Anthroponyms seta CRUZ, Mother Maria Madalena de Vera (1575-?)

Born in Pinto on 14 September 1575, she was the daughter of António Gonçalves de Ávila and Hyeronima Romana; she was christened Mariana and demonstrated an early intelligence. Featuring an extremely ugliness (an aspect that is valued in her autobiographical writings), she developed reading skills alone when she was only four years old. Despite belonging to the Convento de Santa Maria da Cruz de Cubas (Saint Mary of the Cross of Cubas Convent), where she entered when she was only fifteen years old and where she was a nurse, she was one of the followers of Mother Jeronima de la Asunsion, whose goal was to evangelise the Far East. Having been one of the founders of the Convento de Santa Clara de Manila (Manila Saint Clare Convent) in 1621, she was also at the foundation of the one of Macau in 1633, where she was appointed Prioress. She also held the positions of Abbess and Novice Master in Macau. Having Friar António de Santa Maria as her confessor, she wrote an allegorical, visionary work in 1640 called ?Floresta Franciscana? (?Franciscan Forest?). Having been Abbess at the Convento de Santa Clara de Macau, her views were not ignored during the 1642 contradictions between the Governor of the Bishopric, Friar Bento de Cristo, and the Jesuit Commissioners of the Holly Office, Fathers Gaspar Luís and Gaspar do Amaral. Referred to as ?the prophesised? by the detractors of the Franciscans, she abandoned Macau two years later on a ship captained by Dom João Cláudio, heading to Manila together with Friars António de Santa Maria and António del Puerto, and Mothers Margarida de la Concepcion and Clara de S. Francisco.

Having landed at Turon in Cochinchina, where she was still on 2 April 1645, she was received by King Nguyen Phuoc. She was the author of ?Floresta Franciscana de Ilustraciones Celestiales Cogidas al Hilo de la Oración en la Aurora de Maria [?] en la defensa que siempre haze al alba hermoza de su pura Concepcion de la Orden de seraphines franciscana [?]? and of ?Loores de la virgem Señora Nuestra, sin pecado original.?

Bibliography:
Cayetano Sanchez OFM, «La Madre Jeronima de la Asuncion y su Fundacion del Monasterio de Santa Clara de Manila. Incidencias y Consecuencias», Separata de «VERDAD Y VIDA», T. LII ? 1994 ? Núms 205-206, Madrid. PENALVA, Elsa, «Mulheres em Macau 1633-1644», Actas do Colóquio Internacional Macau no Período Ming, Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau, I. P., 2007, (forthcoming). CARNEIRO, María Isabel Brabeito, Mujeres y Literatura del Siglo de Oro Espacios Profanos y Espacios Conventuales, Madrid, Safekat, S.L, 2007.

Author: Elsa Penalva
Translated by: John Silva


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