Nuns Navigating the Spanish Empire tells the remarkable story of a group of nuns who traveled halfway around the globe in the seventeenth century to establish the first female Franciscan convent in the Far East.In 1620 Sor Jeronima de la Asuncion (1556-1630) and her cofounders left their cloistered convent in Toledo, Spain, journeying to Mexico to board a Manila galleon on their way to the Philippines. Sor Jeronima is familiar to art historians for her portrait by Velazquez that hangs in the Prado Museum in Madrid. What most people do not know is that one of her travel companions, Sor Ana de Cristo (1565-1636), wrote a long biographical account of Sor Jeronima and their fifteen-month odyssey. Drawing from Sor Ana's manuscript, other archival sources, and rare books, Owens's study offers a fascinating view of travel, evangelization, and empire.
Sarah E. Owens is a professor of Spanish at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the editor and translator of Journey of Five Capuchin Nuns and the coeditor of Women of the Iberian Atlantic.