Two women, Fabiana Cecchino (35) and Serafina Giovanna Valentino (33), had a vision of Mary first as the Pieta and later as Our Lady of Sorrows in a cave at Castelpetroso, Italy.
|March 22, 1888||On the day before the Feast of the Compassion of Our Blessed Lady, two country women belonging to Pastine, a hamlet in the diocese of Bojano, in Southern Italy, were sent to look for some sheep that had strayed on a neighboring hill, to which Castelpetroso is the nearest village. One was named Fabiana Cecchino, a 35-year old virgin, and the other Serafina Giovanna Valentino, a married woman a little younger. Before long they returned home, crying, sobbing, trembling, and terrified. People naturally inquired into the cause of their emotion. The women reported that they had seen a light coming through some cracks in the rocks; and when they came closer they saw distinctly the image of Our Lady of Sorrows. She was a very beautiful, fair skinned young woman with disheveled hair and bleeding from the wounds received from seven swords.|
|No one paid much attention to these statements, which were looked upon as absurdities ; but further evidence was forthcoming. First of all a child and then an avowed heretic gave testimony to similar apparitions. People began to go to the mountain and visit the spot of the alleged apparitions, some 2,600 feet above the sea-level; and some affirmed that they saw Our Lady bearing in her arms her dead Son. Pilgrimages began and within a few days some four thousand persons visited the spot, that is, double the number of those living there; and soon a place which had been generally unknown, suddenly became the center of attraction to countless crowds from the neighboring country.|
|Of those who went, some testified that they saw the Blessed Virgin under the form known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel ; others saw her as Our Lady of Grace, others as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary ; but for the most part she appeared as Our Lady of Dolors. Generally, too, she was alone, but some times she was accompanied by St. Michael, sometimes by St. Anthony, sometimes by St. Sebastian, and sometimes by troops of angels. Among those who testified to these apparitions was
a well-known disbeliever, who received the grace of seeing Our Lady four times in half an hour.
|Sept 26, 1888||After some time, news of the occurrences reached Mgr. Macarone-Palmieri, Bishop of the diocese of Bojano where Castelpetroso is located. He was called to Rome by the business of his diocese, and while there updated the Holy Father on what was going on at Castelpetroso, adding that he should have liked the apparitions to have been confirmed by some clear sign. The Pope replied by asking whether he did not think the apparitions in themselves were signs; and requested the Bishop to return to his diocese, visit Castelpetroso, and report again. The Bishop did as he had been directed. He visited Castelpetroso, in company with the archpriest of Bojanoand and saw Our Lady three times. Read the official statment of the Bishop.|
|May 1888||A spring of water appeared on the spot.|
|March 21, 1889||The Bishop of Bojano mentioned the presence of the spring in a letter addressed to the editor of the Servo di Maria. This water has been used by the faithful in the same manner as that of Lourdes, and many favors are piously believed to have been received in consequence.|
|Dec 18, 1889||Father Joseph Lais of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri a physicist and in medical doctor, sub-director of the Vatican Observatory, examined everything was soon convinced that optical delusion, at any rate, was out of the question. He then proceeded to examine the evidence.|
|1889||The Bishop of Bojano formed a committee, of which he took the post of president, for the purpose of collecting funds to build a church on the spot hallowed by the presence of Our Lady ; and he has determined to place it under the care of the Servite Order, founded, as our readers are aware, for the express purpose of honoring Our Lady of Sorrows.
The Holy Father deigned to bless the work, and sent a telegram, through Cardinal Rampolla, his Secretary of State, imparting the Apostolic Blessing to the members of the committee, and to all those who contributed to the fund.
|May 1890||The cornerstone was laid for a beautiful Gothic church later built on the spot where the Blessed Virgin appeared.|
Description of the Virgin
The women reported that they had seen a light coming through some cracks in the rocks; and when they came closer they saw distinctly the image of Our Lady of Sorrows. She was a very beautiful, fair skinned young woman with disheveled hair and bleeding from the wounds received from seven swords.
Miracles, Cures, and Signs
A spring appeared at the apparition site in May 1888. This water has been used by the faithful in the same manner as that of Lourdes, and many favors are piously believed to have been received in consequence.
Cures are related of a character well known to all who have studied the history of the Shrines of Our Blessed Lady. Servo contains a new list month by month including the following case, which has received the informal approval of ecclesiastical authority:
The Bishop of Bojano informed the editor of il Servo that a certain child named Angelo Verna, of Fara S. Martino, who had been born a mute, had begun to speak; and at the same time
the Bishop forwarded the sworn depositions of some relatives of the child. The editor requested further information to the Archbishop of Lanciano, who in turn applied to the Arch
bishop of Chieti, in whose diocese the place turned out to be.
In his reply the Archbishop of Chieti said that he had heard nothing of the matter before the receipt of the letter of the Archbishop of Lanciano, and that he had received the information with no little incredulity. All the same, he sent on the letter to a priest in whom he had much confidence one of the canons of the collegiate church of Fara S. Martino, requesting him to institute a strict inquiry into all the circumstances of the case. The worthy canon did so. and reported that Luigi Verna, of Fara S. Martino, and Annantonia Tavani, his wife, had a child named Angelo, six years of age ; and that from his birth this child had been mute. The father having obtained some of the water from the spring at Castelpetroso, sent it to his wife. Annantonia, full of faith, gave it to the child to drink, and the boy there and then received the gift of speech.
The priest of the diocese of Castelpetroso not only treated the whole affair as a delusion, but publicly preached against it from the pulpit of his church. He could not, however, prevent his congregation from going in pilgrimage to the spot of the apparitions. Another priest, a very old man, who had also disbelieved in the apparitions, went and saw and was changed. The following is his own narrative of what took place :
“I had many times derided those who visited the mountain on which these wondrous apparitions took place. On May 16, 1888, however, more to pass the time than for anything else, I felt a desire to visit the place. When I arrived I began to look into one of the fissures, and I saw with great clearness Our Lady, like a statuette, with a little Child in her arms. After a
short interval I looked again at the same spot; and, in place of the Most Holy Virgin I saw, quite clearly, the dead Saviour bearing the crown of thorns and all covered with blood. From
that time forward when I have heard a mention of that thrice- blessed mountain and of the Apparition I have felt myself moved to tears, and have not been able to say a word.”
This testimony was authenticated by the signature of Don Luigi Ferrara, the priest in question.
After some time, news of the occurrences reached Mgr. Macarone-Palmieri, Bishop of the diocese of Bojano where Castelpetroso is located. He was called to Rome by the business of his diocese, and while there updated the Holy Father on what was going on at Castelpetroso, adding that he should have liked the Apparitions to have been confirmed by some clear sign. The Pope replied by asking whether he did not think the apparitions in themselves were signs; and requested the Bishop to return to his diocese, visit Castelpetroso, and report again. The Bishop did as he had been directed. He visited Castelpetroso, in company with the archpriest of Bojano, on September 26, 1888, and saw Our Lady three times.
The Vicar-General and many other clergy of the diocese were no less favored; but perhaps the most remarkable evidence of all was that rendered by a man who believed neither in God nor Saints, though he frequented the Sacraments out of human respect. This man, who had been leading so miserable a life, went to Castelpetroso, saw the Blessed Virgin, and was converted.
Among those who were drawn to Castelpetroso by the fame of the apparitions was Father Joseph Lais, of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri ; a man learned in physics and in medicine, sub-director of the Vatican Observatory, and an eminent, “all-round” scientist. He left Rome on December 18, 1889, in company with Father Morini, a Servite. They
examined everything, and Father Lais was soon convinced that optical delusion, at any rate, was out of the question. He then proceeded to examine the evidence.
“The observations I made of the character of the people lead me to recognize that they are profoundly convinced of the event having taken place; and, on the other hand, their simple and ingenuous demeanor does not suggest the suspicion that the fact should be, to some extent, fanciful or the effect of the imagination; whilst the natural formation of the rocks excludes the theory of trickery.”
Father Lais saw nothing himself ; in fact, the apparitions ceased for a time, though new ones are reported in Il Servo for June, 1890; but, short of personal ocular experience, he could hardly have given stronger reason for believing in the truth of the statements made by those who verify that they have been blessed by the sight of God’s holy Mother.
And, to give full force to his judgment, it must be remembered that not only is he a stranger in the district, and not a member of the venerable Order devoted to the service of the Our Lady of Sorrows, but he is a man of necessity accustomed to weigh evidence, and one who, from his training and skill in physics, must be naturally inclined to look for physical explanations of matters of this kind.
Originally from: Miracle Hunter