Vida admirable y penitente de la V.M. sor Sebastiana Josepha de la SS. Trinidad : religiosa de coro, y velo negro en el religiosissimo convento de señoras reliogiosas Clarisas de San Juan de la Penitencia de esta ciudad de Mexico

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Author: Valdés, Joseph Eugenio

Year: 1765

Publisher: En la imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana

Place: Mexico City


[10]+396+[4] pages with Full-page copper-engraving following the title page. Octavo (8" x 5 3/4") bound in period limp vellum. (Medina, Mexico 5022; Palau 347490; Sabin 98310) First and only edition of this biography of Mexican nun Sebastiana Josefa Maya Marín (1709-1757), based mostly on the letters she sent to her confessor over the course of more than a decade. An interesting work that combines biography with autobiography and sheds light on the lives nuns during the Spanish colonial era.

After her death in 1757, Sor Sebastiana Josefa de la Santísima Trinidad (1709-1757), a nun from the Convent of San Juan de la Penitencia in Mexico City, left a collection of sixty letters written to her confessor, in which she recounts her domestic life and her intense spiritual practices, portraying herself as a model bride of Christ following the path to sanctity. Based on these letters, Ignacio Saldaña and Eugenio Valdés, published her panegyric sermon (1757) and hagiographic biography (1765), respectively, underscoring those aspects of her saintly life that best played into a sanctioned hagiographic discourse, and omitting the domestic elements of her daily conventual routine present in her narrative. The heritage of seventeenth-century spiritual writers left a strong influence on eighteenth-century figures such as Sor Sebastiana Josefa de la Santisima Trinidad. She began her spiritual development as an intern n the Colegio de Belen, a retreat where willing girls could become beatas and aspire to profess as regular nuns. Because of her poverty she had numerous problems in finding a place to profess until shew was finally admitted at san Juan de la Penitencia, where she eventually became a black-veiled nun at age thirty-seven. She had been admitted as a novice in the Indian convent of Corpus Christi, which she had to leave due to the protests of the Indian community, an incident that she remembered. Her fifty “letters” to her confessor concentrate on the state of her soul and are the sum of her known writings. Their value to the Franciscan Order is suggested by the fact that they were meticulously copied by several friars. At the margins a scribe has classified the nature of the passages written by the nun and written the appropriate descriptive virtue they could embody for a potential reader. It is not known if Sor Sebastiana Josefa’s writings circulated among the Franciscan nuns or friars but, they were used for her biography. The annotations could have been made by either Fr Ignacio Saldana, who wrote her funeral sermon or Jose Eugenio Valdes, who wrote her biography. Sor Sebastiana repeated the well-known rhetorical disclaimers of her incompetence and lack of interest of her life, but like other nuns, she kept on writing. She provides some information the daily life of that institution. Perhaps the most notable is that of the many years she spent taking care of a sick religious. The intensity of her spiritual life is portrayed in full baroque anguish. Alternating between states of despair and heights of mystical union.


wear to covers, lacking ties; title page trimmed and mounted on backing paper, the engraving partially backed; lower half of fore-margin of pp. 75-6 torn off affecting a few letters of 15 lines on each page else a good to very good copy of a scarce Mexican imprint.

SOLD 2020

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