Hyacintha Mariscotti, OFM T
(also known as Giacinta or Clarice Mariscotti)
Feast day: January 30
Franciscan tertiary who was placed in a monastic life because of her troublesome nature. Born in Viterbo, Italy, she was so scandalous that she was forced to become a religious. She rebelled there as well, but after twenty four years, she became a model tertiary. She was canonized in 1807.
Born in Vignarello (near Viterbo), Italy, in 1585; died January 30, 1640; canonized in 1807. Clarice (later Hyacintha) Mariscotti is exceptional among saints in that she experienced not one conversion but two in her life. As a young religious, she was notoriously unfaithful to the rule. She repented and reformed herself, relapsed again into infidelity and then repented again and rose to the level of heroic virtue. The life of Saint Hyacintha demonstrates the way our sufferings can be transformed into blessings by God.
Clarice was born into a noble family and was educated in the Franciscan convent of Viterbo, where one of her blood sisters was a nun. In her youth, unlike many saints, Clarice showed no predisposition to piety.
At age 20, Hyacintha was passed over by the Marquis Cassizucchi in favor of her younger sister, whom he married. Thereafter, Hyacintha became so ill-tempered and made home-life so unendurable that her family nearly forced her into the convent of Franciscan tertiaries at Viterbo. She escaped but eventually returned to the convent and, in due course, was admitted and professed. Nevertheless, petulant Hyacintha used every possible opportunity to scandalize her community for a period of ten years during which she disregarded the spirit of the religious rule. She claimed every privilege to which her rank and wealth entitled her.
Her first 'conversion' came when her confessor, attending her when she was sick, expressed astonishment at the furniture and decor of her room; he told her she was in the convent merely to help the devil and the shock of such a remark snapped her out of her spiritual lethargy; she set about reforming her life with exaggerated fervor.
Hyacintha said her 'yes' and took a long step toward the Lord, but soon fell back into her old ways. Once again sickness, this time more serious, and once again reform that brought her back to her appointed ways. She became a model of heroic patience, penance, prayer, untiring goodness, sweetness, and promptness in serving all. From that time she gave herself to a life in which cruel disciplines, constant fasts, deprivation of sleep, and long hours of prayer all played their part.
It is remarkable that such a character could become a model novice mistress. Hyacintha seems to have shown healthy common sense in the guidance of others, restraining their devotional and penitential excesses and giving very practical advice to the many who wrote to seek her counsel. Hyacintha's charity was also outstanding, and it was not limited to those of her community. Through her influence two confraternities were established in Viterbo that devoted themselves to the relief of the sick, the aged, and the disadvantaged. Hyacintha herself helping to provide the necessary funds by her own begging.
Hyacintha's faith was now living, and when she surveyed the zigzag path she had followed, it all seemed to her like a miracle: indeed it is probably the greatest miracle of all, this conversion in the life of a saint