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Dark Eyes, Lady Blue: Maria of Agreda in the Southwest

Biography: Maria of Agreda: Mystical Lady in Blu
 

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     about Maria of Agreda and these books. . .  Sor Maria's writing desk and quill pen, Convent of the Conception, Agreda, Spain

Sor Maria de Jesus de Agreda (1602 - 1665), also known as the Lady in Blue, La Dama Azul, and Maria of Agreda, survived the Spanish Inquisition, advised the King of Spain, and preached Christianity in the American Southwest -- most notably in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. There, she is revered as the legendary Lady in Blue because of the miraculous nature of her preaching appearances without ever physically leaving her convent in Spain. Yet, Sor Maria left an equally inspiring legacy in her writings on the life of Mary, Mystical City of God (that's the desk at which she wrote it, in the image to the right). Her legacy leaves an imprint spanning hundreds of years, from the mission history of the American Southwest through today. (The image of her above, is a detail from a photo which I took of a larger portrait on display in her convent. I liked it because she sat for it in real life, meaning it is a good representation of her). 

Hailed by Radiotelevision Espanole (RTVE) as one of the nine most influential women in Spanish history, Sor Maria has yet to be canonized a saint, though there has been increasing groundswell to do so since the 400th anniversary of her birth in 2002. I’ve included some of the major highlights of the attention received by the life and works of the Lady in Blue in the Agreda in America page on this website, and will be updating it again soon. 

St. Augustine's Church, New Mexico, to which the Jumano Indians traveled after Sor Maria's supernatural appearances to themMy 2009 book, the popularly-written, biography Maria of Agreda, Mystical Lady in Blue, was over ten years in the making. It impelled me out of my home in Michigan, and took me from Texas and New Mexico (that's the Isleta Pueblo mission, south of Albuquerque, in the image to the left) to northeastern Spain where her convent thrives yet today. It offers careful research and thorough annotations, all the while enlivening Sor Maria's inspiring story for a wide range of readers. It covers every key period and aspect of her life, including countless direct quotes from Sor Maria and autobiographical material currently available only in Spanish. I have also referenced most known historical sources on Sor Maria, and had the good fortune of direct access to convent archives through an archivist personally assigned to me. It has also been my pleasure to interact with many scholars in the U.S. who are experts on Sor Maria's life and works, as well as on many aspects of 17th century history and literature.

I confess that at first -- because so many aspects of Sor Maria’s life were so incredible -- I thought I’d have to publish her story as a novel, thinking that a fictionalized treatment might be more accessible to readers. Or, ironically, more believable?! Happily, I was proven wrong, as the biography is now housed in the collections of close to 1,000 academic/public libraries worldwide, and is also amassing a goodly number of individual readers. If you are one, I thank you profusely, and hope you’ll also read my 2020 treatment of her story. Here's a bit about that:

Dark Eyes, Lady Blue: Maria of Agreda came about through requests for a treatment of her life geared to younger readers -- say "Young Adults" of all ages. This book is the result. It still provides great historical accuracy, while being written from a more personal perspective of the Lady in Blue and the three other main characters in her narrative –  the Jumano chieftain (Tuerto), the missionary (Benavides), and the king of Spain (Felipe IV). It starts on the day her love affair with the New World crystallized, when she was just seven years old. It was the day she saw the play of Christopher Columbus discovering America, as portrayed by a noted playwright of the day, Lope de Vega. In material not included in the 2009 book, I wove in actual quotes from the play, so the reader might envision it through her eyes. Other material in the book related to the Jumanos is also new in this account, as is the treatment of Benavides, the missionary who put the Lady in Blue on the map, so to speak, and King Felipe IV as well. By focusing more on the Southwest experiences (while still covering, though more briefly, her life in Spain) I was able to delve inside the four main characters more deeply, achieving, I hope, more approachable characterizations of each. In that way, this book doesn't duplicate the 2009 biography, which will always be there as a thorough reference. Rather, it adds to it.  

A prequel, perhaps? Let me know what you think!

         Meanwhile, thanks you for visiting, and enjoy!

          Marilyn H. Fedewa

Please direct email to: M dot Agreda @ Comcast dot Net , and be sure to include the word "Agreda" somewhere in the subject line, so your message doesn't get accidentally blocked by our Spam Control program!

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