The Children of the Blue Nun

Chapter IXB: King Philip IV cultivates Sister María's friendship

By Larry Torres
Posted 2/13/20

Fr. Alonso de Benavides had been working on a project for a full year. Finally he finished writing a 111-page-long document titled "Memorial of 1630."

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The Children of the Blue Nun

Chapter IXB: King Philip IV cultivates Sister María's friendship

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Fr. Alonso de Benavides had been working on a project for a full year. Finally he finished writing a 111-page-long document titled "Memorial of 1630."

Based on Sister Maria's observations, he had noted down his impressions of the thousands of Jumano Indians and their way of life in great detail. Including the other tribes, Fr. Alonso noted that among the 90 pueblos that she had visited, she had counted more than 6,000 Christianized natives. These pueblos dispersed across 25 missionary districts, attributed their miraculous conversion to the inspiration of a "lady dressed in blue."

Fr. Alonso noted down that this lady was similar in face to the one known as "Mother Luisa," but this second one had been much older than her. When they had shown him the portrait of Mother Luisa, The One-Eyed Captain had only said: "A lady in a similar dress walks among us, preaching to us about her God." The Jumano Indians had not reported the younger Sister Maria to anyone because they had assumed that the Spaniards already knew who she was.

Fr. Alonso also noted that Conceptionist Nuns donned the grayish-brown habit of St. Francis of Assisi but that they would drape a blue cape over it along with a black headpiece especially wherever they moved about in public. The priest had determined that he would send a report to King Phillip IV of Spain. He was obeying the command of Archbishop Manso of Mexico to tell him "of the notable and unusual things that are happening on our watch."

When the Franciscan Minister met with Fr. Alonso, he told him that the Blue Nun was undoubtedly the famous Abbess of Spain. In the fall of the following year, Fr. Alonso visited Sister María and he affirmed that she had known the One-Eyed Captain very well and she gave him a description of the man in great detail. Her reports inspired many missionaries who were called, by the grace of God, to serve in the territories of Spain in the New World.

King Philip IV became interested in Fr. Alonso de Benavides' reports and he thought about adopting Sister María as his personal counselor in matters of both the internal and external governance of Spain. The Holy Office of the Inquisition was opposed to her writings and bilocations as false exaggerations. King Philip Domingo Victor de la Cruz however, held her opinion in high degree, perhaps because he himself had been born on a Good Friday, on the eighth day of April, 1605. For him, his day was indicative of a great favor by divine providence.

Sister María's mystical flights without ever leaving her cell had brought upon her the notice of King Phillip. When he began to inquire more into the visits by this nun to the New World, he made arrangements to meet her face-to-face one day when he was en route to defend a border.

The King arrived with his retinue at the Convent of the Immaculate Conception at the time when Sister María was still in prayer. He knew that Sister María had a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary in her manifestation as "the Virgin of the Miracles."

King Philip himself had a painting of this 14th-century statue that was supposed to have miraculous powers: The Virgin in the painting, sometimes called "Holy Mary of Rábida," was said to have the ability to raise and lower its eyes in response to petitions from her devotees. The original statue had always been venerated at La Rábida Monastery in the city of Palos de la Frontera in Huelva, Spain. It had been lowered into the sea and hidden there during Spain's Arabic Wars with the Saracens. Later it was caught in a net by some fishermen who returned it to its home at the monastery.

The Spanish version of this story is on Page C3. Read other chapters of this historical fiction story in English and Spanish by Taos linguist and historian Larry Torres online at taosnews.com.

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