Born Mariana Paredes y Flores of a noble Spanish family, she showed precocious piety and at the age of twelve wanted to go to Japan to convert its inhabitants to Christianity. She had been left an orphan at an early age and brought up by her sister and brother-in-law. She decided to live a solitary life in their house because she was not able to join a religious community. The years which followed until her death at the early age of thirty-one were filled with austerities which appear misguided or unbelievable, and quite unlike the normal direction of Jesuits who guided her. It seems that we are faced with hagiographers' exaggeration on a large scale, intent perhaps on pleading her case with excessive zeal and anxious to portray her austerities as quite as severe as those of Rose of Lima, who had died in 1617 at a similar age. Whatever may be thought of this, Mariana's short life was one of penance, solitude, ecstasies, and prophecy. After an earthquake and subsequent epidemics had devastated Quito in 1645, Mariana offered her life as a victim for the sins of its people. Not long afterwards she died worn out by austerities as well as illness. At some point or other she had become a Franciscan tertiary and after her death she became known as the Lily of Quito. Resemblances to Rose of Lima include a shared conviction of the importance of Catherine of Siena as role-model, the joining of a Third Order of Friars, the deliberate choice against family pressure of a life of virginity, and the configuration to Christ Crucified in and through the chosen regime of great austerity and spiritual experiences. Among the sins and abuses of a corrupt society Rose and Mariana stand out (like the hermits of antiquity) as signs of both warning and encouragement to contemporaries. She was canonized in 1950, one of comparatively few from South America. Feast: 26 May.
N.C.E., x. 999–1000; Bibl. SS., viii. 1033–5; B.L.S., v. 148–9.