An Account of the Persecutions in Italy, Under the Papacy (33/35)
Petrucci’s conduct on this occasion was so highly approved that it not only raised the credit of the cause, but his own emolument; for he was soon after made bishop of Jesis, which was a new declaration made by the pope in their favor. Their books were now esteemed more than ever, their method was more followed, and the novelty of it, with the new approbation given after so vigorous an accusation by the Jesuits, all contributed to raise the credit, and increase the number of the party.
The behavior of Father Petrucci in his new dignity greatly contributed to increase his reputation, so that his enemies were unwilling to give him any further disturbance; and, indeed, there was less occasion given for censure by his writings than those of Molinos. Some passages in the latter were not so cautiously expressed, but there was room to make exceptions to them; while, on the other hand Petrucci so fully explained himself, as easily to remove the objections made to some parts of his letter.
The great reputation acquired by Molinos and Petrucci occasioned a daily increase of the Quietists. All who were thought sincerely devout, or at least affected the reputation of it, were reckoned among the number. If these persons were observed to become more strict in their lives and mental devotions, yet there appeared less zeal in their whole deportment at the exterior parts of the Church ceremonies. They were not so assiduous at Mass, nor so earnest to procure Masses to be said for their friends; nor were they so frequently either at confession, or in processions.
Though the new approbation given to Molinos’ book by the Inquisition had checked the proceedings of his enemies; yet they were still inveterate against him in their hearts, and determined if possible to ruin him. They insinuated that he had ill designs, and was, in his heart, an enemy to the Christian religion: that under pretense of raising men to a sublime strain of devotion, he intended to erase from their minds a sense of the mysteries of Christianity. And because he was a Spaniard, they gave out that he was descended from a Jewish or Mahometan race, and that he might carry in his blood, or in his first education, some seeds of those religions which he had since cultivated with no less art than zeal. This last calumny gained but little credit at Rome, though it was said an order was sent to examine the registers of the place where Molinos was baptized.
Molinos finding himself attacked with great vigor, and the most unrelenting malice, took every necessary precaution to prevent these imputations being credited. He wrote a treatise, entitled “Frequent and Daily Communion,” which was likewise approved by some of the most learned of the Romish clergy. This was printed with his Spiritual Guide, in the year 1675; and in the preface to it he declared that he had not written it with any design to engage himself in matters of controversy, but that it was drawn from him by the earnest solicitations of many pious people.
The Jesuits, failing in their attempts of crushing Molinos’ power in Rome, applied to the court of France, when, in a short time, they so far succeeded that an order was sent to Cardinal d’Estrees, commanding him to prosecute Molinos with all possible rigor. The cardinal, though so strongly attached to Molinos, resolved to sacrifice all that is sacred in friendship to the will of his master. Finding, however, there was not sufficient matter for an accusation against him, he determined to supply that defect himself. He therefore went to the inquisitors, and informed them of several particulars, not only relative to Molinos, but also Petrucci, both of whom, together with several of their friends, were put into the Inquisition.