Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A Spanish mystic, who was the spiritual director of St. Teresa, b. At Cervera, in Spain, in 1533, of a noble family ; d. At Belmonte, 25 July, 1580. He studied philosophy and theology in the University of Alcalá. When only eighteen years of age, he was remarkable for his extraordinary habit of prayer and piety. His inclination was first towards the Carthusians, because of their life of contemplation, but, finally, he entered the Society of Jesus, at Alcalá, in 1555, fifteen years after its foundation. The famous Father Bustamente was his master of novices and subjected him to the Alcalá trials. In the novitiate of Simancas he met St. Francis Borgia, and the strongest affection was established between them. He resumed his philosophical and theological studies at Alcalá and Avila, under the guidance of the Dominicans ; for as yet the Society had no theologians of its own. The continual interruptions of his studies impeded his progress in scholastic theology, but he compensated for it by the eminence he achieved, through prayer, in mystical theology, which fitted him in a remarkable degree for the office he subsequently held as confessor, master of novices, rector, provincial, visitor, and as director of persons far advance in the ways of holiness. He was made a priest in 1558, and, although only twenty-five years of age, was entrusted with the spiritual direction of St. Teresa, then belonging to the mitigated order of Carmel, but who was on the point of founding the Discalced Carmelites. Alvarez not only guided her in matters of the spirit, but defended her from her critics, encouraged her in her work of reform, and had much to do with framing the rules of the new Order. His direction continued for seven years. The Saint declared that it had been revealed to her that Father Balthazar had reached a very high degree of perfection. He followed the usual method of prayer for sixteen years. After that he received a special gift of contemplation. In 1574 he was made rector of Salamanca and visitor of the Province of Aragon, and, in 1579, was about to be sent as provincial to Peru but that project was never carried out. He was well on in life when his method of prayer was questioned. By some it was looked upon as a delusion of the devil. Alvarez was compelled to write an account of it to the General of the Society of Jesus, Everard Mercurian, who approved of it, but discountenanced it as a general practice. At the same time, he expressed his esteem for Father Alvarez and employed him in the most responsible offices. At his death, St. Teresa had a revelation of his glory in heaven.


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 in fifteen hardcopy 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


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
1 In the end it was Job who broke the silence and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8
2 may my prayer reach your presence, hear my cry for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:51-56
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2014 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter