- Abandoned -
Table of Contents
a religious thriller written by
Ronald E. Boutelle
Chapter 40: Confession of a Spanish Nun
The beautiful glen where everyone was sitting was the perfect place for Rama to continue telling everyone about his trip to India—now focusing on the things that Father Mark had shared with him.
Rama knew that Mark had come to India for answers—but Rama could also sense that his friend’s questions were profoundly important to everyone. Remembering Father Mark, it seemed rather fitting that both men had come thousands of miles to the holy abode of Lord Krishna in search for the truth.
Rama continued speaking—Maria listening to every word. “The events that I am now going to tell you are exactly what Father Mark told me—information that he had already gathered from the book he had read in Texas. Yes, a very old story but for Mark, one that touched his very soul.
“It seems that when the Jumanos Indians were asked by Father Benavides where their rosary beads had come from, the Indians repeatedly mentioned a white woman.
“Father Mark said that at first the priests thought the Jumanos were confused—even wondering if there was a remote possibility that a white woman was living with them—perhaps a captive. But if anyone would have known about a white woman having been abducted, surely the priests at the mission would have been told. Father Benavides desperately wanted to know more.
“With most of the Jumanos peacefully encamped along the river, the chiefs were invited inside the mission for further interrogation. However, as soon as the Indians stepped into the convent, to everyone’s surprise the Indians began pointing to an oil painting of the very popular Spanish nun—Mother Luisa de Carrion.”
Mother Luisa de Carrion
“Asked why, the Indians said that the woman who taught them was dressed just like her. However, instead of the old nun in the painting, their teacher was a young woman and very beautiful.”
Rama paused for a second and continued. “Understandably, this was something that Father Benavides was hardly prepared for because everyone knew that nuns were simply not allowed to leave Spain and join their Spanish brothers in their missionary work. Mark told me that in 17th century Spain, nuns were actually confined within the wall of their convents by papal decree and were never allowed to leave. So how could the Indians claim that a nun had been teaching them?
“The Spanish padres were dumfounded. Could there be a renegade nun, or even an imposter wandering out in the wilderness on her own—preaching to the Indians? Where did she come from?
“Considering every possibility, perhaps Coronado had left behind a few Spaniards who were now teaching the Indians—but there was no record to indicate that. Had there been an unknown European woman on his expedition who had given birth to a child? And later, this child later gave birth & was this child—now a young woman—the same teacher that the Indians spoke about? Was she somehow a descendant from Coronado’s expedition? After all, he had traveled to other parts of Texas—but that was nearly a half century ago. Talking among themselves, Father Benavides and the priests simply found these speculations impossible to believe.
“However, when the facts of what really happened were finally revealed, the theory of a renegade nun would have been much easier to accept as true. This is what makes this story so fascinating.”
Coronado Searching for the Seven Cities of Gold.
Painting by: Frederick Remington
Stopping for a moment to take another sip of water, Rama looked at Maria and continued with his story. “As I mentioned, an invitation to visit the Jumano Nation had already been extended to the priests, who were desperate to solve this mystery. Suddenly with new men at his disposal, Father Benavides gave his blessings, sending two priests back with the Indians—but it would be nearly two years before they returned to report what they had seen.
“In the meantime an urgent letter was dispatched to Spain requesting that a member of their Franciscan Order go to villages of Burgos and Agreda, both located in the north of Spain, and inquire at these Franciscan convents if anyone knew anything about a nun living with the Indians in West Texas. After all, it was not unheard of that a young novice was unable to withstand the hardships of being a nun. Had this happened? Could it be that this woman had somehow set sail to the Americas on her own and was now teaching the Indians?
“Father Benavides was well aware that only the Poor Clare nuns of Burgos and Agreda wore the blue cape that the Indians had pointed to when they saw the oil painting of Mother Luisa de Carrion. This was the only clue that Father Benavides had to follow, but in Agreda it turned out to be a good one.
“Having been prompted by Benavides’ letter, in 1622 Father Sebastian Marcilla was the first Franciscan Minister General to question Sister Maria, whose fame was already spreading quickly. Maria’s mystical levitations and other miracles had already been made famous by the loose lips of many, including Father Andres de la Torre—to whom she had confided in—and certainly by the nuns she lived with and whose gossip was famous. Thus, Maria’s secrets were even common knowledge among the simple villagers of Agreda.
“It was during his interview with Sister Maria that she confessed everything to the Franciscan Minister General. Wearing her blue cape, Maria told him that she had personally been to the territories of New Spain, fulfilling her childhood ambition to save the souls of the Indians. She also confessed that she had entered the convent when she was 18 years old. Once she took her vows it was a known fact that Sister Maria never lived outside the walls of the convent, but remained there until her death.”
- The in-corrupt body of Maria de Jesus de Agreda -
Church of the Conceptionist Convent, Agreda, Spain
photo by: Zarateman
As Rama continued, a few birds landed nearby and began chirping. Maria smiled a she squeezed Blake's hand. “Always obedient, it was Sister Maria who then revealed to Father Sebastian something very mysterious. Alone in her room—absorbed in prayer and sacred hymns—by the power of divine sound and God’s grace, Sister Maria was able to materialize to the Indians—not just once, but by her own account nearly 600 times over a period of five years! She showed Father Sebastian a journal in which she recorded everything!”
The Divine Teacher
“During her mystical visitations to the Indians, she told the father that she had taught them the basics of Catechism—also educating them about the meaning and construction of the cross. She humbly confessed how she had personally guided the Jumanos to the Spanish Mission in New Mexico and had instructed them to ask for baptism with water. Maria also told the Minister General how she had taken rosaries from the convent and had given them to the Indians.”
16th Century Rosary Beads
photo by: Peter Crossman of the Mary Rose Trust
http://www.maryrose.org/ • Wikipedia
“Perhaps even more remarkable, after his interview with Maria, Father Sebastian reported that by Maria's own recollection, she had visited the Indians even before she had entered the Poor Clare Convent—proven by a book she authored in 1616 at the age of 14. Even Father Sebastian couldn’t help but notice that the book’s title suggested something far beyond the scope and interests of a young, uneducated girl living in rural Spain. Instead, The Face of the Earth and Map of the Spheres was something he might have expected to find inside the great national library at El Escorial—but certainly not in the hands of Sister Maria, what to speak of, actually written by her.”
“Father Mark told me that the Minister General left Agreda feeling elated. Inside his carriage he sat alone, astonished by what he had just heard. The similarity between Sister Maria and Mother Luisa de Carrion was unavoidable. He thought about Mother Luisa and how she had become famous in the previous century for restoring the eyesight of an Indian by placing her cross upon the blind eyes. Mother Luisa had also visited the Indians in the same mystical way. Inside his heart, faith in God had never burned more brightly. He was thoroughly impressed with every aspect of Maria’s grace—what to speak of her keen intellect and wonderful character. Even her beautiful smile did not escape him.
“As for Mother Luisa de Carrion, Father Mark told me that she is revered throughout Spain as a great Saint. Belonging to the generation immediately before Maria, Sor Luisa’s capacity to bilocate (a person with the ability to be in two places at the same time) was a well-known fact. While cloistered within her convent, Mother Luisa was seen in Assisi at the tomb of Saint Francis—she witnessed the death of the Spanish King, Philip the 3rd—appeared in Japan to comfort the Franciscan priest, Juan de Santamaria—and was observed giving comfort to sailors on a Spanish galleon who were fearing attack.
“The Minister General thought to himself that he should have known. After all, there is a substantial Catholic history of bilocation, but nothing on the scale admitted to by Sister Maria.
“Again the Minister General let his thoughts rest upon this saintly nun. ‘Yes, it is possible.’ He needed to report all these things to his superiors quickly. Also, a letter had to be sent to Father Benavides—however, mail between Spain and New Mexico often took a year to reach their intended recipients—therefore nearly two years passed before Father Benavides received a reply to his first letter. That letter would bring him to his knees.
“Father Benavides had already overcome so many difficulties—traveling on rough seas by Spanish galleon; seasick for weeks on end; then by foot, wagon, and horseback; without proper food and shelter; reaching Mexico City—and then another arduous journey to New Mexico. Finally arriving, Father Benavides was able to put all that behind him and embrace the important duties that faced him. The Spanish Mission in New Mexico was going to become his crowning service to Spain & God with 30 new priests to assign duties to. But then the letter from the Spain, containing one of the greatest shocks in Benavides’ life.”
Rama took another sip of water and continued. “As I said, Mark had discovered all these things from the book he had stumbled upon in San Angelo. He also told me that on his way to India, he first flew to Spain so that he could visit Maria’s Convent in Agreda.
“Indeed, the Minister General was absolutely convinced that at various times, somehow, Maria was able to serve God through a second body—physically just as beautiful, just as real, and wearing the same clothes that she wore in the convent. After speaking to some of the other nuns at the convent about Maria, Father Benavides was told that while in her room praying, they could would hear singing sacred hymns glorifying the Names of God. I remember Father Mark laughing as he told me how immature at best, some of the nuns cut a small peephole in Maria’s door to spy on her. To their great shock they often saw her with her feet off the ground.”
Screenshot taken from a YouTube video
posted by Caballeroperegrino titled, Sor María Jesús de Agreda
“They also noted that when Maria was levitating they could actually move her body by blowing through the little hole. At other times, in plain sight, as Maria sat in the chapel, a ball of light would hover over her head. Nun’s also reported the wonderful scent of flowers as she walked by them or entered a room.
“Father Mark said that he became extremely enchanted by Sor Maria and spent many months learning everything he could about her.
“He told me that she was born in 1602; a precocious little girl with an enormous love for God. While Father Mark was living in Vrindavan he also became acquainted with the teaching of Shri Krishna Chaitanya (1486 -1534). Mark said that he found it interesting how both Maria and Chaitanya shared similar sentiments—both exhibiting great anxiety over the possibility of losing sight of God. While Sister Maria certainly struggled with her feelings in a different way, in the later years of His life, Lord Chaitanya was often distraught by the total absence of His beloved Krishna. For Sister Maria, this emotion was felt and described in exactly the same way.
“Writing about her own life, Maria is quoted as saying, ‘…her heavenly spouse concealed himself.’ Whereas in the case of Lord Chaitanya, He is none other than God Almighty who took birth to experience for Himself the highest form of love possible, by assuming the mood of His eternal consort, Radharani.”
Radharani Mural, Vrindavan, India
photo by: Gopak devi dasi
“It was in Radha, whose sentiments and ecstatic emotions of separation from Her Divine Lover that most closely matched those of Sister Maria. Lord Chaitanya wanted to experience those same feelings for Himself by assuming the moods and attitudes of His beloved Radha.
“As a young girl, Sister Maria often prayed for forgiveness and became a beggar, asking over and over again, ‘for the return of the smile of God upon her soul.’ Lord Chaitanya (in the mood of Radha) would search madly for Krishna, begging everyone He met to tell Him where Krishna was hiding.
Rama continued speaking as everyone listened with great interest. The chatter of monkeys could be heard in the distance. “Mark also found in Maria other qualities to admire. For example, even Suryavarman taught us the virtue of renunciation.
“Reading about Sister Maria and later from the nuns he had spoken with at her convent, Father Mark discovered a lifetime of renunciation—beginning before the age of eight when she informed her parents of her determination to become a chaste nun, thus forsaking the worldly pleasures of the flesh enjoyed by others.
“However, when Maria was barely 13 years old it seemed that before her wishes to become a nun could come to pass, a priest was called to her bedside—her burial plot shoveled deep in the local cemetery. A severe illness was about to take her young life and there was no one who could help her. But instead of succumbing to death, Maria used her suffering to remind her of Jesus’ great trials. In quiet solitude and prayer, she later wrote how ‘she came in touch with a light far greater than death.’ This was also around the time when Maria began mentioning her burning desire to save the Indians. She found not only light, but was completely cured.
“As far as her wanting to be a nun, her wishes came true in 1620—her life further elevated toward God by her self-imposed austerities, penances, solitude and vegetarian diet—all a constant way to remember and unite with Jesus Christ. Later in life, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays she would fast on bread and water. On Fridays she would fast from even water. This, she said, reminded her of Jesus’ terrible thirst as He hung on the cross.
“Father Mark also learned that in her everyday dealings with others, Sister Maria was a kind and gentle friend. Her consideration of others was famous, coupled with her heartfelt humility—always considering herself the least of God’s creatures: ‘lower than a wormlet,’ in her own words.
“By now Mother Maria was 21 years old and during a vision of Jesus’ mother, Maria was encouraged by the Virgin Mary to begin writing the Holy Mother’s biography. Shaken by such a request, not only did Maria feel spiritually unqualified, she was well aware that unlike the rest of the children in Agreda, due to constant illness, other than a couple of months at the village school when she was barely six years old, she had never received any sort of formal education. Yet, in her lifetime she wrote 14 books.
“Maria was now 24 years old and had been serving as a nun for 6 years. She was also given the added responsibilities of overseeing the entire convent that for many seemed excessive for such a young person. Normally the role of Abbess was assigned to a much older woman, allowing the younger nuns to free themselves from the worldly chores of management. Instead of complaining, not only did Maria successfully supervise the convent’s everyday affairs until the end of her life, while embracing the severest forms of austerities while doing so—she was also forced to endure the investigations into her claims of bilocation to the New World.
“Perhaps it was an accumulation of factors that once again summoned the specter of death to her bedside: all the hard work; her weak constitution; her self-inflicted austerities. Whatever the reason, once again Maria’s life seemed to be slipping away. The nuns prayed for their beloved sister’s recovery but all hope vanished. Accepting her pending death with grace, one day the now paralyzed nun heard it raining, ending a severe drought that had turned many parts of Spain into a fine dust. She overheard that when the townspeople of Agreda had prayed to the Madonna of the Martyrs, rain clouds quickly appeared. Wanting to pray to the same statue, Maria asked that it be brought into her room where her fervent prayers soon followed.”
“To everyone’s amazement Sister Maria fully recovered that very day. As a token of her heartfelt gratitude she took a piece of precious cloth and sewed a beautiful cape for the statue. Father Mark told me that when he visited Agreda, the cape was on display at the convent.
“It was also during this time that Maria felt that the size and location of their present convent left much to be desired. The building that housed the nuns had originally belonged to her parents—being the same house that she had grown up in. Then one day she was informed that on the far edge of town some vacant land had become available. Undaunted by her situation, with great determination a cornerstone was positioned and nine years later a magnificent and fully furnished convent was built right on the very spot; a miracle in so many ways, what to speak of her total lack of funds.”
The Convent that Maria had constructed
“During that construction, while stone walls were being built, a primitive form of dynamite was used 2500 times to blast away a vein of stubborn rock. One day Maria was praying when suddenly she came out of her room and called for the priest in charge of the construction. She told him that the blasting had loosened a newly built wall and that it had to be immediately taken down because it was about to fall over and kill someone. The priest obeyed and exactly as Mother Maria had described, the damaged wall was quickly discovered. Of course, the priest was curious as to how Maria could have known about the damaged wall. She simply told him that her guardian angel had transported her there.”
Maria being guided by her Guardian Angel
Permission by: We Buy Old Paintings
“One other thing happened. After the construction was finished, the two master craftsmen who had been in charge were summoned. Their handiwork had transformed the empty lot into a beautiful convent and church, whose magnificent design would inspire future convents all over Spain. Maria had summond the men so that they could be paid. However, after searching far and wide, they had simply vanished. This created the legend that the two men were actually heavenly angels who had come to help Maria fulfill her dream of a new convent.”
Hearing Rama mention how the two men had disappeared, Maria politely interrupted and began to speak.