Great Ladies of the
Poor Clares

Saint Eustochia Calafato
(1432 – 1468)

God's Gem

Almighty and merciful God, who glorified the life of the blessed Eustochia, hidden entirely in Christ as it was,
grant through her intercession and our imitation of her,

that, buried with Christ in this world,
we may deserve to rise
to eternal life.
Through Christ our Lord.
  Amen.

     

    In God’s plan, every child is a gem, meant to enrich not only its own family but all of humanity.  So when, in the early 1430s, the princely Romano-Colonna family welcomed a new daughter, they named the baby Smaragda, a Sicilian word meaning “emerald.”   And a gem little Smaragda proved to be, not only on the natural level, but also on the spiritual level.  Bright, devout, generous, the girl realized early on that, in spite of her father’s desire that she marry well and advance the family’s social standing, she was called to belong totally to Christ, the Pearl of great price.

    While still a teen-ager, Smaragda entered the local convent of Poor Clares, where she was clothed and received her religious name, Eustochia.  Dedicated and prayerful, known for her intense Eucharistic devotion and her generous service to the sick, Eustochia set down deep roots in the life of the Spirit.  Desiring to live an even stricter form of Clarian life, Eustochia sought permission from the Pope to found a monastery where the primitive Rule of St. Clare would be observed.   After many trials and difficulties, her desire was fulfilled, and eventually Eustochia was elected abbess of the Poor Clare community she had established on the “Mount of the Virgins” in Messina , Italy , where she died in 1468.

    Her cult was approved in 1782, and she was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 11, 1988 .  In his homily on that occasion, he remarked: Learning assiduously in the school of Christ Crucified , Eustochia grew in knowledge of Him and conceived a faithful love for Him.  For our saint, the cloistered life was not a mere flight from the world in order to take refuge in God. From her cell in the monastery of Montevergine, she extended her prayer and the value of her penances to the whole world.  In such a way she wanted to be near to each brother and sister, to alleviate every suffering, to ask pardon for the sins of all.  Thus, this gem of God, deposited in the treasury of the cloister, enriched and continues to enrich the entire human family – just as He planned!

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