course. The reasons for that are inherent in the conditions
Embarking from Corrientes up the river Paraguay, the Bishop met two vessels sent from Asuncion to do him honour. When night approached he put in practice one of the manoeuvres which in Peru had stood him in good stead. On every side a swarm of launches and canoes accompanied the ship to see the Bishop, whom already many believed a saint. He asked them all to retire a little from his ship. All did so but the guard of honour sent from Asuncion. Towards the middle of the night the sound of scourging wakened them. It was their Bishop trying to prepare himself for the duties that awaited him. Every succeeding night the same thing happened. During the day he celebrated Mass pontifically upon the deck. Voyages upon the river Paraguay before the days of steamers took a considerable time, especially as every night the custom was to anchor or to make fast the vessel to a tree. Soon the rumour reached Asuncion that a second St. Thomas was on his way to visit them. St. Thomas, as is said, once visited Paraguay, and a cave in the vicinity of a town called Paraguari, where he once lived, exists to-day to prove the passage of the saint.
Fate seemed determined that the Bishop should always meet the Jesuits, no matter where he went.
Becoming weary of the slow progress of the ships, he disembarked four leagues below Asuncion, at a farm belonging to the Company. He managed to dissemble his resentment so perfectly that no one knew he had a grudge against them. Arrived at the capital, he went at once to the church of San Blas, then to the Cathedral, where he celebrated Mass and preached, his mitre on his head. After service he dismissed the people to their homes to dine, saying, however, that he himself was nourished by an invisible food and by a beverage which men could not perceive. `My food' (he said) `is but to do the work and will of Him who sent me.' Therefore he remained in prayer and meditation until vespers, and that office finished, he retired to the palace accompanied by a shouting crowd.
In his position his conduct was most adroit, for, as his Bulls had not arrived, he must have known he had no legal status, and that, in default of that, he had to conquer public sympathy. The chapter never doubted that Don Bernardino would place himself entirely in their hands as his Bulls had not arrived. He, however, seems to have thought that the act of celebrating Mass pontifically in the Cathedral had put him in possession of his powers. So he named one Cristobal Sanchez as his Vicar-General. Two of the members of the chapter, Don Diego Ponce de Leon and Don Fernando Sanchez, remonstrated, but a considerable portion of the chapter sided with Cardenas. The stronger party left the Cathedral and celebrated Mass in the church belonging to the Jesuits, thus giving Cardenas a second cause of offence against the Company.
The Bishop, not being secure of his position, had recourse to every art* to catch the public eye: fasting and scourging, prayers before the altar, two Masses every day, barefoot processions -- himself the central figure, carrying a cross -- each had their turn. Along the deep red roads between the orange-gardens which lead from Asuncion towards the Recoleta and the Campo Grande, he used to take his way accompanied by Indians crowned with flowers, giving his benediction as he passed, to turn away (according to himself) the plague and to insure a fertile harvest. Not being content with the opportunities which life afforded, he instituted an evening service in a church in order to prepare for death.
-- * But besides putting into execution all his histrionic talents, he had the adroitness to address himself to those feelings of self-interest which he knew were perhaps more powerful than those of admiration and respect for his own saintly proceedings in his new diocese. Cretineau Joly, in his `Histoire de la Compagnie de Jesus', vol. iii., p. 333 (Paris, 1845), tells us that Cardenas `parle aux Espagnols, il s'addresse a\ leurs intere^ts, il re/veille les vieux levain de discorde . . . et il accuse les missionnaires d'e^tre seuls les apo^tres de la liberte/ des Indiens.' --
Soon, as was to be expected in such a country, this service proved the occasion of much scandal, and, instead of showing people how to leave the world, became the means of introducing many into life in a clandestine way. The rector of the Jesuit college thought it his duty to inform the Bishop; but he, like all good men, thought nothing bad could spring from anything that he himself originated. No doubt he put it down to malice, as good people will when worldlings put the finger on the weak spot of a religious institution; but anyhow, regardless of the scandals, he continued his nocturnal rites.
The Governor of Paraguay at that time was one Gregorio de Hinostrosa, an officer born in Chile, an honest, pious, wooden-headed man, and much beloved by the inhabitants of Paraguay. On his arrival Don Bernardino tried to conciliate him. Unluckily, a friendship with the Bishop was impossible without a blind submission to his will. In the beginning all was flattery; when Don Gregorio attended Mass, the Bishop used to meet him at the church door. Not to be outdone, the Governor returned the Bishop's politeness in a similar way, but went so far in his complaisance that Don Bernardino ceased to respect him. Soon there arose bickerings and jealousies, and at length they hated one another fervently.
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