This article was written by Father Marcello Stanzione on the experiences of Mrs. Natuzza Evolo, now deceased, but who was a mystic of Paravati, Italy. The experiences of Mrs. Evolo were many and varied, but one thing that happened was that souls who had died and were suffering in Purgatory came to her to ask for relief in the form of prayers and Masses for their deliverance from Purgatory to Heaven.
Father Marcello Stanzione explains: Many years ago I was talking with a well-known charismatic priest who had founded an ecclesial group recognized by some Bishops. We started talking about Natuzza Evolo and, to my great surprise, the priest claimed that, in his opinion, Natuzza was a cheap ‘medium’. I was very upset by his opinion, and in respect, I did not argue with the priest, but, in my heart, I immediately thought that this serious allegation was born from a non-noble form of envy towards a poor illiterate woman to whom thousands of souls were asking relief from suffering in Purgatory. Over the years I tried to study the relationship of Natuzza with the poor souls and I realized that the Calabrian mystic should not be considered as a ‘medium’. In fact, Natuzza did not invoke the dead nor ask them to come to her… the souls of the dead appeared to her not by her own desire and will, but only by the divine permission of God.
When people came to her to ask her if the souls of their loved ones were suffering, Natuzza always replied that the answers to their questions depend only on God’s permission and invited them to pray to the Lord so that they questions would be answered.
In the history of Catholic spirituality, appearances of souls from Paradise, Purgatory and sometimes also from Hell, have occurred in the lives of numerous mystics and canonized saints.
As for Purgatory, we can mention very many mystics who have had this experience: St. Gregory the Great, from whom the practice of Masses celebrated for a month, called “Gregorian Masses” derived; Saint Gertrude, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Margaret of Cortona, Saint Bridget, Saint Veronica Giuliani and, closer to our time, also Saint Gemma Galgani, Saint Faustina Kowalska, Teresa Neumann, Teresa Musco, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Edwige Carboni, Maria Simma and many others. It is interesting to note that for these mystics the apparitions of the souls in Purgatory had the objective of increasing their own faith and encouraging them to pray more in reparation and penance, so as to hasten their entry into Paradise, in the case of Natuzza, instead, apart from all this, this charisma was granted to her by God for ample consolation of the Catholic people in a historical period in which, in catechesis and homiletics, the theme of Purgatory is almost completely absent. These mystical experiences reinforce in Christians, the belief that after death, the soul remains to go to the appropriate state of Heaven, Purgatory or Hell.
The deceased reaffirmed to Natuzza the existence of Purgatory, Paradise and Hell, to which they were sent after death, as a reward or punishment for the conduct of their lives. Natuzza, with her visions, confirmed the teaching of Catholicism, that is that immediately after death, the soul of the deceased is led by their guardian angel, to the presence of God and is perfectly judged in every detail of their existence. Those who were sent to Purgatory always required prayers, alms, penances and above all holy Masses so that their time in Purgatory would be shortened.
The sufferings of Purgatory, although relieved by the presence of the guardian angel, can be very harsh. As a testimony to this, Natuzza experienced a painful episode: She once saw a deceased and asked him where he was. The dead man told her that he was in the flames of Purgatory, but Natuzza, seeing him serene and calm, judged by his appearance, this could not be true. The purgative soul reiterated to her that the flames of Purgatory were surrounding him. As he spoke these words she saw him enveloped in flames. Believing that it was a hallucination, Natuzza approached him, but was hit by the heat of the flames that caused her an annoying throat and mouth burn that prevented her from eating normally for forty days. Natuzza sought out the care of Dr. Giuseppe Domenico Valente, the town medical doctor during this time.
Natuzza met numerous souls both illustrious and unknown. Natuzza, who was largely unschooled, also met Dante Alighieri(1265-1321), who told her that he had served three hundred years in Purgatory, before he could enter Paradise. He said this was because even though he had composed The Divine Comedy under divine inspiration, unfortunately in his writing, he had assigned some rewards and punishments according to his own personal likes and dislikes rather than those inspired by God: hence the punishment of three hundred years of Purgatory. Yet, Dante told her these years were spent in the least suffering level of Purgatory known as the Green Meadow, an antechamber of Paradise whose suffering is the absence of the Beatific Vision.
Many testimonies have been gathered about the meetings between Natuzza and the Purgatorial souls of the suffering Church.
Professor Pia Mandarino, from Cosenza, recalls: “Following the death of my brother Nicola on 25 January 1968, I fell into a state of depression and lost my faith. I sent word to Padre Pio, whom I had known some time before: “Father, I want my faith back!” For reasons unknown to me I did not immediately receive Father’s reply and, in August, I visited Natuzza for the first time. I said to her: “I don’t go to church, I don’t do Communion anymore …”. Natuzza chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, the day will soon come when you can’t do without Mass. Your brother is safe and has died a martyr’s death. Now he needs prayers and is before the Madonna, kneeling, praying. He suffers because he is on his knees “. Natuzza’s words calmed me and, some time later, I received, through Father Pellegrino, the reply of Padre Pio: “Your brother was saved, but he needs suffrages ( Intercessory prayers, especially those for the dead).” Natuzza’s same answer! As Natuzza had predicted, I returned to the faith, the Mass and the sacraments. About four years ago I learned from Natuzza that Nicola went to Heaven, immediately after the First Communion of his three grandchildren who, in San Giovanni Rotondo, offered their First Communion for Nicola”.
Miss Antonietta Polito di Briatico on Natuzza’s relationship with the afterlife bears the following testimony: “I had a fight with a relative of mine. Shortly afterwards, going to Natuzza, she put her hand on my shoulder and said to me: “Have you fought with someone?” “And how do you know?” “That person’s (deceased) brother told me. He sends you to say that he tries to avoid these quarrels because he suffers “. I had not spoken to Natuzza about this at all and she could not have known it from anyone. Natuzza told me exactly the person I had quarreled with. Another time Natuzza told me about this same deceased that he was happy because his sister had ordered Gregorian Masses. “But who told you that?”, I asked her, and she said: “The deceased”. A long time ago I asked Natuzza about my father, Vincenzo Polito, who died in 1916. Natuzza asked me if I had a picture of him, but I said no, because at that time it was unavailable. The next time I went to her she informed me that my father had been in heaven for a long time, because during his life he made visits to the church in the morning and evening. I didn’t know about his habit because when my father died, I was just two years old. Independently, I asked my mother and she confirmed that my father had made daily visits to the church.”
Mrs. Teresa Romeo di Melito Portosalvo said: “On September 5, 1980, an aunt of mine died. On the same day as the funeral, a friend of mine went to Natuzza and asked her about the deceased. “She is safe!” Natuzza replied. When forty days had passed, I went to Natuzza, but I had forgotten about my aunt and I hadn’t brought her picture with me, to show it to Natuzza. But Natuzza, as soon as she saw me, said to me: “O Teresa, do you know who I saw yesterday? Your aunt, that old lady who died last month (Natuzza had never known her in life) and she told me, “I am Teresa’s aunt. Tell her that I am happy with her and what she did for me, that I receive all the suffrages (Intercessory prayers) she sends me and that I pray for her. I have purified myself on earth. ” This aunt of mine, when she died, was blind and paralyzed in bed “.
Mrs. Anna Maiolo residing in Gallico Superiore narrates: “When I went to Natuzza for the first time, after the death of my son, she told me:” Your son is in a place of penitence, as will happen to all of us. Blessed are those who can go to Purgatory, because there are those who go to Hell. He needs suffrages (intercessory prayers), he receives them, but he needs many prayers! “. I then had various things done for my son: I had many Masses celebrated, I had a statue of Our Lady Help of Christians made and donated to the Sisters, I bought a chalice and a monstrance in my son’s memory. Then I returned to visit Natuzza, she said to me: “Your child needs nothing!” “But how, Natuzza, you told me last time that he needed so many prayers!” Natuzza replied, “All you have done is enough!” But I had not informed Natuzza of what I had done for him. Mrs Maiolo also testifies: “On 7 December 1981, the eve of the Immaculate Conception, after the Novena, I returned to my home, accompanied by a friend of mine, Mrs Anna Giordano. In church I had prayed to Jesus and to Our Lady, telling them: “My Jesus, my Lady, give me a sign when my son enters heaven”. Arriving near my house, while I was about to greet my friend, I suddenly saw in the sky, above the house, a luminous globe, of the size of the moon, which moved, and in a few seconds disappeared. It seemed to me that it had a blue trail. “Mamma mia, what is it?” exclaimed Signora Giordano, scared like me. I ran inside to call my daughter but the phenomenon had already ceased. The next day I called the Reggio Calabria Geophysical Observatory, asking if the night before there had been some atmospheric phenomenon, or some large shooting star, but they told me that they had not observed anything. “You saw an airplane,” they told me, but what my friend and I had seen had nothing to do with planes: it was a luminous sphere similar to the moon. The following December 30th I went to see Natuzza with my daughter, I told her about the globe, and she explained to me: “It was a manifestation of your child entering paradise”. My son had died on 1 November 1977 and on 7 December 1981 he had therefore entered heaven. Natuzza, before this episode, had always assured me that he was fine, so much so that, if I had seen him where he was, I would certainly have said to him: “My son, stay there too” and always prayed for my resignation . When I said to Natuzza: “But he had not yet done confirmation”, she approached me, and speaking to me with her face, as she does, with the brilliance of her eyes, answered me: “But he was pure of heart!”.
Professor Antonio Granata, a professor at the University of Cosenza, brings his other experience with Calabrian mysticism: “On Tuesday 8 June 1982, during an interview, I showed Natuzza the photographs of two of my aunts, named Fortunata and Flora, both had been dead for a couple of years and of whom I was very fond. I asked Natuzza: “These are my two aunts who died a few years ago. Where are they? “One (pointing to Aunt Fortunata) is at the Green Pasture and the other (pointing to Aunt Flora) is on her knees before the painting of the Madonna. However, both are safe. ” “Do they need prayers?” “You can help them shorten their waiting period” and, anticipating my further question, Natuzza added: “And how can you help them? Here it is: reciting the Rosary, saying some prayers during the day, receiving Holy Communion, or if you do some good work, dedicate it to them “. Professor Granata continues in his story: “In the first days of the following July, I made a pilgrimage to Assisi with some Franciscan friars and I came back after receiving the Portiuncula Indulgence that I had known about superficially for years (in fact already many times I had visited the Portiuncula) but to which I did not attribute any particular meaning as I had not regained my faith. But now a plenary indulgence seemed to me an amazing thing, “from the other world”, and I immediately decide to make it for my aunts. Strangely, I couldn’t get clear information on the correct practice to follow to gain the indulgence: First, I thought it could be made every day of the year and so, during that pilgrimage, I asked for both my aunts. Fortunately, a few weeks later, in my parish, I found the correct practice in the Sunday Mass bulletin. It said it had to be carried out between 1 and 2 August and in favor of one person. On 1 August 1982, after various setbacks (it is not easy to confess and receive Holy Communion in August!), I asked for the indulgence for Aunt Fortunata. On Wednesday, 1 September 1982, I was back visiting with Natuzza and showed her the photos of my aunts. I reminded Natuzza of the answers she gave me previously and my request for the indulgence of the Portiuncula. Natuzza repeat to herself: “The indulgence of the Portiuncula” and looking at the photos she immediately replied without hesitation: “She (pointing to Aunt Fortunata) is already in Paradise; she (pointing to Aunt Flora) not yet “. I was very surprised and happy and I ask for confirmation: “But was it just for the indulgence?” Natuzza replied: “Yes, yes, the indulgence of the Portiuncula”. I want to add that I was very amazed and comforted by this visit: I was amazed how such a great grace was granted with very little effort on my part; comforted and happy that a prayer said by a poor man like me has been heard. I feel like my recent return to the Church has been sealed with this grace. With regard to Aunt Flora, I asked for the plenary indulgence the following November 1 (All Saints Day) and on Thursday, November 18, 1982 I received from Natuzza the following answer: “Now (Flora) is in Paradise; she went there for the prayers and indulgences received ”.
Dr. Franco Stilo recounts: “In 1985 or 1984 I went to Natuzza and showed her photos of my aunt and my grandfather who are dead. I showed her my aunt’s photo first. Natuzza, immediately, with an impressive rapidity, without even thinking about it at all, her face lit up and, very happily, said: “She is holy, she is in heaven with the Madonna”. When he took the photo of my grandfather, her expression changed, and said: “He has much need of prayers.” I was amazed by the speed and confidence with which she gave the answers. The aunt, Antonietta Stilo, born on 3.3.1932 and died on 8.12.1980 in Nicotera, ever since she was a child she was very religious and at 19 she went to Naples to become a nun, but soon after she fell ill and could not continue, but she always prayed, she was very good and kind to everyone, and she always offered her illness to the Lord; My grandfather Giuseppe Stilo, on the other hand, the father of my aunt, born on 5.4.1890 and died on 10.6.1973 never prayed, never went to Mass, sometimes cursed and perhaps did not believe in God, while his daughter was just the opposite. Of course, Natuzza could not have known any of this and I repeat, I was very surprised by the exceptional speed with which Natuzza gave me the answers “.
Professor Valerio Marinelli, a scientist and author of several books on Natuzza Evolo, once asked her: “Do the souls in Purgatory also suffer from cold?” She answered: “Yes, even the wind and the frost, according to the sins of the soul are a particular punishment. For example to the proud and to the vain, the soul is purged in the mud, but it is not a normal mud, it is a mud of rot. The weather in the afterlife is like this here, but it seems slower due to suffering. No one knows the mysteries of the beyond, and scientists know only the thousandth part of what is here in the earthly world ”.
Dr. Ercole Versace of Reggio Calabria recalls: “One morning many years ago, while I, my wife and Natuzza prayed together in the little chapel in Paravati, and there was no one else with us, at a certain point Natuzza became bright in the face and she said to me: “Doctor, did you have a brother who died when he was little?” And I: “Yes, why?” “Because he is here with us!” “Yes, and where is he?” “In a green meadow, beautiful”. It was my brother Alberto, who died at fifteen, on May 21, 1940, of an appendix attack, while he was studying in Florence at the Collegio della Quercia. Natuzza added nothing else.”
Sister Bianca Cordiano of the Missionaries of the Catechism, declares: “I have asked Natuzza many times about my deceased relatives. When I asked her about my mother she told me immediately, with an expression of joy: “She is in heaven! She was a holy woman! ” When I asked about my father, she said to me: “The next time you come I will give you the answer.” When I saw her again, Natuzza said to me: “On October 7th have a Mass celebrated for your father, because he will go up to heaven!” I was deeply struck by these words of his, because October 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and my father was called Rosario. Natuzza didn’t know my father’s name.”
It is now opportune to bring back a part of the 1984 interview granted by Natuzza to the well-known professor Luigi Maria Lombardi Satriani, a professor of anthropology who, however, has always praised Natuzza Evolo, together with the journalist Maricla Boggio.
Question: Natuzza, thousands of people have come to you and continue to come. What are they for, what needs do they tell you, what demands do they make?
Response: People request prayers for healing. They ask for the dead, if they are in heaven, if they are in purgatory, if they need prayers or not, they ask for advice.
Question: And how do you answer them? For example, when they ask you for the dead.
Response: – For the dead I may recognize them from a photograph if I have seen them recently for example 2 or 3 months before; if I saw them a year before, I don’t remember them, but if I saw them recently I remember them, through photographs I recognize them.
Question: – So they show you the photograph and can you also tell where they are?
Response: – Yes, I can tell where they are, if they are in heaven, in purgatory, and what they need or if they send a message to tell their relatives.
Question: – Can you also give the dead messages of the living, of the family members?
Response: – Yes.
Question: – But a person, when he dies, can you see the soul right away or not?
Response: – No, I am only allowed to see them after forty days.
Question: – And where are the souls during these forty days?
Response: – They do not say where, they have never talked about this.
Question: – And can they be in purgatory or heaven or hell?
Response: – Yes, any of the three.
Question: – Or somewhere else?
Response: – The souls say that they do their purgatory where they lived on earth, where they committed sins.
Question – You sometimes talk about the Green Meadow. What is the Green Meadow?
Response: – The souls have said that the Green Meadow is the lightest level in Purgatory. They say it is the antechamber of Paradise.
Question: – And how do you distinguish, when you see people, if they are alive or if they are dead. Because you see them simultaneously.
Response: – I don’t always distinguish them, because so many times I happened to offer a chair to a dead man because I can’t tell if he’s alive or if he’s dead. I distinguish only the souls of paradise because they are raised from the ground. The others, on the other hand, are not. In fact how many times I have offered them a chair and they tell me: “I don’t need that because I am a soul of the other world”. Also when a living person comes to me and asks me about their deceased relative, I sometimes see the dead relative along side the living person asking me questions. The poor soul tells me so many things to suggest to their living relative.
Question: Do you only hear these voices of the dead? Don’t the others in the room hear them?
Response: –No, just me, I repeat what I hear.
The scientist Valerio Marinelli who, for a long time, studied the paranormal phenomena of Natuzza has collected various testimonies,and states: “In 1985, Mrs. Jolanda Cuscianna, from Bari, asked me to ask Natuzza about her mother Carmela Tritto, who died in September 1984. This lady had been a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses and her daughter was worried about her salvation. Natuzza told me that that soul was safe, but that she needed suffrages. Signora Cuscianna prayed a lot for her mother and also had Gregorian Masses said in her memory. When she asked Natuzza, a year later, she said she had gone to heaven.”
Professor Marinelli: “Father Michael asked her about this issue later, and Natuzza reiterated that the sufferings of Purgatory can be very acute, so much so that we talk about flames of Purgatory, to make us understand the intensity of their pain. The souls in Purgatory can be supported by living men, but not by the souls of the dead, not even those of paradise; only the Virgin Mary, among the souls of heaven, can help them. And during the celebration of the Mass, Natuzza told Father Michael, many souls crowd inside the churches, waiting as beggars for the priest’s prayer for their benefit. On 1 October 1997 I had the opportunity to meet Natuzza at the Casa Anziani, in the presence of Father Michael, and I returned to this topic. I asked her if it was true that the sufferings of the earth are little compared to those of Purgatory, and she replied that the penalties of Purgatory are always commensurate with the sins committed by the single soul; that earthly sufferings, if accepted patiently and offered to God, are of great value, and can greatly shorten one’s Purgatory: a month of earthly suffering could avoid, for example, a year of purgatory. Natuzza told me that, as happened to my mother, who with her illness before dying was spared a part of Purgatory and went almost immediately to the Green Meadow, where she did not suffer even though she did not yet have the beatific vision. The sufferings of Purgatory, Natuzza added, can sometimes be extremely bitter, but souls willingly bear it because they know that sooner or later, they will have the eternal vision of God and are encouraged by this certainty. Sometimes they have the comfort of the guardian angel. However to one soul that had gravely sinned, Natuzza said, it happened that their soul had to remained for a long time standing on a precipice from where on one side there was darkness, from another the sea, and on the other the fire, and the soul did not know if it was in Purgatory or in Hell. Only after forty years he learned that he had been saved, and he was very happy. ”
The testimonies on the visions of Natuzza on Purgatory are in agreement with the teachings of the Church, moreover they constitute a precious confirmation of professed faith. Natuzza helped us understand what God’s infinite mercy and infinite justice means, that they are not at odds with each other, but harmonize admirably without detracting from either mercy or justice. Natuzza often emphasized the importance of prayers and suffrages for the souls in Purgatory and above all the request for celebrations of holy Masses and in this underlines the infinite value of the Blood of Christ the Redeemer. The lesson of Natuzza Evolo is extremely precious today in a historical period in which relativist weak thought and nihilism are everywhere. Natuzza’s message is a strong reminder of reality and common sense. In particular Natuzza invites us to have a profound sense of sin. One of the great misfortunes of today is precisely the complete loss of the sense of sin. There are a large number of souls in Purgatory. This makes us understand both God’s mercy, which saves as much as possible, and that even the best souls have defects and deficiencies.
The life of Natuzza served not only to help the suffering souls in Purgatory, but to reinvigorate the conscience of all those who turned to her to set up a much more rigorous and morally committed Christian life. Natuzza often spoke of Purgatory and this too is a great teaching because, unfortunately, even the theme of Purgatory has almost completely disappeared from the preaching and teaching of many Catholic theologians. The reason is constituted by the fact that today we all believe ourselves so good that we cannot deserve anything but Paradise! Here there is certainly the responsibility of contemporary culture which tends to deny the very concept of sin, that is, of that reality of Hell and Purgatory. In conclusion, the teaching of Natuzza on Purgatory can be extremely useful for the salvation of the soul of the 21st century Catholics who want to hear it.