By Linda Andrade Rodrigues, Anchor Correspondent
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — Impoverished and bedridden in her room for 59 years, Luisa Piccarreta wrote about her mystical experiences in a daily diary, a chronicle of conversations she had with Jesus and Mary.
“I have gone round and round the world, and I looked one by one at all My creatures to find the smallest one of all,” she wrote on March 23, 1921. “Among so many I found you. Your littleness pleased me, and I chose you; I entrusted you to My angels so that they would care for you, not to make you great, but to preserve your littleness; and now I want to begin the great work of fulfilling My will. Nor will you feel any greater through this, indeed it is My will to make you even smaller, and you will continue to be the little daughter of the Divine Will.”
Globally, Divine Will prayer groups gather to study Piccarreta’s writings and to promote her cause for sainthood. Locally, the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette will host the Divine Will Conference of the Cenacle of Boston from May 15 through 17, and all are welcome.
“We’re reading the 36 volumes that were dictated to her by the Lord,” said Deacon Robert Hoaglund, a member of the Cenacle of Boston who serves at Immaculate Conception Parish in Marlboro. “What God does is use the simple people who are humble and open to His will in their lives.”
Padre Bernardino Giuseppe Bucci, O.F.M., a member of the Tribunal for the Cause of the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, will address the gathering from Italy via Skype throughout the three-day conference. He will speak about the 30,000 pages of her diary known as “The Book of Heaven” as well as his personal experiences with Piccarreta when he was a child.
Padre Bucci recalled a visit with his Aunt Rosaria to the future saint’s room and her prophecy in “A Collection of Memories of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta.”
“The eyes of the family were focused on my brother Agostino, a tidy, well-educated, hard-working and reserved boy: in brief, a suitable type for an ecclesiastical career,” wrote Padre Bucci. “Rosaria, you are trying to substitute God’s Will with your own!’ (Piccarreta told his aunt.) ‘The Lord does not want him,’ and turning her eyes to me, she said to her: ‘Look after this one because the Lord wants this one and not that one.’ Later, to the great wonder of all, Peppino, the rowdiest boy in the district of Via Andria, entered the seminary.”
The website Little Daughter of the Divine Will at http://luisapiccarreta.co/ offers a wealth of information about Piccarreta’s life and cause for canonization, as well as video of her room including the crucifix where she received the stigmata. The following is an abstract taken from the comprehensive “Biographical Notes” on the site.
Born in Corato in Bari, Italy, on April 23, 1865, Luisa Piccarreta was raised with her five siblings on a farm. When she was nine, she received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time, and from that moment on remained for hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament. She became a Dominican Tertiary taking the name of Sister Maddalena at 18.
From the balcony of her house in Via Nazario Sauro, she had a vision of Jesus suffering under the weight of the cross, Who raised His eyes to her saying: “O soul, help Me!” From that moment an insatiable longing to suffer for Jesus and for the Salvation of souls was enkindled in her, and so began her physical and Spiritual sufferings.
Having accepted the role of victim, Piccarreta came to experience a most peculiar condition. Every morning she found herself rigid, immobile, huddled up in bed, and no one was able to stretch her out, to raise her arms or move her head or legs.
The family mistook these phenomena for sickness and sought medical help, but the doctors consulted were perplexed.
Summoned to her bedside was an Augustinian priest, Father Cosma Loiodice, who made the Sign of the Cross over her body; and her normal faculties were restored. After Father Loiodice left his friary, other priests were called in to intervene.
Piccarreta’s day began at 5 a.m., when the priest came to the house to bless her and to celebrate Holy Mass. After Mass, she would remain in prayer for about two hours. At 8 a.m. she would begin her lacemaking work which she continued until midday. After a frugal lunch, she would stay alone in her room in meditation. In the afternoon — after several hours of work — she would recite the Rosary. In the evening at 8 p.m., Piccarreta would begin to write her diary, and at about midnight she would fall asleep. In the morning she would be found immobile, rigid, huddled up on her bed, her head turned to the right; and the intervention of the priest would be necessary.
Piccarreta would stay in her bed for another 59 years as a victim of expiation.
St. Annibale Maria Di Francia became her extraordinary confessor and edited her writings, which were examined and approved by the ecclesiastical authorities.
Conversely, she was publicly disowned by Rome in 1938, and her books were put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Obediently, she handed over all her manuscripts.
Piccarreta’s life was very modest; she possessed little or nothing. She lived in a rented house where she was cared for lovingly by her sister Angela and a few devout women. To support herself she worked diligently at making lace, earning from this the pittance she needed to keep her sister, since she herself neither needed clothes nor shoes.
She died at 81 on March 4, 1947 from pneumonia, the only illness diagnosed in her life.
On Nov. 20, 1994, Archbishop Carmelo Cassati officially opened the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta.
Registration for the three-day conference is $160 and includes meals. Send a check made payable to Divine Will Cenacle of Boston, P.O. Box 628, Sudbury, Mass., 01778. For hotel registrations at the Holiday Inn: in North Attleboro, call 508-643-9900; in Plainville, 508-809-7840. There is a Friday and Saturday discounted rate under the name Divine Will Conference/La Salette Shrine. A shuttle also is available from Rhode Island. For more information, email email@example.com.