A Year with the Saints – 5 July


True simplicity is like that of children, who think, speak and act candidly and without craftiness. They believe whatever is told them; they have no care or thought for themselves, especially when with their parents; they cling to them, without going to seek their own satisfactions and consolations, which they take in good faith and enjoy with simplicity, without any curiosity about their causes and effects. – Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi resembled in her behavior a simple girl, acting without craftiness, and with great candor and simplicity of heart – accompanied, however, with prudence and such gravity as made her loved and respected by all.

The venerable Sister Maria Crucifixa was truly remarkable for this virtue. Though gifted with heavenly illumination, she appeared precisely like a simple little girl, without a vestige of artfulness. She told everything candidly and as it seemed to her, and she thought others did the same; for she could not believe that a Christian would be capable of telling lies. Some examples will show this more clearly.

On account of the opinion generally entertained of her sanctity, a great number of letters came to her from many places. She believed that this was owing to the high standing of the convent, and that her companions received as many; but she was much surprised to notice that they were not kept as busy in writing answers as she was. To satisfy herself about the matter, she went around asking them if they received many letters; and they, to favor her simplicity, answered, with polite exaggeration, that they received ever so many. “Why, then, do you not write?” she replied. “I will bring you the inkstand so that you can answer them.” She went for the inkstand and a pen, and gave them to her companions; but seeing that they could not restrain their laughter, she was unable to understand what the joke was, and remained much puzzled. Having received from Cardinal Tommasi, her brother, who often wrote to her, a letter in which he signed himself “a wretch,” according to the frequent custom of the time, she would answer neither that one, nor many others that he afterwards wrote. Being asked the reason, she replied that she did not wish to keep up a correspondence with wretches; and it required no little trouble to induce her to write.

But in another pretty incident the Lord was pleased to show how acceptable to Him was her simplicity. A linnet was given to her, which she named Fiorisco. She loved it very much, not only for its beautiful voice, but for the virtues which she said were shown in its actions. It happened once that she wished to pullout two of its feathers, to make a little pen to draw a certain design for an approaching Festival. She thought the linnet was rather unwilling to give them to her, and she was somewhat disedified by his want of devotion. A short time after a young canary, taking his first flight, rested on the cage of the linnet, which held him by one of his feet with his beak and began to pull out his feathers with his claws. Seeing what was going on, she hurried to the rescue, and exclaimed, “Ah, Fiorisco! We are growing worse and worse! Is this the way to observe charity?” Then turning to the image of the Virgin, she protested that in this bird she loved nothing except God, but that he had done very wrong that day, and she wished that he might be suitably punished. At these words, the linnet, as if he foresaw the coming punishment, stopped singing, and spent the rest of the day in a melancholy manner in a corner of the cage, with his feathers ruffled up. When evening came, a noise was heard from the cage, where poor Fiorisco was struggling grievously, with mournful cries. The servant of God hastened to the scene and saw the devil, in the form of an ugly crow, attacking her bird. Crying aloud “Santa Maria,” she put him to flight; but she found that her linnet had lost a wing, which had been torn off at the shoulder, and fell on the ground before her eyes; and the injured bird seemed on the point of drawing his last breath. She was grieved at the sight and prayed to the Lord, asking, as He did not desire the death of a sinner, but his conversion and life, that He would grant that her Fiorisco, though he had been punished, might not die. Nor was the prayer in vain; for after she had taken the bird in her hand and caressed it a little, it suddenly recovered its usual strength and appeared with a new wing, fully provided with bones and flesh and skin, in nothing different from the first, except that the feathers were handsomer.

MLA Citation