august 30. Narcisa de Jesús Martillo y Morán, who hung nightly from a crucifix she built
Lived 1832 to 1869
The daughter of wealthy landowners, Narcisa had a clear perception of her call to sanctity from an early age and she was confirmed at age seven. She often withdrew to a small wood near her home for prayer and contemplation in solitude. There she knelt before a guayabo tree, which is today the destination for large pilgrimages. She turned a small room in her house into a chapel, and in imitation of Saint Mariana de Jesus, she identified with the vocation of a victim.
BUILDER OF HER OWN CRUCIFIX
After her father’s death, she moved Guayaquil, where she sought guidance from spiritual directors and worked as a seamstress. She preferred to live in old buildings on corners, in silence and alone among the poor, abandoned to prayer and penance. She made a cross and remained fastened to it for hours, wearing a crown of thorns. When she came down from the cross, she took a short rest on an iron bed with points on it. When she arose from the bed, she would bloody herself with discipline.
STRIVING FOR GREATER PERFECTION
In her thirties, in response to a drive for greater perfection, Narcisa moved to Lima, Peru where she lived “as austerely as any sister,” as a laywoman in a convent. There she followed a demanding daily schedule of 8 hours of prayer in expiation for mankind’s sins. She devoted 4 hours every night to various forms of mortification, including flagellating herself and (again) wearing her crown of thorns. At times, the Eucharist was her only form of sustenance.
She died of a fever and no one could save her. One chronicler notes that, given the severity of her mortifications and her desire to commune with Christ through his suffering, 37 was a ripe old age to expire. On her last living day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Narcisa ended with a novena and celebrating the Eucharist. She remarked to her sisters that she was going on a journey very far. Not long after, one of the sisters who was charged with blessing the nuns’ quarters, noticed a splendor and special scent in Narcisa’s cell. Her body was not incorrupt but “practically incorrupt,” remaining supple for a long time.
After praying with her mother at Narcisa’s shrine, a child who was born without genitals was inexplicably cured at age seven. Her doctor attested to the miracle, stating the child was now “completely normal.”
One blogger notes that, in Guayaquil, Narcisa is a favorite among taxi drivers, who display her prayer card on their dash boards.