Let our heart speak, let's make room to memories
Our Bishop, on the occasion of the feast of Marisa's emission of vows, presented us with some memories, experiences and events of his and Marisa's life, starting from the years before their meeting. Their story is rich of love, sufferings and spirit of service for the salvation of the souls. Now we publish the first part. Then, when the Bishop will present us with more memories, we will keep on telling their story which is a precious treasure for all of us of the community.
On January 31, 1997, after one night full of sufferings and pains, Our Lady arrived, she sat down on Marisa's bed and reminded her some events of her childhood, that we report just like our Mum reminded them: "My dear little Marisa, you were born in June, a so beautiful month because dedicated to my Son Jesus. Since the beginning God has sent some angels to take care of you; you needed so much love and God gave you it through the angels. Then He sent me. Your mum was a simple woman, full of love and she tried to show you it in all ways. Dear little Marisa, God the Father sent me to keep you company, especially in the saddest moments of your childhood and when I tucked the bed-clothes up and gave you the good night kiss. You were a little child, very olive-complexioned, with curly and black hair. You big eyes were full of joy, but already full of sadness. Dear little Marisa, our relationship was so close that one day, while you were playing, your clothes got dirty and not to be reproached, I cleaned them, so that they got even more beautiful.
You did not know me and thought I was a beautiful Lady who helped you much and you thought in your heart: "My mum is beautiful, but this Lady is even more beautiful". The angels, whom you thought were children playing with you, were sent by God the Father and you felt they were very fond of you. Other times you played with the children of the Earth, but it did not last for a long time because God, my All, had set his eyes on you, little Marisa.
On one day, while you were playing with the children, one of them said a bad word that you repeated nearly amused, but I, the beautiful Lady, told you with much tenderness that it was not good and you had to say it also to the other children.
Your first baptismal name had to be Miriam or Maria Laura as your mother wished".
In Rome in front of Marisa's home there were some nuns and when she entered into the church, when she was about eleven, she made a beautiful discovery: seeing an Our Lady's statue she said to herself: "You liken much to my beautiful Lady, but you are more unsightly!".
Our Lady had taught to Marisa to pray and, when she passed before a statue or a picture of Jesus or Our Lady, to say this ejaculatory prayer: "I greet you, Mary, greet Jesus on my behalf, I wait for you in the moment of my death".
Marisa did not know prayers but those taught to her by the beautiful Lady: Angel of God, I love you God, Sweet Heart of my Jesus, Our Father, Glory and Hail Mary, this was the most beautiful one in her opinion.
Marisa says: "I remember that the prayer I liked most was "I love you God", so I could be as happy as the adult girls who got married. The Lady often told me I was a very vivacious and impish child and to make me calm she let me sing with her: "Angel of my God, thank you for your love. When I play, keep awake and sleep you are next to me". The beautiful Lady had spoken to me about Jesus, Son of God and her Son and about the beauty of the cross since I was a child. She also began speaking about the title Mother of the Eucharist".
Then the little Marisa's Calvary began and the beautiful Lady arrived many times a day to help her in everything: "Luckily I had her, otherwise I wouldn't have known what to do with all adult people".
The years of childhood were followed by years of silence, suffering and immolation. Few priests, during the years of adolescence and youth, knew that Marisa saw Our Lady, but none of them was ever present during an apparition. Grandmother Iolanda (Marisa's mother) herself caught Marisa many times kneeling down and looking upwards, but she could not understand what she was doing.
At the age of about twenty, Marisa began the most delicate and painful mission: meeting some priests to which she had to speak about the spiritual condition of their soul, especially if they were not faithful to the vow of chastity.
Few of them accepted this help, the greatest part, by pride, offended her. Some got to slap her and one slapped her so strongly that he even damaged her ear-drum (then the Vicariate suspended this priest).
After twenty-one years old Marisa entered into a religious house in Belgium. She had a strong wish to be a missionary in the heart of Africa, in that big country whose name was Belgian Congo and whose name today is Zaire. An immense and very rich territory, but whose riches, unfortunately, are exploited by the Western countries and not by the native people.
Here community life caused her a great suffering, because the attachment to the rule by the superiors prevailed. As a matter of fact, since she had to acquire some experience, she assisted the sick and the superiors had ordered that at a stated time she had to leave everything and run into the house. She often could not observe this rule, because she had to relieve those seriously ill. Charity must be put in the first place and one must not leave a sick person just for community life. Then Marisa fell ill and had to be operated.
The same sorrowful experience was lived also by the Bishop. Just after being ordained priest, he still lived in the seminary and on Sunday he went to help in the parishes of Rome. The rector pretended that at noon he had to stop his service to go to lunch in the community. Every time he arrived late and the rector regularly reproached him, but Don Claudio's reply was always the same: "Monsignor, when I am in the confessional, I am Christ and I have to render an account to nobody, neither to you!". How is possible to leave a seriously ill person or souls who want to confess just for a community practice?
On the day of Don Claudio's priestly ordination, 9th March 1963, Our Lady brought Marisa in bi-location into St. John in Lateran. On that occasion she saw for the first time her future spiritual director, stretched out on the ground while the clerics were singing the litanies of the saints.
Don Claudio, after his priestly ordination, was sent to the Roman Minor Seminary as an assistant. He was just 24, but the Lord had already put in him a great love towards the Eucharist and a strong sense of responsibility that drove him to do his duty in the best way.
One day, while he was celebrating the Holy Mass, he realized that many seminarists did not receive Communion. These guys were afraid of telling their spiritual father some faults. First Don Claudio went to the guys, to encourage them to confess and then to their spiritual father, to invite him to be more comprehensive towards the guys. Unfortunately, this priest did not welcome the brotherly correction and the situation worsened, to the point that the seminarists were forbidden to confide in Don Claudio. Then he was nominated vice-rector of the seminary for a short time and his situation became more delicate and difficult. During the summer time he organized a eucharistic congress and all the seminarists were involved in the preparation. Also some bishops were invited to talk at this congress. Don Claudio was boycotted and treated coldly by the old guard of the seminary, so much that he had to spend his money to meet all the expenses.
This initiative was a great success and the seminarists spoke about it with great enthusiasm for a long time. All this put Don Claudio in an even more critical situation and for the first time he began feeling the sting of envy on behalf of his brothers in the priesthood. His activity was becoming more and more difficult every day, because it was fought against by the superiors of the seminary who tried to destroy all his initiatives, so much that they found any pretext to take him away from the seminarists.
In the meantime the oratory St. Peter in Rome was in a period of transition. The whole management had just changed and the new heads did not know who to give the task of following the youth. The new director knew Don Claudio because his nephew was one of his pupils at the seminary. So a strong courting to Don Claudio began: they proposed him whole freedom of action and all resources at his disposal, giving him the name of "Don Bosco of the 20th century".
Don Claudio accepted the task, but the heads did not inform him about the serious conflictual situation of the oratory. As a matter of fact, the first Sunday he went to the oratory, as soon as the president archbishop entered into the church to celebrate the Holy Mass, all the young people went out and entered the opposite church. Don Claudio followed them, but at the moment of the peace nobody came to give it to him. Then when they went out he approached these guys and reproached them, because by excluding him they had not understood the importance of the Holy Mass, which is union, love and brotherhood without excluding anybody. Gradually he realized that this opposition was not towards him, but towards the president.
Notwithstanding this, Don Claudio began working with these guys, committing himself to organize a camping in Visso (a little town in middle Italy).
In fact the Lord had decided that Don Claudio and Marisa, even if both living in Rome, had to meet in Visso.
Marisa was staying at the hotel Domus Laetitiae for health reasons. The same hotel had been chosen by Don Claudio for the school camp of the guys of the oratory.
On July 15, 1971 Our Lady told Marisa that finally she would have met her spiritual director. While she was sitting on a seat in the square in front of Domus Laetitiae, she saw a priest walking towards the hotel. He was the director of the oratory who was coming forward alone and wearing the cassock. Marisa thought it was him, but Our Lady told her it was not. She saw another priest coming forward. He was the secretary of the president, he also was wearing the cassock. Marisa thought it was him, but she was wrong again. When she saw Don Claudio coming forward without the cassock, followed by his guys, she did not recognize him as a priest and excluded it was him. On the contrary Our Lady indicated him to her. Marisa shyly approached Don Claudio and said: "I am Marisa" and Don Claudio replied: "So what?". Marisa was puzzled, but the smile Don Claudio gave her, let her understand that she could trust in him.
In the evening of that same July 15, Marisa attended the Holy Mass for the closing of the school camp. During the Mass Don Claudio, noticing Marisa's shyness, invited her to read the readings: she did it with much effort. Then during the closing feast, Don Claudio saw that for shyness Marisa had remained without dinner and generously offered her his own plate.
The day after Don Claudio went to Fonte San Lorenzo, while Marisa remained in Visso.
The brotherly correction taught by Our Lady is not easy, but very sorrowful and it often causes sufferings, especially to the one who does it.
In that building was taking place a school camp for girls managed by nuns. These girls both in speeches and in behaviour were particularly scabrous. Marisa corrected them, but she faced a so strong opposition that they dominated by forming a coalition, they complained to the nuns and accused her unfairly. The nuns reported everything to the director who, without either listening to her, threw her out of the hotel. Then arrived a salesian priest Marisa knew, he brought her to a pension and without giving her money, he left her there. As she did not pay, the owner took all her things until she would not have paid all the amount due.
Don Claudio went with his assistants from the camping to Visso for doing some shopping and they stopped at Bar Sibilla to take an ice-cream. When they were eating it Don Claudio saw Marisa going out of the opposite church; she was sad and cried, because she was alone and abandoned. Marisa passed near to Bar Sibilla, but she did not notice Don Claudio, who immediately called her and invited her to sit down. After knowing she had not eaten for two days, he immediately offered her his ice-cream and then the lunch.
When Marisa told him everything, he immediately took the car and went to Domus Laetitiae where he faced up to the director, telling him he had been wrong respect to charity and justice. Don Claudio decided to bring her to the camping and there, for the first time, our Bishop participated to an apparition of the Mother of the Eucharist. This event changed their lives, because they started together the great mission led by the Heavenly Mother for the good of the Church.