St Eustochia Calafato healing oil
Eustochia Smeralda Calafato is a Franciscan Italian saint belonging to the Order of the Poor Clares.
She was born in a village near Messina, Italy. Most of what is known about her comes from the biography written two years after her death. It was written by one of her fellow nuns, Suor Jacopa Pollicino. However, this biography was only discovered in the 1940s.
St. Eustochia, born Smeralda Calafato, was the daughter of a rich merchant of Messina.. While her mother was pregnant with her, Messina was stricken with the plague. Consequently, her parents fled the city for the small town of Santissima Annuziata, near Messina. There the child was born on 25 March 1434, the feast of the Annunciation. Also, in that year it was Holy Thursday.
Eustochia joins the Poor Clares
From an early age she was noted for her beauty. Nonetheless, against her parents’ wishes, at the age of 15 she determined to take religious vows. She chose to enter the convent of Basicò, a house of Poor Clares. Also, it seems that her brothers threatened to burn down the convent if she persisted in her plan. However, this did not deter her. She took the name Eustochia, and remained at Basicò for over 10 years. Eustochia became known among the sisters for her conspicuous devotion and austerities. She frequently kept vigils, fasted often, and employed corporal mortifications.
St. Eustochia was a great lover of that poverty which marked the Poor Clares. She felt that Basicò did not adhere strictly enough to the rule in this regard. She discussed her misgivings with the sisters and the abbess. With the approval of Pope Calixtus III, in 1464 she decided to found a new convent which became known as Montevergine. The building project was apparently completed through the funding of a wealthy relative. St. Eustochia was chosen abbess, and at the time of her death the convent was home to 50 sisters. She died on 20 January 1485, at the age of 50.
St. Eustochia was beatified in 1782 by Pope Pius VI. She was canonized on June 11, 1988 by Pope John Paul II. Her incorrupt body rests in the Sanctuary of Montevergine in Messina This ancient monastery was founded by her around in 1459.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.