Thursday, January 30, 2014

St. Hyacintha Mariscotti

The saint of the day for January 30th is St. Hyacintha Mariscotti (1585-1640), a religious of the Third Order of St. Francis and foundress of the Sacconi, also known as the Oblates of Mary.

Born of a wealthy, noble family near Viterbo, Italy, Hyacintha was pious in her early youth, but, as she grew older became frivolous, vain, and proud of her rank. When her younger sister married the man she desired as her spouse, she became disappointed and depressed. She sought refuge from her sorrows in a Franciscan convent. However, when she entered the convent, she refused to give up the luxuries of the world, but instead arrived at the convent with her own personal servants and chef. She came with a full supply of food, wore garments of the finest materials, and demanded a full suite of rooms, which she decorated lavishly. She received both male and female visitors at her pleasure. Thus, she lived a very worldly and luxurious life amid those who had pledged themselves to lives of poverty and penance. She lived this way for ten years, contrary to her vows, and was a source of scandal to the community.

One day, confined to bed due to illness, Hyacintha sent for her Confessor, who refused to enter her room, when he saw how lavishly decorated it was. He warned her that there was no place for fools in heaven and strongly encouraged her to live a more humble life. Following this encounter, Hyacintha resolved to change her ways. She made a public confession, moved to a small, dilapidated cell, discarded her fine clothes, dressed in habits disposed of by the other nuns, went barefoot, and prayed and fasted. She developed strong devotions to the Mother of God, to the Holy Infant Jesus, to the Blessed Eucharist, and to the sufferings of Christ. Eventually, the sister who had once been a source of scandal was elected vice-superior and mistress of novices by her fellow sisters -- becoming their mentor and model of holiness. She founded two confraternities, whose members were known as the Sacconi or the Oblates of Mary. One of these groups collected alms for the poor and cared for prisoners; the other provided homes for the elderly. Hyacintha was beatified by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726, and canonized in 1807, by Pius VII., who proclaimed that through her charity, she had “converted more souls than many preachers of her time.”

Reflection: Let us ask God to help us draw others to Him by living out the virtues of charity and humility in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, give me the courage and conviction to change my heart so that I may become more humble and more charitable toward others in imitation of St. Hyacintha. Please help my actions be a source of inspiration to others. Amen.

~ copyright January 2014, Jean M. Heimann

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