Jerome Gratian of the Mother of God was born in Valladolid, Spain, on June 6, 1545, in the heart of a family in which piety and learning flourished.
He studied in the University of Alcalá and was ordained to the priesthood when he was 24 years old. In 1572 he joined the Discalced Carmelites, putting his talents and attributes at the service of Saint Teresa’s foundational work. As Captain of the sons of the Virgin he directed the destiny of the nascent Teresian family, guiding it by the spirit of prayer, cultivation of learning, and participation in the missionary life of the Church.
Diligent reading of Sacred Scripture and spiritual writers, three hours dedicated to prayer each day of his life, and his limpid intelligence and prodigious memory make him a great master of spiritual life. In order to lead souls along the true path of the spirit, he wrote The Burning Lamp, Mystical Theology, and Itinerary of the Ways of Perfection, among others.
When Saint Teresa died, Jerome Gratian began to be the subject of envy, calumny, and persecution. In 1592 the habit of the Order was taken from him, and he was expelled from the Discalced Carmel. Father Jerome went to Rome seeking justice, but his opponents preceded him there and by the intercession of Philip II ensured that Clement VIII confirmed the decision for expulsion. Having been unable to resolve his case after seven months (June through December), he traveled to Naples, but the Viceroy would not receive him because he had fallen into disfavor with Philip II.
He continued on his way to Sicily and was warmly welcomed by the wife of the Viceroy. There he was able to work out his zeal in a hospital (February to August 1593). On his way back to Rome, he was taken captive by the Turks in the Gulf of Gaeta on October 11, 1593. After a year and a half of captivity, during which he showed heroic charity and apostolic zeal by risking his life to attend to his companions in misfortune, he was rescued by a Jewish merchant named Simon on April 11, 1595.
Recognizing his innocence, Clement VIII gave him a Brief dated March 6, 1596, by which he was allowed to return to the Order of Discalced Carmelites “as if he had never been expulsed.” Nevertheless, in view of the resistance to his re-admittance from the superiors, the Pope himself recommended that, for the love of peace, Father Gratian should go to the Calced Carmelites, where he was received. He died a holy death in Brussels, Belgium, on September 21, 1614.
His life can be summarized in a phrase taken from one of his letters: “I have no other desires or pretensions in this life save, while I am able, to employ myself in whatever serves God most and brings greater fruit to souls.”
PRAYER FOR PRIVATE USE
Eternal Father, you chose your servant Jerome Gratian to transmit the Teresian heritage and promote the missionary life of your Church. Through his intercession, grant me the grace I trustingly beseech of you…
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In conformity with the decrees of Pope Urban VIII, we declare that there is no intention of anticipating in any way the judgment of the Church, and that this prayer is not intended for public use.