Born in the village of Santissima Annuziata, near Messina, most of what is known about Saint Eustochia comes from the biography, discovered only in the 1940s, written two years after her death by one of her fellow nuns, Suor Jacopa Pollicino, daughter of the Baron of Tortorici.
Born Smeralda Calafato, St. Estonia was the daughter of a rich merchant of Messina. From an early age she was noted for her beauty, but against her parents’ wishes, at the age of 15 she determined to take religious vows choosing to enter the convent of Basicò, a house of Franciscan Poor Flares. She took the name Eustochia, and remained at Basicò for over 10 years becoming known among the sisters for her conspicuous devotion and austerities. She frequently kept vigils, fasted often, and employed corporal mortification.
St. Eustochia was a great lover of that poverty which marked the Poor Clares, and feeling that Basicò did not adhere strictly enough to the rule in this regard, after discussions with the sisters and the abbess -and with the approval of Pope Callixtus III, in 1464 she decided to found a new convent which became known as Montevergine (“Mountain of the Virgin”) which was completed thanks through the funding of a wealthy relative. St. Eustochia was chosen abbess, and at the time of her death in 1485 the convent was home to 50 sisters.
St. Eustochia was beatified in 1782 by Pope Pius VI, and was canonized on June 11, 1988 by Pope John Paul II. Her incorrupt body rests in the Sanctuary of Montevergine in Messina. As Saint Eustochia is the co-patron of the city, every August 22nd her body is exposed to the veneration of the people and, with a solemn celebration, the Municipality of Messina offers her a gift. Her body can also be visited twice a week. Her feast was <a class=”mw-redirect”
It is thought that St. Eustochia was the model for Antonello da Messina’s depiction of the Virgin of the Annunciation.
1. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustochia_Smeralda_Calafato