THE NEEDLE AND THE THREAD
Directors: VICTOR MANCILLA
Screenwriter: VICTOR MANCILLA AND JIM NIKAS
Genre: Feature film documentary
The Lady in Blue
San Angelo’s place in Texas history is secure as the site of the first missionary effort in the state—more than 45 years before El Paso, more than 80 years before San Antonio —thanks to mysterious “Lady in Blue” appearances to members of the Jumano tribe at the confluence of the Concho Rivers in the early 1600s.
The mysterious woman, dressed in a flowing blue cape, tended to the sick, comforted the afflicted and, most importantly, taught the indigenous people about the Lord, Jesus Christ and encouraged them to seek baptism.
In 1629 a band of Jumano Indians arrived at Isleta, New Mexico, where they presented themselves to the “brown robes” and asked to be baptized as the Lady in Blue had directed them. When the Jumanos led the Spanish priests to one of their central camping grounds, they arrived at the Concho River confluence area at present day San Angelo.
One of the missionaries, Fra Alonzo de Benavides, knew of a young Franciscan nun in the Spanish village of Agreda, north of Madrid. Sister Maria de Jesus reportedly lapsed into deep trances while in prayer and described visits to the New World, where she taught the natives. She told visitors she made more than 500 such spiritual visits, though she in fact never left her monastery in Agreda, Spain during her lifetime.
Upon returning to Spain, Fra Alonzo questioned Sister Maria at length and was amazed at her detailed descriptions of the lands she had never seen in person. He was also astonished to learn that it was her custom to wear a sky-blue cape when she went outdoors.
When Fra Alonzo asked Sister Maria where she learned to speak the Jumano languages, she is reported to have replied, “I didn’t. I simply spoke to them—and God let us understand one another.”
The appearances ceased after Fra Alonzo told Sister Maria of his contacts with the Jumanos. Sor then said, “My work with my beloved Jumanos is finished. Sister Maria died in 1665, and her incorrupt body can still be viewed at the convent where she lived and from where she “journeyed” to the Americas, including present day San Angelo. To this day, Jumano’s tradition relates that on her last visit, as Maria was leaving, every place her vivid blue cape touched the ground, blue bonnets sprang up to forever grace the Texas countryside. By. Gus Clemens
THE NEEDLE AND THE THREAD
Victor Mancilla & Jim Nikas
DP: Christian Hernandez
Portrait of an American Spy