“Our Lady Help of Christians”
PRA`, ITALY (1874)
On May 12, 1874, two young shepherds, Angela Berruti (12) and Vincent Scossiera (13), were leading their flock up the hill Pra` when, suddenly, to the east, appeared a lady high in the air. But she was supported by the cloud that she stood on. She wore a coffee-colored outfit, and her head was covered by a veil. She stood with a child in her arms. Frightened, Angela ran to her boss and reported what she had seen, but she was disbelieved and derided for “acting stupid.”
Vincent managed his feelings better and calmly viewed the scene. Something white like a sheet was behind the figure of the beautiful lady. Two others were with her — one on each side – but were not identified at this time. Her hands were at her sides. On her head she wore a gold crown. Her dress was a blue and white color. There was a brightness about her, and she stared at the young boy. It caused him to cry out in awe and shock. A very loud cry startled him, and he ran all the way home, crying.
A man, Olivieri Magdalene, was praying in the little wooded valley when he encountered the same appearance of the Virgin Mary that Angela had. On May 16, Teresa Burnengo (36) was praying at the site of the first apparition. She saw the Madonna at a short height above the ground and almost in a niche. She described the same coffee-colored outfit, veil covering her head, and baby Jesus in her arms.
On October 25, a thirteen year old and her friend, Maria Valley Pegollo visited the site of the apparitions and saw the Virgin Mary dressed in black. They lowered their eyes and prayed. After a while, they saw angels surrounding the Blessed Mother, who now wore a blue cape, fastened on her chest with a shining star. Her hands were folded on a cross upon her breast. Two people were at her sides, benign and friendly. The girls began asking questions. The Virgin stated that she was “the Immaculate Conception.” The two people with her were Saint Clare and Saint Elizabeth. The angels were reported as having come to assess the innocence of the girls. Mary explained that the star on her chest which served as a clasp for her cape was given by Her Son, Jesus, to recognize his mother as the “Queen of Heaven and Earth.”
After this encounter, the parents of a blind boy and a girl with a paralyzed left arm asked the two girls to help present their two suffering children to the Virgin Mary for hopeful healing. The two visionary girls took a hand of each of the suffering youths and led them to the apparition site. As they approached the youthful image of Mary all decorated in white, who had reappeared at the door of a large chapel, Maria Pegollo held back and allowed her friend to approach Mary.
A pardon was requested for the two. Our Lady said that the blind person must first receive Holy Communion and learn well the truth of the faith. The girl with paralysis only needed to come to this place and her hand would heal. Then Our Lady requested that a church be built in this place. Despite the opposition of the authorities of Feglino, the church was finally built.