Ana de Jesús

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Anonymous portrait

Ana de Jesús, O.C.D., translated into English as Ann of Jesus, also known as Ann Lobera (25 November 1545 – 4 March 1621), was a Spanish Discalced Carmelite nun and writer. She was a close companion of St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Carmelite reform and served to establish new monasteries of the Order throughout Europe. Known as a mystic and for her writings on prayer, she has been declared Venerable by the Catholic Church.

Childhood[edit]

Born Ana de Lobera y Torres in Medina del Campo in the Province of Valladolid, her parents were Diego de Lobera and Francisca Torres, who also had a son called Cristóbal, who became a Jesuit. As a small child she was assumed to be deaf and dumb. However, she started to talk at the age of seven.[1] Her father died some months after her birth, and her mother died too when Ana was nine years old, so she was left an orphan and went to live with her father's relatives.

Monastic life[edit]

Having made a vow of virginity, Lobera entered the Monastery of St. Joseph in Ávila, founded by St. Teresa of Ávila, in 1570. In 1571, while still a novice, she was sent to a new foundation in Salamanca, where she professed religious vows on 22 October, and she remained there until 1575. That year she accompanied Teresa for the foundation of the Monastery of Beas, Spain, of which she became the first prioress.

After being in a new monastery in Granada, Ana made a foundation at Madrid (1586), where she also served as a prioress. It was there that she became involved in a dispute which was to have long-term repercussions. The friar in charge of the monastery, Nicholas of Gesu Maria Doria, made changes requiring severe rigidity in the Constitutions of the nuns, drawn up by St. Teresa with the assistance of Jerome Gratian, and approved by a chapter in 1581. His intentions was, that by concentrating all authority in the hands of a committee of external officials, he could thereby guard the nuns against any relaxation of their life. Ann of Jesus, determined to preserve intact St. Teresa's work, with Doria's knowledge appealed to the Holy See for papal confirmation of their Constitutions. This was granted by Pope Sixtus V in a papal brief dated 5 June 1590. Then, however, Doria complained to King Philip II of Spain that the nuns had gone over the head of their superiors, as a result of which the king twice forbade the meeting of a monastery chapter to receive the papal brief, and the nuns, and their advisers and supporters, Friars Luis de León, O.E.S.A, and Domingo Bañez, O.P., fell into disgrace. Furthermore, for over a year no friar was allowed to hear the nuns' confessions. When the king finally heard the story from the nuns' point of view, he ordered that the internal council of the monastery resume its authority, and he further petitioned the Holy See for an approval of the Constitutions. This was granted by Pope Gregory XIV on 25 April 1591, revoking the decrees of his predecessors.

Doria resumed his authority over the nuns, but his first act was to punish Ana de Jesús severely for having made the appeal to the Holy See. She was forbidden from receiving Holy Communion for three years, and separated from all interaction with the other nuns of the monastery. When the period for this penance was over, she was sent to Salamanca, where she became prioress from 1596 to 1599.

In the meanwhile, a project had developed for bringing the Teresian Reform to France. Mother Marie of the Incarnation, the first French woman in the Order, warned by St. Teresa and assisted by Francis de Sales, the Abbé de Brétigny and Cardinal de Bérulle, brought a few nuns, mostly trained by St. Teresa herself, with Ana de Jesús at their head, from Avila to Paris, where they established the Monastery of the Incarnation, 16 October 1604.

Ana was a friend of John of the Cross, who dedicated his work the Spiritual Canticle to her.[2]

Relationship with St. Teresa[edit]

From the moment Teresa of Avila met Ana de Jesus she became her favorite daughter, and, along with Mary of St. Joseph, were the pillars of the saint in her life and work.[1]

It was Ana who collected all the literary works of St. Teresa after her death, and in 1587 gave them to Friar Luis de León for publication, being finally published under the name of Los libros de la madre Teresa de Jesús, fundadora de los monasterios de monjas y frailes de Carmelitas Descalzos de la primera Regla ("The books of the Mother Teresa of Jesus, founder of the monasteries of nuns and friars of Discalced Carmelites of the first Rule"), Salamanca, 1588.

Europe[edit]

In 1604 Ana moved with other nuns to Paris, where they established the Monastery of the Incarnation. Because of the success of the Order in France, she decided to make a further foundation at Pontoise (15 January 1605), and another one at Dijon (21 September 1605).

At a time when she was struggling with the authorities of the Catholic Church in France, who wished to make many exceptions in their way of life, Ana de Jesús was called to Brussels by the Infanta Isabella and Archduke Albert in order to found a new monastery of the Discalced Carmelite nuns there. Besides this one, she made foundations at Louvain, Mons and gave help with the ones in Antwerp and Krakow, Poland. Ana remained as a prioress in Brussels until her death in 1621.

Soon after her death, the cause for her canonization was opened. In 1878 she was declared Venerable by Pope Pius IX.

Literary work[edit]

The poems of Ana de Jesús do not have as much relevance as her statements, writings, records and correspondence. About ninety of her letters survive. Some of these writings have been lost.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ann Lobera. Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  2. ^ Spiritual Canticle, Prologue.1