Saint of the Day – 26 May – Saint Mariana de Jesus de Paredes OFS (1618-1645) “The Lily of Quito,”Third Order Franciscan, Hermit, Penitent, Mystic, Ecstatic, miracle-worker. She was endowed with the charism of prophecy. Born as María Ana de Jesús de Paredes y Flores on 31 October 1618 at Quito, Ecuador and died on 26 May 1645 at Quito, Ecuador, aged 26. St Mariana is first Canonised Saint of Ecuador and she has been declared a National Herione. Patronages – Ecuador, Americas, bodily ills, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders, sick people, sickness. Her Incorrupt body is enshrined in the Cathedral of La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús.
Mariana de Jesus de Paredes was born in the city of Quito, in the New Kingdom of Granada (modern-day Ecuador). She was born of aristocratic parents on both sides of her family, her father was Don Girolamo Flores Zenel de Paredes, a nobleman of Toledo, Spain and her mother was Doña Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo, a descendant of one of the best Spanish families. 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.
She was orphaned at a very young age and, thereafter, she was raised by her older sister, Jerónima de Paredes and the latter’s husband, Cosme de Caso. Mariana was drawn to a spiritual life, her sister and brother-in-law allowed her to live in seclusion in their house, living “the life of an uncloistered beata,” similar to Rose of Lima to whom she is often compared. She was refused entry into a convent, despite supplication by her brother-in-law and surrogate father, 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 focused her spiritual life on the nearby Jesuit church, where she participated in a number of apostolates.
Her spiritual life was closely connected to the Jesuits and her religious name “de Jesús” was no doubt intentional. Following her death in 1645, her funeral and burial were in the Jesuit church. The funeral sermon that the priest Fr Alonso de Rojas preached emphasised 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 Canonisation (1950).
The Franciscans claimed de Paredes as a holy person. She did wear the Franciscan scapulary and sash but her seventeenth-century Jesuit hagiographer, Jacinto Morán de Butrón, confirmed that the Jesuits nurtured her spiritual life. Soon after Mariana’s 1645 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. She received the habit of the Third Order from the Franciscans in her native town of Quito. ccording to her Jesuit hagiographer, Mariana did not go to the Franciscan church to receive the garments but sent someone else.
It is reported that the fast which she 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 in Holy Communion.
Mariana 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 miracle which has given her the title of “The Lily of Quito.” The Republic of Ecuador has declared her a national heroine.
St Mariana was Beatified on 10 November 1853, Rome by Pope Pius IX and
was Canonised on 9 July 1950 Rome, by Pope Pius XII.
St Mariana’s incorrupt body is exposed and venerated at her shrine at the Cathedral of La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, known colloquially as La Compañía, is a Jesuit Cathedral in Quito, Ecuador.