Approbations for the Original Spanish Edition

Bp. José Jiménez de Samaniego

Ven. Mary of Jesus was from Ágreda (1602-1665), a small village in northern Spain. She received private revelations for many years regarding the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was commanded to write them down by Almighty God, the Virgin Mary, and her religious superiors. To overcome her humility and reticence her superiors even had to threaten her with the censures of the Church if she would not write it. She obeyed and wrote what is now published under the title of The Mystical City of God.

Most Rev. José Jiménez de Samaniego, her Franciscan superior and later Bishop of Plasencia, first became aware of this humble nun upon receiving a report from the Franciscan missionaries to what is now Texas (United States) that a “lady in blue” had been seen by the local Indians among them; she taught them the Catholic faith and sent them to these missionaries for instruction and Baptism. When Most Rev. Samaniego investigated the case he found the “lady in blue” to be this same Ven. Mary of Ágreda, who had bilocated hundreds of times to what is now the southwest United States to catechize these Indians, carried there by Angels at the command of God.

Most Rev. Samaniego then personally traveled to Ágreda and received the confirmation of this truth from the lips of Ven. Mary herself. Having tested her spirit and being highly impressed with her virtue and spirituality, he began to examine The Mystical City of God written by Ven. Mary. He was so impressed with it that he himself published the first Spanish edition in 1670, two years after the death of Ven. Mary, also writing and publishing her biography.

Though he was her religious superior and biographer, in order to publish the book he sought the approbation of the bishop of the diocese in which Ven. Mary received these revelations and wrote the book, since it is the local bishop who is the first judge of the revelations in his diocese and must approve them before they can be published. Hence Most Rev. Samaniego sought the approbation of the Bishop of Tarazona.

Bp. D. Miguel de Escartin

The Bishop of Tarazona at the time was His Excellency D. Miguel de Escartin, who wrote a long approbation dated May 6, 1667, in obedience to the Queen of the Crown of Aragon, who wanted to know whether she should command the book to be printed and distributed. This is the conclusion of his lengthy approbation:

“Thus in these writings of Mother Mary of Jesus we find the royal seal of the Majesty of God. This work being beyond human forces is hence of the divine power. We also find a doctrine sound, consistent and true, conformable to the evangelical Law, to the knowledge and reverence of God and his most pure Mother, and for the practice of virtue and the abhorrence of vice. I cannot see how it is possible to allow the least suspicion this writing is not of God. We must render endless gratitude to the divine Majesty, recognizing our happiness in having the Almighty deign to manifest to us in this age this hidden treasure which shall so enrich the souls of the faithful and devotees of the Virgin, also recognizing the singular favor the Virgin herself has conceded to us in our time by the great revelations of her most pure and holy life by means of this her servant, Mother Mary of Jesus. And lastly I say that not having found in these writings anything not in harmony with the Catholic truth, may Her Majesty [Queen of the Crown of Aragon – Ed.], in compliance with her royal piety, give the command for the book to be printed and brought forth to the light with all speed, in order that it may be spread into the hands of the faithful so they may attain the happiness offered by heaven by using it for the good of their souls. These sentiments I give with due obedience and subjection to the Holy Roman Catholic Church, Mother and Mistress of all truth. In Tarazona, May 6, 1667.”

+Miguel, by the divine condescension, the unworthy bishop of Tarazona

Bp. Samaniego’s 1686 Edition

The actual Spanish edition I used for this corrected English edition is an 1888 edition published by Spanish Redemptorists; it was taken verbatim from Bp. Samaniego’s 1686 edition, itself a reprint of his original edition (as all Spanish editions have been). This 1686 Spanish edition was published in Antwerp, Belgium, and here is the Approbation of the Ordinary.

“The book which is divided into three parts, The Mystical City of God, the divine History and Life of the Virgin Mother of God, manifested to Sr. Mary of Jesus, etc., contains no doctrine which is opposed to the Catholic faith or good morals, and may be printed for the benefit of the faithful and the common edification. In Antwerp, June 12, 1686.”

Pablo de Halmale, canon of the Cathedral church of Antwerp, and inspector of books.

Notice that by 1686 this book written by Ven. Mary had been published under the title The Mystical City of God, although that is not the title which she herself gave the book (see the title page above); however, she did use the phrase Mystical City of God in the book itself (cf. Coronation par. 487). Someone early on published the book under that more abbreviated title, and the book has been known by this title ever since.

Spanish Inquisition

The original Spanish edition came under closest scrutiny by the Spanish Inquisition, which studied the book word for word for 14 years (!), and Bp. Antonio Álvarez de la Puente declared on July 3, 1686, that the book could be freely published and read since it contained nothing objectionable. And lest anyone think the Spanish Inquisition was biased in favor of the Spanish nun, be it known the exact opposite was true, for at that epoch in Spanish history there were many claims of revelations (primarily involving women) which came to the Inquisition and were condemned as false; hence the Inquisition began its examination of The Mystical City of God with great suspicion. This no doubt explains why it took 14 years of minute examination to reach its favorable conclusion.

The book was received with universal acclaim and approbation in Spain and Portugal, quickly running through at least ten editions in Spanish and one in Portuguese. But when a false French translation appeared, done by Jansenist heretics of the Sorbonne (University of Paris), and they sought condemnation of the book, the case came to Rome. The results of the long examination of The Mystical City of God by the supreme Magisterium of the Church are given under the tab Church Approval/Official Church Approval.