Maria Esperanza de Bianchini
|Maria Esperanza de Bianchini|
|Born||November 22, 1928
|Died||August 7, 2004|
Maria Esperanza de Bianchini (November 22, 1928 – August 7, 2004), also known as Servant of God Maria Esperanza, was a Venezuelan mystic, born on the feast of Saint Cecilia in Barrancas in the State of Monagas near the Orinoco River. On January 31, 2010, in the (Catholic) Cathedral of St Francis of Assisi in Metuchen, New Jersey, the case for the beatification and canonization of Maria Esperanza was opened by the Bishop Paul Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen, which act gave her the title Servant of God. Maria's Marian Apparitions were approved at the local level by the bishop, but not by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has only approved 12 apparitions to date.
Born on Nov. 22, 1928, in Barrancas, Venezuela, Bianchini was the mother of seven children and grandmother of 20 children.
Believers claim that, while at one point Maria Esperanza considered becoming a nun, it was revealed to her in a vision on October 3, 1954 that her calling was to the married life. It is said that in this vision of St. John Bosco, the saint told her she would first encounter her spouse on November 1, 1955, which she reportedly did. She was particularly devoted to St Thérèse of Lisieux – the “Little Flower”. Believers hold that, from her youth, she lived a life of virtue and fidelity to God and received the gifts of supernatural knowledge, healing, visions, discernment of spirits, locution, ecstasy, levitation, the odor of sanctity, the stigmata, and the ability to read the hearts of others. Witnesses claim to have seen her levitating during mass and engaging in bilocation. Her legend also recounts that Maria received the spiritual direction and the mantle of Saint Padre Pio, and received in the presence of her husband a bilocated visitation from the saint the day before he died.
In 1979 she created the Betania Foundation, a lay movement designed to evangelize, educate and develop the well-being of society and family life and promote social justice. Her family continues the mission of the foundation.
Bianchini reportedly first saw an apparition of Mary in 1976, but she became a world-renowned figure after Mary reportedly appeared to her and 150 others at a farm named Finca Betania in Venezuela on March 25, 1984. Mary is said to have appeared under the title “Mary, virgin and mother, reconciler of all people and nations.” The apparition was deemed valid by Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo of Los Teques, Venezuela, in 1987.
- Biography of Maria Esperanza at MariaEsperanza.org
- Pillai, Michelle (14 January 2010). "Life of a Venezuelan visionary and mystic - Jan 17". Catholic News. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- "Expert explains Church’s criteria for confirming Marian apparitions", Catholic News Agency, May 8, 2008
- "Metuchen opens sainthood cause for Venezuelan mystic who died in US", The Catholic Review
- Smith, Stan (3 December 2009). "Metuchen to open beatification cause of Maria Esperanza". Catholic Star Herald. Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- Davidson, Linda Kay; Gitlitz, David Martin (November 2002). Pilgrimage: from the Ganges to Graceland : an encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 59~60. ISBN 978-1-57607-004-8. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- Brooks, Stevern, Where are the Mantles, p. 49-51, Xulon Books