By Larry Peterson
On October 31, 1618, a baby girl was born in the city of Quito, which was located in the New Kingdom of Grenada. Today this area is known as Ecuador. The child’s father was an upstanding and respected Spanish nobleman from Toledo by the name of Don Girolamo Flores de Paredes. Her mother’s name was Dona Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo and she was descended from the most highly respected of Spanish families. Girolamo and Mariana named their daughter, Mariana. She was the youngest of eight children.
Mariana was orphaned at the age of seven, and her upbringing was taken over by her older sister, Jeronima, who had already married. Mariana had an obvious sense of piety and humility that seemed part of her persona and her sister and her brother-in-law, Cosme de Caso, decided they would allow her to live in seclusion in their house. Mariana did not live in total isolation because there was a Jesuit church nearby and she spent as much time there as she could praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Mariana instinctively began to develop a deep sense of piety and self-mortification, denying herself food, drink, and sleep. Her brother-in-law had the Jesuit priest, Juan Camacho, guide her in her development. Like St. Rose of Lima (who she is compared to) she did not enter a convent but rather, stayed in her home devoting herself to prayer and penance and practicing self-mortification and fasting.
It is reported that Mariana’s fasting was so intense and strict that she ate only an ounce of food every eight to ten days. This is impossible for a person to survive on, but similar to St. Catherine of Siena and Saint Rose of Lima, .Mariana’s life was miraculously sustained by the Holy Eucharist. Many witnesses swore testimony to the fact that Mariana did receive Holy Communion each morning. She was determined to follow the mandate of Jesus: Who wants to follow me should deny herself.”
Mariana’s spirituality and the gifts attached to it included her being able to predict the future, see future events as if they were passing before her, look into the very hearts of people, cure disease by making the sign of the cross on someones or sprinkling them with holy water. It was documented that she even restored a dead person to life. The reputation of the holy woman called Mariana spread far and wide.
In 1645 there was a great earthquake in Quito. Many people died as a terrible epidemic of disease swept through the city. A Jesuit priest gave a homily in church and prayed aloud, “My God, I offer you my life so that the earthquakes are over.”
But Mariana quickly came forward and exclaimed, “No Lord, the life of this priest is necessary to save many souls, but I am not necessary….I offer you my life to stop these earthquakes.”
The very next day Mariana began to feel very sick. Shortly after, on May 26, 1645, Mariana died. She was 27 years old. There were no more earthquakes, and no one else died from disease. It is reported that on the day she died her sanctity became visible to all who were there. A pure white lily sprouted from her blood, blossomed, and bloomed for all to see. Because of this she became known as the Lily of Quito. In 1946 the Republic of Ecuador declared her a national heroine giving her the title, Heroine of the Nation.
St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, was beatified by Pope Pius IX on November 20, 1853 and canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 4, 1950. She is the patroness of those with bodily ills, people rejected by religious orders, and those who lose their parents, especially while children.
St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, please pray for us.
©copyright Larry Peterson 2019