Recent years had seen the rise of a man who was now to challenge Gracián’s leadership and ideas. Nicholas Doria (1539-1594), the scion of a merchant family of Genoa, settled in 1570 in Seville, trading center of the Indies. He had amassed a comfortable fortune when he decided to embrace the ecclesiastical state. After studies at the Dominican College of St. Thomas in Seville, he took priestly orders. He came to know Fray Mariano, a fellow Italian, at the Discalced convent of Los Remedios. Even as a priest, his talent for business continued to serve him. He saved from the hands of creditors the palace of the archbishop of Seville, Don Christopher Rojas y Sandoval, who became his grateful friend as a result. He likewise gave valued advice to Philip II on financial matters. The foundress herself knew and esteemed him for his virtue and sound sense. Eventually, he joined the Discalced reform, pronouncing his vows on March 25, 1578.
A mature man of affairs, his talents were immediately put to use; within months of profession he became superior at Los Remedios. As such, on December 1, 1578, he wrote a letter of filial submission in answer to Caffardi’s announcement of Rossi’s death and his own appointment as vicar general of the Order. By this diplomatic gesture – the sort of thing Teresa had been urging for years, which Gracián had never had the sense to make – Doria made himself spokesman for the reform at a time when it lacked a head, Gracián being in disgrace with the nuncio. His letter, allegedly written on behalf of the Seville community, was signed by friars from other houses as well, among them John of the Cross, vicar of El Calvario.
Teresa hoped Doria would become Gracián’s right hand; the two men complemented each other in temperament and talent. In a letter to Gracián, July 7, 1579, she praises Doria’s talents and virtue and recommends cooperating with him. Teresa’s dream of close collaboration between Gracián and Doria was doomed to disappointment. Doria was one of many who felt that Gracián’s conduct was not in keeping with the contemplative and penitential character of the reform.