This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8 -- Feast of Narcisa De Jesus Martillo Moran

St. Narcissa
In truth, today is not Saint Narcissa's feast.  Her feast is August 30.  I am not sure why the folks on Vatican Hill picked August 30 over so many other days, but I have an idea why they didn't pick today, which is her dies mortalis.  December 8 is also the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  Narcissa's an impressive saint in her own right, but it probably didn't seem fair to anyone on the Hill to stack her up against the sinless conception of the Theotokos.  For my part, however, the BVM is nearly beyond my scope, and since I need a saint to celebrate, Narcissa is celebrated here on her dies natalis.  If any readers also choose to recall her sanctity next August as well, so much the better. 

A Guayaba tree, but not The Guayaba Tree
Narcissa was the daughter of modest Ecuadorian landowners, Josephine Moran and Peter Martillo.  Her chores increased greatly at age six, when her mom died.  Dad was not unkind or unreasonable, nor was she unhappy, but nineteenth century rural life in Ecuador was rigorous.  She still find time to slip out to the Guayaba tree often for prayer and meditation.  The tree (or perhaps its successor?) was been a pilgrimage destination in Ecuador even before her canonization.  The Vatican News Service described her as a "very attractive young woman, blonde with blue eyes, tall, strong and agile."  That early health must account (at least in part) for how she could live for years while secret but severe mortification of the flesh.  True, she only lived until age thirty-seven, but given the bread-and-water fasts and the rigors of trying to bring herself closer to Jesus by communing through his suffering, thirty-seven's a good run of it. 

At rest in her shrine in Nobol, Ecuador
She had dutifully supported her dad, but upon his death, the nineteen year old Narcissa moved to the Big City (well, to Guayaquil, anyway) where she first worked as a domestic servant and then later supported herself with tailoring jobs.  Living independently allowed her more freedom to prayer, attend Mass, and serve penance, though what folks like that have to confess and repent is beyond my comprehension.  I guess that's why they're saints and I am just a blogger. 

She joined a convent in Lima (Peru) in 1868 on the advice of a Franciscan friar.  Her death in 1869 might suggest that was bad advice, but then again, the rigors of mortification probably had more to do with it than the convent itself.  The remarkable condition of her corpse -- incorruptibility, sweet odor, all the attributes of a saint's relics -- supported immediate local veneration.  Ecuadorians recognized her as a saint early on; the Vatican caught up to the idea with beatification in 1992 and full canonization in 2008.  Her body is enshrined in Nobol, Ecuador. 

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