Everyone knows that Catholics love the Blessed Virgin Mary and everyone knows that Protestants love the Apostle Paul. But did you know that a 17th century woman saint was shown in a vision the  life of Mary? Venerable Mary of Agreda (ok, almost a saint) was a Spanish Franciscan nun. She was given the private revelation of the entire life of Mary (from her Immaculate Conception to past her Assumption and Coronation) all of which she recorded in a book called The Mystical City of God (not to be confused with a similar title of St. Augustine, written 1200 years earlier.) This Franciscan nun’s private revelation of the life of Mary is over 2000 pages! Jansenists did not like her book. However, Pope Innocent XI, decreed on 9 November 1681, that the Mystical City of God could be freely spread among the clergy and laity.

Jesus’ mother Mary never sinned and yet Saul was responsible for killing Christians. Did they ever meet?  Yes, according to the visions of the Venerable from Agreda.  In this revelation, God revealed to the Spanish nun an intimate relationship between Saul-become-Paul and the Mother of God.  The italics below show how Mary loves and prays for sinners, even sinners guilty of killing her only Son, Jesus, as well as a new love of her spiritual-children. We should take great hope that Mary still intercedes for the conversion of those who kill Christians, that Mary cares for those who have had abortions, that Mary pursues those farthest from God, so that each one of us might approach the life giving waters of baptism. Mary is not afraid of our filth, even though she is the Pan-hagia, the All-Holy as the Greek Fathers call the Theotokos, the mother of the Redeemer.

In our factionalized Christianity, we need to realize that there was a unity in the early Church:  Pentecostal gifts and Marian contemplation were not separated.  Neither were joy and hierarchical authority, poverty and Apostolic power of miracles.  Personified, this is most importantly seen in the nearly-unknown relationship between St. Paul and St. Mary.

Could this be the key to uniting Protestants and Catholics?

If the early Church did not divide her love of Mary and Paul, of contemplation and speaking-in-tongues, then we should not divide between hierarchy and discipleship, traditional liturgy and Pentecostal gifts.  I very much want Protestants to see that the Apostle Paul loved Mary and owed a lot to her.  Even to the Catholic, private revelation does not hold as privileged of a place as public revelation (the Sacred Scriptures) but the former greatly aids in the reading of the latter.  In fact, below you will see how Mystical City of God flows completely in union with Acts chapter 9.

Below, I will comment in green, bold font.  Pay special attention to the relationship between Paul and Jesus’ mother.  We enter the nun from Agreda’s 2000 page vision in Book 7, chapter 6.

Saint Paul was distinguished in Judaism for two reasons. The one was his own character, and the other was the diligence of the demon in availing himself of his naturally good qualities. Saint Paul was of a disposition generous, magnanimous, most noble, kind, active, courageous and constant. He had acquired many of the moral virtues. He glorified in being a staunch professor of the law of Moses, and in being studious and learned in it; although in truth he was ignorant of its essence, as he himself confesses to Timothy, because all his learning was human and terrestrial; like many Jews, he knew the law merely from the outside, without its spirit and without the divine insight, which was necessary to understand it rightly and to penetrate its mysteries.

Like many hypocrites through history, Saul still had his natural virtues that God would one day transform into supernatural virtues.  Saul knew the Bible, but “without its spirit and the divine insight.”  It’s a good thing that’s not a problem for any Catholics today.  

The disposition of Saul was most noble and generous, and therefore it appeared to him beneath his dignity and honor to stoop to such crimes and act the part of an assassin, when he could, as it seemed to him, destroy the law of Christ by the power of reasoning and open justice. He felt a still greater horror at the thought of killing the most blessed Mother, on account of the regard due to Her as a woman; and because he had seen Her so composed and constant in the labors and in the Passion of Christ. On this account She seemed to him a magnanimous Woman and worthy of veneration. She had indeed won his respect, together with some compassion for her sorrows and afflictions, the magnitude of which had become publicly known. Hence he gave no admittance to the inhuman suggestions of the demon against the life of the most blessed Mary. This compassion for Her hastened not a little the conversion of Saul. Neither did he further entertain the treacherous designs against the apostles, although Lucifer sought to make their assassination appear as a deed worthy of his courageous spirit. Rejecting all these wicked thoughts, he resolved to incite all the Jews to persecute the Church, until it should be destroyed together with the name of Christ.

First, it is astonishing that this private revelation reveals that Saul was actually at the murder of Jesus on Mount Calvary!  Like the soldier along the way of the cross in the movie The Passion of the Christ, Saul too was captured into a deep “respect” of Mary.  Yes, he strangely respected her, even though he hated her son.  Isn’t this similar to how Muslims today kill Christians but have a strange love of the Blessed Virgin?  It shows that there is hope for all, at least anyone who still has breath in his lungs.   The Church Fathers point out how Jesus is the sun and Mary is the moon (who has no light of her own, but perfectly reflects the sun/Son.)  For eyes darkened by night, is it not easier to look at the moon than the sun?  Perhaps this is why some sinners come to trust Mary before Jesus.  But don’t worry, Protestants, she always directs us to her Son and says “Do whatever He tells you.”—John 2:5.

But his by far most numerous escort were the many legions of demons, who in order to assist him in this enterprise, came forth from hoping that with all this show of force and through Saul, they might be able to make an end of the Church and entirely devastate it with fire and blood.

Nothing of all this was unknown to the Queen of heaven; for in addition to her knowledge and vision penetrating to the inmost thoughts of men and demons, the Apostles were solicitous in keeping Her informed of all that befell the followers of her Son. Long before this time She had known that Saul was to be an Apostle of Christ, a preacher to the gentiles, and a man distinguished and wonderful in the Church; for all of these things her Son informed Her, as I said in the second part of this history. But as She saw the persecution becoming more violent and the glorious fruits and results of the conversion of Saul delayed, and as She moreover saw how the disciples of Christ, who knew nothing of the secret intentions of the Most High, were afflicted and somewhat discouraged at the fury and persistence of his persecution, the kindest Mother was filled with great sorrow. Considering, in her heavenly prudence, how important was this affair, She roused Herself to new courage and confidence in her prayers for the welfare of the Church and the conversion of Saul.

He permitted his blessed Mother to suffer some sensible pain and, as it were, to fall into a kind of swoon, yet her Son, who according to our way of understanding, could not longer resist the love which wounded his heart, consoled and restored Her by yielding to her prayers He said: “My Mother, chosen among all creatures, let thy will be done without delay. I will do with Saul as Thou askest, and will so change him, that from this moment he will be a defender of the Church which he persecutes, and a preacher of my name and glory. I shall now proceed to receive him immediately into my friendship and grace.”

I find two things amazing here:

  1. Mary knew that Saul would become Paul.  Mary knew that Paul would become her Son’s greatest missionary.  In fact, Paul was chosen for this from all of eternity, and God revealed this fact to Mary.  However, Paul’s conversion was not slated until later.  Mary expedited this date by her prayers!  In other words, Mary sped up even the set-date of Paul’s conversion so he could get more rapidly to the conversion of many nations. This, according to Ven. Mary of Agreda, was due to the Blessed Virgin’s love of the great commission. 
  2. Although Mary was co-Redemptrix in the horrible suffering on Good Friday, she had to have to experience what the author tells us was “some sensible pain” for later conversions, even after the sword first pierced her heart on Calvary (Luke 2:35.)  St. Paul would have topped this list.  Jesus died for Paul, but Mary filled up what was “wanting in the sufferings of Christ” as Paul Himself would later write (Col 1:24.)  As he wrote to the Colossians, was Paul thinking of his own spiritual mother who suffered in order to bring him into the flock?  Paul would have known that Mary effected or at least expedited his conversion.

Below, Saul converts during his glorious vision of the Risen Christ.  Christ asks Him why He persecutes Him.   To read about how the Franciscan nun saw Saul’s conversion, just click the three dots here [footnote]

Thereupon Jesus Christ our Lord disappeared from the presence of his most blessed Mother leaving Her still engaged in prayer and furnished with a clear insight into what was to happen. Shortly afterward the Lord appeared to Saul on the road near Damascus, whither, in his ever increasing fury against Jesus, his accelerated journey had already brought him. The Lord showed himself to Saul in a resplendent cloud amid immense glory, and at the same time Saul was flooded with light without and within, and his heart and senses were overwhelmed beyond power of resistance (Acts 9, 4). He fell suddenly from his horse to the ground and at the same time he heard a voice from on high saying: “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?” Full of fear and consternation he answered: “Who art Thou, Lord?” The voice replied: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutes; it is hard for thee to kick against the goad of my omnipotence.” Again Saul answered with greater fear and trembling: “Lord, what dost Thou command and desire to do with me?” The companions of Saul heard these questions and answers, though they did not see the Savior. They saw the splendor surrounding him and all were filled with dread and astonishment at this sudden and unthought of event, and they were for some time dumbfounded.

This new wonder, surpassing all that had been seen in the world before, was greater and more far–reaching than what could be taken in by the senses. For Saul was not only prostrated in body, blinded and bereft of his strength so that, if the divine power had not sustained him, he would have immediately expired; but also as to his interior he suffered more of a change than when he passed from nothingness into existence at his conception, farther removed from what he was before than from darkness, or the highest heaven from the lowest earth; for he was changed from an image of the demon to that of one of the highest and most ardent seraphim. This triumph over Lucifer and his demons had been especially reserved by God for his divine Wisdom and Omnipotence; so that, in virtue of the Passion and Death of Christ this dragon and his malice might be vanquished by the human nature of one man, in whom the effects of grace and Redemption were set in opposition to the sin of Lucifer and all its effects. Thus it happened that in the same short time, in which Lucifer through pride was changed from an angel to a devil, the power of Christ changed Saul from a demon into an angel in grace. In the angelic nature the highest beauty turned into the deepest ugliness; and in the human nature the greatest perversity into the highest moral perfection. Lucifer descended as the enemy of God from heaven to the deepest abyss of the earth, and a man ascended as a friend of God from the earth to the highest heaven.

And since this triumph would not have been sufficiently glorious, if the Lord had not given more than Lucifer had lost, the Omnipotent wished to add in saint Paul an additional triumph to his victory over the demon. For Lucifer, although he fell from that exceedingly high grace which he had received, had never possessed beatific vision, nor had he made himself worthy of it, and hence could not lose what he did not possess. But Paul, immediately on disposing himself for justification and on gaining grace, began to partake of glory and clearly saw the Divinity, though this vision was gradual. O invincible virtue of the divine power! O infinite efficacy of the merits of the life and death of Christ! It was certainly reasonable and just, that if the malice of sin in one instant changed the angel into a demon, that the grace of the Redeemer should be more powerful and abound more than sin (Rom. 5, 20), raising up from it a man, not only to place him into original grace, but into glory. Greater is this wonder than the creation of heaven and earth with all the creatures; greater than to give sight to the blind, health to the sick, life to the dead. Let us congratulate the sinners on the hope inspired by this wonderful justification, since we have for our Restorer, for our Father, and for our Brother the same Lord, who justified Paul; and He is not less powerful nor less holy for us, than for saint Paul. [/footnote]

The Spanish Franciscan shares more of what she saw in her vision of Paul and Mary.  The following conversation comes after the Apostle Paul’s conversion:

St. Paul was filled with admiration and incomparable love and veneration of most holy Mary. Somewhat recovering himself he said to Her: “Mother of all piety and clemency, pardon this vile and sinful man for having persecuted my Lord thy divine Son and his holy Church.” The Virgin Mother responded and said: “Paul, servant of the Most High, if He who created and redeemed thee deigned to call thee to his friendship and made thee a vessel of election (Acts 9:15), how could I, his slave, refuse to pardon thee? My soul magnifies and exalts Him because He desired to manifest Himself so powerful, generous and holy in thee.” St. Paul thanked the heavenly Mother for the benefit of his conversion and for the other favors conferred upon him by Her in saving him from so many dangers. St. Barnabas did likewise, and both again asked for her protection and help, which the most holy Mother promised.

Here, we see that Paul and Mary had definitely met! Notice that Paul calls Mary “Mother”!  Mary recognizes that this man who used to kill Christians is now in God’s own “friendship.”  She even begins to say the Magnificat for him!  St. Paul then thanks her “for the benefit of his conversion.”  This is so powerful that I believe that Mary is actually Paul’s entire inspiration for his letter to the Galatians, which will hopefully be my next blog post.

You can get all 2,000 pages of the life of Mary in four hardbacks here or the same version on Kindle here for very cheap.