300 years of the nuns dressed in purple

The Augustinian Recollect Nazarene Nuns of Motril (Granada) have celebrated their 300th anniversary surrounded by hundreds of people grateful for their presence, their contemplative work and for the preservation of the devotion to Jesus of Nazareth.

On February 3, 1699, mother Sebastiana María de la Cruz Gómez founded in Motril, her native land, a Beaterio with license from the bishop of Granada. It was the beginning of the present monastery of the Visitation of Saint Mary, which in 2018 celebrated its 300th anniversary. From then until today, the Augustinian Recollect nuns have carried out their contemplative work with a peculiarity: their special devotion to Jesus of Nazareth, whose image is venerated in the monastery.

Because of this devotion, the Augustinian Recollect nuns have dressed from the beginning the purple habit, instead of the traditional black one of the nuns. And for this reason, the nuns of this convent, in addition to being Augustinian Recollect nuns, are Nazarenes. Mother Sebastiana Maria obtained the Nazarene bull from Pope Benedict XIII on September 1, 1729 – barely nine years after the erection of the convent in 1718. In addition to following the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, the nuns wished to live in this convent the Nazarene constitution, in the style of the Nazarene Carmelites of Lima (Peru).

This bull affirms that the Nazarene is very accidental because they are religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects and only affects the habit, badges of the Passion and penances added to those already indicated in the Recollect Rule and Constitutions. For this reason the Augustinian Recollect nuns of Motril wear a purple habit and each one wears a crucifix, except when they leave the monastery.

Lent is lived all year round in this convent. The community of Augustinian Recollect nuns pray the Way of the Cross daily. On Good Friday this moment is more intense, since all the sisters pray the Way of the Cross with a crown of thorns, rope and cross on their shoulders. In addition, fasting and abstinence are practiced every Friday of the year, actions that are also carried out the fifteen days before Good Friday.

Devotion to Jesus of Nazareth in the convent and in Motril

Throughout the centuries, the enormous devotion of the Augustinian Recollect nuns to the image of Jesus of Nazareth has not only remained in the convent, but has spread throughout the town of Motril. Many people celebrated their 300th anniversary together with the nuns; for this event, the City Council of Motril awarded the gold medal to the community. Hundreds of people are devoted to the image that is preserved in the monastic church and was carved by the image-maker Domingo Sánchez Mesa Granada in the twentieth century to replace the original that disappeared during the Spanish Civil War.

Since the late 1980s devotion to Jesus of Nazareth has been channeled in Motril through the Brotherhood of Great Power. It is the brothers of this brotherhood who take care of the devotion to the image throughout the year and those who procession with the Lord on the night of Holy Wednesday.

It was precisely the Brotherhood of the Great Power that reinforced the celebration of the 300th anniversary of this monastery of Augustinian Recollect nuns with the organization of the First National Congress on the community of Augustinian Recollect Nazarene Sisters of Motril. The congress studied history, spirituality and peculiar characteristics through different presentations, directed among others by the Augustinian Recollect historians Ángel Martínez Cuesta and Pablo Panedas.

300 years later, for Motril, the monastery of the Visitation of Saint Mary continues to be the heart of devotion to Jesus of Nazareth, which beats to the rhythm of the Augustinian Recollect nuns of Nazareth who accompany them to carry the cross of Christ each day with their prayers.