Book for the Hour of Recreation

Book for the Hour of Recreation

Maria de San Jose Salazar and Alison Weber

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226734545

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


María de San José Salazar (1548–1603) took the veil as a Discalced (“barefoot”) Carmelite nun in 1571, becoming one of Teresa of Avila's most important collaborators in religious reform and serving as prioress of the Seville and Lisbon convents. Within the parameters of the strict Catholic Reformation in Spain, she fiercely defended women's rights to define their own spiritual experience and to teach, inspire, and lead other women in reforming their church. María wrote this book as a defense of the Discalced practice of setting aside two hours each day for conversation, music, and the staging of religious plays. Casting the book in the form of a dialogue, she demonstrates through fictional conversations among a group of nuns during their hours of recreation how women could serve as very effective spiritual teachers for each other. The book includes one of the first biographical portraits of Teresa and María's personal account of the troubled founding of the Discalced convent at Seville, as well as María's tribulations as an Inquisitional suspect. Rich in allusions to women's affective relationships in the early modern convent, it also serves as an example of how a woman might write when relatively free of clerical censorship and expectations.