Agreda, Sor María de (1602–1665)

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Agreda, Sor María de (1602–1665)

Spanish writer of religious books. Name variations: Coronel de Jesú;s. Born María Coronel y Arana at

Agreda, Spain, in 1602; died at Agreda, on May 24, 1665; never married; no children.

Selected works:

The Mystical City of God (1670); Spiritual Ladders of the Soul; The Spouse's Laws.

It is said that without leaving her homeland of Agreda, Spain, Sor (Sister) María de Agreda carried a missionary message to the Aboriginal people of the New World. A 17th-century religious woman of great mystery and sectarian debate, she claimed that she was directed in part by a personal revelation from the Mary the Virgin .

Born into a devoutly Catholic family, María de Agreda became a nun at age 17 when her family turned their home into a convent, and her parents and siblings all took vows of the order. For the three years following, María was in poor health both emotionally and physically. During this time, she experienced trances in which she traveled to areas of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. María admitted these trances to her mother and her confessor, and, though she preferred that her experiences be kept secret, word spread quickly. A man with contacts in the New World sought confirmation from Native Americans to whom she preached while in her trances, and they claimed that Sor María had been among them.

María also believed that the Virgin Mary had imparted her life story in a revelation. Based on this, María wrote the biography Mystical City of God. The original manuscript was burned, apparently at the command of María's confessor, who disapproved of women writing. A second draft was completed at the command of yet another confessor, though it would not be published until 1670, five years after María de Agreda's death.

In 1643, aware of the growing legend surrounding María de Agreda, King Philip IV of Spain went to meet the nun. Through hundreds of letters, the two maintained a strong friendship. Indeed, María is acknowledged as one of Philip's most influential political and spiritual advisors. Though most of her time and energies were dedicated to writing, Sor María held the position of abbess until the time of her death.

sources:

Colahan, Clark. The Visions of Sor María de Agreda. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994.