The Voice of Jesus
"You will be the True Little Nun of my Heart"
"What is Lacking in the Passion of Christ"
Luisa, the Victim
Union with Jesus
"Continuing in my Usual State..."
"A Life More Celestial than Terrestrial"
Luisa in the Convent with the Sisters
Luisa, Witness of Herself
The Last Trial of Luisa
From the Exile to the Fatherland
Luisa, "Who are You?"
The Mission of Luisa
Some Dates in the Life of Luisa
"While still a child (so writes a distinguished witness, Monsignor Don Luigi D' Oria, Archpriest of Corato), I kept hearing the name of a woman who had been bedridden for more than forty years. My mother was fond of her, and often spoke about her. Especially in the moments of sorrow and oppression, she would run to her to implore her prayers. After twenty years, I went back to visit this soul again, and I found her always the same: placid and smiling, working with the fusetti of the tombolo in her hands, or with the rosary between her fingers, in attitude of prayer.
For all those who saw her and visited her, she had always the sweet word of the Will of God on her lips, and was able to bring to everyone peace to their souls and consciences, and smiles to families.
Upon entering her little room, turning the eyes to the right, the visitor found a bed surrounded by a curtain. On this bed a woman had been lying for about seventy years, always serene and fresh as a daisy. Small in stature, lively eyes, penetrating look, her head slightly leaning toward the right, this virgin lived alone with her sister - never a lament, never an act of anger. One could see her always sitting, leaning on three pillows, with a crucifix - on which she wanted to model her entire existence - in front of her, hanging from the bar of the curtain.
Lifting the veil of the curtain, one could see an altar, upon which every morning a Priest celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass. Near it, a closet in which the sacred vestments were kept. Nothing else, except for a balcony from which, every once in a while, she used to get some air and sun.
Seventy years in bed! One entire long existence. Well, from 1878 to 1947, this soul spent her life in solitude, in suffering, in silence, and in prayer.
This soul had a name known to many: Luisa Piccarreta, called "Luisa, the Saint."
Luisa had not always been in bed. Her first years were of continuous activity, because she was healthy and strong - of that sturdiness of the old patriarchal families who lived their years in the open countryside, among the fragrance of thyme and the bleating of sheep.
The land of Puglia, austere and rough, industrious and sober, reflected the nature of its inhabitants... A tenacious land, a land with a heart of stone, in which God wanted to fulfill His ancient promise: "...I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. I will put my Spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you" (Ez. 36, 26-27).
Luisa came to light in Corato, land of Bari, and there she lived and died in the odor of sanctity. The name of Corato seems to come from the Latin "Cor Datum" ("Given heart"). Admirable divine Providence, which disposed that the coat of arms of the city displayed a heart in the middle of three towers which guard it... Yes, because this is the land where God wanted to give His Heart, which is His Divine Will, to a creature, and where she gave her own heart to her Lord.
Luisa was born in the morning, Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter, "in Albis"), April 23, 1865. On that very evening she was baptized. Her parents, Vito Nicola Piccarreta and Rosa Tarantini, both from Corato, had five daughters: Maria, Rachele, Filomena, Luisa and Angela. The last two did not get married, and after the death of their parents, on March 19 and 29 respectively, 1907, Angelina always remain to assist Luisa.
From the tender age of three or four years, until she was ten, little Luisa was of fearful temperament. She could not remain alone, nor could she go anywhere by herself, due to the frightening dreams that she had every night during her infancy. She dreamed of the devil, who frightened her, left her shaken and bathed in cold sweat. And she would hide, run into the arms of her mama, and then remain for the whole day with the impression of those dreams, with such fright that she felt the devil coming from all sides... Even when she went with her parents to the family farm - a cultivated plot of land at about 27 Km (~ 17 miles) from Corato, called "Torre Disperata", in the Murge - she could not remain alone, not even in the garden, because the blowing of the wind or the moving of tree branches made her think of the presence of the devil.
For this reason, from that age, she became used to prayer. Every day she entrusted herself to all the male and female Saints that she knew with as many ‘Our Fathers’ and ‘Hail Marys’, so that they might free her from those dreams. A tender and profound devotion to the Most Holy Virgin, whom she called "Celestial Mama" also began to arise within her. Sometimes she dreamed of Her as She cast away the devil. One time in particular She said to her: "Cry, my daughter, for my Son is dead." Luisa remained shaken and full of compassion. Her childhood, she says, was very embittered and unhappy. She did not even play with other little girls or with her little sisters because of the great length of her prayers. She remained slightly distant, but without going too far, because of her fear.
She did not want to participate in either feasts or amusements which were traditional in the families, holy though they might be. Her shy temperament rendered all things alien to her, and if she was forced to participate by her family, or if her mother took her to visit their relatives, they martyred her. If people came to her house, Luisa disappeared until told that the visitors had left. In the meantime, she would remain hidden behind a bed, recollected in prayer.
Remembering all this, one day Jesus said to her: "My daughter, even the shyness with which I surrounded you at a tender age was one of my greatest jealousies of love for you. I wanted that no one would enter into you, either of world or people. I wanted to render you alien to everyone. I did not want you to participate in anything, or that anything be pleasing to you, because, having established from that time that I was going to form the Kingdom of the Supreme Fiat within you, and since you had to take part in Its feasts and joys, it was just that you enjoyed no other feast, and that you be deprived of all pleasures and amusements of earth. Aren’t you happy?"
And Luisa says: "But although I was shy and fearful, I was of lively and happy temperament: I jumped, I ran, and I even did some impertinences."
Luisa never stood out in any typical way. All her life she remained a tiny little girl. She knew nothing except God, and the world did not know her – there was nothing human in her which would attract attention. One day Jesus said to her: "Listen, I went around the earth, over and over again; I looked at all creatures, one by one, in order to find the littlest of all. And among them all I found you, the littlest of all. I liked your littleness, and I chose you. I entrusted you to my Angels to guard you, not to make you great, but to preserve your littleness. Now I want to begin the great work of the fulfillment of my Will. You will not feel greater because of this; on the contrary, my Will will make you smaller, and you will continue to be the little daughter of your Jesus - the little daughter of my Will" (Vol. 12, 3-23-1921).
The Voice of Jesus
Luisa was nine years old when she received First Communion. It was the Sunday in Albis of 1874; the same day she received the Sacrament of Confirmation. For the first time little Luisa, with great devotion, went to receive the One Who was to make of her His Victim, and a Living Host. The Eucharist became her predominant passion, and she centralized all her affections in It. From that age, Luisa remained in church for hours (her Parish Church, Santa Maria Greca), kneeling, motionless, immersed in profound contemplation.
She became "daughter of Mary" at eleven. She herself narrates: "One day, as I wanted to pray and meditate, I was caught by fear and I wanted to run to my family. But I felt a force in my interior which kept me back, and I heard a voice in the depth of my soul, which said to me: "Why do you fear? Your Angel is by your side, Jesus is in your heart, and your Celestial Mama keeps you under Her mantle. Why do you fear then? Who is stronger: your guardian Angel, your Jesus, your Celestial Mama, or the infernal enemy? Therefore, do not run away, but stay, pray, and do not fear."
In this way Luisa acquired such strength, courage and firmness that the fear disappeared and the nightmares ceased too. From that time on - she was about twelve years old - she began to hear the interior voice of Jesus, especially when she received Him in Holy Communion. Jesus, in attitude of Master, now corrected her, now scolded her, now instructed her, and taught her about meditation. "Since then", Luisa writes, "in my interior, adorable Jesus taught me about the Cross, meekness, obedience, His hidden Life..."
Jesus was so jealous as not to entrust to anyone the task of the spiritual direction and education of Luisa, because He was to form in her the Work of the Sanctity of sanctities - His own personal Work of beginning the Kingdom of the Divine Will upon earth. Luisa remained always under the care of her Confessors and under obedience to them. She had five Confessors during her life, and the last one was designated by her Archbishop; however, they were not her spiritual directors. Jesus alone was her Spiritual Director.
The interior voice of Jesus led Luisa to detachment from herself and from everything. For this purpose, He presented to her the hidden life of the Holy Family of Nazareth as model. Life in the Divine Will, which Jesus was going to teach her years later, is the repetition of the interior Life of Jesus, lived especially in the atmosphere of Nazareth, and in that of His Most Holy Passion. It is not by chance that the Archdiocese to which Corato belongs is called "Trani-Nazareth."
"You will be the True Little Nun of my Heart"
Luisa had attended school at the Sisters of Immaculate Conception (called "d’Ivrea"), and had completed the second (maybe the third) elementary grade. A special affection for these sisters arose within Luisa, a human affection for which Jesus bitterly reproached her, and which was the first and the last of her life. In those years, she said, she had almost a craving for becoming a nun, and desired to be like one of those whom she knew. But Jesus made her quickly stop this, allowing that she experience a disappointment... He spoke to her of His love, of the inconstancy of the love of the creatures, of how He absolutely wanted her to stop, and finally He added: "...When a heart is not empty, I refuse it, and I cannot begin the crafting which I have planned to do in the depth of the soul."
To her desires for a religious life, Jesus, reassuring her, answered: "Yes, I will make you content; you will see that you will be a nun." But her family was opposed, especially her mother, who said she would make Luisa content if she wanted to become a cloistered nun, but not one of active life.
She was about 14 years old when she went with her mother to Trani, to ask for admission to the cloistered monastery of Saint Clairein San Giovanni, but she was not accepted because her mother related the strange things which were happening to her, and especially the precarious physical condition of Luisa.
Years later, reduced to languishing in a bed as voluntary victim, lamenting to Jesus, Luisa said to Him: "Yet, You told me a lie, You made fun of me, promising me that I was going to become a nun." But many times Jesus reassured her of the fact that He had told her the truth, saying to her: "I cannot deceive, nor can I make fun of anyone. My call to you was more special: who, by becoming a nun, even in the most strict religious life, cannot walk, cannot take air, cannot enjoy anything? And how many times in religious orders do they let the little world in, and amuse themselves magnificently? And I remain as if set aside... Ah, my daughter, when I call to a state, I know how to fulfill the call. When in substance the soul is what she should be if she had entered religion, the place is indifferent to Me; the religious habit tells Me nothing,. Therefore I tell you that you are and will be the true little nun of my Heart."
"What is Lacking in the Passion of Christ"
Luisa was 13 years old when the unexpected vision of Jesus carrying the Cross was to mark a turning point in her life. She herself narrates: "...So, encouraged by Jesus, I began to meditate on His Passion, which did so much good for my soul that I can well assert, without fear of being mistaken, that all good came from this source of grace and love. From that time on, the Passion of Jesus made Its way not only in my heart and in my spirit, which vividly felt compassion, but through this meditation, my whole body was caught by such rapture as to feel the painful effects of the Passion itself. I saw myself immersed in It as if in an immense sea of light, which with its burning rays made me share in the love of Jesus, Who had suffered so much for me...
"Other times Jesus Himself narrated to me His bitter pains and sorrows which He suffered for love of me, and I remained so moved as to cry bitterly. One day, while working, I was reflecting on the most bitter pains of Jesus; more than ever, I felt my heart so oppressed that I could not breathe, and fearing that some trouble was about to occur to me, I wanted to distract myself by going out to the balcony. But what do I see? An immense crowd of people in the middle of the street, passing under the balcony, leading my most meek Jesus with the Cross on His shoulders - pushed now to one side, now to the other. I could see Him panting, His Face dripping with blood, and in such a pitiful attitude as to move even the stones, when He raised His eyes toward me in act of asking me for help. Who can say, now, the pain that I felt within me; who, the impression that such a harrowing scene produced in me...?!
I immediately went to my room, not even knowing where I was. I felt my heart break for the pain, and crying my heart out, I said to myself: ‘How much You suffer, O my good Jesus! Could I at least free You from those wolves, so rabid, or at least suffer those pains myself, those strains and sorrows in your place, so as to give You the most relief! Please, my Good, give me sufferings, because it is not fair that You have to suffer so much for love of me, while I, a sinner, remain without suffering anything for You!’
From that moment on, and forever, a most ardent yearning to suffer for love of Jesus arose in Luisa. Then, the first physical sufferings of the Passion of Jesus began for her, although they were hidden. Our Lord deprived her of any consolation and sensible grace, leaving her alone in the midst of most bitter pains... They were so intense as to affect her physical health. Her family realized it, but attributed it to an illness. Therefore she had to submit to the first medical examinations, which produce no results.
As Jesus was missing, everything was missing to her. Even the creatures, the water, the fire, the plants, the flowers, the sun, and the very stone of her little room, which in their mute language so eloquently spoke to her about their Creator - her only Good, Jesus - provoked in her such desire as to convert everything into most bitter pain. Only after Communion did the voice of Jesus make itself heard again; but having to remain for long periods in the countryside with her family, she was deprived also of this. After this period, Jesus continued, lovingly, to speak to her, instruct her, and prepare her for a terrible fight against the demons...
Having reassured her, Jesus especially recommended to her constant prayer ("even if you should suffer pains of death"), absolute obedience to her Confessor, and courage and intrepidity in battle... This lasted one year and a half, and she fought both in her soul and in her body, resisting the assaults, the suggestions, the temptations and the torments of the infernal enemy. Then, little by little, it ended three years later.
In seeing her so gaunt, her family wanted to take her to the countryside, to let her recover her health. But God was waiting for her there "in the desert", to let her pass to a new state of life.
Luisa, the Victim
While she was in the countryside, one day the demons made a final assault on Luisa, so violent and painful that she lost consciousness. It was the first time that had happened to her. Reduced to this state, she had another vision of Jesus suffering because of the offenses of sinners. Then, moved interiorly by the loving solicitations and invitations of Grace, conquering her fear and repugnance, she fully consented to the Will of God and accepted the state of victim to which Jesus and the Sorrowful Mother were calling her. She was 16 years old.
A new period of sensible graces followed (various visions of Jesus and of Mary Most Holy), alternating with sufferings from the demons, and with participation in the sufferings of Jesus.
One day she was in the farmhouse with her family when she lost consciousness a second time. She again saw Jesus suffering, Who communicated to her the pains of His crown of thorns. As she regained consciousness, she could not open her mouth or take any food because of the spasm she felt. In this situation, it was impossible for Luisa to eat anything - in the beginning, for two or three days, but later, on a permanent and continuous basis. She always regurgitated everything, and lived in a state of total starvation (except for very short periods) until her death. This state was known to her family, which was ignorant of the cause of it. In this way, even externally, the Lord prepared Luisa to live only from the Divine Will, and to make of It her only food, together with the Eucharist.
Her family thought that Luisa had caused this state because she did not want to be in the countryside, and that refusing food was only a fuss; so she received reproaches and sufferings from her family. But in the end, through force of circumstance, they discovered the truth. One day, as Luisa felt annihilated and destroyed, anguished by the single thought that others might become aware of her sufferings, and as she prayed Jesus to let her suffer in a hidden way, she lost consciousness and saw Jesus suffering again. Forgetful of herself, she prayed to Him to concede that she suffer in His place, and Jesus soon made her content: as she regained consciousness, she saw people from her family around her, disturbed and crying, fearing that she was at the end of her life.… So, new medical examinations - without fruit, and the new cross of not being left alone, and of being prevented from going to church, deprived of the Sacraments, unable to visit Jesus in the Tabernacle.
This state of suffering lasted about 6-7 months. It increased so much that she would often lose consciousness and remain petrified, and therefore she was forced to remain in bed in a more continuous way. She was examined by other doctors, who said that they were not competent to make her come back into herself ("I am a doctor, and I did not study mysticism"), so they suggested calling a Priest. On one occasion, she had been in that state of death for more than 18 days; they called her Confessor, Father Cosma Lojodice, Augustinian, who, by command of obedience, made her come around. Luisa attributed this to the virtue of this Priest, and considered it a miracle.
A few more times she was able to free herself, by herself. Then, she recovered her health and for a certain period of time was able to go to church.
At 17, on Christmas of 1882, Luisa made a Novena of preparation for the Feast of Christmas, by daily practice of different acts of virtue and mortification, and with nine meditations each day, regarding the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, honoring the nine months which Jesus spent in the womb of His Mother. She then received special graces, and the interior voice of Jesus illustrated for her the contemplation of nine hours during the days of the Novena, which culminated in the vision of Baby Jesus, Who invited her to rise higher in the life of His Grace and of His Love. For this purpose, He ordered her to continue to make another 24 meditations on His Passion and death of the Cross, distributing them through the 24 hours of the day.
Thirty-one years later (in 1913 and 1914) Luisa had to write, under obedience, the "Hours of the Passion", which was then published. From that time Luisa was assiduous in this meditation; from that time the Hours of the Passion were written in her soul!
At the age of 18 Luisa became tertiary Dominican, with the name of Sister Maddalena. At that time, her Parish Priest from Santa Maria Greca, was promoting the Third Order, and Luisa was one of the first to enter.
For some time Luisa could still free herself, by herself, from the state of loss of consciousness, so she said nothing of this to her Confessor; but then Our Lord disposed in such a way that she would again be unable to free herself. Therefore, again her Confessor was called, who freed her and ordered her to go to him every morning in order to receive, in advance, the benediction required to free her, so that he would not have to go to her.
But one day it happened that she was caught by that state, and since her Confessor was not around, other Priests were called, who refused to go... After Luisa spent ten days in this state of petrification and death, Father Michele De Benedictis came, who had been her first Confessor when she was little. He made her return to consciousness to the surprise of all, and especially that of Luisa, who understood two things from this: that it was not only the sanctity of the Priest that gave her life again, but his authority as Minister of God; and that God had placed her in the hands of Priests... Here a new and extremely heavy cross began, which lasted for the rest of the life of Luisa: the need, as wanted by Jesus, of the Priestly authority to give or take away sufferings from this Victim.
Then, a harsh war on the part of some Priests began against Luisa and her family. Some of them considered her an impostor, others said that she deserved to be beaten, others believed she was possessed... They reached the point of leaving her in that state of death for 10, 18, and even 25 days! Luisa’s mother, not knowing what else to do in the midst of so many tribulations, turned to the Archbishop, who began to be interested and to give dispositions so that Priests would go and "wake her up."
About four years went by in this way, until she reached the age of 21-22. Luisa wanted to resist and she was in disagreement with Our Lord. Her Confessor, on his part, did not want her to fall into this state any more, which was not in the power of Luisa. Then Our Lord intervened, placing Luisa, definitively and with no doubts, as "the lamp on the chandelier", in her mission of Victim of reparation and expiation on behalf of men. He used the epidemic of cholera of 1887.
Luisa prayed Jesus to cease that scourge which had been spreading for months claiming many lives; and the Lord consented on the condition that she would accept being Victim of reparation. She accepted, and after three days of sufferings in her now accustomed state of death, the cholera suddenly disappeared.
Union with Jesus
One month after the end of the epidemic, the Confessor left her, having been called to a convent. She then submitted to the direction of Father Michele De Benedictis. To him she was able to open her soul in minute detail without knowing how; it had been impossible with his predecessor. In reality, she was forced by Jesus. In order to discern this soul, her Confessor first imposed on her that, if she had to suffer, she was supposed to ‘ask him for the obedience’: without his consent, Luisa could not accept the state of suffering from Jesus.
About one year later, Jesus asked her to offer herself in suffering; not at intervals, as in the past, but continually, with the purpose of sparing men from the many chastisements which were about to plunge upon them because of their sins.
As she communicated this to the Confessor, and asked obedience to be continually in bed suffering, "for a certain period of time" (which she thought to be of about forty days), he said to her that, if that was the Will of God, he would give her the obedience. "But unfortunately" Luisa says, "from that day until the moment at which I am writing (1899) twelve years have passed, continuing in this state of sufferings, and who knows how much longer will it last!"
Luisa remained permanently bed from the age of 22 (the beginning of 1888), and lived for about 60 more years, until March 4, 1947, the day on which she died.
Then another chain of singular graces began as Jesus made Himself seen very often, disposing her to the Mystical Marriage, leading her to perfect conformity to His Will.
When God asks, it is in order to give. If before it was Luisa that went to Jesus, from now on it is Jesus that comes to her almost every day. However, it was sufficient that Jesus delay His sensible presence for a few hours, for it to become a cruel pain of death for Luisa. In addition to this, Holy Mass began to be celebrated every day in her home, in front of her bed, with the permission of the Ecclesiastical Authority - with the exception of one short period of time.
Jesus began to dispose Luisa to that state of union to which He was calling her: "I want from you perfect conformity to my Will, in such a way that your will may come to be completely dissolved in Mine."
He asked her to ask for the obedience to no longer eat since she brought up everything, but her Confessor did not consent to this. But then, so as not to make her appear odd, he ordered her to take food only once a day, although knowing that she would bring up everything a few minutes later. This was certainly a unique phenomenon, because she brought up everything smoothly, as if in a hiccup, intact, fresh and fine to the appearance. This phenomenon lasted all her life.
In seeing that after the "forty days" the state of suffering continued, and that he would have to go every day to make her come around through the benediction of obedience ("In the name of God, Holy, Powerful and Immortal"), the Confessor ordered her not to fall again into that state. Luisa did everything possible to resist Our Lord, but at a certain point around the end of the night, Jesus "drew her outside of herself" and let her share in His pains. They had to call her Confessor who, in waking her up, scolded her as disobedient and visionary, telling her that she did not need him, but a psychiatrist. Luisa explained to him what had happened, and the Lord, in order to convince the Confessor that such was His Will, gave him, as a sign, the announcement of a war between Italy and Africa (which came true in a few months’ time). In this way the Confessor was persuaded and withdrew his order. It was New Year’s eve of 1888.
One year after she began to remain in bed as perennial victim, Jesus gave her the grace of the "Mystical Union." It was October 16, 1888, Feast of the Purity of Mary Most Holy (90 years later, on this date, Pope John Paul II was elected). Luisa was 23 years old.
One day, three months after she had become perennial Victim, Jesus presented Himself to Luisa in an indescribably beautiful appearance, such as to enrapture her. She says, "In less than no time, He made my soul come out from every part of my body, giving me a most simple body, all resplendent with most pure light; and behind Him, I followed His most rapid flight, wandering around the great vastness of the heavens. Now, since it was the first time that this wonderful phenomenon occurred to me, as the soul went out of the body I began to exclaim: ‘now surely the Lord has come to take me, therefore I am definitely going to die...!’"
In the future, every time she lost consciousness, her soul (or rather, her spirit) (see I Thes 5:23) abandoned her body to follow Jesus. In this way often they went to places where Jesus was offended, or where they found obstinate sinners at the point of death... Then, with immense pain, Jesus would ask her, on one hand, to take upon herself some of His most bitter pains, and on the other, the weight of His Justice and satisfaction for all the sins and pains of sinners. To these pains, the most bitter one was added: returning to her body and being alone. Her most ardent desires to die and enter permanently into Heaven ("My Fatherland") were restrained only by the obedience which was imposed on her, of not wanting to die. In this state Luisa spent the rest of her life.
Eleven months after the "Union" on earth, Jesus wanted to ratify it in Heaven in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity and of all the Celestial Court with a new mystical grace, the highest one, as known from previous Saints and from mystical writers: "The Mystical Marriage." With this grace, Luisa was given perennial possession of the Three Divine Persons, concealed in the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity), who established in her their permanent dwelling place. It was September 8, 1889, Feast of the Nativity of Mary. Luisa was 24 and a half years old. This date is important because this was the time and the occasion when Luisa first received the gift of the Divine Will.
In fact, 32 years later, Our Lord explains to her: "It is just, it is necessary, that I speak about you. Would it be good that a bridegroom who is about to marry his bride, has to deal with others but not with her, when it is necessary that they confide their secrets to each other - that one know what the other has, that their parents provide this couple with a dowry, and that they become used to each other’s ways in advance?"
I added: ‘Tell me, my Life, who is my Family? What is my dowry and what is yours?’
And smiling, He continued: "Your family is the Trinity. Don’t you remember that in your first years in bed I took you to Heaven and we celebrated our union before the Most Holy Trinity? It provided you with such gifts that you yourself have not yet known them. As I speak to you about my Volition, about Its effects and value, I make you discover the gifts with which, from that time, you had been provided. I do not speak to you about my dowry, because what is yours is Mine. Moreover, after a few days, We, the Three Divine Persons, descended from Heaven, took possession of your heart, and formed our perpetual residence in it. We took the reins of your intelligence, of your heart, and of all yourself; and everything you did was an outpouring of our Creative Will in you, and the confirmation that your will be animated by an Eternal Will. The work is already done. Nothing is left but to make it known so that not only you, but others also may take part in these great goods. I am doing this by calling now one minister, now another, and even ministers from places afar..." (Volume 13 - 12-5-1921).
Jesus continued His work, disposing Luisa to the last "marriage": "The marriage to the Cross." Finally, one morning, showing Himself Crucified, He communicated to her the most painful stigmata of His Passion, although consenting to the request of Luisa to keep them invisible.
From then on, Jesus Himself frequently renewed her mystical crucifixion, especially on the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Her insatiable hunger for suffering became equal to her irrepressible desires for Heaven.
In 1898, for the next 24 years, a new Confessor (the third), Father Gennaro De Gennaro, took her under his care. First, he gave her the most painful obedience: to write all that had happened between her and Jesus, from the beginning. So, on February 28, 1899, Luisa began to write her volumes, large notebooks, in the form of a diary. Most likely she wrote volume 2 as a diary, and at the same time volume 1, in which she narrates her past life, from the age of 12 (more or less, between 1877 and 1899). Subsequently, in 1926, she had to write a "Notebook of Childhood Memories" in order to complete volume 1. The last chapter of the last volume (vol. 36) was written on December 28, 1938. Afterwards she did not write any more, as the order to do it ceased.
"Continuing in my Usual State..."
With these words Luisa begins many chapters of her volumes. It is the state in which her soul lives, a state of suffering, fairly usual and prolonged, due especially to the sensible privation of Jesus. At the same time it indicates her incessant palpitating in the womb of the Supreme Will of God, into which she dives continuously as if into an immense ocean, tracing all that the Divine Will does, both in God and in the creature, both in Heaven and on earth, in all times and generations, in all human creatures and in all their acts, diffusing herself together with Jesus in that unique and eternal Act of the Most Holy Trinity, expressed by the word "Fiat" ("be done!"): in the "Fiat" of Creation, in the "Fiat" of Redemption and in the "Fiat" of Sanctification, which is exactly that "Fiat Voluntas Tua sicut in Coelo et in terra" which we ask in the Our Father... She invokes It in this way (and she teaches us how to do it) in order to obtain the coming of Its Kingdom upon earth; and for this purpose, thanks to the Omnipotence and the Immensity of the Divine Will, Luisa lets nothing escape her for which she does not give to her Creator, in the name of all, those homages of recognition, adoration, praise, glory, thanksgiving, reparation and love, which all creatures owe Him.
This incessant activity of her soul, which is exactly the living in the Divine Will, constitutes her usual and immutable state.
Also externally her life continues according to a "usual state": nothing more regular than this - no other rule than the absolute abandonment and disposition to the Divine Will.
What was a day in the life of Luisa like? Her last Confessor, Father Benedetto Calvi, left this evidence:
Extraordinary phenomena during her life
"Around 6 in the morning the Confessor was at her bedside. Luisa was as if in one single piece, huddled so tightly that when her sister or someone from the house had to make her sit on the bed in her usual position in order to obey the Confessor, they could not move her because of her weight, as if she were a large piece of lead; nor could they stretch any of her limbs, as they were tightly stiffened. Only when the Confessor, who could be any Priest, depending on the circumstances, gave life and motion to her body by giving her a blessing and making a sign of the cross with his thumb on the back of her hands, would the body of Luisa come around and start to move. Only then could her sister lift her easily and with no strain, placing her in her usual and only position, sitting on her little bed. Immediately after, the Confessor alone would read at her bedside what Luisa had written the night before on the sublime truths of the Divine Will.
- Extraordinary phenomenon: in 64 years of bed she never reported bed-sores.
- Extraordinary phenomenon: how did she nourish herself? Anything she would eat was brought up completely a few hours later.
All these phenomena have been personally observed and scrupulously monitored, and also subjected to the severe examinations of several doctors and professors of Dogma, Morals, Ascetics and Mysticism, who were called by our Diocesan Superiors to relate their judgment. Some of these were: Doctor Fr. Domenico Franze’, O.F.M., Professor of Physiology and Medicine at the International Collegio di Roma; Doctor Fr. Consalvo Valls, O.F.M., doctor of Theology, Morals, Ascetics and Mysticism; and several others."
* * *
After he "woke Luisa up" through holy obedience, the Confessor, or another Priest, celebrated Holy Mass in the little room in front of her bed. Then, after receiving Holy Communion, Luisa would remain as if drowsy and ecstatic, in intimate conversation with the Lord for two or three hours, although she would not be stiffened or lose consciousness completely. However, many times during the day she was with Our Lord, feeling His sensible presence, and sometimes the people who were keeping her company would become aware of it.
When she came back into herself, she would put herself to work, sitting on her bed. She sewed and embroidered on her tombolo - very fine works, usually tablecloths and ornaments for the church. Every day a few girls visited her in order to learn this work, attracted especially by the sweet enchantment which the presence of God emanated through Luisa... And with Luisa they would pray constantly; they would meditate the "Hours of the Passion of Jesus", the way Luisa did (and many among these girls came to know some of those "Hours" by heart); they would do holy hours of reparation and other pious exercises. Externally, her life appeared in this way, always the same: work, silence, prayer.
Around 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon, they would bring her lunch, as disposed by obedience: a small quantity of food, which she would regularly bring up a few minutes later into a container "consecrated for this ritual."
In the afternoon she usually dedicated another hour to meditation. At a certain point they would close the curtains around her bed and leave her alone for an hour or two, with the Queen of Heaven, Who would come to visit her; afterwards continuing her work until 10:30 or 11:00 at night.
Then Luisa began to write, depending on whether she had received a particular manifestation of Our Lord (either during the day or in the state of "drowsiness" of the night), or according to the dispositions of obedience.
Finally, around midnight or one o’clock, Luisa lay in bed and was caught by the loss of consciousness and her state of "death"; and if this happened before she lay down, she would remain in that position like a marble statue. In this way she spent all the days of her life.
In 1910 Blessed Fr. Annibale Di Francia arrived in Corato beginning a series of visits and a frequent and intimate spiritual relationship with Luisa, which lasted 17 years to his death (June 1, 1927). He knew that Luisa was for him a fundamental turning point in his life, and the manifestation of the Divine Will was decisive for his spirituality (In this regard, see, "L'anima del Padre. Testimonianze", by Fr. Tusino R.C.J., pp. 222-234, as well as the numerous letters which he wrote to Luisa in those years; an intense spiritual correspondence). He was very often in the house of Luisa, being her extraordinary Confessor. In the last period (1926) the Archbishop of Trani designated him Director of all which concerned the writings of Luisa, with the view of doing a publication which the Father desired, although prevented by his death. He was designated as ecclesiastical Censor for the three united dioceses of Trani, Barletta and Bisceglie.
In the house of Luisa, other Priests would often meet with Blessed Fr. Annibale Di Francia, such as the Jesuit, Father Gennaro Braccali, S.J, and Father Eustachio Montemurro, both of whom died in odor of sanctity, the latter, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Sacro Costato. The various Archbishops of the Diocese, especially Monsignor Leo and Monsignor Petronelli, were interested in Luisa and visited her personally on various occasions. Many other Priests and Monsignors, Italians and foreigners, visited Luisa and celebrated Holy Mass on the little altar of her room. Among them, there was Monsignor Ferdinando Cento, Priest and later Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela and in Belgium, and subsequently Cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Blessed Fr. Annibale Di Francia soon began the printing of the 24 Hours of the Passion. At his request, Luisa had to write them down around 1913-1914. Father Annibale gave them the title of "Orologio della Passione di Nostro Signore Gesu’ Cristo", and published four editions (1915, 1916, 1917, 1925), with "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur." Several witnesses relate that one day Father Annibale came to the house of Luisa more content than ever, and said that he had brought this book to the Holy Father, Saint Pious X, who had received him several times in private audience. Father Annibale was reading him one of the Hours (that of the Crucifixion), when the Pope interrupted, saying: "Not this way, Father, but kneeling one must read. It is Jesus Christ that is speaking." Finally, Father Annibale, as Censor of the writings, obtained the Imprimatur from His Excellency the Archbishop of Trani for the volumes written by Luisa (at that time there were already nineteen).
The third Confessor of Luisa, Father Gennaro De Gennaro, died on March 10, 1922. Following this she had as Confessor, Father Francesco De Benedictis, who died four years later, on January 30, 1926. Then, on behalf of the Archbishop, Luisa was placed under the responsibility of the Confessor, Father Benedetto Calvi, Parish Priest of Santa Maria Greca, until her death.
"A Life more Celestial than Terrestrial"
Blessed Annibale Di Francia left this beautiful witness of Luisa, part of which is here reported:
"...She wants to live solitary, hidden and unknown. For no reason in the world would she have put into writing the intimate and prolonged communications with adorable Jesus, from her tenderest age until today, and which still continue - who knows until when - if Our Lord Himself had not repeatedly obliged her to, both personally and through holy obedience to her Directors, to whom she always surrenders with great strength and generosity and with enormous violence to herself, because her concept of holy obedience would make her refuse even an entrance into Heaven, as did actually occur...
In substance this soul is in a terrible fight between an overwhelming love of hiddenness and the inexorable empire of Obedience to which she absolutely must surrender – and Obedience always wins. This constitutes one of the most important traits of a true spirit - of a solid and tested virtue, because she has been submitting to the dominion of the great Lady Obedience, with greatest violence to herself, for about forty years!
This solitary soul is a most pure virgin, wholly of God, who appears to be the object of singular predilection of Jesus, Divine Redeemer. It seems that Our Lord, Who century after century increases the wonders of His Love more and more, wanted to make of this virgin with no education, whom He calls the littlest one that He found on earth, the instrument of a mission so sublime that no other can be compared to it - that is, the triumph of the Divine Will upon the whole earth, in conformity with what is said in the ‘Our Father’: Fiat Voluntas Tua sicut in Coelo et in terra.
This Virgin of the Lord has been placed in bed as victim of Divine Love for more than 40 years, from the time when she was still adolescent. It has been a state of a long series of pains, both natural and supernatural, and of raptures of the eternal Charity of the Heart of Jesus. The origin of these pains, which exceed every natural order, has been almost continuously an intermittent privation of God...
The sufferings of the body add to those of the soul, and occur at a mystical level for the great part. With no sign appearing on her hands, feet, side or forehead, she receives frequent crucifixion from Our Lord. Jesus Himself lays her upon a cross, and pierces her with nails. And then, what Saint Terese described when she received the wound from the Seraphim, happens within her: the sharpest pain, such as to make her faint, and at the same time, a rapture of love.
But if Jesus did not do so, it would be for this soul an infinitely greater spiritual suffering, because, with the Seraphim of Carmel, she also says: to suffer or to die; another sign of the true spirit...
After having mentioned her long and continuous stay in bed as victim, for years and years, with the experience of many spiritual and physical sufferings, it would seem that the sight of this unknown virgin would be afflicting, as though seeing a person laying down with all the marks of past sufferings, present pains and the like.
Yet, here there is something admirable. In seeing this Spouse of Jesus Crucified, who spends the night in painful ecstasies and in sufferings of every kind, during the day, sitting on her bed doing her needlework - nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing appears, of one who has suffered so much during the night; there is nothing, no one thing extraordinary or supernatural in her air. On the contrary, she appears as a healthy person, happy and jovial. She speaks, talks, laughs when appropriate, but receives few friends.
Sometimes some troubled heart confides in her, and asks for her prayers. She listens kindly and comforts, but never advances to make prophecies, never a word which might hint to revelations. The great comfort which she presents is always one, always the same: the Divine Will.
Although she possesses no human knowledge, she is abundantly endowed with a Wisdom, all celestial - with the Science of the Saints. Her words illuminate and console. By nature her intellect is not poor. She studied to the first grade when she was a child; her writing is filled with errors, although she does not lack appropriate terms, in conformity with the revelations; terms which seem to be infused by Our Lord.
A sign of the great detachment of this soul from any earthly thing is her firmness and constancy in accepting no gifts, of money or anything else. On more than one occasion, people who read the "Hours of the Passion" and in whom a sense of sacred affection for this solitary and unknown soul arose, wrote to me that they wanted to send her money. But she was so firmly opposed, it was as if they had offended her.
Her way of living is very modest. She possesses little, and lives with a loving relative who assists her. Since the little that they have is not enough to pay the rent or for their support in these sad times of expensive living, she peacefully works, as mentioned before, and earns something from her work, which has to serve especially for her loving relative, because she has no expense for clothing or shoes. Her food is of a few ounces per day, and is offered to her by her assistant, because she never asks for anything. Furthermore, a few hours after she has taken that bit of food, she brings it up. However, her appearance is not of a dying person, but not really that of a perfectly healthy person. Yet, she is not inactive; rather, she consumes her strength, both in the supernatural events of sufferings and strain during the night, and with her work during the day. Her life is therefore almost a perennial miracle.
To her great detachment from any earnings which are not procured with her hands, one must add her firmness in never accepting anything from the publication and sale of the Hours of the Passion, which would be due to her by right as literary property. As I pressed her not to refuse it, she answered: "I have no right, because the work is not mine, but of God."
I will not continue further. The life of this virgin, Spouse of Jesus, is more celestial than terrestrial. She wants to be ignored and unknown in the world, looking for nothing but her Jesus and Her Most Holy Mother, whom she calls Mama, and Who has a special predilection for this soul."
Luisa in the Convent with the Sisters
The Confessor of Luisa, Fr. Benedetto Calvi, writes:
"Since 1910 Father Annibale M. Di Francia had known our Luisa, admired her life, and was astonished by her sublime writings. From the beginning Father Annibale (founder of the Orders of Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus, and of the Daughters of the Divine Zeal) expressed his desire to have Luisa in his Orphanages or Convents, as Teacher of virtue and of Divine Will to the nuns and the little orphans. Luisa did not accept, although Father Annibale had proposed that she choose one of the many Houses, among which was one very close by, in Trani. Luisa answered that God had destined her for Corato. Then, in order to satisfy his great desire, he decided to found another House, in Corato. The building was soon raised (For this purpose the land was donated to Father Annibale by the Misses Cimadomo, three very faithful disciples of Luisa. The first thing that the new Confessor, Father Benedetto Calvi, asked Luisa after the death of Blessed Annibale was to fulfill his desire), and Luisa, obliged by her Confessor, had to leave her solitary home on the evening of October 7, 1928, to enter the new Orphanage with her little bed, with the Sisters of the Divine Zeal and the little orphans. She lived her solitary life in the Convent for 10 years, and then, because of the dispositions of the Superiors, on October 7, 1938, she went back to live in a private home until her death."
Luisa, Witness of Herself
Upto this point we have narrated almost everything that could be said about the life of Luisa, and we have done it by using important evidences, and especially by following the narration which Luisa herself left in her first volume and in the "Notebook of Childhood Memories." Out of obedience - and only God knows how hard and painful this was - Luisa was made to witness about herself.
It is important to underline this, because "it is only our own spirit within us that knows all about us; in the same way, only God’s Spirit knows all about God. We", Luisa could also say, "have not received this world’s spirit; rather, we have received the Spirit sent by God, so that we may know all that God has given us" (1 Cor. 2, 11-12). Therefore, even if we wanted to narrate thousands of extraordinary and astonishing anecdotes about Luisa which her many witnesses could relate, nothing would be added to the portrait which the Lord wanted to make. In fact, in this little biography all the anecdotes are intentionally omitted in order not to shilly-shally around the true figure of Luisa and the unique and extraordinary role which God wanted to entrust to her, reducing her life to a series of pious and edifying episodes.
Many films have been made on the lives of many figures, of many Saints, and even on the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing can be narrated about a life which consists of one single scene: more than sixty years in a bed! Therefore, what can be said about her life? What can we say about this person? Who is Luisa? What did she do during her life? What is her mission?
The answer is astonishing, and fully contained in her writings, especially in her 36 volumes. It is impossible to know Luisa without knowing her writings. They are "her apostles", "her children"; the children of Jesus and of Luisa. They are the outpouring of her interior life, the marvelous self-portrait which Luisa left to the Church as inheritance on the part of Jesus.
The Last Trial of Luisa
After Blessed Annibale Di Francia died on June 1, 1927, without having been able to fulfill his greatest desire, the printing and publication of the volumes of Luisa, the Confessor Fr. Benedetto Calvi made this desire his own, and continued the work which had been started, although with a rather different personal approach.
He published an edition of approximately the first four volumes, with the title "Nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ (parte prima, storia di un’anima) Alba che sorge" [In the Kingdom of the Divine Will (first part, history of a soul) Rising Dawn], in 1930, with the Imprimatur of Msgr Giuseppe Maria Leo, Archbishop of Trani. Fr. Annibale had already prepared a summary of volume 1 for printing, but his death had left everything suspended.
Fr. Benedetto also did three editions of the book "La Regina del Cielo nel Regno della Divina Volonta’" [The Queen of Heaven in the Kingdom of the Divine Will], with Imprimatur, in 1932, 1933 and 1937. However, it must be said that the editions of this book edited by Fr. Benedetto are rather different from the original manuscript of Luisa, which carries the date of May 6, 1930. It is composed of about 31 meditations for the month of May, regarding as many episodes or mysteries of the life of the Blessed Mother. The third edition has several appendixes, among which is "Prodigi d’amore che la Divine Volonta’ opero’ nella Regina del Cielo" [Prodigies of love which the Divine Will operated in the Queen of Heaven], approximately twenty wonderful chapters taken from the last volumes of Luisa. This appendix was also published separately.
Finally, he added the fifth edition, and preparations for the sixth, of the "Hours of the Passion" (1934), which was translated and published in German by Fr. Ludwig Beda O.S.B., in two large editions with Imprimatur, which were welcomed with great fervor and enthusiasm. Let us note how this book spread during the course of more than 23 years, in 5 editions, all of them with ecclesiastical approval, and no one ever finding anything to contest - on the contrary...!
However, inevitably, whoever belongs to Christ provokes as He did "the destruction and the salvation of many" (Luke 2,34), and unwillingly becomes a sign of contradiction and a source of scandal. Priests are not all the same; not all of them were (and are) like Blessed Annibale Di Francia, like the Confessors of Luisa, and like the many who visited her with veneration and sacred affection. We have seen how, from the beginning, not a few people judged and condemned her after only hearing about her. During the Thirties an opposition arose against Luisa, increasingly violent and public, on the part of several priests and religious. One of them, who did not even know her personally, reached the point of provoking the indignation and the scandal of the people of Corato, as well as the profound sorrow of the Confessor of Luisa (as he himself said), and of his Superiors.
These events took place in a period in which the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office (today "of the Doctrine of Faith") had to intervene in numerous cases of doubtful supernatural origin. Sometimes, however, that general prevention against possible or supposed supernatural intervention caused cases of true repression. It is not up to us to establish in which cases the ecclesiastical intervention has been just and legitimate, and in which cases that intervention has been unjust or abusive of authority. However, it is legitimate, by researching documents and witnessings, to come to some conclusions. It is a fact that in these cases the Authority of the Church can correct previous sentences. As an example, it is sufficient to mention the "Notification" with which the Church annulled the prohibitions regarding the devotion to the Divine Mercy in the way proposed by Sister Faustina Kowalska of Cracovia (Poland):
ACTA SS. CONGREGATIONUM
SACRA CONGREGATIO PRO DOCRINA FIDEI
Da diverse parti, specialmente dalla Polonia, anche autorevolmente, e’ stato chiesto se le proibizioni contenute nella "Notificazione" della S. Congregazione del S. Uffizio, pubblicata sugli A.A.S., anno 1959, p. 271, riguardanti la devozione alla Divina Misericordia nelle forme proposte da Suor Faustina Kowalska, si debbano ritenere ancora in vigore.
Questa S. Congregazione, tenuti presenti i molti documenti originali non conosciuti nel 1959; considerate le circostanze profondamente mutate, e tenuto conto del parere di molti Ordinari Polacchi, dichiara non piu’ vincolanti le proibizioni contenute nella citata "Notificazione".
Dalla sede della S. Congregazione, 15 Aprile 1978.
FRANJO Card. SEPER
L. + S. + Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Arcivescovo tit. di Lorium
ACTS OF THE MOST HOLY CONGREGATIONS
SACRED CONGREGATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH
From several sources, especially from Poland, and with authority, it has been asked whether the prohibitions contained in the "Notification" of the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office, published on the A.A.S., year 1959, p. 271, regarding the devotion to the Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sister Faustina Kowalska, are to be considered still in force.
This Holy Congregation, having taken into account the many original documents which were not known in 1959; considered the circumstances profoundly changed, and taking into consideration the opinions of many Polish Ordinaries, declares no longer compulsory the prohibitions contained in the aforementioned "Notification."
From the place of the Holy Congregation, April 15, 1978.
FRANJO Card. SEPER
L. + S.
+ Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Archbishop of Lorium
* * *
One day, May 31, 1938, a Priest arrived in Corato as representative of the Holy Office, and without explanation confiscated and took away the diaries of Luisa (with the exception of the last two, one of which she had just started), although they were not printed, and therefore were private writings...
Three months later, on August 31, 1938, a Decree was published - practically, a disciplinary measure - which condemned the three books of Luisa that had been printed and published (only those and nothing else), and therefore put them on the Index of the prohibited books. The Decree, translated from Latin, says:
"Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office
Prohibition of books.
Wednesday, July 13, 1938.
With the general consent of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, the Most Eminent and Reverend Cardinals, having the office to protect that which regards matters of faith and customs, and having previously received the consent of the Reverend Councilors, have condemned and required to be placed on the Index of the prohibited books, the books herein listed, written by Luisa Piccarreta,,edited and published by others, several times and in various places. They are:
1) L’Orologio della Passione di Nostro Signore Gesu’ Cristo, con un Trattato sulla Divina Volonta’ [The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with a Treaty on the Divine Will].
2) Nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ [In the Kingdom of the Divine Will].
3) La Regina del Cielo nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ [The Queen of Heaven in the Kingdom of the Divine Will].
And on the following day, Thursday 14, of the same month and year, Our Most Holy Pope, by Divine Providence, Pius XI, in the usual audience accorded to the Most Reverend Councilors of the Holy Office, approved the decision of the Most Eminent Fathers presented to Him, confirmed and commanded its publication.
Given in Rome, from the Palaces of the Holy Office, on August 31, 1938.
Notary of the Supr. H. Congregation"
* * *
A few days later, on September 11, an article without signature appeared in "L’Osservatore Romano", which unofficially commented on the condemnation. Here it is in its entirety:
"False Spiritual Literature
The three books impacted by the decree of the Holy Office, reported on the first page of this journal, would not deserve any special consideration because of their trivial nature and scarce value; however, they are to be condemned as symptoms of a false and dangerous mysticism, which is frequent nowadays. In fact, today there are not a few people, especially among women, who, although in good faith, believe themselves to be favored by extraordinary spiritual charisms, and feel the need, or rather, as they say, the duty to communicate to the whole Christian family their supposed supernatural visions and revelations, which are, on the contrary, the product of their overexcited and sick fantasy.
This is the case with a certain Luisa Piccarreta, author of the writings which others have gathered and published in the three aforementioned small volumes, who claims to have to write because of the numerous revelations given to her by Jesus Christ and by the Blessed Virgin.
The main topic of her writings is the Divine Will, conceived in a way which is exaggerated and mistaken, and expressed in a language with a redundant terminology often filled with inaccuracies and eccentricity.
One would think that such publications would not find great success. On the contrary, their diffusion is great, also favored by the irresponsible reviews of our press, since many review books without having read them before, or without due attention and competence.
The small volumes involved have already had many editions and have been translated into other languages. It is said that in the German version of the "Treaty of the Divine Will" ("Das Reich des Gottlichen Willens"), made by Fr. Ludwig Beda, O.S.B., more than 30,000 copies have been produced.
It was therefore appropriate to warn the faithful."
* * *
The best comment on this comment is given by facts. Five days later, on September 16, as soon as she received the news, Luisa sent to His excellency Msgr. Giuseppe M. Leo, her Archbishop, and through him, to the Holy Office, the following act of submission:
"Fiat! In Voluntate Dei!
I, the undersigned, aware of the decree with which, on July 13, 1938, the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office condemned to the Index of prohibited books the books written by me and published: 1) L’Orologio della Passione di Nostro Signore Gesu’ Cristo, con un Trattato sulla Divina Volonta’ [The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with a Treaty on the Divine Will]; 2) Nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ [In the Kingdom of the Divine Will]; 3) La Regina del Cielo nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ [The Queen of Heaven in the Kingdom of the Divine Will], spontaneously and promptly fulfill the duty to humility as a Christian soul by my unconditional, prompt, full and absolute submission to the judgment of the Holy Roman Church, through which, with no restrictions, I disapprove and condemn that which the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office disapproves and condemns, in the aforementioned writings written by me and published, in the sense intended by the same Supreme Congregation.
I humbly submit this declaration also to my most beloved Archbishop Msgr Giuseppe M. Leo, imploring his paternal charity that it through him may reach the Holy Office.
Luisa Piccarreta from Corato (Bari)"
* * *
In a similar way, her Confessor, Fr. Benedetto Calvi, expresses himself in various letters, as he too was severely redressed (along with other Priests, religious and nuns) over a period of time and for the same reasons. In fact, he was prohibited from visiting Luisa and from celebrating Holy Mass in her home for several months. During that period, other Priests would bring her Communion and cause her to regain consciousness.
The storm against Luisa on the part of many, including Priests and religious, was to continue vehemently until her death, and beyond. However, many suffered with her, and did not rejoice over the evil and the great injustice, and even less, did they rage against her. Others, however, denied her, abandoned her, regretting (as she says) having known her...
Just a month after that condemnation to the Index, "because of the dispositions of the Superiors", as the Confessor says - but according to Luisa, "because of health reasons" - she had to leave the Orphanage of St. Anthony, on October 7, 1938, exactly ten years after she had entered it. She had to leave those good sisters (the Daughters of the Divine Zeal), but not the affection and the profound esteem of many of them, as many of Luisa’s letters testify. Fr. Benedetto found a home for her in which to live, on Via Maddalena, 20 - her name as a tertiary Dominican! There she spent the last eight years of her life. While in the midst of this storm, Luisa (as referred to by some witnesses) wrote to Padre Pio of Pietrelcina - the only time in her life. Padre Pio answered only this: "I Santi si fanno, ma guai a chi fa i Santi!" ["The Saints are made, but woe to those who make the Saints!"]
* * *
A few years earlier, speaking about one of the condemned books, Fr. Doctor Domenico Franze’, O.F.M. wrote the following letter addressed to Fr. Palma, General Superior of the Rogationists and successor of Blessed Annibale Di Francia:
"Peace and good!
Reverend Father Palma,
About one year ago, and precisely last September, Your Reverence sent to me, on the part of an authoritative Person, two copies of the book called "Nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ (Storia di un’anima, parte prima) Alba che sorge" [In the Kingdom of the Divine Will (History of a soul, first part) Rising Dawn], with the purpose of my expressing a judgment on the aforementioned Work, whose Author was entrenched in the most strict incognito.
Well, Reverend Father, as you know, I was not content with just reading the book, but I also demanded to know the person who wrote it in order to make a better evaluation.
After I read the words and spoke with the one who wrote them, I did not stop at my personal conviction, but I also looked for the opinion of some among my competent Religious Brothers. I attach here a brief report of one of them, Father Consalvo Valls, Professor of Theology in our International College of St. Anthony, as well as Delegate Examiner for the review of our books.
In reality, to those who should not have the time or the will to read through the volume, a glance at its index would be sufficient to see how a soul called to perfection by God rises in gradual steps and ascent through the paths of detachment, annihilation, temptations and trials, among which, one, is extremely hard, and has continued for as long as forty-six years.
To me, as doctor, it is simply astonishing to have found no bed-sores or skin erosion of any kind in a person who has been constrained to remain immobilized in bed for such a long period of time.
To me, as Religious Ruler, great comfort came from the assurance I received that, in so many years, doctors, Confessors and Archbishops discovered no fraud after exhaustive examinations.
Finally, as Priest, my soul rejoices in having found in the patient not only all the delicate integrity of the Christian virtues, but also a soul which tends to perfection, enlightened by special grace.
Together with all that Our Lord seems to deign to operate in this soul in order to purify her and render her a worthy instrument of mercy for others, I note in these writings a central idea, which I could call the principal idea for the existence of this creature: the Divine Will.
The poor patient calls all souls to penetrate the evil of their own personal wills, and wants to make them aware that, just as one alone is the evil common to all human wills - that is, sin - one also is the universal medicine for all sinners: that the Most Holy Will of God be the life of the human will.
If the Work of which we speak did nothing other than inculcate into the reader the rights of God and of His Holy Volition, affirming His supreme power over all human wills and upon all powers and kingdoms of our minuscule earth, I would say that this would already be a great deal for the good of souls.
Reverend Father, with the judgment of Doctor and Priest, I tell you that only a spirit so mortified, and continuously mortified, only a human will fused in the Divine Will can rise to concepts so important and fundamental as those manifested by this soul. Without profound study and without school - alone, in the bed of her suffering and pain, and with very limited literary, theological and ascetic education, she speaks with true competence about the most abstruse matters, resolves the most difficult problems, and leads the soul who reads her writings into the most fragrant fields of virtues.
There is no need here for me to relate the physical, psycho-physical and moral tests with which I experimented on this patient: I have the moral certainty - and he who writes has sixty-five years, and is outside all tastes of world and any lack of moderation - I say, the moral certainty, for as much as it is given to a man, that the book which Your Reverence presented to me can do great good, especially because it was dictated by an upright spirit without defect.
I thank you for the beautiful occasion that you offered me and I implore your worthy prayers, as I sign:
Most affectionately Yours, in Jesus Christ,
Fr. Domenico Franze’
Medico-Chirurgo; Prof. di Fisiologia
e Medicina Missionaria
nel Collegio Internazionale S. Antonio;
Socio di merito della Pontificia
Accademia Romana di M.I.
Rome, Collegio S. Antonio, July 20, 1931."
Here follows the report by Fr. Consalvo Valls, O.F.M. (Professor of Dogmatic Theology, Mysticism, etc. at the same Collegio) which Father Domenico Franze’ attaches to his letter, on July 18, 1931 (because of its length, we transcribe only the main points):
I read and studied the book called "Nel Regno della Divina Volonta’ etc." [In the Kingdom of the Divine Will], and after having meditated on some points of it, I can declare the following:
I. Dogma: I found it to be in full conformity with teachings received from the Holy Church and manifested in sources of revelation, when it speaks, even only in passing, about dogmatic issues, for example... [Follows a series of analyzed points, on which the comments are such as]: "Sublime and marvelous theological accuracy...", "Absolutely accurate, also the concept etc.… without dissonance and with marvelous harmony", "It never repeats itself; it finds always new and most beautiful aspects, and not for one instant does it diverge from right concepts of the truths of the Faith", etc.. It is true that here and there some ambiguities can be found, and sometimes some oddities which might require some explanation; however, it is also true that the more one reflects upon them, the more the seeming dissonance of the first impressions disappears. Besides, Jesus Himself says this to the soul, when He reassures her concerning the fear she feels about writing nonsense...
II. Ascetics: It is absolutely correct in all its contents, both in presenting the active means of sanctification - prayer, work, fulfillment of one’s own duties, Sacraments, readings, suffering, etc. - and especially in the broad teaching it provides on virtues themselves... Please note: in order to justify all these points [which the Author enumerates], one would need to quote the entire book....
III. Mysticism: the book appears to be truly inspired. [From the many points listed, let us consider the following example] "The difference between abstractive and intuitive knowledge of God and of the soul itself. The description made of the intuitive knowledge is a psychological and experimental demonstration of the Dogmatic Theology on the divine way of operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and of the spiritual senses, as opposed to the human way of operation of the virtues", etc.
IV. Self-portrait of this soul: Demonstrates how intensely she lives the life of Grace, about which she forms descriptions so beautiful and accurate that only the gifts of the Holy Spirit could provide her with the intelligence and the knowledge to express them.
From these gifts, fully operative, comes that contemplation of God in His attributes and in His Trinitarian Life, that contemplation of Christ and of the Blessed Mother in Their mysteries, that vision so consoling and marvelous, of the Divine Will which rules the world... From nowhere but Divine Grace, which absorbs the whole being of this soul, could that firmness and generosity come, with which she submits herself to the greatest and most intimate sacrifices that Her Beloved One asks of her; that delicacy and liveliness of sentiment...; also that immense charity toward the other, pouring out and founded on the love for Jesus... And, most particularly, only from Grace could come this substitution of her human will for that of the Lord, which keeps her at peace, safe and content in the midst of the greatest tribulations, sufferings, dryness, and which constitutes the special mission of this soul...
In view of all these observations, made in passing and through comparisons, I feel the deep conviction that the person involved is a soul of God and that the work accomplished in her is divine. I know neither the life nor the history of this soul, but the examination of this book and the effect which I myself experienced in reading it, as it dripped into my soul a new yearning for spiritual improvement, is enough, for me, to justify my understanding. God alone has the key of the heart and makes it vibrate toward Sanctity..." (etc.)
Your most affectionate Brother
Fr. Consalvo Valls, O.F.M.
After the condemnation to the Index, unexpected and inexplicable, there were a few attempts to obtain some clarifications, to know whether there were faults or actual errors, which ones or where - but they were fruitless; the same with the attempts for the rehabilitation of Luisa... Yet, in a letter, Luisa writes:
"...My daughter, I am sorry for Father Beda. Why did the manuscripts [which the aforementioned Father sent to the Holy Office] not arrive to Rome? Who prevented it? I know from sure sources that in the Holy Office there were requests from all sides, wanting the writings to come to light. Anyway, it seems that the Lord wants to do everything, if not today, tomorrow..."
Less than two years after her death, a little image of Luisa was published, in Italian and in English, with the ecclesiastical approval of His Excellency Fr. Reginaldo Addazi, O.P., Archbishop of Trani. It contained "telegraphic" information on the life and death, "in odor of sanctity", of Luisa, and a few prayers "to beseech the Beatification of the Servant of God." For the first time this title was given to her, although her Cause was not yet open... However, Luisa had written:
"As Monsignor came, he told me that in these visits of Our Lord I deserved nothing, and that I only deserved something when I practiced the virtues; also that I should pray for some needs of his. So, during the course of the day I remained concerned about what I had heard, and to get moving, I said to myself: ‘My adorable Good, You know that I never cared about merits, but only about loving You. It seems that they want to make me a servant in your house, as if I cared about credits. No, I don’t want to be servant, but daughter; even more - You, my Beloved, and I, your beloved.’ (Vol. 8, 1-23-1908)
A few years later, Archbishop Msgr Addazi obtained permission from the Holy Office (5-11-1963) to transfer the mortal remains of Luisa from the cemetery to her church, Santa Maria Greca of Corato, in which they were buried on July 3, 1962. This was the first official step toward her rehabilitation.
And forty years after her death, the Archbishop of Trani, His Excellency Msgr Giuseppe Carata, on March 4, 1987 recognized, canonically, the Pious Association "Luisa la Santa" (Piccoli Figli della Divina Volonta’) ["Luisa the Saint" (Little Children of the Divine Will)], centered in Corato, in Via Nazario Sauro, 25 (in the same house in which Luisa lived for many years), with the purpose of deepening the life of Luisa and the spirituality of the Divine Will, and also of promoting all that is needed for a full rehabilitation of Luisa, so that she may be glorified.
The conclusion can only come from Jesus. One day, a long time ago (Vol. 8, 7-1-1907) He said to her: "My daughter, the Truth, much as it is persecuted, can only be known as Truth, and the time comes when that very persecuted Truth, comes to be recognized and loved."
From the Exile to the Fatherland
After having lived on the earth of exile for 81 years, 10 months and 9 days, Luisa died on Tuesday, March 4, 1947, around 6 in the morning, after 15 days of illness, the only one reported during her life – an intense pneumonia, with high fever. She died at the end of the night, at the same hour in which, every day, the Priest used to call her back from her state of "death" through obedience. Her Confessor writes:
Extraordinary phenomena at her death:
As seen in the picture, the dead body of Luisa is sitting on the little bed, exactly in the same position as when she was alive, nor was it possible to stretch it out through the strength of various people. She remained in that position; therefore a special casket had to be built.No part or member of the body of Luisa was subject to the "rigor mortis", typical of all human bodies after death. This was noticed each day she was exposed to the eyes of the people of Corato, and to those of many foreigners, who came to Corato for the purpose of seeing and touching with their own hands this unique and marvelous case: all were able, with no effort, to move the head to all sides, raise her arms and bend them, bend her hands and all the fingers. Even the eyelids could be lifted and her bright eyes, which were not veiled, could be observed. Luisa seemed to be alive and sleeping, while a group of doctors, convened for the purpose, after a careful examination of her body, declared that Luisa was actually dead, and therefore it was to be considered a true death and not an apparent death, as everyone had imagined.
We were forced, with the consent of the Civil Authority and of the Health Officer, to keep her on her little deathbed for 4 days - I am saying fours days - without reporting any sign of corruption, in order to satisfy the crowds which thronged around, especially the people who were not from Corato, and which poured into the house, even with violence."
Luisa said that she was born "upside down", and that therefore it was fair that her life be "upside down" compared to the life of other creatures. Even her death was "upside down"... She remained seated, as she had always been, and seated she was brought to the cemetery, in a special casket of glass, like a queen on her throne, dressed in white, "like a Bride for her Bridegroom", with the "Fiat" on her breast...
"The little daughter of the King is in the palace - how beautiful she is!
Her gown is made of gold thread.
In her colorful gown she is led to the King, followed by bridesmaids,
and they also are brought to him.
With joy and gladness they come and enter the King’s palace..."
* * *
The triumphant funeral took place on March 7, 1947. More than 40 Priests - the Capitolo and the local Clergy - innumerable religious (the Daughters of the Divine Zeal, the Missionary Sisters of Sacro Costato, the Sisters "d’Ivrea", etc.), a crowd of thousands of people, who climbed even onto the roofs after the Funeral and Holy Mass, celebrated in the Chiesa Matrice, and accompanied her to the cemetery... It was an authentic plebiscite of the Catholic people, who cried, and who continue to remember her even now, after more than forty-five years. It was her first apotheosis…
* * *
What did Luisa leave to us? Only an affectionate memory? Her Confessor, Father Benedetto Calvi, gathered from the lips of Luisa, one hour before her death, her last words, words which he calls the spiritual testament of Luisa and her great and consoling promise:
"Now I die more content, because the Divine Volition consoled me more than usual with your presence in these lasts instants of my life.
Now I see a long, beautiful and wide Road, illuminated by infinite and refulgent Suns... Oh, yes, I recognize them! They are the Suns of my acts done in the Divine Will.
This is the road which I must now follow. It is the way prepared for me by the Divine Volition, it is the road of my triumph, it is the road of my glory, to be united in the immense happiness of the Divine Will. It is my road, it is the road which I will reserve for you, dear Father; it is the road which I will reserve for all those souls who will want to live in the Divine Will."
Luisa, "Who are You?"
"Jesus spoke to the Pharisees again. "I am the light of the world", he said. "Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness."
The Pharisees said to Him, "Now you are testifying on your own behalf; what you say proves nothing."
"No," Jesus answered, "and even though I do testify on my own behalf, what I say is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. You do not know where I came from or where I am going. You make judgment in a purely human way; I pass judgment on no one. But if I were to do so, my judgment would be true, because I am not alone in this; the Father who sent me is with me."
"Who are you?" they asked him.
Jesus answered, "What I have told you from the very beginning. I have much to say about you, much for which to condemn you. The one who sent me, however, is truthful, and I tell the world only what I have heard from him."
They did not understand that Jesus was talking to them about the Father.
So he said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that ‘I Am Who I Am’; then you will know that I do nothing on my own authority, but I say only what the Father has instructed me to say. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him." (John 8, 12-16, 25-29)
The thirty-six volumes of Luisa are, as we said, the great witnesses of her life, of the work for which God had destined her, of the unique Mission entrusted to her, and of the Sanctity to which He introduced her, the doors of which – beginning with Luisa and thanks to her faithful response - God has opened to all human generations.
These are simply unimaginable and incredible things... And Jesus wanted to manifest them through Luisa. Forced to write about her mystical intimacy with Jesus by an inexorable obedience - terrible martyrdom of one entire lifetime for Luisa - she had to talk about all that regarded herself. And therefore, the conclusion is that, by force, in this way the Lord put human pride and self-sufficiency before this paradox: Luisa, as the only witness of herself... Once again, one can perceive the echo of the Word of Jesus: "Even though I do testify on my own behalf, what I say is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going..." (John 8, 14).
But the paradox resolves itself: Luisa is not at all a deluded one, a poor woman who feeds herself with her own sick and overexcited fantasy. This would be as though she were, in her words, "the proudest soul in this world" - exactly the opposite of what is witnessed by those who knew her, and by the very logic of her life and her writings: "Luisa the Saint", in the words of the Christian people; "a life more celestial than terrestrial", in the words of Blessed Father Annibale Di Francia, who dealt with her intimately for 17 years.
It remains to be seen whether all that she wrote is objectively true. The answer is that Luisa has of necessity possessed - and she is the first - the Divine Will as gift of Grace; something that Mysticism, before her, did not know and could not know, because Our Lord had not yet manifested it. In fact, God accomplishes His designs, and "the times and occasions are set by my Father’s own authority" (Acts 1,7). And Luisa could say with Saint Paul: "The scripture says, ‘I spoke because I believe.’ In the same spirit of faith we also speak because we believe" (2 Cor. 4, 13). Luisa, because she has possessed this supreme Gift of living in the Divine Will, could therefore speak about this new Gift and about the Will of God - and she, the first, did so with a light and a competence that nobody in the Church could have, either before, or after her. Luisa writes in a letter, on 11-27-1944:
"We are not speaking about things which the Church has prohibited, but of what the Church Herself does not yet know; and the time will come when the Church will know and appreciate them with triumph and victory. Nor can there ever be true peace or triumph, if the Divine Will is not known. Our Lord will accomplish the greatest miracles in order to make His Will reign upon earth. Therefore, let us pray that He would shorten the time and that everything be changed into Will of God."
* * *
It is urgent that the whole Church know, that all become aware of the most beautiful and surprising sign of the times which God has given us, and which is Luisa Herself, the Little Daughter of the Divine Will, destined from God to be the prototype and the first of that which He calls "the second generation of the children of Light - the children of the Divine Will." She is "the Trumpet", that is to call this new generation so ardently longed for. She is the "firstborn Daughter", the secretary of Jesus, the teacher of the most sublime science: the Divine Will... These are some of the titles with which Jesus frequently calls her.
Who is Luisa? Jesus said to her: "Your mission is great, because it is not only about personal Sanctity, but it is about embracing everything and everyone, and preparing the Kingdom of my Will for the human generations" (Vol. 19, 8-22-1926).
The Mission of Luisa
The mission of any person is not only the most important chapter of his/her life, but the essential element of his individuality, the reason for his own being, his true celestial and terrestrial physiognomy, his eternal vocation, his place in the eternal Project of God, in the eternal "Let it be done" ("Fiat") of His Will. Not taking into account the mission of a person - in this case, of Luisa; reducing her life to a narration, a series of episodes, as edifying as they might be, would be to understand nothing; it would be an absurdity - a sacrilege.
Most human beings pass through the world without knowing the reason for which they came into the world. They do not understand the fundamental coordinates of their being and of their life: Who am I? For what purpose was I born? Where am I from, and where am I going? What is my family, what is my fatherland, who is my father, who created me? What is this about, what should I do, what should I follow?... And the answer cannot come from oneself: only the One Who does all things according to His plan and decision (Eph. 1,11) can answer us.
This is why only Luisa can speak about herself and her mission: she had to resay the words of the Lord - with immense violence, crucifying to the end her spiritual modesty, her vivid concept of her own nothingness, letting the rights of God prevail - giving glory to God!
to beseech the Beatification of the Servant of God
Luisa Piccarreta (*)
(*) Published on November 11, 1948 with the Ecclesiastical Approval
of the Archbishop of Trani, Fr. Reginaldo Addazi O.P.
1. O Most Sacred Heart of my Jesus, Who chose your humble servant Luisa as herald of the Kingdom of your Divine Will, and as angel of reparation for the innumerable sins which sadden your Divine Heart, I humbly pray You to grant me the grace which I beseech from Your Mercy through her intercession, so that she may be glorified on earth as You have already rewarded her in Heaven. Amen.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)
2. O Divine Heart of my Jesus, Who gave to your humble servant Luisa, victim of your Love, the strength to suffer the spasms of your sorrowful Passion for all her long life, let the halo of the Blessed shine soon upon her head for Your greater glory. And through her intercession, grant me the grace which I humbly ask You...
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)
3. O Merciful Heart of my Jesus, Who graciously preserved upon earth for many years your humble servant Luisa, Your Little Daughter of the Divine Will, for the salvation and the sanctification of many souls, answer my prayer - that she may be soon glorified by your Holy Church. And through her intercession, grant me the grace which I humbly ask You...
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)