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Bartolome Carranza

Archbishop of Toledo; b. at Miranda de Arga, Spain, 1503; d. at Rome, May 2, 1576

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Carranza, BARTOLOME (also called DE MIRANDA, from his native town), Archbishop of Toledo; b. at Miranda de Arga, Spain, 1503; d. at Rome, May 2, 1576. Carranza belonged to a noble family which had its estates at Miranda de Arga in Spanish Navarre. He received his early education at Alcala and in 1520 entered the Dominican convent of Benalaque near Guadalajara. He continued his philosophical and theological studies at Salamanca; in 1528 he was made master of the liberal arts, and in 1534 lector of theology, at the College of St. Gregory, Valladolid. On account of some doctrinal opinions he was said to hold, an accusation was about this time brought against him, but nothing further came of it. Carranza’s reputation as a learned theologian increased rapidly, and he was appointed censor by the Inquisition and was commissioned to prepare opinions and sermons. He was also sent by his order on various important missions. Thus in 1539 he represented his province at the general chapter of the Dominicans at Rome. After his return, in 1540, the Emperor Charles V offered him the See of Cuzco in Peru, but Carranza declined the appointment and continued performing his duties as lector of theology at Valladolid. In 1545, when the Council of Trent was opened, Charles V sent Carranza and another Dominican, Dominicus de Soto, as imperial theologians, to the council, and by June, 1545, Carranza was in Trent. During the first period of the council (1545-47) he took an active part in the discussions of the theologians in the congregations, expressed opinions concerning the various matters appointed for discussion, the sacraments in general, Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, and preached at Divine service, March 14, before the assembled council (Le Plat, “Monum. Trident.”, I, 52-62 gives the text of the sermon). He also showed great zeal in the conferences concerning the reform of church discipline. In the warm discussions as to the duty of episcopal residence, Carranza, like all the Spaniards, was strongly of the opinion that the duty of residence was a Divine law (juris divini), and therefore could not be delegated to a vicar. On this question Carranza wrote and issued a treatise, “Controversia de necessaries residentig, personali episcoporum et aliorum inferiorum ecclesim pastorum Tridenti explicata” (Venice, 1547), which may be found in Le Plat, “Monum. Trident.”, III, 522-584. Carranza also had a share in drawing up the eleven articles proposed by the Spaniards, which treated the duty of episcopal residence and other questions of discipline relating to the office of a bishop. When the council was transferred to Bologna he did not go to that city, but remained in Trent. In 1548 Charles asked him to accompany Prince Philip to Flanders as confessor, but Carranza declined the position; in 1549 he refused the appointment, of Bishop of the Canary Islands.

After his return to Spain, in 1549, he was made prior of the monastery, at Palencia, and in 1550 provincial. In 1551, when Pope Julius III reopened the Council at Trent, Carranza went once more to that city to take part in the deliberations. The council was again interrupted in 1552, and Carranza went back to Spain, where, besides his duties in his order he also took part in the labors of the Inquisition. As almoner of Prince Philip, Carranza came in contact with the prince, and often preached before him and his court. When, in 1554, Philip was betrothed to Queen Mary of England, and was preparing to go to that country for the marriage, he sent Carranza and other members of Spanish orders ahead of him, in order to give support to the queen in her efforts to bring back the country to the Catholic Faith. Carranza remained until 1557 in England, where he was actively engaged, in connection with Cardinal Pole, as visitator and preacher. He sought to prevent the sale of Protestant books, preached frequently against the false doctrines, and made an inspection of the University of Oxford, from which, by his efforts, a number of professors were expelled. After Charles V had abdicated the throne and was succeeded, in Spain, by Philip, Carranza returned, in 1557, to the Continent, and went to Flanders, where the new king had his principal residence at that time. In Flanders the zealous Dominican also busied himself with efforts to check the introduction and spread of Protestant writings and to maintain the Catholic Faith.

The See of Toledo falling vacant by the death of the Cardinal Archbishop Siliceo, May 31, 1557, the king decided upon Carranza as successor to the position. In vain did Carranza exert himself to win the favor of the king for another candidate. Philip II persisted in his choice, so that at last Carranza yielded and was preconized by Pope Paul IV, December 16, 1557, as Archbishop of Toledo and, therefore, Primate of Spain. Carranza received episcopal consecration at Brussels, in 1558, from Cardinal Granvella, then Bishop of Arras. Equipped with important political instructions the new archbishop left Flanders in June and reached the court at Valladolid in August. Soon after this he went to Yuste to visit Charles V, who was dying; he remained with the emperor until the latter’s death. A report arose in time that Carranza had led Charles into heretical views, so that the emperor had not died in the true Catholic Faith. This rumor was pure invention, but it gave a new ground for the process before the Inquisition which had already begun against him. It was only for about a year that Carranza was able to devote himself to his diocese, where he bestowed especial attention upon the care of the poor. In 1558 his “Commentary on the Christian Catechism” (Commentarios del revmo. Sen. Fray Bartolome Carranza de Miranda sobre el catechismo cristiano) had appeared at Antwerp. A number of views suspected of heresy were found in the book, and the Grand Inquisitor Valdes brought an action against the author. Besides this work on the catechism, Carranza’s manuscripts, expressions he had employed in sermons, and letters found in his possession, among them one from Juan de Valdes, the heretic, were taken as evidence against him. Melchior Cano, the famous theologian, and Dominicus de Soto, both members of the same order as the archbishop, drew numerous propositions from the commentary which were open to ecclesiastical censure. A Brief of Paul IV, dated January 7, 1559, had granted the Grand Inquisitor of Spain the power, for the space of two years, to investigate the conduct of all Spanish bishops; this measure was intended to counteract the threatening danger of the spread of Protestant doctrine. With the permission, therefore, of King Philip II (June 26, 1558) the grand inquisitor had the archbishop arrested at Torrelaguna, August 22, 1558, and brought a prisoner to Valladolid. Pope Pius IV made repeated requests to Philip II in the matter, and the Holy Father was urged several times, in the years 1562 and 1563, by the members of the Council of Trent, to bring the case of the Archbishop of Toledo before his court. The Congregation of the Index also gave at the council a favorable testimony for Carranza in regard to his commentary.

Nevertheless the Spanish process pursued its tedious course. In 1564, when the Inquisition had closed its investigation, the king expressed the wish to Pius IV that the matter be decided in Spain by judges appointed by the pope. The pope agreed to this and named (July 13, 1565) four judges who were to pronounce judgment in Spain. These judges were: Cardinal Ugo Buoncompagni, Ippolito Aldobrandini, Fel. Peretti, O. S. F., and J. B. Castagna, Archbishop of Rossano; all four became popes later. However, after their arrival in Spain in November, 1565, they were not permitted to proceed independently of the officials of the Inquisition, and the process, therefore, reached no final settlement. At last, in 1567, owing to the peremptory order of Pius V, the suit was brought before the Curia, the official documents were sent to Rome, and Carranza, who had been in prison eight years, was taken to Rome, where he arrived May 28, 1567. The papal chambers in the Castle of Sant’ Angelo were appointed to be his residence during the trial. Once more the case lasted a long time, being nine years before the Curia. It was not until the reign of Gregory XIII that a final decision was reached, April 14, 1576. Carranza was not found guilty of actual heresy, but he was condemned to abjure sixteen Lutheran propositions of which he had made himself suspected, was forbidden to enter on the government of his diocese for another five years, and was ordered during this period to live in the monastery of his order near the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and there to perform certain religious exercises as penance. Carranza died, however, in the same year, and was buried in the choir of the church just mentioned. Before this he had, on April 23, visited the seven great churches and had celebrated Mass on the following day in the basilica of the Lateran. Previous to receiving the last sacraments he touchingly declared that he had been all his life a true adherent of the Catholic Faith, that he had never voluntarily understood and held the condemned propositions in a heretical sense, and that he submitted entirely to the judgment pronounced upon him. He had borne the imprisonment of nearly seventeen years with patience and resignation, and was universally venerated at Rome. Pope Gregory XIII gave permission for the placing over his grave of a monument bearing an inscription in his honor.

Carranza’s sorrowful fate was brought about, largely, by the intense desire to keep all Protestant influences out of Spain. At the same time it cannot be denied that expressions which he used and propositions which he occasionally set forth would of themselves give rise to the suspicion of heretical opinions. At a later date the Congregation of the Index also condemned his commentary. This work, a stout folio, treated the doctrines of Christian faith and morals under four heads: faith, commandments, sacraments, and good works. Besides the commentary, Carranza published a “Summa Conciliorum et Pontificum a Petro usque Paulum III” (Venice, 1546), often republished and enlarged by later editors. The “Summa” was prefaced by four dissertations: “Controversiae quattuor, (I) Quanta sit auctoritas traditionum in ecclesia; (2) Quanta Same Scripturae; (3) Quanta Romani Pontificis et Sedis apostolicae; (4) Quanta Conciliorum”; further, by the controversial treatise concerning episcopal residence mentioned above, and by an “Introduction to the Hearing of the Mass” (Instruction para oir messa). An edition was issued at Antwerp in 1555.


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