Jesuit moralist and canonist; b, Córdoba, 1550; d. Granada, May 19, 1610. He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1567. An impediment in his speech at first prevented his acceptance into that order, but upon imploring delivery from it before a highly venerated picture of Our Lady at Córdoba, he was so freed from the infirmity that only a slight trace of it remained. Sanchez was for a long time master of novices at Granada; he was a confessor for many colleges, especially at Córdoba, and for many years was a professor of moral theology and Canon Law. The remainder of his life he devoted to the composition of his works.
The contemporaries of Sanchez bear testimony to the energy and perseverance with which he labored toward self-perfection from his novitiate until his death. His penitential zeal rivaled that of the early anchorites, and, according to his spiritual director, he carried his baptismal innocence to the grave. He was likewise a man of remarkable learning. The penetration of his insights in offering solutions to the most difficult cases of conscience won him considerable renown. The work that brought him the greatest acclaim was his De Sancto Matrimonii Sacramento (3 v. Madrid 1605). Clement VIII proclaimed that up to his time, there was no greater authority who treated the most difficult problems of matrimony than Sanchez. Jurists and theologians from every country came to consult him.
But this work, which brought him his greatest fame brought him some of his greatest abuse. Some of the editions of his third volume were placed on the Index on Feb. 4, 1627, on the grounds that, at the instigation of the government of the Venetian Republic, they omitted Sanchez's doctrine that the pope had the right to legitimize illegitimate children independently of any intervention of the civil authority. With the revision of the Index in 1900, Sanchez's name was removed.
The mode of expression and the detailed treatment of every possible point in the work brought further criticism upon the author, with charges even of immorality. It was thought that he analyzed the most delicate matters too completely, but it should be remembered that this work was published for the use of confessors. They must necessarily be able to distinguish in matters of right and wrong, just as doctors and lawyers should be able to make every medical and legal distinction.
According to Wernz (Jus decretalium, 4.20), Sanchez's work, De Matrimonio, is still considered by the Roman Curia as among the classical works on marriage.
Bibliography: j. e. nieremberg, Varones ilustres de la compañia de Jesús, cont'd. a. de andrade and j. cassini, 9 v. (2d ed. Bilbao 1887–92) v.7. c. sommervogel, Bibliothéque de la Compagnie de Jésus 7:537–538. e. de guilhermy, Ménologe de la Compagnie de Jésus, ed. j. terrien, 13 v. (Paris 1867–1902). h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae 3:592–594. r. brouillard, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 14.1:1075–85.
[l. l. gooley]