Juana de la Cruz

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Franciscan tertiary and mystic, often referred to as "Madre" or "Santa." b. Juana Vázquez Gutiérrez, daughter of Juan Vázquez and Catalina Gutiérrez, in Azaña, near Toledo, in 1481; d. 1534. At the age of 15 she entered the beaterio of Santa Maria de la Cruz near the town of Cubas, between Madrid and Toledo. This was a religious house of women, founded as a result of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, which followed the rule of the Secular Third Order of Saint Francis. It would later become a cloistered monastery and follow the rule of the Regular Third Order of Saint Francis until 1970 when it adopted the Rule of Saint Clare. In 1509, when she was 28, Juana was elected abbess and embarked upon a program of refounding and spiritual leadership that, with few interruptions, lasted until her death in 1534.

Her influence is most evidenced in her spiritual teachings especially in her sermons which were eventually written down and comprise the book El libro del conorte (The Book of Consolation). These sermons reflect a stylized form that includes a novel retelling of a gospel pericope, descriptions of allegorical pageants that take place in heaven on major feasts, and interpretations pertinent to those seeking spiritual growth. People of all classes, including Cardinal Cisneros, the confessor to Queen Isabella, and the Emperor, came to hear her.

In 1621 Mother Juana's beatification process was officially opened in Rome. She was declared "venerable" in 1630, but the official process was never concluded. The cause for her formal canonization was reopened in 1986 and is still in process.

Bibliography: i. garcia de andres, La Santa Juana, Grande y Legitima Maestra Franciscana (Separata de "Vedad y Vida"1994). r. surtz, The Guitar of God: Gender, Power and Authority in the Visionary World of Mother Juan de la Cruz (Philadelphia 1990); Writing Women in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain: The Mothers of Teresa of Avila (Philadelphia 1995).

[g. schinelli]

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Juana de la Cruz

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