Catherine de’ Pazzi was a member of one of the great families of Florence.

Ordinarily, a young woman of her stature would have been paired for marriage to a young man of one of the other aristocratic families, but Catherine determined at a very young age that she would remain a virgin and dedicate herself to the Lord. When she was 16 years old, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there.

She took the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near, so her superiors let her make her profession of vows in a private ceremony from a cot in the chapel.

Immediately after, Mary Magdalene fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths.

Mary Magdalene’s confessor asked her to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, “Admonitions,” is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious.

It was said that Mary Magdalene could read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she even appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. Though she might have been given these “gifts,” she also experienced a five-year drought from her visions which plunged her into a period of great despair. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi died in 1607 at age 41 and was canonized in 1669.

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi | Franciscan Media. (n.d.). Franciscan Media. Retrieved May 19, 2021, from