Miguel de Molinos

Spanish quietist


June 13, 1628
December 28, 1696
Related topics
Early works, Italy, History, Christian life, Inquisition,


Born of noble parents in Muniesa, Spain, Molinos studied at Valencia, where he was ordained and received a doctorate in theology. In 1663 he settled in Rome where he became a well-known priest and confessor. In 1675 he published A Spiritual Guide, which was immediately popular and translated into several languages.

According to Molinos, contemplation distinguishes the perfect from the imperfect Christian. The imperfect Christian lives an active life and uses the prayer of meditation. The contemplation of the perfect Christian consists in a total abandonment of the self to the will and operation of God in the soul. The soul has to rid itself of all efforts to act virtuously, to form thoughts and desires, or even to repel temptations. Hence, his view is sometime called Quietist.

The Jesuits attacked Molinos's work claiming it to be Jansenist in character, because it undercuts the role of the church. At first Molinos defended himself successfully and the books of his opponents were placed on the Index in 1681. However, in 1685 he was suddenly arrested and investigated by the Holy Office. In 1687 Molinos retracted a number of errors attributed to him and pleaded guilty to charges of moral misconduct. The Guide was susceptible to dangerous and even heretical interpretations; but this hardly seems reason enough for the sudden and drastic action taken against so respected a person. Non-Catholics have tended to think that political considerations caused Molinos's downfall, but Roman Catholic sources tend to attribute it to the charges of moral misconduct. Molinos's conviction caused a great stir. He was sentenced to a life of penitential imprisonment and died after living nine years of pious and exemplary behavior.

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