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María Coronel becomes "the Woman in Blue"


On this day in 1620, María Coronel took religious vows in a Franciscan order of nuns who wore an outer cloak of coarse blue cloth over the traditional brown habit. As a nun, now known as María de Jesús de Agreda, she had numerous mystic experiences (more than 500) in which she thought she visited a distant, unknown land. Franciscan authorities determined that the land was eastern New Mexico and far western Texas. Sister María supposedly contacted several Indian cultures, including the Jumanos, and told the natives to seek instruction from the Spanish. Shortly thereafter, some fifty Jumano Indians appeared at the Franciscan convent of old Isleta, south of present Albuquerque, in July 1629 and said that they had been sent to find religious teachers. They already demonstrated rudimentary knowledge of Christianity, and when asked who had instructed them replied, "the Woman in Blue." A subsequent expedition to the Jumanos, led by Fray Juan de Salas, encountered a large band of Indians in Southwest Texas. The Indians claimed that they had been advised by the Woman in Blue of approaching Christian missionaries. Subsequently, some 2,000 natives presented themselves for baptism and further religious instruction. Two years later, Fray Alonso de Benavides traveled to Spain, where he interviewed María de Jesús at Agreda. Sister María told of her bilocations and acknowledged that she was indeed the Lady in Blue. After she died in 1665, her story was published in Spain. Although she said her last visitation to the New World was in 1631, the legend of her appearances was current until the 1690s. In the 1840s a mysterious woman in blue reportedly traveled the Sabine River valley aiding malaria victims, and her apparition was reported as recently as World War II.

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