Neither Saints nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America

By Kathleen Ann Myers | Go to book overview

Appendix B
Catarina de San Juan: Selections from
Compendio de la vida
From José Castillo de Graxeda
Translated by Nina M. Scott

Chapter 1. Of the homeland, parents, and birth of Catarina

Catarina was a native of the Mogul kingdom; the place where she was born is unknown, nor did she herself know it because she was so young when she left there. Her mother was named Borta; neither was she able to tell me the name of her father with any certainty, but rather doubtfully, and in cases of doubt, as they are not radically certain, it is best to omit them. God gave her parents clear knowledge of His boundless omnipotence, and as he was Creator of heaven and earth, His great power sent them great mercies even within the heathen state in which they lived, which in my opinion were like omens: one was to give them enlightenment and understanding by means of prodigious acts that He wished them to be saved, and after they died the Lord informed their fortunate daughter of this; in my opinion they achieved this joy because of their desire for baptism. (According to what has been said and to what our Holy Mother Church teaches us, it is baptism which is called Flaminis, or by another way which Divine Providence mysteriously possesses…. ) The other omen was by means of the miracles that God rendered unto them, foretelling that they would have a daughter whom He favored even before she was born, and bestowing repeated favors upon the parents as though in celebration of such a birth.

An example of the many which they received is the one when, Catarina having already been conceived in Borta's womb, the Virgin Mary appeared and told her (according to what Catarina told me) that she would deliver a most lovely girl who would be her daughter whom, once born, she was to raise with great care. Of this mercy shown her mother and of many others I was told by this servant of the Lord herself: “Look, Yr. Grace, Father, this mercies and much other things when I was little, persons who knew and witnessed everything about me and things to do with my parents would tell of them whenever they saw me, weeping tenderly: great people is this girl, royal blood she has. Other things as well when I received understanding, which Divine Majesty gave me very soon, so I knew this and am telling to Yr. Grace. ”

As though she were saying: “Everything that happened to my parents at my birth, during my upbringing, and the marvelous events which occurred when I came into the world, I was told by persons who saw them, and though perhaps it is difficult

-177-

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