St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

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St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, born to one of the wealthiest families in Florence, entered the Carmelite convent at sixteen. Two years later she fell desperately ill. As she was carried into the chapel, she experienced a sense of deep ecstasy, which she described as union with the Holy Trinity. After this, she said that “Jesus, caressing me gently like a newly-wed, united me to him and hid me in his side, where I tasted sweet repose. The Lord then seemed to take away from me my will and all my desires, so that I can no longer wish or desire anything except what he wills.”  

Over time Mary received many such mystical experiences, some ecstatic and others accompanied by deep suffering. She witnessed the passion of Christ, exchanged hearts with Jesus, received the stigmata (the marks of Christ’s passion), and felt his crown of thorns. Along with such experiences of intimacy with Christ, she also endured years of desolation and despair—at times so great that she was tempted by thoughts of suicide. While subsisting (except on Sundays) on nothing but bread and water, she constantly felt the assault of temptations to gluttony and impurity.  

In the end, her sufferings only united her more deeply to Christ. “God does not germinate in sad souls,” she said. “He wants a heart that is free and happy.” She died on May 25, 1607, and was canonized in 1669.  

“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.”  

—St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi 

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.