On 12 April 1948 Maria Valtorta receives this very short dictation. The historical moment is the one in which she is particularly committed to having her written about the life of Jesus accepted and at the same time she is looking for a publisher. Given the amount of typewritten sheets (today like yesterday they are about 4,500 printed pages), engaging in such an undertaking was anything but easy, as was finding benefactors-financiers and those who “risked” publication. In addition, the exegetical battle over the Gospels themselves was very strong in the various theological universities. In this climate comes the following dictation: short and concise, it is divided into four parts (we omit only the editorial elements of the editor). The first tells us who dictates and why; the second is the one that interests us most here; the third concerns editorial news for the future “Gospel”; the fourth is an invitation to fear nothing from enemies and pedantics.
“Mary says: ‘An answer to give peace to the anxiety created by a tendentious question’. […]
‘This is the truth. Every other version is legend. And you were told. But you can’t remember everything’. […] ‘Copy, when you can have them, the passages of January 5, 1944 and of the 8-7 and 15-8 of the same year that I will mark for you. And stay in peace, because truth is one and insidious questions cannot change it’. […] And once the effort of copying is over, Maria rewards me with these words: […]
‘Now rest in peace because I am with you, to defend you and the revelation that was given to you’. (Q44-50, pp. 439-440. April 12, 1948).
The affirmation is very strong: it seems to disqualify any other reading of the Gospels, and this can only be disconcerting. Exegesis and theology had produced and were producing tens of thousands of titles a year on the subject “gospels”: is it possible that they are all wrong or in any case insufficient? On the other hand, how could talented scholars – who had studied, taught and published for a lifetime on the Gospels and the life of Jesus – accept that a sick woman without studies and means could compete with them and therefore be taken into consideration? The fact that she was considered a “mystic” and a “visionary” made her even more unacceptable a priori. And in fact all the doors remained hermetically sealed.
What could make this sealed door open? And what could have ensured that Valtortian texts could spread with respect for the teaching Church? The answer was and is only one: proof is needed that the contents of the 4500 Valtortian pages were, and are, scientific. That is, controllable and verifiable by anyone.
Even this is not enough, alone, because there will always be someone who will refuse everything regardless, as there will be others who will be satisfied with what they feel in their hearts. We leave the first among those who do not want to understand and read; the latter propose a solution that must in any case be overcome, because it is superficial, devotionistical and not objective, following whose wake one risks shipwreck. The problem that concerns the false mysticism is right here: to go beyond real and proven data, to take refuge in intimist or strictly personal solutions; but this is extremely risky: typical of those who follow this path is to end up in the hands of substantially dishonest people, a plethora of visionaries, seers, psychics, fortune-tellers and so on, who are often nothing more than profiteers of the weaknesses of others, and who end up to deceive and betray those who rely on them. Reading “The Gospel” by Maria Valtorta letting oneself be guided only by the heart, one runs the risk of serious deviations of every order and degree: devotionism and subjectivism on the one hand, welcoming “The Gospel” as canonical revelation on the other; these are the two errors that those who do not rely on science and canonically revealed faith can encounter. In other words: this is not a completion of the Gospels, as Blessed Father Allegra also stated in 1970 (at that time this language could be used, but no longer today, after the documents of the Holy See have clarified the problem), but only of an illustration (Qi, p. 41): certainly important, but never substituting or completing the canonical gospels.
We therefore need a third way that allows us to take what is written above very seriously – “every other version is a legend” – and at the same time not to lapse into devotionism, falsification or exaggeration. The solution is to trust scientific results and stay firmly on the crest of revealed faith. However, it must be clear that this attitude happily compels us to use discernment on every page. It is not a question of degenerating into quibbles by pursuing useless moot points; indeed, exactly the opposite, it is a question of arriving at real, concrete, verifiable facts, accepting them as such after they have been scientifically verified.
From the perspective of discernment, the linguistic adaptation that must be understood and used must also be taken into account. If Maria Valtorta writes (EV 1.2) about crocodiles (living in fresh water) in the Mediterranean (salty) sea, it is necessary to verify how such a thing is possible. In this case, what at first glance seems “an error“ has been verified thanks to multiple historical attestations (“L’Enigma Valtorta 1”, p. 183). It must therefore be accepted and that’s it, because the objectivity of science has proved it. When prof. Emilio Matricciani, after adequate studies confirmed by other talented – albeit anonymous – scientists, affirms that “Maria Valtorta seems to be able to write texts so different that they cover, mathematically, almost the entire interval covered by Italian literature in seven centuries of history” (“Indagini scientifiche”, p. 100) must be taken very seriously. This is not subjectivism, but science. You just accept. Clarifying that terms such as “seems” and “almost” belong to scientific jargon as science as such is always available to change opinion in the face of different certified evidence.
Another element to take into account is the time of writing. All Italians know Manzoni’s “Promessi Sposi” and many will remember the first page, written in an Italian from the early 1600s. Manzoni explains that he transcribes into his current Italian (1840) a manuscript he discovered, dating back two centuries and half before. Reading that page is really complicated for us: the language of both those eras is very different from ours. A similar thing can be said of the Valtortian texts, written in the Italian world of 1943-1948 in the rage of wartime and post-war times. Obviously the distance with Manzoni is much greater than that between us and Valtorta, between our times and hers: but language and expressive methods have changed a bit, as well as some theological concepts have been deepened (grace and religious freedom, for example), and this must be taken into account.
The sentence: “This is the truth. Every other version is legend”, it must therefore be read duly taking into account what is written above: then it will appear true and the misunderstandings will go away. The extraordinary beauty of the Valtortian texts, with their theological, social, historical, literary contents, etc., will manifest itself wonderfully, and they will become an exceptional tool for the New Evangelization, for a new enthusiasm for Jesus and his Church, for God-Trinity and the Virgin Mary.