In the little town of Montichiari, not far from the picturesque Lake Garda, which sit surrounded by mountains live 14,000 people. The town is situated at the edge of these clear mountains from which it drives its name, and close to the City of Brescia in the province of Lombardy, Northern Italy. It is from this podium that our Heavenly Mother requested on December 8, 1947, that H.H. Pius XII be notified of Her request that an Hour of Grace be observed every December 8th henceforth.
In the Spring of 1947, whilst praying in the chapel of the local hospital in Montichiari, nurse Pierina Gilli had an unforgettable experience. Mary, the Mother of God, appeared to her in a wonderful vision and magnificent light, as the exalted Lady, dressed in mauve, very sad and with tears in Her eyes. Pierina noticed that Her heart was pierced by three swords; The first sword means: the unworthy celebration of Holy Mass and Communion unworthly received; the meaning of the second sword is: being unfaithful to, and giving up, the vocation as a priest or a religious; and the third sword means: betrayal of the Faith. Our Lady asked for Prayer, Sacrifice, and Penance. These were Her only words.
Our Lady appeared to Pierina in a white dress. She was adorned with three beautiful roses:white, red and yellow, which Pierina was allowed to see in place of the three swords. The white rose represented the spirit of prayer, the red one represented the spirit of sacrifice, and the yellow rose the spirit of penance and conversion. Pierina had not yet recognized the Mother of God, and she asked the apparition therefore: Please tell me, who are you?. In reply to this question She smiled and said: I am the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of you. Our Lord sends me to bring a new Marian Devotion to all religious orders and institutes, male and female, and to the priests of this world. I promise to protect those religious orders and institutes who will venerate me in this special way, increase their vocations, and achieve a greater striving for saintliness among the servants of God. I wish that the 13th of each month be celebrated as a Marian Day. Special prayers are to be said during the proceeding twelve days. With an expression of great joy, She continued: On this day I shall pour out vocational holiness and abundant graces on those religious orders and spiritual institutes who have honoured me especially. I wish that the 13th July be celebrated each year in honour of the Rosa Mystica (the Mystical Rose) Pierina asked whether a miracle would follow. Our Lady replied: The most evident miracle will be this: Those who have given their souls to God - the religious who, for a long time now, have become indifferent thus betraying their vocation and as a result of their offenses have brought about the punishments and persecutions which are raging against the Church at the present time - will stop to offend Our Lord. They will again lead a life according to the original spirit of their saintly founders. The seer, Pierina, interpreted the words Mystical Rose as follows: "Mary is the master teacher of the innermost, mystical life and the Mother of the mystical body of Christ; in other words: She is the Mother of the Church." This interpretation by Pierina was magnificently confirmed by Pope Paul VI in his final speech during the third meeting of the council, on 21st November, l964. Irrespective of the presence of observers from the separated Churches, he declared Mary as the Mother of the Church; finally, he let his heart speak out and said: We want that, in the future, the Most Blessed Virgin is still more honoured under this title, and called by this lovely title by the christian people.
Pierina saw Our Lady again in the chapel of the hospital, in the presence of many staff members, doctors, and people from the town. This time, Our Lady requested that the desired devotion be realized, and said: I have placed myself as the mediatrix between my Divine son and mankind, especially for the soul consecrated to God. Tired of the continuous offenses, He already wanted to dispense His justice. Pierina thanked Our Lady in the name of all present. Our Lady finished Her dialogue with the words; Live out of love!
Our Lady appeared in the Basilica of Montichiari in the presence of some people. Among them were several priests. Pierina heard the words: Our Lord can no longer watch the many grievous sins against purity. He wants to send a flood of punishments. I have interceded that He may be merciful once more! Therefore, I ask for prayer and penance to atone for these sins. Pierina replied to Our Lady’s request with a willing "Yes". The Blessed Virgin added: I lovingly ask the priest to express their great love and stop the people from committing those sins. Whoever will atone for those sins, will receive my blessing and graces. In reply the seer’s question whether we may hope for forgiveness, Our Lady said: Yes, as long as these sins are no longer committed. With these words She went away.
Our Lady appeared once more to Pierina in the Basilica of Montichiari in the presence of several people, and demanded that the seer make four times the Sign of the Cross with her tongue on the tiles in the center of the church. Our Lady then descended onto the spot and said: I descend on this place, for many great conversions will happen here. And in a sad voice She continued: The Christians of your Italian nation belong to those who offend most my Divine Son Jesus through their sins of unchastity. Our Lord demands, therefore, PRAYER, GENEROUS SACRIFICES, AND PENANCE. Pierina asked: "What do we have to do to fulfill your demands for prayer and penance?" Our Lady replied full of tenderness: Prayer. After a short, silent pause, She explained: Penance means to accept every day all the little crosses and the duties too, in the spirit of penance. Thereupon She promised solemnly: On the 8th December, at noon, I shall appear again here in the Basilica. IT WILL BE THE HOUR OF GRACE. Pierina asked: "Please explain to me the meaning of Hour of Grace". This Hour of Grace will produce great and numerous conversions. Hardened and cold hearts resembling this marble will be touched by divine Grace, and they will become faithful to Our Lord in loyal love. This was the only time that Our Lady announced Her next appearance. All other apparitions came unannounced.
Our Blessed Virgin appeared once more at the Basilica of Montichiari Three people were present including the father confessor of the seer. Our Lady, the Mystical Rose, wore a white cloak which was held by a boy at the right-hand side, and by a girl on the left-hand side. Our Lady said: I shall show my heart tomorrow of which the people know so little. In Fatima I asked that the devotion to my heart be spread. And with an ever sweeter voice She went on: I wanted to bring my heart into Christian families in Bonate: (near Bergamo, Italy) and after a brief pause She added: Here, in Montichiari, I wish to be venerated as the ROSA MYSTICA as already indicated so often, together with the devotion to my heart which must be specially practiced in religious institutes so that they may obtain more graces through my motherly heart. Our Lady then confided a secret to Pierina with the promise that She would tell her the time for the secret to be made public. Pierina also wanted to know who the children were. Our Lady replied: Jacinta and Francisco; they will help you in your trials and suffering. They too, suffered. I wish from you the simplicity and goodness of these two children. Our Lady then spread out Her arms as a sign of Her protection, lifted Her eyes to Heaven and disappeared with the words: Praised be the Lord!
On this great feast countless priest were present. It was only with a great deal of effort that Pierina was able to get into the Basilica. She knelt in the center of the church, just where the other apparitions had taken place. During the recitation of the Holy Rosary, Pierina called out: "O, Our Lady!" Great silence ensued! Our Lady appeared on a large white staircase, decorated with a white, red and yellow rose. She said with a smile: I am the Immaculate Conception. And descending several steps with great majesty She continued: I am Mary, full of grace, Mother of My Divine Son Jesus Christ. Descending even more, She said: Through my coming to Montichiari, I wish to be known as the ROSA MYSTICA. It is my wish that every year, on 8th December, at noon, the HOUR OF GRACE FOR THE WORLD be celebrated . Many divine and bodily graces will be received through this devotion. Our Lord, my Divine Son Jesus, will send His overflowing mercy if good people will pray continuously for their sinful brother. One should very soon notify the Holy Father of the Church, Pope Pius XII, that it is my wish that the HOUR OF GRACE FOR THE WORLD be made known and spread throughout the world. If anyone is unable to visit his church, yet will pray at noon at home, he will also receive graces through me. Whoever prays on these tiles and weeps tears of penance, will find a secure heavenly ladder and receive protection and grace through my motherly heart. Then Our Lady showed Pierina her heart and said: Look at this heart which loves mankind so very much, but most people only shower offenses upon it. If the good and the bad unite in prayer they will obtain mercy and peace through this heart. The Lord is still protection the good and is holding back a great punishment because of my intercession. Our Lady smiled again and went on: Soon one will recognize the greatness of this Hour of Grace. When Pierina saw that Our Lady was going to depart, she said: "Dear Lady, I thank you! Bless my homeland Italy and the whole world, but especially the Holy Father, the priest, the religious, and the sinners." Our Lady replied: I have already prepared a flood of graces for all the children who listen to my words and keep them in their hearts. She assured Pierina that she would return at a suitable time when the Secret entrusted to her, would be made public through the Ecclesiastical authority. Our Lady then said Good-bye. Pierina withdrew to a convent where, hidden from the world, she served in the kitchen and where she waited in silence for the hour which, as promised, came after 19 years, on White Sunday (Sunday after Easter), 17th April, 1966, in Fontanelle, a settlement of only a few houses spread around and situated about 2-3 km outside Montichiari. Our Blessed Lady kept her promise.
The Most Blessed Virgin said: My Divine Son is total love, and he is sending me to give miraculous powers to this spring. As a sign of penance and purification kiss the top step. Steps made of stone led down from the path to the spring. Then descend a few steps and kiss the stone again. Our Lady followed the seer. Now, for a third time, kiss the bottom step and have a crucifix placed there. With Her left hand Our Lady indicated the spot. The sick and all my children must kiss the crucifix and ask my Divine Son for forgiveness before they take the water, or drink from it. Our Lady approached the spring and said: Take mud into your hands. Wash yourself with water! This is to teach the sinners that sin makes the soul dirty, yet the soul will be cleansed again through the water of grace. Thus, the sinner will once more be pleasing to God. (What a clear symbol of the sacramental grace of God!) Our Lady bowed down and touched the water of the spring in two places. She added the following words: The wishes expressed by my Son Jesus in 1947, are to made known to all my children. Then I gave you His messages and mine in the Basilica (Montichiari). It is my wish, and I repeat: the sick should come to this miraculous spring and many of my children should come with them.
On 13th May, Our Lady’s anniversary of Her apparition at Fatima, Our Lady brought great joy to Pierina when She appeared once again at the spring, in the presence of about 20 people. It was 11:40 a.m. Our Lady said amongst other things: One should make known my appearance at this spring. My Divine Son is all love. The world is walking the road to perdition. Once again I have been able to obtain mercy, and Jesus has sent me, therefore, again to Montichiari to bring you the grace of His love... It requires PRAYER, SACRIFICE AND PENANCE in order to save mankind. Our Lady, pointing to the water at Her right-hand side which She had touched on 17th April, 1966, said: It is my wish that a comfortable basin is built here, in order to immerse the sick in the water... The other part of the spring (She pointed to Her left-hand side) is to be used for drinking. Pierina wanted to know from the Blessed Virgin what to call the spring. Thereupon Our Lady replied:
And in reply to a further question: "What is your name?", Peirina was told:
At these words, the Mother of God spread out Her arms, spread open Her wide cloak, and said with a smile: I have come to bring love, unity and peace to the souls of my children. I ask you, do not throw any mud on the love for your fellow-man. The seer questioned the meaning of the wide cloak. Our lady answered: This is the meaning of my love which embraces the whole of mankind. Pierina asked: "What would you like us to do here at Fontanelle?" Our Lady replied: Do acts of charity for the sick who will come here.
About 100 people were present at the spring on this Day of Obligation. Pierina came to the Shrine after 3 p.m. and asked all those present to recite the Holy Rosary. Suddenly, in the middle of the recitation, Pierina called out: "Look up to the sky!" This time, Our Lady appeared five to six metres above the spring over a wheat field. Those present noticed that, in the direction of the seer’s eyes, Our Lady seemed to touch the ears of the wheat with Her feet. Our Lady said: My Divine Son Jesus Christ has sent me here today, on the Feast of the Body of Our Lord, on the Feast of Unity and Love. Spreading out Her hand She continued: I should like very much that this wheat be transformed into the Eucharistic bread, into countless penitential communions.. Majestically, lifting Her eyes to Heaven, Our Lady went on: It is my wish that the Hosts made of this wheat, be taken to Rome, and to Fatima for the 13th October. Pierina asked: "Should all this wheat be used for it?" Our Lady replied: May noble hearts fulfill my wish. I wish that a chapel be built here with a statue facing the spring. Pierina said: "Dear Blessed Virgin, I do not understand." Our Lady showed her an image and said: The statue is to be carried here in a procession on 13th October, but prior to it, it is my wish that the people of Montichiari consecrate themselves to my heart. Montichiari is the place which my Divine Son has chosen for me to distribute His graces. Pierina saw that Our Lady was going to leave, so she asked Her to stay a little longer. Our Lady lingered, and Pierina was allowed to commend several petitions and to request Our Lady’s blessing for the priests, the faithful, and the sick.
Pierina came to the spring at about 2:30 p.m. About 200 people had gathered there. At 3p.m. the seer asked all to recite the Holy Rosary. During the fourth mystery she stopped, and called out: "Our Lady is here." Everyone was silent, and they all listened with emotion to the dialogue with Heaven. The Mother of God said: My Divine Son Jesus has sent me again, in order to request the WORLD LEAGUE OF PENITENTIAL COMMUNION and this is to be done on 13th October. This Day of Penitential Communion should be spread throughout the world. It is to be held first in 1966, and them to be repeated every year. Those priests and faithful who will spread this devotion, will be given the wealth of my graces. Pierina inquired again about the wheat. Our Lady instructed her: One should take this wheat to my beloved Son Pope Paul VI with the instruction that it has been blessed by Our Presence. It is the wheat of his homeland, of Brescia, of Montichiari. Tell him the wishes of my Divine Son... also those concerning Fatima. Pierina wanted to know what to do with the remaining wheat. Our Lady answered: Have small bread rolls baked of the remaining wheat. These rolls are to be distributed here at Fontanelle on certain days in memory of my coming. This is to be the sign of gratitude of my sons, who till the soil. After my ascension into Heaven I have always acted as Mediatrix between my Son Jesus and the whole of mankind. How many graces I have been able to obtain in all these centuries! How many graces were shown. How much punishment was prevented. How many dialogues did I hold with souls. How often have I visited earth to bring my messages to the people, but people continue to offend Our Lord. I have chosen this place of Montichiari because there is still the humility of poor Bethlehem among my sons who till the soil. Furthermore, this place, where so many prayers are said continuously, will be transformed into a source of rich blessings. After these revelations of Our Lady, Pierina withdrew once more into a life of peaceful retirement. In addition, the bishop ordered her to remain absolutely silent. Pierina obeyed the bishop’s order. The things that are forbidden are very tempting, and very soon the message of the apparition of Our Lady spread around the world drawing floods of pilgrims to Montichiari.