Tuesday, February 19, 2008

St. Alvarez of Corova

St. Alvarez of Corova
Feastday: February 19

Alvarez was born in either Lisbon, Portugal, or Cordova, Spain. He entered the Dominican convent at Cordova in 1368. He became known for his preaching prowess in Spain and Italy, was confessor and adviser of Queen Catherine, John of Gaunt's daughter, and tutor of King John II in his youth. He reformed the court, and then left the court to found a monastery near Cordova. There the Escalaceli (ladder of heaven) that he built became a center of religious devotion. He successfully led the opposition to antipope Benedict XII (Peter de Luna), and by the time of his death was famous all over Spain for his teaching, preaching, asceticism, and holiness. His cult was confirmed in 1741.

Also known as
19 February
Joined the Dominicans at Cordova, Spain in 1368. Renowned and well-travelled preacher, well known in Andalusia and Italy. Pilgrim to the Holy Lands. Preached Crusade. Personal confessor, spiritual guide and political advisor to Queen Catherine. In charge of the education of young King John II. Opposed the Avignon pope Peter de Luna. Reformed many of the practices common at court.

Founded Escalaceli (Ladder of Heaven), a Dominican house of strict observance in the mountains around Cordova; it became a well known center of piety and learning. Alvarez spent his days there preaching, teaching, begging alms in the street, and spending his nights in prayer. In the gardens of the house he set up a series of oratories with images of the Holy Lands and Passion, similar to modern Stations of the Cross.

There are many wonderful stories attatched to Alvarez, which include:

* Angels are reported to have helped built Escalaceli, moving stone and wooden building materials to the site during the night, placing them where workmen could easily get them during the day.

* Once when the entire food stocks for the house consisted of a single head of lettuce, he gathered all the brothers at table, gave thanks for the meal, and sent the porter to the door; the porter found a stanger leading a mule loaded with food. After unloading the mule, the stranger and the animal disappeared.

* Alvarez once found a beggar dying alone in the street. He wrapped the poor man in his own cloak, and carried him back to Escalaceli. When he arrived at the house and unwrapped the cloak, instead of man, he found a crucifix. It still hangs in Escalaceli.

* A bell in the chapel with Alvarez's relics rings by itself just before the death of anyone in the house.

* Attempts were made to move Alvarez's relics to Cordova, but each try led to violent storms that kept the travellers bottled up until they gave up their task, leave the bones where they are.

Lisbon, Portugal or Cordova, Spain (sources vary)
c.1430 at Escalaceli, and buried there
22 September 1741 (cultus confirmed)
God of mercy, you endowed Blessed Alvarez with the gifts of penance and divine love. With the help of his prayers and example may we always bear the suffering of Christ in our bodies and your love in our hearts. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

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