Ignatius on the Virtue of Sickness (1554)

Teutonio de Braganza was a member of the high Portuguese nobility, the stepbrother of the Duke of Braganza. Once he had decided to enter the Society, he had to overcome the opposition of his family. In the Society at last, he became a partisan of Simão Rodrigues in the troubles among the Jesuits in Portugal. His superiors decided to send him to Spain and thence to Rome. While waiting at Barcelona to sail, he became seriously ill. Ignatius writes to Braganza here and agrees to postpone his voyage. Indeed, Ignatius sees the illness as a positive, a chance for Braganza to discern God’s intentions for him. Ignatius encourages him to interior peace.

For more sources from Ignatius, please visit the Letters of Ignatius of Loyola.



May the sovereign grace and eternal love of Christ our Lord be always our help and our protection.

From letters of Master [Jerome] Nadal, the commissary, I learn, my dear brother, that God our Lord has visited you with a serious illness. I am sure that, in his divine goodness, this has all happened for an improvement in your health, for your merit, and for the exercise of your virtues, so that you will know how to find the fruit that God our Lord wishes to see gathered from such visits, he whose wisdom and infinite charity seek our greater good and our perfection, no less with bitter medicine than with the sweetest consolations. With that I hope, through his divine favor, soon to hear news of your health, which I am sure you will employ generously in his service.

Your coming here and the reality of seeing you would give me great consolation; but as I have already seen for a long time, there is no way open to fulfill this desire that each of us has, given your illness. Thus I think it good to postpone your trip at present. So that you can make progress in letters and at the same time enjoy greater consolation, stay at Cordoba and continue to carry on your studies there; and if there are other things which can cause you concern, put them aside, in the assurance that I will concern myself with them enough and that all will finally turn out for the great glory and service of God our Lord. May his infinite and sovereign goodness give to all the fullness of his grace to know and to do his most holy will.


Rome, January 1, 1554




Original Source (English translation):

Ignatius of Loyola: Letters and Instructions, ed. John W. Padberg, et al. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996, “To Teutonio de Braganza, Rome, January 1, 1554,” pg. 457.

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