BLESSED MARIA GIOVANNA BONOMO
The history of the statute of Maria Giovanna Bonomo is connected to the miracle that happened during World War I, when Asiago was completely destroyed by bombings and the statue was the only thing left intact in the town.
Maria Giovanna Bonomo was born in Asiago, on 15th August 1606. Her farther, John, was a rich merchant, who possessed properties in Asiago and also in the neighbour towns. Her mother, Virginia, came from the noble family of Ceschi from Borgo Valsugana.
Maria was only ten months when, according to the legend, she suddenly received from Heaven the ability to speak preventing her father from an evil deed. When she was five, inspired by God, she deeply understood the mystery of the Eucharist. She also mastered Latin as a child, without any help of teachers.
Maria’s mother died in 1612, when Maria was six years old. In 1615, her farther, being unable to pay for his daughter’s education, took her to the convent of Santa Chiara in Trento, led by the Poor Clares. Here Maria was educated according to the traditions of that time, based on religion, literature, music, needlework and dancing.
At the age of nine, exceptionally early for those days, Maria made her First Communion. On that occasion, she made a vow of virginity to which she remained faithful for the rest of her life.
Being twelve years old, Maria wrote to her father about her intention to become a nun and to stay in Trento. At the beginning Giovanni Bonomo wanted to prevent his daughter from making this choice and made her return to Asiago to start later a married life; but eventually he agreed, however only with the condition to personally choose the order and the monastery.
Maria became a novice in the church of Santa Chiara, Trento. Here, during the Sunday Mass, she would play the violin attracting many people to the church.
Finally, at the age fifteen, on June 21st, 1621, Maria entered the Benedictine monastery of San Girolamo in Bassano, where, on 8th of September, 1622, she was given the name of Maria Giovanna and where she vowed for poverty, chastity and obedience. Then she began her journey towards perfection according to the three traditional ways: purification, illumination and sensation. She received often visions from Heaven and for seven years she had frequent mystical experiences, which became more intense when receiving Communion.
The privilege of reaching God, of having dialogue with the Saviour, came at a great price. Maria experienced great tribulation in body and in spirit since the age of twenty: during one of her usual moment of ecstasy, Jesus put the mystic wedding ring on her finger. Since that event, for some years from Thursday afternoon until Friday evening or Saturday morning, she would relive every moment and torment of the Passion of Christ. Maria received even the stigmata.
These phenomena on one hand filled her with joy, but on the other distressed her because they changed the perception that people had of her. She prayed constantly until she was granted the grace that the marks disappear and that her moments of ecstasy would only happen at night, allowing her to lead a normal life in the monastery. She also had the gift of bilocation.
The fame of her holiness spread, arousing the opposition of some sisters, of the confessor and of the Curia of Vicenza that for seven years forbade her to go to the parlour and write letters. The confessor considered Maria Giovanna “crazy” and went so far as to forbid her Communion until one day an angel directly brought her the Holy Bread.
In the last twenty years of her life, she was again allowed to write letters and was also elected abbess in June 1652. On 1st August, 1655, she was elected prioress and in 1664 again abbess. Maria Giovanna taught the nuns that holiness consists not in doing great things, but in doing simple and ordinary things perfectly.
Many people, even nobles asked her for advices and many needy persons enjoyed her great charity, virtue and humility. Maria Giovanna always showed a heroic patience until the last moments of her life.
She began to form her spirituality following the Franciscan school and then completed her spiritual path according to the Benedictine doctrine. At the centre of her spirituality, that reveals also Ignatian and Carmelite influences, there is the figure of Christ, the mystical Bridegroom. In particular, Maria Giovanna concentrated on the most important moments of Christ’s life on Earth, as witnessed in her writings, among which the “Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ” stands out.
Maria Giovanna Bonomo died on 1st March 1670, in Bassano, where she is the patron saint.
Many miraculous healings were attributed to her intercession so that in 1699, the process of her beatification started. On June 9th, 1783, Pope Pius VI solemnly beatified her.
The last miracle occurred precisely in her native land during the First World War: despite the furious bombing that destroyed the entire Asiago, the statue dedicated to her in 1908, and erected in front of her own home, remained inexplicably intact.
She is celebrated on February 26th.