Pope Blesses Statue of "Lily of Quito"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI blessed the statue of St. Mariana de Jesús Paredes y Flores, «the lily of Quito,» Ecuador’s first canonized woman saint.

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The ceremony took place Wednesday when the Pope was on his way to St. Peter’s Square for the general audience.

The statue, placed in a niche on the outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, was made by Ecuadorian sculptor Mario Tapia, 38, who says this work has changed his life.

«Before I didn’t believe in the saints,» he said. «I did believe in God. I only knew Mariana de Jesús’ name, but now I feel she has entered my being.»

The sculptor said that some days, after eight hours of chiseling the block of Carrara marble, he felt as if he fell asleep in the saint’s arms.

Mariana de Jesús Paredes y Flores was born in Quito and orphaned from childhood. She consecrated her virginity to God and, being unable to enter a convent, began to live an ascetic life at home, dedicated to prayer.

Eventually received in the Franciscan Third Order, she dedicated herself to the spiritual assistance of her compatriots. She died in 1645. She was beatified in 1853 and canonized in 1950.

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