Saint of the Month

St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi

Born Caterina de’ Pazzi, to a noble family in Florence, St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi (April 2, 1566 – May 25, 1607), has been called the “ecstatic saint” or “The Passion Flower of the Eucharist,” because of the trance-like state, or ecstasy, she entered for long periods after receiving Holy Communion. An ecstasy is when a person’s internal and external senses are completely occupied by God, so much so that the individual is entirely unaware of anything other than God.

Caterina learned to meditate at age 9, and took her first communion at age 10, which was young for her time. She was so moved by the experience that she took a personal vow of virginity. She longed to be able to receive the blessed sacrament every day and so at 16, she entered the Carmelite convent of Santa Maria del' Angeli, which had a special dispensation to celebrate the Eucharist daily.

As a novice she took the name Mary Magdalen. In 1584, she became so ill that the sisters feared she would die and so she was allowed to profess her vows from a stretcher in the chapel. What followed was a miracle. For 40 days she would enter a state of ecstasy lasting several hours after receiving Holy Communion. She recovered from her illness and her sisters recorded the teachings she offered during the ecstasies, they are collected in “Revelations and Intelligences.” Her years of ecstasies and visions, which she saw as witness of her sins rather than a reward for her holiness, were followed by five years of temptation, doubt, and suffering.

She led an exemplary life of service as mistress of novices and postulants, and eventually the superior. She died on May 25, 1607, after a long excruciatingly painful illness. She was beatified by Pope Urban VIII in 1626 and canonized by Pope Clement IX in 1669. St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi, pray for us!

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