Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University
"Discerning the Gulf between the Protestant and Catholic Reformations: The Case of Sor Maria de Agreda"
5th Annual Robert Louis Wilken Lecture
Thursday, April 7, 2016
UVA Minor Hall Auditorium, 5:15pm
The life of Sor Maria de Agreda (1602-1665) provides us with a superb case study in the differences between the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. More specifically, Sor Maria provides us with a lens through which to examine the most significant metaphysical and theological assumptions rejected by Protestants. A cloistered nun who never left her home town of Agreda in northern Spain, Sor Maria led a life that reified Catholic belief in miracles. Her claims were extreme, even for her day and age, and proved somewhat controversial. Her two most extreme mystical claims involved bilocation and divine revelations: she was believed to have visited New Mexico over five hundred times, where she evangelized the Jumano natives --without ever physically leaving her convent in Spain -- and she was also believed to have taken dictation from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who narrated a 2,800-page autobiography to her. How her claims were handled by the Catholic Church brings into stark relief the most profound differences that distinguished Catholics from Protestants.