From age 38 onwards she was bed-ridden, suffering physical pain, such as violent headaches and paralysis, spiritual aridity and temptations to suicide.
St Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi was a Carmelite mystic. Though she suffered a lot herself, she remained faithful to her prayer life and cared for her fellow-sisters and others in her convent. Her feast is on 25th May. Patrick Duffy outlines her life.
Of the dei Pazzi family in Florence
Born into the famous and wealthy family of dei Pazzi in Florence, she was christened Catherine. Her ancestors had fought in the Crusades and her parents were close to the Medici. She grew up to be a beautiful young woman and at sixteen against the wishes of her family, she decided to become a Carmelite nun and took the name Mary Magdalen.
Illness and aridity
Professed in 1584, Mary Magdalen went on to become novice mistress and sub-prioress. From 1604 onwards she was bed-ridden, suffering physical pain, such as violent headaches and paralysis, spiritual aridity and temptations to suicide. She often alternated between being lifeless and being in lively conversation with Christ and the saints. She continued to be able to do practical things like embroidery during her ecstasies. She sometimes prophesied future events and could read the secrets of the hearts of those who consulted her.
“Love is not loved”
One of her most memorable sayings is: “O Love, love is not loved, not known by his own creatures. O my Jesus! If I had a voice sufficiently loud and strong to be heard in every part of the world, I would cry out to make this love known, loved and honoured by all people as the one immeasurable good”.
Death and canonisation
When Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi came close to death, she encouraged her religious sisters to love and trust Jesus. She died on May 25, 1607 at the age of forty-one and was canonised in 1669. Her incorrupt body is at the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence. Her feast is on 25th May.