sunny meadow at the beginning of the road of life. The
Being at the head of everything in Asuncion, Cardenas no longer hesitated, but ordered an officer, Don Juan de Vallejo Villasanti, with a troop of soldiers to march to the college of the Jesuits. This he did, and finding the gates all barred, he burst them open, and, entering the college, signified to the rector an order from the Governor (duly countersigned by the Bishop) to leave the city with all his priests, and to evacuate all the missions on the Parana. The rector answered that the Jesuits had a permission from Philip II., renewed by his successors, to found a college, and Father Tano exhibited the documents. Villasanti, who had but little love for documents, snatched the parchments from his hand, and the soldiers forced the Jesuits in a body to the port like sheep. There they were tied and thrown into canoes almost without provisions, and sent off down the river to Corrientes, the certain haven of the party in Paraguay which has got the worst of an election or a revolution, and wishes to gain time.
Arrived in Corrientes, Don Manuel Cabral, a pious officer, received them in his house, and, curiously enough, the population welcomed the Jesuits with enthusiasm, and pressed them earnestly to build a college in the town.
Their college at Asuncion was treated like a town taken by storm: pulpit and font, confessionals and doors, all were torn down and burnt, and, with a view of justifying what was done, the Bishop's partisans spread a report that, as the Jesuits were heretics, their temple was unclean.
The population, more artistic in its instincts than the Bishop, refused to allow the altar, which had been brought from Spain, to be destroyed. Besides the altar, there were also statues of San Ignacio and San Francisco Xavier. These the Bishop wished to turn into St. Peter and St. Paul. With this design he gave them to an Indian carpenter to work upon. The poor man did his best, but only managed to turn out two monstrous blocks, which looked like nothing human.
A statue of the Blessed Virgin which had the eyes turned up to heaven the Bishop wished to alter, and replace the head by another with the eyes turned down to earth, as being more befitting to the statue's sex. The people, less mad or superstitious than the Bishop, refused to allow it, and the image, too, was placed in the Cathedral.
In 1649 the expulsion of an Order so powerful as were the Jesuits caused some commotion through the world at large. Miracles happened opportunely to strengthen waning faith. A fire placed round their church, though it destroyed, refused to blacken; and ropes fixed to the tower of the church, although attached to windlasses, refused to pull it down, so that the tower and church, though gutted, still remained almost intact, and, on the Jesuits' return, were easily repaired, and served as a monument of victory.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a mitre, as poor Cardenas found out. His popularity suffered some decrease by the lack of treasure found in the Jesuits' college, for he had always dangled millions in prospective before the people's eyes to engage them on his side, and, most unluckily, he had no millions to bestow. So, to make all things right, he sent Fray Diego Villalon* to Madrid to represent his interests.
-- * This Villalon has left some curious memoirs in the case which he submitted to the Council of the Indies which sat in Seville. --
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