Garcia, Sancha (fl. 1230)

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Garcia, Sancha (fl. 1230)

Spanish abbess of Las Huelgas. Name variations: Sancia. Flourished in 1230 in Las Huelgas, Spain; never married; no children.

A Spanish noblewoman, Sancha Garcia was one of the last truly powerful abbesses of medieval Europe. She entered a convent as a girl, and eventually her piety, broad learning, and administrative abilities led her to be chosen head of the large abbey of Las Huelgas, putting not only a convent but also several monasteries under her direct control. Sancha did not believe, as the church's leaders did, that only men could perform the duties of a priest. Though she could not be ordained, she performed many of the same functions as a priest, including hearing confessions and blessing the nuns. She also acted, as did so many abbesses of large monasteries, as a business administrator, a spiritual counselor, and an educator.

Laura York , Riverside, California