Maria Barba came from an upper class Sicilian family, but she was born in 1884 in Italy, where her father, a judge, was working at the time. Her family returned to Palermo in Sicily when she was two years old.
From the age of 15 she wanted to enter the convent, but her family prevented her from doing this for some twenty years. The accounts of her life record that during this time she was sustained by reading the autobiography of the Carmelite St Thérèse of Lisieux and by a special devotion to the Eucharist, in which she saw the mystery of the sacramental presence of God in the world, the concrete symbol of His infinite love of humanity, and the reason for our trust in His promises.
Eventually she was able to enter the Carmelite convent in Ragusa in 1919. She took the name Maria Candida of the Eucharist, saying that she wanted ‘to keep Jesus company in the Eucharist for as long as possible’. In 1924 became her convent’s Prioress, a position she held for most of the following 23 years. In the 1930s, Mother Candida wrote a book on the Eucharist steeped in her own devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote:
O my Beloved Sacrament, I see you, I believe in you!… O Holy Faith. Contemplate with ever greater faith our Dear Lord in the Sacrament: live with Him who comes to us every day…. O My Divine Eucharist, my dear Hope, all our hope is in You…. Ever since I was a baby my hope in the Holy Eucharist has been strong…. My Jesus, how I love You! There is within my heart an enormous love for You, O Sacramental Love…. How great is the love of God made bread for our souls, who become a prisoner for me!
She died on 12 June 1949, the feast of the Holy Trinity, and was beatified by John Paul II in 2004.