Hyacintha of Mariscotti
Feast Day: January 30
Canonized: May 24, 1807
Beatified: September 1, 1726
Clarice Mariscotti was probably a typical upper-class girl in Viterbo, Italy, in her time. As a teenager right at the beginning of the 1600s, she liked to have fun. Her father, Count Antonio of Mariscotti, and her mother, Ottavia, who was descended from royalty, were quite wealthy, so she had the finest clothes and education.
When she was 20, she wanted desperately to marry a marquess, a nobleman. She was angry when he instead chose to marry her younger sister. Feeling embarrassed, she was moody and temperamental with her family and finally agreed when her parents decided she should enter the Monastery of St. Bernardine, where her older sister was a nun.
As a member of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, Clarice was given the name Hyacintha, but she had become a nun for the wrong reasons — simply to escape a problem. She didn’t want to give up her beautiful clothes and fine food and friends. For 10 years, she was devoted to her faith but did not relinquish material things.
When the priest who brought Communion to the nuns and heard their confessions visited her cell and saw the luxuries she enjoyed, he called upon her to change her ways. Following a serious illness, Hyacintha realized that she was not living her vows. She confessed to the other sisters, gave away all of her fine clothes and shoes, slept on wooden boards and consumed mainly bread and water.
When plague broke out in Viterbo, she nursed the sick. She also organized groups to gather food and money for the sick, poor, and elderly.
By the time of her death in 1640 at the age of 55, Hyacintha was known for her great holiness. She was named a saint in 1807 by Pope Pius VII, who declared that she had, through her charity, “converted more souls than many preachers of her time.”
RCL Benziger’s Family Life, Grade 6