Lifelong CatechesisForming Catholic identity across generations
The sound of Alleluias fills the 50 days of Easter Sunday to Pentecost as we give thanks for the gift of our salvation. The Easter Triduum recalls the passion and resurrection of Christ in the sacred journey from Holy Thursday to Easter Vigil. "Dying he destroyed our death. Rising he restored our life."
Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, Virgin, 1566-1607
Born into one of the richest and most powerful families in Italy in that era, this saint was christened Caterina in honor of St. Catherine of Siena. From an early age, the girl loved prayer and practiced penance. She also performed works of charity for the poor. She developed a love for the Blessed Sacrament while she was very young and liked being around anyone who had just received Eucharist or anyone who was talking about the sacrament.
Caterina received her First Communion at the age of ten, rare at that time, and experienced the first of many ecstasies that she would experience in her lifetime when she was twelve years old. Her mother watched as Caterina, watching a sunset, was able to focus her mind totally on God.
Sent to a convent school when she was fourteen, Caterina lived such a holy life that the sisters predicted that she would become a great saint. From this experience, she told her parents that she wished to become a religious. While they were loath to give up their only daughter, being saintly people, they agreed to allow her to respond to her calling. In 1582, Caterina entered the Carmelite convent of Santa Maria deali Angeli. She chose this convent because of the rule which had the sisters receiving Communion daily, not a common practice at the time.
After entering the convent and, a few months later, receiving the veil, the young girl took the name Maria Maddalena (Mary Magdalen). Sr. Maria became quite ill and, fearing she might die, the superior allowed her to take her final vows in the Spring of 1584. Immediately after, Maria experienced a series of ecstasies for forty consecutive days. Seemingly at the point of death following this sequence, she had what was described as a miraculous cure and, despite a constant state of poor health, was able to carry on with all of the duties to which she was assigned.
For several years following, Maria suffered from terrible depression. The steps which she took to overcome these trials so impressed her sisters that they were more convinced than ever of this young girl’s virtue. Feeling that she was called to renew the Church, she wrote letters to the pope, cardinals of the curia, her archbishop, and others, twelve in all, asking them to make commitments to “The Renovation of the Church.” Finally, on Pentecost in 1590, her sufferings from the depression and temptations abated.
Over the years, Maria filled several positions in the convent: teacher, novice mistress, and finally, in 1604, superior. In the last few years of her life, she was stricken with consumption and was forced to withdraw gradually from the life of her community. The terrible physical and spiritual pain with which she was afflicted lasted until her death in May 25, 1607.
An optional memorial honors this saint on the anniversary of her death.
Mary Magdalen de Pazzi’s message today: God will give us the strength that we need to overcome any trials that come to us. We just need to ask for his grace.