Next Tuesday 10th May is the (optional) Memorial of a great priest, writer and mystic, John of Avila. Born in New Castile of wealthy parents of Jewish extraction, he studied law at Salamanca but renounced it in order to train for the priesthood. Ordained in 1525, he gave away to the poor his inheritance and longed to join the missions in Mexico but the Archbishop of Seville persuaded him instead to re-evangelise Andalusia. This southernmost province had been ruled by the Moors and John set himself with enthusiasm to preach Gospel, which he did to universal acclaim. He was highly esteemed by some of the great saints of the day, including St. Theresa of Avila who chose him as a counsellor. John wrote many letters and sermons which are notable for their spiritual depth, including a treatise on Christian perfection. He suffered much ill-health the last 15 years of his life. He greatly admired Ignatius at Loyola and considered joining the Society of Jesus, but in 1559 death intervened. He was buried in the Jesuit church at Montilla.