Today, 27 Jul 2012, is the centenary of the death of Blessed Maria of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (a.k.a. Maria della Passione di Nostro Signore Gesu Christo, Maria Grazia Tarallo), a religious of the Crucified Sister Adorers of the Eucharist whom God led to Himself via the mystical path.
Blessed Maria Grazia Tarallo was born in 1866 in Barra a town near Naples, Italy into a thriving family with several brothers and sisters. Her father, Leopoldo, was the municipal gardener. Spiritually Maria was very precocious, responding to mystical graces from a very young age. Before a status of Our Lady, presumably the one in her parish church of Ave Gratia Plena, at the age of 5 she promised that Jesus would be her only love. Maria’s understanding of holy things was so good that her parish priest permitted her to make her first Holy Communion at age 7.
As Maria grew up conflict arose in the family because she wanted to follow a religious vocation, and her father was adamant that she would get married. At that time there was a practice whereby young people had a civil marriage by way of a betrothal and then lived with their parents until the sacramental marriage some time later. Maria’s father used this method in 1899 to ensure compliance with his will. Leopoldo’s will wasn’t God’s will, because the young man, Raffaele Aruta, fell ill with tuberculosis at the party after the civil marriage. By 1890 Raffaele was dead, but not before Maria had prayed for his salvation and for his acceptance of God’s will. Shocked at these events, Leopoldo looked more kindly upon his daughter’s vocation.
The next year Maria was permitted to enter the newly formed congregation of the Crucified Sister Adorers of the Eucharist, which had only been begun a bit over 5 years previously by Ven. Maria Pia Notari. This order had its roots in reparation for the sins of priests and freemasons; the education of the laity; the promotion of Eucharistic adoration and devotion to the Mass; and the preparation and packaging of communion wafers and altar wine.
Maria was ideally suited to this form of religious life, and became a model of humility, obedience and diligent work. When the time came for the gifting of her name in religion, Maria put her hand in to draw her lot, and out came Mary of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Since the Passion of Jesus had already been a major attraction for her, Maria saw in this a confirmation of her vocation and a guide to how Jesus wanted her to live out that vocation. For Maria, devotion to the Passion, to Our Lady of Sorrows and to the Holy Eucharist were her strongest spiritual callings. She spent long hours in prayer before Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament and many vigils. In particular Maria offered her prayer and penances in reparation for priests who had deviated from their ministry.
From time to time God granted Maria visions and gifts of prophecy which guided the community. When God is active in a soul, often the devil redoubles efforts to draw the souls away from God. Thus Maria endured assaults, visions and beatings from the devil. Once when she was praying with particular intensity for the conversion of a sinner the devil hurt her so much that her right arm became useless, despite surgery. This made fulfilling Maria’s duties doubly difficult. During her religious life Maria served as novice mistress, a position of great trust, as well as in the lowlier occupations of the kitchen, laundry service and portress. Her reputation for holiness drew priests and laity to Maria to receive spiritual advice, prayer and encouragement from her.
On 27 Jul 1912, in Barra, Naples, Maria breathed her last and entered eternity to enjoy her true Spouse. To prove that the troubles of her right arm were of supernatural origin, three days before her death Maria was healed enough to be able to make the sign of the cross. Following her death Maria’s body remained flexible and did not start to decompose as quickly as other bodies.
Maria’s lifetime desire is summed up in her own words: ‘I want to be holy, loving Christ in the Eucharist, suffering with Christ the Crucified One, looking at Christ in the person of His brother.’ In living this way she lived up to the name God gave her in religion, ‘Mary of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Blessed Maria of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, pray for us.