|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2012)|
Divine Child Jesus
|Witness||Father Giovanni Rizzo
Rita Antoinette Rizzo
(also known as Mother Angelica)
|Holy See approval||Approved by Archdiocese of Bogota
Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama
|Shrine||Shrine of the Divino Nino de Jesus, Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Alabama|
The Divino Niño, also known as Divino Niño de Bogotá or Divine Child Jesus, is a 20th-century religious wooden statue of the child Jesus originating from Bogota, Colombia. A cross originally in the back was removed upon purchase by Father Giovanni Rizzo. The 17-centimeter high statue with arms stretched out wide and wearing a traditional pink robe or tunic has an inscription "Yo reinaré" ("I will reign") at its base. It is one of the most popular religious images in Colombia, especially among Roman Catholics and it is claimed to have miraculous powers of fertility and healing.
The statue's image and religious devotion began with a Salesian priest named Father Giovanni Rizzo (Anglicized: John Rizzo) who was originally from Arenzano, Italy. His bishop once assigned him to an impoverished town or barrio in Bogota, Colombia.
In 1914, Rizzo and his Salesian priestly companions were given the assignment to expand Catholicism and to build a new church in Barranquilla, Colombia. Stuck with lack of financial resources, Rizzo was believed to have had a mystical vision of the child Jesus in a standing posture while beckoning out his arms. The boy in the vision spoke "Take me with you, I want to accompany you." Rizzo would later discover a statue for sale in a similar design as his vision, and many believers claim that the immediate success of Rizzo to build a church came from the child Jesus apparition and promise.
In 1942, after years of finishing church construction, Rizzo discovered a child Jesus statue in a nearby shop called El Vaticano. In the shop was the statue by an anonymous Italian sculptor who fashioned a likeness of the child Jesus with a cross in the back, as in Rizzo's vision. Rizzo ordered the cross to be removed from his back and that the owner inscribe the words Yo reinaré (English: I will reign) at the base of the statue, which he brought to his new parish.
Apparition to Mother Angelica
Founder of Eternal World Television Network, Mother Angelica has a strong devotion to the child Jesus. Various religious reports claim that in 1995, she travelled in Colombia to expand the business of her then-new network in the Spanish language.
In Colombia, Angelica met Padre Juan Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced her and her companion sisters to the shrine of the Divino Niño. Angelica has recalled that upon praying before the image, the statue came alive and spoke to her, commanding her to build a temple where he will bless her benefactors. In a later biography by Raymond Arroyo, Angelica recalls that she has brief conversations with the child Jesus and has also seen him in the hallway of her convent.
Mother Angelica brought this devotion back with her to Alabama, United States, where she and her companion sisters propagate the same devotion. A variant of their child Jesus image portrays him holding a burning heart, rather than with the traditional outstretched arms found in Bogotá. Angelica also attributes her many network and television successes to this pious religious devotion.
Some claims have also been established regarding the similarity of the name of Salesian Father John "Rizzo" and Mother Angelica's previous last name as Rita Antoinette "Rizzo" citing possible relations though decades of years apart. Both personalities also come from an Italian heritage but has never been tested or verified through DNA analysis.
- Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles - Raymond Arroyo. Double Day Publishings, 2005.