Sor María Ignacia de Azlor y Echeverz
[Convento de Nuestra Señora del Pilar].
Relacion historica de la fundacion de este Convento de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Compañía de María, llamada vulgarmente la Enseñanza, en esta ciudad de México, y compendio de la vida y virtudes de N.M.R.M. María Ignacia Azlor y Echeverz, su fundadora y patrona.
Mexico: Felipe de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1793. (BRB0350)
María Ignacia de Azlor y Echeverz (1715–1767) was the daughter of the first European colonizer of Texas, José Ramón de Azlor y Virto de Vera, the Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo, who from 1719 to 1722 was the provincial governor of Coahuila y Tejas. Her mother was Ignacia Xaviera de Echeverz y Valdés (d. 1733), a Coahuilan heiress. María Ignacia became a Franciscan nun at the age of seventeen and in 1753 used her maternal inheritance to found a convent for the education of young women in Mexico City: Nuestra Señora del Pilar, known as “La Enseñanza.”
This history of La Enseñanza, which includes a biography of the founder and first prioress, Sor (Sister) María Ignacia, was written by its nuns forty years after the convent’s foundation. Humbly dismissing themselves as unlettered, the nuns were proud of their founder’s titled lineage, wisdom, and pious dedication to God and Christian education. The engraved portrait of Sor María Ignacia by the Mexican artist José Simón de La Rea depicts the founder in her study. She proudly wears her conventual habit, holding the letter of foundation approved by Pope Benedict XIV in her right hand. Her other hand rests on the books lying on her desk, which also bears her letters, quill pens, ink wells, and a blotter. On the wall behind her hangs a devotional image of Nuestra Señora del Pilar. While the rosary that hangs from her belt likewise signifies her constant devotion, the key in the locked door may symbolize the pious isolation of a nun’s cloistered life.