17 APRIL 2010. In addition to Blessed Clara Gambacorta (the subject of the immediately preceding post), today we also celebrate the feast day of Blessed Maria Mancini, a companion of Blessed Clara who served as the second prioress of the Convent of Saint Dominic outside Pisa.
Born Catherine Mancini at Pisa in the middle of the fourteenth century, she was a child that received several supernatural favors. When she was three years old, her guardian angel warned her that the portico under which her nurse has laid her was unsafe, and immediately upon being removed the portico collapsed. At the age of five and a half, Catherine experienced an exctasy by which she was transported to a palace where Peter Gambacorta was being tortured. At the prayer of the innocent child, the ropes that held him fell free and he escaped his torture. The Blessed Mother required the child Catherine afterward to recite seven Hail Marys each day for Peter Gambacorta, telling her that one day Catherine would be supported as his expense.
At the age of 12, Catherine's friends convinced her to marry. However, she found herself a widow by the age of 16. Catherine's family insisted that she remarry, which she did, but her second husband died before she reached the age of 25. As well, Catherine's children either died in infancy or did not survive their father. So, at the age of 25 Catherine found herself able to follow the attraction that she had to prayer and penance with greater freedom than was possible as a mother and wife.
In the spring of A.D. 1375, Saint Catherine of Sienna visited Pisa and the Saint and Catherine became close and holy friends. In fact, tradition tells that in Pisa, on Easter Sunday, the two shared a vision of all the people covered by a shining white cloud, out of which flew a white dove.
Because of the encouragement of Saint Catherine of Sienna, Catherine herself joined the Convent of the Holy Cross outside Pisa, taking the religious name Maria. After a period of time at the Convent of the Holy Cross, Maria and Blessed Clara left with some of their companion sisters to found the Convent of Saint Dominic. The new convent was built by Peter Gambacorta for his daughter Clara, and thus fulfilled the Blessed Mother's prophecy to the child Catherine, now Maria.
At the Convent of Saint Dominic, Blessed Maria lived a life of charity and strict religious observance with Blessed Clara and the rest of their community. She devoted herself to penance and contemplation. Tradition tells that Blessed Maria continued to receive supernatural favors in her religious life, which she she sought guidance on with the bishop of Jaen, Alfonso Vadaterra, who was a prominent man of the time and the former confessor of Saint Bridget.
After the death of Blessed Clara in 1419, Blessed Maria succeeded her dear friend as prioress of the Convent of Saint Dominic.
Blessed Maria died on 22 January 1431, and was beatified by Pope Pius IX.
O God, who didst present Blessed Maria
with the abundance of Thy grace and didst make her wonderful
by the gift of contemplation and
by exceeding great charity towards her neighbors,
grant us, that, by her imitation,
meditating on heavenly things and showing mercy to others,
we may merit to attain to eternal glory together with her.
Through Christ our Lord.