Some Devotees of the Mystical City of God

King Philip IV of Spain

He traveled to Ágreda with his confessor, John of St. Thomas, O.P., and on July 10, 1643, this great Dominican theologian (hailed by many as the greatest commentator on the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas) carefully tested Ven. Mary. He concluded:

“She is enlightened by supernaturally infused knowledge, and I would be willing to defend this opinion before any group of theologians.”

The King requested a copy of The Mystical City of God, which she sent to him in November of that year. Here is what he said regarding it:

“Let human frailty with humble piety approach this wonder, confessing the grandeur of the Creator.”

The reading of this book changed his life, and from thenceforth he zealously sought to reform the morals of his kingdom. He was so impressed with the virtue of Ven. Mary that he sought her advice in this matter until her death 22 years later. Hence we have the spectacle of the King of one of the most powerful countries in the world traveling to a remote village to an obscure nun to receive her advice!

He said of Ven. Mary, “through the prayers, influence and advice of Sister Mary the unity of Spain was preserved.” (Cartas de Sor Maria de Ágreda y Felipe IV, Silvela D. Francisco, Madrid: 1885, p. 102)

Fr. Frederick William Faber, D.D.

This priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri was one of the most beloved and prolific spiritual writers of our time, and he quoted freely from The Mystical City of God in his books. One footnote in his book Bethlehem (p. 315) contains no less than nine references to the City of God. This is proof he not only read the book but piously studied it and made notes to himself regarding passages he wanted to quote and use for his own books. In Bethlehem p. 376 he says regarding a passage in The Incarnation (par. 33):

“In the whole range of Marian theology I have met with no deeper or sweeter thought than this.”

Fr. Solanus Casey, O.F.M.Cap.

This humble and saintly Capuchin friar (†July 31, 1957) helped found the Caphuchin Charity Guild which operated a soup kitchen during the Great Depression at the Detroit Friary of St. Bonaventure. Many flocked to him for spiritual advice and bodily aid, and many miracles were attributed to him.

Perhaps the greatest devotee of The Mystical City of God in our times, he spent much of his free time for the last 53 years of his life praying the book on his knees, often in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, alternating this with praying the Rosary. He used to say it takes faith and devotion to the Mother of God to appreciate the sublime value of this book.

Fr. Laurent

The following quote is taken from The Admirable Life of the Glorious Patriarch St. Joseph by Abbé J.A. Boullan, Doctor in Theology, a book which he took verbatim from The Mystical City of God and published in 1859. This is from the section entitled Historical Notice of The Mystical City of God (pp. 322-3).

“During the time in which we write these pages a religious venerable for his virtues and talents, formerly Provincial of his order, Fr. Laurent, has completed the publication of The Life of the Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda. This Life is none other than that of Most Rev. Samaniego, of which we have given an abridgement in this volume.

“In a very beautiful Introduction (pp. 16-17) Fr. Laurent is not afraid to write the following regarding Mary of Agreda:

"The heavenly inspiration makes itself felt in every page. In reading it we are persuaded that it was only in the celestial regions where she was rapt in her ecstasies that she could gather the knowledge of these sublime mysteries, the revelation of the most adorable and ineffable intentions of the Most High regarding the august Mary."

"It is under the dictation of the Mother of Jesus Christ that she retraces the mortal life of the Queen of heaven; so that this work, fallen from the pen of a poor woman without acquired knowledge, and living in the obscurity of a cloister, is perhaps the most extraordinary and the most astonishing book that ever issued from mortal hands. The author approaches without hesitation the most sublime mysteries of the Christian religion and unfolds them with rare clearness. She develops, without embarrassment and with a prodigious ease, the Catholic doctrine and the most difficult passages of Holy Scriptures; the sacred chronology is as familiar to her as to the most eminent doctors; she reveals the most secret ways of Providence; sacred theology, sublime philosophy, extensive knowledge of the natural sciences, and persuasive eloquence are all here united, even to the precision, the correctness, the elevation, the vigor, and the elegance of the style.? ” [emphasis in the original – Ed.]

Abbé Jacques-André Emery, S.S.

He served as Superior General of St. Sulpice during the French Revolution; he was imprisoned and several times narrowly escaped execution. At the request of Bp. Carroll of Baltimore he sent Sulpicians to the United States to help found the first seminary in America, St. Mary?s (July 18, 1791). A month before his death he staunchly defended the rights of the Pope in the presence of Napoleon.

This courageous and saintly priest said of The Mystical City of God:

“It is only after having read and re-read them that I have understood the wise recommendation of our Founder, M. Olier: „Study the interior of Jesus in Mary?. Only since reading the revelations of Mary of Agreda do I properly know Jesus and His Holy Mother.”

I marvel at this quote, for here a hero of the spiritual life admits it was only after reading The Mystical City of God that he properly knew Our Lord and Our Lady. The quote also summarizes the very purpose of spiritual reading: We must know Jesus and His Holy Mother if we are to love them more and serve them better. I would also add the more we know what Christ and our Immaculate Queen have done for our salvation, the more we will be moved to render heartfelt gratitude. In the end, there is really nothing we can do to repay our Savior and His Mother; but what we can do is to love them and be grateful. And isn?t that what parents really want from their children?

I also think this quote epitomizes why all Catholics down to the most simple layperson should read this book. We must not be frightened by the word mystical as if it means something far above us; to my mind, a mystic is nothing more than a Catholic who actually believes he or she is praying to a real person! To me the word mystical, when applied to prayer, means real, while a lot of what this world calls real truly mystifies me!

I have indeed experienced what the Louvain testimonial (cf. Transfixion p. 16) calls a sacred ardor, and have not been able to relinquish the reading of The Mystical City of God daily for over 33 years, running after the odor of [its] ointments (Cant. 1:3). In this book I have found the voice of my Mother, as unmistakable as the voice of the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:4). She corrects me, teaches me, encourages me, and admonishes me to cooperate with the graces of her Son, all of which come to us through Her hands. This spiritual ardor, so commonly described by the devotees of the book, constantly enkindles my soul to desire sanctity. This is the best fruit of spiritual reading, since this is the will of God, your sanctification (I Thes. 4:3). In this ardor and desire to love God, render Him gratitude for all He has done for us, and never more offend Him, I have found the beginning of heaven while still in this mortal exile.

Dear soul, read The Mystical City of God with proper attention, intention and devotion, and you shall experience the same.