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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The apparitions of an alleged seer who claims to have received the stigmata and is in possession of a statue of the Madonna "weeping blood" is causing scandal among the laity in Italy.
The self-proclaimed visionary, Gisella Cardia, believes the "Virgin of Trevignano Romano" — a lake town in the province of Rome — also multiplied gnocchi, pizza and rabbit, enabling her to feed priests and children.
But allegations that the tears on the Medjugorje-purchased statue were faked using pig's blood and that Gisella (born Maria Giuseppa Scarpulla) and her husband Gianni solicited and embezzled donations, have kicked up a storm in the Italian press.
Cardia, who says she sees visions of the Virgin on the third of every month, insists she will hold her regular prayer meeting by Lake Bracciano on May 3 — an event that has drawn hundreds from all over Italy and been supported by the former bishop and local clergy.
"On the 3rd of each month, we gather to pray. People come from various places in Italy and Europe: There are hundreds of faithful. We recite the Rosary, and there, many people make their confessions," says the 53-year-old former Sicilian entrepreneur.
However, a commission set up by Msgr. Marco Salvi, the new bishop of Civita Castellana — a diocese that functions directly under the authority of the Holy See — is expected next week to dismiss the apparitions as "not of supernatural origin."
The members of the commission include a Mariologist, an exorcist, a psychologist, a theologian and a canonist.
"The Sign of Jonah" blog, citing sources close to the bishop, said that the commission would use the official ecclesiastical verdict of "constat de non supernaturalitate" (the non-supernatural origin is confirmed), virtually ruling that the apparitions are fake.
The Church can declare an apparition or a private revelation "constat de supernaturalitate" (approved, since the supernatural origin is confirmed), "non constat de supernaturalitate" (doubtful, since neither supernatural nor non-supernatural origin is confirmed) or "constat de non supernaturalitate" (rejected, since the non-supernatural origin is confirmed).
Due to technical problems and "a delay in communications," the commission has not been able to certify if Cardia did indeed receive the stigmata during Lent.
"It's not pleasant to be portrayed as a crook, especially when you have a clear conscience. I feel under attack from dark forces, unidentified powers," Mrs. Cardia told Il Messaggero on Wednesday.
The seer claims she became "pregnant" with the Holy Spirit and was able to perform miracles, while her husband alleges "blood crosses and Aramaic writings" appeared on the wall of their house. He claims a priest translated the messages and that one stated, "I am the Trinity."
"'007' priests have infiltrated the faithful, and the diocese is oriented towards rejecting miracles," Cardia remarked. "When Our Lady cries, it is never a good sign for humanity [because God expects mankind] to review its conduct and return to God."
"My soul is broken, my heart is broken and if I didn't have the strength to pray, I wouldn't be able to go on," she added. The seer also defended her visions by appearing in a television interview with her husband on Italy's public broadcaster Rai 1 on Tuesday.
When asked if the tears were from pig's blood, Cardia said that the statue first began to shed white tears in 2016, followed by tears of blood. "But it's been two years since Our Lady has wept," she explained. "After having cried tears of blood, Our Lady never did it again."
The visionary insists that the Carabinieri — the Italian paramilitary police — had analyzed the blood but had not yet given her the results.
Cardia defends herself against allegations of fraud: "My house in Trevignano, where I live with my husband Gianni, is 50 square meters, modest but welcoming and with a wonderful view of the lake. We've been living here for 13 years."
Asked if she had misappropriated 123,000 euros donated by Luigi Avella, the alleged seer replies:
Many faithful, friends and strangers who have preferred to remain anonymous have made donations mostly used to set up the place where we gather to pray, such as benches, fences and to do a lot of charity. I didn't make any money on the rest. It is not my mission and my interest. Fortunately, my husband has always worked, and with his salary we live well.
Romano Rossi, the previous bishop of Civita Castellana, who has been filmed elevating the statue on an altar with the seer standing next to him, "was always very cautious," Cardia claims. "But these events always need time before they are understood and perhaps then accepted and recognized. The Vatican has its times. We will wait with faith."
Rossi, who delayed setting up a commission to investigate the apparitions, said he was first examining the "spirit" of the events and checking if the messages were authentic based on the criterion of whether they contained the message of the gospel of grace or of judgment.
Despite the presence of several priests at the site, the parish priest of Trevignano, Fr. Piero Rongoni, has refused to let the Marian cult use the parish premises for prayer meetings over the last six years. Cardia responds, "Jesus was also expelled from the synagogue."