Mary Ann grew close to God and his people during her short life.
The youngest of eight, Mary Ann was born in Quito, Ecuador, which had been brought under Spanish control in 1534. She joined the Secular Franciscans and led a life of prayer and penance at home, leaving her parents’ house only to go to church and to perform some work of charity. She established in Quito a clinic and a school for Africans and indigenous Americans. When a plague broke out, she nursed the sick and died shortly thereafter.
She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
Francis of Assisi overcame himself (and his upbringing) when he kissed the man afflicted with leprosy. If our self-denial does not lead to charity, the penance is being practiced for the wrong reason. The penances of Mary Ann made her more sensitive to the needs of others and more courageous in trying to serve those needs.
“At times when especially impelled by love for God and fellowmen, she afflicted herself severely to expiate the sins of others. Oblivious then to the world around her and wrapped in ecstasy, she had a foretaste of eternal happiness. Thus transformed and enriched by God’s grace, she was filled with zeal to care not only for her own salvation, but also for that of others to the utmost of her ability. She generously relieved the miseries of the poor and soothed the pains of the sick. And when severe public disasters such as earthquakes and plagues terrified and afflicted her fellow citizens, she strove by prayer, expiation and the offering of her own life to obtain from the Father of mercies what she could not accomplish by human effort” (Pope Pius XII).