Stock, Women & Writing

La Limosnera de Dios. Relacion Historica de la Vida, y Virtudes de la Excelentissima Señora Doña Magdalena de Ulloa Toledo Ossorio y Quiñones… Fundadora de los Colegios de Villagarcia, Oviedo, y Santander de la Compañia de Jesus

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VILLAFAÑE, Juan de, S. J.
Salamanca, Francisco Garcia Onorato
US$ 2,500.00
THE SPANISH WIDOW WHO BECAME AN HONORARY JESUIT. NO COPY IN AUCTION RECORDS; THE SECOND COPY IN AMERICA. 4to. (24), 464 pp, (16). Bound in contemporary sheep (quite rubbed) with later gilt-and-red title labels on spine; endpapers renewed in the late 19th century; occasional modern pencil annotations to scattered margins, otherwise a very good copy. Very rare sole edition of the first biography of Magdalena de Ulloa (1525-1598), an unusual example of a woman intimately involved in the proliferation of Jesuit education in 16th century Spain. Using her personal fortune of some 5,000,000 reales, Ulloa succeeded in founding three Jesuit Colleges in northern Spain: Villagarcia de Campas and Oviedo in the mountainous interior, as well as the influential College of Santander on the coast. The present work is the definitive source of information on the life of Ulloa, likely the first (and only?) woman granted a ‘Carta de Hermandad’ for her service to the all-male Order; a eulogy for her (pp. 443-444) was composed by none other than Claudio Aquaviva, the fifth Superior General. On pp. 220-234 we find a fascinating list of the owners and their individual captives ransomed with Magdalena’s money, comprising mainly European slaves often owned by apostate Spaniards (“renegados Españoles”), Jews, pirates, or Muslims. Typical entries include the prices paid and the age and years in captivity of each individual, eg: “Mami Caya, apostate pirate, sold Juana Martinez, a 20-year old girl from Valdemeca in Cuenca, for 500 doblas, having been captive for a year and a half”; “Jacob Parente, a Jew, sold Martin Inglès, a captive of the Turks, aged 8 years from Cadiz, for 68,068 maravedis”; “Mahamete Chiribi, a Turk, sold Miguel Sanchez, 50 years old from Daimiel in the Encomienda of Calatrava, for 190 doblas, having been captive for 18 years”; etc. Married at the age of 24, Ulloa’s wealthy husband died in the Moorish Revolt in Granada in 1570. Ulloa at first took residence in the Franciscan Convent of El Abrojo and considered taking the Cistercian habit at Las Huelgas Reales de Valladolid; but eventually became close to the Jesuits probably through her ‘spiritual director’ – a lay office often filled by priests of that order. Ulloa became intent on supporting the missionary efforts of the Jesuits in the mountainous (and by many accounts religiously backward) north of the country, and to this end offered to fund a new College and Chapel at Villagarcia. Her use of her husband’s inheritance was strongly contested by other heirs in court, but such was the importance of the case that the theologians of the University of Salamanca intervened in her favor, as did the Holy See. A Bull of Gregory XIII (p. 276 here) eventually granted Ulloa free reign to dispose of her husband’s assets, to the elation of the Jesuits. Following the erection of the College at Villagarcia, Ulloa continued to petition the Superior General Aquaviva for permission to create further Jesuit educational institutes, including that at Santander (1594). This unprecedented relationship of a lay woman with the Jesuits Order was recognized as early as 1573 by Aquaviva with a ‘certificate of confraternity’ for Ulloa. Much of Part V of the present work is taken up by encomia of Ulloa by Jesuits including Aquaviva, as well as lengthy descriptions of the Jesuit festivities in honor of her death (30 Jesuits processed her coffin through the streets of Villagarcia, etc.). OCLC shows just a handful of copies worldwide, with one in US libraries (Boston College); we find no copies recorded in auction records of the past 50 years. * Palau y Dulcet; (2nd ed.)366573; De Backer-Sommervogel VIII Supplement, col. 765; cf also Abad, Doña Magdalena de Ulloa, La educadora de Don Juan de Austria y La Fundadora del Colegio de la Compañía de Jesús de Villagarcía de Campas (1525-1598).