The Marian Apocalyptic of a Visionary Preacher: The Conorte of Juana de la Cruz, 1481–1534
Mother Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534), abbess of a Clarisan convent outside Toledo, Spain, preached publically for thirteen years, putatively channeling Jesus’ voice through her raptured body. This chapter argues that Juana’s blend of apocalyptic genres was a forerunner of the “Marian apocalyptic” described by E. Ann Matter for the twentieth century. This genre of private Marian apparitions designated the seer, Juana, as authoritative, yet disseminated apocalyptic material through publically preached visions of the otherworld. Not only did these visions interweave interpretations of apocalyptic symbols with discussions of the fate of individual souls, but Mary herself was presented as an active agent in the otherworld, not simply interceding with Jesus but engaging the devil in battle. I argue that Mary as apocalyptic figure rather than apparitional message-bearer would have resonated strongly with Juana’s Iberian audience, as not only had Mary long been a focal point of devotion during reconquest on the peninsula, but Castilian leaders attempting to establish an empire in the New World also frequently justified their endeavors through apocalyptic rhetoric.