mardi 29 mai 2012

Sainte MARIE-MADELEINE de' PAZZI, vierge carmélite et mystique



Sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, vierge

Marie-Madeleine De Pazzi (1566-1607), carmélite florentine, fut appelée par le Seigneur aux plus hautes expériences mystiques à travers des purifications douloureuses. Mais c'est en cheminant humblement dans la pauvreté, la chasteté et l'obéissance qu'elle assurait sa montée vers Dieu et qu'elle y conduisait les autres.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/05/25/101/-/sainte-marie-madeleine-de-pazzi-vierge


Sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi

Carmélite (+1607)

Carmélite de Florence, elle offrit sa vie pour obtenir le renouveau spirituel de l'Église. Favorisée de grâces mystiques, elle mettait le meilleur d'elle-même dans la fidélité aux trois vœux de sa profession perpétuelle.

Mémoire de sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, vierge de l'Ordre du Carmel. Elle mena à Florence, en Toscane, une vie cachée dans le Christ, de prière et de renoncement, priant assidûment pour la réforme de l'Église et, enrichie par Dieu de multiples dons, elle conduisit fort bien ses sœurs à la perfection. Elle mourut en 1607.
Martyrologe romain



SAINTE MARIE-MADELEINE de PAZZI

Vierge, Carmélite

(1566-1607)

Sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, l'une des fleurs les plus suaves qui aient embaumé les jardins du Carmel, naquit à Florence. Dès l'âge de sept ans, à l'école du Ciel, elle était formée à l'oraison, et elle paraissait presque un prodige de mortification. Toute une nuit elle porta une couronne d'épines sur sa tête, avec des douleurs inexprimables, pour imiter son Amour crucifié. Chaque fois que sa mère avait communié, l'enfant s'approchait d'elle et ne pouvait plus la quitter, attirée par la douce odeur de Jésus-Christ.

A partir de sa Première Communion, elle fut prête à tous les sacrifices, et c'est dès lors qu'elle fit à Jésus le voeu de n'avoir jamais d'autre époux que Lui. Aussi, quand plus tard, son père voulut la marier: "Je livrerais plutôt, s'écria-t-elle, ma tête au bourreau que ma chasteté à un homme."

La sainte épouse du Christ entra au Carmel, parce qu'on y communiait presque tous les jours. Dès lors sa vie est un miracle continuel; elle ne vit que d'extases, de ravissements, de souffrances, d'amour. Pendant cinq années, elle fut assaillie d'affreuses tentations; son arme était l'oraison, durant laquelle elle s'écriait souvent; "Où êtes-Vous, mon Dieu, où êtes-Vous?" Un jour, tentée plus fortement qu'à l'ordinaire, elle se jeta dans un buisson d'épines, d'où elle sortit ensanglantée, mais victorieuse.

Elle avait tant de plaisir à proférer ces mots: "La Volonté de Dieu!" qu'elle les répétait continuellement, disant à ses soeurs: "Ne sentez-vous pas combien il est doux de nommer la Volonté de Dieu?" Un jour, ravie en extase, elle alla par tout le couvent en criant: "Mes soeurs, oh! que la Volonté de Dieu est aimable!" Il plut à Dieu de la crucifier longtemps par des douleurs indicibles, qui la clouaient sur son lit, dans un état d'immobilité en même temps que de sensibilité extraordinaire. Loin de demander soulagement, elle s'écriait bien souvent: "Toujours souffrir et ne jamais mourir!"

Son coeur était un brasier ardent consumé par l'amour. Quinze jours avant sa mort, elle dit: "Je quitterai le monde sans avoir pu comprendre comment la créature peut se résoudre à commettre un péché contre son Créateur." Elle répétait souvent: "Si je savais qu'en disant une parole à une autre fin que pour l'amour de Dieu, je dusse devenir plus grande qu'un Séraphin, je ne le ferais jamais." Près de mourir, ses dernières paroles à ses soeurs furent celles-ci: "Je vous prie, au nom de Notre-Seigneur, de n'aimer que Lui seul!"

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE :  


Seminario Arcivescovile (Firenze) - Chiostro di Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi


Sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, vierge

Morte à Florence le 25 mai 1607. Canonisé en 1669 par Clément IX.

Clément X inscrivit sa fête en 1670 sous le rite semi-double au 25 mai. Elle fut reportée au 27 mai lors de l’institution de la fête de saint Grégoire VIII en 1728, puis au 29 en 1899 pour céder la place à Saint Bède le Vénérable.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Quatrième leçon. Née à Florence de l’illustre famille des Pazzi, Marie-Madeleine prit, on peut dire, dès son berceau, le chemin de la perfection. A dix ans, elle fit vœu de chasteté. Ayant revêtu l’habit de carmélite au monastère de Notre-Dame des Anges, elle se montra un modèle de toutes les vertus. Elle était si pure qu’elle ignorait absolument ce qui peut blesser la pureté. Sur l’ordre de Dieu, elle jeûna pendant cinq ans au pain et à l’eau, sauf les dimanches, où elle usait des mets permis en Carême. Elle châtiait son corps par le cilice, les flagellations, le froid, le jeûne, les veilles, l’insuffisance du vêtement et par toutes sortes de mortifications.

Cinquième leçon. Le feu de l’amour divin la brûlait à ce point que, ne pouvant le supporter, elle était obligée de se rafraîchir la poitrine avec de l’eau. Souvent ravie hors d’elle-même, Marie-Madeleine avait des extases prolongées et merveilleuses ; dans ces extases, elle pénétrait les mystères célestes, et recevait de Dieu des faveurs insignes. Ainsi fortifiée elle soutint un long combat contre les princes des ténèbres, en proie qu’elle fut à la sécheresse, à la désolation, abandonnée de tout le monde et tourmentée de tentations diverses : Dieu le permettant, pour qu’elle devint le modèle d’une invincible patience et de l’humilité la plus profonde.

Sixième leçon. Sa charité envers le prochain a été particulièrement remarquable : souvent elle passait des nuits sans dormir, soit pour accomplir les tâches de ses sœurs, soit pour servir celles qui étaient malades, et elle en a guéri plusieurs en suçant leurs ulcères. Elle déplorait amèrement que les infidèles et les pécheurs fussent en voie de perdition, et s’offrait à endurer tous les tourments pour leur salut. Une vertu héroïque l’ayant fait renoncer, bien des années avant sa mort, à toutes les délices dont le Ciel la comblait, elle répétait souvent : « Souffrir et non mourir ». Enfin, épuisée par une longue et douloureuse infirmité, elle alla se réunir à l’Époux, le vingt-cinq mai -mil six cent sept, à l’âge de quarante et un ans. De nombreux miracles accomplis avant et après sa mort l’ont rendue célèbre. Clément IX l’a inscrite au nombre des saintes Vierges, et son corps s’est jusqu’à présent conservé sans corruption.




Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Le Cycle pascal nous offre trois illustres vierges que l’Italie a produites. Nous avons salué dans notre admiration la vaillante Catherine de Sienne ; sous peu de jours, nous célébrerons Angèle de Mérici, entourée de son essaim de jeunes filles ; aujourd’hui le lis de Florence, Madeleine de Pazzi, embaume toute l’Église de ses parfums. Elle a été l’amante et l’imitatrice du divin crucifié ; n’est-il pas juste qu’elle ait part aux allégresses de sa résurrection ?

Madeleine de Pazzi a brillé sur le Carmel par son éclatante pureté et par l’ardeur de son amour. Elle a été, comme Philippe Néri, l’une des plus éclatantes manifestations de la divine charité au sein de la vraie Église, se consumant à l’ombre du cloître comme Philippe dans les labeurs du ministère des âmes, ayant recueilli l’un et l’autre, pour l’accomplir en eux, cette parole de l’Homme-Dieu : « Je suis venu allumer le feu sur la terre ; et quel est mon désir, sinon qu’il s’enflamme [1] ? »

La vie de l’Épouse du Christ fut un miracle continuel. L’extase et les ravissements étaient journaliers chez elle. Les plus vives lumières lui furent communiquées sur les mystères, et, afin de l’épurer davantage pour ces sublimes communications, Dieu lui fit traverser les plus redoutables épreuves de la vie spirituelle. Elle triompha de tout, et son amour montant toujours, elle ne trouvait plus de repos que dans la souffrance, par laquelle seule elle pouvait alimenter le feu qui la consumait. En même temps son cœur débordait d’amour pour les hommes ; elle eût voulu les sauver tous, et sa charité si ardente pour lésâmes s’étendait avec héroïsme jusqu’à leurs corps. Tant que dura ici-bas cette existence toute séraphique, le ciel regarda Florence avec une complaisance particulière ; et le souvenir de tant de merveilles a maintenu dans cette ville, après plus de deux siècles, un culte fervent à l’égard de l’insigne épouse du Sauveur des hommes.

L’un des plus frappants caractères de la divinité et de la sainteté de l’Église apparaît dans ces existences privilégiées, sur lesquelles se montre avec tant d’éclat l’action directe des mystères de notre salut. « Dieu a tant aimé le monde, qu’il lui a donné son Fils unique [2] » ; et ce Fils de Dieu daigne se passionner pour une de ses créatures, produisant en elle de tels effets, que tous les hommes sont à même d’y prendre une idée de l’amour dont son Cœur divin est embrasé pour ce monde qu’il a racheté au prix de son sang. Heureux ceux qui savent goûter ce spectacle, qui savent rendre grâces pour de tels dons ! Ils ont la vraie lumière, tandis que ceux qui s’étonnent et hésitent font voir que les lueurs qui sont en eux luttent encore avec les ténèbres de la nature déchue. L’espace qui nous reste ne nous permet pas, à notre grand regret, de développer davantage le caractère et la vie de notre sainte.

Votre vie ici-bas, ô Madeleine, a semblé celle d’un ange que la volonté divine eût captivé sous les lois de notre nature inférieure et déchue. Toutes vos aspirations vous entraînaient au delà des conditions de la vie présente, et Jésus se plaisait à irriter en vous cette soif d’amour qui ne pouvait s’apaiser qu’aux sources jaillissantes de la vie éternelle [3]. Une lumière céleste vous révélait les mystères divins, votre cœur ne pouvait contenir les trésors de vérité et d’amour que l’Esprit-Saint y accumulait ; et alors votre énergie se réfugiait dans le sacrifice et dans la souffrance, comme si l’anéantissement de vous-même eût pu seul acquitter la dette que vous aviez contractée envers le grand Dieu qui vous comblait de ses faveurs les plus chères.

Âme de séraphin, comment vous suivrons-nous ? Qu’est notre amour auprès du vôtre ? Nous pouvons cependant nous attacher de loin à vos traces. L’année liturgique était le centre de votre existence ; chacune de ses saisons mystérieuses agissait sur vous, et vous apportait, avec de nouvelles lumières, de nouvelles ardeurs. L’Enfant divin de Bethlehem, la sanglante Victime de la croix, le glorieux Époux vainqueur de la mort, l’Esprit rayonnant de sept dons ineffables, vous ravissaient tour à tour ; et votre âme, renouvelée par cette succession de merveilles, se transformait toujours plus en celui qui, pour s’emparer de nos cœurs, a daigné se traduire lui-même dans ces gestes immortels que la sainte Église nous fait repasser chaque année avec le secours d’une grâce toujours nouvelle. Vous aimiez ardemment les âmes durant votre vie mortelle, ô Madeleine ; votre amour s’est accru encore dans la possession du bien suprême ; obtenez-nous la lumière pour voir mieux ce qui ravissait toutes vos puissances, l’ardeur de l’amour pour aimer mieux ce qui passionnait votre cœur.

[1] Luc. XII. 40.

[2] Johan. III, l6.

[3] Johan. IV, 14.


Pietro NovelliLa Mère de Dieu et les saints du Carmel (1641), 
Palerme, musée diocésain. À gauche, Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi.


Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

La fête de cette âme séraphique du Carmel de Florence (+ 25 mai 1607), fut d’abord introduite par Clément X dans le calendrier le 27 du même mois, mais avec le rite semi-double. Quand, en 1900, Léon XIII étendit, pour le même jour, l’office du vénérable Bède à l’Église universelle, sainte Marie-Madeleine dut céder la place au nouveau docteur et sa fête fut transférée au 29.

La messe est celle du Commun des Vierges, comme le 10 février. La première collecte est propre.

Parmi les dons spéciaux qui ont rendu célèbre sainte Marie-Madeleine, de la très noble famille des Pazzi de Florence, notons le parfum qui, maintenant encore, émane de sa dépouille virginale conservée sans corruption.

Les nombreuses révélations qu’eut la Sainte sont également célèbres ; parmi elles il en est une qui concerne l’immense gloire obtenue dans le ciel par saint Louis de Gonzague. Une belle maxime de la Sainte est aussi remarquable. Sainte Thérèse avait coutume de répéter : « Ou souffrir, ou mourir. » Sainte Marie-Madeleine modifia cette parole, et en compléta la signification : « Non pas mourir, mais souffrir. » De fait, toute notre gloire future dépend de la part que nous aurons eue à la passion de Jésus. C’est seulement pour cela que la vie est précieuse.


Cosimo Ulivelli. Oratoire d'une rue de Florence avec la Très Sainte Vierge Marie, 
Philippe Néri, et Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, 1668


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Souffrir, ne pas mourir.

Sainte Marie-Madeleine. — Jour de mort : 25 mai 1607. Tombeau : dans le couvent des carmélites, à Florence. Image : On la représente en Carmélite, avec un cierge allumé et une couronne d’épines. Vie : Sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi fut une grande mystique. Elle fit, dès l’âge de 10 ans, le vœu de virginité. Elle entra au couvent des carmélites déchaussées de Florence. Son principal motif fut que, dans ce couvent, on communiait presque tous les jours. Pendant cinq ans, elle ne vécut que de pain et d’eau. Elle se soumit aux plus dures pénitences. Pendant cinq ans, elle connut de grandes sécheresses d’esprit. Son mot de prédilection était : « Souffrir, ne pas mourir ». Elle mourut à l’âge de 41 ans. Son corps a été conservé jusqu’à nos jours, sans corruption, dans une chasse précieuse de cristal, dans l’église des carmélites de Florence.

Pratique : La pureté du cœur et l’amour du Christ sont les vertus principales que l’Église admire dans notre sainte. Ce sont ces vertus qui rendirent son âme capable d’adopter cette devise : « Souffrir, ne pas mourir ». La pureté et l’amour du Seigneur, ce sont aussi les vertus que l’Église voudrait nous voir pratiquer à l’exemple des saints. Sans doute, nous ne pourrons pas arriver à une telle perfection ; essayons du moins, par amour pour le Christ, de souffrir patiemment. — La messe est du commun des vierges (Dilexísti). C’est la belle messe de fiançailles, une des plus belles, dans son unité, de tout le missel.


LETTRE DU PAPE BENOÎT XVI



À L’ARCHEVÊQUE DE FLORENCE



À L’ OCCASION DU IV CENTENAIRE DE LA MORT



DE SAINTE MARIE MADDALENA DE’ PAZZI



A mon vénéré Frère



Monsieur le Cardinal Ennio ANTONELLI



Archevêque de Florence


A l’occasion du IV centenaire de la mort de Sainte Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, je suis heureux de m’unir à la bien-aimée Église florentine, qui souhaite rappeler cette illustre fille, particulièrement chère, ayant été une figure emblématique d’un amour vivant qui renvoie à la dimension mystique essentielle de toute vie chrétienne. Tout en vous saluant avec affection, Monsieur le Cardinal, ainsi que toute la Communauté diocésaine, je rends grâce à Dieu pour le don de cette Sainte, que chaque génération redécouvre singulièrement proche dans sa manière de savoir communiquer un amour ardent pour le Christ et pour l’Église.

Née à Florence le 2 avril 1566, et baptisée sur les fonts du "beau Saint Jean" sous le nom de Caterina, Sainte Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi montra dès son enfance une sensibilité particulière pour le surnaturel et fut attirée par le dialogue intime avec Dieu. Comme de coutume pour les jeunes filles d’une maison noble, son éducation fut confiée aux Dames de Malte, dans le monastère desquelles elle reçut la première communion le 25 mars 1576 et à peine quelques jours plus tard, se consacra pour toujours au Seigneur à travers une promesse de virginité. Revenue dans sa famille, elle approfondit le chemin de la prière avec l’aide des Pères jésuites, qui fréquentaient le palais. Elle réussit habilement à ne pas se laisser conditionner par les exigences mondaines d’un milieu qui, bien que chrétien, ne lui suffisait pas dans son désir de devenir plus conforme à son Époux crucifié. Dans ce contexte, elle mûrit la décision de quitter le monde et d’entrer au Carmel de Sainte-Marie-des-Anges, à Borgo san Frediano, où, le 30 janvier 1583, elle reçut l’habit du Carmel et le nom de sœur Maria Maddalena. Après être tombée gravement malade en mars 1584, elle demanda de pouvoir émettre sa profession de façon anticipée et, le 27 mai, fête de la Trinité, portée en chœur sur une civière, elle prononça pour toujours devant le Seigneur ses vœux de chasteté, de pauvreté et d’obéissance.

A partir de ce moment-là commença une intense période mystique qui allait apporter à la Sainte la renommée de grande extatique. Il existe cinq manuscrits sur lesquels les Carmélites de Sainte-Marie-des-Anges ont rapporté les expériences extraordinaires de leur jeune consœur. "Les Quarante Jours" de l’été 1584 sont suivis par "Les Entretiens" de la première moitié de l’année suivante. Le sommet de la connaissance mystique que Dieu accorda à Maria Maddalena se trouve dans "Révélations et Intelligences" huit jours de splendides extases, qui vont de la veille de la Pentecôte à la fête de la Trinité de l’année 1585. Une intense expérience qui, à l’âge de 19 ans seulement, la rendait capable de couvrir tout le mystère du salut, de l’incarnation du Verbe dans le sein de Marie à la descente de l’Esprit Saint lors de la Pentecôte. Suivirent cinq longues années de purification intérieure - Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi en parle dans le livre "Probatione" -, au cours desquelles le Verbe son Epoux lui ôta le sentiment de la grâce et la laissa comme Daniel dans la fosse aux lions, parmi de nombreuses épreuves et de grandes tentations. C’est dans ce contexte que s’inscrit son ardent engagement pour le renouveau de l’Église, après que, au cours de l’été 1586, des éclats de lumière venus d’En-Haut vinrent lui indiquer le véritable état où elle se trouvait à l’époque post-tridentine. Comme Catherine de Sienne, elle se sentit "forcée" à écrire certaines lettres pour solliciter auprès du Pape, des Cardinaux de la Curie, de son Archevêque et d’autres personnalités ecclésiastiques, un engagement décidé pour le "Renouveau de l’Église", comme le dit le titre du manuscrit qui les contient. Il s’agit de douze lettres dictées en extase, peut-être jamais expédiées, mais qui demeurent comme le témoignage de sa passion pour la Sponsa Verbi.

Avec la Pentecôte de 1590 prit fin la dure épreuve. Cela lui permit de se consacrer de toutes ses forces au service de la communauté et en particulier à la formation des novices. Sœur Maria Maddalena eut le don de vivre la communion avec Dieu sous une forme toujours plus intériorisée, si bien qu’elle devint une référence pour toute la communauté qui, aujourd’hui encore, continue à la considérer comme une "mère". L’amour purifié qui battait dans son cœur l’ouvrait au désir de la pleine conformité avec le Christ, son Époux, jusqu’à partager avec Lui la "souffrance nue" de la Croix. Les trois dernières années de sa vie furent pour elle un vrai calvaire de souffrances. La phtisie commença à se manifester clairement : Sœur Maria Maddalena se vit contrainte de se retirer peu à peu de la vie active de la communauté pour se plonger toujours davantage dans la "souffrance nue pour l’amour de Dieu". Elle connut l’oppression d’atroces souffrances physiques et spirituelles qui durèrent jusqu’à sa mort, qui eut lieu le vendredi 25 mai 1607. Elle s’éteignit vers trois heures de l’après-midi, alors qu’une joie insolite envahissait tout le monastère.

Vingt ans à peine s’étaient écoulés depuis sa mort que le Souverain Pontife florentin Urbain VIII la proclamait déjà Bienheureuse. Ce fut ensuite le Pape Clément IX qui l’inscrivit dans l’Album des Saints le 28 avril 1669. Son corps préservé de toute corruption est la destination de constants pèlerinages. Le monastère où la Sainte vécut est aujourd’hui le Siège du séminaire archiépiscopal de Florence, qui la vénère comme Patronne, et la cellule où elle mourut est devenue une chapelle dans le silence de laquelle on perçoit encore sa présence.

Sainte Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi demeure une présence spirituelle inspiratrice pour les Carmélites de l’Ancienne Observance. En elle, elles voient la "sœur" qui a parcouru entièrement le chemin de l’union transformatrice avec Dieu, et qui indique en Marie l’"étoile" du chemin vers la perfection. Pour tous, cette grande Sainte a le don d’être une maîtresse de spiritualité, en particulier pour les prêtres, envers lesquels elle a toujours nourri une véritable passion.

Je souhaite vivement que les célébrations jubilaires actuelles de sa mort contribuent à faire connaître toujours davantage cette figure lumineuse qui manifeste à tous la dignité et la beauté de la vocation chrétienne. Tout comme, lorsqu’elle était en vie, en sonnant les cloches, elle appelait ses consœurs par le cri "Venez aimer l’amour !", puisse la grande Mystique de Florence, de son séminaire, des monastères carmélites qui s’inspirent d’elle, faire entendre aujourd’hui encore sa voix dans toute l’Église, en diffusant l’annonce de l’amour de Dieu pour toute créature humaine.

Avec ce souhait, je vous confie, Vénéré Frère, ainsi que l’Église florentine, à la céleste protection de Sainte Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi et je donne à tous de tout cœur une Bénédiction apostolique particulière.

Du Vatican, le 29 avril 2007

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Marie-Madeleine de’ Pazzi, le trésor caché de l’Église

Quatre cents ans après sa mort, des études et des documents inédits jettent une nouvelle lumière sur la spiritualité “pascale” et joyeuse de la sainte mystique de Florence

par Chiara Vasciaveo

Les notes originales des Colloqui de sainte Marie-Madeleine de’ Pazzi, minutes trouvées en 2005 par Chiara Vasciaveo, Archives de Sainte-Marie-des- Anges, Florence

Le 25 mai 2007, a été célébré le quatrième centenaire de la mort de Sainte Marie-Madeleine (1566-1607), carmélite florentine et maîtresse de vie spirituelle. Sa réputation de sainteté auprès du peuple et du clergé était telle que les procès pour sa béatification commencèrent très tôt, dès 1611. Elle fut proclamée bienheureuse par Urbain VIII le 8 mai 1626, et canonisée le 28 avril 1669 par Clément IX.

Des savants éminents affirment que «Marie-Madeleine de’ Pazzi est, avec Angèle de Foligno et Catherine de Sienne, la sainte italienne dont les textes spirituels sont les plus connus»1. Des nombreux témoins catholiques qui font autorité ont exprimé leur estime pour son témoignage et pour sa parole. Des vénérables comme Diomire du Verbe Incarné (Marguerite Allegri, 1651-1677), membre de l’ordre des Sœurs Établies de la Charité (Philippines de Florence), des bienheureux comme Hyppolite Galantini (†1619) ou des saints comme Alphonse Marie de Liguori (1696-1787)2 et Thérèse de Lisieux (1873-1897)3, ont nourri pour la sainte mystique de Florence une vénération significative.

Paul VI aimait relire ses œuvres, tandis que don Divo Barsotti, au cours de sa dernière visite aux religieuses de Careggi, ne craignait pas de déclarer en des termes intensément autobiographiques: «Sainte Marie-Madeleine vit sa mission d’amour pour nous... C’est pour cela que je voudrais lui confier ma propre personne, ainsi que toute la communauté de Saint Serge... elle a été l’amie, le secours, la lumière de mon chemin. Nous l’en remercions infiniment. Je n’aurais jamais pensé que nous aurait été donnée sur cette terre une expérience vivante et profonde, parfaitement divine»4.

Malheureusement, une dévotion peu avertie et des zélateurs imprudents de son témoignage ont divulgué la vision baroque de la sainte à l’aide de textes et d’images (c’est-à-dire en présentant de son vécu une interprétation particulière, qui en accentue les aspects extraordinaires), en faisant abstraction des paroles de la sainte. Or celles-ci, fortes et tranchantes, sont capables, dans leur pressante demande de renouvellement ecclésial, de s’imprimer au fer rouge dans le cœur de ceux qui les écoutent. C’est peut-être pour cette raison que les écrits authentiques de la carmélite sont si peu fréquentés, même dans ce quadricentenaire, avec les risques que l’on peut imaginer.

Il existe différents modèles de sainteté chrétienne. En général, on comprend assez facilement les missions caractérisées par le service de la charité et de la miséricorde. En revanche, il n’est pas aussi simple d’accepter les dons prophétiques, caractérisés moins par “la prédiction de l’avenir” que par un authentique magistère spirituel, inspiré par l’écoute de la Parole et attesté par la cohérence de la vie.

Une vie cachée

La biographie de sainte Marie-Madeleine n’est pas caractérisée par beaucoup d’événements. C’est dans l’une des familles les plus en vue de la noblesse florentine, de Marie Buondelmonti et de Camillo di Geri de’ Pazzi que naquit le 2 avril 1566 Caterina, leur deuxième fille. Elle fut pensionnaire à deux reprises chez les Chevalières de Malte, à San Giovannino, de 1574 à 1578 et de 1580 à 1581. Elle choisit, trop jeune peut-être, de devenir carmélite en entrant à Sainte-Marie-des-Anges à seize ans, le 27 novembre 1582, peu de temps après la fin du Concile de Trente (1545-1563).

Les cinq premières années de sa vie monastique sont les plus connues de la biographie de Marie-Madeleine. “Absences”, “ravissements”, dramatisations d’épisodes évangéliques s’entrecroisaient avec la vie ordinaire de la jeune carmélite. En réalité, on regroupe sous ces étiquettes une variété de phénomènes forts diversifiés fondés sur la méditation orante de la Parole. Dans le grand carmel de Sainte-Marie-des-Anges (le plus ancien de l’ordre), riche de presque quatre-vingt religieuses à l’époque où y vécut Marie-Madeleine, plusieurs moniales étaient d’un haut profil spirituel, de la mère Evangelista Del Giocondo à Pacifica del Tovaglia, l’une des principales “secrétaires” et amies de la sainte.

Pendant environ vingt ans, cette dernière mena la vie tissée de prière et de travail qui est celle des monastères cloîtrés. D’abord vicaire pour l’accueil des jeunes filles qui fréquentaient la maison d’hôtes (1586-1589), elle fut engagée, à des titres variés, dans la formation des novices à partir de 1589 et devint sous-prieure en 1604. Elle tomba ensuite malade et passa les trois dernières années de sa vie dans les tourments du corps et de l’esprit, pour s’éteindre le 25 mai 1607, à l’âge de quarante et un ans.

« Si Dieu est communicatif »

Le carmel de Sainte-Marie-des-Anges était lié depuis plusieurs années à des cercles féminins proches de la pensée de Savonarole. Y circulaient depuis longtemps des témoignages et des sources manuscrites sur des femmes célèbres et estimées comme les dominicaines sainte Catherine de’ Ricci da Prato (1522-1590) et la bienheureuse Maria Bartolomea de’ Bagnesi (1514-1577), dont le corps est encore vénéré aujourd’hui dans le carmel florentin et dont le confesseur devint, à partir de 1563, le gouverneur même du monastère.

On a parlé plus haut de l’importance des Saintes Écritures. Un témoin précisait pendant le procès canonique: «Je me souviens en particulier que chaque samedi, prenant le livre de l’évangile, elle tirait de l’évangile du dimanche suivant deux ou trois passages de son choix; elle s’exerçait dans la méditation de ces textes pendant toute la semaine, en consacrant environ deux heures chaque matin et une heure chaque soir à cette méditation» (Sum 57). C’est de cette familiarité, qu’elle avait mûri dans les milieux franciscains et dominicains, que naquit sa compréhension personnelle de Dieu comme Dieu communicatif.

La surabondante effusion de l’Esprit, reçue en particulier à la Pentecôte de l’an 1585, conduisit la jeune carmélite sur les voies austères d’un désert, le désert inhérent à la créature et à l’Église qui peinent à faire place à une telle grâce et à la nécessité de grandir dans la miséricorde d’un Dieu qui est «Père très passionné», Verbe donateur d’un «baiser de paix» et Esprit, feu qui transforme5. Ce qui est sûr, au-delà de trop de sentimentalismes que ses dévots n’ont fait qu’exacerber, c’est que le plus grand don que Marie-Madeleine de’ Pazzi puisse faire à notre temps, c’est le caractère central de la Trinité dans la vie spirituelle et dans la vie ecclésiale.

Ainsi, la rencontre avec le Dieu communion enrichit sainte Marie Madeleine non seulement d’une joie profonde, mais aussi d’une prise de conscience graduelle du fait que beaucoup d’hommes et de femmes, extérieurement chrétiens et même, ce qui est pire, religieux et prêtres, répondent à l’offre du Fils et de son Esprit de manière inadéquate. Aimer le Christ, pour sainte Marie-Madeleine, n’a pas seulement voulu dire s’arrêter affectivement sur la considération de ses plaies physiques, mais aussi mûrir un amour passionné pour le corps blessé et déchiré du Christ qu’est l’Église. Pour elle, par exemple, accueillir le Christ a voulu dire ouvrir les yeux sur ses attentes déçues par rapport à une vie religieuse riche de rites, mais pauvre de relations fraternelles.

Aimer le Christ et son Église, malgré la médiocrité – ou, comme elle disait, la «maudite tiédeur» – de tant de baptisés et de «christs» (prêtres), ce fut certainement pour elle «Enfer et Paradis en même temps»; et l’on comprend alors que l’unique don de l’Esprit l’ eût “ obligée”, comme sainte Catherine de Sienne et Savonarole, à entreprendre une œuvre estimée, mais restée inécoutée dans les faits, de «rénovation de l’Église».

De son côté, elle répondit malgré tout à la mission qui lui fut confiée, à travers les rencontres interpersonnelles et les lettres datées (mais pas toujours envoyées) au Pape lui-même et aux cardinaux, en leur rappelant qu’ils avaient tous le devoir de mener une vie personnelle et ecclésiale fondée sur la nudité de l’Évangile.

Pour être épouse et non servante

La mystique de Marie-Madeleine, dans le sillage de Catherine de Sienne, est une mystique ecclésiale qui appelle le peuple de Dieu tout entier à la conversion, non pas pour le “réprimander”, comme certains le soutiennent, mais pour que devant l’Esprit qui frappe à la porte, quelqu’un «s’ouvre à ce don».

Qu’il est beau, le témoignage (dont on a retrouvé l’original) rendu par la prieure Evangelista le premier mai 1595: «moi, sœur Vangelista, en honneur du Père éternel. Je me souviens qu’en ce jour du premier mai 1595, sœur Marie-Madeleine a promis à Dieu de vouloir être son épouse, non sa servante pour son plus grand honneur et pour qu’Il se complaise en elle et trouve une plus grande aide en son don; elle a promis de marcher nue avec son Dieu et de n’entendre que Sa voix et celle de ceux qui en tiennent lieu et, quand elle aurait un doute à propos de quelque chose, elle veut prendre conseil d’abord auprès du Christ nu et de l’âme la plus nue que trouveront ses yeux et ses supérieurs»6.

Si l’on s’en tient aux textes et non aux commentaires, il semble en effet que le cœur de l’expérience de Marie-Madeleine ne se concentre pas sur la souffrance (engendrée aussi par les problèmes de santé et par une ascèse peu équilibrée), mais consiste dans l’approfondissement théologal d’une alliance de noces avec le Seigneur, riche d’un “amour pur” – elle aimait dire «mort» – à savoir l’amour d’une épouse. Elle vécut de cet amour pascal, enraciné dans le sang divinisant de l’Eucharistie, grâce au souffle de l’Esprit. De cet amour a pu jaillir sa fragile parole de femme, pétrie de la force de l’Évangile. De tout cela, son corps intact, non corrompu, est l’humble témoignage, vénéré dans le carmel florentin de Sainte-Marie-des-Anges et gardé encore aujourd’hui par la présence orante de ses sœurs.

Un trésor caché à redécouvrir, pour l’Église florentine et pour l’Église universelle. Don Barsotti espérait qu’un jour, sainte Marie-Madeleine serait reconnue comme docteur de l’Église. Les nombreux pèlerins qui la “rencontrent” et se rendent auprès de son corps, venus de plusieurs continents par des voies presque impensables, font réfléchir sur la nécessité de faire entendre sa voix et d’accomplir sa mission.

Notes

1 G. Pozzi – C. Leonardi, Scrittrici mistiche italiane, Marietti, Gênes 1988, p. 419.

2 Cf. Saint Alphonse M. de Liguori, La vera sposa di Gesù Cristo, Casa Mariana, Frigento 1991, pp. 23.25.29.39.157 ss.

3 Cf. Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus, Opere complete di santa Teresa di Gesù Bambino e del volto Santo. Scritti e ultime parole, Librairie Éditrice Vaticane – Éd. OCD, Rome 1997, ms. A, 183.

4 D. Barsotti, Riflessioni (12 juillet 2005), transcription, Careggi 2005.

5 C. Vasciaveo, Danzare al passo di Dio. Santa Maria Maddalena di Firenze, Cantagalli, Sienne 2006; “en nous une source d’eau vive”. Mistica e profezia in santa Maria Maddalena di Firenze, in Horeb, 46 (2007), n. 1.

6 Promessa (1er mai 1595), in Miscellanea Santa Maria Maddalena, Archives de Sainte-Marie-des-Anges, 1.4.IA.2


Présentation de Sainte Marie Madeleine de Pazzi

En France, malgré une certaine renommée, sainte Marie Madeleine de Pazzi (1566-1607) est encore peu connue car les publications qui la concernent sont d’accès difficile. Elle jouissait d’une grande popularité au XVIIe siècle, grâce surtout aux Carmes de la Réforme de Touraine qui firent connaître sa vie et son message, et favorisèrent le développement de son culte. L’auteur français le plus considérable est sans doute le P. Léon de Saint Jean. On lui doit plusieurs ouvrages dont une biographie de sainte Marie Madeleine de Pazzi qui connut un grand succès jusqu’à la sixième édition en 1669.

Mais le XVIIIe siècle, époque difficile pour les mystiques, annonçait des temps tragiques. La Révolution française allait chasser de France les Carmes qui affectionnaient la vie et le message de la sainte florentine. Malgré cela, on continua à s’y intéresser à travers des traductions. En 1837, paraissait la “Vie de sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi” par son confesseur, le jésuite Cepari, qui connaîtra cinq éditions successives. En 1873, Dom Anselme Bruniaux, prieur de la Chartreuse de Valbonne, publiait à Paris les “Oeuvres de sainte Marie Madeleine de Pazzi”. Il s’agit d’une anthologie de textes de la sainte. Au XXe siècle, nous devons citer la biographie de Maurice Vaussard “Sainte Marie-Madeleine de’ Pazzi” qui connut trois éditions de 1921 à 1925, et, du même auteur, “Extases et lettres de Sainte Marie-Madeleine de’ Pazzi”, précieux mais bien modeste recueil d’écrits de la carmélite florentine.

* * *

J’ai voulu rendre accessible la pensée et la vie de sainte Marie Madeleine de Pazzi, l’une des plus grandes mystiques de l’Eglise catholique. C’est un geste de gratitude envers la sainte dont l’ouvrage « I Quaranta giorni » a été mon compagnon dans un passage délicat de ma vie. J’ai puisé dans cet écrit des lumières, des raisons d’espérer, qui m’ont aidé à résister à l’abattement et au découragement. L’ouverture à la contemplation de l’amour de Dieu et à la participation aux souffrances du Christ ont rempli d’un sens nouveau cette épreuve. Depuis lors, je n’ai plus quitté Marie Madeleine de Pazzi, et elle ne m’a plus quitté. De cette expérience est né le désir de la faire connaître et aimer, de partager avec d’autres personnes la joie de cette amitié et de cette rencontre.

Je me suis donc engagé dans la traduction des œuvres de la sainte, en commençant par « Les Quarante Jours ». Ce fut un travail long mais aussi une expérience d’amitié spirituelle avec les personnes qui m’ont aidé, soit pour améliorer mon français, soit pour bien saisir et donc bien exprimer certains passages difficiles du texte italien. La recherche de l’éditeur s’avéra pénible. Après plusieurs réponses négatives, j’ai trouvé un éditeur qui accepta de le publier : Jérôme Millon de Grenoble. Je lui serai toujours redevable de m’avoir fait confiance et d’avoir permis la réalisation de ce rêve. Je suis très reconnaissant à Marie-Claude Carrara pour l’excellente qualité de son travail d’édition.

* * *

En 2002, parut Les Quarante Jours, suivi en 2004 par Les Huit jours de l’Esprit Saint et en 2007, par Cinq ans dans la fosse aux lions.

En 2003, les Editions de l’Abbaye de Bellefontaine publiaient, dans la collection Flèche de feu, Les trois extases de la passion de Jésus, avec une importante introduction sur la dimension spirituelle de la passion du Seigneur dans le Carmel et en Marie Madeleine.

La revue Mélanges carmélitains a publié deux articles dédiés à la sainte : La prière au Carmel : sainte Marie Madeleine de’ Pazzi (1566-1607), dans le numéro 1 (2003), et Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi et Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus, Sœurs dans l’Esprit, dans le numéro 3 (2005).

* * *

2007 a été une année très importante pour les études sur sainte Marie Madeleine de Pazzi. J’ai eu la grâce de vivre à Florence les moments forts de cet anniversaire, dont certains ont été très émouvants, comme la procession avec l’urne contenant le corps intact de la sainte, du séminaire diocésain, ancien monastère de la sainte, à la magnifique cathédrale sainte Marie del Fiore. Je préparais depuis plusieurs années un guide pour les pèlerins sur les lieux de la vie de la sainte. Il parut quelques jours avant les grandes célébrations florentines. Le livre que j’ai publié en italien Pietre e fuoco, est un guide historique, artistique et spirituel des lieux de vie de la sainte, un livre qui s’élaborait dans ma tête depuis 2003 ; j’en ai parlé avec Alexandra, l’amie américaine dont il est question dans le Prologue de la Sainte flamme. Elle m’a toujours soutenu et encouragé dans ce travail ; je lui en suis très reconnaissant.

En 2008 est enfin paru, La sainte flamme, la suite logique du livre italien « Pietre e fuoco », la biographie de la sainte qui manquait en langue française. C’est une vie accessible, suffisamment complète et riche de textes spirituels de la sainte dont quelques uns sont inédits.



Gravue de Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi,
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, Benzinger Brothers, 1878.


1566

Catherine de Pazzi naît le 2 avril à Florence, après Geri, premier-né de Maître Camillo di Geri de’Pazzi et de Dame Marie de Lorenzo Buondelmonti, et suivie de deux autres frères, Alamanno et Baccio.

Le 3 avril, elle est baptisée dans l’oratoire de Saint Jean Baptiste, et reçoit comme patronne sainte Catherine qu’elle aimera beaucoup ; mais en famille on l’appellera couramment Lucrezia, nom de sa grand-mère paternelle.

1574

Le 25 février, elle entre pour la première fois, comme pensionnaire, au monastère de Saint Jean des Chevaliers, confiée aux bons soins de sa tante maternelle, Sœur Lessandra Buondelmonti.

1576

Le 25 mars, fête de l’Annonciation, elle reçoit la première communion à l’âge de dix ans, dans l’église de Saint Jean des Chevaliers, tenue par les pères Jésuites.

Le 19 avril, jeudi saint, au moment de la sainte communion elle se sent appelée à faire à Dieu le vœu de virginité.

1578

Le 30 novembre, en la fête de l’apôtre saint André, elle tombe en extase pour la première fois en la présence de sa mère, vers le soir, dans un pré de leur villa de Parugiano, près de Prato.

1580

Le 16 mars, par suite du départ de son père pour Cortone, elle est confiée aux Sœurs du Monastère de Saint Jean des Chevaliers, à la condition de pouvoir communier tous les jours de fête.

Le jour de l’Ascension, elle est submergée par l’Amour de Dieu. Elle reçoit une connaissance extraordinaire de la grandeur de Dieu et de sa grâce.

1581

Au retour des siens à Florence, elle rentre en famille dans la villa de Parugiano.

1582

Le 14 août, Catherine entre pour 15 jours au Carmel de Sainte Marie des Anges pour faire l’essai de sa vocation religieuse et de la vie carmélitaine. Elle choisit ce monastère à cause du privilège exceptionnel dont il jouit : celui de la communion quotidienne. Puis elle rejoint sa famille.

Le 27 novembre, veille du premier dimanche de l’Avant, Catherine, bénie par ses parents et accompagnée de sa mère, entre définitivement au monastère de Sainte Marie des Anges.

Le 8 décembre, le chapitre du monastère accepte à l'unanimité la nouvelle postulante.

1583

Ses parents envoient un peintre pour faire le portrait de Catherine avant sa prise d’habit. Elle en est contrariée, mais accepte par obéissance.

Le 30 janvier, elle reçoit l’habit carmélitain et prend le nom de Sœur Marie Madeleine.

Durant l’Avent, elle éprouve l’Amour de Dieu dans sa surabondance comme elle l’avait connu dans la villa de Parugiano.

1584

Le 30 janvier, on diffère la date de sa profession pour attendre d’autres Sœurs qui n’ont pas encore terminé leur Noviciat. Elle prophétise qu’elle fera sa Profession avant les autres.

Au début du mois de mars, elle tombe malade et son état empire rapidement.

Le 27 mai, dimanche de la Trinité, sur un lit, devant l’autel de la Vierge, elle prononce ses vœux. Elle est reconduite à l’infirmerie. À ce moment, commence une période surprenante d’extases, qui surviennent tous les jours après la communion, pendant deux ou trois heures. Cela va durer quarante jours. La maladie continue son cours.

Le 8 juin, vision du drame de la Passion.

Le 10 juin, Jésus lui donne Son cœur et prend en échange celui de la carmélite pour le remplir d’un saint amour.

Le 16 juin, rendant visite au tombeau de la bienheureuse Maria Bagnesi sur l'ordre de son confesseur, elle est guérie de sa maladie.

Le 28 juin, elle reçoit la marque des stigmates ; à sa prière ils seront cachés aux créatures.

Le 6 juillet , elle reçoit la couronne d’épines.

1585

Le soir du 24 mars, veille de l’Annonciation, S. Augustin lui écrit dans le cœur les mots : Verbum caro factum est.

Le 15 avril, elle reçoit dans son âme les stigmates invisibles.

Le dimanche 28 avril, elle reçoit de Jésus l’anneau de son mariage mystique.

Le 21 mai, on lui annonce une grande épreuve : le Seigneur lui demande de se nourrir de pain et d’eau seulement et de ne dormir que 5 heures par jour.

Le 8 juin, veille de la Pentecôte, commence la seconde grande période d’extases : durant huit jours, elle reste en extase jour et nuit, sauf deux heures environ pour prier l’office, et prendre un peu de nourriture. Durant ces jours elle reçoit sept fois, à l'heure de Tierce, sous diverses formes, le Saint-Esprit.

Le 16 juin, fête de la Trinité, commence la grande éprouve appelée, « lac des lions », qui va durer cinq ans.

Le 5 juillet, le Seigneur lui commande de marcher les pieds nus.

1586

Le 20 juillet, elle entre en extase, Dieu l’appelle à la tâche de renouveler l’Église. Elle va dicter 12 lettres à diverses personnes, dont le Pape.

Le 17 septembre, elle reçoit le « voile blanc » de la Vierge, pour avoir triomphé des tentations contre la pureté.

En octobre, elle quitte le Noviciat.

1587

Son frère Alamanno meurt le 14 juillet. Elle voit l’âme de celui-ci peiner au Purgatoire.

1588

Le jeudi 25 février, elle reçoit le faisceau de la Passion.

Le 25 novembre, les épreuves qu’elle subit, la tentation de s’évader et de mourir, atteignent leur point culminant.

1589

Le 30 septembre, elle est élue Sous-maîtresse des novices.

1590

Le 22 avril, jour de Pâque, le Seigneur lui demande de faire encore un Carême de Cinquante jours. Elle jeûne ainsi jusqu’à la Pentecôte.

Le 10 juin, dans la nuit de Pentecôte, elle est enfin libérée du « lac des lions ». Elle reçoit de grands dons et des communications divines.

Sa mère meurt le 24 août. Elle la contemple, joyeuse au Purgatoire, et on lui révèle la gloire qui lui est réservée pour ses actes de charité envers le prochain. Le 7 septembre, elle voit l’âme de sa mère entrer au Paradis.

1592

Le 26 mars, dans une longue extase, elle participe aux douleurs de la Passion.

Le 3 mai, dans un grand excès d’amour, elle sonne les cloches, appelant à aimer l’Amour.

Au mois d’octobre elle reçoit l’office de sacristine.

1595

Le 1er mai, elle demande au Seigneur la souffrance pure.

Elle est élue Maîtresse des jeunes professes.

1597

Mort du père de Sœur Marie Madeleine.

1598

Au chapitre du 2 octobre, elle est élue Maîtresse des novices.

1604

Le 24 juin, dernière extase : Dieu lui accorde ainsi la pure souffrance.

Au chapitre, elle est élue Sous-prieure, contre sa volonté.

Peu après elle tombe malade.

1607

Le 13 mai, après trois ans de maladie, elle reçoit l’Extrême Onction.

Le 25 mai, à huit heures elle entre en agonie. Quand on appelle le Père confesseur, il lui fait dire que par la sainte Obéissance elle doit attendre pour mourir. Elle se réveille un instant et prononce ses derniers mots : « Benedictus Deus ». Elle meurt vers 14 heures.

1608

Un an après sa mort, les carmélites obtiennent de porter les dépouilles mortelles de leur Sœur dans la cellule où elle avait vécu.

1611

Le procès de béatification commence après les nombreux miracles obtenus par son intercession.

1626

Le 8 mai, le Pape Urbain VIII la proclame bienheureuse.

1662

Début du procès de canonisation.

1669

Le 28 avril, le Pape Clément IX l’inscrit dans la gloire des saints.

Sa dépouille vénérée, toujours intacte, repose aujourd’hui dans le nouveau monastère qui lui est dédié sur la colline de Careggi aux environs de la ville de Florence.

SOURCE : http://voiemystique.free.fr/madeleine_de_pazzi_chronologie.htm


Attribué à Santi di TitoSœur Marie-Madeleinede Pazzi à l'âge de 16 ans
avant son entrée au Carmel,1583


LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF FLORENCE
ON THE OCCASION OF THE FOURTH CENTENARY OF THE DEATH
OF ST. MARY MAGDALENE DE’ PAZZI


To His Eminence
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli
Archbishop of Florence

On the occasion of the Fourth Centenary of the death of St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, I am pleased to unite myself to the beloved Florentine Church who wishes to remember her illustrious daughter, particularly dear as a symbolic figure of a living love that recalls the essential mystical dimension of every Christian life.

While with affection I greet you, Your Eminence, and the entire diocesan community, I give thanks to God for the gift of this Saint, which every generation rediscovers as uniquely close by knowing how to communicate an ardent love for Christ and the Church.

Born in Florence on 2 April 1566 and baptized at the "beautiful St John" font with the name Caterina, St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi showed a particular sensitivity to the supernatural from childhood and was attracted by intimate colloquy with God.

As was the custom for children of noble families, her education was entrusted to the Dames of Malta, in whose monastery she received her First Holy Communion on 25 March 1576, and just some days later she consigned herself to the Lord for ever with a promise of virginity.

Returning to her family, she deepened her prayer life with the help of the Jesuit Fathers, who used to come to the palace. She cleverly did not allow herself to be conditioned by the worldly demands of an environment that, although Christian, was not sufficient to satisfy her desire to become more similar to her crucified Spouse.

In this context she reached the decision to leave the world and enter the Carmel of St Mary of the Angels at Borgo San Frediano, where on 30 January 1583 she received the Carmelite habit and the name of Sr Mary Magdalene.

In March of 1584, she fell gravely ill and asked to be able to make her profession prior to the time, and on 27 May, Feast of the Trinity, she was carried into the choir on her pallet, where she pronounced before the Lord her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for ever.

From this moment an intense mystical season began which was also the source of the Saint's great ecstatic fame. The Carmelites of St Mary of the Angels have five manuscripts in which are recorded the extraordinary experiences of their young Sister.

"The Forty Days" of the summer of 1584 are followed by "The Colloquies" of the first half of the following year. The apex of the mystical knowledge that God granted of himself to Sr Mary Magdalene is found in "Revelations and Intelligences", eight days of splendid ecstacies from the vigil of Pentecost to the Feastday of the Trinity in 1585. This was an intense experience that made her able at only 19 years of age to span the whole mystery of salvation, from the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Five long years of interior purification followed - Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi speaks of it in the book of "The Probation" - in which her Spouse, the Word, takes away the sentiment of grace and leaves her like Daniel in the lions' den, amid many trials and great temptations.

This is the context in which her ardent commitment to renew the Church takes place, after which, in the summer of 1586, splendours of light from on high came to show her the true state of the post-Tridentine era.

Like Catherine of Siena, she felt "forced" to write some letters of entreaty to the Pope, Curial Cardinals, her Archbishop and other ecclesial personages, for a decisive commitment to "The Renovation of the Church", as the title of the manuscript that contains them says. It consists of 12 letters dictated in ecstasy, perhaps never sent, but which remain as a testimony of her passion for the Sponsa Verbi.

With Pentecost of 1590 her difficult trial ended. She promised to dedicate herself with all her energy to the service of the community and in particular to the formation of novices. Sr Mary Magdalene had the gift to live communion with God in an ever more interior form, so as to become a reference point for the whole community who still today continue to consider her "mother".

The purified love that pulsated in her heart opened her to desire full conformity with Christ, her Spouse, even to sharing with him the "naked suffering" of the Cross. Her last three years of life were a true Calvary of suffering for her. Consumption began to clearly manifest itself: Sr Mary Magdalene was obliged to withdraw little by little from community life to immerse herself ever more in "naked suffering for love of God".

She was oppressed by atrocious physical and spiritual pain which lasted until her death on Friday, 25 May 1607. She passed away at 3 p.m., while an unusual joy pervaded the entire monastery.

Within 20 years of her death the Florentine Pontiff Urban VIII had already proclaimed her Blessed. Pope Clement IX inscribed her in the Roll of Saints on 28 April 1669.

Her body has remained incorrupt and is the destination of constant pilgrimages. The monastery where the Saint lived is today the seat of the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Florence, which venerates her as their Patron, and the cell where she died has become a chapel in whose silence one can still feel her presence.

St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi continues to be an inspiring spiritual figure for the Carmelites Nuns of the Ancient Observance. They see in her the "Sister" who has travelled the entire way of transforming union with God and who finds in Mary the "star" of the way to perfection.

This great Saint has for everyone the gift of being a spiritual teacher, particularly for priests, to whom she always nourished a true passion.

I truly hope that the present jubilee celebrations commemorating her death will contribute to making this luminous figure ever better known, who manifests to all the dignity and beauty of the Christian vocation. As, while she was alive, grasping the bells she urged her Sisters with the cry: "Come and love Love!", may the great Mystic, from Florence, from her Seminary, from the Carmelite monasteries that draw their inspiration from her, still make her voice heard in all the Church, spreading to every human creature the proclamation to love God.

With this wish, I entrust you, Venerable Brother, and the Florentine Church to the heavenly protection of St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi and heartily impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 29 April 2007
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana




Chapelle principale de l'église Sainte Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, Florence 

Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi


Also known as
  • Mary-Magdalen de’Pazzi
Profile

Catherine received a religious upbringing. She was initially sent to a convent at age 14, but was taken back home by her family who opposed her religious vocation and wanted her to marry well. They eventually gave in, and Catherine became a Carmelite of the Ancient Observance at 16, taking the name Sister Mary Magdalen. Mystic. Led a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness.

Born


Luca GiordanoJésus apparaissant à Marie-Madeleine de Pazzi, 1685,
 Florence, église Madalenna de Pazzi.


St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi

Carmelite Virgin, born 2 April, 1566; died 25 May, 1607. Of outward events there were very few in the saint'slife. She came of two noble families, her father being Camillo Geri de' Pazzi and her mother a Buondelmonti. She was baptized, and named Caterina, in the great baptistery. Her childhood much resembled that of some other women saints who have become great mystics, in an early love of prayer and penance, great charity to the poor, an apostolic spirit of teaching religious truths, and a charm and sweetness of nature that made her a general favourite. But above all other spiritual characteristics was Caterina's intense attraction towards theBlessed Sacrament, her longing to receive It, and her delight in touching and being near those who were speaking of It, or who had just been to Communion. She made her own First Communion at the age of ten, and shortly afterwards vowed her virginity to God. At fourteen she was sent to school at the convent ofCavalaresse, where she lived in so mortified and fervent a manner as to make the sisters prophesy that she would become a great saint; and, on leaving it, she told her parents of her resolve to enter the religiousstate. They were truly spiritual people; and, after a little difficulty in persuading them to relinquish their only daughter, she finally entered in December, 1582, the Carmelite convent of Santa Maria degl' Angeli, founded by four Florentine ladies in 1450 and renowned for its strict observance. Her chief reason for choosing thisconvent was the rule there followed of daily Communion.


Caterina was clothed in 1583, when she took the name of Maria Maddalena; and on 29 May, 1584, being then so ill that they feared she would not recover, she was professed. After her profession, she was subject to an extraordinary daily ecstasy for forty consecutive days, at the end of which time she appeared at the point of death. She recovered, however, miraculously; and henceforth, in spite of constant bad health, was able to fill with energy the various offices to which she was appointed. She became, in turn, mistress of externs--i.e. of girls coming to the convent on trial--teacher and mistress of the juniors, novice mistress (which post she held for six years), and finally, in 1604, superior. For five years (1585-90) God allowed her to be tried by terrible inward desolation and temptations, and by external diabolic attacks; but the courageous severity and deephumility of the means that she took for overcoming these only served to make her virtues shine more brilliantly in the eyes of her community.

From the time of her clothing with the religious habit till her death the saint's life was one series of raptures and ecstasies, of which only the most notable characteristics can be named in a short notice.
  • First, these raptures sometimes seized upon her whole being with such force as to compel her to rapid motion (e.g. towards some sacred object).
  • Secondly, she was frequently able, whilst in ecstasy, to carry on work belonging to her office--e.g.,embroidery, painting, etc.--with perfect composure and efficiency.
  • Thirdly--and this is the point of chief importance--it was whilst in her states of rapture that St. MaryMagdalen de' Pazzi gave utterance to those wonderful maxims of Divine Love, and those counsels ofperfection for souls, especially in the religious state, which a modern editor of a selection of them declares to be "more frequently quoted by spiritual writers than those even of St. Teresa". These utterances have been preserved to us by the saint's companions, who (unknown to her) took them down from her lips as she poured them forth. She spoke sometimes as of herself, and sometimes as the mouthpiece of one or other of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity. These maxims of the saint are sometimes described as her "Works", although she wrote down none of them herself.
This ecstatic life in no wise interfered with the saint's usefulness in her community. She was noted for her strong common-sense, as well as for the high standard and strictness of her government, and was most dearlyloved to the end of her life by all for the spirit of intense charity that accompanied her somewhat severe code of discipline. As novice-mistress she was renowned for a miraculous gift of reading her subjects' hearts--whichgift, indeed, was not entirely confined to her community. Many miracles, both of this and of other kinds, she performed for the benefit either of her own convent or of outsiders. She often saw things far off, and is said once to have supernaturally beheld St. Catherine de' Ricci in her convent at Prato, reading a letter that she had sent her and writing the answer; but the two saints never met in a natural manner. To St. MaryMagdalen's numerous penances, and to the ardent love of suffering that made her genuinely wish to live long in order to suffer with Christ, we can here merely refer; but it must not be forgotten that she was one of the strongest upholders of the value of suffering for the love of God and the salvation of our fellow-creatures, that ever lived. Her death was fully in accordance with her life in this respect, for she died after an illness of nearly three years' duration and of indescribable painfulness, borne with heroic joy to the end. Innumerable miraclesfollowed the saint's death, and the process for her beatification was begun in 1610 under Paul V, and finished under Urban VIII in 1626. She was not, however, canonized till sixty-two years after her death, when Clement IX raised her to the altars in 28 April, 1669. Her feast is kept on 27 May.

Sources

(1) The Oratorian Life (1849), translated from the Italian Life by CEPARI, for a long time confessor to the saint and her community; the edition translated is that of 1669, published in Rome by BERNABO. (2) A MS. Life--of which copies exist in England, only in several convents--compiled by PANTING from the above-named work of CEPARI's, and from another Italian Life by PUCCINI, who was the saint's confessor for about two years before her death. (3) Oeuvres de S. M. M. de' Pazzi, compiled in French by LAURENT MARIA BRANCACCIO, a Neapolitan Carmelite, from Puccini's work. This book consists of her maxims, aspirations, etc., as collected by the Community. (4) A small Manual of the saint's counsels on the Religious Life, translated from the French by FARRINGTON (Dublin, 1891).

Capes, Florence. "St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1910. 30 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09762a.htm>.


Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Elizabeth T. Knuth. In honor of Ernest E. Larkin, O. Carm.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09762a.htm


María Magdalena de Pazzi. Iglesia del Santo Ángel. Sevilla, Andalucía, España.


SAINT MARY MAGDALEN OF PAZZI

ST. MARY MAGDALEN of Pazzi, of an illustrious house in Florence, was born in the year 1566, and baptized by the name of Catherine. She received her first communion at ten years of age, and made a vow of virginity at twelve. She took great pleasure in carefully teaching the Christian doctrine to the ignorant. Her father, not knowing her vow, wished to give her in marriage, but she persuaded him to allow her to become a religious. It was more difficult to obtain her mother's consent; but at last she gained it, and she was professed, being then eighteen years of age, in the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence, May 17th, 1584. She changed her name Catherine into that of Mary Magdalen on becoming a nun, and took as her motto, " To suffer or die;" and her life henceforth was a life of penance for sins not her own, and of love of our Lord, who tried her in ways fearful and strange. She was obedient, observant of the rule, humble and mortified, and had a great reverence for the religious life. She loved poverty and suffering, and hungered after Communion. The day of Communion she called the day of love. The charity that burned in her heart led her in her youth to choose the house of the Carmelites, because the religious therein communicated every day. She rejoiced to see others communicate, even when she was not allowed to do so herself; and her love for her sisters grew when she saw them receive our Lord. God raised her to high states of prayer, and gave her rare gifts, enabling her to read the thoughts of her novices, and filling her with wisdom to direct them aright. She was twice chosen mistress of novices, and then made superioress, when God took her to Himself, May 25th, 1607. Her body is incorrupt.

REFLECTION.—St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi was so filled with the love of God that her sisters in the monastery observed it in her love of themselves, and called her " the Mother of Charity," and "the Charity of the Monastery."

SOURCE : http://jesus-passion.com/saint_mary_magdalen_of_pazzi.htm



Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi V (RM)

Born in Florence, Italy, 1566; died there on May 25, 1607; canonized in 1669; feast day formerly May 29.


Mary Magdalene was born into a distinguished family and baptized Catherine. She was educated at the Saint John Convent in Florence. She was pressed to marry but refused, and at 16 she joined the Discalced Carmelites at Saint Mary of the Angels Convent in Florence in 1582. When she was professed the following year, she took the name Mary Magdalene.

She held various offices in the convent and was extremely capable, eventually becoming superioress. While seriously ill, she experienced many ecstasies. After recovering, she practiced extreme mortifications and then fell into a five-year period of acute inner trials and aridity. When she emerged from this state in 1590, she experienced deep spiritual consolations from then on; sisters copied down what she said while in ecstasies, and these accounts were later published. They bear the imprint of the natural beauty of her life.

Mary Magdalene found her vocation in prayer and penance for the reform of "all states of life in the Church" and for the conversion of all men. She believed that suffering brought one to a profound spiritual plane and helped to save one's soul. Mary Magdalene was reputed to have the gift of prophecy and to be able to read minds and perform great cures.

She was an invalid for the last three years of her life and died at the convent. Her body is at the Church of Saint Maria degli Angeli in Florence and is claimed to be incorrupt (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, White).

She is depicted in art as a Carmelite with the Instruments of the Passion kneeling before the Holy Trinity. Christ crowns her with thorns, the Virgin gives her roses (Roeder). She may also be shown (1) receiving the Blessed Sacrament from Jesus; (2) receiving a white veil from the Virgin Mary; (3) being presented to or receiving a ring from Jesus; (4) crowned with thorns and embracing a cross, with rays falling on her from a monstrance; or (5) with flames issuing from her breast (White).

SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0525.shtml


Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, Virgin


Article

From her life, written by her confessarius, Puccini, and from the bull of her canonization. See Baert, the Bollandist, t. 6, Maij, p. 177.

A.D. 1607

The family of the Pazzi was one of the most illustrious in the republic of Florence, and was allied to the sovereign house of Medicis; but the birth of this saint hath reflected on it greater glory than the long list of heroes, statesmen, governors, and other great personages which it displays. Nor was her maternal family of the Blondelmonti inferior in rank, or less fruitful in great men. She was born in that city in 1566, and in honour of Saint Catharine of Sienna received her name in baptism. From the first dawn of reason there appeared in her the happy presages of that eminent virtue of which she became a perfect model. When only seven years old, she was so compassionate to the poor, that she was wont to deprive herself of her meat to to give it to some beggar; and such was her devotion, that it was her custom to steal privately from the company of her play-fellows to spend her time in secret prayer. In her tender infancy she was accustomed to repeat often the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and Creed, and other devotions; and she taught other poor children the same with wonderful care and zeal. When her father carried her into the country, it was her custom and her delight to assemble together the little girls of the village, and to teach them what she knew of the Christian doctrine; which she did with wonderful modesty and patience. One day it happened that she had begun to instruct a young girl of one of her father’s tenants in her catechism, when she was told that she must go back to Florence; but she cried so much at the thought of leaving her work of charity imperfect, that her father carried the other girl with them to the city, where the young saint finished her instruction. At eight or nine years of age she began more ardently to apply herself to holy prayer, and she employed whole hours in that exercise. In this divine school she learned the most perfect sentiments of all virtues, and began to feel so strong a desire to love and please God that worldly amusements were tedious and bitter to her. She knew no pleasure but in speaking to God, or of God, or heavenly things. She often left her bed in the night to lie on the floor or on straw. One day she made herself a crown of rushes interwoven with thorns, tied it on her head and lay all night with it, suffering the pain which the pricks of the thorns gave her. To this action she was moved at nine years of age by a meditation on the sufferings of Christ; which mystery from that time was the chief object of her pious thoughts and devotions during the remainder of her life. Once on Saint Andrew’s day, in her meditation, her heart was so inflamed with a desire of suffering with and for Christ, that she swooned away; and her mother was afraid she was dying. After she was grown up and a nun, coming to herself from a like fit, she cried out: “O Love, this grace is like that which I received in my childhood, when my mother thought it a corporal disorder.” By hair-shirts, and other severe mortifications, she endeavoured to conform herself to Christ crucified, and put on her head in the night a plaited crown of prickly olive branches. She always wept at the sight of any grievous corporal distress, and much more for any spiritual misery of her neighbour. Such was her tender devotion to the blessed eucharist, that she loved to be near those who came from the holy communion, as if by love she perceived the odour of Christ’s presence. She made her first communion with wonderful devotion at ten years of age; and at twelve, by vow consecrated her virginity to God. At fourteen, her father being made by the grand-duke governor of Cortona, she was placed by him a pensioner in the monastery of Saint John in Florence. There she gave full scope to her devotion, and employed every morning four hours in pious meditation on her knees. Out of humility, she usually kept at a distance from the nuns, whom she respected as the favourite spouses of Christ.

After fifteen months her father took her home, with the view of procuring her an honourable and advantageous match. Several proposals were made to her, and her parents were very pressing for her consent. But she protested that the disposal of herself in marriage was no longer in her power. In the choice of a religious state, being much pleased with the custom of frequent and almost daily communion practised among the Carmelite nuns, she preferred that Order, and entered their monastery, in Saint Fridian’s suburb, at Florence, on the eve of the Assumption, in 1582. She continued some days in a secular habit, that she might be the better acquainted with the rule. It is not to be expressed how much those holy and fervent virgins were edified by the great virtues which she practised. But her parents, after fifteen days, took her home again for three months, the better to try her vocation. However, she would by no means consent ever to put on fine clothes, or do anything which seemed to favour vanity or sensuality. Having obtained their blessing, she on the 1st of December returned to the monastery, being then fifteen years old, and took the habit on the 30th of January following. When the priest put the crucifix into her hands, saying those words: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (1) ; a seraphic ardour appeared in her countenance, and she felt herself inflamed with a burning desire of suffering during her whole life for Christ; and trampling under her feet all the vanities of the world, she gave herself most perfectly to Christ crucified with the most firm purpose never to have any other spouse. After taking the habit, she threw herself at the feet of her mistress, begging she would never spare her in the most sensible self-denials and humiliations. During her novitiate, the example of her fervour excited those who were witnesses of it to the divine love. Being visited by a severe fit of sickness, her desire of suffering for the love of Him who died for us, was a subject of edification to the whole house. One of her sisters asking her how she could endure so much pain without any complaint, and even without speaking of her ailments, or even asking for anything to comfort her, she answered, pointing to a crucifix which was near the side of her bed: “See what the infinite love of God hath suffered for my salvation. This same love sees my weakness, and gives me courage. They who call to mind the sufferings of Christ, and offer their own to God through his passion, find their pains sweet and amiable.” Under this illness, she was admitted to her religious profession on the 17th of May, 1584.

In religion, she changed her name Catharine into that of Mary Magdalen, out of devotion to that great model of penitent souls. After this consecration of herself to God, she enjoyed great heavenly consolations and frequent raptures during forty days, especially after her communions; as if her heavenly spouse would by these caresses celebrate with her his spiritual nuptials. It is the general remark of the most experienced masters of a spiritual life, that God frequently visits souls, upon their fervent conversion from the world, with his comforts; in which, by the divine lights which he infuses, they see their own nothingness, and advance in the sentiments of sincere humility; and are at the same time attracted by the feelings of his goodness to run in the sweet odour of his perfumes. This taste of his consolations encourages them to suffer trials with joy for his sake; and these never fail to succeed. For God, who is infinitely jealous of the hearts of his servants, will not suffer in them any rival. Wherefore, perfectly to crucify in them all secret self-love that they may be fitted for vessels of his pure love, and to teach them thoroughly to know themselves, he throws them into the crucible of internal tribulation; and this fire is usually the more severe, the higher the degree of sanctity is to which he in his mercy designs to raise them. This our saint experienced by the state of interior desolation into which she fell from this first taste of his spiritual joy. But her virtue was solid, because humble, patient, and constant. She desired not heavenly comforts, deeming herself of all others the most unworthy; and the favours which she received she endeavoured to conceal from men, referring them entirely to the gratuitous goodness of their author, and from them learning the more to humble herself and to raise her soul to his most pure love. It was always her desire to suffer for his sake, and this her thirst of the cross seemed insatiable. But whether in anguish or in consolation, the spring of her affections was the most ardent love of her heavenly spouse. She was often heard to cry out, “O Love! Love is not loved, not known by his own creatures! O my Jesus! if I had a voice strong and loud enough that I could be heard by all men in all the parts of the world, how would I cry out that this love might be known, loved, and esteemed by all men as the only true incomprehensible good! but the cursed poison of self-love robs men of this high knowledge, and renders them incapable of it.” She often invited, with all the fervour of her soul, all angels, men, stars, birds, beasts, plants, grains of sand, drops of water, and the whole chorus of the creation, to convert themselves into tongues, to praise, bless, and magnify the divine immensity and love. She sighed and wept much for the conversion of sinners, and when called away by public duties, or obliged to go to rest, often said, “Is it possible that I should take any rest whilst I consider how much God is offended on earth? O Love! I do it by obedience, and to fulfil thy holy will.”

Fearing lest at the time of her profession she might have offended God by too eager a desire of making that sacrifice, she begged and obtained leave to live as a novice two years after her vows. This term being completed, coming out of the novitiate, she was made second directress of the extern young girls. Three years after, she finished her juniorate, or term amongst the young nuns, and was employed in instructing the novices. During these first five years, Almighty God was pleased to exercise her by most severe interior trials. She fasted always on bread and water, except on Sundays and holidays, on which she took Lenten diet. She added all other kinds of bodily austerities, and at the same time suffered most grievous pains and anguish of soul. She was assaulted with the most violent temptations of impurity, gluttony, pride, infidelity, and blasphemy. Her imagination was often filled with those abominations, the very name or thought of which fills chaste souls with the greatest horror. She had recourse by prayer to the spouse and to the queen of virgins against the obstinacy and rage of this enemy, and chastised her body with disciplines, hair-shirts, studded iron girdles, lying hard, and the like inventions. Her mind was also troubled with the most hideous images of hellish monsters, and seemed abandoned, like Job, to the power of hell; and her soul was plunged into a state of darkness in which she was able to see nothing but horror in herself and in all things about her. Thoughts of blasphemy and infidelity infested her so violently, that she sometimes cried out to her sisters: “Pray for me that I may not blaspheme God instead of praising him.” Fasting, which by habit and grace was formerly easy, now became grievous. Her sisters likewise despised her, looking on her foregoing graces which they had formerly admired to have been illusions. Nevertheless, God did not totally withdraw himself from his faithful spouse. Her chief support and comfort was in the meditation of Christ’s passion, in which she conceived fresh burning desires to become still more like that man of interior as well as exterior sorrows. After five years in this suffering state, God restored to her soul his holy peace and the comfort of his divine presence. In 1590, on Whitsunday, at Matins, when the Te Deum was intoned she fell into a rapture, and after the divine office, the joy which shone on her face and appeared in her words testified the return of her inward comforter. Squeezing by the hand the mother prioress and the mistress of the novices, she desired them to rejoice with her, saying: “Now winter is passed with me; assist me to thank and glorify my good Creator.” She was endued with a spirit of prophecy, and, among other things, foretold the popedom to Leo XI and his death soon after his election.

In 1598 she was appointed mistress of the novices for three years, according to the custom of the house, and in 1601 was continued in the same office; but in 1604 chosen sub-prioress, which office she discharged till her death. Her union with God seemed uninterrupted, and his name sufficed to transport her soul in raptures of love. She often repeated the doxology, Glory be to the Father, and always with incredible ardour bowing her body, and offering herself to all labours and every sort of death for God’s honour. She considered only the pure will of God in all things with inexpressible fervour, and often repeated, “The will of God is ever most amiable:” and to her sisters, “How rich a traffic have we with God when we do everything with a pure and vehement intention to please and honour him.” She appeared in every action like a glowing seraph, glorifying her Creator with all the powers and strength of her soul, and sometimes cried out: “Come, souls, come, love your God who so much loveth you. O Love, I die with mortal anguish when I see how little you are known and loved. O Love! Love! if you find no place to rest in, come all to me; I will lodge you. O souls created by Love, why do not you love? She instructed her novices to sing the divine office with such awe and trembling in the company of the angels, as if they in spirit prostrated themselves at every word. If the divine office was sung too fast, she asked leave to go out, and would afterwards say: “What business could you have of greater importance that you were in such a hurry?” Her extreme thirst after the salvation of souls made her shed perpetual tears for the conversion of infidels, heretics, and sinners; and she often exhorted her sisters in the most moving manner to offer up all their actions for that end. Her devotion to the holy eucharist was extraordinary; and she used to say, that if it were necessary, she would joyfully enter the lion’s den, and suffer all pains for the sake of communicating. But her humility was most admirable. She always spoke of herself as of the bane of her community, and the outcast and abomination of all creatures. It was her delight to be forgotten, contemned, reprimanded, and employed in the meanest offices. She would often cry out, “O nothingness! how little art thou known!” (2)

In 1602 she contracted a violent cold and cough, which in 1603 was followed by the bursting of a vein and an abundant vomiting of blood, which often returned upon her. However, she recovered a little, and in October, 1604, she was chosen sub-prioress. The three last years of her life she endured violent headaches, fevers, sweats, pains in her breast, was subject to a spitting of blood, and a scurvy in her gums, by which she lost all her teeth. With these bodily pains she sometimes laboured under the most grievous inward spiritual dryness and desolation of soul; yet her prayer was to suffer more, to suffer without any comfort, and to drink gall without any honey. Love on one side made her desire to die to be united to her God; yet life seemed desirable that she might still suffer for love. Having exhorted her sisters to fervour, and to the love of suffering, she received extreme unction, and still communicated every day during the twelve days she survived. She expired soon after receiving the holy sacrament by way of viaticum, on the 25th of May, 1607, being forty-one years, one month, and twenty-four days old, of which she had lived twenty-four years and three months in the religious habit. Her body has been often examined, and always found without any corruption. It is kept in a sumptuous shrine in the church of her monastery, which was since removed into the city of Florence in 1628. God has honoured it by frequent miraculous cures. The saint was beatified by Urban VIII. in the year 1626, and canonized by Clement IX in 1669.

It was the prayer of this saint under her severest trials, that she might live only to glorify God by her patience and submission in suffering by his will, and for his sake (3). Our love of God must be very imperfect, since we are so impatient under the least trials, and so unwilling to suffer, and since we find the duties of religion troublesome and uneasy. They appear severe in the beginning of a virtuous life; but to him who has conquered, the yoke of Christ is easy, and to fervour and love harsh things become pleasant. It is also the property of a habit to render difficult things easy; for as it becomes a second nature, what flows from it is natural, consequently pleasant and easy. When the love of virtue has once rooted itself in the soul, its practice is no more than embracing and enjoying what we love. This therefore is one constant character of perfection in scripture, that delight and pleasure accompany the practice of virtue. The ways of wisdom are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace (4). And to him who loves, the commandments of God are not grievous (5). Hence it is that the good man’s delight is in the law of the Lord, and he meditates therein night and day (6). Nor does he delight less in action than meditation. The Psalmist frequently expresses an inconceivable joy and transport in the meditation and practice of the commands of God (7). The first Christians, whose whole lives were a continued fervent exercise of devotion, faith, and charity, are said to have eaten their meat with gladness and singleness of heart (8). The holy Ghost gives us a delightful description of the apostles as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things (9). Another property of divine love is, that it is always active, and never ceases to exert itself with zeal and fervour in all manner of good works.

MLA Citation
  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, Virgin”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints1866CatholicSaints.Info. 15 August 2018. Web. 26 May 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/butlers-lives-of-the-saints-saint-mary-magdalen-of-pazzi-virgin/>

Note 1. Gal. vi. 14. [back]

Note 2. F. Ferdinandi Salvi, sub-prior of the Carmelites at Bologna, in Italy, made a collection of twelve letters of St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, with several other monuments. They were reprinted at Venice in 1739, at the end of the spiritual works of this holy virgin. F. Salvi published in Italian several relations of miracles performed at Bologna through the intercession of this holy virgin, printed at Milan in the years 1724, 1730, and 1731. [back]

Note 3. Pati non mori. [back]

Note 4. Prov. iii. 17. [back]

Note 5. 1 John v. 3. [back]

Note 6. Psalm i. 2. [back]

Note 7. Psalm xviii. [back]

Note 8. Acts ii. 46. [back]

Note 9. 2 Cor. vi. 10. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.




Purgatory Explained, Part 1, Chapter 5


Article

Location of Purgatory – Revelations of the Saints – Saint Teresa – Saint Louis Bertrand – Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Saint Teresa had great charity towards the souls in Purgatory, and assisted them as much as lay in her power by her prayers and good works. In recompense, God frequently showed her the souls she had delivered; she saw them at the moment of their release from suffering and of their entrance into Heaven. Now, they generally came forth from the bosom of the earth. “I received tidings,” she writes, “of the death of a Religious who had formerly been Provincial of that province, and afterwards of another. I was acquainted with him, and he had rendered me great service. This intelligence caused me great uneasiness. Although this man was commendable for many virtues, I was apprehensive for the salvation of his soul, because he had been Superior for the space of twenty years, and I always fear much for those who are charged with the care of souls. Much grieved, I went to an oratory; there I conjured our Divine Lord to apply to this Religious the little good I had done during my life, and to supply the rest by His infinite merits, in order that this soul might be freed from Purgatory.

“Whilst I besought this grace with all the fervor of which I was capable, I saw on my right side this soul come forth from the depths of the earth and ascend into Heaven in transports of joy. Although this priest was advanced in years, he appeared to me with the features of a man who had not yet attained the age of thirty, and with a countenance resplendent with light.

“This vision, though very short, left me inundated with joy, and without a shadow of doubt as to the truth of what I had seen. As I was separated by a great distance from the place where this servant of God had ended his days, it was some time before I learned the particulars of his edifying death; all those who were witnesses of it could not behold without admiration how he preserved consciousness to the last moment, the tears he shed, and the sentiments of humility with which he surrendered his soul to God.

“A Religious of my community, a great servant of God, had been dead not quite two days. We were saying the Office for the Dead for her in choir, a sister was reading the lesson, and I was standing to say the versicle. When half of the lesson had been said, I saw the soul of this Religious come forth from the depths of the earth, like the one of which I have just spoken, and go to Heaven.

“In this same monastery there died, at the age of eighteen or twenty years, another Religious, a true model of fervor, regularity, and virtue. Her life had been but a tissue of maladies and sufferings patiently endured. I had no doubt, after having seen her live thus, that she had more than sufficient merits to exempt her from Purgatory. Nevertheless, whilst I was at Office, before she was interred, and about a quarter of an hour after her death, I saw her soul likewise issue from the earth and rise to Heaven.” Behold what Saint Teresa writes.

A like instance is recorded in the Life of Saint Louis Bertrand, of the Order of Saint Dominic. This Life, written by Father Antist, a Religious of the same Order, and who lived with the saint, is inserted in the Acta Sanctorum on the 10th of October. In the year 1557, whilst Saint Louis Bertrand resided at the convent of Valentia, the pest broke out in that city. The terrible plague spread rapidly, threatening to exterminate the inhabitants, and each one trembled for his life. A Religious of the community, wishing to prepare himself fervently for death, made a general Confession of his whole life to the saint; and on leaving him said, “Father, if it should now please God to call me, I shall return and make known to you my condition in the other life.” He died a short time afterwards, and the following night he appeared to the saint. He told him that he was detained in Purgatory on account of a few slight faults which remained to be expiated, and begged the saint to recommend him to the community. Saint Louis communicated the request immediately to the Prior, who hastened to recommend the soul of the departed to the prayers and Holy Sacrifices of the brethren assembled in chapter.

Six days later, a man of the town, who knew nothing of what had passed at the convent, came to make his Confession to Father Louis, and told him “that the soul of Father Clement had appeared to him. He saw, he said, the earth open, and the soul of the deceased Father come forth all glorious; it resembled, he added, a resplendent star, which rose through the air towards Heaven.”

We read in the Life of Saint Magdalen de Pazzi, written by her confessor, Father Cepari, of the Company of Jesus, that this servant of God was made witness of the deliverance of a soul under the following circumstances: One of her sisters in religion had died some time previous, when the saint being one day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, saw issue from the earth the soul of that sister, still captive in the dungeons of Purgatory. She was enveloped in a mantle of flames, under which a robe of dazzling whiteness protected her from the fierce heat of the fire; and she remained an entire hour at the foot of the altar, adoring in inexpressible annihilation the hidden God of the Eucharist.

This hour of adoration, which Magdalen saw her perform, was the last of her penance; that hour passed, she arose and took her flight to Heaven.

MLA Citation



Purgatory Explained, Part 1, Chapter 6


Article

Location of Purgatory – Saint Frances of Rome – Saint Magdalen de Pazzi

It has pleased God to show in spirit the gloomy abodes of Purgatory to some privileged souls, who were to reveal the sorrowful mysteries thereof for the edification of the faithful. Of this number was the illustrious Saint Frances, foundress of the Oblates, who died in Rome in 1440. God favored her with great lights concerning the state of souls in the other life. She saw Hell and its horrible torments; she saw also the interior of Purgatory, and the mysterious order – I had almost said hierarchy of expiations – which reigns in this portion of the Church of Jesus Christ.

In obedience to her superiors, who thought themselves bound to impose this obligation upon her, she made known all that God had manifested to her; and her visions, written at the request of the venerable Canon Matteotti, her spiritual director, have all the authenticity that can be desired in such matters. Now, the servant of God declared that, after having endured with unspeakable horror the vision of Hell, she came out of that abyss and was conducted by her celestial guide into the regions of Purgatory. There reigned neither horror nor disorder, nor despair nor eternal darkness; there divine hope diffused its light, and she was told that this place of purification was called also sojourn of hope, She saw there souls which suffered cruelly, but angels visited and assisted them in their sufferings.

Purgatory, she said, is divided into three distinct parts, which are as the three large provinces of that kingdom of suffering. They are situated the one beneath the other, and occupied by souls of different orders. These souls are buried more deeply in proportion as they are more defiled and farther removed from the time of their deliverance.

The lowest region is filled with a fierce fire, but which is not dark like that of Hell; it is a vast burning sea, throwing forth immense flames. Innumerable souls are plunged into its depths: they are those who have rendered themselves guilty of mortal sin, which they have duly confessed, but not sufficiently expiated during life. The servant of God then learned that, for all forgiven mortal sin, there remains to be undergone a suffering of seven years. This term cannot evidently be taken to mean a definite measure, since mortal sins differ in enormity, but as an average penalty. Although the souls are enveloped in the same flames, their sufferings are not the same; they differ according to the number and nature of their former sins.

In this lower Purgatory the saint beheld laics and persons consecrated to God. The laics were those who, after a life of sin, had had the happiness of being sincerely converted; the persons consecrated to God were those who had not lived according to the sanctity of their state, At that same moment she saw descend the soul of a priest whom she knew, but whose name she does not reveal. She remarked that he had his face covered with a veil which concealed a stain. Although he had led an edifying life, this priest had not always observed strict temperance, and had sought too eagerly the satisfactions of the table.

The saint was then conducted into the intermediate Purgatory, destined for souls which had deserved less rigorous chastisement. It had three distinct compartments; one resembled an immense dungeon of ice, the cold of which was indescribably intense; the second, on the contrary, was like a huge caldron of boiling oil and pitch; the third had the appearance of a pond of liquid metal resembling molten gold or silver.

The upper Purgatory, which the saint does not describe, is the temporary abode of souls which suffer little, except the pain of loss, and approach the happy moment of their deliverance.

Such, in substance, is the vision of Saint Frances relative to Purgatory.

The following is an account of that of Saint Magdalen de Pazzi, a Florentine Carmelite, as it is related in her Life by Father Cepari. It gives more of a picture of Purgatory, whilst the preceding vision but traces its outlines.

Some time before her death, which took place in 1607, the servant of God, Magdalen de Pazzi, being one evening with several other Religious in the garden of the convent, was ravished in ecstasy, and saw Purgatory open before her. At the same time, as she made known later, a voice invited her to visit all the prisons of Divine Justice, and to see how truly worthy of compassion are the souls detained there.

At this moment she was heard to say, “Yes I will go.” She consented to undertake this painful journey. In fact, she walked for two hours round the garden, which was very large, pausing from time to time. Each time she interrupted her walk, she contemplated attentively the sufferings which were shown to her. She was then seen to wring her hands in compassion, her face became pale, her body bent under the weight of suffering, in presence of the terrible spectacle with which she was confronted.

She began to cry aloud in lamentation, “Mercy, my God, mercy! Descend, O Precious Blood, and deliver these souls from their prison. Poor souls! you suffer so cruelly, and yet you are content and cheerful. The dungeons of the martyrs in comparison with these were gardens of delight. Nevertheless there are others still deeper. How happy should I esteem myself were I not obliged to go down into them”

She did descend, however, for she was forced to continue her way. But when she had taken a few steps, she stopped terror-stricken, and, sighing deeply, she cried, “What! Religious also in this dismal abode! Good God! how they are tormented! Ah, Lord!” She does not explain the nature of their sufferings; but the horror which she manifested in contemplating them caused her to sigh at each step. She passed from thence into less gloomy places. They were the dungeons of simple souls, and of children in whom ignorance and lack of reason extenuated many faults. Their torments appeared to her much more endurable than those of the others. Nothing but ice and fire were there. She noticed that these souls had their angel guardians with them, who fortified them greatly by their presence; but she saw also demons whose dreadful forms increased their sufferings.

Advancing a few paces, she saw souls still more unfortunate, and she was heard to cry out, “Oh! how horrible is this place; it is full of hideous demons and incredible torments! Who, O my God, are the victims of these cruel tortures? Alas! they are being pierced with sharp swords, they are being cut into pieces.” She was answered that they were the souls whose conduct had been tainted with hypocrisy.

Advancing a little, she saw a great multitude of souls which were bruised, as it were, and crushed under a press; and she understood that they were those souls which had been addicted to impatience and disobedience during life. Whilst contemplating them, her looks, her sighs, her whole attitude betokened compassion and terror.

A moment later her agitation increased, and she uttered a dreadful cry. It was the dungeon of lies which now lay open before her. After having attentively considered it, she cried aloud, “Liars are confined in a place in the vicinity of Hell, and their sufferings are exceedingly great. Molten lead is poured into their mouths; I see them burn, and at the same time tremble with cold.”

She then went to the prison of those souls which had sinned through weakness, and she was heard to exclaim, “Alas! I had thought to find you among those who have sinned through ignorance, but I am mistaken; you burn with an intenser fire.”

Farther on, she perceived souls which had been too much attached to the goods of this world, and had sinned by avarice.

“What blindness,” said she, “thus eagerly to seek a perishable fortune! Those whom formerly riches could not sufficiently satiate, are here gorged with torments. They are smelted like metal in the furnace.”

From thence she passed into the place where those souls were imprisoned which had formerly been stained with impurity. She saw them in so filthy and pestilential a dungeon that the sight produced nausea. She turned away quickly from that loathsome spectacle. Seeing the ambitious and the proud, she said, “Behold those who wished to shine before men; now they are condemned to live in this frightful obscurity.”

Then she was shown those souls which had been guilty of ingratitude towards God. They were a prey to unutterable torments, and, as it were, drowned in a lake of molten lead, for having by their ingratitude dried up the source of piety.

Finally, in a last dungeon, she was shown souls that had not been given to any particular vice, but which, through lack of proper vigilance over themselves, had committed all kinds of trivial faults. She remarked that these souls had a share in the chastisements of all vices, in a moderate degree, because those faults committed only from time to time rendered them less guilty than those committed through habit.

After this last station the saint left the garden, begging God never again to make her witness of so heartrending a spectacle: she felt that she had not strength to endure it. Her ecstasy still continued, and, conversing with Jesus, she said to Him, “Tell me. Lord, what was Your design in discovering to me those terrible prisons, of which I knew so little, and comprehended still less? Ah! I now see; You wished to give me the knowledge of Your infinite sanctity, and to make me detest more and more the least stain of sin, which is so abominable in Your eyes.”

MLA Citation






Pedro de Moya (1610–1666). Vision de Sainte Marie Madeleine di Pazzi, 
musée des Beaux-Arts de Grenade.


LETTERA DI SUA SANTITÀ BENEDETTO XVI



ALL’ARCIVESCOVO DI FIRENZE



IN OCCASIONE DEL IV CENTENARIO DELLA MORTE



DI SANTA MARIA MADDALENA DE’ PAZZI


Al Venerato Fratello

il Signor Cardinale Ennio Antonelli

Arcivescovo di Firenze


In occasione del IV centenario della morte di santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, sono lieto di unirmi all’amata Chiesa fiorentina, che desidera ricordare questa sua figlia illustre, particolarmente cara per essere figura emblematica di un amore vivo che rimanda all’essenziale dimensione mistica di ogni vita cristiana. Mentre con affetto saluto Lei, Signor Cardinale, e l’intera Comunità diocesana, rendo grazie a Dio per il dono di questa Santa, che ogni generazione riscopre singolarmente vicina nel saper comunicare un ardente amore per Cristo e per la Chiesa.

Nata a Firenze il 2 aprile 1566 e battezzata al fonte del "bel San Giovanni" con il nome di Caterina, santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi fin dalla fanciullezza mostrò una particolare sensibilità verso il soprannaturale e fu attratta dall’intimo colloquio con Dio. Come era consuetudine per le fanciulle di nobile casato, la sua educazione fu affidata alle Cavalieresse di Malta, nel cui monastero ricevette la prima comunione il 25 marzo 1576 ed appena qualche giorno dopo si consegnò per sempre al Signore con una promessa di verginità. Rientrata in famiglia, approfondì il cammino della preghiera con l’aiuto dei Padri Gesuiti, che frequentavano il palazzo. Abilmente, riusciva a non lasciarsi condizionare dalle esigenze mondane di un ambiente che, se pur cristiano, non le bastava nel suo desiderio di diventare più simile al suo Sposo crocifisso. In questo contesto maturò la decisione di lasciare il mondo e di entrare nel Carmelo di Santa Maria degli Angeli, a Borgo san Frediano, dove il 30 gennaio 1583 ricevette l’abito del Carmelo e il nome di suor Maria Maddalena. Ammalatasi gravemente nel marzo del 1584, chiese di poter emettere la professione prima del tempo e, il 27 maggio, festa della Trinità, portata in coro su un lettino, pronunciò per sempre davanti al Signore i suoi voti di castità, povertà e obbedienza.

Da questo momento ebbe inizio un’intensa stagione mistica dalla quale sarebbe venuta alla Santa la fama di grande estatica. Sono cinque i manoscritti in cui le Carmelitane di Santa Maria degli Angeli hanno riportato le esperienze straordinarie della loro giovane consorella. A "I Quaranta Giorni" dell’estate 1584, fanno seguito "I Colloqui" della prima metà dell’anno successivo. L’apice della mistica conoscenza che Dio concesse di sé a suor Maria Maddalena si trova in "Revelationi e Intelligentie", otto giorni di splendide estasi che vanno dalla vigilia di Pentecoste alla festa della Trinità dell’anno 1585. Una intensa esperienza che, a soli 19 anni di età, la rendeva capace di spaziare su tutto il mistero della salvezza, dall’incarnazione del Verbo nel seno di Maria alla discesa dello Spirito Santo nella Pentecoste. Seguirono cinque lunghi anni d’interiore purificazione – Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi ne parla nel libro della "Probatione" –, nei quali il Verbo suo Sposo le sottrasse il sentimento della grazia e la lasciò come Daniele nella fossa dei leoni, tra molte prove e grandi tentazioni. E’ in questo contesto che si inserisce il suo ardente impegno per il rinnovamento della Chiesa, dopo che nell’estate del 1586 bagliori di luce dall’alto vennero a mostrarle il vero stato in cui essa si trovava nell’epoca post-tridentina. Come Caterina da Siena, si sentì "forzata" a scrivere alcune lettere per sollecitare, presso il Papa, i Cardinali di Curia, il suo Arcivescovo ed altre personalità ecclesiastiche, un deciso impegno per la "Renovatione della Chiesa", come dice il titolo del manoscritto che le contiene. Si tratta di dodici lettere dettate in estasi, forse mai spedite, ma che rimangono come testimonianza della sua passione per la Sponsa Verbi.

Con la Pentecoste del 1590 ebbe termine la dura prova. Questo le permise di dedicarsi con ogni energia al servizio della comunità ed in particolare alla formazione delle novizie. Suor Maria Maddalena ebbe il dono di vivere la comunione con Dio in una forma sempre più interiorizzata, sì da diventare un riferimento per tutta la comunità, che ancora oggi continua a considerarla come "madre". L’amore purificato, che pulsava nel suo cuore, la apriva al desiderio della piena conformità con Cristo, suo Sposo, fino a condividere con lui il "nudo patire" della croce. Gli ultimi tre anni della sua vita furono per lei un vero calvario di sofferenze. La tisi cominciò a manifestarsi chiaramente: Suor Maria Maddalena si vide costretta a ritrarsi pian piano dalla vita attiva della comunità per immergersi sempre più nel "patir nudamente per amore di Dio". Si ritrovò oppressa da pene atroci nel fisico e nello spirito che durarono fino alla morte, sopravvenuta il venerdì 25 maggio 1607. Si spense intorno alle tre del pomeriggio, mentre una gioia insolita pervadeva tutto il monastero.

Non erano passati vent’anni dalla sua morte che già il Pontefice fiorentino Urbano VIII la proclamava beata. Fu poi il Papa Clemente IX ad iscriverla nell’Albo dei Santi il 28 aprile 1669. Il suo corpo rimasto incorrotto è meta di costanti pellegrinaggi. Il monastero in cui la Santa visse è oggi sede del Seminario arcivescovile di Firenze, che la venera come Patrona, e la cella in cui morì è diventata una cappella nel cui silenzio si percepisce ancora la sua presenza.

Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi rimane una spirituale presenza ispiratrice per le Carmelitane dell’Antica Osservanza. In lei esse vedono la "sorella" che ha percorso interamente la via dell’unione trasformante con Dio e che addita in Maria la "stella" del cammino verso la perfezione. Per tutti questa grande Santa ha il dono di essere maestra di spiritualità, particolarmente per i sacerdoti, verso i quali nutrì sempre una vera passione.

Auspico vivamente che le presenti celebrazioni giubilari della sua morte contribuiscano a far conoscere sempre più questa luminosa figura, che a tutti manifesta la dignità e la bellezza della vocazione cristiana. Come, mentre era in vita, attaccandosi alle campane sollecitava le sue consorelle con il grido: "Venite ad amare l’Amore!", la grande Mistica, da Firenze, dal suo Seminario, dai monasteri carmelitani che a lei si ispirano, possa ancora oggi far sentire la sua voce in tutta la Chiesa, diffondendo l’annuncio dell’amore di Dio per ogni creatura umana.

Con questo augurio, affido Lei, Venerato Fratello, e la Chiesa fiorentina alla celeste protezione di santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi e di cuore imparto a tutti una speciale Benedizione Apostolica.

Dal Vaticano, 29 Aprile 2007

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20070429_maddalena-pazzi_it.html


Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi e il Torchio Mistico


Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi Vergine

25 maggio - Memoria Facoltativa

Firenze, 2 aprile 1566 - 25 maggio 1607

Nasce nel 1566 e appartiene alla casata de' Pazzi, potenti (e violenti) per generazioni a Firenze, e ancora autorevoli alla sua epoca. Battezzata con il nome di Caterina, a 16 anni entra nel monastero carmelitano di Santa Maria degli Angeli in Firenze e come novizia prende il nome di Maria Maddalena. Nel maggio 1584 soffre di una misteriosa malattia che le impedisce di stare coricata. Al momento di pronunciare i voti, devono portarla davanti all'altare nel suo letto. Da questo momento vivrà diverse estasi, che si succederanno per molti anni. Le descrivono cinque volumi di manoscritti, opera di consorelle che registravano gesti e parole sue in quelle ore. Più tardi le voci dall'alto le chiedono di promuovere la «rinnovazione della Chiesa» (iniziata dal Concilio di Trento con i suoi decreti), esortando e ammonendo le sue gerarchie. Scrive così a papa Sisto V, ai cardinali della curia; e tre lettere manda ad Alessandro de' Medici, arcivescovo di Firenze, predicendogli il suo breve pontificato. La mistica morirà nel 1607 dopo lunghe malattie. (Avvenire)

Etimologia: Maria = amata da Dio, dall'egiziano; signora, dall'ebraico

Emblema: Giglio

Martirologio Romano: Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, vergine dell’Ordine delle Carmelitane, che a Firenze in Cristo condusse una vita nascosta di preghiera e di abnegazione, pregò ardentemente per la riforma della Chiesa e, arricchita da Dio di doni straordinari, fu per le consorelle insigne guida verso la perfezione.

Una santa da capogiro. Parte della sua vita si svolge come fuori dal mondo, in lunghe e ripetute estasi, con momenti e atti quasi “intraducibili” oggi: come lo scambio del suo cuore con quello di Gesù, le stigmate invisibili, i colloqui con la Santissima Trinità... Scene vertiginose di familiarità divino-umana; dopo le quali, però, lei ritorna tranquilla e laboriosa monaca, riassorbita nella quotidianità delle incombenze.

Appartiene alla casata de’ Pazzi, potenti (e violenti) per generazioni in Firenze, e ancora autorevoli alla sua epoca. Battezzata con il nome di Caterina, a 16 anni entra nel monastero carmelitano di Santa Maria degli Angeli in Firenze e come novizia prende il nome di Maria Maddalena. 

Nel maggio 1584 soffre di una misteriosa malattia che le impedisce di stare coricata. Al momento di pronunciare i voti, devono portarla davanti all’altare nel suo letto, dove "dì e notte sta sempre a sedere". Ed ecco poi quelle estasi, che si succederanno per molti anni. Le descrivono cinque volumi di manoscritti, opera di consorelle che registravano gesti e parole sue in quelle ore. (Parole sorprendenti: nelle estasi, lei usava un linguaggio colto, “specialistico”, di gran lunga superiore al livello della sua istruzione). Questi resoconti, che lei legge e corregge, e che acuti teologi perlustrano in punto di dottrina, contengono – espresso in mille modi e visioni e voci – l’invito appassionato a ricambiare l’amore di Cristo per l’uomo, testimoniato dalla Passione. 

Più tardi le voci dall’alto le chiedono di promuovere la “rinnovazione della Chiesa” (iniziata dal Concilio di Trento con i suoi decreti), esortando e ammonendo le sue gerarchie. Maria Maddalena esita, teme di ingannarsi. Preferirebbe offrire la vita per l’evangelizzazione, segue con gioia l’opera dei missionari in Giappone... Voci autorevoli la rassicurano, e allora lei scrive a papa Sisto V, ai cardinali della Curia; e tre lettere manda ad Alessandro de’ Medici, arcivescovo di Firenze, che poi incontra in monastero. "Questa figliola ha veramente parlato in persona dello Spirito Santo", dirà lui. Maria Maddalena gli annuncia pure che presto lo faranno Papa, ma che non durerà molto (e così gli ha predetto anche Filippo Neri). Infatti, Alessandro viene eletto il 10 maggio 1605 con il nome di Leone XI, e soltanto 26 giorni dopo è già morto.

Per suor Maria Maddalena finisce il tempo delle estasi e incomincia quello delle malattie. Del “nudo soffrire”, come lei dice, che durerà fino alla sua morte, già accompagnata da voci di miracoli, che porteranno nel 1611 l’apertura del processo canonico per la sua beatificazione, a pochi anni dalla morte avvenuta nel 1607. Papa Clemente IX, il 22 aprile del 1669, la canonizzerà. Le spoglie di santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi ora riposano nell’omonimo monastero, a Firenze.

Autore:
Domenico Agasso

Spunti bibliografici su Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi a cura di LibreriadelSanto.it

SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/27450


MARIA MADDALENA de’ Pazzi, santa

Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2008)

MARIA MADDALENA de’ Pazzi, santa. - Nacque a Firenze il 2 apr. 1566 da Camillo di Geri e da Maria Buondelmonti. Secondogenita, dopo Geri e prima di Alamanno e Braccio, fu battezzata come Caterina ma chiamata poi Lucrezia, dal nome della nonna paterna.
L’infanzia e l’adolescenza sono ricordate nel Breve ragguaglio della vita della s. madre, scritto nel 1598 da suor Maria Pacifica Del Tovaglia, che ebbe con M. lunga familiarità, avendo condiviso con lei gli anni della fanciullezza e che di M. sarà consorella. Alcuni aspetti rievocati nello scritto richiamano il tema del puer senex e appartengono ai topoi delle biografie religiose: così la gravità, la prudenza, l’assenza di atti e gesti puerili. A un’inclinazione personale sembrano invece più rispondenti la consuetudine di Lucrezia di fuggire, come lei stessa dichiara, «la conversatione delle creature» (I quaranta giorni, p. 74) e il precoce bisogno di ritirarsi in luoghi «secretissimi», dove attendeva «alla voce di Dio che gli parlava al cuore e ammaestrava internamente» (ibid., p. 75). Fin dall’infanzia il suo desiderio fu rivolto al chiostro: una scelta descritta nel Breve ragguaglio come frutto di una tenace determinazione, osteggiata dai genitori, secondo un modello tipicamente agiografico.
In due periodi, dal 25 febbr. 1574 al 1578 e dal 16 marzo 1580 al maggio-agosto 1581, fu educanda nel monastero di S. Giovannino delle Cavalieresse di Malta; nella seconda occasione la famiglia era a Cortona, dove il padre era stato inviato come commissario del governo granducale. A S. Giovannino Lucrezia seguì la direzione spirituale dei padri gesuiti, caratterizzata da un’assidua pratica eucaristica. Lucrezia si impegnò per indurre le monache a una rigorosa osservanza dei voti, e la cosa sollevò inquietudine nella comunità («è venuta qua per riformarci», lamentavano le monache, e «la chiamavon gesuita e teatina», Breve ragguaglio, p. 80), salvo poi chiederle di farsi religiosa nel loro monastero. Ma il confessore di Lucrezia, il gesuita Pietro Blanca, rettore della Compagnia di Gesù a Firenze, volle che «eleggessi una religione riformata e osservante, come via più sicura, sì come ancor lei si sentiva più tirata» (ibid., p. 85).
L’8 dic. 1582 fu accettata nel monastero carmelitano di S. Maria degli Angeli, in cui erano ancora vivi i fermenti del movimento savonaroliano, che tanto profondamente aveva segnato la vita religiosa e civile fiorentina. Santi di Tito la ritrasse in convento su commissione del padre, con indosso la veste bianca che la madre le aveva fatto fare quando ancora pensava di destinarla al secolo. Vestì l’abito alla fine del gennaio 1583 e ricevette il nome di Maria Maddalena; il 27 maggio 1584 fece la professione dei voti.
Negli anni Venti il monastero era passato dalla giurisdizione dell’Ordine a quella episcopale. Giacomo Laínez durante il suo soggiorno a Firenze (1547) ne aveva tenuto per qualche tempo la cura, introducendovi la comunione frequente, l’orazione mentale e l’esame di coscienza. La regola e gli statuti approvati nel 1564 erano frutto di un adeguamento delle antiche costituzioni allo spirito del concilio di Trento: prevedevano un lungo periodo di educazione, la comunione settimanale, la lettura devota, l’ufficio divino recitato in coro, la meditazione in comune, in stretta aderenza alla preghiera corale e alla vita liturgica. Ispiratrice della riforma fu Evangelista del Giocondo, visionaria e dotata di doni carismatici, più volte maestra delle novizie e priora del monastero. Accanto alle qualità del suo governo, a segnare il profilo religioso della comunità furono la cura spirituale svolta da Agostino Campi, confessore del monastero dal 1563 al 1591, e la predicazione, tra il 1567 e il 1581, del domenicano Alessandro Capocchi, entrambi seguaci dell’insegnamento savonaroliano. Nelle opere di M. sono tracce significative della predicazione del padre Capocchi, conosciuta probabilmente attraverso le trascrizioni delle sue omelie conservate nel monastero. In S. Maria degli Angeli era inoltre custodito, e operava «miracoli», il corpo di Maria Bartolomea Bagnesi, una terziaria domenicana morta in fama di santità nel 1577. Il suo insegnamento, tramandato nelle scritture del monastero, rappresentò un modello per M., in particolare nel tempo del noviziato e della sua prima esperienza mistica.
Lo stesso giorno della professione, avvenuta durante una violenta malattia, M. ebbe la prima di numerose estasi destinate a caratterizzare la sua esperienza religiosa. Questi rapimenti si verificavano non solo durante la preghiera, ma anche in altri momenti, come affermarono i testimoni al processo di beatificazione, e talvolta si protraevano per intere giornate. Le estasi, ispirate ai testi liturgici del giorno, si manifestavano in forme molto diverse: «assorbimenti repentini, alienazioni totali dal mondo circostante, danze, corse, agitazioni convulsive o rigidità corporee; e soprattutto lunghissimi eloqui, svolti ad alta voce, con parole veloci o scandite, sommesse o urlate, ininterrotte o intercalate da silenzi contemplativi» (Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, Le parole dell’estasi).
La memoria e la descrizione delle estasi avvenute tra il 27 maggio e il 6 luglio 1584 furono raccolte ne I quaranta giorni. Dal 25 dic. 1584 al 4 giugno 1585 ulteriori esperienze mistiche furono trascritte nei Colloqui dalla madre Evangelista Del Giocondo, allora maestra delle novizie, e dalla camerlenga della comunità, Maria Maddalena Mori.
Le visioni di M. si innestano nella tradizione di santità femminile alimentata, tra Quattro e Cinquecento, dal movimento cateriniano. Nel clima dei primi decenni del XVI secolo, animato da aneliti di riforma e dalla tensione all’osservanza, si era riproposto con energia il tema della renovatio della Chiesa. Accanto a s. Paolo, ai Salmi, al Vangelo di Giovanni e ad Agostino, la vita e gli scritti di Caterina de’ Ricci furono fonte rilevante dell’esperienza spirituale di M. e della sua riflessione teologica. Nei Colloqui ricorrono i simboli cateriniani, ormai codificati dalla tradizione, riconducibili al loro valore di emblemi della sposa di Cristo: l’anello con cui M. si unì nel matrimonio mistico, lo scambio del cuore con quello di Gesù, la corona di spine e le stimmate impresse nell’anima. Oltre tali segni, ciò che con più pregnanza indica l’affinità di M. con Caterina de’ Ricci è la dottrina dell’Amore, che M. sviluppò con forte originalità speculativa e linguistica, improntando a Caterina, «che ne sapeva parlare» (I quaranta giorni, p. 145), il suo linguaggio mistico. Nei Colloqui è altresì molto presente la vocazione apostolica. La guerra condotta dagli eretici contro l’autorità del papa, contro l’eucarestia, i sacramenti e il valore delle opere evoca, nelle visioni di M., immagini demoniache, e con forte drammaticità ripropone il tema della giustizia contro coloro che all’interno della Chiesa sembravano non avvertire l’urgenza della renovatio. Tuttavia M. attribuì assoluta dignità e preminenza al sacramento del sacerdozio: nei suoi scritti si rivolge ai ministri di Dio con un’espressione che si richiamava al lessico cateriniano: «i tua Christi».
Nel giugno 1585 alla vigilia della Pentecoste e poi continuativamente per la durata di otto giorni, M. ricevette quelle Revelatione e Intelligentie che insieme con i Colloqui costituiscono la parte più originale dell’intero corpus dei suoi scritti: un insegnamento dottrinale e spirituale impartito spesso in forma di dialogo tra Dio e la sua discepola.
Dopo un anno in cui non si verificarono fenomeni mistici, nel luglio 1586 M. si sentì chiamata a provvedere in modo tangibile alla salute delle anime e tra luglio e agosto, in cinque giorni, scrisse le epistole che compongono la Renovatione della Chiesa. La «inutile ancilla de l’antica e nuova Verità, constretta da l’amoroso e svenato Agnello e umanato Verbo» (Renovatione, p. 62) si rivolse, con inusitata autorevolezza, a Sisto V, all’arcivescovo di Firenze Alessandro de’ Medici (futuro Leone XI), al Collegio cardinalizio, al padre Blanca e ad altri religiosi e religiose (gesuiti, domenicani, francescani) per annunciare loro l’irruzione nel presente del tempo della «renovatione della Chiesa», in cui si doveva dare inizio all’«opera del Verbo» (Renovatione, p. 62). Più impellente della predicazione nelle Indie, essa era intesa da M. come rinnovamento della missione degli apostoli, da condurre tutta «per amore e con amore» (ibid., p. 97) secondo l’insegnamento di s. Paolo.
Nella lettera al padre Blanca, senza dismettere il registro profetico, M. si apre a un colloquio più intimo, ripercorrendo i tempi della sua prima vocazione religiosa – «insino da piccolina hebbi questo lume e sempre è cresciuto, ancor che mai non gli ho voluto dare orecchio» (ibid., p. 82) – e riconoscendo la sua elezione a cui non poteva più fare resistenza. Scrivendo all’arcivescovo di Firenze, M. esprime il valore della propria parola a fronte del sapere ecclesiastico attraverso l’immagine del «lume della luna», metafora di un sapere femminile che non vuole farsi eguale al lume del sole, ma di cui talvolta Dio «si compiace di servirsi, massimo per hora in questo tempo che siamo nelle tenebre» (ibid., pp. 77 s.). A Caterina de’ Ricci, nel monastero domenicano di S. Vincenzo a Prato, che riconosceva per «maestra», M. chiese di farsi sua «coaiutrice» nell’opera di rinnovazione della Chiesa, in un sodalizio forte come una catena nel segno di s. Caterina. Ciò delinea una tradizione di magistero femminile, in cui l’opera intrapresa da M. trovava autorevole legittimazione.
Le lettere suscitarono profondo sconcerto nel monastero; la maggior parte di esse non varcò mai i confini della clausura e non furono presentate al processo di canonizzazione. Bisognerà attendere il 1884 per vedere pubblicate in modo integrale le dodici lettere, delle quali era circolata una edizione parziale «dicendosi in esse varie cose contro i costumi della Chiesa e del papa e della necessaria riforma» (Ancilli, cit. in Gotor, p. 396). Alla fine di settembre Alessandro de’ Medici si recò in S. Maria degli Angeli per presiedere all’elezione della nuova priora e, nel colloquio che ebbe con lui, M. dovette rivelargli le «molte illuminazione» (Renovatione, p. 53) che non aveva riferito nelle missive, rimettendone la verità al suo giudizio. L’arcivescovo corresse il rigore ascetico di M., che costituiva un turbamento negli usi comuni del monastero, ma riconobbe, secondo quanto scrive suor Maria Pacifica Del Tovaglia (Probatione, parte prima, p. 40), la bontà del suo procedere, riportando così la quiete nella comunità.
Le Vite di M., quella di Vincenzo Puccini, confessore del monastero, e quella del successore, Anton Maria Reconesi, rivolgono solo brevi cenni alla vicenda delle lettere, così come attenuano il rilievo del modello cateriniano nell’esperienza di Maria Maddalena. Esse traducono la tensione profetica di M. nella più riduttiva accezione dei doni della profezia, quali la conoscenza dei cuori e la predizione delle cose a venire, riferite a uno spazio quotidiano racchiuso entro il perimetro del monastero. Proposero invece altri aspetti di M., più rispondenti al modello di vita mistica e di concreto impegno per la riforma delle istituzioni monastiche, rappresentato in quegli anni da Teresa d’Avila.
Evangelista del Giocondo, prima come maestra delle novizie e poi come priora, accolse la singolare vocazione di M., assecondandone la forte tensione riformatrice e orientandone il percorso verso i valori della professione monastica. La condotta particolare di M. – il regime alimentare, l’estrema povertà dell’abito, i piedi scalzi, le pratiche di mortificazione cui si sottoponeva – rispondeva a una rilettura radicale della regola e delle costituzioni del monastero. Le monache seguirono i progressi di M. con stupore, ma anche con crescente adesione. Da questo impegno collettivo, come spesso è accaduto per le scritture monastiche femminili, nacque la raccolta di insegnamenti nella quale si venne organizzando, attraverso il sapiente sistema di memorizzazione inventato dalle monache, la trascrizione simultanea delle estasi, l’intreccio delle prime biografie, la raccolta di Ammaestramenti e di memorie che produsse, dopo la morte di M., la Vita di Puccini e soprattutto la deposizione corale al processo di beatificazione nella prima e più importante fase, quella informativa, iniziata nel 1611.
La priora Evangelista volle che gli Ammaestramenti fossero accostati alla regola e divenissero parte integrante degli usi del monastero, finché nelle Costituzioni del 1610 furono in larga parte recepiti nel testo normativo. La comunità religiosa vi rappresenta la comunità delle origini; chi vi entra non è condotto a percorrere itinerari individuali di relazione con Dio, ma piuttosto a vivere la regola, valorizzando più la soggezione e l’obbedienza che non la contemplazione. Nell’approfondimento della regola e delle virtù della vita religiosa M. aveva dismesso i panni profetici e aveva rivisitato i contenuti della sua vocazione. La regola ne divenne il fondamento e il procedere di M. il modello concreto: assimilate ai profeti e partecipi della stessa elezione degli apostoli inviati a portare la pace, le «spose di Cristo» riproducevano la vita evangelica, avendo per emblema la povertà.
Nell’ottobre 1586 M. lasciò il noviziato. Fu vicaria per l’accoglienza delle giovani che venivano in foresteria, dal 1589 maestra delle novizie, nel 1604-05 sottopriora per otto mesi, carica che lasciò per l’aggravarsi della tubercolosi.
Nel gennaio 1600 ricevette la visita di Maria de’ Medici, in procinto di partire per la Francia come sposa del re Enrico IV, e il 12 genn. 1601 M. scrisse alla regina di Francia ricordando la visita. Una lettera di Maria de’ Medici a M. datata 8 maggio 1596 testimonia rapporti precedenti a quell’occasione. Inoltre fu la stessa regina di Francia a promuovere l’edizione della vita di M. pubblicata da Puccini nel 1609. L’epistolario personale di M. contiene altre 26 lettere, scritte tra il 1588 e il 1606 e dirette, oltre che a religiosi e religiose, ai familiari: il fratello Geri, la nipote Maria de’ Pazzi, la cognata Ippolita Nasi.
M. morì a Firenze il 25 maggio 1607.
Nel 1629, in seguito al trasferimento del monastero, le spoglie furono traslate in Borgo Pinti, nella chiesa che sarebbe stata intitolata a M. dopo la santificazione. Nel 1888 furono spostate nel monastero di S. Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi a Careggi, dove si trovano tuttora. Nel monastero sono conservati anche i manoscritti originali delle opere, cioè le trascrizioni redatte dalle consorelle e da lei rivedute e corrette. M. fu proclamata beata da Urbano VIII nel 1626: rispetto alla recente disciplina restrittiva in materia di beatificazione, voluta dallo stesso papa, per M. fu decisa un’eccezione, forse legata all’origine fiorentina in comune con Urbano VIII. Nel 1662 iniziò il processo di canonizzazione, che si concluse nel 1669 con la proclamazione della santità a opera di Clemente IX.
Opere. Tutte le opere di s. Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi dai manoscritti originali, Firenze 1960-66 (7 voll.: I, Quaranta giorni; II-III, Colloqui; IV, Revelatione e Intelligentie; V-VI, Probatione; VII, Renovatione della Chiesa). Per una descrizione dei manoscritti E. Ancilli, I manoscritti originali di s. Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, in Ephemerides Carmeliticae, VII (1956), pp. 323-400; il corpus delle lettere è ora pubblicato in Id., «Constretta dalla dolce verità, io scrivo». Epistolario completo, a cura di C. Vasciaveo, Firenze 2007. Una scelta in Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, Le parole dell’estasi, a cura di G. Pozzi, Milano 1984.
Fonti e Bibl.: Breve ragguaglio della vita della s. madre fatto dalla madre suor Maria Pacifica Del Tovaglia, in Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, Tutte le opere, I, Firenze 1960; V. Puccini, Vita della madre suor M.M. de’ P. fiorentina, monaca dell’Ordine carmelitano nel monastero di S. Maria degli Angeli di Borgo S. Fridiano…, Firenze 1609; Id., Vita della venerabile madre suor M.M. de’ P. fiorentina… Con l’aggiunta della terza, quarta, quinta, e sesta parte… La qual contiene le mirabili Intelligenze, che in diversi tempi da Dio le furono comunicate…, Firenze 1611; A.M. Reconesi, Vita della beata M.M. de’ P.… raccolta e descritta dal sig. d. Vincenzo Puccini… Ridotta in miglior’ordine, con aggiunta, di molte azzioni virtuose, e mirabile, cavate da i processi formati per la sua canonizzazione, Roma 1629; V. Cepari, Vita della serafica vergine s. M.M. de’ P. fiorentina… con l’aggiunta cavata da’ processi formati per la sua beatificazione e canonizazione dal padre Giuseppe Fozi, Roma 1669; La santa di Firenze presentata principalmente a’ suoi concittadini nel III centenario della sua morte da una religiosa del suo monastero, Firenze 1906; C. Catena, S. M.M. de’ P. carmelitana: orientamenti spirituali e ambiente in cui visse, Roma 1966; Id., Le carmelitane. Storia e spiritualità, Roma 1969; B. Secondin, S. M.M. de’ P.: esperienza e dottrina, Roma 1974; G. Agresti, S. M.M. de’ P. L’amore non amato. Un’antologia delle sue opere, Roma 1974, pp. 9-88; B. Papasogli - B. Secondin, La parabola delle due spose. Vita di s. M.M. de’ P., Torino 1976; G. Pozzi, Patire e non potere nel discorso dei santi, in Studi medievali, XXVI (1985), pp. 1-52; Id., L’identico del diverso in s. Maddalena de’ Pazzi, in Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie, XXXIII (1986), pp. 517-551; Id., L’alfabeto delle sante, in G. Pozzi - C. Leonardi, Scrittrici mistiche italiane, Torino 1988, pp. 21-42; T. Zaninelli, Influssi culturali nell’esperienza mistica di s. M.M. de’ P., in Riv. di ascetica e mistica, I (1992), pp. 53-55; P. Moschetti - B. Secondin, M.M. de’ P., mistica dell’amore, Milano 1992; S.F. Matthews Grieco, Modelli di santità femminile nell’Italia del Rinascimento e della Controriforma, in Donne e fede, a cura di L. Scaraffia - G. Zarri, Bari 1994, pp. 320-322; A. Scattigno, M.M. de’ P. tra esperienza e modello, in Donna, disciplina e creanza cristiana dal XVI al XVII secolo. Studi e testi a stampa, a cura di G. Zarri, Roma 1996, pp. 85-101; Id., Un commento alla regola carmelitana. Gli Ammaestramenti di M.M. de’ P., in Il monachesimo femminile in Italia dall’Alto Medioevo al secolo XVII, a cura di G. Zarri, Verona 1997, pp. 283-302; F. Brezzi, La passione di pensare. Angela da Foligno, M.M. de’ P., Jeanne Guyon, Roma 1998; M. Gotor, I beati del papa. Santità, Inquisizione e obbedienza in Età moderna, Firenze 2002, pp. 30-33; A. Scattigno, Una comunità testimone. Il monastero di S. Maria degli Angeli e la costruzione di un modello di professione religiosa, in I monasteri femminili come centri di cultura tra Rinascimento e Barocco. Atti del Convegno ..., Bologna ..., 2000, a cura di G. Pomata - G. Zarri, Roma 2005, pp. 175-204; M.M. de’ P. santa dell’amore non amato (catal.), a cura di P. Pacini, Firenze 2007.



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