Our new Blessed, Maria Bolognesi, originally Maria Semiolo, was born to a single mother, Giuseppa Samiolo, on October 21, 1924. Her natural father, who was also an illegitimate child himself, had refused to marry her mother. For the first five years of her life she lived in her mother’s house and was given her mother’s last name. The most influential relative during her early childhood was definitely her maternal grandmother, Cornetto Cesira, a pious woman, who started teaching Maria about God, while her mother worked in the fields. Maria since this tender age got used to speaking to God in her own words.
When Maria was still five years old, her mother got married to Giuseppe Bolognesi. They moved to his house and from then on she used her stepfather’s last name, Bolognesi. From 1930-1935, she continued to grow in the love of God mainly because of the help of her grandfather, Luigi Bolognesi. During those years the Bolognesi family went through a period of extreme poverty because they were seasonal farmers. Maria sometimes had to fast on water even for three days because there was nothing to eat. Because of the hardship of their living conditions, in a period of over ten months, her grandfather, two uncles and her little brother died. Maria’s malnourishment affected her school performance. She eventually dropped out after not being able to pass second grade.
The first healing due to Maria’s intercession took place in 1932, when she was running a very high fever. At the same time, her mother had contracted meningitis and was on her death bed. Maria was preparing to make her first Holy Communion and the nun who was instructing her told her that Jesus would grant her whatever she asked him. Little Maria believed this with all her heart and promised Jesus to be good if He would restore her mother’s health. Her request was granted and her mother recovered.
On May 22, 1932 at the age of 8, Maria made her first Holy Communion. She recalls this occasion in her diary: “I cried with joy. Finally, my little heart also carries Eucharistic Jesus. I asked for so many, many graces: to love everyone, even my enemies. I came home, other families would have lunch at their homes, but at my home there was nothing to eat, but still, I was so so happy.”
Maria had a very difficult childhood. She had to put up with the extreme jealousy of her stepfather who used to beat her mother often. From 1935-1940, she had to take care of her little siblings. During this time she continued taking catechism lessons and participated in many Church activities.
Possessed by the Devil
The next ten years (1940-1950) would be the most difficult in the life. The work of the devil started on June 21, 1940, the day that her little brother Luigi was born. Because of an evil spell, she became possessed by the devil during the summer of 1941. She was prevented by an evil force from entering any church. Her clothes would be visibly pulled by an invisible force, causing panic and terror among her friends. Her parents tried to help her by having her blessed by priests, but this did not help. Many times Maria would just flee terrified at the presence of any priest or Holy Water. Even tying her to a chair so that Rev. Santo Magro could bless her, was of no avail.
She was then taken to a psychiatric hospital because they were convinced that she blasphemed and spat on sacred images because she was crazy. On the way to the hospital, the Bishop blessed her from the window of his residence just before she was taken there and obtained her deliverance. When she got to the mental hospital she was back to normal and the head physician of the facility declared her completely sane.
Although she was no longer possessed, the devil kept harassing her for a while, with the difference that now she was able to go to Church and receive the sacraments. After three days in which Maria was convinced she was at the end of her life, she found herself completely delivered. This was at the end of January, 1942.
Concerning this diabolical possession, one her biographers wrote the following:
“She alternated moments that were normal, as it were, with other moments during which something mysteriously terrible was obviously going on in her. Her parents thought of helping her with blessings. During the course of the months, many different attempts were made to free Maria from this “strange malaise,” but they never achieved any result, also because Maria would flee terrorized whenever she noticed the presence of a priest or whenever someone brought holy water to her house. Moreover, until the summer of 1941, one could sometimes even detect in Maria a physical inability to go to church.
Once, when she arrived with other young women to the bridge leading to the road of the parish church of Saint Cassian, Maria suddenly froze: her dress was pulled back by a mysterious presence. Since there was no wind, even Maria’s friends were astonished to see the physical effect of this invisible action. In their testimonies, the young women stated that they returned home screaming with fear. In the summer of 1941, her father managed to have Maria blessed by the pastor of St. Cassian. By outward appearances, this blessing was seemingly ineffective. But – during that same day – it was followed by a second blessing, imparted by the Bishop of Rovigo, which definitely helped, however it did not free her completely.
During the following months, the diabolical possession was no longer total, as in the past: Maria was now able to pray, go to church, and sometimes attend Mass. However, her body was stricken with a sudden loss of weight which “devoured” and “consumed” her. Her suffering was so excruciating that she aroused pity, but it seemed that no one could help her, except by going to Jesus and asking Him to free her from so much pain. At the end of January 1942, convinced that she had only three days of life left, Maria was able to go to confession and receive Communion.
The following three days were atrociously painful for her. For three consecutive days she cried, invoking the Lord and all the saints of heaven to come to help her… At the beginning of the 4th day, her complete healing finally occurred in the house of the Piva family.”
Her First Vision
Her first vision took place the evening between April 1-2, 1942 which was Holy Thursday. She was eighteen years old at the time. She was surprised and doubtful when she saw Jesus. In this vision, Jesus talked about five matters: 1) He said he needed her help; 2) He asked her for love, prayers, and penance; 3) He told her she would learn to read and write; 4) He announced His engagement with her and placed an engagement ring with five rubies, symbolizing His passion on her ring finger. He added that one day the ring would be His again, meaning that He would exchange it for a wedding ring; 5) He foretold her of great sufferings in store for her in a not too distant future.
Maria responded to Jesus that she could not correspond to these requests because “I do not know how to pray, I am nothing, I am a miser.” She further objected saying that it would be impossible for her to learn to read and that her home was not a good place because her mother blasphemed. She then asked Jesus to make her mother good. In return, Jesus told her that that was the reason why He chose her because she was nothing. He assured her that she would learn to read and promised her that her mother, Giuseppa Samiolo, one day would become good. The conversion of her mother began on March 15, 1947.
During this first vision she also asked Jesus for proof of His presence by asking Him to heal the sister in law of Angelina Piva who was gravely ill. Jesus answered her in a way that would characterize future requests. He said, “Yes, I can heal her, but you should pray much.”
Her typical way of responding to Jesus in this and future encounters was to say: “Jesus, I give you all my heart. Use me as You wish, I am nothing.”
After this first encounter with Jesus, Maria wrote: “I am really terrified. I have a ring on my finger. I don’t understand. I don’t understand anything.” She expressed her fears to Angelina Piva and told her that her sister in law would be healed. Then they both went to pray at the bedside of Angelina’s sister in law, and to their amazement, she was healed and went to work.
Maria and Angelina then went to tell all about the apparition, the ring and the healing to Rev. Bassiano Paiato, an old priest at the parish of Crespino, who was spiritual director to both of them. He believed Maria and ordered her to start writing the dairy and to include whatever she remembered from her childhood. This was a difficult task for her since she had only finished second grade. Nevertheless, she obeyed and managed to type 1,800 pages of her spiritual life. She kept a dairy from April 1942–July 10, 1967 when she was released from doing it by orders of her spiritual director.
Her Second Vision, the imitation of St Gemma and Sweating Blood
Her second vision took place on May 8, 1942, the Feast of Our Lady of Pompeii. This time Jesus announced five things that would take place. (1) He told her that there was going to be a great war in the region of Crespino. (2) He told her that he was going to grant her a second grace. This grace was the healing of another sick person that Maria had asked Him for as another sign that she was not being deceived by the devil. Jesus told her, “Of course, Maria, I know that you are afraid. Yes, I will grant you whatever you ask. By the first of June your sick friend will be healed.” (3) Jesus also announced to her that she would open a private school which took place on March 12, 1947. (4) He told her that she would begin wearing a special habit as a sign of the consecration she made when she made a vow of penance. She started wearing a black habit on April 11, 1943 with permission from her spiritual director. (5) Finally, Jesus told her that she would imitate the life of a young woman unknown to her. This young woman turned out to be St. Gemma Galgani and the date that she started wearing the black habit–just like the one that Gemma wore–was on St Gemma’s feast day (April 11, 1943).
In the meantime Rev. Sante, who knew she had been possessed, kept insisting that all that was happening to her was the work of the devil. Therefore, Maria asked Jesus for one last healing to confirm that her visions were real. He granted this third healing on March 2, 1943 when He healed a woman with a paralyzed limb. After that, Maria concluded: “I should only thank Jesus. From now on I am not going to ask Him anything anymore. Let Him put his cross on my back and I will always follow Him without fear.”
Jesus accepted this prayer and on January 2, 1944, He appeared to her suffering and sweating blood and explained to her: “Maria, it is for the conversion of souls. Now my scourge will be also yours. Your body will also sweat blood. My sweat is yours.”
At this point Maria exclaimed, “My God, what pain! If Jesus weren’t near me, I would not be able to stand it.” Maria sweat blood for five minutes and afterwards her bed sheet was soaked in blood.
Angelina Piva noticed that after these episodes of sweating blood, Maria would become very pale and cold and the room would fill with a perfume. Maria’s spiritual director told Angelina to keep one of the cloths with her blood. Angelina also kept a diary of the mystical events she witnessed in Maria’s life.
Predicting Future Events
On January 2, 1944 after having sweat blood for the first time, Maria asked Jesus when WWII would end. He did not tell her at that time adding that there would be much suffering if she knew. However, forty days later it was Jesus who wanted to inform her about the end of the war. This is the only time in her diary that she mentioned the presence of the Virgin Mary. Jesus told her to fold a paper into four and that when peace came, she should give the paper to her spiritual director together with Mr. and Mrs. Piva.
Jesus told her: “After you write in the piece of paper, it will become stained with blood. Thus, they will not be able to doubt if the dates were written afterwards. They will see it with their own eyes.”
“And when will peace come?” Maria asked.
“It will happen in 1945. Remember on April 22, 1945, people in your region will be dispersed near the Po River. There will be disorder. The Americans will be the ones to cross the Po. On the 25th there will be a great battle. You won’t be able to make a move. On the 26th many regions will be free from danger and also on the 26th there will be Americans, Indians, and so many people from other nations that you have never seen. You will be freed on the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel (April 26). However, world peace will not happen until the day after the Feast of Our Lady of Pompeii (May 8). Then the bells will toll, but still you will not be at peace with everyone. The Japanese won’t give in easily. But we’ll take care of that.”
Just as Jesus indicated, Maria folded the paper put it in a cloth pouch and pressed it to her chest. She gave it to her spiritual director Rev. Basiano Paiato with the Piva couple present. They were all in shock as the revelations proved precisely true.
After the war, the economy was slow and the Bolognesi family had grown numerous with five more children causing an even greater financial strain. Thus, in order to alleviate this situation and with the consent of her family, Maria decided to move to the house of Angelina and Ferdinando Piva, where she lived from 1946-1951. Angelina Piva was a friend of the family and the only one at that time who knew about Maria’s mystical phenomena. During this period, she was able to open a school for the children of the farm workers and became their teacher.
Since Maria’s sister, Teresina was 15 years old she would need to start working. Maria brought this need to Jesus. On November 29, 1946, Jesus tells her, “You will write to Varese di Milano (a city). There is a big textile factory there where your sister can get a job.”
“Jesus, I would not know how to write to a nun.”
“Maria, don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”
“What about the address?”
“Maria, write to the Mother Superior, Origgio, Varese P, Milano.”
“Thank you, Jesus.” She mailed the letter on November 30 and on January 7, 1947, Teresina started working there.
Rev. Santo Magro was skeptical of her mystical experiences, especially since he knew she had been possessed. He considered her to be crazy and a hysteric. The fact she started wearing a strange long black habit during that time did not help the situation. She continued to suffer under the suspicions of Rev. Santo Magro who had managed to make many people turn against her and treat her as if she were crazy.
On March 5, 1948, Maria was attacked by three criminals. Jesus had foretold her about this event seven days before the aggression, telling her that her guardian angel would be with her. Jesus described to her in detail all the injuries she would endure. He also foretold her the day of the trial and the favorable outcome.
On the day of the aggression, she was knocked out by three men, who remain unknown, tied up, muffled, with flesh stripped out of her legs and her hands, and left in the snow with two toe nails almost torn off. Since many people in the town were suspicious of her, the police Sargent took her to the Magistrate and accused her of faking an assault. She was absolved from these charges on October 25, 1948.
During the decade of the 1940’s, Maria suffered a series of illnesses like arthritis, appendicitis, colitis and pleurisy. By 1950 she was in a state of extreme weakness and became almost blind. For medical treatments, she often had to travel to Rovigo and Padua. She providentially met Mrs. Wanda Guerrato who lived in Rovigo. Mrs. Wanda was sent to S. Cassiano by Maria’s spiritual director, Rev. Bassiano Paiato to ask Maria for prayers for her brother in law who had cancer. A few days later, Marias asked her if she could stay at her house in Rovigo because she had a medical appointment in that city. The Guerrato family gladly took her in, treated her as a member of the family, and even paid for most of her medical expenses. Her spiritual director, Rev. Bassiano Paiato had ordered Maria not to speak to anyone about her experiences. However, Mrs. Wanda, who had originally been directed by this priest to seek the prayers of Maria, took it upon herself to make known the wonders of grace that were happening in Maria’s life, especially since she was living at her house. Mrs. Wanda went as far as inviting some devout friends to witness the ecstasies and visions that Maria had on Fridays.
During her spiritual engagement with Jesus (April 1942-April 1955) Jesus allowed Maria to be tempted by the Devil. On July 24, 1943, Maria referring to World War II was telling Jesus that she would suffer alone for the well being of everyone. Jesus strangely answered, “Maria, have you ever seen the devil?”
She answered negatively. Jesus the said, “Maria, don’t be afraid. Do you see the devil?”……
“My God! How ugly is the devil. If I weren’t with You, Jesus, how afraid I would have been.”
On January 7, 1944, five days after sweating blood for the first time, Maria saw a great light in her room while she was praying at night. She heard Jesus say, “Maria, be alert, don’t be afraid.” Jesus disappeared and while she continued praying the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a gentleman dressed like a king appeared to her and said, “Lady, how come you are wasting your time praying that which you have in your hands? How beautiful you are! How dear! If you love me, you will become the richest in the world. I am rich and you are poor. I would like to give you so much happiness in this life that no one has been able to give you. You will stop suffering. I will marry you soon.”
She replied: “I have been married for a long time.”
“You are not married. It is just an idea you have.”
“This is the Crucifix. This is my sweet husband, Jesus. I will love Him until I will rest with Him forever in Paradise.”
“Those are just words. If you put away what you are holding, I will give you the greatest wealth in the world.”
“You are the devil. Go away. I believe in one almighty God, maker of Heaven and Earth.”
“Miss, put away those beads.”
“In the name of God, get away for me, Satan. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, go away. I will not leave Jesus.” She concludes this first temptation by writing in her diary, “Mercy! What a horrible flame on my window. What fright!”
The subsequent temptations were very similar to the first. On April 22, 1944 while she was working the fields, she was surprised by a bright light. Jesus had warned her that the devil would be present if there was a bright light but the face of the Lord was not there. This time the devil took the form of a lady who told Maria to go home because her mom had been burned. Maria suspecting it was the devil told the lady that the soul does not die with the body. Then the devil lit a match and threw it next to her. “My God, my dress caught fire. It made a blister on my left foot.”
“In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, go away, Satan.” Then, the lady disappeared in a flash of fire.
New Spiritual Director: Mons. Rodolfo BarbieriShe had a total of eight temptations over the course of several years. Her last temptation took place on May 15, 1949. This time after she rejected the devil again, he said: “I see that there is nothing else that I can do. I have to leave you forever. I could not conquer you. You love for Him makes me tremble. Everything was useless. I burn not being able to touch you. During your trial (referring to what took place on October 25, 1948), I was waiting, thinking that it would make you evil. But everything was in vain. The One whom you love does not allow me to tempt you anymore. Be consumed then by the One who has promised you eternal happiness.” At the end of this dialogue with Satan, she heard the voice of Jesus say, “Satan, this is your last temptation. You will not return anymore.” Then in a puff of smoke, the devil disappeared.
In the meantime, Rev. Bassiano Paiato, who had followed Maria’s spiritual itinerary from the very beginning, was also eager to make known the wonders of grace God was working through her. Thus, he decided to disseminate an image of the Ecce Homo that had appeared in a napkin used to wipe the blood of Maria’s side wound during the ecstasy of April 7, 1950. The Bishop reacted strongly against this. He asked that all the printed cards that were made of this image be given to him. He also requested Maria’s habit that had been burned by Satan during a temptation. Finally, he appointed a new spiritual director to Maria. Mons. Rodolfo Barbieri accepted to take over her spiritual direction on June 28, 1951. At a meeting with her new director on July 24, Maria showed him at his request, the ring that Jesus had given her on April 2, 1942 and handed her diary over to him. A few weeks later, on August 5, Mons. Barbieri was present at one of Maria’s ecstasies with the sweating of blood. Mons. Barbieri once asked her if she was sure it was really Jesus who was appearing to her every Friday. Maria answered, “Father, I speak, I see, I am sure of what I see.” Fr. Romualdo asked her a similar question several years later to which she responded: “I see Him close up as I am seeing you at this moment.”
Sweating Blood and Stigmata
Maria’s stigmata appeared gradually. In 1944 she had the wound in her side. On July 1951, she suffered the pain of the flagellation. On January 25, 1954 she wrote about a wound that opened up in her right hand. In August, 1954, she went to stay at the Monastery of the Augustinian sisters in Ferrara because she had been ordered to go there in a vision. While staying at this monastery, she received the wounds on her feet.
On February, 1955 while Maria was in the hospital, she had a vision telling her to go away from Rovigo on March 16th. The place indicated in her vision was Sperlinga in Sicily. She stayed at a home in Sperlinga to do a Lenten retreat and it was there that she received the last wound on her left hand on April 2, 1955. That same day was the end of Maria’s spiritual betrothal. She noticed that her engagement ring had disappeared and said, “Jesus, you have taken my little ring!”
Traveling back from Sperlinga, she decided to stop in San Giovanni Rotondo because the trip was too hard. She had a fever and her shoes were full of blood. She found and inn called Pensione Villa Pia and stayed there. On Good Friday, April 8 at 3:00, Jesus appeared to her in her room and asked her:
“Maria, how are you?”
“Jesus, here I am, as You can see.”
“Maria, how did you manage to get here with your feet in that condition and a fever of 39 C?” “Listen, Jesus, I love You so, so much. I am all Yours.”
Jesus then told her, “Now I am going to take from you every wound, on your hands, feet and side.” “Jesus, I am Your little rag. Your little beggar.”
“Maria, I am your Jesus whom you love so much. Here is My ring. It is yours now.”
Maria was shocked and replied, “But Jesus, Jesus, this is not the first one (ring) you gave me. This is a big ring. Why Jesus?”
“Maria, I told you that the little ring was made up of five jewels, five are My Wounds, and that one day it would be Mine again. Now My five Wounds have been carved in your body. This is the ring of Ecce Homo.”
“Jesus, yes, I see. Will You give it to me forever? What will I tell my spiritual director?”
“Maria, My Wounds are yours also. I know how much you love Me. You always tell Me: ‘I only want to belong to Jesus.’ And I am yours.”
“Thank you, Jesus. The little ring that You gave me in 1942 during Holy Week, will You not give it to me again? Will you leave this one always with me?”
“Yes, Maria. You will have always this one. I will always need your sacrifices. Your sufferings will be many.”
“Jesus, whenever You want, whatever You want. If my life were necessary for the good of us all, I would give it up gladly.”
It seems that Jesus wanted to give proof of the supernatural origin of this ring. Maria had been bedridden since she arrived to the Mantovani home. On evening on October 18, 1955, she went into ecstasy and started to cry. This woke up Mrs. Mantovani and her daughter Zoe who asked Maria what was wrong. Maria explained that Jesus had taken her ring away. Maria assumed she must have offended Jesus somehow for Him to have done this. A few moments later, she knelt on the bed enraptured by a second vision and her face radiated joy. Mrs. Mantovani and Zoe saw with their own eyes how the ring reappeared out of thin air on her finger again.
On April 10 she returned to Wanda Guerratto and stayed with Wanda until Wanda’s death on July 14, 1955. After 1955 until her own death, Maria lived with a companion, Zoe Mantovani, first at her family’s house, then in Via Mazzini, and after 1971 in Via G. Tasso 49 in Rovigo, where Zoe still lives.
Another Spiritual Director: Monsignor Adelino Marenga
On September 24, 1956 Mons. Barbieri stopped being her spiritual director because of his health and Mons. Adelino Marega took over. Her first meeting with her new spiritual director took place on October 14. He imposed three conditions: obedience, humility and trust. Regarding the visions of Jesus, Mons. Marega told her to disregard them as temptations and to tell Jesus not to give her suffering. She obeyed. On July 30, 1957, Mons. Marenga, realizing her obedience, told her to accept whatever the Lord sent her and to pray for souls.
Maria felt embarrassed and did not want to be seen with her face covered in blood especially by Mons. Marenga. On October, 1958, Jesus asked her why she didn’t go see her spiritual director any longer and sent Zoe instead. Maria answered, “I will go when You tell me that I won’t sweat blood in front of him.” A few years later, on Holy Thursday, 1961, Mons. Marenga went to take her Holy Communion. Exactly then Jesus appeared to her and said, “Your spiritual director is in this room with Holy Communion. Your face covered in blood will repair for so many souls in sin.”
“Jesus, Jesus, I am really angry. You are bad. I didn’t want this to happen. I have begged You so many times.”
“Maria, I have also asked you so many times and you always refused. You did not want this but I did. In order for your director to be able to give testimony he had to witness this.”
“Jesus, I am embarrassed and really angry.”
The next day Jesus came to ask her if she was still angry, but when she saw Jesus crying she wanted to console Him.
From 1957-1963, although Maria continued suffering from various ailments, she now was able to involve herself much more with works of charity than when she was living in the countryside. She made contact with many suffering and needy people during her stays at the hospital. She found many benefactors interested in financing her charities. In 1964, Mons. Marenga died suddenly.
Trip to St. Gemma Galgani’s Shrine
On September 29, 1959, Maria went to the Shrine of St. Gemma Galgani in Lucca to visit her “little saint.” She wrote in her dairy: “When I found myself in front of St. Gemma (her tomb), I let my heart speak to her. I entrusted to her all my sinners, my poor and my sick. I would have never moved away from that face…’You Little Gemma (Gemmina) of Jesus, pray that we may always feel holy love growing in us.’
We saw her [Gemma’s] broken shoes, her dress, the lace work, her shirt with blood stains. We saw her dishes, everything she used for eating. We even saw her little bed. What joy! What peace! My heart recovered a bit.”
Trips to Heaven and Purgatory
Starting from 1957, Jesus started taking her regularly on visits to Heaven and Purgatory. On November 1st, 1957 at 3:00pm Jesus said to her:
“Come with me.”
“Where do You want me to come?”
“Maria, I am taking you to Paradise for a few minutes.”
She saw herself wearing a white robe. Jesus smiling asked her, “Maria, would you stay here forever?”
“Jesus, Jesus, how much light! Heaven is a garden of bright and perfumed souls. No painter could come close to depicting this. So much light, a multitude of angels! How I would love to be here!” Jesus interrupted her saying, “Now I will take you with Me to visit Purgatory.”
“Jesus, You are so good. You know I don’t deserve anything.”
“Maria, you will feel the same suffering that the souls in Purgatory feel.”
The impact was so painful that she exclaimed, “My God, my God! Only with Jesus’ grace and strength can one overcome certain pains and suffering. Jesus, through Your pity and mercy, take all these souls with You to Paradise soon.”
Jesus then told her, “Now you will wake up and you will feel very tired and worn out.”
When she woke up she did feel very tired and Zoe, her companion, was next to her.
Since the spring of 1958, Maria was bedridden for almost a year. On July 3, 1959 Jesus announced to her a reward saying: “For all the sufferings you have endured during this time and for the many rosaries you have prayed, I will let you see the souls you have freed from Purgatory.”
Three days later, she visited Heaven again dressed in white. She wrote, “I saw a multitude of souls that enjoyed the presence of Jesus.” Then she said, “Jesus, I would also like to be a little angel, but I would prefer to stay in Purgatory even if I did not deserve it in order to save those who suffer so much.”
“Maria, you know how painful the sufferings in Purgatory are.”
“Yes, Jesus, more than once you have let me see it. That is why I pray so much and why I would like to stay in Purgatory and suffer for souls so that they may be purified and can soon enjoy Your company in Heaven.”
“Maria, if I asked you a long time in Purgatory for the salvation of souls, would you do it?”
“I would not hesitate, I would accept immediately. When I think that a suffering or a great pain here on Earth cannot be compared to the smallest sufferings of the souls in Purgatory, how could I refuse?”
On her birthday, October 21, 1959, Maria is woken up at 2:00am by a mysterious voice. Jesus took her to Heaven and had a surprise for her: “Maria, look: your name is written here.”
Jesus took her to Heaven again on January 22, 1960, but He abruptly announced, “Maria, now I am taking you to visit Purgatory.”
Then she noticed that she was dressed in red and saw many souls. She saw seven souls rising. Jesus explained, “See, Maria, you pray so much for the souls in Purgatory, those over there are entering Heaven.”
“Jesus, You are so good.”
“Maria, can You tell me how painful this place is?”
“Jesus, I feel that I am burning from thirst. I cannot compare any pain to that which I feel right now.”
A few days after Maria’s spiritual director, Monsignor Marenga, had died, Maria woke up feeling emptiness and started to remember him. Then, Jesus appeared to her in a warm light and said, “Maria, are you angry at Me?”
“Jesus, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Suddenly, she found herself dressed in white walking along a long road made of flowers. Jesus said: “Maria, I know that you are mourning your spiritual director and that you have been thinking about his death since you saw Me on July 18th. Now you will see your holy director.” Then she saw Mons. Marenga who looked beautiful and in contemplation with other souls. He looked at her but did not speak.
These are but a few instances of her trips to Heaven and Purgatory that are found in her diary.
Her Last Spiritual Director: Monsignor Aldo Balduin
Her fourth and last spiritual director was Monsignor Aldo Balduin. The spiritual direction of Mons. Balduin differed from that of his predecessor. Since he had been a librarian, he could not conceive of a person living without meditating on texts. Maria’s other spiritual directors, aware of her lack of education, had never asked her to read spiritual books. Mons. Balduin, however, during one of the first meetings with her suggested that she read lives of saints and a book of daily meditations by Pincelli called “Food for the Religious Soul.” When he met with her a few months later, he was astonished to hear from Maria that she did not want to read the lives of the saints because while reading them she experienced the sufferings they had experienced in their lives. Because of this, Mons. Balduin told her she could stop reading them.
Her Devotion to Baby Jesus in the Manger
Mons. Balduin also supported her charitable enterprises. One of her projects was to build a rehab center to house those people coming out of the hospital with no place to go. With the help of a benefactor, she was able to get a land in the area of S. Bartolo. The years between 1967-1971 were difficult years for Maria both with financial worries, problems with the construction of the Rehab Center and many illnesses, which culminated in a heart attack in 1971, which marked the end of her active ministry.
Perhaps as a way to relax during this time, she took up painting in 1968. Since she was bed-bound because of her health problems; she started painting pictures that she would give to benefactors as a way of thanking them. She mainly pained landscapes, flowers and animals.
In 1946 at the Piva’s house, Maria began the tradition of making elaborate nativity scenes, which she continued to do until the end of her life. In her diary entry of December 30, 1960 she wrote, “My little baby Jesus is made of wood, but at this moment he has flesh. I am not dreaming and I am not seeing double. Jesus moved from the shed. I got close and told him, “Jesus, come to my arms.” He opened his small hands and sat on my knees. He looked at me.” Maria entrusted to Him the whole world. She said Jesus talked to her for a long time complaining about sinners and He cried when He spoke about so many priests that did not pray fervently. Then Jesus transformed himself in the manger and blessed the whole world.
From 1974 Maria started another period of mental and physical suffering. She again suffered persecution and misunderstandings from some prelates in the Church. She also suffered from so many ailments; back aches, stomach aches, heart trouble, that she described herself as an old rag. However, she continued having the visions of Jesus every Friday. Less is known about this period because she had stopped writing her diary in 1967, thirteen years before her death. She was never able to complete the rehab center she wanted.Her Last Years and Mystical Relationship with St Padre Pio
From her lifelong companion, Zoe Mantovani, who lived with her the last twenty five years of her life, we know that she had a mystical relationship with St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Zoe said that Padre Pio used to appear to her in bilocation in their house in Rovigo and that he continued visiting her even after his death in 1968.
On January 30, 1980 at 2:00 am Maria Bolognesi passed away because of another heart attack.
Maria Bolognesi was beatified by Pope Francis on September 7, 2013. Her friend Zoe (97 years old) and a young man named Marco were present. Marco received the miracle that was needed for the beatification. The account of the miracle, taken from a newsletter “Priestly People” (www.theservants.org, Sept. 2013 vl. 29, no. 9 pp. 3-4) is the following:
“Marco, who as a young boy suffered a severe allergic reaction to medicine that had been prescribed for a heart ailment. After having over 95% of his skin chemically burned by that allergic reaction Marco was put into intensive care. Shortly thereafter an EEG confirmed that Marco had no brain activity and eventually he was pronounced dead. At the same time, Marco’s grandmother was making a long train journey from her home to see the grandson she didn’t yet know had died. When she got to the hospital and was brought into his room, she began to pray and among some books found a picture which dropped to the floor when she opened one of those books. She immediately recognized that the woman whose picture had fallen from the book was the exact same woman who had appeared to her in a dream days earlier saying that Marco would be ok. She didn’t know who the woman was but she began to pray fervently to her on behalf of her grandson. Two hours and eighteen minutes after being pronounced dead Marco began to show signs of life and eventually fully recovered. On May 3, 2013 Pope Francis attributed Marco’s miraculous cure to Maria Bolognesi thus clearing the way for the beatification.”
Concerning Blessed Maria Bolognesi, following his September 8, 2013 Angelus address, Pope Francis stated: “Blessed Maria Bolognesi spent her life in service to others, especially the poor and sick, enduring great suffering in profound union with the passion of Christ. We give thanks to God for her testimony to the Gospel!” -Pope Francis