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PRAY FOR TRUE CONVERSION

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Saint Hyacinth of Mariscotti

If ever we see in the life of a person someone who did not want to be converted, it was Hyacinth of Mariscotti who became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and foundress of the Oblates of Mary.

Born in 1585 of a noble family near Viterbo in Italy, she received the name Clarice at Baptism and in early youth was remarkable for piety. But as she grew older she became frivolous and worldly. Not even the almost miraculous saving of her life at the age of 17 could make her change her ways.

Three years later she set her heart upon marriage but was passed by in favour of a younger sister. Sadly disappointed she became morose, and at last joined the community of St. Bernardine at Viterbo, where she had been educated, receiving the name Hyacinth. But she told her father this was only to hide her chagrin and not to give up the luxuries of the world! She had her own kitchen, wore a habit of the finest material, and received visitors and paid visits at pleasure. It is hard to believe that she was allowed to accept the religious life on her terms.

For ten years she lived a life contrary to the spirit of her vows and a source of scandal to the community. However, by the special protection of God, she retained a lively faith, was regular in her devotions, remained chaste, always showed a great respect for the mysteries of religion, and had a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At length she was touched by God's grace and the earnest exhortations of her confessor, at the time of serious illness, which made her see the folly of the past and brought about a complete change in her life. She made a public confession of her faults in the refectory, wore an old habit, went barefoot, frequently fasted on bread and water, chastised her body by vigils and severe scourging, and practised mortifications to such an extent that the decree of canonization considers the preservation of her life as a continued miracle. She increased her devotion to the Mother of God, to the Holy Infant Jesus, to the Blessed Eucharist, and to the sufferings of Christ. She worked numerous miracles, had the gifts of prophecy and of discerning the secret thoughts of others. She was also favoured by heavenly ecstasies and raptures.

During an epidemic that raged in Viterbo she showed heroic charity in nursing the sick. She established two confraternities whose members were called Oblates of Mary: one was similar to our Society of St. Vincent de Paul gathering alms for the convalescent, for the poor who were ashamed to beg, and for the care of prisoners; the other procured homes for the aged.

She died on this day, January 30, at the age of 55 and crowds flocked to her funeral. She was beatified by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726 and canonized in 1807 by Pius VII.

We are all called to constant conversion, to change from our sinful ways. We can do no better than to appeal to St. Hyacinth and ask her to help us to take Jesus' word ‘repent’ to heart.