1st Conference Bernardino Giuseppe Bucci, O.F.M.
Translation by Iole C. Checcone, Ph.D.
Luisa Piccarreta was born in Corato the 23rd of April, 1865 and died there in March, 1947.
Her birth, childhood and youth are wrought with various unexplainable phenomena:
- . Interior dialogues before the Blessed Sacrament in the church of Santa Maria Greca.
- . Tower of desperation, where phenomena that border on the incredible take place: “mysterious youth”, diabolic temptations, the mulberry tree, the little bridges.
- . “Rigor Mortis”, Fr. Loiodice, the lack of understanding of the clergy of Corato, intervention of the Archbishop, Giuseppe Bianchi Dottula.
- . The confessor Fr. Cataldo De Benedittis that puts her in the Third Dominican Order with the name of Sister Magdalene; he gives her permission to be permanently bed-ridden as victim of expiration for the sins of mankind.
- . Refusal of food, out of obedience she must eat once a day but immediately vomited everything.
- . Master of “tombolo” lace-making from which she supported herself and her family.
Luisa, assisted at daily Mass celebrated in her little room by the confessor assigned to her by the Bishop or by some other priest who occasionally substituted for him.She received the Holy Eucharist daily and it was the only food she retained. After the celebration of the Mass she remained in silence for two hours giving thanks and at about 8 AM many girls came to her house to learn tombolo lace-making. Towards noon, they brought her food that the wealthy families of Corato sent her, (often my sister Gemma and I went to the Cimadomo house to pick up what they had prepared. Luisa ate very little because the food was generally consumed by her sister Angelina and by her parents, or by people who later took care of her. Shortly thereafter, her sister or Fr. Bucci’s aunt Rosaria would come in with a basin and Luisa brought up everything she had eaten — the little she had eaten — entirely and now it had not the odor of vomitus but a perfumed scent.
After dinner, Luisa would retire to meditate and pray for about three hours. In the late afternoon several pious women, among whom were the sisters Cimadomo, and they began to pray the holy Rosary in its entirety, with meditations that Luisa had on the Divine Will.
After everyone had left, Luisa would close herself in prayer. Her little room was closed and during this time she daily, in obedience to the directives of her confessor who had ordered her to write everything down without neglecting a single detail, she would write down that which occurred between herself and Our Lord.
The following morning, at about 5 A. M., the caregiver would come into her room to make ready the altar for Mass while awaiting the arrival of her confessor. Luisa was always seated in her bed with her head tilted to the right, rigid and immobile as though in rigor mortis. The confessor approached her bed, made the sign of the cross over her body and she was revived and began her normal routine. If per chance the confessor or any other priest did not come to make the sign of the cross over her body, she would remain in that rigid state for days. She needed this priestly authority daily in order to take up her normal life.
For Piccarreta this total dependence on the authority of the priest was an enormous sacrifice and object of great humiliation, especially when the priests were not available. The Servant of God repeatedly asked the Lord to be freed from this dependence on priestly authority so as not to burden them with such a daily commitment.
The Lord comforted her saying: “this is a great privilege that I give you, that of surrendering your entire life, your entire person, to priestly authority; I have given this privilege to only one other creature, to My Mother”.
Luisa and the authority of the Church
The life of the Servant of God can only be defined as: obedience.
Luisa had to remain her entire life under the tutelage of priestly authority. One cannot conceive of Luisa Piccarreta except within the jurisdiction of priestly authority. Even in her physical body, everything had to be given over to the authority of the Church. Luisa is totally in the hands of the Church that nourishes her and guides her life’s journey. Luisa is a Catholic woman; she loves the Church; she prays for the Church; she sacrifices herself for the Church; and yields everything to the Church. This is the way she expressed herself:
“If the Church tells you that my life is a fraud and my writings are false, you must obey the Church and you must destroy everything; because the Church is the tender mother who loves us with a divine love. The teaching of the Church is the life of the believer”; (from the notes of Rosaria Bucci).
All those who because of false interpretations of the message of the Servant of God express concepts that are not in line with the magisterium of the Church, are being prompted by Satan and not by the Spirit of God.
Luisa and the personalities of her time
Luisa was in touch with priests who had a solid priestly formation; One must not forget that Fr. Cataldo de Benedictis was the first priest to understand that in Luisa, he had before him a privileged soul and sought to guide her in her initial steps towards saintliness. It was this priest that allowed Luisa to become the perennial victim of Divine Will keeping always to her bed for 64 continuous and uninterrupted years. It was also he who prudently obliged her to eat once a day even if subsequently she brought everything back up.
The other personage to remember is the archbishop of Trani, Archbishop Giuseppe Bianchi Dottula, who suffered greatly in the upheavals that led to the unification of Italy.
The other priest to influence her life was Fr. Gennaro di Gennaro who in 1898 succeeded Fr. Cataldo de Benedictis as the confessor of the servant of God. He impressed upon her that out of obedience she was to write down everything that happened between Our Lord and the servant of God. Thus began the famous diaries that were terminated in 1938 when she received the order to no longer write.
From the diaries have come 36 volumes of the highest spirituality, all treating the Divine Will.
Another personage of vital importance was Saint Annibale Maria di Francia, who from 1910 until 1927 became her spiritual advisor and approved her diaries; St. Annibale approved, as delegate of Archbishop Giuseppe M. Leo, the first 19 diaries with the Church’s imprimatur of the Archbishop of Trani. Therefore the first 19 volumes should have the paternity of the Rogationist fathers.
A personage who stands out is His Eminence, Fernando Cento, one of her devout disciples. Since his youth he had frequented Luisa and Luisa foretold that he would one day become cardinal. In fact, having been elevated to the office of cardinal, he served as Apostolic Nunzio to various countries for Pope John Paul XXIII. Cardinal Cento spoke often and everywhere about Piccarreta, so much so as to convince Cardinal Palazzini of her spirituality who would later become the first Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints to love and task an interest in Luisa Piccarreta. Cardinal Palazzini called her: “dear Luisa”.
One cannot forget her last confessor Fr. Benedetto Calvi, great pastoral figure, who ministered to Luisa for almost twenty years until her pious death.
It will be this priest who becomes involved in the strict orders of the Holy See that struck Piccarreta. These regrettable events did not dissuade him because he was well aware of the treasure of holiness locked within the Servant of God and soon after her death with the authorization of the Archbishop Addazzi, disseminated the first prayer cards of Luisa with the title, Servant of God, conferred to her by the Archbishop.
With Saint Padre Pio, she had personal contacts through the facilitator Federico Abbresc, great convert of S. Padre Pio who frequently visited the Servant of God and kept her in contact with the Saint. Piccarreta often told the people around her that Padre Pio was a holy priest according to the image of the heart of God, and many times sent Rosaria Bucci to Padre Pio. Nothing is known of the meetings that occurred.
For his part, Saint Padre Pio invited people to pay a visit to Luisa “the Saint”; this is the way he also referred to her.
The people closest to her
The people closest to the Servant of God were:
- . her parents, whom Luisa defined as “angels of honesty and purity”
- . her sister, Angelina, who remained single and was at her side until her death
- . the noble sisters Cimadomo
- . Miss Argues who transcribed her writings
- . Rosaria Bucci who since 1907 was always at her side and beeing her confidante to the end of Luisa’s life
- . Her niece, Giuseppina, she too having chosen a single life
And many other pious women who gathered in her house daily to pray and to deepen their spirituality in the Divine Will.