I used to be dubious about the mystical writings of Mary of Agreda: I just didn't know if they were genuine. A Spanish mystic, Venerable Mary was born in 1602 and she entered a Franciscan convent when she was 17. Then in her 20s, Mary received  divine revelations about the precise details of the Virgin Mary's life.

Venerable Mary of Agreda was like the Virgin Mary's personal biographer, and most notably she transcribed with her quill and ink onto parchment the intimate details of the Blessed Virgin's Immaculate Conception. 

She wrote 400 pages of the first volume in merely 20 days,  and it is a sublimely rich text that sings with a note of authentic mysticism. Frankly, I doubt that she could have made that much up that fast. 

But that which prompted me to hold her work as truth was when I learned that Blessed Solanus Casey, the gentle friar forever associated with Detroit, held Venerable Mary in highest esteem and was utterly devoted to her writings, even when he was mildly persecuted - by Catholic church officials and his own friars - for promoting them. 

Solanus read The Mystical City of God for the first time in 1924, when he was a 54 year-old priest based in Detroit. Over the years that followed, Solanus highly recommended the volumes to his many followers who came to the friary to seek his enlightened advice. By the 1940s, a subset from the sea of souls that sought out Solanus came together and formed an informal Mary of Agreda Society. They met regularly to discuss the 4 volumes of Mystical City, but were not highbound by rules that other clergy tried to set out for them. One pastor commanded them to meet only when Solanus could attend their meetings, but they ignored this, and met when they wanted.  The most zealous of the group was a man by the name of Ray Garland who proved too pushy for his own good. 

In time, complaints were made to the Detroit chancery about the overly-obsessive Agredans and also about Mystical City, that it was thousands of pages long and very expensive.

Solanus's superiors insisted he break from the Agredan group and cut ties with Ray Garland. But Garland was not easily discouraged and he obsessively pursued Solanus until it was thought best to move Solanus to New York. 

When Solanus was settled into life in Brooklyn,  Garland pestered him with many letters even though Solanus was under pressure to resist contact with Garland. To put an end to things, Solanus wrote a letter to Ray Garland and implied that the devil had a hand in the curtailment of the Agredan Society, "The arch-enemy of Our Blessed Mother and of immortal souls must have received an extra length of rope these days".

Mr. Garland was also chided gently by Solanus who told him that his pressure campaign to continue enlisting his support for the Mary of Agreda group was causing, "offense if not scandal".

What I find telling is that Solanus considered that the devil used his power to impede study of Mystical City.

A few of us are following Solanus's example and as prep for reading the 4 volumes, we are listening to the popular abridgment audio-book of The Mystical City of God on Audible. We bought it with our monthly credit and so it was free with our membership. And then we message each other and have virtual meetings with our responses to this epic work. This is us Millennials doing what Ray Garland and his group did in 1940s Detroit. So far no one has complained us to the Church officials...

Here I am with Odell's EXCELLENT biography of Solanus, where I learned of his love of The Mystical City of God. 


  1. Mary,

    The problem with Venerable Mary of Agreda is not with Mary of Agreda, but with Thomists. Let me explain. But first, there are two great prayer card of Venerable Mary of Agreda at and another at

    Thomists are distinct from St. Thomas Aquinas, their teacher, in that Thomas was a font of charity and humility, while all too many Thomists have been judgmental and full of pride.
    This may seem a sweeping judgment in of itself, but let us note first the words of A Carmelite, before their order was overwhelmed by Thomism, the words of Bl. Baptist of Mantua (1447-1516):

    Yet these Thomists are unmindful of both Apostle and reason and want to all to adopt the thought of Thomas and in such manner that they prefer their own [Thomas Aquinas] for nearly all groups of religious orders, even those y far more ancient, just as for our [Carmelite
    and the hermits of St. Augustine. In such a way they strive to prefer Thomas over howsoever many are the body of doctors who flourished from the beginning of the Church, the fact of which manifest a lack of probity and prudence. First they bring Thomas forward as they please, but only allowing that [other teachers] speak accoridng to their own mind. They don't permit a peeep from other teachers, they impose silence, they make judgments disdainfully on other teachers from their juridicial benches and will only hear the testimony of Thomas and regard all other witnesses to be insignificant perjurers. They regard Thomas to have arrived at the absolute culmination of doctrines in every genus of dogma. They place him in the supreme rank of nature, and call him the very men as of knowledge among men, Why do they spit with cocked eyebrow upon the other teachers as if they were bereft of nature and Grace? From B. Baptist's Opus Aurem.

    This may seem harsh, and some of your fair readers will cry foul, but then I point the following:

    1.) At the time of the 14th and 15th century before the Council of Florence the Greeks knew the Dominican Order not as the Order of Preachers of St Dominic, but as "the society of Thomas."

    2.) That St. John Capistrano, OFM was accused of heresy by the Dominicans for propagating the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and they demanded he be burned at the stake

    3. That Bl. James of the Marches was accused of heresy by a Dominican Inquisitor for not agreeing with Thomas's opinion on the nature of Christ's blood that fell from the cross.

    4. That in front of the Greek Orthodox delegation at the Council of Basel, the Dominicans asked that the Franciscan order be condemned en mass for their belief in the Immaculate Conception.

  2. So, we next need to take into account he great teacher of the Franciscans, B. John Duns Scotu. His thought laid the foundation for the Franciscan thesis which is:
    1.) The Primacy of Christ, that Christ would have come even if Adam had not fallen
    2.) The Immaculate Conception of Mary
    3.) The concept of Mary as Co-Redemptrix.

    Scotus is this "other doctor" among others that Bl. Baptist is referring to.

    Now, I have seen contemporary Thomists refer to Thomas as a supporter of the Immaculate Conception and even the Primacy of Christ. But, this contemporary approach flies in the face of Dominican/Thomist history - that they used St. Thomas as a whip to attack those who upheld the Immaculate Conception.

    Now, how does this tie into Ven. Mary of Agreda?

    First, Look at Chapter Six of Book One. The Father defends the Primacy of Christ. Throughout the books Mary is presented as the Immaculate Conception and as Co-Redemptrix. This espousal of Scotistic thought angered the Dominicans, as to them it it meant that God might support the concept of the Immaculate Conception, or worse, God could be a Scotist. Since that time in the 17th century, the Thomists have joined with the Jansenists and the anti-Marianists to oppose this work.

    Second even among our contemporary fellow Catholics, Thomas Aquinas and his teaching are invariably acknowledged as the arbitrator of what is orthodox belief in the Church - how often have you heard an explanation of the faith or morals and it comes from Thomas? Add in the fact that traditionalists have rightly used Thomas as the bulwark against those who have taught error, Schillebeeckx, Rahner, Kung, etc. If the work is not Thomistic, then it must be suspect, therefore, the Mystical City of God should not be read or encouraged.

    Third, with the rise of other Marian apparitions and revelations, especially those of the Maria Valtorta (WOW, absolutely superb), and the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the approach to discredit the Mystical City of God has changed, as shown 22 years ago when a Commission put together by Cardinal Ratzinger claimed that while their was nothing doctrinally suspect, it was opposed to the Mariology as it has developed since Vatican II.
    There is a great little book on this, Venerable Mother Agreda and the Mariology of Vatican II, which answers these charges.

    Finally, in the time of Father Solanus, many of the academic OFM Caps, OFMS, and OFM Conv, while focusing on the Primacy of Christ, the Immaculate Concpetion, and Mary as Co-Redemptrix, avoided talking about the Mystical City of God. I think Father Solanus's younger contemporary, Father Dominic Unger, OFM Cap may have written an article about her, but for the most part, she was unjustly ignored.
    I know this two part comment is long, Mary. However, I felt it necessary for you and your friends to read this.

    1. Thank you for your strongly worded and fascinating comments, James Ignatius.

      I will be doing further study on everything you have written.

    2. All saints are prone to error in some respects, that is not unknown. Thomas, etc., but who is perfect among us but Jesus. And Mary in her sinlessness. So none of this comes as a surprise. I read the abridged Mystical City of God, 800+ pages and it fascinated me. Nor could I doubt hardly anything about it. It inspires immensely and causes almost no controversy amongst Catholic teaching or belief. Mary of Agreda bi-located to visit remote Indian tribes in Southwest USA back in the 1600s. She taught them much and they embraced her and the rosary. When the Spanish missionaries first came upon these particular tribes back in the 1600s they were amazed what they had rosaries and what they revealed to them about the Lady in Blue who had visited them on many occasions. The missionaries knew they were speaking of Mary of Agreda.

    3. Just so no one thinks I dislike Thomas, in fairness to him, in his work on the Angel's Greeting to Mary, he affirms Mary's Immaculate Conception. Unfortunately, his followers drew their line in the sand over his denial of the Immaculate Conception in part Three of the Summa Theologica. In fact, we could fairly say Thomas's own followers, the Thomists, have done him a disservice in the matter of the Immaculate Conception.

      Turzovka is correct, no saint or church father is perfect, and in some cases, we act as if there is no error in the saint (Augustine, Thomas Aquinas), whereas in others, such as John Duns Scotus, Mary of Agreda, we have made the perfect the enemy of the good. That is why I am glad someone as controversial (to some) as Paul VI have been canonized. He made mistakes, but he lived a live of holiness and love.

  3. Years ago TAN books sent me a shipment with a lot of extras of this book. I wasn’t sure why. I love Solanus Casey, so now I get it!

    1. Great idea. I'm not in a position to go to Solanus's tomb now, but perhaps in the distant future.

  4. At the risk of sounding astoundingly ignorant, I do not understand the final point of the 2 part comment. Is the work worthwhile reading or not? I would like to pursue it but found the comments terribly confusing. Please forgive me but could you "dumb it down" a bit? I truly do not understand.

    1. Yes, a million times yes: Mary of Agreda's Mystical City of God is a supremely worthwhile and Faith-enhancing read.

      In his comment, James Ignatius is showing where there is agreement with Mary of Agreda and where there was not, chiefly on the Doctrine of the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception which defines as solemn doctrine that Mary was conceived in the womb of St Anne without any trace of original sin.

      Mary of Agreda wrote a profound account of the Immaculate Conception in Mystical City and this is in line with the teachings of Blessed Scotus. Also both Mary of Agreda and Blessed Scotus are Franciscan. Mary of Agreda was writing in the 1600s and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated by the Pope in 1854.

      Mary of Agreda's portrayal of the Immaculate Conception has not always been in keeping with the way scholars of St Thomas Acqinas ("Thomists") have represented the Immaculate Conception; they have been at odds, but more modern Thomists at least the ones I know, are in agreement with Mary of Agreda.

      Where there is a continuous disagreement is between how the role Virgin Mary is expressed in Mary of Agreda where Our Lady is continuously hailed as the one who was conceived immaculately and as the Co-redemptrix, whereas at Vatican II, the decision was made to ommit all reference to the Virgin Mary as Co-redemptrix because it did not fit with a strategy to unite Protestants and Catholics, or "ecumenism". Protestants had outright refused to accept the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, so the move to define Mary Mother of God as our vo-redemptrix was thought too much a barrier to "Christian unity".

      While Mary of Agreda champions Our Lady as Co-redemptrix, the documents and teachings of Vatican II ignore do not state Our Lady as such.

      I stand with Don Scotus, the purest reading of Thomas of Aquinas and with Mary of Agreda: Mary was conceived immaculately and she is Co-redemptrix.

  5. Well, I have read all four books at least twice, maybe parts of them more. To me they are a lot more WOW and supernatural than Valtorta, whose works I have also read. Did you know that Mary of Agreda had to write them twice because the first set was destroyed?

    1. Wow, well done on reading Mystical City at least twice! Impressive!

      Yes, extraordinary that Mary of Agreda re-write the 4 Volumes twice. After she had completed them the first time, a confessor told her that a woman would not be given such revelations and Mary of Agreda was moved to burn them!

      Later under obedience, she re-wrote them.

    2. Frank, I think it is best to see Maria Valtorta and Mary of Agreda as complementary works. Mary of Agreda tends to write scholastically in Scotistic terms, whereas Maria Valtorta is giving us dialogue. Yet both come to the same points about Mary being:
      1.) Ever Virgin
      2.) Mother of God
      3.) Co-redemptrix
      4.) The debitatum peeccati
      5.) The Immaculate Conception
      6.) Mary's Predestination
      7.) Mary as Mediatrix
      8.) Mary as Advocate
      And so on.

      Mary and Frank, there is a very god essay by Professor Trent Pomplun in the festschrift for the late Father Peter Damian Fehlner, The Spirit and the Church. It is an excellent work, and I derived much of my first two comments from this article. Father Peter gets credit for making sure that the important book Venerable Mother Agreda and the Mariology of Vatican II by Father Enrique Llamas was put into English.

      Pomplun's article revealed to me something I did not know - the critical edition of The Mystical City of God was only published in 1970 and has never been translated into English. It has additional material from Venerable Maria in it.

      Sorry to bombard you with information Mary, and Frank. I have actually spent much time studying this in the past year.

    3. You can also find the Mystical City of God on YouTube, read in its entirety--there are multiple audios/videos. I am reading "The Passion of Our Lord," which takes those chapters on the Passion from Agreda's book and presents them in one volume. It is excellent. If your discussion group on Sr. Mary of Agreda is open to other Catholics, please let me know as I would enjoy discussing her writings and prayers with other interested Catholics. Thank you. -- Michael (

    4. Thank you so much, James Ignatius for giving us the benefit of your tremendous study. I have not read Maria Valtorta yet, so I cannot say if I believe she is an accompaniment to Agreda, but when I read Valtorta I will be asking myself this question.

      Most urgently, I will read Fr Enrique Llamas's book. I'm so grateful you commented on this book.

    5. Dear Michael, Thank you for the tips you provide in your message, yes, You-Tube has some great audios and visits if classic Catholic texts.

      A few of us girls, however, found that the recordings on Audible were clearer and that we can listen better as we do the dishes and do laundry (this is the purchase reason we all cited!).

      Ours is not a proper discussion group, just a few close female friends swapping notes when we catch up. If it morphs into anything formal, I will let you know.

      If anyone would like to start a formal Agreda group, perhaps they may contact you.

    6. I have just ordered Enrique Llamas's book on Mary of Agreda and Vatican II. I literally cannot wait to read it!

  6. I've read City of God by Ven. Mary of Agreda a few times and continue to read it until my dying days. To me, it fills in all the blanks of our wonderful Faith and gives us wisdom and strength to serve God as Our Lady did in her life on earth! God bless+

    1. At our parish in San Antonio we have a "Secrets of the Rosary Group" weekly study that has been meeting for 10 years now. Our second year we studied together the Mystical City of God by Maria of Agreda, and now we are doing it again, for all the new members. Her revelations are transformative for us as servants of Mother Mary.
      In Her Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart, Stan Harmen

  7. Author Stephen Harrigan, who has written a huge new personal history of Texas, called “ Big Wonderful Thing”, and who may well not be a devout Catholic, writes in the book at some length, and with appreciation, for Ven. Mary of Agreda’s bilocations to evangelize the Jumano Indians in what is now South Texas. A newspaper summary is at this link:

    I was at a dinner for him at Houston Baptist University, now fairly broad minded for Baptists, and when someone asked him who was the most interesting person he had met in his research on our state, he unhesitatingly replied, María de Jesus de Agreda. I think the Baptists were impressed.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. So good to know about Stephen Harrigan. I think I will read his Big Wonderful Thing to know more about Mary of Agreda's bilocations.



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