On Tuesday, December 19, Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtues of Mother Mariana de San José, founder of the Augustinian Recollect Nuns or Contemplative Augustinian Recollect Nuns. In this way, the Spanish nun who lived during the XVI and XVII centuries will be declared “venerable”.
The Holy Father has authorized the publication of the decree of the heroic virtues of Mother Mariana de San José during the audience granted to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB. This has been reported by the Vatican Press Office in a statement. Now a miracle will be necessary for her to be beatified and another to be canonized.
On April 27, 1993 -more than 350 years after his death- the diocesan process of the beatification and canonization of Mother Mariana de San José was opened. It was in the church of the Incarnation in Madrid, presided over by Archbishop Ángel Suquía. Three years later, on July 10, 1996, the process was closed in the same place.
For more than ten years, the Augustinian Recollect friars Romualdo Rodríguez and Jesús Díez continued to investigate dozens of files and collect more documents. In 2007 the ‘Positio super vita, virtutibus et fama sanctitatis’ of the Servant of God Mariana de San José, a document of more than 1,300 pages, was finally presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Congregation soon approved the Positio as exhaustive, taking into account that sufficient elements were provided for the study of the virtues.
After the unanimous vote of the theologians, the bishops and cardinals gave their favorable vote to the heroic virtues of Mother Mariana on November 21, 2017. This has been the previous step to the publication of the document, once it has been authorized this Wednesday for Pope Francisco.
A life given to God
Mother Mariana de San José was born in Alba de Tormes (Salamanca) on August 5, 1568. She was orphaned as a mother ten days after birth. At age 18, after the death of her father, she took the habit as an Augustinian nun. On February 21, 1587, he made his religious profession.
Mariana led the founding of the first convent of Augustinian Recollect nuns in Éibar, hence she is considered the founder of the Augustinian Recollect Nuns. It was in Éibar in 1603. A year later he professed in the new Recollect way of life.
In 1604, Mother Mariana opened another Recollect monastery in Medina del Campo and later others in Valladolid (1606), Palencia (1610) and finally the Incarnation, in Madrid (1612), where Mother Mariana spent the last 22 years of her life.
She died on April 15, 1638. She was buried first in the pantheon of the pantheon where the other nuns are buried. Later she was transferred to a more prominent place in the Church. On June 12, 1644 three doctors certified that his body was kept incorrupt, as it is currently.
As soon as Mother Mariana died, her successor in the priory of the monastery of the Incarnation asked all the nuns of the various monasteries, who had lived with her or had treated her, to write a report about her life and virtues. In just over a year, 40 reports of these nuns were gathered. However, due to the poverty of the monastery, the change of the dynasty of the kings and the difficulty at that time to process a cause of canonization, the process did not begin. However, its reputation for holiness continued to spread more and more, especially with the founding of monasteries of Augustinian Recollect Nuns in various regions of Spain and Mexico, according to the Constitutions written by Mother Mariana.
Mystical experiences that extended their reputation for sanctity
His writings and advice first proved her as one of the most distinguished mystics of the Spanish Golden Age, comparable to Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, and that today they keep their message of current relevance intact. There are many episodes of his life in which he recounts moments of real corporal abandonment and feeling of ecstasy. From those experiences he asked the Lord not to manifest himself in observable features on the outside.
He was holding the book “Imitation of Christ” (by Thomas of Kempis) and, opening it, I came across a chapter dealing with the day of eternity. A few lines that I read, I could not move forward, because I felt rapt and out of me. It seemed to me that my spirit was one thing with God our Lord and, taken of a great joy, but without effective operations, I felt that, undone my soul in the Lord, gave him to like those infinite goods that have saved his chosen ones (…) I understood a lot, I saw and enjoyed it. When I returned (in me) I found myself with my eyes fixed on the sky and so full the soul of joy and so suspended in it that, for a long time, it seems to me I was like this. (Positio Summ, Doc, p.108)
Mother Mariana’s desire for perfection always encouraged her to mortify her appetites and to choose an austere life: long hours of prayer, temperance in food and sleep, and corporal disciplines-like the crucifix with spikes on her breast. His zeal for the glory of God, his high life of prayer and mystical experience, or his strength in the pains and trials are some of the qualities of Mother Mariana that made popular his reputation for sanctity in the XVI and XVII century.