"the Mystical City of God"


is this book approved by the Church as private revelation? :confused: anyone know?


Venerable Mary of Agreda was a Spanish Franciscan nun, who lived between 1602 and 24 May 1665. Her Cause was almost immediately introduced after her death, in 1672, as she had lived a life of evident holiness in the eyes of her contemporaries. During her life she had experienced mystical phenomena including private revelations. The content of these revelations were written down under obedience and after her death were widely circulated in Spain. The most famous of these writings is the Mystical City of God: Divine History of the Virgin, Mother of God.

However, when Divine History came to the attention of the Holy Office (called today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), it was condemned on 4 August 1681, on the basis of an evaluation by the University of Paris, and put on the Index of Forbidden Books by Pope Innocent XI. The Pope subsequently suspended its effect, at the request of the King of Spain. Other studies of the work by prestigious Catholic universities in Spain and elsewhere vindicated it, and in 1713 the Holy Office indicated that the suspension of the condemnation applied everywhere. However, certain historical questions still remain concerning possible editorial changes after Mary of Agreda’s death. Such questions, as in the case of Anne Catherine Emmerich, may never be adequately resolved.

Source: ewtn.com/expert/expertfaqframe.asp (not a direct link)



I don’t really understand, why was it condemned at first? can such a decision be reversed, if the Church’s judgement is infallible? (is it, in such cases?)


It was condemned for editorial changes, same as Emmerich. No, the judgment isn’t infallible and can be reversed. But it is still the judgment of our Holy Mother and Teacher.


At one time, the Church condemned the diary of St. Faustina.

This condemnation, however, was based on a faulty translation (so I’ve been told).

But there is a more trustworthy revelation to read–the Bible.


Oki I’m glad it was editorial changes and not anything wrong in itself :slight_smile:

would you say it’s safe for Catholics to read it?

Cluny, I know the Bible is more reliable cause it’s public revelation as opposed to private revelation, and we KNOW it’s inspired, but sometimes private revelation can really help too :slight_smile: …to appreciate what the Church already teaches


I wouldn’t. But the person who wrote the article would:

How should such writings be treated today? The answer to this is two-fold.

First, as private revelations such writings must not be accorded equal or greater authenticity than the Gospels themselves. Private revelations are not given by God to satisfy curiosity or to fill in the gaps of the historical details left out of the Scriptures. Rather, they occur within the context of the prayer life of an individual. A person who has passed through the initial stage of growth in sanctity, called the Purgative Way, in which they have meditated on the Gospels, on Christ’s life, on Church teaching, and have exhausted what human language can provide them as food for prayer, enter upon an Illuminative Way in which God provides them new food for contemplation, not descriptions of Christ’s life but scenes from it. As the proverb says, a picture is worth a thousand words. The purpose is to bring the intellect to rest in God who is Truth, and to inflame the will to love God who is Good.

As St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross make clear, however, although God can give new lights, most private revelation is “constructed” from the building materials of the memory and knowledge of the person. This means that the mystic’s own religious, cultural and educational influences help determine how the visions are presented to them. This accounts, for example, for the variety in the details of the same events among different mystics. Some details may have been supplied by God, others taken from the presuppositions of the mystic. Since God’s purpose is not to improve upon Scripture but to inflame the will with love, the source of the details are ultimately irrelevant to that purpose. In the end, the Church judges the authenticity of such writings not by these details but whether anything is contrary to faith and morals. It does not, therefore, guarantee that every detail is true, only that it is theologically safe.

Secondly, in addition to the general “problem” of interpreting private revelation there is also the specific problem of the uncertainties associated with these particular writings. Both factors argue for reading the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich and Mary of Agreda as a means to inflame one’s love for God and for neighbor, and not as an appendix to Sacred Scripture. Toward that end they can be very fruitful, just as The Passion of The Christ can lead to a fruitful personal meditation on the sufferings of the Lord, without being historical in all its details.

An Example. An example of the principle of God using what is already known by the mystic to form a vision or private revelation is the placement of the nails, and its corollary, the location of the stigmata in those saints who have had them. Scripture doesn’t tell us with precision how Jesus was nailed. The Hebrew word in Psalm 22:16 is usually translated hand, but could apply to the wrist or adjacent forearm, as well. Nonetheless, the artistic tradition usually portrays the palm of the hand, while mystics propose a variety of placements from palm to wrist to forearm. On the other hand, the Shroud of Turin and historical studies of crucifixion argue strongly that the Crucified was nailed through the wrist, as the only part which could support a body’s weight. Do the differences among mystics, and with the likely actual case (the wrist), make a palm or forearm placement of the wounds inauthentic? Not according to Catholic mystical theology, which recognizes the subjective (personal) element in mysticism, and which therefore allows for differences in such details. In The Passion of The Christ Mel Gibson has chosen to follow Emmerich’s placement, a choice which is both artistically and theologically justifiable.


it is safe 4ever… there might be a few things that could be considered “questionable” in it, but as private revelation, we are not bound by it anyway… i must say i thoroughly enjoyed it… i read the abridged version (only 800 pages or so) and not the entire 4 volume set… the first part was a little slow, but once it got to the Annunciation, it was very interestig reading


Currently reading it for the second time. Great book!:slight_smile:

I think as long as you don’t base your whole faith on it and recognize that it could be true or it could be fiction…you’re fine. Even if it is fiction (I don’t believe that it is), it’s still great reading.


thanks everyone :slight_smile:

i just thought it might be useful in helping me to think more about Our Lady :slight_smile: i’m trying to find good books about Mary… I’ve read True Devotion and some of the Glories of Mary, and I want to read Hail Holy Queen…

I noticed when I was reading the Dolorous Passion, the descriptions of Mary helped me to understand more her love for Jesus and how much she suffered…

when I read the title “the mystical city of God” i was interested cause it seems to refer to something St Louis de Montfort said about Mary :slight_smile:

God bless


Want to read a highly condensed version online?


I plan to buy the 800 page version eventually, but this is the gist of the whole book, and a very nice read. I highly recommend it.


Yes, it is approved by the Church.

Check out an updated entry about The Mystical City of God in Wikipedia its history and the controversies that surround it:



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