On October 21, 1924, an out-of-wedlock child was born and given the name Maria. At the time, Maria was not assigned a surname because her birth father (himself an illegitimate child) refused to wed Maria’s mother and instead left her.
Fortunately for Maria, the most influential person in the young girl’s life would be her grandma, Cornetto Cesira. She taught Maria all she could about God. Five years later, Maria’s mom married Giuseppe Bolognesi, and Maria was given her stepfather’s name.
When Maria was eight years old, she and her mom contracted meningitis. Her mom was close to death from the dreaded illness. However, Maria started to recover.
Maria was at the age to be preparing for her First Communion and the nun who was teaching her told her that Jesus would grant her a wish if she asked Him. She wished her mom would get better — and she fully recovered from the disease.
Filled with emotion and love for Jesus, Maria made her First Communion on May 22, 1932. In her diary, she wrote, “I cried with joy. Finally, my little heart also carries Eucharistic Jesus. I asked for so many, many graces: to love everyone, even my enemies. I came home, other families would have lunch at their homes, but in my home, there was nothing to eat, but still, I was so so happy.”
From June 21, 1940, to April 1, 1942, Maria exhibited strange behavior, and many have attested this was due to demonic persecution. She could not approach church buildings or any other religious buildings. Holy water was repulsive to her. Once, as she arrived at the bridge that spanned the river leading to the church, people saw her skirt being pulled from behind as Maria fought to move forward. There was no wind blowing at the time, yet she could not continue along the bridge.
Maria also began sweating blood, suffered from pneumonia, rheumatism, and a seemingly endless list of other ailments. She also developed heart problems. Doctors were utterly baffled by the number of afflictions the teenager was experiencing. Although suffering greatly she gave it over to Jesus, sharing herself with Him.
Maria received her first vision of Jesus Christ during Holy Week of 1942. It was Holy Thursday, April 2, when He appeared to her and gave her three rings with five rubies, the rings representing the Trinity, and the rubies representing His five wounds. Jesus promised her she would learn how to read and that her mother would repent of her sins and return to the Church. On April 11, with the permission of her spiritual advisor, Father Bassano Paiato, she began wearing a black habit.
Besides having to endure much pain and suffering throughout the 1940s, Maria also had those who began ridiculing her and mocking her “fake” visions. Among them were clergy. On March 5, 1948, three criminals attacked her and beat her, tied her up, gagged her and left her bleeding in the snow.
Instead of understanding and compassion, ridicule was heaped upon this servant of Jesus. At first, even the police did not believe her and accused her of “faking” the attack to garner attention. They were quickly proved wrong, and all charges against her were absolved.
Toward the end of the 1940s, Maria began to suffer from arthritis, colitis, developed appendicitis, and almost became blind. She would be taken to Rovigo and Padua for treatment and while there, would assist taking care of the orphans and visit the sick in the hospitals.
On January 25, 1954, a wound opened on her right hand. It was the beginning of the stigmata appearing on Maria. In August of 1954, the wounds appeared on Maria’s feet and Good Friday, 1955, she received the wound on her left side. The time was exactly 3 p.m.
Maria Bolognesi suffered from serious physical ailments her entire life. Jesus appeared to her several times showing her Heaven and, in November of 1957, both Heaven and Purgatory. Her first heart attack occurred in 1971 and her health continued to get worse and worse. On January 30, 1980, Maria Bolognesi passed away.
Maria was beatified on May 2, 2013. Pope Francis said, “Blessed Maria Bolognesi spent her life in service to others, especially the poor and sick, enduring great suffering in profound union with the passion of Christ. We give thanks to God for her testimony to the Gospel!”
Blessed Maria Bolognesi, please pray for us.