Luisa Piccarreta; “The Personage”
By Padre Bernardino Bucci
Luisa Piccarreta was born in Corato on April 23rd, 1865 and died there on March 4, 1947.
Her birth, childhood, and youth were fraught with various inexplicable phenomena.
– Interior dialogues before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the church of Saint Maria Greca.
– Desperate Tower, where phenomena that verged on the incredible occurred.
– “The Mysterious Youth,” diabolical temptations, the mulberry tree, little bridges.
– Death-like rigidity, Father Loiodice, the misunderstanding of the clergy of Corato, intervention of Bishop Msgr. Bianchi Dottula.
– Confessor Father Cataldo De Benedittis, who introduced her into the Dominican Third Order, with the name Sister Maddalena; he gives her permission to always stay in bed as victim of expiation for the sins of men.
– Rejection of food, by obedience she must eat once a day, but it immediately gets vomited. -Master/teacher of the art of bobbin lace-making, with which she supports herself and her family.
Every day, Luisa, participated in Holy Mass celebrated in her little room by her Confessor delegated by the Bishop or by some other priest who acted as his substitute on occasion.
Every day she received the Holy Eucharist, and it was the only food that she did not vomit. For two hours after Holy Mass, she remained in silent thanksgiving; at around 8 in the morning many girls streamed into her house to learn bobbin lace-making.
At around midday, lunchtime, they gave her food that the richest families of Corato vied with each other to send her. (Many times, my sister Gemma and I went to the families Cimadomo and Capano, to fetch what they had prepared.)
Luisa ate very little because, generally, the food was eaten by her sister Angelina and by her parents, or by the people who later cared for her. Immediately afterwards, her sister or my Aunt Rosaria came in with a tray, and Luisa vomited up the little she had eaten, whole, full, and sweet-smelling. After lunch Luisa closed herself off in meditation and prayer for about three hours.
In the late afternoon, some pious women would go to her house, along with the sisters Cimadomo. They recited the entire Holy Rosary with meditations that Luisa had on the Divine Will. After everyone had gone away, Luisa enlosed herself in prayer, her little room was closed, and during this period she wrote that which daily occurred between her and Our Lord, in obedience to her confessor, who had ordered her to write everything without omitting anything.
The following morning, towards 5 a.m., her assistant came into her little room and prepared the altar for Holy Mass in anticipation of the confessor. Luisa was always in bed, sitting with her head leaning toward the right, rigid, immobile, as though she were in a cadaveric rigidity.The confessor approached her bed, made the Sign of the Cross over her body, she was revived from her state, and she took up her normal life. If by chance the confessor or any other priest did not go to make the Sign of the Cross over her body,she remained immobile and rigid for days. She needed the authority of the priest in order to return to her usual activities. For Luisa Piccarreta, depending totally on priestly authority was an enormous sacrifice and the object of great humiliation, especially when the priests were not available. The Servant of God used to ask the Lord to be liberated from this dependence on priestly authority, in order not to burden the priests with (the necessarily of their) daily presence. Our Lord comforted her, saying “This is a great privilege that I give you, that of submitting your entire life, all of your person, to priestly authority; I gave this privilege to only one other creature: to My Mother.”
Luisa and the Authority of the Church
The life of the Servant of God could have a name: obedience.
For all her life, Luisa had to remain under the auspices of priestly authority. Luisa Piccarreta is not conceivable outside of priestly authority. Even in her physical body all had to depend upon the authority of the Church.
Luisa is totally in the hands of the Church that molds her and guides her along the paths of her existence until the last day of her life. Luisa is a Catholic woman, she loves the Church, she prays for Her, she immolates herself for Her, and she lets everything depend upon the Church;
This is how she expresses it: “If the Church tells you that my life is a deception, and that my writings are false, you must obey the Church and must destroy everything because the Church is 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, for a false interpretation of the message of the Servant of God, express concepts that are not in line with the Magisterium of the Church, are prompted by Satan, and not by the Spirit of God.
Luisa and the Character of Her Times
Luisa had contact with priests who had robust priestly formation;
One should not forget Father Cataldo de Benedictis, who was the first priest who understood that he was confronted a privileged soul and who sought to follow her in the first steps of her walk toward holiness. It was this priest who allowed Luisa to become a perennial victim of the Divine Will, staying always in bed for 64 years, continuously and uninterruptedly. It was he also who obliged her to, because of prudence, eat once a day, even if she vomited it up.
The other personage to remember is the Archbishop of Trani, Bianchi Dottula, who had much to suffer in the launch of the unification of Italy. The other priest who was pivotal in her life was Gennaro di Gennaro, who succeeded Father Cataldo de Benedictis in 1898 as the Confessor of the Servant di God. He placed her under obedience to write all that happened between Our Lord and the Servant di God, in this way beginning the famous diaries that ended in 1938 when she had the order to not write anymore.
Thirty-six volumes of the highest spirituality have sprung from the diaries, all regarding the Divine Will. Another personage of vital importance was Saint Annibale Maria di Francia, who from 1910 until 1927 was her extraordinary confessor and editor of her diaries. Saint Annibale approved, acting as delegate of the Archbishop Msgr. Leo, the first 19 diaries with the Curial Imprimatur of Trani’s Primate. Therefore, the first 19 volumes fall under the paternity of the Rogationist Fathers.
A distinguished personage, a devoted disciple of hers, was Msgr. Fernando Cento who, from his youth, used to go to Luisa’s, and to whom Luisa had prophesied his becoming a cardinal. In fact, he became the Apostolic Nuncio of several nations, and he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope John XXIII. Cardinal Cento spoke often and everywhere about Luisa Piccarreta, so much so as to enamor with her spirituality Cardinal Palazzini, who would be the first Prefect of the Congregation of Saints, and who would interest himself with Luisa Piccarreta. Cardinal Palazzini used to call her. “The dear Luisa.”
One cannot forget her last Confessor Father Benedetto Calvi, a great figure of a pastor of souls who was Luisa’s confessor for about twenty years, until her pious death. He was to be the priest who would be involved with the severe orders of the Holy Office that struck Luisa Piccarreta.These regrettable events did not disarm him because he was very aware of the treasure of Sanctity enclosed within the Servant of God, and immediately after her death, with the authority of Archbishop Addazzi, he diffused the first holy picture of Luisa with a prayer, distributing them with the title “Servant di God,” conferred on her by the Archbishop. She had third party contact with Saint Pio: through Federico Abbresc, Saint Pio’s great convert who used to visit the Servant di God, and who kept her in contact with the Saint. Many times Luisa Piccarreta said to persons who were close to her that Father Pio was a holy priest according to the heart of God, and many times she sent Rosaria Bucci to Father Pio. But nothing is known of the conversations had. Father Pio, in turn, invited people to visit “Luisa la Santa,” “Luisa the Saint,”, as he also called her.
The Persons Who Were Close to Her
The persons who were close to the Servant of God were her parents, who Luisa defined as angels of honesty and of purity;
Her sister Angelina, who stayed single, and who was near her until her death;
The noble sisters Cimadomo;
Miss Argues, who transcribed her writings;
Rosaria Bucci who from 1907 was always near her, until death, becoming her confidante;
Her Niece Giuseppina, who also remained single;
And so many other pious women who used to meet at her house daily to pray, and to deepen their spirituality in the Divine Will.