Blessed Mary Crucifixa
(Beata Maria Crucifixa)
Feast Day – November 11
Before the birth of this child, a saintly Franciscan brother prophesied her future sanctity to her mother. He also said that as the child grew older, it would be crippled, and would later receive the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis. All these events were fulfilled.
Born in the city of Naples on February 19, 1782, Blessed Mary Crucifixa received the name of Mary Josephine in baptism. She was educated in a convent, and at a very early age showed an unusual love of prayer. She was even favored with divine revelations, and she entertained no desire but to serve God all her life in the convent.
At the age of thirteen, however, she was called home by her parents in order to help them in the work of the household and the raising of the younger children. Mary cheerfully obeyed their call and assisted her parents to the best of her ability. Sometime later, however, when she realized that her parents were making plans for her marriage she begged God amid many tears to send her an illness that would make her unfit. She then was afflicted with arthritis, which so contracted her body that she became a cripple and could move about only with the help of crutches.
Despite her affliction, Blessed Mary Crucifixa continued in her pious practices and even in the performance of many heavy household duties. She did it all in so cheerful a manner that the rest of the family were in admiration at it and esteemed her more and more highly. They even joined in her devout exercises so that their home soon resembled a convent rather than a family residence.
In 1802 Mary was received into the Third Order of St Francis, and henceforth wore the Tertiary habit publicly. At her reception she received the name of Mary Crucifixa of the Wounds of Our Lord, and there was never a lack of proof that she was really crucified with Jesus. Her corporal sufferings increased steadily as she grew older; to this were added unbelievable torments of soul and the most horrible molestations of the evil spirit. But the sufferings of Christ and the sorrows of our Lady were a consolation to her, and the tender devotions she cherished to the Infant Jesus helped her persevere in her sweet disposition. As Mary was unable to leave the house, she was permitted to have a private oratory at home in which Holy Mass could be said. She found the sweetest delight in decorating this little sanctuary for the Infant Jesus.
One must, says her biographer, go to this oratory personally to get an idea of the care she took in adorning this room. The altar and the walls are covered with artistic tapestries and laces which she herself made despite her great affliction. Only God knows how many hours of the night she sacrificed in this work.
Finally the day arrived when she was taken to the sanctuary of heaven. Blessed Mary Crucifixa died on the first day of her accustomed novena to the Infant Jesus before the feast of Christmas, December 16, 1826.
Her body reposes in the church of St Lucy in Naples; and the steady stream of answers to prayer and the miracles that have been wrought caused the process of her beatification to be introduced in 1842.
From: The Franciscan Book of Saints, Marion A. Habig, OFM
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