About Agreda

Sor Maria de Jesus de Agreda (1602  1665; also known as Mary of Agreda) survived the Spanish Inquisition, advised the King of Spain, appeared supernaturally in the American Southwest, most notably New Mexico and Texas where she is revered as the legendary "Lady in Blue"--all the while never leaving her convent in 17th century Spain. (continued below)

Photographic Detail of 17th Century Portrait of Sor Maria

She chronicled the life of Mary and wrote of her own spiritual ecstasies in Mystical City of God. This self-taught aesthetic was interrogated by the Inquisition and exonerated, time after time. Pope after Pope reviewed and pronounced her as heretical or virtuous, depending upon the politics of the time. Century after century her name and works bounced from the Roman Catholic Churchs Index of Forbidden Books to its chronicle of prospective saints.

Hailed by Televisisn Espaqola 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.

Marilyn Fedewa

CatholicNews Digest April 12, 2005, Volume 13 Issue 37 Published by SOLT, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

Agreda Nuns Consider John Paul II a SaintThree Conceptionist Nuns in Agreda, Spain

by Marilyn H. Fedewa

Like Pope John Paul II, the Conceptionist nuns in Agreda, Spain, are known for their uncommon devotion to the Blessed Mother. Their convent was founded in the 17th century by Venerable Maria de Jesus de Agreda, author of Mystical City of God. Her book chronicled the life of Mary and was read, among other references, by Mel Gibson in preparation for making his film The Passion of the Christ.

In their quiet cloistered order, embracing almost round-the-clock spiritual exercises and meditative prayer, the Agreda nuns seldom watch the small television set usually relegated to a dark corner outside their dining hall. The Popes recent funeral services, however, provided a notable exception. Since last summer, when I was named American correspondent for the Task Force for Agredas sainthood, I have had unusual access to the nuns. Mainly I direct my contacts with them to answer questions about Maria de Agredas life, for articles as well as the book I am currently writing about her.

This past week, however, savoring anew John Paul IIs extraordinary accomplishments and sanctity, I was curious about their feelings about the Popes death. Would his passing signal to them a setback in the slow but steady progress made during his pontificate on behalf of Sor Marias sainthood? And, would they support the grassroots movement to accord him immediate sainthood, in light of the fact that their Venerable has been waiting over 300 years for the same honor?

What were your thoughts during the Popes funeral? I asked them.

We could see how the atmosphere in St. Peters Square was charged with popular acclamation for him, Sor M. Luz (Light) commented to me, warmly recalling the convents many contacts with John Paul II over the years, in the process of advancing Sor Marias sainthood.

In 1982, I learned, the convents abbess wrote to the Pope about the fervor for Mary that he shared with Sor Maria de Agreda. Since then, John Pauls unwavering devotion to the Blessed Mother -- Totum tuus -- has been broadcast worldwide and memorialized in his last will and testament: Entrusting myself to him in His Immaculate Mother. Sor Marias dedication to Mary Immaculate was no less devoted, yet in her era such a commitment came at a price. In 17th century Spain, the Catholic Church was sharply divided on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, splitting into maculist and immaculist camps. It was a doctrine Sor Maria de Agreda fearlessly defended, despite serious scrutiny from the Inquisition during and after her lifetime.

Fast forward to 1986, when Spanish Bishop Don Jose Dieguez personally presented a copy of Mystical City of God to Pope John Paul II, saying Holiness, here is the best fruit of my land.

Things seemed to move along after that. In 1995, bolstered by the beatification of immaculist John Duns Scotus three years prior, then Franciscan Postulator General Padre Juan Folguera presented Sor Marias cause to the Pope, along with several other Franciscan Servants of God. Since Sor Maria de Agredas advocacy of the Immaculate Conception was intertwined with that of Scotus, whom the Pope lauded, Folguero was hopeful for her cause. While progress was made at the time, however, there were other issues to address in Sor Marias cause for sainthood, as one might expect considering the massive body of writing that she left behind. These the current Postulator General, Luca M. DeRosa, and the Vice Postulator in Spain, are working to address. In the meantime, the Vatican has become more involved in Marian conferences and studies relative to Sor Maria, noting with pleasure the 12,000 pilgrims who visited her convent and remains in 2002.

In that light, I asked Sor M. Luz, what do you think of the movement to name the Pope a saint right now?

Of course we saw the banners calling for the Popes sainthood, she told me, and we add our feelings for his immediate sainthood. We still think, however, that the Vatican will probably go through the normal channels for his beatification, she said.

Be that as it may, Sor M. Luz added with great fondness for his Holiness and complete equanimity regarding the future of Sor Maria de Agredas cause, we think  like Sor Maria  that he already is a saint.

by Marilyn H. Fedewa
CatholicNews Digest, April 12, 2005, Volume 13, Issue 37

Published by SOLT, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

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