Louis Bertrand

       A brief biography.

Louis Bertrand, or (Spanish) Luis Beltrán, was born at Valencia, Spain, 1 January 1526 to Juan Bertrand and Juana Angela Exarch. Through his father he was related to St. Vincent Ferrer.
At an early age he conceived the idea of becoming a Friar Preacher, and despite the efforts of his father to dissuade him, he entered the Dominican order in the priory of St. Dominic, Valencia, 26 Aug., 1544. While he could lay no claim to the great intellectual gifts and ripe scholarship, he applied himself assiduously to study
. In 1547 he was advanced to the priesthood by the Archbishop of Valencia, St. Thomas of Villanova.

He was appointed to the office of master of novices in the priory at Valencia, the duties of which he discharged at different intervals for thirty years. The plague that decimated the inhabitants of Valencia and the vicinity in 1557, afforded him an excellent opportunity for the exercise of his charity and zeal. When the plague had subsided, the zeal of the  novice-master sought to extend the scope of his already large ministry into the apostolate of preaching. The cathedral and most capacious churches were placed at his disposal, but it became necessary for him to resort to the public squares of the city. It was probably the fame of his preaching that brought him to the attention of St. Teresa, who at this time sought his counsel in the matter of reforming her order.

Unknown to his brethren, Louis had long cherished the desire to enter the mission fields of the New World. Possessed of the necessary permission he sailed for America in 1562, and landed at Cartagena, where he immediately entered upon the career of a missionary. From Cartagena, Louis was sent to Panama, where in a comparatively short time he converted some 6,000 Indians. His next mission was at Tubera, where he baptized 10.000 Indians.  From Tubera Louis went to Cipacoa, Paluato, and St. Martha.  The work at St. Martha finished, the tireless missionary undertook the work of converting the warlike Caribs, probably inhabitants of the Leeward Islands.
A deadly draught was administered to him by one of the native priests. Through Divine interposition, the virulent poison failed to accomplish its purpose, thus fulfilling the words of St. Mark: "If they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" (xvi, 18). Teneriffe next became the field of the saint's apostolic labours. Unfortunately, however, there are no records extant to indicate what
was the result of  his preaching.
After an apostolate the marvellous and enduring fruits of which have richly merited for him the title of Apostle of South America, he returned under obedience to his native Spain. He died on 9th October 1581, and was canonized by Clement X in 1671.


Louis Bertrand, statue on the facade from 1670 of the church
Maria Rotunda of the Dominican
priory in Vienna.

Austria 1966, Mi 1202, Sc 757.



Statue of Louis Bertrand on the colonnade of the Saint Peter
in Rome by Bernini.

Vatican City 1980, Mi 772, Sc 674.




In the Spanish Series Builders of the New World
the portrait of Louis Bertrand, O.P. (
A deadly draught was administered to him by one
of the native priests.

Spain 1965, Mi 1571 (1575), Sc 1319 (1323).




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