The month of Mary: A Marian Month
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of Ecuador; Americas; bodily ills; loss of parents;
people rejected by religious orders; sick people; sickness
Mariana was born at Quito, Ecuador (then part of Peru), of noble Spanish parents. She was orphaned as a child and raised by her elder sister and her husband. Mariana early was attracted to things religious and became a solitary in her sister's home under the direction of Mariana's Jesuit confessor. Mariana practiced the greatest austerities, ate hardly anything, slept for only three hours a night for years, had the gift of prophesy, and reputedly performed miracles. When an earthquake followed by an epidemic shook Quito in 1645, she offered herself publicly as a victim for the sins of the people. When the epidemic began to abate, she was stricken and died on May 26th. She is known as Mariana of Quito and is often called "the lily of Quito." She was canonized in 1950. Her feast day is May 26th.
Mariana of Jesus de Paredes (Spanish: Mariana or María Ana de Jesús de Paredes; October 31, 1618 – May 26, 1645), is a Catholic saint and was the first person to be canonized from what is now Ecuador. She was a recluse who is said to have sacrificed herself for the salvation of her city. She was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1853 and canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950. She is the patron saint of Ecuador and venerated at the Church of the Society of Jesus in Quito. Her feast day is celebrated on May 26 by the nation and on May 28 by the Franciscan Order.
She was born Maríana de Paredes Flores y Granobles y Jaramillo in the city of Quito, then part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, on October 31, 1618. Born of aristocratic parents on both sides of her family, her father was Jerónimo de Paredes Flores y Granobles, a nobleman of Toledo, and her mother was Mariana Jaramillo, a descendant of one of the leading conquistadors. Mariana was the youngest of eight children, and it is claimed her birth was accompanied by most unusual phenomena in the heavens, clearly connected with the child and juridically attested at the time of the process of her beatification. Orphaned at the age of four, she was taken in and raised by her older sister, Jerónima de Paredes, and the latter's husband, Cosme de Caso. Drawn to a spiritual life, her sister and brother-in-law allowed her to live in seclusion in their house, leading an ascetical lifestyle, similar to Rose of Lima to whom she is often compared. She refused entry into a monastery, despite urging from her brother-in-law and guardian Cosme de Caso. She subjected herself to bodily mortification, with the aid of her Indian servant. She did not live in total seclusion, but rather centered her spiritual life on the nearby Jesuit church, where she participated in the Sodality of Our Lady, established by the Society in their various churches around the world to help the laity in their desire to deepen their spiritual lives.
It is reported that the fast which Paredes kept was so strict that she took scarcely an ounce of dry bread every eight or ten days. The food which miraculously sustained her life, as in the case of Catherine of Siena and Rose of Lima, was, according to the sworn testimony of many witnesses, the Eucharist alone, which she received every morning at Mass.
Paredes' spiritual life was closely connected to the Jesuits, but, at the suggestion of her spiritual director, she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. This was likely advised to her as enrolling in that Order gave her an official status reflective of her penitential way of life in Spanish society, for which the Jesuits had no equivalent. The religious name she assumed at that time, Mariana of Jesus, was no doubt indicative as to where her spiritual heart lay. According to her Jesuit hagiographer, she did not go to the Franciscan church to receive the scapular and rope cincture proclaiming membership in that life, but sent someone else.
Following Paredes' death in 1645, her funeral and burial were held in the Jesuit church. The funeral sermon that the priest Alonso de Rojas preached emphasized her bodily mortification and renunciation of the flesh, and put her forward as a model for females in Quito to emulate. "Learn girls of Quito, from your fellow countrywoman, [to prefer] holiness over beauty, virtues over ostentation." The sermon became a key document in the long process to establish her saintliness, beatification (1853), and final canonization (1950).
The Friars Minor claimed Paredes as a saint of the Franciscan Order. She did wear the Franciscan scapular and cord, but her 17th-century Jesuit hagiographer, Jacinto Morán de Butrón, claims that the Jesuits nurtured her spiritual life. Soon after her death, the Franciscan Province of Peru, based in Lima, included a biography of Mariana in the history of the province, citing the Jesuit funeral sermon as a source.
Paredes possessed an ecstatic gift of prayer and is said to have been able to predict the future, see distant events as if they were passing before her, read the secrets of hearts, cure diseases by a mere sign of the Cross or by sprinkling the sufferer with holy water, and at least once restored a dead person to life. During the 1645 earthquakes and subsequent epidemics in Quito, she publicly offered herself as a victim for the city and died shortly thereafter. It is also reported that, on the day she died, her sanctity was revealed in a wonderful manner: Immediately after her death, a pure white lily sprang up from her blood, blossomed and bloomed, a prodigy which has given her the title of "The Lily of Quito". The Republic of Ecuador has declared her a national heroine.
Church of the Society of Jesus, Quito, Ecuador
García Moreno N10-43, Quito 170401, Ecuador
The place where the lily sprouted at the current El Carmen Alto monastery.
Saint Mariana is known as the Azucena de Quito because of a supernatural event attributed to her: during the convalescence of the illness that afflicted her after the sacrifice offered, part of the medical treatments consisted of drawing blood. Afterwards, the service girl poured the blood into a flowerpot in the garden, and in it a beautiful lily was born days later . That is why in most of his representations he appears with this flower in his hands or near it.