Just recently, the Vatican has re-opened the cause for canonization of Sr. Maria de Agreda, who besides her mystical experiences and apparitions was a prolific writer, particularly on the topic of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
She has been declared Venerable, and her body was also found to be incorrupt when it was exhumed in 1909 and is now resting in view in her convent in Spain.
In August, Fr. Stefano M. Cecchin, the vice postulator of Sr. Maria de Agreda’s cause for canonization, spent a week in San Angelo, Texas, where Sr. Maria reportedly appeared to the Jumano natives, investigating the devotion to her that still exists today.
“This is an important story that needs be told,” Fr. Cecchin told the San Angelo Standard Times.
According to records kept by the missionaries in the area, Sr. Maria’s promptings led as many as 2,000 Jumano natives to be baptized.
Most of their ancestors in the San Angelo area are still Catholic, and still have a strong devotion to the “Lady in Blue” who brought them the Catholic faith, Bishop Sis said.
Regarding her possible bi-location, Fr. Cecchin added: “There is a lot of proof that the Lady in Blue appeared to the Jumano Tribe.”
The Vatican has never ruled definitively on whether her apparitions to what is now present-day western Texas and eastern New Mexico constitute a true instance of bi-location. However, there are some remarkable connections between Sr. Maria’s mystical experiences, and the Lady in Blue that the Jumano people saw, Bishop Sis said.
She earned the name “Lady in Blue” because the Jumano natives reportedly saw a woman wearing a blue cape. Sr. Maria belonged to a Franciscan order of nuns called the Conceptionistas, who wear a white habit with a blue cloak. The order still has convents in Spain and Latin America today, including Sr. Maria’s convent in Agreda.
From her cloister, having never traveled to the New World, Sr. Maria was able to describe the new plants and animals there, as well as the way the people dressed and painted themselves. She described the landscape as a place where two rivers meet – and in San Angelo, the Middle Concho River is joined by the South Concho River.
Especially remarkable, Bishop Sis said, is that she described meeting a leader with one eye, while the Franciscan missionaries in the area at the time also reported meeting a Jumano leader with one good eye and one bad eye.
“So that’s a fascinating detail, that shows a concrete connection between this place and her descriptions of the people,” he said.
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According to the Texas Almanac, Friar Alonso de Benavides of the Franciscans in New Mexico was the first to confirm the story of the “Lady in Blue.” He reported the incidents of her appearances to the Spanish court in 1630, and shortly thereafter was able to interview Sr. Maria de Agreda at her convent, where he was able to cross-reference the details of the apparitions from both Sr. Maria and the Jumano natives’ perspective.
“The first time she went was in the year 1620. She had continued ever since ... She gave me all their signs and (declared) she had been with them,” the friar wrote at the times.
“She knows Captain Tuerto (the one-eyed captain) very well, having given me his personal characteristics and that of all the others. She herself sent the messengers from Quivira (the Jumano village on the Plains) to call the missionaries.”
Reportedly, the bi-locations of Sr. Maria de Agreda ceased after her goal was accomplished – that the Jumano native people were able to receive the sacraments.
If Sr. Maria de Agreda truly bi-located, it wouldn’t be the only time this phenomenon was reported.
While it’s more common to have Jesus or Mary or saints in heaven appear to people in apparitions, several saints have reportedly bi-located while they were still alive on earth.