Saint of the Day – 30 January – Saint Hyacintha of Mariscotti TOR (1585-1646) Virgin, Sister of the Tertiary or Third Order Regular of St Francis (also TOSF), Penitent, Apostle of the poor, the sick, the elderly. She established apostolates to aid the latter as well as another devoted to the Adoration of the Holy Eucharist. Born in 1585 near Viterbo, Italy and died on 30 January 1640, aged 54, at Viterbo, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Giacinta Marescotti, Clarice Marescotti.
The Roman Martyrology reads today: “In Viterbo, Saint Giacinta Marescotti, Virgin of the regular Third Order of Saint Francis, who, after fifteen years spent among vain pleasures, embraced a very hard life and established a brotherhoods for the assistance of the elderly and for the Adoration of the Holy Eucharist.”
Hyacintha was born of a noble family, her parents being Count Marcantonio Marescotti and Countess Ottavia Orsini, whose father had built the noted Gardens of Bomarzo. They had their new baby daughter Baptised as Clarice. At an early ages she and her sisters, Ginevra and Ortensia, were sent to the Monastery of St Bernardine to be educated by the community of Sisters of the Franciscan Third Order Regular. When their studies were completed, her older sister, Ginevra, chose to enter the Monastic community as a nun, becoming known as Sister Immacolata.
In her early youth, Clarice had been noted for her piety but, as she grew older, she became frivolous. At the age of 20 Clarice set her heart upon marriage with the Marchese Capizucchi, but was passed over by him in favour of her younger sister, Ortensia. Disappointed, she entered the Monastery in Viterbo where she had been educated, receiving the name Hyacintha. She admitted later, that she did this only to hide her chagrin and not to give up the luxuries of the world. She kept a private stock of extra food, wore a habit of the finest material and received and paid visits at will.
For ten years, Hyacintha kept up this life, contrary to the spirit of her vows but at the same time, she retained a strong religious faith and was regular in her following of the daily routine of the Monastery life, with a tender devotion to the Virgin Mary. At that point, due to a severe illness, the Priest who served as the Confessor to the Monastery went to her cell to bring her Holy Communion. Shocked by the display of luxuries he saw there, he admonished her to a closer observance of the way of life to which she had committed herself.
Hyacintha experienced a profound inner transformation, after her serious illness and some deaths in the family. Twenty-four extraordinary and very hard years began for Sister Hyacintha in total poverty. And of continuous penances, with harshness that are difficult to understand today.
She gave away her costly garments, wore an old tunic, went barefoot, frequently fasted on bread and water and chastised her body by vigils. During the outbreak of a plague in the City, she became noted for her devotion in nursing the sick.
Hyacintha went on to establish two apostolates whose members were called Oblates of Mary or “Sacconi.” One of these, similar to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, gathered alms for the convalescent, for the poor who were ashamed to beg and for the care of prisoners; the other procured homes for the aged.
By the time of her death, Hyacintha’s reputation for holiness was so great, that, at her wake, her religious habit had to be replaced three times. This was due to pieces of it being snipped off by the people to keep as a relic.
Hyacintha was Beatified by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726 and Canonised on 14 May 1807 by Pope Pius VII. Today her remains are preserved for veneration in the Church of her Monastery, which now bears her name.
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