Bernardino of Laredo

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Physician, Franciscan laybrother, ascetical and mystical writer whose works influenced St. Teresa; b. Laredo, Spain, 1482; d. 1540, near Seville. Bernardino came from a distinguished family, probably originating at the small fishing port of Laredo on the Cantabrian coast. As a boy he was placed as a page in the household of a Portuguese nobleman, the Conde de Gelves. Before he was 12 he had a desire to join the Franciscan order and thought of applying to the Capuchin province of Los Angeles in southern Spain. However, he was dissuaded from giving effect to this desire by the majordomo of the Gelves household. Continuing to cherish his longing for perfection, Bernardino then devoted himself to study, following an arts course and afterwards studying medicine, possibly at the University of Seville. He graduated and later obtained a doctor's degree. When Bernardino found that one of his friends, a doctor in law, had become a Franciscan laybrother, he determined to follow his example. He asked for the laybrother's habit at the Convento de San Francisco del Monte, a house of Franciscans of Regular Observance near Seville. There he lived a life of great austerity, fasting on bread and water on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and on other days of the week eating the friars' leavings. He was eventually made infirmarian, and his medical knowledge was much sought after. Among the many patients he treated successfully was John II, king of Portugal, who, when the illness from which he was suffering took a dangerous turn, sent for the Franciscan laybrother.

Laredo found time and opportunity for writing, however. Besides two medical treatises, he wrote a work on asceticism and contemplation, the Subida del Monte Sion. Contemplation, Laredo says, can be achieved only through the Cross. Contemplative prayer is for all who are prepared to pay the price, for layfolk and married people as well as for friars and priests. He attaches considerable importance to fasts and vigils; it would seem that his own health was robust. At the same time he stresses the need for discretion. In a second edition of his book, Laredo's teaching on contemplation shows modification. He there emphasizes that contemplation is the work of the will rather than of the mind and puts forward the theory of love without knowledge, later taken up in Spain by John of the Angels and Jerónimo Gracián.

Bibliography: Works . bernardino de laredo, Metaphora medicinae (Seville 1522 and 1546); Modus faciendi cum ordine medicandi (Seville 1527, 1534, 1542, 1627); Subida del Monte Sion (Seville 1535). Studies . bernardino de laredo, The Ascent of Mount Sion, tr. and ed. e. a. peers (New York 1952) book 3 only of the treatise. fidÈle de ros, Le Frère Bernardin de Laredo: Un inspirateur de sainte Thérèse (Paris 1948). Enciclopedia universal ilustrada Europeo-Americana (Barcelona 190830) 29:824.

[k. e. pond]