New Mexico’s Lady in Blue

An effigy of New Mexico’s Lady in Blue.

Most people are familiar with Blue Nun wine but there’s also another Blue Nun. That legend connects New Mexico with Spain.The Lady in Blue is a mythological character revered by many on both sides of the Atlantic. At a cloister northeast Spain in 1620 a young nun had an out of body experience. She said that she traveled far away carried by two angels. The young nun arrived in a place full of people who wore little clothing with tattoos on their bodies. Her story caused a lot of excitement and spread quickly.

Mexico and Beyond

A letter was sent to Fray Alsonso Benavides, the leader of the Franciscans in Mexico City. Benavides was planning a trip to New Mexico and the letter persuaded him to interview the natives. They claimed to have been visited by a beautiful, mysterious young woman dressed in blue. Lady Blue spoke to them in their language. She healed them and brought them gifts. After that encounter many of the Indians asked to be baptized.

The Lady in Blue visits New Mexico’s indigenous community.

According to the legend, Lady Blue bi-located to New Mexico more than 500 times. Her story has become familiar in the Southwest through books and oral tradition. The Lady in Blue was born Maria Coronel y Arana in Agreda in 1602. Her parents were conversos, Jews that were forced to convert to Catholicism. When she was 13, her parents separated and her whole family joined the Franciscan order. The family house became a convent for women. The father and the two sons were sent to another Franciscan convent for men.

Life as a Nun

During her first years as a nun, her emotions and health were very fragile. Nevertheless, she was named abbess at age 25. Sor Maria de Jesus—her religious name—became one of the most exceptional women of 17th-century Spain. She lived during the worst period of the Inquisition, a hard time for everyone, especially women. The Blue Nun experienced threats from the leaders of the church regarding her experiences of bi-location. They thought that to be in two places at the same time could only be a sign of sainthood or the Devil’s influence.

Book & Bible

The Blue Nun wrote The Mystical City of God. In the book she said that she had internal conversations with the Virgin Mary. The book created enormous interest and controversy when it was published. When Fray Junipero Serra traveled to California, he carried with him just two books: the Bible and The Mystical City of God.

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