The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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In a historical brochure that has just been published about the life of Maria de Jesus d’Agreda, we find a remarkable case of bi-corporeality, which demonstrates how such phenomena are perfectly accepted by religion. It is true that to certain people, the religious beliefs are not more authoritative than the spiritist beliefs, but when these beliefs are supported by the demonstrations given by Spiritism and by the patent evidence of their possibility, also provided by Spiritism through a rational theory which does not breach the laws of nature, and by their reality through analogous and authentic examples, one has to yield to the evidence and acknowledge that there are other laws besides the known ones, still in God’s secrets.

Maria de Jesus was born in Agreda, city of Castela, on April 2nd, 1602 from poor parents of exemplary virtue. At a very young age, she became the leading nun of the convent Immaculate Conception of Mary, where she died with airs of sanctity. Here is the report found in her biography:
“Irrespective of how much we wish to summarize, we cannot escape the need to mention here the exceptional role of missionary and apostle that Maria d’Agreda has had in New Mexico. Those facts will be reported and from which there are indisputable proofs, would demonstrate on its own how elevated her supernatural gifts were, gifts with which God had enriched her poor life as a servant, and how much she had devoted her heart to the salvation of her fellow human beings. In her intimate relationship with God she used to receive a bright light that helped her discover the whole world, the multitude of people that inhabited that world, among which there were those who had not found the Church yet and were living with the imminent danger of losing their lives forever. Before the risk of losing so many souls, Maria d’Agreda felt as if her heart had been pierced and in her pain she multiplied her fervent prayers.

God let her know that the people of New Mexico were presented with fewer obstacles to their religious conversion than other people, and that it was particularly upon them, that God’s divine mercy wanted them to expand rapidly. Such knowledge operated as a new spur in the charitable heart of Maria d’Agreda and from the bottom of her heart she begged for God’s clemency on behalf of those poor people. God Himself ordered her to pray and work for that objective. And she did that in such an efficient way that the Lord, whose reasons are impenetrable, operated in her and through her one of the greatest wonders that History can report.”

“One day, taken in ecstasy by God, when she was fervently praying for the salvation of those souls, Maria d’Agreda felt suddenly and unsuspectingly transported to an unknown and far away region. She found herself in a climate that was not of Castela and felt herself under a Sun stronger than usual. Before her, there were people from a race that she had never met before and God ordered her to preach the law and the holy faith to them, according to her charitable wishes. The ecstatic of Agreda obeyed. She preached to those Indians in her Spanish language and the pagan people understood as if she was preaching in their mother tongue. Many conversations followed. Returning from the ecstasy that saint creature was in the same place as in the beginning of the withdrawal.

It was not only once that Maria de Jesus performed that wonderful role of apostle and missionary together with the native people of New Mexico. The first ecstasy occurred in 1622, followed by more than 500 ecstasies of the same kind. Maria d’Agreda was continuously in that region to proceed with her mission. She thought the number of converted people had increased prodigiously and that the whole nation, having the king before them, was prepared to embrace Jesus’s faith.”

“She simultaneously saw, but at a great distance, the Spanish Franciscan who worked in the conversion of that new world, but who ignored the existence of those people that she had converted. Such consideration led her to advise the Indians to send some messengers to those missionaries so that they could come and baptize them. That was how the divine Providence wanted to give a brilliant manifestation of good that Maria d’Agreda had done in the New Mexico, through her ecstatic preaching.”

“One day the Franciscan missionaries that Maria d’Agreda had seen in spirit at a great distance, saw themselves approached by a bunch of Indians of a race that they had not yet found in their excursions. The announced themselves as messengers of their nation, requesting the grace of baptism with great urgency. The missionaries were surprised by the arrival of those Indians and even more so by their request, then trying to understand its origin.”

“The messengers responded that a woman had appeared in their land long ago, announcing the law of Jesus Christ. They added that the woman would suddenly disappear, and her whereabouts were then unknown; that she had helped them to understand the true God and had advised them to come to the missionaries so that they could bring the grace of sacrament to the whole nation, a sacrament that rescues the sins and transforms all people into children of God.”

“The missionaries were even more impressed when they questioned the Indians about the mysteries of faith and found them perfectly instructed about everything that is needed for the salvation. The missionaries got every possible piece of information about the woman but all that the Indians could say was that they had never seen anybody like that before.”

“However, some descriptive details of her outfit led the missionaries to suspect that she wore religious clothes. One of them who carried the picture of Sister Luiza de Carrion, still alive, and whose holiness was known everywhere in Spain, showed the picture to the Indians thinking that they could then recognize some features of the woman-apostle.”

“After examining the picture the Indians said that the woman who had preached them the law of Jesus Christ in reality had a veil like the one in the picture but whose facial traces were completely different, being younger and of a great beauty.”

“Then some missionaries left with the Indian messengers, to collect such an abundant harvest among them. After traveling for a few days they got to the heart of the tribe where they were welcomed with the strongest demonstrations of happiness and recognition. During the journey they noticed that the Christian instruction was complete in all elements of that race.”

“The tribe chief, who deserved special attention from the servant of God, wanted to be the first to receive the grace of baptism with his whole family and in a few days a whole nation followed his example. Despite all the events, the servant of the Lord who had evangelized those people was still unknown and there was a saint curiosity and keen impatience to get to know her. Without doubt, father Alonzo de Benavides who was a hierarchical superior of the Franciscan missionaries in New Mexico wanted to tear off the veil of mystery that still covered the name of the woman-apostle, also willing to return to Spain to discover the retreat of the unknown religious lady that had prodigiously cooperated with the salvation of so many souls.

In 1630 he could finally travel to Spain and went directly to Madrid where his superior was based. Benavides told him about the objective that made him travel to Europe. The General of the Franciscans knew Maria de Jesus d’Agreda, and following the duties of his position he had to examine in details the intimacy of that sister. He knew her holiness as well as the sublimity of her God given paths. He immediately thought that the privileged woman could well be the woman-apostle that Father Benavides was talking about and he thus mentioned that to him. The General then gave him letters making him his Commissioner commanding Maria d’Agreda to answer in all simplicity the questions that Father Benavides considered appropriate. With these orders the Commissioner left to Agreda.”

“The humble sister then found herself forced to reveal everything that she knew about his mission together with her. Confused while kind at the same time, she reported to Benavides everything that had happened in her ecstasies, frankly adding that she was completely uncertain about the mode by which she operated those things at such a faraway location. Benavides also questioned her about the details of the places that she had likely visited so often, then verifying that she was well informed about everything that was related to New Mexico and its inhabitants. She reported in minor details the topography of the region, even using the adequate names, as a traveler would do after having visited those regions. She even added that she had seen Benavides and the missionaries several times, indicating the places, the days, times, circumstances and providing particular details about each one of the missionaries.”

“One can easily imagine Benavides’ relief for having finally found the privileged soul that God had used to carry out that miraculous operation upon the inhabitants of New Mexico.”

“Before leaving Agreda, Benavides wanted to write a report about everything that he had attested, in America and in Agreda, and his conversations with the servant of God. In the letter he expressed his personal conviction about the mode through which Maria de Jesus’ presence had been felt by the native Indians. He tended to believe that the action had been physical, corporeal. The humble sister had always kept great reservation about this subject. Despite thousands of indications that led Benavides to his conclusion and before him the humble servant’s confessor, they were indications that seemed to confirm a physical change of place, Maria d’Agreda always insisted on her belief that everything happened in spirit. Out of pure humility she was even tempted to believe that it was nothing more than pure hallucination since those things were always unknowingly and involuntary. Her director, however, who knew the fundamentals of things, thought that the sister was physically transported in her ecstasies to the places of her evangelical works. He based his opinion on the physical impressions caused on her by climatic changes during the long series of works among the Indians, and in the opinion of several scholars that he thought appropriate to consult with in total secrecy.

“Whatever is the case, the fact remains as one of the most remarkable that has ever been reported in the archives of the saints and it is very adequate to provide a true idea not only about the divine communications received by Maria d’Agreda, but also her candor and kind honesty.”

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