Maria Valtorta

Perhaps the most predominant controversy pertaining to the Medjugorje Apparitions transpired from the explicit approval given by Our Lady (via several of the visionaries) to a series of detailed supernatural Gospel narratives recorded by a bedridden woman Maria Valtorta of the third Carmelite Order during the 1940’s entitled "The Gospel as it was Revealed to Me" (later renamed by the Publisher to "The Poem of the Man-God" (1, 2, 3). This endorsement by Our Lady developed into a highly controversial lightening rod, as the first book of this originally ten volume Italian series (five volume English series) was placed on the Index of Forbidden books in 1959.

This particular conflict has developed into the most prevalent contention of opponents to the Medjugorje Apparitions, hence we provide a special section addressing this subject. Several books and websites have since been written and erected expressly utilizing this contradiction in attempt to discredit the visionaries. Although most Medjugorje followers who firmly believe in the authenticity of the Apparitions have embraced Our Ladies’ Divine Wisdom (as well as Her two thousand years of experience), a few followers have chosen to distance or downplay this comprehensive obstacle.  However, negation has become untenable, occasionally making deniers look like liars, considering the incontestable corroborating documentation, public interviews and recordings posted on opposing websites (4, 4B, 5, 6). Given that the dogmatic contentions by the opposition are quite extensive, the respective clarifications will likewise necessitate protracted responses.


"Maria Valtorta is considered to be one of the most edifying visionaries of our time, in that she recorded the most comprehensive and detailed Private Revelation of the Gospels ever; "The Gospel as it Was Revealed to Me" in Italy, and later published in English as the "Poem of the Man-God" after her death. She was born in Caserta, Italy in 1897, passed away in Viareggio in 1961 and is buried under the altar of the Capitular Chapel of the Servants of Mary at The Basilica of the Annunciation in Florence (7). Her dictations and visions took place during the times of WWII and give a wonderfully detailed account of the lives of Jesus and Mary" (8).


The publishers of the "Poem of the Man-God" books claim that Maria Valtorta’s writings originally received a Papal Imprimatur from Pope Pius XII in February of 1948 (9). Naturally this is hotly contested by opponents of these aforementioned Books.

1) "Please do not read these books or believe anyone that says that they have been approved by Pope Pius XII for this is not true. These books have not been approved by any Pope no matter what their claim may be" (10).

Although many of the antagonistic websites and books that ardently dispute the Papal Imprimatur, most offer no explanations whatsoever to support their claims. The very few that endeavor to propose any form of disputations, pose very awkward or weak arguments at best (11, 12, 13). For example, the previous quoted site posts: "His polite murmurs about the Poem reportedly included the phrase "publish this work as it is" which the Servites afterwards remembered and interpreted as a "Supreme Pontifical Imprimatur" (14). The date Valtorta’s writings were given to Pope Pius XII for evaluation appears to be universally accepted by even the most aggressive antagonists, as well as Medjugorje supporters, particularly because it was documented by Pope Pius XII’s confessor Cardinal Augustin Bea, who served as the intermediary in presenting the writings on April 3, 1948 (15, 16, 17). After personally evaluating Maria Valtorta’s writings for eleven months, the Pontiff summoned her Spiritual Director Father Romualdo M. Migliorini on February 26, 1948. This date is also undisputed, as the attendees of the Papal meeting were documented in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano Citta Del Vaticano the next day on on February 27, 1948, issue 48, on the first page (18).

Father Migliorini had hand typed thousands of pages of Maria Valtorta’s writings, he had everything at stake. Since the Papal meeting was a make or break, he elected to take two additional Priests with him to act as witnesses to the final verdict by the Pontiff. One Priest Father Corrado Berti had assisted Father Migliorini by adding theological notations to Valtorta’s writings. The other Priest, Father Andrew M. Cecchin served as an unbiased witness, since at that point he had no prior knowledge concerning Valtorta. When the Pontiff arrived at the meeting, He was accompanied by a Vatican Recording Cardinal who took minutes of the meeting like a stenographer. After the Papal meeting, the three Priests wrote signed testimonies to the Papal Imprimatur (19, 20, 21). After these signed testimonies were fiercely contested by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani who was upset at being bypassed in the approval process, one of the Priests persuaded Vatican Cardinal Edouard Gagnon to locate and evaluate the minutes from the Papal meeting (22, 23, 24). After evaluating the minutes, Cardinal Gagnon wrote from the Vatican that: Pope Pius XII's action was "the kind of official Imprimatur granted before witnesses by the Holy Father in 1948, an Official Imprimatur of the Supreme Authority of the Church" (25, 26, 27). Cardinal Edouard Gagnon served as the Peritus (Expert Theologian Advisor and Consultant) during the second Vatican Council. He had a Doctorate in Theology and taught Canon law for ten years at the Grand Seminary (28, 29, 30). Even the opposing sites (including the one above) acknowledge that "a Pope could in theory grant such an imprimatur and even do it orally" (31, 32, 33).

Ostensibly, the most rational method of evaluating the opposing analysis in determining the true validity of the Papal Imprimatur, would obviously be weighing the facts.  On one side of the scale there is the uncontested proof that Pope Pius XII evaluated Maria Valtorta’s writings for eleven months, the written testimony of Valtorta's Spiritual Director, the written testimony of the two Priest witnesses, the original minutes from the 1948 Papal meeting, and the validation of these minutes by a Vatican Cardinal. The question is: What is on the other side of the scale? Nothing. Go figure.


2)  "The trouble is that 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 (34).

It's difficult to imagine why this particular contention is so widely cited by Medjugorje challengers, as it's incomprehensible that these contenders would not be well aware of the fact that the Polish Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska's Diary and Divine Mercy writings were likewise condemned on the Index of Forbidden Books, as well as the writings of Galileo Galilei, David Hume and John Milton  (35, 36, 37).  Moreover, Saint Faustina's condemnations may have been upheld by the Vatican more times than Maria Valtorta's, particularly when several exhaustive attempts were made by Polish Priests, Bishops and Cardinals to persuade the Vatican to remove Faustina's writings from the index (38).  Saint Faustina's Spiritual Director Father Michal Sopocko (who nearly had a nervous breakdown), suffered even more castigation at the hands of his superiors than Maria Valtorta's Spiritual Director Father Father Romualdo Migliorini (39, 40, 41).  All this was rapidly reversed at the hands of the first Polish Pope John Paul II, Who quickly beatified Sister Faustina in 1993, Canonizing her on Easter 2000 and making a formal apology to the family of Galileo Galilei to (42, 43, 44).  Pope John Paul II pushed no devotion further or faster. His second encyclical, 1980’s "Dives in Misericordia", was inspired by Faustina.  Notwithstanding that the condemnation actually stemmed from theological reservations by the head of the Holy Office Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani (such as the complete remission of sin for certain devotional acts and excessive focus on Faustina herself - 45, 46), today her Diary, Divine Mercy writings and excerpts from her conversations with Jesus are quoted by the Vatican and during Divine Mercy Sunday Mass, celebrated on the Sunday after Easter (47, 48, 49).  Many Divine Mercy devotees fervently believe that the frail Vatican explanations for the original condemnations being attributed to a poor translation was a weak attempt at saving face.

Cardinal Ottaviani's Condemnation of Saint Faustina's writings off-set the Divine Mercy Devotion for fifty two years.  Only God knows how many souls were effected.  According to Divine Mercy Devotees; "After a failed attempt to persuade Pope Pius XII to sign a condemnation, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani at the Holy Office included Sister Faustina's works on a list he submitted to the newly elected Pope John XXIII in 1959.  The Pope signed the decree that placed her work on the Index of Forbidden Books and they remained on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum until it was abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI.  Father Sopoćko was harshly reprimanded, and all his work was suppressed" (50).  According to Maria Valtorta Devotees; "As Valtorta's Visions were mystical in nature and the Local Bishop Fontevecchia's vision was fading, Father Romualdo M. Migliorini sought Vatican guidance for procedural advice for approval.  At the Vatican Father Migliorini encountered Cardinal Augustin Bea (Pope Pius XII's confessor) and Monsignor Alphonse Carini (Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites).  Cardinal Bea cautioned that Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani was unenthusiastic regarding Private Revelations, and previously attempted to place Sister Faustina Kowalska's Divine Mercy writings on the Forbidden Book list, but Pope Pius XII would not sign the Decree.  Father Migliorini took council with Cardinal Bea and Monsignor Carinci, who after carefully review of Valtorta's writings, advised that the most prudent outset would be bypassing Cardinal Ottaviani altogether and presenting the typed manuscript directly to Pope Pius XII, which would be arranged via Cardinal Bea" (51).  Both Sister Faustina's and Maria Valtorta's condemnations were presented to Pope John XXIII after He took Office and condemned on the same day.


3)  Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter on January 31, 1985 to Giuseppe Siri, the Archbishop of Genoa.  In this letter He writes: "although abolished, the Index retains 'all its moral value'" (52).

If this statement were true; Saint Faustina's Divine Mercy and Galileo Galilei's Heliocentrism theory (the Earth revolves around the sun) would still retain a full condemnation status (which would therefore make the Celestial Sphere Orbs theory developed by Aristotle and adopted by the Catholic Church remain in effect, meaning that the the stars and planets are carried around by being embedded in rotating crystal spheres moving around the Earth).  Pope John Paul II was unconcerned regarding this 1985 letter when He Beatified Saint Faustina on April 18, 1993 and Canonized her on April 30, 2000 (53).

4) "There are many historical, geographical and other blunders" (54).

No citations are referenced to support these contentions.  Maria Valtorta wrote "647 chapters (15,000 pages) in random order in glue bound binder notebooks (with no corrections), at the conclusion (when Jesus purportedly gives the chapter sequence) unfolds from a well-shuffled deck of cards into a perfectly seamless flowing chronology (that only materialized when her work was typed and could be sequenced to the key), in which Jesus traverses the land of Palestine from one end to another in five cycles (some 4,000 miles), ministering in 343 named locations in proper order (that have been route mapped) without error.  All this while paralyzed from the waist down for 28 years in a bed" (55, 56, 57).

"Researcher David J. Webster observed that Maria Valtorta named nine towns and villages that were not discovered until after her death. He authored a landmark 31 page article that fundamentally proves the authenticity of Maria Valtorta's writings. The "Poem of the Man-God" may be the very first Private Revelation ever to be scientifically proven genuine. David meticulously and methodically examines Maria Valtorta’s strikingly accurate descriptions of first Century Palestine for every piece of topographical evidence. He then compares this evidence with currently known facts that are only now being proven authentic" (58).  "Over thirty percent or 79 of the 255 geographical sites in Palestine mentioned in the Poem were not listed in the 1939 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) Atlas. 62 of these 79 were not even listed in the 184 page Macmillan Bible Atlas (MBA) published in 1968. (Maria Valtorta died in 1961)  Where did Maria Valtorta get all these names? For a first century eye-witness to include so many obscure and unknown names would, of course, be expected. And most surprising is that these names, obscure and unknown in the 1940’s, are being proven authentic. 52 of these 62 have no biblical reference whatever and 17 of these with no biblical reference have been either indirectly confirmed as authentic by recent "ancient external sources" found in the Macmillan Bible Atlas (1968) or actually listed in the HarperCollins Atlas of the Bible (1989). This makes a total of 29 confirmations since the 1939 ISBE atlas listing. Also among those 62 sites are mentioned the ruins of 6 ancient Palestinian cities some corresponding to the modern consensus on location. In addition, Valtorta’s precise descriptions of the natural topography of Palestine from numerous locations and the information about the outside pagan world of that day, including people, places, customs, Greek and Roman mythology, related in the conversations of that day, are strikingly correct" (59).

When the "Poem of the Man-God" was given to Harvard Theoretical Physicist Lonnie Lee Van Zandt for evaluation, he noticed that Maria Valtorta identified and recorded several planets and star constellations in the first century Palestinian skies on certain nights.  Utilizing astronomical computer programs to conduct a stellar excursion into the distant past, he discovered that these alignments were correct, even noting that some of these astronomical alignments didn't reoccur for decades before and after the given nights.  He explained that Astrophysicists did not have the capability of making such accurate predictions that far into the distant past until the introduction of sufficient computers became available in the 1980's.  "It would have been unfeasible for anyone in the 1940's to be capable of determining these astronomical alignments".  Van Zandt writes that these impossibly exact details "tax the credulity of even the immovable atheist more than the alternative that Jesus showed it to Valtorta."  He added, "In the words of Sherlock Holmes, when you eliminated the impossible, that which remains, however merely improbable, must be true" (60).



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