Calafato, Eustochia, St.

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Poor Clare abbess; b. Annunziata near Messina, Sicily, Italy, March 25, 1434; d. Montevergine, Italy, Jan. 20, 1468 (or 1491?). The daughter of Bernard Calafato, a wealthy merchant, and his wife Macalda Romano Colonna, known for her holiness, St. Eustochia was named Smeralda (Smaragda, "emerald") because of her beauty. She overcame the opposition of her brothers and joined the Poor Clares at S. Maria di Basicò c. 1446, taking the name Eustochia. After eleven years she received permission from callistus iii to found a community of more rigorous discipline under the Franciscan Observants. Established first at S. Maria Accomodata (1458), the community was transferred to Montevergine (1463) to house increased membership. Eustochia's outstanding qualities were love of penance and poverty, her endurance of many great interior and exterior sufferings, the miraculous efficacy of her prayers, and her devotion to the Passion, on which she wrote a tract (no longer extant). She was elected abbess when she was 30 and died when she was 35.

The cultus of Eustochia, patroness of Messina, especially during earthquakes, was confirmed as a beata in 1782. At her canonization in Messina (June 11, 1988), Pope John Paul II said: "From her cell in the monastery of Montevergine she extended her prayer and the value of her penances to the whole world [to] alleviate every suffering, ask pardon for the sins of all." Her body is venerated in the church of Montevergine. In iconography, she is commonly portrayed kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.

Feast: Jan. 20 (formerly Feb. 16).

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1988): 715. Bullarium Franciscanum, new series, 2:221. m. catalano, ed., La leggenda della beata Eustochia da Messina, 2d. ed. (Messina 1950). g. miligi, Francescanesimo al femminile: Chiara d'Assisi ed Eustochia da Messina (Messina 1994).

[m. f. laughlin]