Maria de Agreda
One of the more remarkable stories that relate to Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is the story of Maria de Jesus de Agreda. Born in 1602, Sor Maria de Agreda is reported to have experienced a period of bilocations beginning in 1620. Sor Maria revealed that while in a trance in her convent in Agreda, Spain, she was also mystically present in New Mexico and other places in the present day American southwest and Mexico. While in New Mexico, Sor Maria reported that she had visited the Jumano Indians encouraging them to visit the Spanish missions to ask that a missionary return with them to their pueblos and villages. By 1626, reports from New Mexico were relaying stories of Native Americans arriving at missions because a "Lady in Blue" had told them to go and speak to the priests at those missions. One location said to have been visited by this "Lady in Blue" was the pueblo of Las Humanas, now known as Gran Quivira. She was also reported to have repeatedly "visited" a group of refugee Jumanos near the mission of Cuarac (Quarai). With the arrival of additional missionaries in 1629, Gran Quivira became a visita (satellite mission without a resident Father) of the Abo Mission. Meanwhile, Fray Alonso de Benavides, Custodian of New Mexico, returned to Spain bringing his report (or memorial) of the Blue Nun in New Mexico. While in Spain Benavides met with King Felipe IV, and with his report on the Blue Nun was able to secure additional funds for New Mexico. Benavides then met with Sor Maria in Agreda for three weeks, confirming that she was indeed the "Lady in Blue." An expanded report was presented to Pope Urban VIII in 1634. The following year the Spanish Inquisition visited Sor Maria and found nothing to discredit her story and writings. In 1643 Sor Maria is visited by King Felipe IV and they begin a 22 year correspondence. Following her death in 1665, the beatification process began in 1673 by Pope Clemente X, who declared Sor Maria a "Venerable," but the process for her canonization has yet to be completed.
A resurgence in interest in the story of Maria de Agreda following her 400th birthday in 2002 has recently brought added interest in Gran Quivira, Quarai, and Abo, and the town of Mountainair, New Mexico. Plans by the Manzano Mountain Arts Council for a public mural in Mountainair featuring Sor Maria are now in the works.
Did You Know?
The Salinas Pueblo Missions were more than just church buildings. The Franciscans also taught the Indians the Spanish language, new agricultural methods, and crafts.