Agreda, Maria De

Agreda, Maria De abbess of the Franciscan convent of the Immaculate Conception of Agreda, in Aragon. She was born April 2d, 1602, of rich and pious parents. Her mother, influenced by some dream or supposed vision, conceived it to be her duty to found a convent of the Immaculate Conception; and, having induced her husband to consent to it, they began to build the new monastery on the site of their own house. Subsequently, the father assumed the Franciscan habit, as his two sons had done previously, and Maria, with her mother and younger sister, took the veil in the new monastery. She was elected superior, by dispensation, at twenty-five years of age. She believed herself commanded from heaven to write the life of the Virgin, but seems to have resisted the impression for ten years, for it was not till 1637 that she commenced it. When it was finished she burned it, by direction of her temporary confessor, but her ordinary confessor immediately directed her to write it again. She finished it in 1660. She died May 24, 1665. — As soon as the book appeared it was justly condemned by the censors in Spain, Portugal, Rome, and Germany, and by the Faculty of Theology at Paris (the Sorbonne), in 1696. The title of the book, which is written in Spanish, and is filled with the wildest extravagances and much that is immodest, is "The Mystical City of God" (Mistica Ciudad de Dios, Perpignan, 1690, 4 vols. Antwerp, 1692, 3 vols. and oft.; French translat. by Croizet, Marseilles, 1696, 3 vols.). Eusebius Amort, theologian of Cardinal Lercari, declares that the book was inserted in the Index at Rome in 1710, but that subsequently, during the pontificate of Benedict XIII, there appeared a decree permitting it to be read. Nevertheless, he asserts that he saw in the hands of Nicolas Ridolphus, then the secretary of the congregation of the Index, another and later decree, annulling the first, and declaring that it had been surreptitiously obtained. "At first," says Amort, "I wondered why this latter decree of Benedict XIII had not been published; but my surprise ceased when I found that they had already commenced the process of the beatification of the venerable Maria de Agreda!" See Amort, De Revelationibus, etc., Augsburg, 1744, and, on the other side, a long series of articles by Don Gueranger, Benedictine of Solesmes, in Univers, 1859.

 
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