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San Juan, Catarina de


"La china poblana "; b. a native of the kingdom of Mogor in China, c. 1613; d. Puebla, Mexico, Jan. 5, 1688. Beautiful and from a well-to-do family, she was called Mirra among her own people. Corsairs captured her to sell as a slave and brought her to Mexico around 1625. In Puebla she was adopted by Don Miguel de Sosa and Doña Margarita de Chávez, a pious couple who had no children. Here she acquired the name "la china poblana." She lived with them, devoted to housework, until they died. She then went to the household of a worthy priest, Pedro Suárez. After this she entered into a strange marriage with a Chinese named Domingo Suárez, only to take care of him; she retained her virginity. When she was widowed, she went to live in the poorest room of a neighboring house; there she died at the age of about 75. She was buried in the sanctuary of the Jesuit church. Because of her great charity, her simplicity, and modesty, she earned the reputation of a saint. According to her two biographers, who were also her confessors, she had frequent trances and visions in which she spoke with God. The term "china poblana," which was very fitting for Catarina de San Juan, has taken on a quite different meaning with the passage of time: now it refers to the typical, showy costume of the partner of the Mexican cowboy in one of Mexico's best known folk dances, the "jarabe tapatío."

Bibliography: a. ramos, Prodigios de la omnipotenciay milagros de la gracia en la vida de la venerable sierva de Dios Catarina de San Juan (3 v. Puebla 1689; Mexico City 1960, 1962). j. del castillo grajeda, Compendio de la viday virtudes de la venerable Catarina de San Juan (Puebla 1692; 2d ed. Mexico City 1946).

[a. junco]

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