MARIANA DE JESÚS DE PAREDES
HERMIT AND MYSTIC, 1645
Mariana de Jesus de Paredes was born in the city of Quito, of aristocratic parents on both sides of her family. 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.
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.
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