Theresa Caputo, Long Island Medium -The position of the Catholic Church concerning Mediums, Channelers & Psychics

Theresa Caputo, from the Long Island Medium TV Show 
Theresa Caputo and the "Long Island Medium" television show -A Christian perspective

By: Glenn Dallaire

Since I have such a great interest in all that concerns authentic mystical phenomenon (as is evident in this extensive website on the Mystics of the Church) I have been asked on several occasions my thoughts concerning Theresa Caputo and the popular TLC television show "Long Island Medium". While the alleged gifts of psychics or mediums is outside the realm of authentic Christian mysticism and is not within the scope of this website, it is still of interest and concern in that it deals specifically with spiritual realities concerning the afterlife. Also not within the scope of this article is to judge whether Teresa Caputo's alleged gift of being able to talk to the dead is authentic or fake. The Catholic church is full of occasions over the centuries where Saints and departed souls from purgatory have appeared to various mystics of the Church and other countless individuals, so the possibility does in fact exist within accepted Catholic belief that the spirits of the deceased could come and give messages to Theresa.

Concerning the show, I can sincerely state that I have watched with interest a number of the episodes beginning with season one and so in this article I will present firstly (and most importantly) the position of the Catholic church concerning such matters, along with my own thoughts and perspective in light of the Church's teaching.

But first, for those who have not seen any of the episodes, Mrs. Theresa Brigandi Caputo is a 46 year old (as of 2013) Long Island (Hicksville, NY) wife and mother of two children who purports to receive messages from the deceased. She is a practising Catholic with a strong faith who attends Mass weekly, as stated in an interview here.  Even before the show aired for the first time, her appointment schedule was booked for close to 2 years, so her popularity even before the show began airing is evident. Having watched quite a few episodes, I personally find Theresa to be very sincere, and it would be very difficult to argue against the fact that she often makes some astonishingly remarkable statements concerning people and events that she could not possibly know of through natural means. In every episode of "Long Island Medium", Theresa herself states that it is "spirit" who informs her of everything. Which then brings us directly to the most important question at the heart of the whole matter--from exactly what "spirit" does Theresa and other mediums get their information and enlightenment from?

The position of the Catholic Church concerning mediums, psychics, channelers, clairvoyants etc.

The official Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear about the position of the Church concerning mediums, psychics etc:

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
Additionally, the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament is also quite clear on the matter:

10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord  (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

And so we can clearly see that God strongly condemns the action of invoking spirits or calling upon the dead. Actively calling upon, conjuring up and evoking the dead or spirits is the sin of necromancy and is strictly forbidden.

The important distinction between authentic prophets, mystics and visionaries versus mediums, channelers and psychics. -The sin of necromancy.

In both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scriptures we find that throughout salvation history God has brought forth a large number of prophets and mystics such as Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah etc. and this has continued throughout the entire history of the Catholic church to the present day. In fact the Catholic church has canonised countless mystics and visionaries throughout the centuries and many of these Mystic-Saints such as St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St Theresa of Avila etc. are the "crown jewels" of the Catholic church. And so it is that the Catholic church greatly admires the holy prophets and mystics who have been chosen by God to be His spokespersons and the messengers of His holy Word and His desires for humanity. Therefore we can clearly recognise and state that the Catholic church is not adverse to or against authentic mystics, prophets and visionaries.

The Church honors the prophets, mystics and visionaries for their heroic obedience to the will and desires of God. Such persons are the instruments of God's holy will. And reading about such persons throughout history (most particularly in the Old Testament) we find how the prophets, mystics and visionaries are often persecuted and have faced severe condemnations from those about them. In fact Jesus himself points out that the majority of the prophets were put to death by their fellow compatriots. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."

And so in light of this we have to be very, very discerning and careful NOT to quickly condemn those who may have been given special gifts or charisms by God. But then what is the difference and the distinction between a authentic mystic or a medium? Firstly, authentic mystics don't normally relate messages from the dead, and certainly not on a daily basis, while mediums on the other hand claim to have this gift or ability, and some like Theresa Caputo often use this alleged gift on a daily basis and often charge a fee for doing so.  

The primary danger with mediums lies in the careful reading of the Scriptural condemnation by God in Deuteronomy quoted above, and also in the careful reading of the statement above from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What God strictly condemns as the sin of necromancy is the act of conjuring or calling upon the dead or spirits by an individual.

At the same time, in the Chapter on Necromancy, the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
"The Church does not deny that, with a special permission of God, the souls of the departed may appear to the living, and even manifest things unknown to the latter."

Now, if a soul or spirit appears to a person without the person having actively called, channelled or conjured them, then in no way would this be a sin, because the person is not the originator of the action, that is, the person did not of themselves actively seek the experience.

Theresa Caputo on the "David Letterman" show
The problem with some of Theresa Caputo's "readings" from a Christian perspective

And so we come to the possible grave problem with some of Theresa Caputo the "Long Island Medium's" readings. It all boils down to the action of invoking or calling upon the dead (or "spirit" as she often calls it). When a person, referred to by Theresa as a "client" comes to her for a session, and Theresa then actively seeks a message for them from their loved one(s)--then this may very well be crossing the line into the grave sin of necromancy because for her part Theresa is then actively seeking to channel the spirits of the dead, and this is what is specifically condemned by God in the Old Testament and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as stated above. And what causes even further concern is that Theresa charges money from the person(s) involved for these hour long channeling sessions.  If a person receives a gift or charism from God, the gift should be given to others freely, without charge, however I do think that in certain cases it would be permissible to accept free will offerings.

At the same time the show often depicts occasions where Theresa walks up to a person on the street or in a restaurant etc. and spontaneously begins to relate to this random person a very consoling alleged message from a deceased loved one. In these cases there is no obvious invoking or actively calling upon the dead or spirits, so in these cases it seems to me that such an action does not correspond to the sin of necromancy. Additionally in these type of circumstances there is no fee being charged by Theresa. But it should be pointed out that these "spontaneous on the street" type of readings make up only a small portion of the show.

In other words, what it all comes down to is from what side the "channel" is being actively opened. Again, if a person is calling upon the dead or spirits, then this is the sin of necromancy and is condemned by God in Holy Scriptures. Additionally, when a person receives an authentic gift or charism from God, it should be used and given to others freely, without charge. We see this for example in the life of the Austrian mystic, Maria Simma, whom I have highlighted on this website here and of whom I will quote a little further below. Maria Simma was often visited by the souls in Purgatory for the sole purpose of seeking her prayers and spiritual help, and she insisted that she NEVER once called upon or sought such visits from the deceased souls.

Additional concerns from a Catholic point of view
Having watched many of the episodes,  some additional concerns that immediately come to my mind is the fact the the (alleged) departed souls never talk about God or give thanks to Jesus for their own salvation. And also the Catholic dogma and concept of purgatory--that is, the purgation and purification of souls in preparation for heaven--is never mentioned or brought forth by any of the channeled spirits or souls.

And while the departed souls that allegedly come through NEVER mention Jesus, they also never ask for prayers. Additionally, other dogma's of the Church such as the reality of hell, the existence of demons, final judgement and other grave matters concerning the afterlife are also completely absent from the spirits that come through for the persons on the show.

Additionally, perhaps one of the most disconcerting things that is missing from the show is the fact that the departed souls never thank God or give any glory to Jesus for their salvation, or for His love and His mercy shown to them. All of this makes one wonder then is it likely that a departed soul that is in heaven, or at least bound for heaven, would not wholeheartedly and fervently thank and bless Jesus for its own salvation and for God's infinite love and forgiveness towards him/her? One would think that this would be the primary message that a departed loved one would want to share as an important lesson and encouragement to those living here on earth.

The "Long Island Medium" during a group channelling session
Important comparisons: The souls who appeared to St Padre Pio and Maria Simma
As many are aware, St Padre Pio (1887-1968) was a contemporary mystic and stigmatic who was often visited by heavenly visitors and also the departed souls in purgatory. In fact, for those interested I have written about some of these extraordinary visits here and also I wrote another article about the Austrian mystic Maria Simma here.

Maria Simma (1915-2004) was another contemporary Catholic who was often visited by the departed souls from purgatory. In fact there is an excellent book entitled "Get Us Out Of Here -Maria Simma Speaks With Nicky Eltz" 2002 which consists of a series of interviews with Maria where the subjects of visits from departed souls in probed in depth, especially from a Catholic viewpoint.

In the cases of both of these individuals, the most profound lesson is that although they were often visited by souls of the deceased, they never sought or desired such visits, and they were told that the souls of the departed themselves where given special permission by God to come to them for a specific reason, usually the reason being was to request their prayers and sacrifices, so that the visitors time in purgatory being purified may be lessened.

In fact, during one interview Maria Simma was asked:
"What do you think of the practices of spiritism? For example: calling up the spirits of the departed, Ouija-boards, etc.?

"It is not good. It is always evil. It is the devil who makes the table move.
(-Here Maria is referring to the phenonmenon of the movement of a table when individuals join hands over a table with the hope and intention that spirits may move the table. It is a similar phenomenon to that of the Ouija board where the planchette moves on its own while being held by the participants in Ouija board sessions. --Interestingly, the phenomenon of table moving happened to Theresa Caputo on one of the "Long Island Medium" espisodes. And concerning the strange phenomenon of the table moving Theresa said "See, I have said it before that spirit can do remarkable things". What she didn't seem to understand and recognise was that the phenomena of moving tables is a common occurance when evil spirits are involved. In fact this phenomenon is always attributed to evil spirits and is often seen in house hauntings, ouija board sessions and quite often in cases of demonic possession--see the St Louis possession case of 1949 for example--editor)

"What is the difference between what you are living with the souls of the departed, and the practices of spiritism?

"We are not supposed to summon up the souls - I don't try to get them to come. In spiritism, people try to call them forth.

"This distinction is quite clear, and we must take it very seriously. If  people were only to believe one thing I have said, I would like it to be this: those who engage in spiritism (moving tables and other practices of that kind) think that they are summoning up the souls of the dead. In reality, if there is some response to their call, it is always and without exception Satan and his angels who are answering. People who practice spiritism (diviners, witches, mediums, etc.) are doing something very
dangerous for themselves and for those who come to them for advice. They are up to their necks in lies. It is forbidden, strictly forbidden, to call up the dead. As for me, I have never done so, l do not do so, and I never will do so."

Experiences and sessions with mediums and psychics should be strongly avoided by everyone
One of the obvious reasons why God condemns necromancy is because of the very real and grave danger of a medium or psychic being misled by an evil spirit(s), and thereby also seriously misleading the persons involved. The demons prowl about the world seeking to deceive and ruin souls and neglecting this fact is potentially catastrophic to one's soul. And then too there are of course those psychics and mediums who are complete frauds and who willfully deceive for monetary profit. 

Also, persons who actively seek out messages from the dead through channelling sessions with mediums and those who seek the advice of psychics run the possible risk of sin themselves by patronising and encouraging the act of conjuring of spirits invoked by mediums and psychics, along with also running the very obvious risk of being deceived, even by the most well meaning and sincere medium or psychic, because of the very nature of the sin of necromancy. Therefore, all persons should avoid seeking personal sessions with mediums and psychics.

But then what about the large "group reading" events?
Given what has been stated above, the popular "group" readings that Theresa and other mediums often host are also very much a of a great concern as the personal readings, and such events should also be avoided, because while they seem to be similar to the spontaneous "stranger on the street" type of events--the big difference is that the stranger on the street is not being charged for the alleged message, while the participants in the large group events pay a significant ticket fee, and also even more importantly Theresa and other mediums at such events are actively seeking to channel spirits for those present.

Finally, as to whether it is dangerous for one's soul to simply watch a television show such as "Long Island Medium". -Obviously I am not a priest or theologian so I personally cannot answer this question from a authoritative position, however I think that in light of the Biblical prohibitions in regards to necromancy as stated above, and in addition considering the statements in the Catechism of the Catholic church pertaining to mediums, psychics, channelers etc. it is readily apparent that all such interactions should be avoided, given the grave spiritual dangers involved.

Some may argue "Well, what about all of the readings by Theresa on "Long Island Medium" that are very inspirational and edifying?", and then too there is without a doubt some entertainment value also, given Theresa's affable personality, and also that of her family who frequently appears on the show. Also, the inspirational subject of life after death is at the center of the show, and over and over again the viewer is presented with strong evidence of the ongoing bond of love and concern that exists between the living and the deceased, which in itself is very consoling. On the surface, these are good things, but nevertheless we must consider first and foremost the Biblical prohibitions in regards to channelling spirits and also the important question at the heart of the whole matter--from exactly what "spirit" does Theresa and other mediums get their information and enlightenment from? Is it in fact not only possible but quite likely that such spirit(s) are not deceased loved ones but are in fact evil spirits masquerading and feigning to be the beloved souls of the departed? For the Scriptures themselves warn us to be on our guard because "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light".  [2 Corinthians 11:14].  In fact some of the greatest Saints of modern times have often been approached by demons in various disguises all in an effort to subtly (or sometimes no so subtlety!) deceive them--in fact, for those interested  I have written an article about this entitled "A battle for souls -Attacks of the demons against modern day Mystics"   

In conclusion, while I personally find Mrs. Theresa Caputo to be very kind and loving person who is very sincere in her desire to help others, this does not however mean that she may not be sincerely at fault in the manner in which she uses her alleged gift at times, particularly during personal sessions where specific spirits of the dead (ie- the clients family members and friends) are being sought and channeled, and the person(s) involved are being charged a fee.

A simple way to "Test the Spirits" and "Spirit Guides"
The extraordinary mystic St Gemma Galgani used a very simple, yet very effective way to determine the authenticity of her heavenly "visitors". She was forced to do this because early on the demons were often attempting to appear to her as Angels, and even Jesus, in an attempt to decieve her. On one occasion, a demon even appeared to her as her priest-confessor whom Gemma had known since childhood, and he appeared in a form so authentic, Gemma did not realise it was actually a demon until speaking with him for awhile.

Fortunately Gemma's spiritual director, Father Germanus C.P., a very wise older priest who had been educated in various aspects of mystical phenomenon told her how to easily and accurately test the Spirits: When an apparent "heavenly" spirit would appear before her, he told her to immediately say: "Blessed be Jesus and Mary!"   If the spirit was sent or given permission from God, the spirit would always reply back to her with the same exclamation "Blessed be Jesus and Mary!"
If however the spirit was not of God, it would either not reply to her exclamation, or it would say simply "Blessed be!", the simple reason being that demons will never utter the holy Names of Jesus and Mary with devotion. With this, St Gemma was then always able to immediately identify the authenticity of her "visitors."

Why bother with all this "Jesus stuff" if all of my deceased relatives are happy and in the light?
The primary objective of the demons is to deceive and to tempt. If the demons can convince you that all of your deceased relatives are "very happy" and "in the light", what need is there then of the Gospel message of repentance for sin? Why then bother with going to Church and all of the "Jesus stuff" and the need for repentance and the forgiveness of sins? What need is there then of even loving and praying to God, if even your "Uncle Fester", the blasphemous domestic abuser, is now happy and in the light? Why would one need Jesus and His forgiveness and mercy?
-There we have the primary nature of the demons seduction.

For a very revealing article on this subject see Beware of psychic mediums because their "Spirit guides" are almost always demonic and evil. 

I welcome everyones thoughts and perspectives so long as they are charitable and respectful, so please feel free to comment below.

Amazing stories from Purgatory and the afterlife

Short stories of Purgatory -A remarkable collection of visits from the souls in Purgatory to various Saints and Mystics.

“I know when you pray for me, and it is the same with all of the other souls here in Purgatory. Very few of us here get any prayers; the majority of us are totally abandoned, with no thought or prayers offered for us from those on earth” (Message from a soul in Purgatory)

Over the years of studying the lives of the mystics of the Church I have amassed a large number of eye witness accounts from various books and manuscripts of the appearances of the souls in Purgatory to a number of persons-- a good number of these accounts are not widely known, so I thought it would make a very interesting study to compile a number of shorter accounts from a variety of sources for those interested in this subject.

St Padre Pio’s visions of the souls in Purgatory

In May, 1922, Padre Pio testified the following to the Bishop of Melfi, His Excellency Alberto Costa and also the superior of the friary, Padre Lorenzo of San Marco along with 5 other friars. One of the five friars, Fra Alberto D' Apolito of San Giovanni Rotondo wrote down the account as follows:

"While in the friary on a winter afternoon after a heavy snowfall, he was sitting by the fireplace one evening in the guest room, absorbed in prayer, when an old man, wearing an old-fashioned cloak still worn by southern Italian peasants at the time, sat down beside him. Concerning this man Pio states: ‘I could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night since all the doors are locked. I questioned him: 'Who are you? What do you want?'

The old man told him, "Padre Pio, I am Pietro Di Mauro, son of Nicola, nicknamed Precoco." He went on to say, "I died in this friary on the 18th of September, 1908, in cell number 4, when it was still a poorhouse. One night, while in bed, I fell asleep with a lighted cigar, which ignited the mattress and I died, suffocated and burned. I am still in Purgatory. I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help."

According to Padre Pio: "After listening to him, I replied, 'Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation.' I arose and accompanied him to the door of the friary, so that he could leave. I did not realize at that moment that the door was closed and locked: I opened it and bade him farewell The moon lit up the square, covered with snow. When I no longer saw him in front of me, I was taken by a sense of fear, and I closed the door, reentered the guest room, and felt faint.”

A few days later, Padre Pio also told the story to Padre Paolino, and the two decided to go to the town hall, where they looked at the vital statistics for the year I908 and found that on September 18 of that year, one Pietro Di Mauro had in fact died of burns and asphyxiation in Room Number 4 at the friary, then used as a home for the homeless.

Around the same time, Padre Pio told Fra Alberto of another apparition of a soul from Purgatory which also occurred around the same time. He said:

One evening, when I was absorbed in prayer in the choir of the little church I was shaken and disturbed by the sound of footsteps, and candles and flower vases being moved on the main altar. Thinking that someone must be there, I called out, "Who is it?"

No one answered. Returning to prayer, I was again disturbed by the same noises. In fact, this time I had the impression that one of the candles, which was in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace, had fallen. Wanting to see what was happening on the altar, I stood up, went close to the grate and saw, in the shadow of the light of the Tabernacle lamp, a young confrere doing some cleaning. I yelled out, "What are you doing in the dark?" The little friar answered, "I am cleaning."

"You clean in the dark?" I asked. "Who are you?"

The little friar said, ‘I am a Capuchin novice, who spends his time of Purgatory here. I am in need of prayers.’ and then he disappeared,"

Padre Pio stated that he immediately began praying for him as requested, and it is not known if he had any further dealings with this particular soul. However, in regards souls in Purgatory it is very interesting to note that later in life Padre Pio once said that ‘As many souls of the dead come up this road [to the monastery] as that of the souls of the living.” Without a doubt, many souls from Purgatory visited Padre Pio seeking his prayers, sacrifices and sufferings to obtain their release.

From the manuscript of Sister M. de L.C., written from 1874-1890

To get an idea of how Purgatory is arranged, we can get a good glimpse of it from a nun from France who had died on February 22, 1871 at the age of 36, and 2-1/2 years later (in November 1873) she began appearing from Purgatory to a fellow nun in her convent, named Sister M. de L.C (name kept anonymous in the manuscript to protect the nuns identity, as the manuscript was published while the nun was still living) as related in the booklet “An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory” published by The Reparation Society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Inc., 2002:

“I can tell you about the different degrees of Purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great Purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, it is like a temporary hell, and here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with this difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us.

Next to these come the souls, who though they did not com¬mit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God. They did not fulfill their Easter duties and were also converted at the point of death. Many were unable to receive Holy Communion. They are in Purgatory for the long years of indifference. They suffer unheard of pains and are abandoned either without prayers or if they are said for them, they are not allowed to profit by them. There are in this stage of Purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instill the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care. I was in this stage of Purgatory.

In the second Purgatory are the souls of those who died with venial sins not fully expiated before death, or with mortal sins that have been forgiven but for which they have not made entire satisfaction to the Divine Justice. In this part of Purgatory, there are also different degrees according to the merits of each soul.

Thus the Purgatory of the consecrated souls or of those who have received more abundant graces, is longer and far more painful than that of ordinary people of the world.

Lastly, there is the Purgatory of desire which is called the Threshold. Very few escape this. To avoid it altogether, one must ardently desire Heaven and the vision of God. That is rare, rarer than people think, because even pious people are afraid of God and have not, therefore, a sufficiently strong desire of going to Heaven. This Purgatory has its very painful martyrdom like the others. The deprivation of the sight of our loving Jesus adds to the intense suffering.”

Another explanation of the levels in Purgatory from this same book:

Retreat, August 1878: “Great sinners who were indifferent towards God, and religious who were not what they should have been are in the lowest stage of Purgatory. While they are there [in the lowest realms of Purgatory], the prayers offered up for them are not applied to them. Because they have ignored God during their life, He now in His turn leaves them abandoned [without the aid of the prayers of others] in order that they may repair their neglectful and worthless lives. While on earth one truly cannot picture or imagine what God really is, but we (in Purgatory) know and understand Him for what He is, because our souls are freed from all the ties that fettered them and prevented them from realizing the holiness and majesty of God and His great mercy. We are martyrs, consumed as it were by love. An irresistible force draws us towards God who is our center, but at the same time another force thrusts us back to our place of expiation.

We are in the state of being unable to satisfy our longings. Oh, what a suffering that is, but we desire it and there is no murmuring against God here. We desire only what God wants. You on earth, however, cannot possibly understand what we have to endure. I am much relieved as I am no longer in the fire. I have now only the insatiable desire to see God, a suffering cruel enough indeed, but I feel that the end of my exile is at hand and that I am soon to leave this place where I long for God with all my heart. I know it well, I feel more at ease, but I cannot tell you the day or the hour of my release. God alone knows that. It may be that I have still many years of longing for Heaven. Continue to pray; I will repay you later on, though I do pray a great deal for you now.”

Why is it that I pray for you with less fervor than I pray for others and that often I forget to recommend you?

Do not trouble yourself about that. It is a punishment for me.

Even if you prayed more I should not be any the more relieved. God wills it thus. If He wants you to pray more He will inspire you to do so. I repeat again, do not be worried about me. You will never see me in my sufferings. Later on, when your soul is stronger, you will see souls in Purgatory and very awful ones, but let this not frighten you. God will then give you the necessary courage and all that you need to accomplish His holy will.

Is this not a punishment?

No, certainly not, I am here for my relief and for your sanctification. If you would but pay a little more attention to what I say.

That is true but these happenings are so extraordinary that I do not know what to make of them; it is not an ordinary thing to hear you in this way.

I understand well your difficulty and I am aware of your sufferings on this account. However, if God wishes it and it relieves me, you will have pity on me, will you not? When I am released you will see that I will do far more for you than you have ever done for me. I already pray much for you.

Where is Sister --?

In the lowest Purgatory, where she receives no benefit from anyone's prayers. God is often displeased, if one may speak thus, when many religious come to die, because He has called these souls to Himself that they might serve Him faithfully on earth and go straight to Heaven at the moment of death, but because of their infidelity, they have to stay long in Purgatory - far longer than people in the world who have not had so many graces.

1879, Retreat in September. We see St. Michael as we see the angels. He has no body. He comes to get the souls that have finished their purification. It is he who conducts them to Heaven. He is among the Seraphim as Monsignor said. He is the highest angel in Heaven. Our own Guardian Angels come to see us but St. Michael is far more beautiful than they are. As to the Blessed Virgin, we see her in the body. She comes to Purgatory on her feasts and she goes back to Heaven with many souls. While she is with us we do not suffer. St. Michael accompanies her. When he comes alone, we suffer as usual. When I spoke to you of the great and the second Purgatory, it was to try to make you understand that there are different stages in Purgatory. Thus I call that stage of Purgatory “great” or “worst” where the most guilty souls are, and where I stayed for two years without being able to give a sign of the torments I was suffering. The year when you heard me groaning, when I began to speak to you, I was still in the same place.

In the second Purgatory, which is still Purgatory but very different from the first, one suffers a great deal, but less than in the great place of expiation. Then there is a third stage, which is the Purgatory of desire, where there is no fire. The souls who did not desire Heaven ardently enough, who did not love God sufficiently, are there. It is there that I am at this moment. Further, in these three parts of Purgatory, there are many degrees of variation. Little by little, as the soul becomes purified, her sufferings are changed.

You sometimes say to me that the perfecting of a soul is a long process and you are also astonished that after so many prayers, I am so long deprived of the sight of God. Alas, the perfecting of a soul does not take any less time in Purgatory than upon earth. There are a number of souls, but they are very few, who have only a few venial sins to expiate. These do not stay long in Purgatory. A few well-said prayers, a few sacrifices soon deliver them. But when there are souls like mine - and that is nearly all whose lives have been so empty and who paid little or no attention to their salvation - then their whole life has to be begun over again in this place of expiation. The soul has to perfect itself and love and desire Him, whom it did not love sufficiently on earth. This is the reason why the deliverance of some souls is delayed. God has given me a very great grace in allowing me to ask for prayers. I did not deserve it, but without this I would have remained like most of those here, for years and years more.”

The immense power of the Mass for the souls in Purgatory

Next, from the excellent book “Purgatory –Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Father F.X. Schouppe, S.J., Tan Books, 1986 we read the following accounts which highlight the power and importance of offering holy Masses for the departed. The following is a sincere testimony from the person who experienced several visits from a soul in purgatory, and thus she provides a detailed and frank eye-witness account with regard to the facts:

On October 13, 1849, there died at the age of fifty-two, in the parish of Ardoye, in Flanders, a woman named Eugenie Van de Kerckove, whose husband, John Wybo, was a farmer. She was a pious and charitable woman who generously gave to charity in proportionate to her means. She had, to the end of her life, a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and abstained from meat in her honor on the Friday and Saturday of each week. Although her conduct was not free from certain faults, she otherwise led a exemplary and edifying life.

Eugenie had a servant named Barbara Vennecke, aged twenty-eight, who was known as a virtuous and devoted girl, and who had assisted her mistress in her last sickness, and after Eugenie’s death, she continued to serve her master, John Wybo, the widower of Eugenie.

About three weeks after her death, the deceased appeared to her servant under circumstances which we will now relate. It was in the middle of the night; Barbara slept soundly, when she heard herself called distinctly three times by her name. She awoke with a start, and saw Eugenie before her, sitting on the side of her bed, clad in a working dress, consisting of a skirt and short jacket. At this remarkable sight, Barbara was seized with astonishment. The apparition spoke to her: “Barbara," she said, simply pronouncing her name. “What do you desire, Eugenie?" replied the servant.

Power of the Mass for souls in Purgatory
‘Please take," said the mistress, “the little rake which I often told you to put in its place; stir the heap of sand in the little room; you know to which one I refer. You will find there 500 franks; use it to have Masses said, two francs for each Mass, for my intention, for I am still suffering." “I will do so, Eugenie," replied Barbara, and at the same moment the apparition vanished. After awhile she fell asleep again, and reposed quietly until morning:

On awaking, Barbara thought that maybe it was all just a dream, but yet she had been so deeply impressed, so wide awake, she had seen her old mistress in a form so distinct, so full of life and she had received from her lips such precise directions, that she could not help saying, “This cannot have been a dream. I saw my mistress in person; she presented herself to my eyes and she surely spoke to me. It is no dream, but a reality."

She therefore immediately went and took the rake as directed, stirred the sand, and drew out a purse containing the sum of five hundred francs.

In such strange and extraordinary circumstances the good girl thought it her duty to seek the advice of her pastor before spending the 500 francs on having Masses said, and went to relate to him all that had happened. The venerable Abbe R., then parish priest of Ardoye, replied that the Masses asked by the departed soul absolutely must be celebrated, but, in order to dispose of the sum of money, the consent of the husband, John Wybo, was necessary, since the money was found in his house. The latter willingly consented that the money should be employed for so holy a purpose, and the Masses were celebrated, being given two francs for each Mass.

We call attention to the circumstance of the Mass donations, because it corresponded with the pious custom of the deceased. The fee for a Mass fixed by the diocese at that time was a franc and a half, but during her lifetime Eugenie-through consideration and charity for the clergy, many of whom were quite poor- always gave two francs for each Mass that she made offerings for. Thus the extra 1/2 a frank Mass offering that she normally made was an act of charity and additional financial support for the priests who celebrated them.

Two months after the first apparition, while Masses were still being said for Eugenie’s intentions, Barbara was again awakened during the night. This time her chamber was illuminated with a bright light, and her mistress appeared before her with a radiant smile, beautiful and fresh in appearance as in the days of her youth, and was dressed in a robe of dazzling whiteness—“Barbara," she said in a clear voice, “I thank you! For I am now delivered from the place of purification.' Saying these words, she disappeared, and the chamber became dark as before.

The servant, amazed at what she had just seen, was full of joy, and she soon spread the remarkable story to everyone about the town . This apparition made the most lively impression upon her mind, and she preserves to this day the most consoling remembrance of it. It is from her that we have these details, through the favor of the venerable Abbe L., who was curate at Ardoye when these facts occurred.

This is but one of the many stories in regards to the power and efficacy of the Holy Mass wherein the Son of God Himself offers Himself upon the altar for the forgiveness of our sins, for it is a fact that of all that we can do in favor of the souls in Purgatory, there is nothing more powerful and precious than the offering of immolation of our Divine Saviour upon the altar. Besides being the express doctrine of the Church as manifested in her Councils, there are many miraculous facts, properly authenticated, which leave no room for doubt in regard to this point.

In evidence to this we now provide another incident, related by the historian Ferdinand of Castile. From 1324-1327 there was at Cologne two Dominican Religious of distinguished talent, one of whom was Blessed Henry Suso (1295-1366). They shared the same studies, the same kind of life, and above all the same desire for sanctity, which had caused them to form an close friendship.

When they had finished their studies, seeing that they were about to be separated to return each one to his own convent, they agreed and promised one another that the first of the two who should die should be assisted by the other for a whole year by the celebration of two Masses each week--on Monday a Mass of Requiem, as was customary, and on Friday that of the Passion, in so far as the Rubrics would permit. They promised each other that they would do this, gave each other the kiss of peace, and left Cologne.

For several years they both continued to serve God with the most edifying fervor. The priest religious whose name is not mentioned was the first to be called away, and Father Suso received the news with sentiments of resignation to the Divine will. As to the contract they had made, time had caused him to forget it. However, he prayed much for his friend, imposing new penances upon himself and many other good works, but he did not think of offering the Masses which he had promised a number of years previously.

One morning, while meditating in retirement in the chapel, he suddenly saw appear before him the soul of his departed friend, who, regarding him with tenderness, reproached him with having been unfaithful to his word from which he had a perfect right to rely upon with confidence. Blessed Suso, surprised, excused his forgetfulness by relating the many prayers and mortifications which he had offered, and still continued to offer, for his friend, whose salvation was as dear to him as his own.

"Is it possible, my dear brother;' he added, "that so many prayers and good works which I have offered to God do not suffice for you?" "Oh no," dear brother, replied the suffering soul, "these are not yet sufficient. It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that is needed to extinguish the flames by which I am consumed; it is the Holy Sacrifice which will deliver me from these frightful torments. I implore you to keep your word, and refuse me not that which in justice you owe me."

Blessed Suso hastened to respond to the appeal of the suffering soul; he contacted as many priests as possible and urged them to say Masses for his friends intentions and, to repair his fault, he celebrated, and caused to be celebrated, a large number of Masses that very same day. On the following day several priests, at the request of Father Suso, united with him in offering the Holy Sacrifice for the deceased, and he continued his act of charity for several days.

After a short time the priest friend of Suso again appeared to him, but now in a very different condition; his countenance was joyful, and he was surrounded with beautiful light. "Thanks be to you, my dear friend” he said “behold, by the Blood of my Saviour I am delivered from my sufferings. I am now going to Heaven to contemplate Him whom we so often adored together under the Eucharistic veil."

Afterwards, Blessed Suso prostrated himself to ‘thank the God of infinite mercy, because he now understood more than ever the inestimable value of the Mass.’

Eugenie von der Leyen
Modern apparitions to Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929)

As to Saints and Blesseds, so far we have shared stories from St Padre Pio and Blessed Henry Suso. But there are many more canonized Saints who have been great helpers of the suffering souls. The most well known and recognized are St John Macias (who was known to have released literally thousands of souls from Purgatory during his holy lifetime), St. Augustine, St. Dominic, St. Francis Xavier, St. Victor, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Nicolas of Tolentino, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gregory the Great, St. Odilon of Cluny, St. Francesca Romana, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Ambrose, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Efraim, St. Peter Damian, St. Francis de Sales, St. Catherine of Genoa, and in modern times the recently canonized saints Gemma Galgani, St. Padre Pio, and St Faustina Kowalska, to name but a few.

Since many of the stories of Purgatory from the above mentioned Saints are well known, the emphasis here is to provide the lesser known and nonetheless fascinating stories from sources and individuals not widely known or read, because in His infinite mercy, history is full of “everyday” persons whom on occasion God has permitted to assist the souls in Purgatory. I will say however that the one notable thing about such occurrences is that seers of souls from Purgatory are often reported to be especially good and pious persons, which is logical, for God permits a soul to appear so that it can be released from Purgatory, or at least, that its suffering be greatly lessened, and a pious, compassionate person is more likely to respond to its requests by the offering of fervent sacrifices, sufferings and prayers which are the means which help the poor souls. In other words, such souls are “saintly” persons, without of course ever becoming canonized Saints.

One such soul is Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929) who kept a diary of the appearances of the souls in Purgatory to her. Eugenie was a well educated woman of high German nobility; in fact Eugenie bore the title of princess and lived in the ancestral castle at Waal, Bavaria, Germany. By order of her confessor, she kept diary of her contacts with the poor souls, which after her death was handed over to Bishop Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.

The Shepherd named Fritz –From the diary of Eugenie von der Leyen, 1923.

June 11, 1923. At awakening, a long grayish form over me, completely nebulous; I can't say whether man or woman, but unsympathetic; I am very frightened.

June 14. The phantom was already in my room when I wanted to sleep. Then I said my evening-prayer aloud, during which it came very near to me. If it hadn't been for his arms, it rather would seem a walking tree-trunk. It stayed perhaps twenty minutes, then came back at four o'clock.

June 16. It was very bad. It shook my shoulder. That is a horrible moment. I struck him and said: "You may not touch me!" Whereupon it withdrew in a corner. At my push, I didn't feel a body, it was like a humid, warm towel. I believed I couldn't stand such terror any longer.

June 18. Again this horrible thing; it wanted to clasp my neck. I prayed in fear and took the particle of the Cross [a holy relic she possessed] in my hand. Then it remained with me, staying upright and big before me. It didn't answer questions." then it went out through the door, which it left open.

June 19. I can recognize now that it is a man; he was only there for a short while.

June 21. The horrible man more than an hour during the night, went back and forth continuously. He has disheveled black hair and horrific eyes.

June 22. This man from one o'clock until past five with me, it was very bad. He repeatedly bowed over me and sat down at my bedside. I really wept for fear, then prayed the "hours" so that I didn't need to see him. Then he went again back and forth and moaned horribly. Now it seems to me I must know him, however I cannot find out who it is. I have become very cowardly, for many times it is really a decision for me to go to my room in the evening. Yet ordinarily I am able to fall asleep very well.

June 24. He came back, seized me at my shoulder. I said: "Now tell me what you want and then don't come back."

No answer; he went again through the room a couple of times and then was gone. My rest however was completely destroyed. At six in the morning he came back. In daylight he even looks more horrific, makes a disgusting impression, belongs to the dirtiest category of ghosts who have already come. I said: "Don't disturb me, I want to prepare myself for holy Communion!" Then he drew very near to me and lifted his hands imploringly. I was so sorry for him that I promised him a lot. Then I said: "Can't you speak?" Whereupon he shook his head. "Do you have much to suffer?" Now he moaned terribly. I gave him much holy water" and then he was gone.

June 27. He was there again, in the night. Seems to know me; I racked my brains as to who he might be. He is very unsympathetic.?

June 29. He was again in the room when I went to bed. It could be the murdered shepherd Fritz. I asked him at once, but he didn't react. I prayed with him, during which he fixed his eyes on me so angrily that I was really frightened. I asked him to go and then he went indeed.

June 30. He came very briefly; his moaning waked me up.

July 1. Again, I really believe it is shepherd Fritz. However his face is so black that I have difficulty recognizing him. But figure, nose, and eyes are wholly "he," as I saw him so many times in life.

July 2. He came back, didn't look so terribly wild anymore and stayed not for a long time. I addressed him as "shepherd Fritz," which he apparently found quite natural.

July 3. He came very briefly. I asked: ''Are you the murdered shepherd Fritz?" Then he said distinctly: "Yes!"

July 4. He came to me in the morning, looked sadly at me and went away soon, answered nothing, too.

July 5. Now it struck me that everything about him is clearer. During prayer, he made the Sign of the Cross.

July 6. I am very happy for he can speak now. I asked him: "Why do you always come to me?" He: "Because you have always prayed for me." (That is right, for I had always been sorry for the poor fellow; he always looked so particular, even as a boy.) I: "Then what saved you?" He: "Insight and repentance." I: "Weren't you dead immediately?" He: "No." I: "Will you be released soon?" He: "Not by far." Then I gave him permission to continue coming to me, if it does him well. How remarkable it is, that someone who was so rude in life speaks like that when separated from his body. Now I am not frightened by him anymore, and would like to help him as best I can. How merciful is the good Lord!

July 8. He came very briefly.

July 9. He came at 6:00am and by doing so woke me up. Otherwise I had overslept. I: "Is it so important for you that I go to holy Mass?" He:"That way, you can help me a lot."

July 11. Only came very briefly.

July 12. We prayed together," then I: "Then what do you have to suffer?" He: "I am burning!" Then he came up to me and before I could defend myself, he pressed a finger on my hand. I was frightened so much and it hurt me so much, that I screamed. Now I have a red burn which I hope will heal soon. It is a very strange feeling, to have this visible mark from the other world.

July 24. Shepherd Fritz and the other one came two times in the night, all silent, but [the new one] not very pleasant.

July 29. Nothing special to mention. Now these two are coming every night. The new one looks horrible, while shepherd Fritz becomes ever more bright!!

August 10. Shepherd Fritz drew so near to me again, but looked very friendly. So I said to him, "Don't you have to suffer so much anymore?" He: "No." and I: "Can you pray for me yet?" He: "No." and I: "Where are you then all the time?" He: "In the forlornness." I: "Will you still come often to me?" He: "No." and I: "Why not?" He: "I am not allowed to any more!" and I: "Have I been able to help you?" He: "Yes." Then he was gone….

To close this remarkable account, Father Sebastian Wieser, Eugenie's parish priest and confessor, comments:

“The behavior of this apparition is like the echo of his earthly life. I have known shepherd Fritz well -he was like a "billygoat" in the parish. In him, the greatness of the mercy of God really manifests itself. Rarely did he come to church. He had an only son, who in school became well known for his meanness, falsehood, and deceptions and caused many troubles to his teachers and those in authority over him. When the boy had to be punished at school, the father pulled out all the stops of his indignation over the schoolmaster and priest. I prophesied at that time that someday the father himself would get a beating from this only son!

When this son was seventeen years old and was big and quite strong, he beat his father to death at around midnight .... Nobody knew if Fritz was dead immediately or if he came to for a moment. The latter seems to have been the case. The murderer had knocked him down in the hay-barn and abandoned him to his fate. Only in the morning was the dead man discovered ....On the sixth of July he states that: "…insight and repentance" have saved him from damnation! On the twelfth day of July he says, "I am burning!" and presses a finger on the hand of the princess, which leaves a red burn which I have seen myself.” –Father Sebastian Wieser

Another modern account: St Gemma Galgani obtains the relief of a soul in Purgatory

The final account in this article will go to the webmasters favorite Saint: St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903). It is taken from the excellent book “The Life of St Gemma Galgani” by Venerable Father Germanus Ruoppolo C.P.:

"Gemma knew by Divine inspiration that in the Convent of Passionist Nuns at Corneto [Italy] there was a Religious Sister very dear to God who was near death. She asked me about it, and on my answering that it was so, she at once began to implore of Jesus to make that particular Religious expiate all her faults on her deathbed, so that breathing her last she might enter Paradise at once. Her prayer, at least in part, was heard. The Sister suffered greatly and died in a few months. Gemma told those in her home of it in order that they might pray for the deceased, and she gave her name, Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus, as she was not known in Lucca. After her death, this soul appeared to her full of sorrow, imploring her help as she was undergoing great torments in Purgatory for certain defects.

Nothing more was needed to set all the fibers of Gemma's heart in motion. From that moment she gave herself no rest: she fervently offered prayers, tears and loving petitions to Our Lord.

"Jesus, save her," she was overheard to exclaim. "Jesus, take Maria Teresa to Paradise without delay. She is a soul that is most dear to Thee. Let me suffer much for her; I want her to be in heaven."

And during this time Gemma writes the following in her Diary:

"It was around 9:30 and I was reading; all of a sudden I am shaken by a hand resting gently on my left shoulder. I turn in fright; I was afraid and tried to call out, but I was held back. I turned and saw a person dressed in white; I recognized it was a woman; I looked and her expression assured me I had nothing to fear: "Gemma," she said after some moments, "do you know me?" I said no, because that was the truth; she responded: "I am Mother Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus: I thank you so very much for the great concern you have shown me because soon I shall be able to attain my eternal happiness."

The extraordinary mystic, St Gemma Galgani

All this happened while I was awake and fully aware of myself. Then she added: "Continue still, because I still have a few days of suffering." And in so saying she caressed me and then went away. Her countenance, I must say, inspired much confidence in me. From that hour I redoubled my prayers for her soul, so that soon she should reach her objective; but my prayers are too weak; how I wish that for the souls in Purgatory my prayers should have the strength of the saints'."

And the dear victim of expiation suffered without ceasing for sixteen days, at the end of which God was pleased to accept her sacrifice and to release that soul. This is how Gemma herself told me of it:

“Toward half-past one it seemed to me that the Blessed Mother herself came to tell me that the holy hour I was making was drawing to an end. Then almost immediately I thought I saw Sr. Maria Teresa coming toward me clad as a Passionist, accompanied by her Guardian Angel and by Jesus. Oh, how she was changed since the day I first saw her! Smiling, she drew close to me and said: "I am truly happy, and I go to enjoy my Jesus forever." She thanked me again. Then she made sign of bidding me good-bye with her hand, several times, and with Jesus and her Guardian Angel she flew to Heaven. It was about half-past two o'clock in the morning.”

Those interested in the extraordinary life of St Gemma Galgani can visit the webmasters website here.

In closing, I would like to bring forth one final comment concerning where it is has been revealed by at least one mystic that the souls in the lowest level of Purgatory are not allowed to receive any benefit from prayers and offerings made to them by people here on earth. While it may very well be that the souls in the lowest part of purgatory do not receive any relief from our prayer until they reach the next highest level, but that is not to say that they do not receive any benefit.  While it is believed that for all souls in purgatory, except for the ones in the lowest level, when we pray for them they receive a two-fold grace--firstly, they receive a lessening of some of their time they were assigned to be in purgatory (kind of like lessening the sentence of a prisoner here on earth) and then too they also receive a certain relief from the pain of the purification that they are experiencing (kind of like giving a glass of water to someone who is very thirsty). So allegedly according to at least one mystic, the souls in the lowest level of purgatory do not receive the second grace I just mentioned, only the first. But once they elevate to the next higher region of purgatory, they would receive both graces from our prayers.

Natuzza Evolo & the stigmatic blood writings -Hemography

Blood writings from the stigmata of Natuzza Evolo (1924-2009)

-A fascinating investigation into the phenomenon of hemography in the life of the stigmatic and mystic Natuzza Evolo.

By: Glenn Dallaire

Hemography is the process whereby blood from the stigmata or bloody sweat is miraculously formed into christian writing, images, and symbols upon hankerchiefs, bandages etc., presumably through Divine intervention. As blood from a mystic bearing the stigmata is symbolic of Jesus' Passion, the images, writings and symbols themselves often symbolise the Passion and other mysteries of the christian faith, especially also the Eucharist, as seen in the accompanying photographs in this article.

At the beginning of this investigation I must confess that I was very skeptical towards this phenomenon because I have only found its presence in the lives of two alleged mystics, Natuzza Evolo and Blessed Elena Aiello, and in the latter it appears to have only occurred on one occasion, when after some blood from her stigmata accidentally splattered onto the wall next to her bed, a miraculous image of Jesus suddenly appeared on the wall, formed from the blood itself, and remained there for many months.

For sure, the authenticity of the hemographic phenomenon cannot be easily dismissed or discounted simply because this particular alleged mystical phenomenon cannot be documented in a wide range of persons, especially since in the case of Natuzza, we have hemographies occurring on literally many hundreds of occasions over the course of decades, and witnessed by a variety of scientific, medical and religious professionals, along with countless laypersons. Then too, in Natuzza we have a person of our modern age (died 2009) who has been studied and scrutinized by countless persons over the course of literally 75 years for the investigation of the variety of mystical phenomena which she is said to posess, yet she remains quite highly regarded amongst the Italian people from all spectrums of society.

Much of the scientific and medical study of Natuzza’s mystical phenomenon (stigmata, bilocation, interaction with the souls in purgatory etc.) is documented in the book “Natuzza of Paravati” by Dr. Valerio Marinelli, published by the Foundation Cuore Immacolato Di Mari Rifugio Delle Anime, -English translation, Vol. 1, 2003.

There is also an excellent scientific study available on the internet entitled “A Report on the Case Investigation of Natuzza Evolo” by Michael J. Nanko of the Southern California Society for Psychical Research (S.C.S.P.R.)

Position of the Catholic church
Although the Catholic Church has not made any pronouncements concerning her sanctity or the alleged mystical phenomena that occurred in her life, for most of her lifetime she had the strong support of her successive local Bishops, and at her death on the Feast of All Saints day (Nov. 1, 2009) there were six Italian bishops and more than 100 priests who concelebrated her funeral, along with 30,000 mourners from Italy and abroad. "For us she is already a saint, as she is in paradise," said Bishop Luigi Renzo of Mileto in his homily. And he continued “I am asked what the Church thinks of Mama Natuzza and the answer is in the participation in this ceremony of so many brother bishops and priests". See Zenit News article here.

Certainly all noteworthy persons have their detractors, however the above list of facts should give ample evidence to the esteem that is held in majority by the Italian clergy, laity and scientific community for the person of Natuzza Evolo.

A brief biography of Natuzza Evolo
Before we begin our study of the hemographic phenomenon in the life of Natuzza Evolo, it would be beneficial to give a brief summary of her holy life. Fortunata (nicknamed "Natuzza") Evolo was born on August 23, 1924 in Paravati, a small town near Mileto Italy, and she has remained in the town of Paravati all of her life.

Her father, Fortunato, emigrated to Argentina to look for work a few months before Natuzza's birth and sadly the family never saw him again. Therefore Natuzza's mother, Maria Angela Valente was therefore obligated to work to feed the family, and so at a tender age Natuzza sought to help her mother and brothers and was therefore unable to go to school, and so it was that she never learned to read or write. And this fact actually makes for an interesting addendum to the phenomenon of the stigmatic blood writing that is found in her life. In 1944 Natuzza married, a carpenter named Pasquale Nicolace, and together they had five children.

On May 13, 1987, with permission of Monsignor Domenico Cortese, the Bishop of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea, Natuzza felt inspired by heaven to form an association called "Fondazione Cuore Immacolato di Maria Rifugio delle Anime" ("Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Souls Foundation." The Foundation was later formally approved by the Bishop.

The foundation currently houses a chapel where Natuzza's remains are kept. As of this writing (2012), construction is well underway for a Church and retreat center as purportedly requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary to Natuzza. Those interested may see Foundation website here.

Mystical phenomenon
At age 14 in 1938, Natuzza was hired as a servant for the family of a lawyer named Silvio Colloca. It was here that her mystical experiences began to be noticed and documented by other persons. The first incident was when Mrs. Colloca and Natuzza were walking in the countryside when Mrs. Colloca noticed blood coming from one of Natuzza's feet. Doctors Domenico and Giuseppe Naccari examined Natuzza and they documented a “significant perspiration of blood in the upper region of her right foot-- the cause of which is unknown.”

This incident at age 14 was the beginning of what would become a lifetime of mystical phenomenon including the stigmata or “wounds of Jesus” on her hands, feet, side and shoulder, along with bloody sweats or “transudations”, numerous visions of Jesus, Mary and the Saints, along with countless visions of the dead (primarily the souls in purgatory), and many reported instances of bilocation. Many of these mystical graces are documented in the aforementioned book “Natuzza of Paravati” by Valerio Martinelli.

The blood writings (Hemography) which came forth from the stigmata and bloody sweats of Natuzza
We will now begin our study of the hemographic writings in the life of Natuzza. This mystical phenomenon reportedly first began in 1940 at age 16, and it continued in various degrees until her death on the feast of All Saints Day, November 1, 2009. The hemographies take place when her stigmata actively bleeds or when she sweats blood from various parts of her body (transudation), which is often during Lent and always on Good Friday. The phenomenon occurs when a handkerchief, bandage or garment touches the actively bleeding stigmatic wounds or bloody sweat.

The writings and the symbols of the hemographies are always of a Christian nature; never have there been any symbols, images or words that did not have a Christian meaning. Without a doubt this phenomena is not subject to Natuzza’s own will, as many times people have approached her requesting a blood writing but it does not take place, even after numerous requests and attempts.

Over the course of close to 70 years there is believed to be well over a thousand hemographies, but an exact figure is unknown. In his aforementioned book “Natuzza of Paravati”, Dr. Valerio Marinelli examined more than 100 hemographies, interviewing the persons involved and including many photographs of the haemographies in his book. The testimonies below are taken from this book.

Testimony of Mrs. Maria Mantelli, School teacher, second Friday in Lent, 1972:
“My cousin Rosetta Ursetta, Natuzza and I had arranged to hear Mass together in the church “del Crocifisso degli Angeli” in Vebo Valentia, where the devotion to Friday's in Lent is devoutly practiced.

It was the second Friday in Lent, 1972. We went to that church together with the nun named Suor Norina, who worked at Cantanzaro Hospital; we heard Mass but Natuzza didn't come. Upon leaving the Church we saw Natuzza was coming together with her husband; she was clearly ill, and her head was covered with a foulard, and she had some difficulty in walking.

She desired to attend the next Mass and we went back into the church with her. At the moment of the Elevation of the Host, I noticed that her face was beaded with blood and I said with fear: «Natuzza!». Then she took a handkerchief and wiped her face and immediately some haemographic drawings formed on it, but unfortu­nately I don't remember them any longer. This handkerchief was then given to Rosetta.

After attending the Mass, we went to Paravati all together; I re­member it was very cold and a stove was switched on. At a certain moment we saw that a wound on her wrist was bleeding; so I took my white handkerchief, and keeping it folded, I put it on that wrist. She kept it there for 20 minutes and then afterwards she gave it back to me. I un­folded it and found a wonderful haemography inside. There was the writing PREGHIERA (prayer) at the top, a big monstrance with the letters IHS and CI on the left, a crown of thorns below and on the right, twelve figures representing mankind.

These figures appear to be men, women, children, priests in front of Christ who held his arms open, on the left there was the figure of Our Lady watching them. Just closer to Our Lord we can also distinguish a Saint, with an aureole. If we watch the figure of Christ carefully, we can easily see that it is made of two images, one laid upon the other; the first is Christ's image with His Head leaning on the cross, and just behind there is the figure of God, the Father.

Natuzza told me I should hold this handkerchief dear, because only one other like it had been produced through her, for Father Pio. [St. Padre Pio -editor]

I can definitely assure you about the authenticity of this phenome­non; that handkerchief was mine, I had just taken it out of my bag and, much more than this, the phenomenon had taken place under my own eyes. Moreover it had appeared in the middle of the folded handkerchief, per­fectly traced, with no blood stains around; I really can't explain that!

I remember another occasion on which I saw another similar phenome­non. It was Lent and I was at Natuzza's together with my mother and Rosetta Ursetta. As my mother desired a haemography, I asked Natuz­za to content her. As soon as Natuzza put a gauze on her wrist, the blood drew an image of the thorn crown and a host immediately."

Additionally it should be noted that Mrs. Rosetta Ursetta, an eye-witness, has fully confirmed Mrs. Man­telli's testimony above.

Mrs. Maria Mantelli, teacher, Lent 1974/1975
"During Lent in 1974 or 1975 -I don't remember which year exact­ly - I drove with Rosetta Ursetta and Natuzza from Catanzaro to Paravati. It was early in the afternoon; since Natuzza was sitting near me, I could easily notice that her wounds were visible but not open. I gave her a handkerchief of mine and asked if she could put it on her wrist. When we arrived at Paravati, she gave it back to me.

When we arrived at Paravati, she gave it back to me. Upon unfolding, the handkerchief showed drawings in the middle: there was a thorn crown, a heart made up of several little flames, the Host with the writing 'IHS' inside and a unknown figure".

Giuseppina Purrone, March 19, 1969
"It was Saint Joseph's Feastday. I had gone to visit Natuzza together with my son, Antonio, who was a student at Mileto seminary. Natuzza was suffering because of the wounds she had on her wrists, when all at once she fainted in a fit of pain.

Soon afterwards she recovered her senses and we helped her to sit on a chest. We noticed that a wrist of hers, I believe the left one, was bleeding. Around it there was a white gauze which became partly red­ in color; in fact the image of a thorn crown and a host with the letters 'IHS' had appeared inside. We ourselves removed the little gauze from her wrist and I still keep it".

Antonio, Mrs. Purrone's son, who was 12 years old at that time, told me he had got really frightened in seeing all that and added he was completely certain about the colour of the gauze which, from white, turned into red.

Anna Chimirri, Holy Week, 1969
"Ten years ago, during the Holy Week, my mother, my sister Carmelina, the chemist Amalia Giampa together with me and some other people decided to go to Natuzza in the afternoon.

We found her in a painful situation; she had some sore wounds on her wrists. We noticed they were wrapped in some rather rough band­ages, which had been cut away from sheets; we all thought she would have suffered less if her wrists had been wrapped in softer bandages. I personally went to the pharmacy to get some bandages and gauzes. I then unwrapped the ones around her wrists, and I saw there were no haemographic drawings, then I put the new bandages around her wrists and bound up her hand.

While I was taking the other hand, the gauze, that I had put on her wrist jew minutes before, fell on her lap with the part which had been in contact with Natuzza's wound facing up­wards towards us. So we instantly all saw that the blood had formed the drawing of a host with the letters 'IHS' inside.

It was, I want to say that again, the steril­ized gauze I had just bought and personally put on her wrist and I affirm that there were no other gauzes under the old bandages".

This testimony was also confirmed by Anna's mother, Mrs Nerina Chimirri, and also by the pharmacist, Amalia Giampa.

Mrs. Giovanna De Chiara, teacher, Easter Monday 1975
Natuzza's was at my home in Catanzaro; there were also my sis­ters Nella Perrelli and Rosetta Ursetta. At a certain moment, we noticed that her wrist was bleeding, so we asked her to produce a haemography for our nephew, Andrea Perrelli.

Natuzza put a white handkerchief that I had given her before, on that wrist. She kept it there for ten or fifteen minutes then, she gave it to me. There were only some blood-stains on it; so I put it on the table and my sisters and I could easily see that the blood was moving by itself, writing letter by letter «S. Valeriano Martire». Then the rest of the blood mixed up and formed the figure of a Saint which we of course attributed to Saint Valeriano.

On this handkerchief there are also the figure of Our Lady hold­ing the Rosary, Jesus' Heart pierced through by a sword, the Host with IHS inside and a thorn crown.
I can't say if these figures appeared contemporaneously or before or soon after the writing, because our attention had been completely caught by the blood moving and writing by itself.

When we read the name appeared on the handkerchief, Natuzza said aloud: «But who is this Saint?...Does he exist?".

Here Dr. Valerio Marinelli goes onto explain in his book: "Andrea Perrelli, the person to whom that haemography had to be given, told me that he had gone to Verona in the same year. There he had visited the Church of Fathers Pellegrini in order to see a statue representing Saint Valeriano, which, according to some people, seemed to have shed tears some time before. Moreover he told me that some of the Pellegrini Fathers, during a pilgrimage in Rome on the oc­casion of a Holy Year, found an urn in a church with this inscription on it: «The bones of S. Valeriano». On seeing that - he went on saying - they had become really sorry because they themselves kept a case containing S. Valeriano's bones, in Verona.

Once they returned, they prayed to the Saint to make them know something precise about the bones they were saving in that case. When their prayers were over, they felt an intense smell of lilies, even though no flowers were around and, all at once, the stat­ue began shedding tears.

Because of this, Andrea had a really deep devotion for that Saint, but neither Natuzza nor his aunts were aware of this at the time of the haemography."

And so we have been presented with just a small portion of the eyewitness testimonies concerning the stigmatic blood writings that occurred through Natuzza. While these hemographies are perhaps seemingly strange or "odd" to our initial sensibilities, we can see that those who saw them occurring before their eyes were certainly inspired and edified, and also those who received them obviously treasure them as precious relics.

In conclusion one thing is for sure: if this mystical phenomenon is indeed authentic, then the symbolism that is represented through these images made of blood of the stigmata should inspire in us a deeper love, appreciation and devotion for the Passion of Jesus; for it is Jesus Himself in whose Passion the stigmatised mystically represent.

One of the documented hemographies contains a lengthly written prayer devoted to the Infant Jesus. We often see how Jesus chooses the simple, humblest and most childlike persons for His works of love and devotion--and in this case, should it be surprising then that He perhaps chose a woman who never attended school, and who cannot read or write, to manifest this possibility of stigmatic blood writings?

Medjugorje and the Church

Medjugorje and the upcoming judgement of the Church -A reason for concern?
By: Glenn Dallaire

(Before I begin this article I would like to emphatically state that I remain neutral in what concerns the alleged apparitions of Medjugorge. In seeking to obey the Church, while at the same time awaiting the definitive judgment by the Vatican, I do recognise and give assent to the local Bishops opposition to the apparitions, and I also give assent to the 1991 "Zadar" decision from the Commission formed by the Yugoslavian Bishops conference which concluded "non constat de supernaturalitate" [the supernaturality is not proven] .
I do feel very strongly that the local Bishops opposition must be respected, and that it, along with the Zadar decision represents the position of the Church for now, until the official judgement from Rome is promulgated. At the same time it must be understood that Medjugorje has never been officially condemned, and that thusfar the Church has left the faithful free to carefully discern and to come to one's own conclusions concerning the alleged heavenly events that are said to be occurring there. Additionally, it is not in the scope of this article to give an opinion either way as to whether the alleged supernatural events that are said to be occuring in Medjugorje are authentic or fake.

United States Apostolic Nuncio sends letter to all Archdioceses in the USA concerning Medjugorge conferences
At the direction of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine & Faith (CDF), on October 21, 2013, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. has written a letter stating that Catholics “are not permitted” to participate in meetings which take for granted that the supposed Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are credible.
“The Congregation (for the Doctrine of the Faith) has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the 'apparitions' in question, all should accept the declaration … which asserts: 'On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations,'” Archbishop Carlo Vigano wrote in an Oct. 21 letter to the bishops of the U.S., sent to the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted.”
Archbishop Vigano wrote the letter “at the request” of Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

Guidelines but no outright judgement?
-If the Church sees the apparitions as being positive thus far:
Since the alleged apparitions are ongoing, most observers believe that the Pope will not issue an outright decision unless it is negative decision, however if it is decided that things are positive thus far, then it is expected that the Pope will release some additional "guidelines for the faithful" concerning Medjugorje pilgrimages, conferences etc.  

Given the worldwide following and devotion of the apparitions, many in the Church strongly believe that the Vatican needs to come to a clear judgment concerning the authenticity of the events, or at the very least provide some clear guidelines for the sake of the faithful, even though the alleged apparitions are still ongoing. It is a widely accepted conclusion that the decision of the Commission will soon afterwards lead to a decision by the Pope, or perhaps the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

A decision that will be wrought with great consequences
Having said this, there are some who strongly think there is a very serious concern looming with such a decision, regardless of whether it be in support of the supernatural nature of the apparitions and messages, or against them.

Ramifications of a positive decision in favor of the supernatural authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions
Those who follow or have studied Medjugorje know that the the local Ordinary, that is, the local Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, both past and present, have for many years been against the apparitions, and have made many public explanations over the years concerning their opposition to the apparitions and the alleged heavenly messages.

Now, many have remarked that IF the Commission and/or the Pope concludes in favor of the supernatural authenticity of the alleged apparitions, such a decision would directly contradict the opinion of the local Bishop, and also his predecessor, both of whom over the years have continually publicly opposed the alleged apparitions and messages of the Gospa. To my knowledge, the Vatican has never come to a judgment concerning an apparition that has contradicted the opinion of the local Bishop. In fact, normally speaking it is the Ordinary alone, and not the Vatican (or even the Pope), who is the sole judge in matters of private revelation that is occurring within the jurisdiction of his diocese. However in very special cases such as Medjugorje, because of its worldwide significance and following, a regional Commission or even (as presently in this case) a Vatican Commission can be formed to judge the matter for the Church as a whole. So a favorable decision by Rome would contradict the opinion of the local Bishop in a matter that is normally rightfully his alone to judge, as a successor to the apostles.

And then there are the numerous legitimate issues---some call them “red flags”---concerning the apparitions and visionaries at Medjugorje that have been brought forth by not only the local Bishop, but also from various religious and lay persons who have studied and experienced the apparitions firsthand. One can go onto the local Bishops website for an extensive treatment of many of the concerns or red flags that have been raised. Apart from the Bishops opposition, one surprising example of a red flag would be the damaging 3 minute video of Vicka who is caught on camera by Professor Louis Belanger obviously feigning an ecstasy, and then trying to cover up afterwards with an explanation that is, quite honestly, simply fraudulant.

The accusation of "Apparitions on demand"
Another very questionable ongoing practice surrounding the events of Medjugorje that those who are opposed to Medjugorje often criticize is the so called  "apparitions on demand" that (allegedly) occur during the many speaking conferences throughout the world that several of the visionaries have held over the years. Many times the apparition of the Gospa to the visionaries is announced before such events--Here are some very recent examples from three of the alleged seers:.
 "Ivan will have an apparition on apparition hill at 22:00"  (June 17, 2013)
Or again announcing a week beforehand that "Her [Vicka's] apparition will take place in Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation"  (August 20, 2013)
"We find out a day beforehand when and where the apparitions will be" according to Ruth McDonald, one of the residents of the religious commuinity at Caritas of Birmington, Alabama who have hosted Marija on a number of occasions over recent years.(June 23, 2012).
And it was precisely at the site of Caritas of Birmingham that the main promoter allegedly one day declared "Someday Marija will have an apparition at this pine tree. I haven't figured it out yet how I'm going to do it, but I will..." -And so it came to pass....

These are just a few recent examples of such announcements. Understandably many religious and laity have serious reservations and concern in regards to such so called "apparitions on demand".

Ramifications of a proposed negative decision
I think that it is safe to say that the worldwide number of those who follow and support Medjugorje would have to be in the tens of millions, and over the past 30 years there have been many extraordinary and beautiful testimonies of conversion and renewal at Medjugorje. Without a doubt there has been very much good fruit over the years that has come forth from it. But in all truthfulness there nevertheless has been some unfavorable fruit also, most especially the disobedience to some of the directives of the local Bishop, which I will not delve into, because it is beyond the scope of this article.

However the fact remains that those who currently publicly promote the apparitions and messages of Medjugorje do so contrary to directives of the local Bishop, who has asked that the alleged messages of the Gospa not be promoted. In fact, to publicly support Medjugorje one would be openly contradicting the long held opposition and negative opinion of the local Bishop(s), both past and present. But what if the Vatican were to formally decide against the apparitions at Medjugorje---would the millions who currently follow Medjugorje obey the decision of the Church? And here is precisely where I think there is a enormous concern if the Church was to in fact come to a negative decision concerning the apparitions.

Is there a real possibility of a false "Marian” schism?
And here I must now interject my own personal experiences, which have nothing to do with current situation of Medjugorje, at this current moment. A number of years ago I was a member of a large Marian group that was led by a mystic. The movement was eventually first condemned by the local Bishop, and then later by Rome itself. I decided to obey the rightful judgment of the Church, who alone has the authority of Christ to judge such matters. The vast majority of the members however chose to remain in the movement, contrary to the negative judgment of the Church.

Condemned apparitions and disobedience to the Church
And this is not in the least bit an isolated case. We see this happening right at this moment in the USA and abroad with numerous followers of alleged visionaries and apparitions such as Maureen Sweeney-Kyle and the "Holy Love" apparitions, Gianna Talone-Sullivan and "Our Lady of Emmitsburg", Vassula Ryden and "True Life in God", Veronica Lueken at Bayside, NY., Julia Kim and "Our Lady of Naju", Christina Gallagher and the “Queen of Peace” –just to mention a few. All of these have received a negative judgments from the local Bishop, and several of these negative judgments have also been validated, that is, confirmed by the Vatican (which in fact is not necessary under most circumstances, as mentioned earlier).

The fact remains that even after the negative judgment from the local Ordinary and in some cases even with a validation from the Vatican, there are still a very large number of followers in the examples above who continue to support these condemned visionaries and apparitions, despite the Church's negative judgment. Sadly by doing so such persons setup Christ (and the Virgin Mary) against His Church.
And so the question is—what would happen if Medjugorje actually received a negative judgement from the Vatican? Would the majority of the millions of Catholics who are currenly following Medjugorje obey? Or would a negative decision on the part of Rome lead to a sort of false "Marian" apostasy or schism? No one knows what the upcoming decision of the Commission will be, but from the many recent examples above we can see that this is a reasonable and legitimate grave concern.

The example of St John Vianney, the holy 'Cure of Ars"
Within regards to cautious discernment concerning visionaries and apparitions, we can recall how the holy 'Cure of Ars' , St John Vianney, for eight years became very skeptical of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at La Salette prior to the Bishops approval. The apparitions had occurred not far from Ars, and there was an extraordinary amount of interest among the faithful. Because of his reputation for holiness, people would frequently visit him and ask his opinion. He would suddenly get very serious, yet remain silent. Himself a recepient of some extraordinary graces from God, he had met Maximin (one of the visionaries) in 1850, nevertheless he was very cautious and reserved. But he did at least on one occasion voice a certain opposition, which apparently stemmed from his meeting with Maximin, and this 'negative' opinion of the holy Cure spread across the newspapers in France.

While the local Bishop, and later Rome, eventually fully approved the appearences of the Virgin Mary at LaSalette, Saint John Vianney's reservation, I think, is a lesson in not accepting alleged apparitions too quickly; that one should always be prudent and cautious concerning them, until they are approved by the local Bishop (or in the special case of Medjugorje, the possible approval of Rome, in whose judgement we are all awaiting).

It remains for the Church alone to decide as to the authenticity of the alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Medjugorje. I pray that the Holy Spirit may guide the Church in this matter, and may all Catholics give assent to the judgement of the Church, whatever it may be. And may our Blessed Mother cover us under Her mantle, and lead us ever closer to Her beloved Son, Jesus.

-Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen. +
Click here for an article exploring private revelations and mystics & visionaries in the world today.

Additionally, those interested in getting a better understanding on discerning and judging visionaries and apparitions will benefit from this article on judging private revelations and obedience to the Catholic church.

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