Liturgy, Reform, and Vision in the Sermons of Juana de la Cruz

Pablo Acosta-García, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf (

Around 1508, the Franciscan abbess Juana de la Cruz (1481-1534) started to preach in raptu in the Convent of Santa María de la Cruz in Cubas de la Sagra (Toledo, Crown of Castile). Thirteen years later, 72 of her visionary sermons were compiled in the massive Libro del conhorte (The Book of Consolation). This charismatic activity needs to be understood in the context of the campaign by the Catholic Monarchs to reform the religious communities of Castile. In 1495, they commissioned a powerful Observant Provincial, Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros, to reform all the female religious houses of the realm. The convent of Juana de la Cruz was no exception. Founded in 1449 as a casa de beatas (a house of mulieres religiosae), about 15 years later the unregulated community started to follow the Third Regular Order of Saint Francis. Juana was appointed abbess in 1509 and certainly collaborated with Cardinal Cisneros in undertaking a second step in the process of reform. This was implemented along with other significant changes: the vow of enclosure was added to the three original vows and the community started to receive rents. Its main source of income came from a church annexed to the convent in which Juana took up various sacerdotal tasks of the parish priest, including public preaching. A perfect setting for her revelations.

Libro de la casa, 17th century; Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, MS 9661, ff17v-18r (Source: Biblioteca Digital Hispánica/ BNE. Imagen procedente de los fondos de la Biblioteca Nacional de España).

This paper examines TheBook of Consolation from both material and liturgical points of view. In its first part, I present the two manuscripts that contain the text. I first outline a state-of-the-art of the studies on these sermons, focusing in particular on those that have analyzed the codices from a material perspective. I will then describe my own findings and the open avenues of research that I am following regarding them.

In the second part, I examine the manuscripts’ structure, focusing on its precedents and its liturgical implications. In particular, I try to answer the question:  what are the links between this compilation and the Low Medieval European tradition of visionary sermons related to feminine communities?

In essence, this paper aims to review the basics of The Book of Consolation (materiality and structure) as a first step to recontextualizing the ritual and performative context of the Convent of Santa María de la Cruz.

This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 842094.

Citer ce billet
Haude Morvan (2021, 31 mai). Liturgy, Reform, and Vision in the Sermons of Juana de la Cruz. Observer l'Observance. Consulté le 17 juin 2024, à l’adresse

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