Bl. Mariana de Jesus Navarro
Memorial: April 17
Patron of the Mercedarian Third Order and Lay Fraternities and Eucharistic Devotion
Mariana de Jesus was born in Madrid on January 17, 1565; her father supplied leather goods to the Spanish court. She was baptized on the 21st of the same month. In 1601, Philip III moved the court to Valladolid, and Mariana went there with her family, going back to Madrid when the king returned in 1606.
Mariana's path was decided when she was 23-years-old; she broke off a promising engagement in order to consecrate herself to God alone. Her relatives did not understand her decision and, for several years, were the cause of many sufferings and setbacks.
Her spiritual life was nourished in the Mercedarian convent of Our Lady of Good Remedy, where from 1598 her spiritual director was Fr. Jaun Bautista Ganzáles, the future reformer of he Order of Mercy. When the convent of the discalced Mercedarian Friars started in Santa Barbara, around 1611-1612, she settled there in a little cottage with a garden and spent her life in silence, prayer, and penances until 1620, when she moved into lodgings prepared by the patrons of the convent.
Mariana was revered by everyone, respected by kings and cardinals, who testified during her process of beatification. Between 1614 and 1615 she wrote her Autobiography. She also composed other words, such as: Letters on Humility, Poem on the Virtues, and Sentencias (or, Maxims).
In 1613, she received the habit of a Third Order Mercedarian, and then made her profession at the hands of then Master General, Fr. Felipe Guimerán on May 20, 1614. For special reasons, she made a second profession in the presence of the Provincial of the Discalced Mercedarian Friars on January 7, 1624. She died on April 17, of the same year.
Her body is preserved incorrupt in the church of the Mercedarian Nuns of Don Juan Alarcón in Madrid.
The extraordinary thing about her life of great solitude is precisely her ability to welcome, listen to, and attend to the spiritual and material needs of so many people when they came to seek her advice, to request assistance, or to ask for help.
She was beatified by Pope Pius VI on January 18, 1783.