Sister Ursula de Jesús’ Equal Economy of Salvation

Valérie Benoist

Abstract


The article examines the diary of Peruvian sister Ursula de Jesús, the first known spiritual journal produced by a black woman in colonial Spanish America.  The account, written in first person and consisting of fifty-seven folios, mainly describes sister Ursula’s visions and her life inside the Lima convent where she came to be highly revered as a mystic during the seventeenth century. The recognition that this black woman gained was particularly high considering that she lived at a time when most people in the Ibero-transatlantic world associated Afro descendants with the Devil. This fact along with the richness of sister Ursula’s spiritual diary has resulted in some merited scholarly attention identifying her work as part of the emergence of a discourse on black religious exemplarity in Lima in the sixteen hundreds.  The examination adds to this scholarship by presenting how sister Ursula carefully crafted her vida as a discursive space to argue for a more equal access to the economy of salvation and more solidarity between black catholic women such as herself.  The theoretical tools that help guide the analysis are the concepts of economy of salvation, the link between an individual’s mystical experience and their dialectical relation to society, and the mediation in textual agency found in spiritual diaries.

 


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.32855/palara.2019.008

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