THE THIRD MYSTIC OF AVILA by Frances Parkinson- Transl. by Keyes


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This is the diary of a sixteenth century Cistercian nun who was considered to be a mystic although her writings were never before published or accorded public recognition. Mrs. Keyes discovered her manuscript, which had been preserved in her community's archives, when she was doing research on Isabel of Castile in Avila. Maria Vela's diary, written in obedience to her confessors, is divided into two parts: the first is a record of her life and mystical experiences, the second a record of the ""Mercies"" she received. In a Foreword the translator provides some background on the nun's life and identifies many of the people mentioned in the diary. Maria Vela's home was in Cardenosa. She was well educated and was an accomplished musician. She entered the convent of Santa Ana at fifteen and six years later took her final vows. Though she admits that she finds it difficult to relate the story of her life, her diary is written with great objectivity and not without good humor. She seems to have undergone classical mystical experience: visions, voices, levitation, raptures in which her faculties were in a state of suspension, periods of deep melancholy; aridity in prayer; and enlightenment in regard to her predestination. Subject to respiratory diseases from childhood, Maria Vela died of pleurisy in the early seventeenth century. Mrs. Keyes believes that Maria Vela, though not of the rank of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, belongs in their company.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy