“All men by nature desire to know”
(Aristotle, Metaphysica Book 1, Part 1)
In times of crisis, it is natural for us to ask “Why?” Why has such a calamity befallen us? Is this evil a punishment from God? We are inclined to ask about calamities, such as the present novel coronavirus (COVID-19), in terms of God’s punishment in His permissive will.
Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to know with certitude the specific reason why God would punish the world. Theologically, we know that God has permitted the present pandemic via His permissive will. The reason, however, is not something to which we may be privy without an authentic private revelation.
In the present moment of extreme unease, people are searching for answers, and some are indeed turning to private revelation. Gloria TV has made one such effort.
On March 23rd, Gloria TV released a video that speculated upon a text from Luisa Piccaretta (†1947). Piccaretta is known for the “Divine Will” alleged private revelations in the first half of the twentieth century. There has been not a little controversy over her writings. While I cannot cover the entire controversy here, it is important to note the following information:
- Luisa Piccaretta wrote in a local dialect, which requires great care in understanding as well as in making any translations;
- Piccaretta’s writings, regretfully, did not receive this careful treatment both in understanding and translation;
- Bad interpretations of her writings resulted thereby;
- Said bad interpretations were spread among various groups of the faithful, thereby compounding the case;
- Piccaretta’s local Bishop, Giovanni Battista Pichierri, put a moratorium on her writings while the case was being sorted out;
- Said moratorium is still in effect;
- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as of 2020, has noted that Piccaretta’s writings are still under examination.
Having said these things, let me now turn to the content of Gloria TV’s video.
The main thrust of the video is to speculate upon some texts from Piccaretta. The first one presented in the video is given the date of 30 July, 1900:
I have spent a restless night and day…. I saw things that made me terrified and frightened. I saw that, in Italy, one fire was rising and that another one had risen in China. Little by little, they were uniting together, they were united into one.” Then, “I saw a riot, a tumult, a killing of people”.
Gloria TV then immediately adds the following commentary: “It seems that the coronavirus is the fire that jumped from China to Italy.” There are some problems here.
To begin, Gloria TV does not identify which writing this text is in. Moreover, which translation is being used? Is it the old, unreliable one, or a new and approved one? Earlier in the piece, Gloria TV noted “Piccaretta’s diaries were published with the permission of a bishop and the approval of her confessor Father Annibale di Francia….” No hyperlink or citation is given. Thus, viewers are left in some doubt as to the reliability of this translation.
Second, Gloria TV attributes the alleged vision to Piccaretta in the context of the present COVID-19 pandemic. This attribution is done largely because of the mention of Italy and China. Is the attribution appropriate? Putting aside for the moment the question of which translation was used, let us take the text at face value.
Piccaretta writes that “one fire was rising” in Italy and that “another one had risen in China. Little by little, they were uniting together, they were united into one.” A first observation is that the grammar is a little unclear. Luisa first writes about a fire in Italy, then about another one that “had risen” in China. Which came first, the fire in Italy or the fire in China? Did they arise simultaneously? The answer to these questions is not immediate based upon the grammar.
A second observation concerns Piccaretta’s text about the two fires “uniting together.” Speaking in strict organic terms, if the “fire” is the COVID-19 virus, there would already be an organic connection between China (where the virus began) and Italy (where it spread). There is some symbolism here in the union of the “fire” that is not clear, and Gloria TV does not address it well.
After commenting on the “fire,” Gloria TV continues in its video to discuss more words attributed to Jesus by Piccaretta in October, 1906: “My daughter, the punishments I’m sending are nothing compared to those that are already prepared.” Piccaretta adds, “While he was saying this, I saw before me many people infected with contagious diseases who were dying.” Whether or not these words are from the same passage is not clear in Gloria TV’s presentation.
This passage, however, from Piccaretta’s writings, rings very similar to the present COVID-19 pandemic. There is, however, a notable difficulty: Piccaretta does not specify one punishment. Rather, she specifies at least two. Piccaretta wrote about “the punishments” and “contagious diseases.” There is no literal agreement, then, between attributing COVID-19 (a singular pandemic) with the literal sense of Piccaretta’s statements.
The rest of Gloria TV’s video focuses upon some statements attributed to Jesus about effeminate clergy and various profanations. These appear to be relevant to the video presentation in that they provide a potential further reason why God allowed the present pandemic to occur. Gloria TV claims that the “severe chastisements” merited by these “profanations” did not happen in Piccaretta’s lifetime. No connection is made to events such as World War I, the 1918 Spanish Influenza, World War II—all of which happened within Piccaretta’s lifetime.
Based upon the present information, it seems as though Gloria TV did not exercise caution and care before publishing this video. Utilizing alleged private revelations in this way can only have the effect of further aggravating an already tense situation, and is a disservice to the cause of Luisa Piccaretta (currently in Rome). This video presents no authentic call to the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity in the midst of a period where people begin to reflect more deeply upon their mortality.