Feast Day : May 26
Also known as: Lily of Quito; Mariana de Paredes y Flores of Quito; Mariana of Jesus
Mariana of Quito was born Mariana Paredes y Flores in Quito, Ecuador, then part of Peru, in 1618. She led a life of sanctity remarkably similar to that of Rose of Lima, with whom she is often compared. Her parents died when she was four and she went to live with her elder sister and her husband. From childhood she showed an extraordinary piety. She was much concerned with poverty and the plight of the poor. She spent hours on end counting her rosary and took her First Communion when she was seven or eight, an unusually young age for her time. When she was 12, she wanted to go and evangelize Japan. From childhood, she mortified herself in food, drink and sleep. She hid a basket under the table, served herself the same amount as others, but secretly put most of the food in the basket and distributed it to the poor. On especially hot days she refused all liquid while she contemplated the thirst of Jesus on the cross. Her favorite meditation was on the Passion and the death of Jesus, and she often wore a crown of thorns while counting the rosary. She allowed herself only a few hours of sleep a night. Mariana at first wanted to enter a convent, but twice things occurred that prevented her from doing so. She concluded that God wanted her to remain in the world and built a hut for herself in her sister’s house in which she stayed, except to go out to the church or to help people in need. She is said to have acquired a coffin and slept in it several nights a week, during the day stuffing it with cushions to resemble a corpse, in order to remind herself of her mortality. Mariana was quite musical and played the guitar and piano wonderfully. She also sang, preferring religious songs, which helped her to meditate. Like Rose of Lima, she also enjoyed sewing and embroidery, and spent much of her time alone on these activities. Also like Rose, she ministered to the needy and taught Indian children in her home. Many pictures of Mariana show her holding a lily. She became known as the “Lily of Quito” following an illness during which she was bled. A nurse who assisted at her bedside drained her blood into a spittoon, from which a lily subsequently bloomed. This supernatural event was not the only one with which Mariana is credited. She had the gift of prophecy, predicting events that subsequently occurred as she had said they would. One of these prophecies was a foretelling of the date of her own death on a Friday the 26th. In 1645, when Mariana was 27 years old, Quito was shaken by a series of earthquakes accompanied by an epidemic of disease that took the lives of many. Mariana heard a priest say in a sermon that he would willingly give his life to have the earthquakes stop and responded that the priest’s life was too valuable and she would sacrifice hers instead. A short while later the earthquakes stopped and the epidemic ended, but Mariana herself became sick and died. The day was Friday the 26th of May. Mariana’s burial was met with an ovation from the entire city of Quito. In 1946, the Congress of Ecuador acknowledged her sacrifice by bestowing on her the title of “Heroína de la Patria” (Heroine of the Fatherland). She is credited with a continuous series of miracles after her death.