Nuns Navigating the Spanish Empire tells the remarkable story of a group of nuns who traveled halfway around the globe in the seventeenth century to establish the first female Franciscan convent in the Far East.
In 1620 Sor JerÃ³nima de la AsunciÃ³n (1556â€"1630) and her cofounders left their cloistered convent in Toledo, Spain, journeying to Mexico to board a Manila galleon on their way to the Philippines. Sor JerÃ³nima is familiar to art historians for her portrait by VelÃ¡zquez that hangs in the Prado Museum in Madrid. What most people do not know is that one of her travel companions, Sor Ana de Cristo (1565â€"1636), wrote a long biographical account of Sor JerÃ³nima and their fifteen-month odyssey. Drawing from Sor Anaâ€™s manuscript, other archival sources, and rare books, Owensâ€™s study offers a fascinating view of travel, evangelization, and empire.
Sarah E. Owens is a professor of Spanish at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the editor and translator of Journey of Five Capuchin Nuns and the coeditor of Women of the Iberian Atlantic.
"Owens is to be commended not only for the refreshingly clear prose she employs throughout the text, which is welcome to seasoned scholars as well as those just entering the field, but also her unflagging dedication to exploring and sharing the lives of early modern women."--Horacio Sierra, Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal
"Owens's lively and eminently readable book demonstrates the significance nuns held for the expansion of the Spanish empire overseas."--Stephanie Kirk, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
"Sarah E. Owens deftly uses primary and secondary sources to contextualize Sor Jerónima's accomplishments in this fascinating monograph, which reads more like a highly accessible popular press book than an impenetrable scholarly tome."--Feministas Unidas
"Until the discovery of Sor Ana's text, scholars were only aware of the manuscript's existence from various references in published volumes and the positio for Jerónima's proposed sainthood. Owens's discovery and exegesis of the complete manuscript fills a known lacuna and thus constitutes a valuable addition to scholarship on nuns and women in the early modern Spanish empire."--Letras Femininas
"Owens is successful in showing how this particular group of Poor Clares used their own writings in the process of dealing with the challenges of building and administering a new convent and maneuvering socially, politically, and spatially within the Spanish Empire."--Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
"A rare gendered perspective on Spain's global empire that brings to light unheard female voices and highlights the agency of this particular group of women."--Hispanic American Historical Review
"Owens deserves our deepest gratitude for providing a comprehensive approach to early-modern nuns' agency that compels us to seek their voices and their vision."--Bulletin of the Comediantes
"The author excels at comparing [Sor Ana's] account with others written by men, emphasizing the contribution that her perspective brings. . . . At the same time, Owens is well-versed in the writings of other nuns from the period, as she places Sor Ana's writing within the context of other conventual writers and within its historical and literary framework."--Valeria Del Barco, Journal of Early Modern History
"Sarah Owens's Nuns Navigating the Spanish Empire is an exciting and significant addition to the scholarship on early modern convents. . . . The book provides an amazing window into the intersection of early-modern travel, gender, and religion."--Sixteenth Century Journal
List of Illustrations
Introduction. Unveiling the Manuscript
Chapter One. Toledo to Cádiz
Chapter Two. Cádiz to Mexico
Chapter Three. The Manila Galleon
Chapter Four. The Convent in Manila
Chapter Five. Literacy and Inspirational Role Models