune, and gave it to the poor. Ordained in 1525. He wanted to be a missionary in the West Indies and Mexico, but became a travelling preacher in Andalusia for 40 years, re-evangelizing a region previously ruled by the Moors. He spoke boldly against the sins of the ruling classes, made powerful enemies, and at one point was imprisoned in Seville, Spain by the Inquisition, accused of false teachings; the charges were dismissed, John was released, and his preaching became more popular than ever. Spiritual director of Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Francis Borgia, Saint John of God, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Peter of Alcántara, and Saint Louis of Granada. Writer whose works continue their influence today. Declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 October 2012.








Turn yourself round like a piece of clay and say to the Lord: I am clay, and you, Lord, the potter. Make of me what you will. Saint John of Avila

Withdraw your heart from the world before God takes your body from it. Saint John of Avila

Your life consists in drawing nearer to God. To do this you must endeavor to detach yourself from visible things and remember that in a short time they will be taken from you. Saint John of Avila

Dear brothers and sisters, I pray God may open your eyes and let you see what hidden treasures he bestows on us in the trials from which the world thinks only to flee. Shame turns into honor when we seek God’s glory. Present affliction become the source of heavenly glory. To those who suffer wounds in fighting his battles God opens his arms in loving, tender friendship. That is why he (Christ) tells us that if we want to join him, we shall travel the way he took. It is surely not right that the Son of God should go his way on the path of shame while the sons of men walk the way of worldly honor: “The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the servant greater than his master.” – from a letter by Saint John of Avila

MLA Citation

  • “Saint John of Avila“. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 May 2015. Web. 28 October 2016. <>