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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Maria de Agreda

b. 1602, Agreda, Spain; d. 1665, Agreda, Spain

A religious mystic and writer, María Fernández Coronel (also known as María de Jesús), joined the Franciscan order of Poor Clares in 1620. Her mother founded a Franciscan monastery in their native city of Agreda, where María became abbess in 1627, retaining that office for most of her life. María’s role as spiritual confidante to King Philip IV of Spain (ruled 1621–65) created some controversy, as did her treatise, The Mystical City of God (1670), a life of the Virgin Mary ostensibly communicated to the author through divine revelation. The book was banned by the Spanish Inquisition in 1681. María was a fervent advocate of missionary activity among the Indians of the New World, and her tales of supernatural flights to the Americas were widely circulated.