The comparison (see previous blog) of Hinduism and Catholicism brought to mind what I had just read in John Kessell’s Kiva, Cross, and Crown, about the Pecos Indians of New Mexico. The Spanish tried various ways to convert the Indians to Christianity, but the friars despaired about the superficiality of the conversion. Indians said their prayers and came to church, but also continued their dances and mysterious goings on in the kivas.
On top of all this, the archbishop of Mexico City wrote a letter to the Franciscan friars telling them that a a Spanish Franciscan nun, María de Jesús Ágrada (1602-1665) had been miraculously transported to New Mexico to preach to the heathen Indians. The archbishop asked the friars to investigate.
My curiosity was piqued. One friar, who eventually visited her, said he was convinced by her descriptions of New Mexico – although there were ulterior motives for his interest in her.
Wikipedia explains about Sor María:
She is credited in her book Mystical City of God (Spanish: Mistica Ciudad de Dios, Vida de la Virgen María) with receiving directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary a lengthy revelation, consisting of 8 books (6 volumes), about the terrestrial and heavenly life of Blessed Mary and her relationship with the Triune God, the doings and Mysteries performed by Jesus as God–Man in flesh and in Spirit, with extensive detail, in a narrative that covers the New Testament time line but accompanied with doctrines given by the Holy Mother on how to acquire true sanctity.
Our Authoress Receiving Dictation
She is credited by having contributed in the evangelization of what is known today as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona by supernaturally appearing to early tribes in the region before official evangelization missions had even begun for that location, in what has been cataloged as bilocation as she never left the convent she resided for the time being, which adds to other supernatural, and documented phenomena accompanying her history, as levitation during praying, and uncorrupted body even to this day, more than 300 hundred years after her death.
From an Authentic Seventeenth Century Photograph
Philip IV was, of course, the descendant of Joanna the Mad. The Hapsburgs had a certain problem with inbreeding.
Wikipedia also claims:
Giacomo Casanova mentions being compelled to read María de Ágreda’s book, Mystical City of God, during his imprisonment in the Venice prison “i Piombi” as a means of the clergy to psychologically torture the prisoners. He called it the work of an “overheated imagination of a devout, melancholy, Spanish virgin locked up in a Convent.” In it, Casanova argues that a captive’s mind can get inflamed with such aberrant ideas to the point of madness, which was purportedly the purpose of having been given the book to read.
Cruel and unusual punishment.
Clerical response to Sor María was mixed. Pope Clement X declared her Venerable and the process for her canonization was opened in 1673, but has been stalled ever since. For a while her Mystical City of God was put on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1681 (no doubt to the relief of prisoners like Casanova).
If clerics sometimes have made grumpy statements about women it should be remembered that they are the recipients of numerous claims from visionaries (almost all women) to have messages from God. Some learned theologian has to read through all the visions, which may recount what Archangel Gabriel said to the Archangel Michael and what Mary had to say to that, to see if the visionary had snuck in the doctrine of redemptive transmigration or claimed that she was the fourth person of the Trinity.
Nor is this ancient history. A few years ago, in a certain city with which I am familiar, a seeresss claimed to be a stigmatic, to waltz with Jesus in heaven, etc. She gathered followers who had to wear special aprons. She announced that her guardian angel was 10 feet tall, taller than other people’s guardian angels, and that her followers should stand around him, wearing their special aprons, and look up at him and sing his favorite song, “Baby Face.”
I am not making this up – and some poor priest, who would rather be studying Scotus’ epistemology or at least playing golf, had to investigate it.