18th-century engraving of Mariana de Jesús
by Francisco Sylverio de Sotomayor
|Lily of Quito|
|Born||October 31, 1618|
Quito, Province of Quito (modern-day Ecuador)
|Died||May 26, 1645 (aged 26)|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||November 10, 1853, Rome by Pope Pius IX|
|Canonized||July 9, 1950, Rome by Pope Pius XII|
|La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús|
|Patronage||Ecuador; Americas; bodily ills; loss of parents; people rejected by religious orders; sick people; sickness|
Saint Mariana of Jesus de Paredes, O.F.S. (Spanish: Mariana or María Ana de Jesús de Paredes y Flores; October 31, 1618 – May 26, 1645), is a Roman Catholic saint and is the first person to be canonized from Ecuador. She was a hermit who is said to have sacrificed herself for the salvation of Quito. 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 La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús in Quito. Her feast day is May 26.
Mariana de Jesus de Paredes was born in the city of Quito, in the New Kingdom of Granada (modern-day Ecuador), on October 31, 1618, and died there on May 26, 1645. 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. Orphaned at a very young age, she was 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, living "the life of an uncloistered beata," similar to St Rose of Lima to whom she is often compared. She refused entry into a convent, despite urging from 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 centered her spiritual life on the nearby Jesuit church, where she participated in a number of sodalities.
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 Father Alonso de Rojas, S.J., 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 Franciscans claimed Mariana de Jesús as a holy person. She did wear the Franciscan scapulary and sash, but her seventeenth-century Jesuit hagiographer, Jacinto Morán de Butrón, claims 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. According 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 Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint 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 prodigy which has given her the title of "The Lily of Quito". The Republic of Ecuador has declared her a national heroine.
Monsignor Alfonso della Pegna initiated the first preliminary steps towards her beatification, and instituted the process of inquiring into and collecting evidence for the sanctity of her life, her virtues and her miracles. The Sacred Congregation of Rites, having discussed and approved of this process, decided in favor of the formal introduction of the cause, and Pope Benedict XIV signed the commission for introducing the cause on December 17, 1757. The Apostolic process concerning the virtues of the Venerable Mariana de Paredes was drawn up and examined in due form by the two Preparatory Congregations and by the General Congregation of Rites, and orders were given by Pope Pius VI for the publication of the decree attesting the heroic character of her virtues. The process concerning the two miracles wrought through the intercession of this servant of God was subsequently prepared and, at the request of the Very Reverend Jan Roothaan, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, was examined and accepted by the three congregations, and formally approved on January 11, 1817, by Pope Pius IX.
The General Congregation having decided in favor of proceeding to the beatification, Blessed Pius IX commanded the Brief of Beatification to be prepared. The Very Reverend Peter Jan Beckx, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, petitioned Cardinal Costantino Patrizi Naro to order the publication of the Brief, and his request was granted. The Brief was read and the solemn beatification took place in the Basilica of St Peter, Rome on November 10, 1853. Many miracles have been claimed to have been the reward of those who have invoked her intercession, especially in America, of which she seems pleased to show herself the especial patroness.