VERA Y ALARCON, LOPE DE:
Spanish martyr and knight ("caballero i mui emparentado," as he is designated by a contemporary) of noble family; born about 1619 at San Clemente la Mancha; died July 25, 1644, at Valladolid. Through his study of the Hebrew language and literature at Salamanca he was drawn toward Judaism; and he read the Psalms daily in the original text. When only twenty years of age he declared openly that he could not believe that the Messiah had appeared. According to the account of a contemporary, the Inquisition at Valladolid in 1638, on information furnished by De Vera's own brother, cast De Vera into prison, where he languished for six years. During this time he abstained from meat, circumcised himself, and called himself "Juda el Creyente" = "Judah the Believer." The most eminent theologians endeavored in vain to lead him back to the Church; and the entreaties of his father were equally unsuccessful. On July 25, 1644, he was tied to the stake, and, as Spinoza says, breathed his last with the Psalmist's words on his lips: "Into thine hand, Lord, I commit my spirit." His courage was universally admired, the inquisitor Moscoso writing to the Countess de Monterey thus: "Never has such firmness been witnessed as that displayed by this young man. He was well reared, scholarly, and otherwise blameless." The Marano poets Antonio Enriquez Gomez and Manuel de Pina mourned in their poems the death of the promising youth.
- Cardoso, Las Excelencias de Israel, p. 363;
- Manasseh b. Israel, Spes Israelis, ed. L. Wolf, p. 47;
- José de Pellicer, in the Avisos, Aug. 2, 9, 1644;
- A. de Castro, Historia de los Judios de España, p. 212;
- D. Levi de Barrios, Govierno Popular Judayco, p. 43;
- Kayserling, Sephardim, pp. 203 et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. x. 101.