“The Virgin of Revelation”
TRE FONTANE, ROME, ITALY (1947)
Bruno Cornacchiola, born in 1913, came from a poor background, joined the military, got married, and then decided to fight on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War to earn some money. He deserted his wife in order to fight on the side of the anti-Catholic forces. He came under the influence of a German Protestant, who managed to convince him that the papacy was the cause of all the world’s ills. Bruno immediately conceived a hatred for the Church and vowed to kill Pope Pius XII – and bought a dagger in Spain for that purpose! He carved the words on it: “Death to the Pope.”
Bruno returned to his wife, but he was far from a model husband. He frequently used blasphemous and obscene speech, committed adultery, beat his wife and had forbidden her from going to a Catholic church or practicing her faith in any manner. He joined the Seventh Day Adventists and plotted to kill the Pope on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8, 1947.
On the Saturday after Easter Sunday, April 12, 1947, Bruno took his three children (Isola-10, Carlo-7, and Gianfranco-4) for a picnic to Tre Fontane (the area outside of Rome where the Romans beheaded St. Paul). On that lovely spring day, Bruno sat in a grove of Eucalyptus trees, preparing a talk to ridicule the Immaculate Conception. Earlier that day, as if to manifest his bitter hatred for the Immaculate Mother, he had written on the base of a statue of the Holy Virgin, “You are neither virgin nor mother!”
One of his children lost his ball and asked for his help. He followed this child but saw his youngest child kneeling at the entrance to a cave. The child’s face was radiantly joyful as he stared into the cave, repeating, “Beautiful lady, beautiful lady.” His hands were folded as if engrossed in deep prayer. Bruno looked into the cave and could see nothing that would account for the boy’s action. He then turned toward his other two children, but by then, they too, had dropped to their knees, hands folded in prayer with their eyes transfixed on someone in the cave. The three children were mesmerized by something supernatural that he could not see. Seized with fright, Bruno tried to grab his children and carry them away, but he could not move them! It was as if they were glued to the ground. Then, in the midst of an intense perfume of flowers, Mary appeared to Bruno as well. An intense light filled his eyes for a moment, and then everything in front of him disappeared – his children and the cave. He felt himself becoming weightless.
After this momentary blindness, Bruno saw in the most illuminated part of the cave a woman of indescribable celestial beauty. She was dressed in a long, brilliantly white dress with a rose-colored sash. Over her black hair was a green mantle which extended to her bare feet. Her head was adorned by a halo of brilliant golden light. Her face had an expression of motherly kindness, although cloaked by sadness at times. She was holding a dark gray Bible close to her heart. At her bare feet lay a black cloth which had a smashed crucifix on it. Her hands were crossed at her breast, but she unfolded them once to point to the broken pieces of the crucifix.
“I am the one who is of the Divine Trinity. I am Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and Spouse and Temple of the Holy Spirit. I am the Virgin of Revelation.
(Then she turned on Bruno.) You persecute me. Enough of it now! Enter into the true fold, God’s Kingdom on Earth. The Nine First Fridays of the Sacred Heart have saved you. You must be like the flowers which Isola picked. They make no protest — they are silent and do not rebel.”
Mary then spoke at length about many things with Bruno that afternoon, including her Assumption into Heaven. “My body could not decay and did not decay. My Son came for me with His Angels.” She revealed the sad condition of Bruno’s soul to him. She was admonishing a return to God and a more literal living of the holy Gospel: “Return to the pure source of the Gospel.” At this point, Mary taught him the sure means of salvation for him and all mankind – which is prayer, and in particular, the daily praying of the Holy Rosary.
“Pray much and recite the Rosary for the conversion of sinners, of unbelievers and of all Christians.”
As a reward for those who listen to her message of prayer, Mary said,
“With this sinful soil, I will work powerful miracles for the conversion of unbelievers. I want to give you absolute proof of the divine reality which you are experiencing, so that you will exclude any other motive for this encounter – evil motivation included. This is the sign: Every time you meet a priest in church or in the street, approach him and address him with these words, ‘Father, I must talk to you.’ If he answers, ‘Ave Maria! My son, what do you want?’ Beg him to stop, because he is the chosen one. Tell him what your heart dictates and obey him. In fact, he will direct you to another priest by saying, ‘He is the one for you.’ Afterwards, you will go to the Holy Father, the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians, and give him My message personally. The one that I will point out to you will take you to the Pope. Some people will not believe, but let that not disturb you.”
Having said that to Bruno, she turned and serenely moved in the direction of St. Peter’s Basilica. Still transfixed in an ecstasy, he could not move for a few moments.
Bruno and the children cleaned the grotto as best they could, and he chiseled the date of the apparition with his house key on the spot where the Virgin had stood. Bruno’s conversion took place immediately, and he eventually gifted Pope Pius XII with the dagger he had planned to kill him with. (Mary had directed him, as predicted, through priests to the Pope.) He passed police interrogations and psychiatric examinations.
True to Mary’s promise, the dirt from the Grotto of Tre Fontane has proven to be miraculous. It has worked wonders for the welfare of both bodies and souls. There have been so many bodily cures and conversions that no one disputes that these graces have been received through the intercession of the Virgin of Revelation.
Mary appeared to Bruno three more times. He repented his sinful life and became an outstanding Catholic. Like Paul, he dedicated his life to evangelizing and teaching the truths of the Catholic Faith. From that moment on, the grotto has been a gathering place for thousands of the faithful. Every April 12, the Apparition is commemorated with a solemn celebration.
On April 12, 1980, on the 33rd anniversary of the Virgin’s visit, approximately 3,000 people, including 25 priests, had gathered to hear Bruno recall the first apparition and attend a Mass. Suddenly, during the Holy Sacrifice, they were astounded by a supernatural display in the sky.
“Strange images appeared in the sky above the Grotto. The sun seemed to turn backwards in the heavens and then began to draw near the earth. It could be seen without straining the eyes. It appeared bigger than normal, and showed within its corona brilliant and diverse colors (much in the same way as the sun “danced” in the sky over Fatima). In rapid movements, as an incandescent magma forming diverse figurations, the sun appeared as a cross, an ‘M’, a heart surrounded with stars or dripping with blood, the monogram of Christ (IHS), hands joined in prayer, the Holy Family, etc. Some saw the sun separate into three circles, then come back together again. In spite of the numerous trees which should have impeded vision, the sun stood out clearly and brightened the chapel, faces, and the clothing of the people.”
The phenomenon lasted about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the Mass that had been in progress was halted so that the people could calm down and return their attention to the service. There were many physical cures. A medical center was set up; after extensive research, it was confirmed that the cures were indeed miraculous and beyond any medical or scientific explanation.
Two years later, on the same anniversary date, April 12, 1982, the phenomenon of the miracle of the sun was repeated. Again, the people could look directly at the sun without hurting their eyes. This time, Our Lady had a message for priests:
“You are to have a deeper faith in the revealed truths of the Faith, greater obedience to the Teaching Authority of the Church, a vigilant prudence in dealing with people, and a pure and dignified lifestyle.”
From the very beginning of his conversion, Bruno was intent in passing on the truths of the Faith which he formerly so poorly understood. Under the inspiration and direction of Our Lady Herself, he founded the catechetical organization called SACRI at Tre Fontane. From the early months of his conversion, he was associated with an existing congregation of Sisters there. In one of the apparitions, Our Lady told him:
“Go to my beloved daughters, the Teachers Filippini, and tell them that their mission is to be one of intense prayer for the conversion of non-believers and sinners.”
An attractive, simple shrine was built and staffed by the Conventual Franciscans. Pope Pius XII blessed the statue of Our Lady of the Revelation in St. Peter’s Square. Pope John Paul II blessed three statues of Our Lady of the Revelation for Italy, Australia, and the United States. Our Lady then commented,
“Wherever a Sanctuary of the Virgin of Revelation is erected, it will be for all an oasis of conversion during the purgation of the Church.”
In 1997, Pope John Paul II approved that the shrine be renamed: “Holy Mary of the Third Millennium at Three Fountains.”