Mexico’s is hoping to be able to give Sr Juana Inés de la Cruz, considered the most important woman poet/playwright of the Spanish language a proper resting place by conducting DNA tests on remains believed to be hers.
Carmen López-Portillo Romano, Dean of the “Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana” in México City, explained that the analyses will be of the bone remains discovered in November 28, 1978 within the facilities of the “Universidad del Claustro”, the convent where Sor Juana lived.
López-Portillo said that the DNA in the skull and bones found at the “Claustro,” will be compared with the DNA of the descendants of Sor Juana Inez’s sister, the Ramirez España family (residing in México), as well as with blood found on a document signed by Sor Juana herself and kept at the University of Austin, Texas, in which she wrote “I Worst of Them All.”
Juana Ines de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana, (1651-1695) spent her childhood on her grandfather’s ranch in Mexico; then spent her teenage years and early 20s living in the Spanish vice-royal court, and the last 27 years of her life, living at the convent, where she wrote the bulk of her poetry and plays.
The poet may have died from an outbreak of cholera or typhoid fever at the convent, but in depth studies have never been performed. Though it is believed she died at the convent her remains have never been tested for proof.
The remains were found in 1978 in a grave that stood out “because of its level, structure and measurements, as well as laying alone and separate from other remains piled up at the burial site. Also, the remains had what was left of the emblematic medallion, ”indicating that it belonged to Sor Juana,” López Portillo said.