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

By Kathleen Ann Myers | Go to book overview

Appendix C
María de San José: Selections from Vida, vol. 1

From Kathleen Myers and Amanda Powell, A Wild Country out in the Garden (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999), pp. 3–19.

[Written in Oaxaca, in 1703–04, to María's confessor Fray Plácido de Olmedo, addressed asyour Paternity” (vuestra paternidad)]. Today, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the eighth of September of the year 1703: I had already written the entire story of my life, from my childhood until I set out for this foundation in this city of Oaxaca, under order of obedience from my Confessor who was the licentiate Manuel de Barros, Chaplain of the convent of our Order of Augustinian Recollect nuns of our Mother Saint Monica, which was a new foundation in the Indies, in the city of Puebla de los Angeles, where I took the veil to be a nun.

This foundation was established and founded by his most Illustrious Grace Don Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz, the Bishop of Puebla. I had spoken with him on a few occasions before becoming a nun, when he would go out on the visitation of his diocese; for he always made a stop in the town of Tepeaca, which served then as it does still as the principal place in all that valley, where all the important people would gather who had come to see the Illustrious Lord Bishop. My parents' hacienda, which was a farming hacienda, was near the town of Tepeaca, about a half a league away. On these occasions, I would do everything in my power to be able to speak with him, and though very hastily, I would give him an account of the extraordinary path—which put me at such risk of being deceived by the enemy—by which God was leading me, and of my great desire to become a nun. And though this was but every now and then and very hasty, being such a great spiritual Father, he perceived and understood my path at once. And so, after I had become a nun, he would come from time to time to the confessional and hear my account of my soul and what was happening in it. When he heard my confession, he commanded me to write my life story.

On this occasion his Illustrious Grace came to the convent and, as would be expected, he already knew the order my Father Confessor had given me, because my Confessor communicated all my affairs to him. I had not carried it out, because I did not know how to write. The Bishop told me I should obey at once, without the slightest hesitation, by beginning to write; that even though I could not write, nor had I been able to learn how in spite of all the efforts I had made, obedience could work miracles. Besides this, I knew it pleased Our Lord to make manifest the great deeds that His powerful hand had worked in this lowly and wretched creature that I have been; because in one of the favors that His Divine Majesty had granted me,

-183-

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