MICHAEL DE UZERO
Of Father Michael de Uzero we have perhaps the least information of any of the missionaries whom Father Bernard Gui places among the original disciples of Saint Dominic. Indeed, Gui seems to be uncertain as to whether he should be included in the list. Yet the other writers manifest no doubt about the fact, because Blessed Jordan of Saxony says expressly that, at the time of the dispersion of the brethren at Prouille, de Uzero was sent to Spain together with Sueiro Gomes, Peter Medina (or of Madrid), and Dominic of Segovia. More openly, yet very logically, Mamachi concludes from Jordan's statement not only that de Uzero had labored under Dominic's standard for some time, but also that he had proved himself to be a man of staunch virtue and of no little ability. Otherwise the saint would not have selected him for so important a task as the propagation of the Order in Spain, where the brethren were absolutely unknown.(1)
Michael himself was a Spaniard. All the writers tell us so. However, as with Dominic of Segovia, so with Michael de Uzero the first attempt at an apostolate in his native land proved a failure. Both soon returned together to Saint Dominic at Rome. This was early in 1218. It is Blessed Jordan who gives us this information; and he adds that it was because they did not meet with the success they hoped for in Spain.(2)
Still we can not suppress the conviction that it was largely the loss of their beloved leader which brought them back to him. Perhaps we may call them spoiled spiritual children. Dominic understood them. Instead of roundly scolding them and returning them to Spain at once, he sent them to Bologna temporarily, where they would at least be nearer him.
Unfortunately, from this time, the whereabouts and labors of Michael de Uzero become more or less a matter of conjecture. We know that, when the founder of the Order went to Spain, late in 1218, he took Dominic of Segovia with him. The inference is that the saint must have also taken de Uzero back to his native country on this journey. Blessed Jordan says they remained in Bologna for only a while (fecerunt moram ibidem). Castillo and Malvenda are of the opinion that Michael de Uzero aided Peter Medina in his work at Madrid, and that Saint Dominic found him there on his arrival in the city.(3) But this belief can hardly be reconciled with the explicit statements of Jordan of Saxony, which seem indisputable.
Still we can but be convinced that, in their studies of the Order in their native country, Castillo and Malvenda must have come across traces of de Uzero's labors in and around the Spanish capital. Otherwise they would scarcely have ventured to hazard such a view. The fact that Dominic sent him to Bologna, where he expected so much, and just when he wanted to put his best foot forward there, shows the confidence which the Order's founder placed in Father Michael. From this, together with the opinion of the two Spanish historians, it is safe to conclude that the saint took him back to Spain late in 1218, and that he labored in the country with no little zeal and fruit to souls until called to his own reward.
The silence of history about Father Michael de Uzero proves nothing, for it is not always those who do the most, or effect the greatest good, who become the best known to the world. With confidence we leave him to God, who permits no well-spent life to go unrequited. But we should note that Alberti calls him "an illustrious man" (vir praeclarus).(4) We doubt not that he occupies a high place in heaven.
1. ALBERTI, fol. 180; BALME-LELAIDIER, I, 134; CASTILLO, pp. 51, 82; JORDAN of Saxony (Berthier ed.), p. 16; MALVENDA, pp. 174, 253; MAMACHI, pp. 369, 411, 466, and col. 369; MORTIER, I, 30, 90, 94,95.
2. JORDAN, as in note 1.
3. CASTILLO, p. 82; JORDAN, p. 16; MALVENDA, p. 253. See also sketches of Dominic of Segovia and Peter of Madrid.
4. ALBERTI, fol. 180.