1865 - 1947 Short Biography
Luisa was born in the small city of Corato in the province of Bari in the region of Puglia, Italy on the morning of 23 April 1865. Her parents, Vito Nicola Piccarreta and Rosa Tarantino, had five daughters. Luisa was born on Sunday morning in Albis (Divine Mercy Sunday) and on the same evening she received the Sacrament of Baptism.
From her earliest years she experienced nightmares of the devil that made her seek a hiding place to escape his presence. As a result, Luisa spent long hours in prayer and implored the protection of the saints. At nine years of age Luisa received her First Holy Communion from Rev. Furio, whose words on Jesus “the prisoner of love in the Tabernacle” proved prophetic, as for many years to come the Eucharist would become for Luisa her dominant passion.
At the age of eleven she became a “Daughter of Mary” when she took the name Magdalene, and from that day forth she no longer experienced nightmares. From the age of twelve Luisa began to hear interiorly the voice of Jesus, especially when she received him in Holy Communion. Jesus would instruct, correct and occasionally reprove her, imparting lessons on the Cross, on meekness, on obedience and on the hidden life. At the age of thirteen, from the balcony of her home in Corato, Luisa beheld a vision on the street below, a crowd of shouting people with armed soldiers leading three prisoners. Among these, Luisa recognized Jesus carrying the Cross on his shoulders. When Jesus arrived under her balcony, He raised his head and said: “Soul, help me!” At this scene, Luisa cried out and lost consciousness. For Luisa, this extraordinary event marked a decisive turning point in her life, as on this day she began to offer herself as a victim soul in expiation for the sins of mankind.
Luisa began to experience the sensible graces of visions and apparitions from Jesus and Mary, interspersed with physical sufferings. Eventually every time she tried to eat, her body rejected the food. This peculiar condition devolved to the point where she could no longer ingest food except the Eucharist, and it eventually became a permanent condition that lasted until her death in 1947. Later, Jesus would reveal to her that He was training her to live exclusively on the Divine Will, which, along with the Eucharist, would constitute her daily bread.
Luisa asked Jesus to conceal her sufferings from others. He allowed her body to assume an immobile, rigid-like state that appeared to the observer as if she was dead. When a priest was summoned to her bedside, and made the sign of the Cross over her body, her normal faculties were instantly restored. This stigmatist’s mystical illness of being bed-ridden became permanent, she remained confined to bed for sixty-four years until her death.
She remained obedient to the counsel of the priests appointed to her by the archbishops of her diocese. Although she would remain confined to bed she never suffered any physical illness, even bed sores, except for the pneumonia that took her life. At the age of eighteen Luisa became a Third Order Dominican, taking the name of Sister Magdalene. In 1884 her Archbishop appointed Rev. Michael De Benedictis her confessor. Fr. De Benedictis visited Luisa daily and she revealed her soul to him and submitted herself in obedience to him. In 1898 the Archbishop of Trani appointed Rev. Gennaro Di Gennaro Luisa’s new confessor, who carried out this ministry for twenty-four years, until 1922.
Rev. Di Gennaro acknowledged the veracity of Luisa’s mystical experiences. On 28 February 1899, when Luisa was 33, he placed her under obedience to begin writing the revelations that Jesus and Mary dictated to her.
In 1910 Father Hannibal di Francia joined a group of priests who attended a Divine Will Prayer Group around the bedside of Luisa. He became her extraordinary confessor. He founded two religious orders and was appointed Luisa’s censor librorum by the Archbishop of Trani Joseph Leo.
In 1915 Hannibal began publishing her work entitled, The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In 1926 he appended to her first 19 volumes his nihil obstat while the Archbishop appended to them his imprimatur. Jesus told Luisa that He wanted Hannibal to be the “first apostle of the Divine Fiat”.
Saint John Paul II canonized Saint Hannibal in May 2004. During the homily on that occasion, the Pope referred to “the new and divine holiness” to which Saint Hannibal drew our attention.
Pope Benedict XVI had a statue of him erected in Saint Peter’s Square in July 2010.
After Saint Hannibal’s death in 1927, Archbishop Joseph Leo appointed Rev. Benedict Calvi Luisa’s regular confessor, who remained with her until her death in 1947.
On 16 October 1888 at the age of 23 Luisa experienced her first nuptial of spiritual marriage on earth. On 7 September 1889 she experienced her second spiritual marriage in heaven, i.e., the gift of Living in the Divine Will in which Jesus takes possession of Luisa’s heart. Several days later the Trinity confirms Luisa and establishes in her heart its divine indwelling. Her third nuptial, the spiritual marriage of the Cross is referred to in her first volume. On 16 November 1900, at the age of 35, Luisa experienced her fourth nuptial in which she took possession of Jesus’ Heart, received three divine breathes, and embarked on becoming centred in the Divine Will and on possessing it entirely and completely. Luisa wrote her last volume (the 36th) on 28 December 1938. After a short bout with pneumonia — the only diagnosable illness of her life — Luisa Piccarreta died on 4 March 1947.
Luisa’s Cause for Beatification was opened on 20 November 1994. She received the title Servant of God. Investigation at the diocesan level was completed in 2005. The Congregation for the Cause of the Saints completed their scrutiny in 2010 with a positive judgement. Luisa’s Cause of Beatification continues.
November 2012 in Rome Father Joseph Iannuzzi STL, STD, Ph.D., successfully defended the first doctoral dissertation on the life and writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta.