‘Mystical Rose’ Marian apparitions in Italy receive Vatican approval

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, presides over a press conference on Friday, May 17, 2024, on the Vatican’s new document on Marian apparitions. | Credit: Rudolf Gehrig/EWTN News

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) announced the approval of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Pierina Gilli, an Italian visionary, in 1947 and 1966.

The apparitions took place in Montichiari and Fontanelle, Italy, located in the country’s northern province of Brescia.

In a letter approved by Pope Francis and sent to the bishop of Brescia on July 5, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández indicated that the “spiritual proposal that emerges from the experiences narrated by Pierina Gilli in relation to María Rosa Mystica does not contain theological or moral elements contrary to the doctrine of the Church.”

The letter includes excerpts from Gilli’s diaries in which the Italian visionary goes into great detail describing the apparitions and insights shared by the Blessed Virgin. Fernández shared that Gilli’s writings “reveal a humble and complete trust in Mary’s maternal action.”

Serving as a nurse and postulant for the Handmaids of Charity in Montichiari, Gilli first encountered the Blessed Virgin privately while praying in a hospital chapel in the spring of 1947. As Gilli described in her diary, the Virgin Mary appeared wearing a violet dress and white veil with an expression of sorrow and tears in her eyes. Showing her heart pierced with three swords, Our Lady asked for prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

Appearing again to Gilli on July 13, 1947, the Blessed Virgin Mary was dressed in white and instead of having three swords in her breast, she had three roses: a white one, a red one, and a yellow one that symbolized the spirits of prayer, sacrifice, and penance. 

When asked by Gilli who she was, Our Lady responded: “I am the mother of Jesus and the mother of all of you. Our Lord sends me to bring a new Marian devotion to all religious orders and institutes, male and female, and to the priests of this world.”

According to Gilli, Our Lady continued on in wishing that “the 13th of July be celebrated every year in honor of the Mystical Rose.” Gilli would later translate this term as meaning that “Mary is the master teacher of the innermost mystical life and the mother of the mystical body of Christ — the mother of the Church.”

Our Lady would appear to Gilli five more times in 1947, including a series of public apparitions in November and December of that year. At the Cathedral of Montichiari on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin told Gilli: “I wish to be known as the Mystical Rose. It is my wish that every year, on the 8th of December, at noon, the hour of grace for the world be celebrated.”

“Many divine and bodily graces will be received through this devotion. Jesus will send his overflowing mercy if good people will pray continuously for their sinful brother,” Our Lady continued. “The Lord is still protecting the good and is holding back a great punishment because of my intercession. Soon, one will recognize the greatness of this hour of grace.”

Shortly following these apparitions and investigations by the diocesan ecclesiastical authorities, Gilli secluded herself at the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Child in Brescia. It was not until years later, in 1966, that the Blessed Virgin appeared again to Gilli, in which she blessed a miraculous spring in Fontanelle, called “Fountain of Grace.”

Our Lady then asked Gilli to kiss the soil where the water sprang forth and to place a crucifix there so that “the sick and all of my children, before drawing or drinking water, may ask pardon from my divine Son with a beautiful kiss of love.”

More apparitions would follow in 1966, in which the Blessed Virgin continued to share various messages regarding prayer, penance, and devotion. According to Gilli’s diary, she would also have more private visits from the Blessed Virgin in the years to follow.

Nonetheless, the apparitions did not receive approval from the bishop of Brescia until 2019, when the Marian site was declared as the Diocesan Sanctuary of Mystical Rose, Mother of the Church by Bishop Pierantonio Tremolada, the current bishop of Brescia and recipient of the DDF’s letter.

This letter points out several of the “positive aspects” of the Our Lady’s messages and further elaborates on other points in order to “avoid misunderstandings.”

“Taking into account the other elements of judgment proposed by [Tremolada] in the cited dossier, such as the diverse and rich spiritual and pastoral fruits of this devotion,” the letter continues, “we believe that you can calmly arrive at the conclusion of your discernment, according to the already cited Norms for Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Supernatural Phenomena.

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