by Marco Corvaglia
Go to the page: The "Life" of the Madonna
Among some groups of Medjugorje devotees there is widespread interest in a work entitled The Poem of the Man-God, written in the 1940’s by Maria Valtorta (1897-1961).
As it is better clarified by the title assigned to the work by the publisher since 1993 (The Gospel As Revealed to Me), it aimed to be a sort of "integration" (in as many as 10 volumes) to the canonical Gospels.
More precisely, it would be the story of Mary and Jesus’ lives, allegedly revealed to the self-styled mystic by Mary and Jesus themselves. Maria Valtorta also alleged that some of the parts had been dictated to her by God the Father, the Holy Spirit and her guardian angel: "I can say that I had no human sources in order to know what I write", Valtorta said [cf. M. Valtorta, Il Poema dell’Uomo-Dio, Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, Isola del Liri, 1992, vol. I, p. XII].
This type of narrative has, in Catholic mysticism, some well-known precedents: the life allegedly revealed by the Virgin to Mary of Agreda and then later to Catherine Emmerich, respectively in the seventeenth and nineteenth century. The original model of these narrations of the life of the Virgin Mary is a second-century apocryphal gospel: The Gospel of James.
Valtorta's work is spread among the devotees of Medjugorje, as we mentioned, having received an explicit approval by the Gospa.
As Marija Pavlović recalled in an interview conducted by Sister Emmanuel Maillard, in 1982 a Franciscan from Mostar, father Franjo, asked her "to ask Our Lady if this book is true" [cf. R. Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje No 15, OEIL, Paris, 1996, p. 19].
Issue 34 (July-December 1986) of the “Bollettino Valtortiano" (Valtortian Bulletin), edited by the “Centro Editoriale Valtortiano”, published the testimony of Giovanna Guggeri, music schoolteacher, endorsed by the signature of her brother, the lawyer Ferdinando Guggeri, from Seregno (Milan). They attest what happened on August 15, 1985 at Bijakovići:
“I showed Marija the score with the canticles of The Poem of the Man–God, in a booklet that I had brought from Italy in order to play the three canticles on the organ of the parish church. The visionary, hearing of Maria Valtorta and of the "Poem", from lighthearted became serious and said: "Maria Valtorta! Tutto vero Poema Uomo Dio. Madonna detto due anni or sono: tutto vero! dettato da Gesù!”[Maria Valtorta! All true The Poem of the Man-God. The Madonna said two years ago: all true! Dictated byJesus!] (These are the words spoken in Italian by the visionary)."
["Bollettino Valtortiano", No 34 (July-December 1986), p. 135]
Later this Marija's answer will be also reported and confirmed by Vicka. Here is an audio excerpt from a transmission broadcasted on 27 December 1988 on Radio Maria (click on the audio player):
As we have heard, the Madonna’s answers reported by Vicka (in Italian and in Croatian) are: "They are true", "Yes, yes, true”, "Authentic, yes“, "You can read these, they are true."
The first edition of The Poem of the Man–God, in four volumes, was included by the Catholic Church, in 1959, in the Index of Forbidden Books.
On 6 January 1960 “L'Osservatore Romano” published a front page long article (A badly fictionalized life of Jesus) explaining the measure. The article can be read here.
In 1961 the publication of the second edition of the Valtortian work was begun, in ten volumes, with several modifications in the text and with the addition of notes. On 1 December of that year, "L'Osservatore Romano” announced that the condemnation was extended to this second edition.
On 31 January 1985 the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a letter (prot. 144/58) to the Archbishop of Genoa, Giuseppe Siri, confirming that "the work at issue was actually placed on the Index on 16 December 1959 and defined by L' Osservatore Romano on 6 January 1960 as ‘a badly fictionalized life of Jesus’ ".
The cardinal added:
Again in 'L'Osservatore Romano' (15 June 1966) was made known what was published in AAS [note: Acta Apostolicae Saedis] (1966): that, although abolished, the Index retains 'all its moral value', therefore it is not considered opportune the diffusion and recommendation of a Work whose condemnation was not taken lightly but after careful evaluations, in order to neutralize the damage that such a publication may cause to the more unprepared faithful.
The cardinal also attached to his letter a copy of an article (not signed, entitled Il Poema dell'Uomo-Dio ["The Poem of the Man-God"]) that had been published in the 1 July 1961 issue (No 2665) of La Civiltà Cattolica, in which we can read:
The "phenomenon" has already been examined scientifically and placed in a well known category of mental sicknesses, and the facts added to the second edition do not change the nature of the work which evidences being a mountain of childishness, of phantasies and of historical and exegetical falsehoods, diluted in a subtly sensual atmosphere, through the presence of a flock of women in the company of Jesus. On the whole it is a heap of pseudo-religiosity. Therefore, also for the second edition the judgment of the Church to condemn it retains its validity.
[Emilio Pisani, Pro e contro Maria Valtorta, Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, Isola del Liri, 2005, p. 68]
To assess the weight of those words of condemnation, it is worth considering what the Centro Editoriale Vartoltiano itself admits:
La Civiltà Cattolica is the prestigious culture magazine published since 1850 by the Jesuits of Rome. They say that the proofs of each issue (called "notebook") are examined at the Vatican before going to press. However, it is without any doubt in close harmony with the directives of the Holy See, for whom it is almost considered the mouthpiece.
[Ibid., p. 66]
Finally, on 6 May 1992 the Secretary General of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Tettamanzi, wrote the following at the Centro Editoriale Valtortiano:
Italian Episcopal Conference
Prot No 324/92
Rome, May 6, 1992
Esteemed Editor, in consequence of frequent requests, which come also to this Secretariat, of an opinion about the attitude of ecclesiastical authority on the writings of Maria Valtorta, now published by the " Centro Editoriale Valtortiano”, I reply referring to the clarification offered in the "Notes" published by "L'Osservatore Romano” on 6 January 1960 and 15 June 1966.
Just for the real good of readers and in the spirit of genuine service to the faith of the Church, I ask you to clearly say, in any reprint of volumes, from the first pages, that the "visions" and the "dictations" there reported cannot be considered of supernatural origin, but must be considered mere literary forms which the author has used to narrate, in her way , the life of Jesus.
Grateful for this collaboration, I express my respect and I offer my respectful and cordial greetings.
Dionigi Tettamanzi Secretary General
[Ibid., p. 210]
The Notes published by “L'Osservatore Romano" on 6 January 1960 and 15 June 1966, mentioned by Cardinal Tettamanzi in his letter, are the documents cited above.
Go to the page: The "Life" of the Madonna
Updated on 28 december 2014