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Bl. Mary Anne de Paredes

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Born at Quito, Ecuador, 31 Oct. 1618; died at Quito, 26 May, 1645. On both sides of her family she was sprung from an illustrious line of ancestors, her father being Don Girolamo Flores Zenel de Paredes, a nobleman of Toledo and her mother Doña Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo, a descendant of one of the best Spanish families. Her birth was accompanied by most unusual phenomena in the heavens, clearly connected with the child and juridically attested at the time of the process of beatification. Almost from infancy she gave signs of an extraordinary attraction to prayer and mortification, of love of God and devotion to the Blessed Virgin ; and besides being the recipient of many other remarkable manifestations of divine favour was a number of times miraculously preserved from death. At the age of ten years she made the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She was very desirous of conveying the light of faith to the peoples sitting in darkness, and later of entering a monastery ; but when God made it plain to her that He wished neither the one nor the other of these pious designs, she acquiesced in the Divine will, and made for herself a solitude in her own home where, apart from all worldly cares and closely united to God, she gave herself up to the practice of unheard-of corporal austerities. The fast which she kept was so strict that she took scarcely an ounce of dry bread every eight or ten days. The food which miraculously sustained her life, as in the case of St. Catherine and St. Rose of Lima , was, according to the sworn testimony of many witnesses, the Eucharistic Bread alone which she received every morning in Holy Communion. She possessed an ecstatic gift of prayer, predicted the future, saw distant events as if they were passing before her, read the secrets of hearts, cured diseases by a mere sign of the Cross , or by sprinkling the sufferer with holy water, and at least once she restored a dead person to life. The very day she died her sanctity was shown in a wonderful manner, for immediately after her death there sprang up from her blood and blossomed and bloomed a pure white lily, a prodigy which has given her the title of "The Lily of Quito ".

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The first preliminary steps towards the beatification were taken by Monsignor Alfonso della Pegna, who instituted the process of inquiring into and collecting evidence for the sanctity of her life, her virtues and her miracles ; but the authenticated copy of the examination of the witnesses was not forwarded to Rome until 1754. The Sacred Congregation of Rites, having discussed and approved of this process, decided in favour of the formal introduction of the cause, and Benedict XIV signed the commission for introducing the cause 17 December, 1757. The Apostolic process concerning the virtues of the Venerable Mary Anne de Paredes was drawn up and examined in due form by the two Preparatory Congregations and by the General Congregation of Rites, and orders were given by Pius VI for the publication of the decree attesting the heroic character of her virtues. The process concerning the two miracles wrought through the intercession of the servant of God was subsequently prepared and, at the request of the Very Rev. John Roothaan, General of the Society of Jesus, was examined and accepted by the three congregations, and was formally approved 11 Jan., 1817, by Pius IX. The General Congregation having decided in favour of proceeding to the beatification, Pius IX commanded the Brief of Beatification to be prepared. Very Rev. Peter Beckx, General of the Society of Jesus, petitioned Cardinal Patrizi to order the publication of the Brief ; his request was granted. The Brief was read and the solemn beatification took place in the Vatican Basilica 10 Nov., 1853. Many miracles have been the reward of those who have invoked her intercession, especially in America, of which she seems pleased to show herself the especial patroness.

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