Life and career
Of Jewish (converso) origins, Francisco Suárez was born in Granada, Andalusia (southern Spain), on 5 January 1548.
After 3 years of preliminary studies from age 10 onwards, in 1561 Suárez matriculated at the University of Salamanca, and studied Law. In 1564, at age sixteen, Suárez entered the Society of Jesus in Salamanca and went through the two years of intense spiritual training under the guidance of Fr Alonso Rodriguez. In August 1566, Suárez took his first vows as a Jesuit; he then began in October 1566 to study Theology at Salamanca. It seems he was not a promising student at first; in fact, he nearly gave up his matters of study after failing the entrance exam twice. After passing the exam at third attempt, though, things changed.
Monument in Granada, Spain, where he was born
In 1570, with the completion of his course, Suárez began to teach Philosophy, first at Salamanca as a Scholastic tutor, and then as a professor in the Jesuit college at Segovia. He was ordained in March 1572 in Segovia. He continued to teach Philosophy in Segovia until, in September 1574, he moved to the Jesuit College in Valladolid to teach Theology, a subject he would then teach for the rest of his life. He taught in a succession of different places: Avila (1575), Segovia (1575), Valladolid (1576) Rome (1580–85), Alcalá (1585–92) and Salamanca (1592–97). In 1597, he moved to Coimbra, some years after the accession of the Spanish (elder line) House of Habsburg to the Portuguese Throne, to take up the principal chair of Theology at the University of Coimbra. He remained there, aside from a brief time teaching at Rome, until his death in 1617.
He wrote on a wide variety of subjects, producing a vast amount of work (his complete works in Latin amount to twenty-six volumes). Suárez writings include treatises on law, the relationship between Church and State, metaphysics, and theology. He is considered the godfather of International Law. His Disputationes metaphysicae (Metaphysical Disputations) were widely read in Europe during the 17th century and are considered by some scholars to be his most profound work.
Suárez was regarded during his lifetime as being the greatest living philosopher and theologian, and given the nickname Doctor Eximius et Pius ("Exceptional and Pious Doctor"); Pope Gregory XIII attended his first lecture in Rome. Pope Paul V invited him to refute the arguments of James I of England, and wished to retain him near his person, to profit by his knowledge. Philip II of Spain sent him to the University of Coimbra in order to give it prestige, and when Suárez visited the University of Barcelona, the doctors of the university went out to meet him wearing the insignia of their faculties.
After his death in Portugal (in either Lisbon or Coimbra) his reputation grew still greater, and he had a direct influence on such leading philosophers as Hugo Grotius, René Descartes, John Norris, and Gottfried Leibniz.
In 1679 Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five casuist propositions, taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Suárez and others, mostly Jesuit, theologians as propositiones laxorum moralistarum and forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication.