Maria Esperanza, Messenger of Reconciliation (November 22, 1928 – August 7, 2004)
Many wonders with flowers have occurred to a woman from Venezuela named Maria Esperanza Bianchini. She led a life of mystical experiences that began at an early age. At the age of five Maria Esperanza saw an apparition of Saint Thérèse of Lisiuex smiling at her and holding a rose in her hand that she tossed to little Maria. The rose was remarkable in its beauty, which led her mother to conclude that her daughter had received a preferential heavenly grace. In 1954, Maria again experienced a visit from Saint Thérèse at a time when she was discerning a vocation to become a religious. Maria had a strong desire to be a nun since childhood and was living in a convent when Saint Thérèse appeared after Mass. The Little Flower tossed another rose to Maria, which left a cut on her hand when she caught it. Thérèse told Maria that instead of becoming a nun, her vocation was to be a ‘wife and mother.’ Like the wound left by the rose, Maria suffered a temporary disappointment and it was with some anxiety that she left the convent and followed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to leave Venezuela for Italy. She traveled to Rome and soon met Geo, her future husband. They married on December 8, 1956.
Maria and Geo started their family, which grew to be seven children: six daughters and a son.
Maria had known for some time that they were supposed to buy land in Venezuela for a special reason. She had seen the land in her mind’s eye and when they bought a farm about ninety minutes away from Caracas in 1974, it was just the place foreseen by Maria. The land became known as ‘Betania’ and Maria was told it would be the setting of a great spiritual renewal.
Maria’s mission commenced when Our Lady appeared to Maria on March 25, 1976. She came as Mary, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of People and Nations. She received this message: “Daughter, here you have me with my hands enriched with graces and covered with splendors of light, to call all my children to conversion; this is the seed of glory I offer as ‘MARY RECONCILER OF PEOPLE AND NATIONS’, for I come to reconcile all of you. Reconciliation is the inheritance of divine brotherhood of My Divine Son! Daughter, tell my message to all. I will keep you here in my heart from today on and forever!” Many people started to make pilgrimages to Betania as word spread that the Mother of God was appearing and urging reconciliation. On April 19, 1979 Maria established a foundation to make known the messages of Mary, Virgin and Mother Reconciler of all People and Nations.
On March 25, 1984, one hundred fifty people from all walks of life, old and young, saw the Virgin Mary distinctly as she appeared to all those who were there. Our Lady manifested herself under the title: “Mary, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of all Peoples and Nations.” The eyewitness accounts led the Bishop of the Diocese, Monsignor Pio Bello, to conclude that the apparitions at Betania were authentic and of a supernatural character. He allowed pilgrimages, prayer, and the Mass to be celebrated there.
The apparitions were approved in 1987 by Bishop Bello, in consultation with then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who was elected Pope Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005.
Many people came and their faith was deepened. A small sampling of the flower graces from her apostolate were that some pilgrims experienced the beautiful odor of sanctity, others received rose petals from Maria that appeared to never lose their fresh appearance. A daughter of Maria related how rose petals appeared and multiplied out of nowhere in the pocket of their mother’s jacket when she borrowed it to wear. Another daughter opened the washing machine to find rose petals covering her mother’s clothing.
One gift Maria Esperanza was given that seems to be unique to her was the experience of having a little rose burst forth out of her physical self, out of her chest. The rose appeared vibrant and fresh with dewdrops on it as if just cut. This miraculous event occurred sixteen different times and was painful, humbling, and quite astounding. A Venezuelan journalist who was reporting from Betania witnessed the rose burst and has a video recording of the phenomenon.
Maria was a friend of both Padre Pio and Pope John Paul II. Maria made accurate prophetic statements predicting the September 11th attacks and warned against going to war over the attacks. She credited the United States for pressuring South America against trending toward socialism and urged the U.S. to remain a force for goodness in the world.
Maria also foretold that Venezuela would undergo strife. She prophesied, “We will live days of darkness, shadows, light , strength of the spirit, and awareness. Yet in all this, Venezuela will succeed. We must prepare ourselves with much prayer.” As we know, Venezuelans are going through terrible deprivation of food, water, medicine and all necessities. Let us keep our brothers and sister in our prayers.
Before she died, Maria encouraged the formation of communities dedicated to prayer for the reconciliation of people and nations. Besides the Betania community in Venezuela, Mrs. Bianchini confirmed a site for the Betania II community in New Jersey which is a place of refuge for bringing souls to God. Maria Esperanza asserted “There will be Betanias all over the world.” True to her prophecy, Betania Communities and prayer fellowships have come into existence. To date there are 18 Betania Prayer Communities around the world and growing.
Maria spent the last years of her life suffering from a Parkinson’s disease-like illness. Maria died on August 7, 2004 at Southern Ocean County Hospital near the New Jersey shore. The report was that after her death, the room was filled with a strong fragrance of roses. Maria Esperanza led a life with many amazing rose accounts lovingly sent by Our Lord so that we may truly believe that all things are possible with Him. The cause for the sainthood of Maria Esperanza has been opened by the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey on January 31, 2010. At present she is known as Servant of God Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini.