V. Fame of Sanctity

Admiration for Queen Isabel

“I have to say, that in our times, there has not existed a more clear example of true kindness, greatness, spirituality, prudence, religiousness, honesty, courtesy, generosity, in summary, all virtues, than that of Queen Isabel”
– Count Castiglione, 1528

“Isabel the Catholic was a saint, though by the inscrutable designs of God we cannot venerate her yet on the altars...This woman superseded the queens that were not saints, by the virtues of her sanctity and among the saints who were queens for the heroic deeds of her government."
- Fr. Fray Zacarias Martinez, Archbishop of Santiago de Compestella

In the time of Queen Isabel, a poem became famous which referred to her as: “On earth the first  /  In Heaven the second.”  In the opinions of the time, this placed Isabel directly after the Virgin Mary in terms of honour and closeness to God.

Certain expressions of admiration for Isabel the Catholic seem unbelievable.  But there are so many descriptions praising her, and so many superlatives used, through all generations since her own day, that even where accuracy is lost the reader can be left in little doubt that Isabel has inspired countless people and that she continues to do so today.  In his three volume book, Isabel the Catholic in the Opinion of Spaniards and Foreigners (Valladolid, 1970), Don Vicente Rodriguez Valencia has collated 233 testimonies exalting Queen Isabel the Catholic.  Most of the witnesses are people of great authority, in the scientific, cultural, religious, political, social, administrative, financial, legislative, etc. realms.  Some samples appear below:

“After seeing that the most scrupulous investigation could not discover even on single act in her public or private life that would not be of virtue and of piety, it is discouraging not to see her in the catalogue of saints, next to St. Ferdinand and St. Hermengildo...”
– Don Modesto Lafuente (19th century historian)

“Queen Isabel was born touched by the finger of God, and in this way was able to fulfil her egregious destiny with a grandeur perhaps not surpassed by another known woman.”
– Don Gregorio Maranon, famous medical doctor and historian

“Isabel was one of the most pure and beautiful characters in history.”
– Washington Irving, 1800

The venerable Palafox compares her with St. Teresa of Jesus, saying that if St. Teresa would have been a queen, she would have been an Isabel the Catholic, and that if Queen Isabel would have been a nun — "which she truly was by her virtues", — she would have been a St. Teresa of Jesus.

“But this woman is strong, more than the strongest man, constant as such as no other human soul, marvellous example of purity and honesty.  Nature never produced a woman similar to this one. I don't remember having read that God and nature ever formed anybody worthy to be compared to her.”  And in another document: “Among women, except for one (the Virgin Mary), can you show me in a list, who ever was more careful of her religion and chastity?”
– Pedro Marty d'Anghiera (from Milan, was a Royal Chaplain and Master of the court of Isabel)

“Never has such a Queen been so loved, nor more mourned in Spain.  She had a fervent and sincere piety, a delicate conscience, an ardent zeal for Religion.”
– Mgr. Esprit Flechier, 17th century

“Isabel was the embodiment of justice, so much so that she lit the way for a heroic nation...There is not, even in the very world of art, a figure that incarnates and symbolizes justice in action so beautifully, animating and transfiguring the human soul with a divine spark, like the adorable figure of this woman.  Without a doubt neither el Cid, nor Don Quixote, nor all the symbols of justice that the world has ever known come close to equalling in colour, in realism, in gesture and docility, that splendid moment of life of the great Queen.”
– Joaquin Costa, 20th century

“History cannot take away from Isabel her great sweetness of soul and noble spirit.”
– Juan Antonio Llorente, 19th century

“…a Queen has disappeared who is bound to have no equivalent on Earth because of the greatness of her soul, her purity of heart, Christian piety, justice—equally applied to all.  [Isabel had ] a conservative mind on old rules and an ordered mind in new ones for the creation of a valuable inheritance…”
– Cardinal Cisneros, 1504

“She was counted among all as singular and rare, the Catholic Queen Lady Isabel, and of such great capacity that next to such a great King, she was able not only to make herself known, but she shined.”
– Baltasar Gracian, 17th  century

“Truly the most excellent Queen that the world has ever known, gifted with more and greater virtues, being extremely learned, honest, discrete, prudent and above all devout and religious, likewise pious and humane.”
– Peter Mejia, 16th century

“For the great undertakings that God had reserved for Isabel the Catholic, Heaven gave her some beautiful aptitudes— keen ingenuity, honesty like few others and a heart like no one else.”
– Fr. Henry Flores, 18th Century

“Isabel resembles inspiration as embodied in a woman, the most exalted, she relied on hope and on prayer.”
– Emilio Castelar, 19th  century

“In a world of disgrace and subjection, she tipped the scale toward the triumph of human liberty.”
Anthony Rumeu de Armas, 20th century

“The eminent virtues of this great Queen were such that in her time, they caused universal amazement, and in ours, no less admiration.  Because from whatever point of view you consider her, she is always discovered as she truly was, which is to say, incomparable, sublime; humble, without lowering herself except before God; simple, without being undiscerning; modest, without ceasing to be magnificent; pious, charitable, fervent without hypocrisy nor affectation; wise without knowing it, but revealing at every moment her wisdom …with great words and deeds; of austere and rigorous habits, without appearing unsociable nor prudish; honest instinctively, not through study; reserved and naturally virtuous, not by calculation nor from fear of gossip from her contemporaries; firm in purpose, not pertinacious...Isabel, in whose generous soul God placed as much good as a human can contain…No other woman on the throne had a more sincere faith nor more perfect prudence;…God seemed to bless her projects and her actions, since she accomplished what she willed and willed what she accomplished…”
– Mariano Juderías, 1859

“But the hand of God is with her, she who comes with the burning desire of establishing order with the most equitable justice, without favouring persons or dignitaries, starting with those around her and being inexorable with everyone.”
– Discalced Carmelite, 20th century

“She frequented monasteries of nuns, and stayed with them a few days sometimes, to give herself more freely to devout practices, whenever she had excess time from governing, she would spend it on works of piety and in frequenting religious convents.”
– Diego Ortiz de Zuñiga, 17th century

“A very pious mother to her subjects, and a very just queen to her vassals.  She was given to contemplation.  She continually occupied herself in divine occupations.  She was religious and devout and had great charity with all religious.”
- Alonso de Santa Cruz, 1555

“What gave a special colour to all the features of lady Isabel’s spirit was her piety that, budding from the inmost region of her soul with a celestial brilliance, illuminated her entire character.”
– William Prescott, 1855 (a Boston Protestant)

“In the light of the most scrupulous investigation, not even one act can be discovered in her public or private life that was not pious and virtuous.”
– Modesto Lafuente, 1821

“Isabel poured into the pages of her Last Testament the sublime gifts of her exceptional soul.  Above all she professed the Catholic Faith.  These pages continue to be throughout the centuries a treatise of profound lessons for the men of government.”
– Antonio Ballesteros Beretta, 1948

“All praises fall short of the heroic virtues of such a glorious Queen that there has not been her equal in all of Spain.”
– Juan de Ferreras, 18th  century

“If she took fortitude from the opposite sex, she retained continence and modesty from hers.  The spirit of Isabel passed on to her family, to her children, to her ladies in waiting, to her servants and courtesans and the rest of her household like a healthy spring, the virtues that gave to the Spanish character that coating of austerity, seriousness and decency were spread throughout the whole nation.”
– Diego Clemencín, 19th  century

“Queen Isabel, prudent to a high degree, more than could ever be expected in a woman.  Glory of Spain and still more, of the whole world.”
– Alvar Gómez de Castro, 1569

“...and so content, that without bearing another fruit, [Isabel’s mother] had no reason to envy the most fertile of this world; in a single daughter she produced the redemption of the Kingdom...glory of Princesses, and one of the famous heroines of all time.  Such was the Infanta Isabel.”
– P. Enrique Flórez, 1790

“In comparing Your Highness with all the women I have seen in terms of beauty, none was so gracious nor offered so much for the eye to behold as yourself, not ever has such beauty assumed such a form and such pure saintliness.”
– Fernández de Oviedo, 1555

“Without even leaving our homes, in Spain itself and almost in the age of our grandparents, we find a clear example of virute, in our blessed princess, the Catholic Queen Isabel.”
– Fray Luis de León, 1605

“I am convinced that the Almighty has sent this serene woman from heaven to, in union with the king, bring Spain out of her prostration into a situation of prosperity.  What else?  She is very religious, very pious and very humble.  It is impossible to discover all of her virtue.” - Jeronimo Munzer, German Doctor, 1495

“I exceedingly esteem and always esteemed the Virgin Mary for the grandeur of your virtues and your kingdoms.”
– Duke Galeazzo Sforzia, 1492

“All that surrounded her life had been a religious mystical exaltation...To elevate the cross to the heavens seemed to represent for her the only glory for which her soul was yearning.”
– Martin Hume, 19th Century

“...that show without debate, that the hand of God is with your Highness...pure of faith, complete in chastity, profound in advice, strong in perseverance, constant in justice, full of true clemency, humility and grace.”
– Rodrigo de Santaella, 1495

We know the strength of her enthusiasm and the dynamic courage of her religious faith was not equalled even by the popes of her time.”
– Gabriel Maura, 1943

“He who studies about this incomparable queen, will come to believe in the supernatural, even though he may be an irreducible materialist.”
– Sr. Ovejero de los Cobos, 1921

“Her life was always Catholic and holy.”
– Christopher Columbus

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