Cortesi's intervention

Don Luigi Cortesi, young philosopher and brilliant teacher of Bergamo's Seminary, arrived at Ghiaie on Friday 19th May 1944. He soon took action with the typical scholar's inquiring attitude, with urbanity and amiability, so much so that it was not difficult for him to take the matter in his hands and play the role of the inquisitor of the events connected with Ghiaie. He did not act with a bishop mandate but of his own free will. By attending the apparitions, he infringed the Bishop's prohibition but he thought that the church authorities would allow somebody to infringe the prohibition in order to investigate and report the events. On the 22nd May he gave an abundant account to the bishop, who did not reproach him but thanked him instead. He interpreted those thanks like an implied consent and went on studying the little girl who in the meantime had been taken to Bergamo. On the 27th May, the implied consent became an explicit permission and from that day on Don Cortesi took the matter in his hands. After the apparitions, the child was taken away from Ghiaie and Don Cortesi gave orders that nobody approached the girl without his permission.

Don Cortesi soon proceeded to play the devil's advocate and submitted the young girl to the hardest trials for a long time, by pressing the child's psyche and conscience hard. On the 15th September 1945 he finally succeeded in making her retract the truth by deceitfully compelling her to write the following on a diary page:

"It is not true that I saw Our Lady. I told a lie, because I saw nothing. I did not have the courage to speak the truth, but then I told everything to Don Cortesi. Now I regret having told so many lies. Adelaide Roncalli. Bergamo-15th-September 1945".

Here is how Adelaide reported the episode in her diary: "In a room of the Orsoline's convent in Bergamo, after closing all doors, Don Cortesi dictated the words to be written on the wretched note. I remember perfectly that, on account of the state of moral violence I was being submitted to, I stained it and he split the sheet of paper and made me write it again, with great patience, in order to reach his aim. That's how the betrayal was carried out."

It went from bad to worse for a long period and don Cortesi carried on with his cruel inquisitional action. After increasing protests from honest people, Bergamo's bishop was obliged - too late indeed - to prohibit don Cortesi from approaching the child.

The reassertion
Once back in her family for a few weeks off, on the 12th July 1946, at the infant school of Ghiaie di Bonate, Adelaide reasserted in writing the following:

"Ghiaie Bergamo 12-7-1946Roncalli AdelaideIt is true that I saw Our Lady (I formerly said that I did not see Our Lady because Don Cortesi had dictated this to me and I wrote what he wanted out of obedience).Roncalli Adelaide"
The paper was signed by 7 witnesses too: the parish priest, the 4 nuns, Rota Agnese and Roncalli Annunciata.

Adelaide wrote in her diary:
"In 1947 I went to the "Wisdom" Sisters' and here I made a big mistake: I related all that had happened in the apparitions, claming with precision I had seen Our Lady and heard her words. Towards the end of my narration I was seized with fear; don Cortesi's words: "You do evil when you claim you have seen Our Lady" overwhelmed me. At first I kept silent, then I made up my mind to repeat what I had learnt from don Cortesi, and so I said I had not seen the Virgin Mary."

These few lines are enough to understand by what form of psychological violence don Cortesi had brought the child into a state of total subjection.

Father Agostino Gemelli's positive report
On the 11th July 1944, Father Agostino Gemelli, world-famous psychiatrist and psychologist, expressly entrusted by the bishop with the in-depth examinations of the child Adelaide Roncalli, wrote the following among other things, while concluding his long report sent to monsignor Bernareggi, bishop of Bergamo

"It is to be excluded that the person in question is abnormal and that mendacity underlies the story of the visions. My four-day-long observation would have enabled us, especially through mental tests, to show up such a personality in whose clinical picture the wish for lying or showing her own personality under a light different from reality would have appeared immediately and plainly. That can be absolutely ruled out, also because the young girl never runs back over the story of the visions spontaneously; when questioned, she hangs her head, looks grave, falls silent; besides, all her personality appears to the psychiatrist like a personality dominated by spontaneity, simplicity, directness, that is by characters that cannot be imitated by a young girl… We are witnessing a precociously positive type, realistic and concise, that is what is furthermost from the hysterical type… thanks to the exclusion of morbid or unusual forms of the personality, we can declare that the claimed visions of Bonate are true, are not the fruit of a sick mind, neither an effect of imagination, nor an effect of suggestion…"

Father Gemelli was strenuously crossed by don Cortesi.

The trial
The Theological Committee, unfortunately, let itself be guided in its works by don Luigi Cortesi's investigations, which were taken over gratuitously and without any guarantee of lawfulness.

Between the 21st May and the 10th June 1947, the spiritual court met and Adelaide was summoned to bear witness. During one of the examinations the young girl was produced her note of retractation. Adelaide felt deceived by don Cortesi and chose to shut up and weep.

In 1960, Adelaide said to Father Mario Mason, with respect to her examination in the court:
"When I signed the letter that he had given to me assuring that it was reserved uniquely to himself, I felt inside that what I had written was false. But by then don Cortesi had seized the signed letter. I saw that letter again on the day of my examination on the able of the judges of the diocesan curia. After taking the oath to tell the whole truthI realized even better that don Cortesi had deceived me. What could I do? Could I dare to expose don Cortesi as false before so many priests? I chose to shut up and weep… "
(See: "Living lamps", February 1978, Milan)

The Episcopal decree
On the 30th April 1948, the bishop of Bergamo issued the following decree:

"We Adriano Bernareggi, Prelate Domestic of His Holiness, Attendant to the Papal throne and Earl, by the grace of God and of the Holy Apostolic See, Bishop of Bergamo - having carefully considered the conscientious and well-pondered studies carried out by the Theological Committee appointed with Episcopal Decree dated 28th October 1944 for the examination of the apparitions and revelations of Our Lady to the young girl Adelaide Roncalli at Ghiaie di Bonate, in May 1944; and bearing in mind the conclusions which the same Committee has come to after submitting the events and the various circumstances, attaining the claimed apparitions and revelations, to scrutiny

by these presents declare:

1) We do not acknowledge the reality of the apparitions and revelations of the Blessed Virgin to Adelaide Roncalli at Ghiaie di Bonate in May 1944.
2) We hereby declare that it is not in our mind to exclude that Our Lady, faithfully invoked by those who in good faith believed She really appeared at Ghiaie, may have granted special and non customary recoveries, thereby rewarding their devoutness.
3) Therefore every form of devotion for Our Lady, worshipped as appeared at Ghiaie di Bonate, in compliance with the canonical laws, remains hereunder forbidden.
Bergamo, 30th April 1948
Adriano Bernareggi Bishop of Bergamo".

The recoveries
Many were the testimonies of the sick people who were healed during and after the apparitions. Several recoveries were instant, perfect and inexplicable. At that time, a special office for the customary examinations was also established.
The bishop's decree also reads: " We hereby declare that it is not in our mind to exclude that Our Lady, faithfully invoked by those who in good faith believed She really appeared at Ghiaie, may have granted special and non customary recoveries, thereby rewarding their devoutness". According to what has just been stated, two doubts persist in the people's mind.

1) The many sick people, who spontaneously and inexplicably recovered from 13th May 1944 until the bishop's judgement dated 30th April 1948 because attending "in good faith" the apparitions at Ghiaie di Bonate (they did not know about the position of the Church as to those apparitions), if really nothing special had taken place at Ghiaie di Bonate, would certainly never have imagined to go and pray Our Lady and beg favours in that unheard-of place. Would all these recoveries have occurred? When?

2) How should all those people who, from 1948 until nowadays, no longer "in good faith" (as acquainted with the "non constat" and the prohibitions of the Episcopal decree), have believed instead in the innocence of a seven-year-old child and have gone on a pilgrimage to the place of the apparitions and prayed alone or in groups, with or without attendant priests, and have specifically called Our Lady of Ghiaie di Bonate or Queen of the Family for help, thus being granted special favours or recoveries, consider themselves rewarded?
Certainly, because they have believed in the apparitions and revelations of the Blessed Virgin to Adelaide Roncalli at Ghiaie di Bonate and have specifically called Our Lady of Ghiaie or rather Queen of the Family for help. Not certainly as advised in the decree.

The audience with Pius XII
In 1949, one year after the issue of the Episcopal decree, Pope Pius XII granted the child Adelaide Roncalli a private audience. She revealed the secret intended for him that Our Lady had confided to her on the 17th May 1944 during the fifth apparition. The Pope, receiving Adelaide, certainly professed his faith in the apparition of Ghiaie di Bonate; otherwise what could have urged that great pontiff to grant an audience to the young girl, in view of the "non constat" of the Episcopal decree?

The letter of Pope John XXIII
On the 8th July 1960, Pope John XXIII sent a letter to monsignor Joseph Battaglia bishop of Faenza "with regard to the Ghiaie question".

"Confidential 8-VII-1960Dear Excellency, let us always be united in thought, heart, prayer. As to the Ghiaie affair you will certainly appreciate that one must start from the top, not from the plane: and not involve who must have not the first but the last word. More than substance, here we must allow for the circumstances that need to be studied and valued above all things. What is valid in "subiecta materia" is the seer's witness: and the authenticity of what she still maintains at 21 years of age and in conformity with her first statement at 7 years of age: and withdrawn on account of the threats and fears of hell exerted by somebody. It seems to me that the terror for those threats still persists. . However Your Excellency understands that it is neither practical nor useful that the first move for reassessment be made by the undersigned who is entitled to the "verbum" for the Congregation of Liturgy or other ministry, who in due time "faciat verbum cum S.S." ecc. Excuse the plainness of my words. And always look after yourself "in laetitia et in benedictione" even if "dies mali sunt.Yours affectionately John. XXIII".

A comment of Father Pius
Father Pius is reported to have said to some people from Bonate who were on a visit to Petralcina: "What are you doing down here, you who have Our Lady of Bonate in your village?"

The petition to the bishop in 1974
On occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the apparitions Mr Cortinovis presented the bishop monsignor Clemente Gaddi a petition countersigned by 7000 worshippers who expressed the wish to pray at the place of the apparitions with the bishop's permission.

Monsignor Gaddi answered he could not reopen the trial unless in the presence of new, serious and substantial elements, and that the provisions of the bishops who had come before him remained in force, but he added that he could neither prohibit nor prevent single persons or groups of people from going to pray Our lady to that place.

The solemn reassertion
On 20th February 1989, Adelaide Roncalli decided to reassert solemnly and officially, before a notary public, the truthfulness of the apparitions:

"I the undersigned Roncalli Adelaide born at Ghiaie di Bonate Sopra (Bg) on the 23rd April 1937, on occasion of the forty-fifth anniversary of the apparitions declare hereby again, as repeatedly stated on previous occasions, that I am absolutely persuaded of having had the Apparitions of Our Lady at Ghiaie di Bonate from the 13th to the 31st May 1944 when I was seven of age.
I offer to God and to the rightful Authority of the Church, which is solely entitled to acknowledge or not what with clear conscience and in full possession of my mental faculties I deem to be the plain truth, the vicissitudes sorrowfully experienced by me since then on. In witness thereof …
Adelaide Roncalli
20th February 1989."


Don Cortesi




The reassertion
















The letter of Pope John XXIII








The solemn reassertion