Illustrated Catholic Family Annual – The Venerable Gregory Lopez

illustration of Venerable Gregory Lopez, artist unknown, from the Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1873Article

Among the persons of eminent sanctity who have adorned the church in America is the Venerable Gregory Lopez, who died near the city of Mexico, on 20 July 1596, at the age of fifty-four.

He was born in Spain, 4 July 1542, and baptized by the name of Gregory; but his real family name is unknown. He was evidently of a good family, carefully nurtured. Though he never, he declared, pursued any regular course of study, he was exceedingly familiar with the sciences of the day. While a youth he felt called to an eremitical life, and, eluding his family, spent six years with a hermit in Navarre. After being discovered by them he resolved to go to America so as to live unknown. As an old print of this servant of God states in a few lines:

“The miser runs o’er sea and land
His riches to increase,
But Lopez, on the other hand,
For poverty and peace.”

He arrived in Mexico in 1562, dressed in his plain serge, and proceeded to Amajac, a valley near Zacatecas, where he built a little cell by the help of the Indians, and lived there in the greatest solitude and mortification for three or four years, till for fear of giving scandal he removed nearer a village. After a time he went to the city of Mexico, where he was examined by the Archbishop as to his doctrine and mode of life. The most eminent fathers were astonished at his spiritual life, and priests and people alike sought his direction and advice. Finding it impossible to preserve the interior recollection he desired, he withdrew to a little place called Santa Fe, where he spent the rest of his days.

Many miracles were ascribed to him in life and after death. In February, 1620, the King of Spain ordered his Treatise on the Apocalypse published, adding, “I do not wish to lose a single moment in procuring the canonization of this holy man, who,” as he says elsewhere, “passed thirty-three years in solitude in a marvellous penance, humility, and love of God and his neighbor, and an admirable gift of prayer and understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and the supernatural and human sciences, with the general approbation of the prelates and people of Mexico.” In fact, in the examinations that took place, bishops and theologians of all the religious orders bore unanimous testimony to his extraordinary virtue and progress in the science of the saints.

His life, written by Francis Losa, parish priest of Mexico, was translated into various languages, and Lopez excited the admiration not only of Catholics, but of Protestants, John Wesley especially revering him as a man of wonderful holiness.

MLA Citation

  • “The Venerable Gregory Lopez”. Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1873. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 January 2017. Web. 22 October 2020. <>