Dona Maria Vela Y Cueto, Cistercian Mystic of Spain's Golden Age

Dona Maria Vela Y Cueto, Cistercian Mystic of Spain's Golden Age

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Maria Vela y Cueto (1561-1617), a Cistercian nun, represents the later stages of a religious reform led by St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, her mystical life recorded in a spiritual diary and an autobiography. In recent years interest has been gathering in religious writings by women, since comparatively little is known about them. One crucial issue under discussion is the connection between mystical ecstasy and hysteria or neuroticism in women. In the past Maria has been presented as a constitutionally weak female - holy but hysterical. This study aims to re-awaken awareness of an almost unknown figure who was once venerated, and also to look again at her spirituality.
Her writings are of interest to hispanists, historians and theologians: (1) as an example of the growing number of mystics in Golden Age Iberia; (2) as an illustration of Spanish social history at this time; (3) for the light they throw on contemporary Church history, including the increasing importance of spiritual advisers; (4) for their description of convent life including - since Maria was organist and choir mistress - a glimpse of the liturgy in a convent famed for its music in an era producing some of Spain's greatest composers. More important still, her pages include passages of great power which should be made more widely known to an English-speaking public, especially anyone with an interest in spirituality.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 132 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 12.7mm | 385.55g
  • Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
  • New York, United States
  • English, Spanish
  • Bilingual edition
  • Bilingual
  • 0773463216
  • 9780773463219

Table of contents

Acknowledgements, Preface, Introduction; Dona Maria and Life in the Convent Community; 'Martyr of Love'. Maria Vela's Asceticism; Prayer, Visions, and Voices; Maria's Theological Knowledge; Dona Maria, Legatee of Monastic Mysticism's 'Cistercian Miracle'; Conclusion, Bibliography, Index
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Review quote

"The Carmelite Order has benefited greatly from Dr Ann Rees' scholarly contribution to the study of their two great saints Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross. Her abiding love for, and interest in, these towering giants of the post-Reformation has resulted in an impressive body of articles and booklets. There is a danger, though, that their brilliance can outshine other, lesser known, near contemporaries of theirs, whose lives have much to teach us. Dr Rees' study of Dona Maria Vela y Cueto helps to remedy this situation and introduces us to the Third Mystic of Avila, not a Carmelite but a Cistercian nun living in that time of reform and ferment. Dr Rees' familiarity with the Spain of the 16th century and the mysticism which was so much a part of it, provides us with a fascinating background in which to meet and discover this third mystic. Dr Rees' knowledge of St Teresa with her down-to-earth approach is used as a sort of yardstick for trying to understand the more emotional spiritual life of Dona Maria... Dr Rees has given us a very perceptive and readable account of a woman with a more than usually rich complex nature." - Sister Philomena (Prioress), Carmelite Monastery, Wood Hall, Wetherby "In this full-length study, Dr Rees rescues from underserved obscurity one such intellectually and spiritually talented Golden-Age nun. Dona Maria Vela y Cueto (1561-1614), venerated several centuries ago for her saintly spirituality, was once widely read not only in Spain but, thanks to translations, in other countries. Subsequently, however, Dona Maria's Autobiografia and her Libro de las Mercedes were almost forgotten about and have had, until now, little serious attention from modern scholars. Dr Rees' book is a scrupulously researched record and study not only of the facts and circumstances of Dona Maria's life as a nun in the Cistercian convent of Santa Ana in Avila, but of her interior life in spiritual communion with God... No specialist would be better equipped to prepare these new editions than Dr Rees. With plentiful evidence and through cogent and compelling argument, Dr Rees has demonstrated that Dona Maria Vela y Cueto does not deserve the obscurity into which she has fallen and that she is worthy of study and respect as a figure of significance in the illustrious history of Spanish mysticism." - (From the Commendatory Preface) Ann L. Mackenzie, Ivy McClelland Research Professor, University of Glasgow"
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About Margaret A. Rees

Margaret A. Rees held a Dudin Brown Open Scholarship at Westfield College, London, where she obtained her M.A. and Ph.D degrees. She later took up a post-doctoral Fellowship and then a lecturing post at Liverpool University. As Senior lecturer in Spanish at Trinity and All Saints University College, Leeds, she was General Editor of the Leeds Iberian Papers series. She has also published six books relating to the Romantic period or to the Spanish Golden Age. The most recent of these is The Writings of Dona Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, Catholic Missionary to James I's London in the Edwin Mellen Press's Spanish Studies Series. At present she is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity and All Saints and an Honorary Research Fellow of Leeds University.
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