about seventeen or eighteen years old, has been one of
Of all the Indian tribes in the time of Cardenas, the most ferocious were the Guaycurus. The Jesuits had laboured almost in vain amongst them. Missions had been founded, and all gone well for months, and even years, when on a sudden, and without reason, the Guaycurus had burned the houses, killed the priests, and gone back to the wilds. From Santa Fe up to the province of Matto Grosso they kept the frontier in a turmoil, crossing the river and feeding like locusts on the settlements in Paraguay.
Not long before his arrival the Guaycurus had intimated their intention of holding a conference with Don Gregorio Hinostrosa. Don Bernardino thought the chance too good to lose, and at once declared that, as a Bishop, it was his place to carry on negotiations with the barbarians. Dressed in his robes and with an escort furnished by the Governor, he met the chiefs -- who no doubt looked on him as a new kind of medicine-man -- preached to them through an interpreter, curiously being without the gift of tongues, but notwithstanding that a reasonable number of them were baptized. On his return, he wrote to the King that by his efforts he had appeased the most ferocious Indians within his Majesty's domains.
Within a week the Guaycurus surprised and burned a settlement a little higher up the stream. Not content with this Caligulesque apostolate to the Guaycurus, the Bishop longed for serious occupation, and caused it to be rumoured about the city that he did nothing except by the direct authority of the Holy Ghost, an allegation hard to confute, and if allowed, likely to lead to difficulties even in Paraguay.
Some years before the advent of Don Bernardino the Dominicans had built a convent in Asuncion. As they had no license to build, they were in the position of religious squatters on the domain of God. The citizens had applied to the Audiencia of Charcas, the supreme court on all such matters in South America, situated, with true Spanish unpracticality, in one of the most secluded districts of the continent. The Audiencia had refused the license, but had taken the matter `ad advisandum' for ten years. To take a matter into consideration for ten years, even in Spain or South America, where the law's delay is generally more mortal than in any other country, was as good as giving a permission. So the Dominicans construed it, and no one dreamed of now molesting them.
One day the Bishop, dressed in his robes, proceeded from his palace to the convent, informing the Governor that he wanted him to meet him there. Entering the convent church, he took the sacrament from off the altar and stripped the church of all its ornaments, setting a gang of workmen to demolish both the convent and the church. When the work was over, he went to a neighbouring church, and then and there, without confession, celebrated Mass, remarking to the faithful that there was no need for him to make confession, as he was satisfied of the condition of his conscience. Some murmured; but the greater portion of the people, always ready to take a saint at his own valuation, were delighted with his act. Doubts must have crossed his mind, as shortly afterwards he wrote to Don Melchior Maldonado, Bishop of Tucuman, for his opinion. That Bishop answered rather tartly that his zeal appeared to him to savour more of the zeal of Elias than of Jesus Christ, and that in a country where churches were so few it seemed imprudent to pull down rather than to build. `However,' he added, `my light is not so brilliant as the light your lordship is illumined by.'
When once a man is well convinced that all he does comes from the Holy Ghost, there is but little that he cannot do with satisfaction to himself. Self-murderers, according to the custom of those times, were not allowed admission into holy ground, as if the fact of having found their life unbearable debarred them from the right to be considered men. Such a man a few years previously had been buried at a cross-road. It now occurred to Cardenas to have a special revelation on the subject; and, curiously enough, this special revelation was on the side of common-sense. `This body,' said the Bishop, `is that of a Christian, and I feel pretty sure his soul is now in bliss.' He gave no reason for his opinion, as is the way of most religious folk, but, as he had special means of communication with heaven, most people were contented. Incontinently he had the corpse dug up and buried in the church of the Incarnation, himself performing all the funeral rites.
Although a miracle or two would have shocked nobody, still, in the matter of the suicide he had gone too far for the simple people of the place. They murmured, and for a moment the Bishop's prestige was in jeopardy; but in the nick of time his Bulls arrived, brought by his nephew, Pedro de Cardenas, who, like himself, was a Franciscan friar. This saved him, and gave the people something new to think of, though at the same time he incurred a new anxiety.
In the Bulls there was a passage to the effect that, if at his consecration any irregularity had been incurred, he was liable to suspension from all his functions. This the Jesuit who translated the documents into Spanish for the purpose of publication drew his attention to. However, Cardenas was not a man to be intimidated by so small a matter, but read the translation to the people in the Cathedral, and intimated to them that the Pope had given him unlimited power in Paraguay, both in matters spiritual and temporal.
he website materials are all from the internet. If there are any infringement issues, please contact us and delete them immediately after verification!