Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This dissertation presents an original contribution to the academic field of Theology, specifically Constructive Theology, because it begins the retrieval work of a woman's voice from seventeenth and eighteenth century Mexico, an entire area of historical and theological thought which has been globally under-explored. Analysis of María Anna Águeda de San Ignacio's eighteenth century original publications give a glimpse into this woman's official authority during her time, which also presents a historical woman's voice who has held ecclesial authority.

This project engages María Anna Águeda de San Ignacio's work to draw theological insights and further expand understandings about notions of imago Dei and imago Christi through María Anna's use of the image of Mary's breast milk. María Anna's writings present a historical perspective where Mary is placed in direct relationship with the entire Godhead as well as with each individual part of the Trinity, i.e. daughter to the father, mother to the son and spouse to the spirit. Through these writings, I argue that Mary holds primacy over other humans in ways that make her an equal to the various persons of the Trinity as well as part of the entire Godhead. She is the door to humanity's knowledge of the Trinity which means the foundation of salvation. El Camino de la Leche, María Anna's designated spiritual path, presents only one way to engage the Trinity. María Anna's proposed spiritual path endows an embodied female perspective as the one responsible for knowledge of God and the path to salvation. Therefore, offering alternatives to views of disembodied, misogynistic perspectives and images.

Furthermore, this dissertation reveals historical complexities of gendering images of God, imago Dei and God's relationship with humanity. Critical engagement with the work of Cistercian writers, such as Bernard of Clairvaux, as well as other medeival thinkers who also used the image of breast milk within their theological development has presented embodied perspectives of men sharing with men, women sharing with women, as well as men and women sharing with one another. At the core of those writers who emplore the image of breast milk, one finds relationality. Thus, the focus of those engaged in the exchange of breast milk becomes one of relationships together with all of their comlexities and limitations.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.