Biography of Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea (ca. 1602-1685)

Narrator, poet and Cistercian religious Spanish, born in Zaragoza in April 19, 1602, and deceased in Casbas (Huesca) in 1685. In the line of so many other Spanish nuns of late-Baroque which was meant for her accused literary vocation, he/she left an interesting production that revealed her not only as an inspired poet, but also as one of the first novelists of the letras hispánicas (next to María de ZayasMadrid).

Born in an illustrious aristocratic family that had located their ancestral mansion opposite the zaragozan Church of San Felipe, practically from the cradle was destined to religious life, because with only three years of age, was entrusted by their parents (don Martín and Doña Ana) to the Cistercian nuns of Casbas, who took care of his education and upbringing. Just had treatment, therefore, with his parents, who was an orphan between twelve and fourteen years of age. Only reached to relate with siblings when the nuns allowed him to make any visit to Zaragoza (or Huesca and Siétamo, where also had houses family), or when some of her sisters - that had higher ratios than with their parents - came to the convent to pay him a visit. With the passage of the years, the daughter of one of these Sisters of Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea professed with the religious name of Francisca Bernarda, in the same convent that her aunt, which brought great comfort and company during its last years of existence was detained.

Bred, because, with nuns from his earliest childhood, he/she took indeed habits the 4 th day of June, 1624, profess solemnly in that monastery de Casbas was thus definitely established as the main - and, practically, the only one - stage of their lives. Applied, obedient and hard-working - although never submissive-, nun was always delivered with dedication to the work of the monastery and the tasks entrusted to him by his congregation, and already in his old age, served for four years as mother Abbess (1672-1676). But not for this dedication to religious and domestic life of the monastery left aside their deep intellectual, obvious concerns therein since his early childhood. Woman of great natural intelligence and strong humanistic background, remained always attentive - despite its distance from the main gossip literary country-the evolution of tastes and aesthetic of his time flows, informed by some of the Aragonese intellectuals most prestigious of the moment, like the polygraph, scholar and chronicler of the Kingdom of Aragon Juan Francisco Andrés de Uztarroz (1606-1653) - with which maintained a strong friendship and a fruitful epistolary relationship -, or the antiquarian, writer and collector of coins Huesca Vicente Juan de Lastanosa (1606-1685), one of the visible heads of the Aragonese intelligentsia during the 17TH century. Through the first, fan and commentator of the verses of don Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1627), the curious nun bernarda had a full knowledge of the main thematic and stylistic records of the great poet of Cordoba, which was soon well reflected in the own poetic production of Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea. Through Lastanosa, he/she met the impressive work from a countryman his, the Jesuit Baltasar Gracián, some of whose best texts (such as the politician, the discreet, the art of wit and the manual Oracle and art of prudence) were edited by the numismatic Huesca.

In the circle of intellectual friends of Doña Ana Abarca de Bolea other as relevant figures in the Aragonese culture of Baroque as the count de Guimerá, the great chronicler of Ximénez de Urrea, and the eminent poet and historian included, in addition, Fray Jerónimo de San José (1587-1654). In addition, the happy circumstance - very often, indeed, occurred in all the congregations of women of the time - that in the same convent where he/she made his life the author of Zaragoza were professed another celebrated writer, the poet, Doña Ana patience Ruiz Urriés, whose beautiful verses on more than one occasion deserved praise from the own Doña Ana Franciscathat he/she became a fruitful relationship of friendship and literary complicity with that of another writer of her convent, and encouraged between the two, attended with her to several literary contests that were so common in those years.

Inserted in this rich literary tradition, towards the end of the Decade of the 1970s Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea printing gave a curious narrative, published under the title of wakefulness and octave of San Juan Bautista (Zaragoza: good Pascual, 1679), can be considered the last of the pastoral novels of the Spanish literature of golden. The originality of this work — whose action takes place in a place well known for the Aragonese readers: the Moncayo - lies not only in that condition of snap or completion of a narrative genre that started in the middle of the century XVI, seemed already noticeably worn down after more than a hundred years of fruitful existence, but also in the addition, by the Cistercian writerabundant religious elements that have allowed critics specializing tick this work of religioso-pastoril e, even, of pastoral novel "to the divine". Furthermore - and as the cannons stylistic and structural this subgenre-, the prose of wakefulness and octave of San Juan Bautista comes enriched by constant poetic scale which, while they beautify the linguistic text fabric, attest to the ease versificadora inspired nun and his deliberate militancy within that aesthetic gongorina that became a sensation during the second half of the 17TH century and the first part of the next century (Góngora which, in the pen of Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea, attenuates warmly culteranos excesses): "those that you, Clarinda, there were Sparks, / if forget for past its rigors, / hidden glows / celajes show already stars, / and though the veil, hides it / in your body are in your sky" (of "lire to a smallpox").

Despite these remarkable lyrical successes, the religious bernarda did not collect his poetic production in a free volume, so the verses only his which have reached our days - enough, certainly, to show the depth and quality of their estrus - are interwoven between the pastoral and religious vicissitudes of his aforementioned novel, as this beautiful "tenth to a Jasmine": "Star among green leaves / were born radiant and beautiful, / wandering in your same star / because causes you sorrows." "/ Of the breaths that you throw / for that snowy candor, / to presume have come / that stole your subtle hand / if ivory whiteness, / all meadow fragrance". Exceptionally, is also preserved a sonnet of circumstances which Doña Ana Abarca de Bolea, in the wake of all the poets of his time, inserted in one of the collective volumes that were printed on the occasion of the death of the Crown Prince don Baltasar Carlos (1629-1646): "lapidary shrewd, hard diamond / styling, resists the fierce blow, firm / dye it in blood and lost that first / rigor to the less constant work." Against Carlos evil was not enough, / which is the coup which diamond whole, / dye it in blood, love, and the wrong severe / fastened with love to a loving son. It aggravates the evil and love afflicts it, / he/she asks remedy, it does not have, / and who knows that this fails. "Governs not evil, that mother's love governs, / and Carlos for the sake of losing comes / life in flower, and Spain hope" ("sonnet on the death of Prince don Baltasar Carlos", in historical and honorary Obelisk that was erected by the Imperial City of Zaragoza to the immortal memory of the Kings Lord don Baltasar Carlos of Austria, Prince of Spain [Zaragoza[: Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Gracia, 1646]; It is not surprising the inclusion of this poem of the Cistercian nun in this collective volume, as its compiler and editor was the aforementioned friend of Doña Ana Abarca, Juan Francisco Andrés de Uztarroz).

Aside from that treatment "to the divine" pastoral matter, and apart from the colorful plastic of the verses which encloses, the richness and variety of wakefulness and San Juan Bautista of octave is reflected in a complex and protein structure in which other notable literary Doña Ana Abarca creations have a place of Bolea, interpolated here with singular success and opportunityas the apolog fortune in misfortune and the novel short good end in the bad beginning. The rest of the work in prose of the writer Huesca is complemented with some related hagiographic texts, usually belonging to his religious order figures, as fourteen lives of Saints of the Cistercian order (Zaragoza: Hér. of P. Lanaja, 1655) and life of the glorious Santa Susana (Zaragoza: Hér. of P. Lanaja, 1671). In addition, scholarly and inspired nun was author of an interesting history of the appearance and miracles of our Lady of glory; a life of St. Felix of Catalicio; a chronicle of the events and lives of the Sisters of the Monasterio de Casbas. It is also composed of different loose poetic compositions which, like common theme feature, often play with magical or cabalistic values attributed to the number seven. It should be noted, finally, that his passion for his native land (that let patent well in the setting of his novel religioso-pastoril in the Serranía de Moncayo) was also largely manifest in his election, a series of poetic compositions lower--an expressive vehicle so far from the poetic language to use as the somontano dialect residents speaking huescan environment.


ALVAR, Manuel. Studies on the 'octave' of Doña Ana Abarca de Bolea (Zaragoza: Institute "Fernando the Catholic", 1945).

FIELD GUIRAL, M. A. study and edition of 'Vigil and octave of San Juan Bautista' Doña Ana Abarca de Bolea (Zaragoza, 1990).

CASTRO and CALVO, J. M. Prosas and verses of Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea (Zaragoza: Berdeno, 1938).

MUNIZ, r. "Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea", in Cistercian library (Burgos, 1793), pp. 1-4.

NAVARRO, Ana. Poetic anthology of women writers of the 16th and 17TH centuries (Madrid: Editorial Castalia / Instituto de la Mujer, 1999), pp. 253-259.