'Lady in Blue' Honors Native Americans and Catholic Faith
Catholics from all over San Angelo had an opportunity to honor the Lady in Blue at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts this Sunday.
The event, promoted by the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, brought to light the legacy of Sor Maria de Jesus Agreda, a Spanish nun who appeared to the Jumano Native Americans in 1629, and brought them into Christianity.
Celebrations started with a procession across the Concho River through Celebration Bridge, that reenacted the moment when the Jumanos first saw Sor Maria wearing a blue dress for the first time. Following the procession, Jumano Chief Gabriel Carrasco passed a bowl with smudging of the sacred bowl, as part of a traditional tribe ritual.
Right after the proceedings, there was a representation of a baptism of the Jumanos, that converted this Native American tribe into Christianity, followed by songs that praised the importance of the nun’s appearance to the community.
Following the ceremony, the procession went back to the museum where religious authorities talked about Sor Maria’s story and her importance for West Texas Catholics.
The main speaker, Bishop Emeritus of San Angelo Michael D. Pfeifer, praised the “Lady in Blue” and her teachings towards the importance of baptizing into Christianity.
“The Lady in Blue was asked to be the messenger to invite our first Americans to share this wonderful gift, baptism,” said Bishop Pfeifer, who also added that he was happy to “celebrate this wonderful gift.”
Pfeifer also exalted Maria’s qualities beyond the religious duties, such as sewing, in which the nun once sew a chasuble with elements of Texas nature, including flowers and birds. This confirmed that Maria became part of the region’s roots.
Also during his remarks, Bishop Pfeifer mentioned that Sor Maria is in the process of becoming a Catholic saint, which is currently being conducted by Vatican authorities and awaiting approval from Pope Francis.
Bishop Michael Sis, one of the organizers of the event, emphasized the importance of Sor Maria’s appearances in defining San Angelo’s Christian roots and the interaction between Native American and European cultures, which built the city’s history.
“It was a real bridging of cultures between the Native Americans and the Catholic culture from Spain, and they blended into beautiful people who keep the same faith,” said Sis.
During the early 1600s, the Jumano tribe, as well as other Native Americans living in West Texas and New Mexico, saw a mysterious woman dressed in a blue cape. The woman comforted people in need, taught lessons about Jesus Christ and encouraged the tribe members to seek baptism in her faith.
In the late 1620s, the Jumano tribe arrived in Isleta, New Mexico, presenting themselves to Franciscan missionaries established in the area, then the colony of Spain. After the group arrived, the priests asked the Native Americans to be baptized in accordance to Sor Maria’s directions.
One of the missionaries, Fra Alonso de Benavides, knew a young nun in Agreda, a small village near Madrid, who lapsed into trances during prayers and made visits to the New World, teaching the natives of the Americas about faith in Christ. After returning to Spain, Fra Alonso questioned Sor Maria and she gave detailed descriptions of the Jumanos and of the lands she had never physically been to.
After this historical remembrance, the celebration ended with a mass conducted by Bishop Sis.