|Abstract: ||The veneration of St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi (1566–1607, canonized on April 28, 1669 in
Rome by Pope Clement X Altieri) was characteristic of Carmelite monasteries and extensively diffused
in Baroque culture. Her cult best illustrates the images representing the saint and her visions,
which were typical not only for the Italian painters of the 17th century, but also wide-spread in
other European countries.
I n the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the cult of the saintly Carmelite nun from Florence
started soon after Pope Urban VIII Barberini proclaimed her beatification in 1626. Meanwhile,
the spread of the cult of St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi in the second half of the 17th century was clearly related to the Pacas family (Pol. Pac, plural Pacowie) who linked their origin to the Pazzi
family from Florence. The devotion of the Pacas’s to this saint is testified to by the encomium writings
of their court and their personal documents, including their testaments.
I t is also witnessed by the relics (a tooth and several hairs), which were donated by Cosimo
III de’Medici (1642–1723), Grand Duke of Tuscany, to the Bishop of Vilnius Mikalojus Steponas
Pacas (Pol. Mikołaj Stefan Pac) (1623–1684). These relics were in their own specific reliquary, created
by Florentine masters about 1677–1683. This very small (just 13 cm high) and fine reliquary,
designed of rock crystal and decorated with pure gold and diamonds was placed for safe keeping in
the treasury of the Vilnius Cathedral after the bishop’s death on May 8, 1684. At present, this reliquary,
held by the Lithuanian Art Museum, is in an exposition of the Church Heritage Museum,
located in St. Michael’s Church in Vilnius.
However, historical documents testify that there was another big reliquary of St. Mary
Magdalene de’Pazzi made of ebony with silver decorations and three small figures. In this reliquary,
manufactured in the Medici workshop at the same time as the first one, were several hairs
of the saint and a piece of her old habit. This reliquary was in a chapel specially dedicated to St.
Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi and built in the Church of the Visitation of the Holy Virgin, belonging
to the Camaldolese Monastery of Pažaislis (Pol. Pożajść), which was founded in 1664 and built
(1667–1674) under an endowment of the Lithuanian Grand Chancellor Kristupas Zigmantas
Pacas (Pol. Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac) (1621–1684).
During 1677–1683, the Florentine painter Michele Arcangelo Palloni decorated the church
and the chapel, dedicated to the patron saint of the Pacas family, practically simultaneously with
the construction and decoration of a big chapel-mausoleum in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene
de’Pazzi (Borgo Pinti) in Florence. Palloni created the only surviving cycle of frescoes in the Grand
Duchy of Lithuania, depicting the visions of St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi, which fact also testifies
to the devotion of the Pacas family to this saint. Although the iconographic program of the chapel
in Pažaislis maintained a close relationship with the Chapel-Mausoleum of St. Mary Magdalene
de’Pazzi in Florence, its ideational appearance differs completely from the latter. In the iconography
of the Pažaislis Chapel, the particular emphasis is on the saint’s spiritual relations with St.
Augustine of Hippo (354–430), established under the impact of the Pacas family’s religious perceptions,
which tended toward the Jansenist doctrine very prevalent in that period.
Nevertheless, the main aspect of the cult of St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi in Lithuania was
connected with the spread of the ideas of the Counter-Reformation in Poland-Lithuania as well as
with the political activities of the Pacas family and the Pontificate’s interests in the Baltic region.|