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Maarten Janssen, 2014-


[1700-1709]. Carta de Manuela Ramos, beata de Nuestra Señora del Monte Carmelo, para fray Francisco Fernández y Villegas, religioso de Nuestra Señora del Monte Carmelo.

Author(s) Manuela Ramos      
Addressee(s) Francisco Fernández y Villegas      
In English

Letter from Manuela Ramos, blessed of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to Fray Francisco Fernández y Villegas, religious of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The author describes her visions and other mystic experiences to Fray Francisco Fernández y Villegas. She also lets him know she suspects about two parishioner who are not being sincere.

Following an accusation of alumbrados, dishonesty and having been imbued in the errors of Molinos, a process occurred between 1708 and 1711 against Manuela Ramos, alias Manuela Sánchez or Manuela de Santa Leocadia. Manuela Ramos was born in Novés (Toledo) in 1679 and had a Catholic upbringing. She declared herself Old Christian and a descendant of Old Christians. She lost her mother at age eleven and she moved to Illescas (Toledo) where she began to serve in a convent of the Concepción Francisca. After five years her father died and her brother had her transferred to Santa Isabel convent in Toledo where she learned to read and write. She was devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and had as a confessor Fray Manuel de Santa Leocadia from 1700 to 1704, a Discalced Carmelite who also lived at the convent. In November 1704 Manuela moved to Madrid for three months in order to flee the harassment and threats of a carpenter named Francisco who wanted to marry her. During her time in Madrid, she stayed in Diego de las Cuevas´ house and had as her confessor Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas, a Discalced Carmelite and Prior of Valdemoro. She married Blas Martín Pingarrón in Toledo in 1707.

During the Holy Office´s process against her, she was tried for heresy, alumbradismo and dishonesty. Specifically, she was accused of: faking visions and divine revelations; premarital relations; and an unlawful carnal knowledge with her confessor, Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas. 48 letters (PS6143-PS6191) were provided to the process and used as incriminating evidences for the aforementioned crimes. The letters are sewn together in a notebook attached to the documentation of the process. Inside this notebook two epistolary collections can be distinguished: 18 letters written by Blas Martín Pingarrón and addressed to Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas, and 28 letters written by Manuela Ramos and addressed to Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas. There is also a letter signed by Diego del Amor, alias Diego de las Cuevas, and another one from Cristobal de Alfaro (PS6164) to Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas. There is also a copy of a letter from Pedro Pablo Díez, an apothecary from Yepes, to Manuela Ramos (PS6178). Within the process, two other letters which do not appear in the notebook and addressed to Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas are mentioned: one of them written by Fray Francisco Salazar, a Carmelite from Valdemoro convent, and another one written by Manuela Ramos.

Regarding Blas Martín Pingarrón’s letters, he admitted they were his and in his confession to the Holy Office he explained the reason why he had written them. Villegas frequently visited Manuela Ramos in Toledo because of her visions and hallucinations and asked to be informed about her in his absence. Therefore, the letters from Blas Martín Pingarrón were "basically to tell Villegas of how Manuela Ramos was being tormented by the devil and of her visions" (f. 188r). The correspondence between Blas Martín Pingarrón and Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas took place approximately from 1706 to 1707 and its content was used as incriminating evidence to prove that either Manuela Ramos or Villegas were "deluded, deceiver, hypocrite and feigner of supernatural favours" (f. 231r). In the letters, Blas Martín Pingarrón used to sign as "Baptista" and refer to Manuela Ramos as "M" or as "Rosa".

Regarding Manuela Ramos’ letters, she did not admit to being their author in her confession to the Holy Office. Instead, she argued they were written by a María Basagutia, with whom the defendant had lived for a while in Toledo. During the process, this statement was proved to be false and it was also proved that the letters belonged to Manuela Ramos. She was accused of trying to deceive the Court by changing her handwriting: "[...] neither is less worthy of reflection the changing variety of handwriting which the defendant tries to deceive us with (although unsuccessfully) since she has proved many times this handwriting is hers. She may have thought that she could scape blame for being the author of the letters by deceiving this tribunal into thinking it was not her handwriting. Nevertheless, before she was arrested she recognised that the signatures on the documents and denouncements were hers. On these documents the capital letters found in the signatures indicate she writes with great agility. After she was imprisoned and being suspicious over the use of the letters as exhibits, she began to simulate different handwritings in the signatures of the hearings. She was trying to demonstrate clumsiness and difficulty either in the sluggishness she was signing on or the hesitation about whether or not would be able to begin with capital letters" (f. 557r-v)." These suspicions, together with the opinion of four handwriting experts, show that Manuela Ramos is the author. The correspondence between Manuela Ramos and Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas was exchanged approximately from 1704 to 1706 and it was used as incriminating evidence to prove their relationship was not just spiritual. Some of the reasons to believe so were the following ones: there were crosses and zeros representing kisses and hugs in many of the letters; the cautious way they were writing, withholding their names and; lastly, some of the treatment formulas they employed (for instance: my soul´s husband). Manuela Ramos used to sign her letters as "Manuela de Santa Leocadia" or "Manuela Bautista".

Ultimately, the content of the letters filed in the process documentation were used as exhibit not only to prove that the relationship between Manuela Ramos and Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas did not reflect "a spiritual love, on the contrary [...] it was human love, sensitive and very close to the sensuality, which probably was, and at least very dangerous and leading to spiritual ruin against honesty" (f. 231r); but also to accuse Manuela Ramos and Fray Francisco Fernández de Villegas of eluded and alumbrados.

In the trial sentence against Manuela Ramos the judgment was: the defendant should lose half of her properties; she should walk to the scaffold as a penitent, candle in hand, to publicly abjure of the errors and heresies she was accused of; she should be exiled for four years from the court of Madrid and eight leagues from the villages of Novés and Illescas; she should pass the first of those four years in prison, wearing the sanbenito, the garment of public humiliation, on her clothes.

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Padre Mio y de mi alma

sea su magestad el premio de tanto como a uste le debo quiero degarlo en silencio y digo q a sido la carta de mi padre para mi de mucho gusto y doi al señor las gracias por todo y quisiera q mi coracon no cesara en alabancas d este gran dios y dueño de las almas pero el señor q es el q todo lo puede benca lo q yo por mi no puedo doi a mi padre de mi alma quenta de lo q el señor gusta y quiere q sea este bil gusano baso en q esparame misericordias sin cesar sucedeme dies dias a lo q no e dicho por menudo y lo dire aora con el aiuda del señor y en particular desde el juebes q aunq es berda q tengo escrito algo de lo q padesco no lo e dicho con aquella clarida q debia no si si tengo la culpa en esto pero no a sido mi animo el callarlo lo q e sentido es y siento dentro de mi una yMagen del señor con aquellas agonias q tenia en la cruz y estas mismas padece mi cuerpo con tales acidentes q no se como lo poco q ando puedo ni aun respirar si miro la cabeca lo q siento en ella es lo mismo q si la tubiera coronada d espinas ya algunas beces le digo al señor q que es lo q me dega para la hora del morir pues no puedo tener mas angustias en aquella ocasion sigo en lo mas intimo de mi alma q me dice su magestad si tu bida es muerte como no queras bibir muriendo y si tu esposo bibe en ti como lo estas biendo como quera la esposa librarse de trabajos aqui me se es representado toda la pasion del señor unas beces siento el cuerpo como q esta sudando sin sentirlo en esto esterior otras beces tan dolorido como si el ubiera llebado grandes golpes continuamente traigo segun el peso siento una cruz tan pesada sobre mi q ago juicio q tengo de tras cada paso caer y dar en tiera si miro me parece q beo personas q me ban maltratando sin oir nada d esto q aqui e dicho no me pasa nada en lo esterior aunq los golpes lo siento pero no como si me dieran ni turbacion ninguna antes bien consolada y resinada en lo q el señor enbia pero el esterior fatigado ya arto molido a nada d esto doi mas color q aquella q la obediencia me diese pues no deseo mas q agradar al q es dueño de mi alma el otro dia estando recogida q fue el sabado a las once de la noche aunq estaba en la cama pidiendo al señor q diese lus a quellos q tenian almas a su cargo pedia en particular por mi padre y sentia y entendia del señor yja lus mia tiene y se la e dado pero dile q tiene de sus confesadas dos q son como la bela puesta en el candelero muerta q solo estan para el parecer y q tiniendo la ocasion de recibir la lus pues q yo se la e dado al confesor se les queda solo en palabras para con el confesor y a mi en esto no me dan gusto antes bien me desagrada y acen jucio q con ponderar a los pies del confesor y suspiros q aqui me acen un gran serbicio y no conocen el gusano q les esta roiendo su alma con gran banida de q soi confesada del padre maestro billegas es un santo i les parece q esta santida las a de llebar al cielo padre de mi alma tanbien entendi guntamente q le digiese a usted q se mostrase usted serio y retirado de los sujetos pues inportaba mucho a sus almas no nonbro los sujetos aunq es berda q los conoci porq no me parece q es menester y lo mismo q dige ariba digo d esto q lo q mi padre yciese eso sera lo megor pero yo no puedo degar de decirlo porq reconosco q de no acerlo desagrado a su magesta y falto a la obediencia ofreceseme otra cosa q decir a mi padre de mi alma como el señor quiere y me an mandado interiormente como llame al medico y q lo q mandase se aga digeselo a mi padre santa leocadia porq el señor no dava treguas aunq es berda q me alvirtieron q uste bendria en ello lo ice q biniera y me a recetado para mañana miercoles q me purge y despues segun me digo oi martes q seria menester refrescarme con alguna cosa yo tengo puesto el cuerpo para q d el agan lo q dios quisiere disponer y le mandasen pues ya sabe mi padre q a siete del q biene ace quatro meses q no se ace medicamento en el q el señor no aiga determinado padre mio con esto me echara uste su bendicion y el señor se la eche a mi padre

Mana del cielo q es dios



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