The Children of the Blue Nun

Chapter XC: Los Hermanos Penitentes write a song of praise for Sister María

By Larry Torres
Posted 3/15/20

'Mother," Sister María said to the Virgin, as she paused from writing "The Mystical City of God," "I have known some very unique people in the New World who have lived among the Indians. They are Hispanic mystics who get together to pray in their chapter houses. I do not understand their religious practices, especially their penitential rites during the holy time of Lent."

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The Children of the Blue Nun

Chapter XC: Los Hermanos Penitentes write a song of praise for Sister María

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'Mother," Sister María said to the Virgin, as she paused from writing "The Mystical City of God," "I have known some very unique people in the New World who have lived among the Indians. They are Hispanic mystics who get together to pray in their chapter houses. I do not understand their religious practices, especially their penitential rites during the holy time of Lent."

"Oh daughter!" the Virgin exclaimed, "Surely, thou speakest of the Fraternity of the Penitent Brothers of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They belong to a cult that was formed here in Europe when we were first touched by the pestilence called the black bubonic plague that came from the Orient in 1347. These flagellants incorporated the flagellum into their prayers just as others did, like St. Anthony Abbot, St. Jerome, St. Benedict. St. Bernard, St. Damian, St. Francis and St. Ignatius of Loyola. They do not pray for themselves, but rather they pray for the salvation of the world."

"But, how did they get to that part of the world, Mother?" Sister María asked her.

"Christopher Columbus was an Hermano Penitente just like many of his compatriots in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany. When the conquistadors set sail for the New World, Don Juan de Oñate led an expedition that ended up in the pueblo of San Juan.

"The first thing that the army troops did on Good Friday of 1598 was to shed their shirts and whip themselves on the shoulders with their flagella in gratitude for a safe arrival. They left the earth bepurpled there with their blood. They were the first flagellators in the New World. They are very devoted to the Passion of my son, and they try to imitate his sufferings when He was bound to the pillar."

"Yes Mother," said Sister María. "Among all that I visited, many deepened their knowledge of the Passion of the Lord."

"Because of this, my Son will crown thee one day, daughter," said the Virgin. "And the Penitent Brothers will honor thee with a hymn that will recall your memory: 'María Ágreda de Jesús; María, of great magnanimity, Mystical City of light, blessed be your purity. María, Mother of Jesus, City princess with surety, the angels give your light, blessed be your purity.

"'You are the mother of Jesus, and so great your beauty be. The angels shed their light upon you; blessed be your purity. The angels and the cherubim with garlands, your brow have crowned thee. They bow most humbly at your feet; blessed be your purity. Ágreda de Jesús you are the center of all nobility. Among every single woman blessed be your purity. City to which God has come, you hold in noble humility. Hearken then to your praises; blessed be your purity.

"'Mother, Ágreda de Jesús, you were in noble majesty, all of the mysteries of light; blessed be your purity. By the 37 words of council, of such great moral immensity, which you were given by Saint Teresa, blessed be your purity. By God himself you were chosen, to have your brow thus crowned for thee. Mother Ágreda of my life, blessed be your purity. Ágreda de Jesús, whosoever to your comely singularity joins in singing with the saints, blessed by your purity. All the seraphs sing of your magnanimity, and adored by all the cherubs, blessed be your purity.

"'Ágreda, by God you've been granted to bear from him the prophecy. Mother, thus you shall fulfill it, blessed be your purity. You're the mother of all goodness; All the world confesses your bounty, so for Jesus' sake, have mercy; blessed be your purity.

"'God has given you his creatures, that you hold with such security. We thus beg you, virgin purest, blessed be your purity. The eternal father in Mary gave the Messiah with such certainty by making the word flesh in your beauty, blessed be your purity. Mother Ágreda, we implore you by your heart and spontaneity that you take us with you to Heaven; blessed be your purity. The eternal father and his son hold for you heaven's nobility, filled with virtue and with portents, blessed be your purity.'"

Sister María shed tears upon hearing that hymn. She exclaimed: "Lord, I am not worthy!"

Earlier chapters of this historical fiction story can be found in English and Spanish at taosnews.com. Larry Torres is a Taos historian, linguist, author and retired University of New Mexico professor.

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