He was born about 1628 near Muniesa (Teruel). He entered the priesthood and settled in Rome about 1670. There he became well known as a director of consciences, being on specially friendly terms with Cardinal Odescalchi, who in 1676 became Pope Innocent XI. In the previous year Molinos had published a volume, Guida spirituale, che disinvolge l'anima e la conduce per l'interior camino all' acquisito della perfetta contemplazione e del ricco tesoro della pace interiore. This was shortly followed by a brief Trattato della cotidiana communione.
No breath of suspicion arose against Molinos until 1681, when the Jesuit preacher Paolo Segneri, attacked his views, though without mentioning his name, in his Concordia tra la fatica e la quiete nell' orazione. The matter was referred to the Inquisition. It pronounced that the Guida spirituale was perfectly orthodox, and censured the intemperate zeal of Segneri.
But the Jesuits set Father La Chaise to work on his royal penitent, Louis XIV. Louis prided himself on being a pillar of orthodoxy; but he was on very bad terms with Innocent XI, and soon yielded to the pleasure of discovering heresy in an intimate friend of the pope. Following on official representations by the French ambassador in Rome, who happened to be a cardinal, Molinos was arrested in May 1685. At first his friends were confident of an acquittal, but in the beginning of 1687 a number of his penitents of both sexes were examined by the Inquisition, and several were arrested. A report got abroad that Molinos had been convicted of moral enormities, as well as of heretical doctrines; and it was seen that he was doomed. On September 3, 1687 he made public profession of his errors, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. In the following November, Innocent signed a bull, Coelestis Pastor, condemning sixty-eight propositions from the Guida spirituale and other unpublished writings of its author. At some date unknown in 1696 or 1697 Molinos died in prison.
The Guida spirituale was published in Italian in 1675, and has been reprinted. An English translation appeared in 1688; it has been re-edited by Mrs Arthur Lyttelton. French, Spanish and Latin translations have also appeared. Modern English versions include The Spiritual Guide (SeedSowers, 1972) and Miguel de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide (Paulist Press, 2010). Also, of note is The Unabridged Collected Works of Michael Molinos and Francois Fenelon (Kahley House, 2006).
For the history of Molinos see Carl Emil Scharling, Michael de Molinos (Ger. trans. from Danish; Gotha, 1855), and Heinrich Heppe, Geschichte der quietistischen Mystik (Berlin, 1875). On the whole subject of Quietism, see H. Delacroix, Études d'histoire et de psychologie du mysticisme (Paris, 1908). There is a brilliant, but very fanciful, account of Molinos and his doctrines in J. H. Shorthouse's romance, John Inglesant (1881).
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