|St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, O.Carm.|
Painted by Abraham Diepeubeech 1596-1675
Mary Magdalene bore the surname of the noble family of Pazzi in Florence. Already by the 15th century, the Pazzi family exercised great political power. She was born on 2nd April 1566, given a good education and, from her childhood, she had a deep sense of the presence of God, a great love for the Eucharist and a longing to live a penitential life. Contrary to the usual practice but, with the consent of her confessor, she was allowed to make her first communion at the age of ten years. When she was seventeen years, she was accepted by the Carmelite nuns of Saint Mary of the Angels in Florence, her native city. During her novitiate, she had a serious illness which lasted for two months and brought her close to death. As a result, she was allowed to anticipate her profession. However, she recovered and for three years she was assistant mistress of novices, then sacristan, and, for a further six years, mistress of novices. Also, for a period, she had charge of the junior professed and in 1604 she was elected subprioress. Her continuous physical sufferings and severe spiritual trials were a great burden but she was enriched by God with extraordinary graces. She died on 25th May 1607. She was beatified in 1626 and canonised on 22nd April 1669.
In addition to her deep spiritual life, she observed conscientiously her religious vows and led a hidden life of prayer and self denial. She was filled with a burning desire for the renewal of the Church: keenly aware of the urgent need for reform, yearning to see it spread, and offering herself so that the "anointed ones" (i.e. priests) would once again be a witness to the world and that the lapsed would return to the Church. "The central theme in her spirituality (although not thought out in a fully systematic fashion) is love; we are created by God with love and by love, and such is the means by which we must turn to him; love is the measure of how far the soul has returned to God. The principal function of love is to unite the soul to God. The spiritual life is like a circle, inspired by love, which in God has both its point of departure and its moment of arrival." Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi had also a great devotion to Our Lady and she was a significant inspiration in the development of Carmelite Marian devotion to the "Most Pure Virgin", claiming that the beauty of Mary lay in her purity, which was what had made her one with the Word in her divine maternity.
Her mystical experiences were written in five "original manuscripts", that is the notes which were written by her nuns recording all that she did or said during her ecstasies and her "overflowings of divine love". These notes were later revised by the saint herself. They are entitled: Forty Days, Conversations, Revelations and Understandings, Trials and Renewal of the Church, together with her Sayings and Letters
"Come, Holy Spirit. Let the precious pearl of the Father and the Word's delight come. Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforters of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasurers are contained. Come! As you descended upon Mary, that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace. Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity. Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you."