Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Dominican bishop and theologian, b. 1 Jan., 1509, at Tarancón, Province of Cuenca , Spain ; d. 30 Sept., 1560, at Toledo.

His father, Ferdinand Cano, a learned jurist, sent him at an early age to the University of Salamanca . There in 1523 he entered the Dominican Order, and was professed at St. Stephen's convent, 12 Aug., 1524. Francis de Victoria, who held the first chair of theology, was his professor from 1527 to 1531. Cano was then sent to St. Gregory's College at Valladolid, where, with Louis of Granada among others, he heard the lectures of Bartholomew of Carranza . After teaching philosophy for a time he became master of students, 1534, and was promoted to the second chair of theology, 1536. The same year the baccalaureate was conferred upon him by a general chapter of the order at Rome. In 1542, while attending another general chapter, he was made master of sacred theology, and on his return to Spain obtained the first chair at Alcalá. After the death of Victoria, 17 Aug., 1546 Cano was a successful competitor for his chair at Salamanca, and he held the title until 1552. Early in 1551 he was sent by the emperor to the Council of Trent. He was accompanied by Dominic Soto , and, like other members of the order, was enabled by his historical erudition and his mastery of scholastic and positive theology to render important service in the deliberations and achievements of the council. Tho following year Charles V presented him for the bishopric of the Canary Islands ; but a month after he was preconized he resigned. In 1553 he returned to St. Gregory's College at Valladolid as rector, but was not charged with active professorial duties. In 1557, after being elected prior of St. Stephen's at Salamanca, he was made provincial. This election was contested, and among those who opposed Cano was Carranza, who had become Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain. Another provincial chapter renewed and confirmed the proceedings of the former but the re-election was annulled by Pope Paul IV, who regarded Cano with disfavour for supporting the Spanish Court in some of its disagreements with the Holy See. On this pontiff's death Cano personally repaired to Rome, and obtained the approbation of his election from the new pope Pius IV. He returned to Toledo in the spring of 1560, and died there the same year.

The character of Cano has been assailed by some writers, who represent him as a man of immoderate zeal and sometimes of intemperate action. He is charged among other things with having been a party to the misfortunes of Don Carlos and to the persecutions of Carranza. Against these accusations he is ably defended by Father Touron, the learned Dominican historian and biographer. Cano undoubtedly displayed great energy, vehemence, and determination in the pursuit of his aims. Early in his career at Valladolid he became involved in scholastic controversy with Carranza, and their continuous disputes, besides placing them at the head of rival schools of thought, cast a shadow over all their subsequent relations. Cano is also said to have for some time defeated the wish of the Jesuits to establish themselves in Salamanca. His strictures, which made a great stir were published about the time of the suppression of the Society, but were withdrawn from publication in 1777. They were republished in "Crisis de la Compañía de Jesús" (Barcelona, 1900), 152-159. Cano's advice in important affairs of Church and State was often sought. Though possessing the full confidence of Philip II, he declined in 1554 the position of confessor to the king.

In whatever light his personal traits may appear Cano made an imperishable name for himself in his work, "De Locis Theologicis" (Salamanca, 1563), which in classic elegance and purity of style approaches the great didactic treatises of Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintillian. It certainly ranks with the most lauded productions of the Renaissance not only on account of its fluency and freedom but also for its lucid judgment and profound erudition. In the estimation of some critics this work marking a new epoch in the history of theology has made its author worthy of a place next to St. Thomas Aquinas. The "De Locis" was the outcome of a movement inaugurated by Francis de Victoria to restore the best patristic learning and to give to theological science a purer diction and an improved literary form. Cano took up the work of his master, and after years of labour gave out the production that was worthy of their united aspirations and endeavours. It was Cano's idea to establish scientifically the foundations of theological science, and therefore the "De Locis" is a treatise on theological method. After elucidating the distinction between arguments based on authority and arguments from reason, the author enumerates ten loci , or sources of theology, each the subject of a book. With admirable precision and clearness he treats successively the authority of Holy Writ , oral tradition, the Catholic Church, the Councils, the Fathers the Roman Church, the Scholastic theologians, the value of natural reason as manifested in science, the authority of philosophers, and the authority of history. The twelfth and last book treats of the use and application of these loci, or sources, in scholastic debate or theological polemics. Two further books on the loci as applicable to Scriptural exposition and as employed against various classes of adversaries of the Catholic Church were contemplated by Cano, but he was overtaken by death before he completed his work. A standard quarto edition of the "De Locis Theologicis" (Padua, 1714) was edited by Hyacinth Serry, with a "Prologus Galeatus" defending Cano against his critics. This is followed by most of the subsequent editions, some twenty in all. Two other treatises, "De Sacramentis" and "De Poenitentiâ", are not so well known, but they show the same character of solidity and clearness of method, and the same elegant Latinity.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 5:21-33
21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents] How blessed are all who fear Yahweh, who walk in his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:18-21
18 He went on to say, 'What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2016 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. ... Read More