The Book of Prayer of Sor María of Santo Domingo

A Study and Translation

By Mary E. Giles

Subjects: Spirituality, Religion
Paperback : 9780791402368, 214 pages, July 1990
Hardcover : 9780791402351, 214 pages, July 1990

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Table of contents


Part I The Study


Chapter One Sor María: Her Life and Examination

Chapter Two Portrait of a Beata

Chapter Three Reformers, Rebels and Sor María

Chapter Four Heresy: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Chapter Five The Book of Prayer


Part II The Book of Prayer of Sor María of Santo Domingo


Division of the Work

Summary of Her Virtuous and Perfect Life

To the Readers of the Present Work

Contemplation While Enraptured on Easter Sunday

Contemplation While Enraptured Hearing Music

Contemplation on the Feast of the Discovery of the Cross

Letter of Consolation for a Gentleman of Segovia


Selected Bibliography



The history of women's spirituality and Christian mysticism demonstrates that women have been influential religious leaders even without benefit of priestly ordination and theological training. St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila are examples of women with visionary gifts of tremendous power. A less well-known Spanish visionary is Sor María of Santo Domingo, a Dominican tertiary of peasant lineage who became so famous for her raptures, austerities, and prophecies that the king, a cardinal, and nobles considered her a living saint.

In 1948 research in the archives of the University of Zaragoza uncovered The Book of Prayer of Sor María of Santo Domingo (originally published around 1518) which had gone unnoticed for centuries. The text includes some of Sor María's ecstatic utterances and representations, and is a first-hand look at a women who in many ways is as representative of the early years of sixteenth century Spain as St. Teresa was of the later years. Giles' book provides the first English translation of this text as well as a study of Sor María and the issues that pushed her into the limelight.

Mary E. Giles is Professor of Humanities at California State University. She is the author of two other books on women's spirituality, The Feminist Mystic and When Each Leaf Shines.


"Dr. Giles is a first-rate translator and it is a delight to read her version of Sor Maria's words. It is also very rewarding to follow the controversy over her mystical experiences, as expressed by her enemies and defenders, offered in English by Dr. Giles in her Introduction." -- Joseph H. Silverman, University of California, Santa Cruz