Maria Teresa Carloni, (1919-1983) A modern day stigmatic with exceptional mystical gifts
-The mystic who came back to the Catholic faith at age 32
The webmaster would like to gratefully thank Mrs. Angelica Avcikurt for translating from the original Italian the inspiring and informative passages below. May God reward her for her efforts.
Maria Teresa Carloni, a twentieth century mystic, is better known in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria than in her native Italy. Known as the “Voice of the Silenced Church”, she dedicated her whole life to the persecuted Church under the Communist Regime during the Cold War.
Maria Teresa was born in Udine, Italy on October 9, 1919 into a rich and aristocratic family. At the age of four, she became an orphan, and together with her brother Adolph, went to live with her grandmother. As a child and adolescent, she suffered from terrible scruples. This together with the fact that she met some priests and religious that were not leading edifying lives, kept her away from the Church.
However, she desperately wanted to find God. At the age of 17 she tried once more to go to confession, but was misunderstood by the priest. She walked out of that church thinking she would never return but she turned to the Crucifix and said to Jesus, “We will meet again.”
From 1939-1943, she studied to become a nurse. Although she felt she was far from God, she offered many sacrifices for the conversion of her patients and was even fired from a hospital unit for opposing abortion.
When the Second World War started, she worked as a nurse for the Sovereign Order of Malta in Rome. Because of her outstanding service, she was given the Silver Medal of Valor by the military.
While she was living in Rome, she fell in love with a young doctor. This young doctor, however, was tragically killed on the St. Angelo Bridge when they were together on a medical visit at night.
Maria Teresa Carloni and Pope Pius XII
Her First Meeting with Pope Pius XII
After the bombings of the San Lorenzo neighborhood in Rome during WWII, everyone went there to assist the wounded, including Pope Pius XII. Maria Teresa was there aiding the wounded when she saw a “priest dressed in white.” She did not recognize the Pope and told him, “Hurry, Reverend Father.” And he did as he was told.
Sometime later, she accompanied the soldiers from the hospital to an audience with the Pope at the Vatican. He recognized her and said to her, “How come you have not come here in such a long time?” [meaning to Church]. Not knowing what to answer, she said, “I haven’t been well.” To this, he replied, “So, you lie to the Pope?” Later, remembering this moment, she said she wanted the ground to swallow her.
Her Conversion at age 32
After finishing a degree in Pedagogy in 1946, she returned to her native Urbania. On April 16, 1951, at the age of 32, she had a conversion. She made an appointment with the Parish Priest of St. Francis Church, Father Cristoforo Campana, because her grandmother was dying. She also wanted to speak with him, and told him all about her bad experiences with the Church and that this was her final attempt to come back. Fr. Campana accepted to be her spiritual director and she returned to the Church.
On June 16, 1951, after asking her spiritual director, Maria Teresa makes a vow of perpetual virginity. From then on, her prayer and penitential life became more intense.
The Beginning of her Mystical Experiences: Inner Locutions
While working as nurse at the Bonomelli Foundation of Milano, a charitable institution, she was sent to the small town of Spotorno, to do educate children about TB prevention. Soon after her arrival there, an epidemic broke out and she was quarantined with the children. This is when her first mystical experiences started and she then began writing letters about it to her spiritual director, Fr. Campana.
She felt that another person was talking inside her head and when it stopped, she would answer. At the beginning these dialogues lasted just a few minutes, but as they became longer, she used to leave whatever she was doing and hide somewhere so that people would not become alarmed.
Her spiritual father, of course, was cautious, and told her not to pay attention to this Voice, that it was probably her imagination. However, no matter how much she tried to ignore this, it continued and her fighting it took a toll on her health.
Once she was back in Urbania at the end of March, 1952, Father Campana wanted to look into what was happening to her. This is what he wrote:
“While she was speaking to me, I noticed that she would half close her eyes, become distant, and start talking to “someone” invisible. It would last from between fifteen minutes to half and hour. Then everything would return to normal. She would become embarrassed when she realized I was there and would say:- ‘It is not my fault. You are still here?”
Fr. Campana, consulted many books about mystical phenomenon, and since her conversations were highly spiritual and he found no doctrinal error in them, he decided to allow this to continue. This took place regularly every Friday.
Maria Teresa receives the Stigmata
One Friday when Fr. Campana was present, he heard the “Voice” say to him, through Maria Teresa, “I want to repeat my Passion in this creature. You, being her spiritual father, can accept or reject this from happening, because you are the authority that represents Me, but know that this is My will.”
Even though Fr. Camapna understood who was talking to him, he asked, “But who are you?”
“I am Jesus. This soul has offered herself to me and I have accepted her offer. She will be a victim for the salvation of many, according to what she has told you.”
“What should I do?”
“Next Good Friday, her hands feet and heart will be pierced. The wounds will not appear externally, because everything must remain hidden, as you said, but later, whenever you want, you can make them appear and they will be seen visibly.”
In this dialogue, we can see the greatness of the priesthood in Jesus’ words. Jesus leaves the decision of whether the stigmata will be internal or external up to Maria Teresa’s spiritual director, Fr. Cristoforo Campana, who later became a Monsignor.
When Maria Teresa regained consciousness, she did not remember anything of what was said in this dialogue between Jesus and her spiritual director. Fr. Campana then asked her, “If Jesus wanted a closer union with you, to unite you to His sufferings, what would you say?”
“If He wanted this, then I am willing.”
“He wants it.” Fr. Campana replied.
On Good Friday, April 11, 1952, [which incidentally is also the feast day of another stigmatic, St Gemma Galgani] Fr. Campana went to see her at 2:45pm and found her suffering in bed. He asked her if she was suffering much, and with her teeth clenched almost unable to open her mouth, she said, “So much.” At 3:00pm Fr. Campana witnessed her terrible suffering as she appeared to be nailed to the Cross and then it appeared she had given her last breath and expired. She remained like that for a few minutes, and then opening her eyes, she smiled and said, “It is done.” However, she was not able to get out of bed until midnight.
On December 20, 1952, Maria Teresa received the grace of the spiritual marriage. The “Voice” had asked Fr. Campana to bring her to Church. At 9:30 she knelt before the Altar and almost immediately a dialogue between her and Jesus began. Fr. Campana heard the following: “Jesus accepts to be your husband but he wants his wife to be like him, persecuted, trampled on, slandered, and suffering always in body and spirit.”
Fr. Campana then heard Jesus tell him, “Go up to the altar, lift the tablecloth, take the gold ring and put it on my wife as a tangible sign of my espousal to her.” The priest found the ring and placed it on Maria Teresa’s finger telling her, “It is not from me. “Someone” is giving it to you as a sign of His union with you.”
That ring had been left at the Altar by a wife who was disappointed with her marriage.
Her Special Mission, Victim soul and Bi-location
On January 4, 1953, Fr. Campana finds out that Ivana Puskin had died. Ivana was the great granddaughter of Alexander Sergeevic Puskin, considered to be the father of contemporary Russian literary language. Ivana was Catholic and was active in the underground Church movement. She had offered herself as a victim for the salvation of Russia, but had purposely excluded Stalin’s salvation because of the horrendous crimes he had committed.
One Friday, when Maria Teresa was suffering the Passion of Jesus in her body, Jesus informed Fr. Campana of the death of Ivana Puskin and asked him to tell Maria Teresa if she wanted to take the place of this victim for the salvation of Russia and the other countries ruled by the doctrine of atheistic materialism. Maria Teresa answered, “If the Lord wants it and gives me the necessary strength, I accept.” With this acceptance her spiritual and physical sufferings increased and so did the demonic attacks.
At the beginning of March, 1953, Stalin was dying. The following Friday the “mysterious voice” told Fr. Campana, “Now, I will ask you something, if you allow it and this creature agrees. Before Stalin dies, I want to give him the possibility of being saved, like I do with all redeemed souls, despite his crimes. If you two accept, I ask you to offer these three hours for the soul of Stalin. But don’t be alarmed by the sufferings that this creature will undergo.”
Maria Teresa accepted this and suffered terribly for three hours. Fr. Campana who was with her, could not stop crying and saying, “Enough.” After the three hours she came back to normal. It seems, however, that Stalin did not benefit from the grace that Jesus offered him at the moment of his death. Blessed Elena Aiello, another Italian mystic, was granted a vision of hell in which she saw the soul of Stalin and a place for his followers.
After Stalin’s death, the persecution of the Church in the Communist countries continued. In the meantime, Maria Teresa’s sufferings increased and according to Fr. Camapana new mystical phenomena started. One Sunday afternoon, Fr. Campana heard the “Voice” tell him that Cardinal Stepinac, from the place he was confined, had managed to organize in the mountains surrounding Krasic, groups of faithful which he visited with other clandestine priests, Croatians, and refugees from nearby countries. He used to go see them once in a while to encourage their faith. That Sunday, the Cardinal’s legs were hurting him more than usual because of bad circulation, but he wanted to attend at all cost that meeting in the mountains. The “Voice” asked Fr. Campana to tell Maria Teresa if she would take the Cardinal’s pain upon herself to free him from it so that he could go to this meeting. She accepted and immediately went to bed because of the pain in her legs. In the meanwhile, Cardinal Stepinac was able to fulfill his mission.
This taking upon herself the sufferings of others, together with the phenomenon of bilocation, started happening almost daily as she assisted priests who were being tortured in communist countries.
Fr. Campana noted that Maria Teresa started sweating blood on Good Friday, 1954 and bilocated for the first time on December 6 of the same year. This first bilocation was to Cardinal Wyszynski, who was suffering because of having been tortured.
Actually, she became like a transmitter-receiver for persecuted persons. She could hear people calling for help from far distances. These mystical phenomena allowed Fr. Campana to make contact with leaders of the persecuted Church, who could not contact the Holy See. Through this special mission of Maria Teresa, Fr. Campana would keep the Pope up to date with what was happening in these places.
Besides traveling by bilocation, Maria Teresa also traveled physically to many of these places and was able to visit leaders of the Church even in prison. Her first trip was to Innsbruck, where she met with Card. Stepinac, and visited Card. Mindszenty in prison. She wrote a report about this trip entitled, “From Innsbruck to Rome,” which was given personally to Pope Pius XII.
Often she went by bilocation wherever she was needed. After the failed rebellion in Hungary, Fr. Campana sent her there in bilocation to encourage the Hungarian people. These trips in bilocation would take a toll on her physically and spiritually making her very weak.
Her mystical ability to read souls and detect blessed objects, and Pope Pius XII
Earlier we mentioned her first providential encounter with Pope Pius XII in the Roman neighborhood of San Lorenzo after a bombing. Because of her special mission, she would get to meet many times with Pope Pius XII in the Vatican. Her spiritual father would make the appointment with the Pope. When she would arrive in Rome at the train station, a Swiss Guard would come pick her up to take her to the Vatican. She sometimes had dinner with the Pope and then they talked all night. The Pope was very interested in what was happening in those areas, he even cried when he heard of the tortures and the sufferings those people had to endure. Pope Pius XII also invited her to Castel Gandolfo.
At that time, in 1955, Pope Pius XII was concerned about the Eucharist and about how Mass was being celebrated by priests. Since he knew that among the many spiritual gifts that Maria Teresa had, was the gift of being able to tell apart consecrated hosts from unconsecrated hosts, he ordered Maria Teresa to attend all the Masses celebrated on June 13, 1955 from 7-8:30 in St. Peter’s Basilica and keep a record of how many Masses where celebrated by priests who were in a state of grace, how many in a state of grace but with imperfection, how many in venial sin, how many in mortal sin, how many were sacrilegious, and how many were celebrated in a distracted manner.
Maria Teresa later met the Pope to give him the report: Masses celebrated with attention and intention, 6; Masses where the celebrant was distracted but the Mass was still valid, 8; Masses in which the celebrant was so distracted that the consecration did not take place, 1; Masses celebrated by priests with deliberate venial sins, 5; Masses celebrated by priests in mortal sin but not sacrilegious, 2; sacrilegious Masses, 0.
A Eucharistic Miracle
The day she gave the Pope this report, she had lunch with him and then they took a walk in the Vatican Gardens. During their walk, the Pope took out of his pocket a theca with 4 hosts. He showed them to Maria Teresa and asked, “Which of these 4 hosts are consecrated?”
Maria Teresa, making two of them fall on the ground, pointed to the two left in his hand and said, “These ones are consecrated.”
To this, the Pope said, “Let’s ask the Lord to give us a sign that these are consecrated.” Then suddenly, two blots of blood appeared on the two hosts that the Pope was holding. The Pope was moved to tears and knelt and so did Maria Teresa. She gave one of these hosts to Maria Teresa and told her to put it in a Theca and keep it close to her heart under her clothes.
There were many meetings between Pope Pius XII and Maria Teresa Carloni. On September 30, 1956 at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Pius XII was present during Maria Teresa’s mystical suffering of the three hours of agony. She lay on the papal bed and the Pope knelt at the bedside crying.
Her last audience with Pope Pius XII was on September 29, 1958 at Castel Gandolfo. At this meeting Maria Teresa told him about her recent trip to Russia (August 6-17, 1958) The Pope cried a lot when he heard of the terrible sufferings of the people there, and then said to Maria Teresa, “Goodbye, my daughter.”
On October 9 at around 3:00am, the Pope appeared to Maria Teresa at her home in Urbania to entrust to her the Silent Church [the Church in persecuted areas under the Communist regimes]. At 3:52, Pope Pius XII was dying in Castel Gandolfo.
Many years later, when Maria Teresa was distressed because of problems and tensions among the Curia in Urbania, Pope Pius XII appeared to her dressed in red on the anniversary of his death. She asked him, “Why are you not wearing white?” He replied, “Because you love the martyrs and not the clergy. You are “anticlerical” but I understand you. It is not your fault. You are just a victim. At the end of my life I was also “anticlerical.” Being “anticlerical” today means being against those priests who are not priests, and not against God and the clergy who defend him.”
“But where are those priests?” she asked
“There are very few, even though there are many priests in the world. Good night.” and then he disappeared.
Maria Teresa and Pope John XXIII
Maria Teresa had four audiences with Pope John XXIII. In the audience of December 20, 1959, in the presence of Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Wedel. Maria Teresa informed the Pope of what was happening in the persecuted Church. This report was based on her visits in bilocation to the leaders of the Church in those countries from December 1-17. The Pope gifted her with a chasuble which she kept in her private chapel in Urbania.
During the audience on March 1961, Maria Teresa spoke to the Pope about the problems of the Church in Sudan, after her recent trip there. She spiritually adopted many seminarians from Sudan and prayed and suffered for them.
On June 3, 1963, she went in bilocation to the dying pope. This is what she wrote:
I went to the sick bed of John XXIII who was dying. He recognized me and entrusted to me the Silent Church. These were his exact words: “I have offered my life for the Council and for the Silent Church. Now I am dying but you should live for this. Upon my death, build the reason for your life and live for that. This is the inheritance that I leave you.”
After Pope John XXIII died, she had several audiences with Pope Paul VI, who encouraged her to continue with her mission.
Her pilgrimage to the Holy Land–Jesus appears three times as a shepherd to Maria and her friend
Maria Teresa made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January of 1967. In her diary, she writes about three encounters that she and her traveling companion had with Jesus. The first encounter happened at the Garden of Gethsemane. She was with a companion, named Jesus, and they were wondering about the exact location where Jesus had prayed in the garden. Maria Teresa said that they would need to ask Jesus himself where to kneel down and adore. The following is taken from her diary:
January 3, 1967
An unknown group was ahead of us and a friar, who was their guide, led them to the inside of the Basilica. The two of us remained alone in the garden; we looked at the Kidron Valley down below and Jerusalem above. We went from one centuries-old olive tree to the next, caressing all of them with tenderness, trying to avoid the protrusion of the rocks that peek out from the ground, and we asked each other almost at the same time, “Which do you think is Jesus’ spot? We must be very close.” From behind us came the answer in perfect Italian: “You are here indeed, foreigners.” We turned around suddenly, certain that it must be a priest, but instead our eyes met a flamboyant young man, dressed in a local outfit, solemn and not excessively tall. His face was very tanned from the sun; his hair, semi hidden by a veil that covered his back down to his feet like a cape, was a copper red and long like that of a woman; his beard was the same color; his eyes which were a deep sea green revealed a look of unusual intelligence, his voice was baritone yet sweet. The tunic with the veil above his head was sky blue. His habit was white and long down to the ground and tied at the waist with a white belt. His right arm was straight along his side, his left hand, tapered and not rough like that of a working man, was holding a rough and long cane, like the ones that are still used today by shepherds. It serves as a support and to align the sheep. He was wearing sandals made with strips of leather. He was a very common man, except that he was elegant and pristine.
My gaze, maybe for a second, got lost in the stranger’s gaze, and then he turned to my friend, who had turned so pale that he looked like a cloth that had been soaked in lye and he seemed dazed…I had an olive twig in my hand that I had broken off a random tree; it was a beautiful twig, young, green, vibrant. I squeezed it in my fist and hurt it. I realized that that man’s features were not beautiful, rather awkward and ugly but they emanated such manliness that they were attractive. We were three human beings but we looked like three statues. Even nature seemed to have become petrified. I… intended to break the ice, the silence, the stillness, and almost violently asked, “You speak Italian. Who are you?!” That baritone voice, not at all shaken by my explosion, but rather sweet and not less solemn than before, responded “I am the Shepherd.” I remained motionless not realizing the significance of the article, “the” and not “a” shepherd. Why- I was thinking- did he say “the” and not “a”? He apparently did not give any importance to my thought. He came close to me stretched his right arm to reach one of the centuries-old olive trees that was behind me and gave me a twig. He could not have chosen an uglier twig than that one! Its leaves were dry, dirty, with holes, shriveled. “This olive tree –he said placing the twig in my hand- is the one you were looking for. That is the one that saw the sleepiness of the apostles and the pain of God.” “But it is so ugly – I answered – mine is more beautiful.” “But mine –he replied- is the real one.”
The scene was becoming awesome: my friend was still dazed and had not recovered, he was pale, his eyes were fixed without seeing, and with his mouth open like an idiot. I could react externally but I felt tormented. The unknown voice continued, calmly and melodiously, “You were looking for the holy spot on the rock: it is here, a stone’s throw away. Put your foot here and turn you back to Jerusalem and you – he told my friend picking up a stone- throw it with your eyes closed. Where it falls, there I cried.” While he obeyed, I, trying to keep my eyes opened, protested, “You are going to break the window of the Basilica.” The hand of the Shepherd took hold of mine without saying a word. The rock flew and seemed to hit an invisible obstacle a few centimeters away from the mosaic window and fell to the ground moving itself to the left. . He said, “It is done: there I cried.” I arrived to that place before my friend because I had seen where the rock had fallen, he had his eyes closed. I bent down and amidst the barren soil the small top of a rock stuck out. He also came running and prostrated himself, he dug his hands into the soil with so much violence that his nails were broken; then he jumped to his feet and yelled like a madman with his arms towards heaven, “It is Him. It is Him. It is Jesus.” The eyes of the Shepherd sparkled with happiness and he started to go away.
I, stunned by what was happening, was anxious to recover my voice as the man was walking away; finally I exploded in a cry, “Stop him. Tell him to stay with us.” My friend didn’t have much voice either but the Shepherd had ears. He was far away and little in our sight, but his words seemed to come from inside of us. He turned around, extended his right hand towards us and we heard him say, “I am not leaving you. We will see each other again.” Then he went on his way, getting farther away until he disappeared. He disappeared from our sight because he was too far. To say that he vanished would be a lie.
They did see Jesus again when they were visiting Mount Tabor. Jesus remembered the Transfiguration and told them that it was erroneously referred to as a “miracle.” It was in fact the cessation of the miracle, since that was his real divine essence. The miracle was his humanity. Then Jesus continued showing them around the places mentioned in the Gospels.
The third time they met Jesus was when then went to see the Mount of the Beatitudes on January 7th:
We were trying to imagine what it was like to be blessed [like the souls in heaven], and the Shepherd came towards us. He was always the same, only that this time his cape was red and not blue. We were sitting on the grass looking at the lake: “It is very calm here, right?” With these words he reawakened us and we did not get a chance to stand up because he had already sat in front of us.
“It is a peacefulness that bores men – he continued – a peacefulness that is perhaps monotonous for those who do not like contemplation and silence. But monotony raises the mind and the heart of he who has faith; on the other hand, hustle and commotion, cloud the brain. In a strong and changeless peace such as this, the God of Justice will judge souls. They will not be asked details about their lives, they won’t be asked how many hours they worked or prayed, but they will have to answer about charity towards their neighbor. Have you been humble? Have you been meek? Have you suffered worthily? Did you hunger and thirst for justice? Did you have mercy? Have you been pure? Were you instruments of peace? Have you been persecuted for love of me? In truth I tell you, that souls will be judged only based on this, that is, on charity.” Getting up, he blessed us saying, “See you in the Kingdom of my Father. I am waiting for you among the blessed.”
Maria Teresa and Pope John Paul II -Visits the Pope through bilocation
She met Karol Wojtyla during her trip to Poland when she went to meet Card. Wyszynski, who was the Bishop of Cracow at the time. During the Papacy of John Paul II, she had two audiences with him on January 20, 1979 and February 21, 1980. She was supposed to meet with him one more time but could not attend the audience due to her poor health.
On May 13, 1981, when the Pope was shot, Maria Teresa went to see him at the hospital in bilocation. Fr. Campana left a written testimony indicating that she had gone to see the Pope in bilocation at 8:30 that evening. He considered this to be an extraordinary grace received by the Pope because Maria Teresa had not bilocated for a long time due to her weak state of health. That was probably her last bilocation. She said she remained with the Pope from 8:30pm until 1:00 am. Pope John Paul II recognized her when she went to his bedside but he had never seen her like that before, in bilocation. The following day, Fr. Campana interrogated her as to the details of what she had seen and she described everything in the room. He asked her then, “When you are like that (in bilocation), how are you, young, old?” She answered, “I am not a child nor an old lady, neither big nor small, but I feel I am in the fullness of life.”
Towards the end
During the last years of her life, Maria Teresa suffered many physical ailments and mental anguish. At the same time the supernatural sufferings and gifts started to disappear. She died from a Peritonitis on January 17, 1983 at 11:20am. She was buried at the cemetery in Urbania. Following her wishes, the following epitaph was written on her tombstone, “Mihi vivere Christus est, et mori lucrum.”
All documentation about her life and activities were given to the Marian Shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, Poland.
Di Chi, Alberto, and Luciana Mirri. Martirio e Speranza: Il Carisma di Maria Teresa Carloni. Perugia, Italy: Edizioni Frate Indovino, 2009. Print.
Speziale, Vincenzo. Maria Teresa Carloni: Stimmatizzata.Tavagnacco, Italy: Edizioni Segno, 2014. Print.
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