May 16, 2019

Sociedad Cultural de España founder takes Spanish culture in the Southwest to the Vatican

The Sociedad Cultural de España was founded in 2014 to promote all the ways in which Spanish culture, music, art, dance, history and business have contributed to the unique region we call Paso del Norte.

The Sociedad Cultural de España’s work includes hosting historical talks at the El Paso Museum of History, walking tours, art exhibits and raising money for scholarships, educational programs and history programs. The first scholarship was awarded to the UTEP Study Abroad Program in 2018.

“We are all about the culture and history of Spain,” says founder Martha Vera, the Honorary Consul of Spain in El Paso. “We want to make sure people know the history and really educate people about the culture. We all have roots from Spain, we are all Mestizos and its that blending of cultures that gives us a sense of pride about where we came from and where we are going.”

And where Vera is going with that message in May is very special. She will travel to Rome to perform a song in support of the beatification of The Lady in Blue, which in Catholicism is the official act of the Pope declares a deceased person to be enjoying the happiness of heaven. The Lady in Blue was a Spanish nun in the 1600s. The song Vera will sing at the Vatican on May 21 tells the story of The Lady in Blue.

The Lady in Blue’s story ties back to Texas and our region because, although she never travelled to the New World, she believed that Jesus had appeared to her to ask her to bring Native Americans into the Christian family. The nun, whose name was Sor Maria de Jesus de Ágreda, told her confessors that she had seen natives in her visions and began teaching them to pray.

Around the same time, Native Americans in Texas, around the San Angelo area, began reporting sightings of a Lady in Blue.

Vera had been studying and learning about the Lady in Blue when she was introduced to Cynthia Jordan, a composer from San Angelo who had been working on a musical about the Lady in Blue. Jordan asked Vera to translate her songs from English to Spanish.

“It’s very exciting and very humbling to be performing at the Vatican,” Vera said. “It’s nothing that we ever expected. We are answering a calling. It was not our intention but to be invited and to help get the story out is a blessing. Spain has so much history and this is part of it.”

Vera will also perform May 25 at a convent in Spain, along with several other performances.

“The Paso del Norte Community Foundation has helped the Sociedad Cultural de España tremendously,” said Vera. “Not only through being our fiscal agent but by spreading the history and culture of Spain by helping us with our scholarship and educational programs.”

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