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HIDDEN FLOWER

Father Francis's picture
Saint Mary Anne de Paredes

Mary Anne de Paredes led a life of such beauty and purity that she came to be known as 'The Lily of Quito'. She bloomed unseen and largely unknown yet brought comfort and holiness to all who were privileged to meet her.

Born in Ecuador in 1618 she felt drawn to God and to the spiritual life from early childhood. She became greatly devoted to Our Lady and in imitation of her she chose to be consecrated virgin. On joining the Third Order of St. Francis she was allowed to take the three vows of religion. Then the returned to her home to live out those vows in privacy and seclusion.

Hidden from the world, Mary Anne spent her days in prayer and penance, leaving the house only to go to Church services or when someone in the neighbourhood needed help. Whenever she visited a sick person she brought kindness, gentleness and love. She was courteous and friendly to everyone including the greatest sinners, and many were inspired by her to change their ways. God blessed her with healing powers and she cured many, by sprinkling holy water or making the sign of the cross over them.

When the plague broke out in Quito, Mary Anne offered herself to God as a sacrifice on behalf of her fellow-citizens. She died shortly afterwards, in 1645, at the age of 27. It is said that after her death a beautiful lily sprouted from her blood.

Mary Anne Paredes led a quiet life, uncontaminated by the temptations of the world. What we have to admire about her is her single-mindedness, centring all she did round the Lord she loved. She was close to Our Blessed Lady, and she was a good neighbour. A simple life, yet how difficult most of us would find it! Let us ask Saint Mary Anne to help us to be more detached from worldly things and to imitate her love of God and of our neighbour.