This Holy Week, take it from Maria Teresa Carloni. Maria who?

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    She through whom Jesus asked to save dying Russian leader Joseph Stalin, reputed to be one of the most murderous dictators.
    Carloni was an Italian mystic, born to anaristocratic family in 1919, died saintly in 1983.

    Her early years were spent away from the Church, disenchanted as she had been with many priests whose lives she noted to be far from being exemplary.

    I chose to feature her as Holy Week nears, because she lived the meaning of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. She, too, assented to Jesus’ offer for her to bear physical pain and mental anguish for the salvation of others of lesser spiritual fibre. She said, yes, and the rest is a story of a mystic that almost levelled the mysticism of Padre Pio.

    In her younger years, she worked as a nurse, assisting the needy in Rome during World War II. At age 32, her heart began to lean anew to the Church and decided to go to confession and came across Fr. Cristoforo Campana who then became her spiritual director.

    In 1951, Carloni, with the support of Fr. Campana, made a vow of perpetual virginity.

    She began a more spiritual life.

    While working for poor children at a foundation in Milano, she began to hear an inner voice. Eventually, Fr. Campana himself also began to hear the same voice which was later found to be that of Jesus Christ.

    At times, Jesus would relay his message to Carloni via Fr. Campana. Such was the message on whether Carloni would like to share in Jesus’ sufferings on the cross, to which she said, yes.

    Thus on Good Friday of 1952, Carloni, as witnessed by Fr. Campana, suffered the pains of Jesus on the cross. At another time, then Pope Pius XII was beside her bed at the papal Castel Gandolfo as she again experienced the sufferings of Jesus.

    Carloni had on many instances assented to the offer of Jesus to suffer pains in behalf of people who were in their last agonies.

    In the early weeks of 1953, Stalin was already dying. Then, Jesus asked Fr. Campana to ask Carloni if she would be willing to suffer pain for three hours to save the soul of Stalin, to which she, as usual, said yes.

    And so Carloni suffered immense pain for three hours as witnessed by Fr. Campana who was so moved as to even shout, “Enough.”

    But Fr. Campana said that Stalin himself rejected the grace offered him by virtue of Carloni’s suffering. Indeed, Blessed Elena Aiello, another Italian mystic, was granted a vision of hell in which she saw the soul of Stalin, as well as horrible spaces there for his followers.

    Carloni also accepted sufferings for reasons lesser than Stalin. At one time, she took on the pain of Cardinal Stepinac whose blood circulation ailment in his leg would have prevented him from going to the mountains to visit a group of the faithful amid persecution.

    Carloni was also reported to have been gifted with the charisma of bilocation. In 1963, she bilocated to the bedside of Pope John XXIII as he lay dying.

    On May 13, 1981, when Pope John Paul II was shot, Carloni, in bilocation, went to see him at 8 p.m. up to 1 a.m. at the hospital as was put on record by Fr. Campana.

    After much suffering, Carloni died from a peritonitis on January 17, 1983.

    Starting this Holy Week, we, too, can suffer for others. Silently, in the way of Carloni. In the way of saints.

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