About Venerable Mary of Jesus of Agreda:
María Fernández Coronel was born on April 2, 1602, in Agreda, Spain. From an early age she showed signs of grace and received her First Communion at a young age. In 1620 she became a Conceptionist Nun, taking the name Maria de Jesus. The Conceptionists had adopted the rules of the Order of St. Clare in 1501. Their distinctive habit is white with a blue cloak.
The holiness and the example Maria set were a reason that, at the age of twenty-five, she was elected Abbess…a position she had wished to refuse. The Pope confirmed her election to office; and she was obliged to accept it repeatedly for thirty-eight years until her death. Only once, at her most earnest request, was she released for a period of three years.
As the superior, Maria was always the first among her associates to do the most lowly of chores. Such was her reputation, that King Philip IV wrote and asked her to correspond with him and to advise him in spiritual matters. The two became regular correspondents throughout the remainder of their lives. This is documented in over 600 confidential letters between them over a period of twenty-two years.
One of the most unique gifts given to her was that of bi-location, traveling from Spain to what was then called “New Spain” (today the U.S.), beginning in 1620, while still remaining in Agreda. On waking from these states, she would have complete recall of details of the geography of the area she visited, including being able to embroider the birds and flowers on vestments. She would also recall meeting the peoples and missionaries where she went. She was reported to have appeared over 500 times to the peoples of this area.
Amazing story of “The Lady in Blue”
It came as a shock to early Franciscan missionaries who had been sent to this area to evangelize to the natives of what today is the state of New Mexico when, in 1629, the Jumano Indians went to the Friary of San Antonio in Isleta to seek out them out, rather than the other way around. The Jumanos said a woman dressed in blue had appeared in their midst and, speaking in their own language, had taught them about the Christian faith and told them to ask for further instruction and baptism from the Franciscan missionaries.
Father Alonso de Benavides, custodian of the Franciscans in New Mexico from 1626-29, returned to Spain immediately after this incident and composed a report for the Spanish court which included this story.
She received special revelations concerning the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which she recorded in a book called The Mystical City of God “a life of the Virgin Mary ostensibly based on divine revelations granted to Maria.” It is a massive 2,676 page book, but you might prefer the abridged edition (794 pages) The Mystical City of God: A Popular Abridgement of the Divine History and Life of the Virgin Mother of God.
The Spanish Inquisition approved the book after 14 years of study, but the Roman Inquisition prohibited it from circulation. The ban was lifted in 1747. The book had many devotees, including Venerable Solanus Casey, who spent much of his free time, often in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, reading this book and alternatively praying the Rosary.
Her body — exhumed in 1909 and found incorrupt — remains on display in a glass-lidded coffin in Ágreda, in the convent where she served as abbess until her death in 1665.
Here is a blog article by Tom & Sue Melillo describing their visit to Agreda.Saint Anne’s Church, Beaumont, Texas you can find a beautiful mural of the Lady in Blue, Mother Agreda. A large mural on the wall of this parish church depicts Sor Maria teaching the natives. Around the border of the mural are painted replicas of the embroidery by Sister María, depicting the animals and plants of West Texas. The founding pastor commissioned the artwork. The original painting that the mural is based on was done by a parishioner of St. Anne Church. This original work was then used to create the mural by the artists of Daprato Rigali Studios.
Traveling to the Augustin Convent in Agreda:
There is bus transportation from Barcelona to Agreda (about 6 hours) and also train service from Madrid to nearby Tudela de Navarra (about 20 miles away). Get air, train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Ctra. Voz Mediano, Agreda
email: [email protected]
Click here for the official website of the Convent in Agreda (some great photos of some of the Sisters today)