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Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi

Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was a Carmelite nun and mystic.

Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was born into one of the wealthiest and noblest families of Renaissance Florence on April 2nd, 1566 while Florence was still part of the Duchy of Florence. She was given the Christian name of Caterina at her baptism but was affectionally called Lucrezia by her family as a way of honoring her grandmother, Lucrezia Mannucci. She took an deep interest in Christian spirituality as she grew and at nine learned how to meditate in prayer by the family chaplain. Nine was also the age she began to practice mortification of the flesh through wearing a crown of thorns, practicing self-flagellation and wearing a barbed cilice (an undergarment made o fcoarse cloth or animal hair).

At 10 she received her first Holy Communion though it was not common for children of that early an age to receive it during the time period. Shortly after taking her first Holy Communion she professed a vow of virginity. Two years later, as a twelve year old, she experienced her first ecstasy in the presence of her mother, an event that she would continue to experience throughout the rest of her life.

At fourteen she began a more formal education at a monastery run by nuns of the Order of Malta. Though she excelled here, her parents soon called her back home as her father had arranged a marriage to a wealthy nobleman from Florence. After a period of ferocious debate within the household her father finally relented and respected his daughter's vow of virginity. On January 30th, 1583, she was accepted as a novice at the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence. A leading factor in this choice of monastery's was the allowance by the nuns to allow for the daily taking of Holy Communion.

After only a year of settling into the monastic life she fell terribly ill and was wracked with nightmarish pains constantly. She persevered through with prayer and took the habit. When a fellow sister asked her how she could endure such pain, Saint Mary Magdalene pointed to her crucifix and stated:

Those who call to mind the sufferings of Christ, and who offer up their own to God through His passion, find their pains sweet and pleasant.

The illness progressed and she soon found herself close to death. The Sisters allowed her to profess her vows while laying in a cot on the Chapel and upon finishing them she fell into a deep religious ecstasy for almost two hours. For the next 40 days she continued to experience hours long ecstasies, each immediately following Holy Communion. Over the next six years, the sisters asked her to dictate her experiences and nearly five large volumes were filled. During one such event she correctly predicted the future election of Cardinal Alessandro de'Medici to the Papacy (Pope Leo XI).

On May 25th, 1607, at the age of 41, Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi died. She was buried in the choir of the monastery chapel. Her beatification began very quickly and was officially opened in 1610 under Pope Paul V. The beatification process completed in 1626 with Pope Urban VII with her formal canonization coming under Pope Clement IX on April 28th, 1669. Her feast day was set for May 25th, but changed in 1729 when Saint Pope Gregory VII's feast was inserted for the same da. In 1969, during the Roman Calendar revision, her feast was set back to the date of her death, May 25th.

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