Many people claim to have or have had visions. Therefore it is very important to ask whether you can really believe what someone claims to have seen. So are Maria Valtorta’s visions credible?
I have informed myself and researched. As always, there are two sides with various arguments (see below for the main arguments pro and contra)
My personal point of view: After I have looked at both sides and also read her books myself, my opinion is that the books and visions of Maria Valtorta are highly extraordinary, so extraordinary content- as well as through the general conditions they were created (see below the pro-arguments regarding Astrology and Geography) that I cannot imagine that anyone can freely invent all of this. I think she had visions. The question that followed – were these visions from the good side, thus transmitted from Jesus, or from the bad side, that is, Satan or demons. Maria Valtorta herself describes that she often received the host and meanwhile saw Jesus or Maria in her room – how could that be – could Satan endure this? At the same time, I find the content of their books very profound and wise and it does not contradict the Bible. If it was from the evil side, why would Satan or evil demons do this? The books also talks a lot about love and glorification of Jesus, Mary and the apostles – would the evil side do that? Furthermore, God is almighty and omniscient, would he allow the evil side to spread lies about him in a credible form?
Nobody can answer these questions conclusively. However, I personally find the content of the books very helpful in strengthening my belief in Jesus and God. So if these visions came from Satan, he did something wrong because they inspire me to want to be closer to God. If they are from Jesus, which I believe, I am all the more delighted to have the grace to be given this insight. I find these books so helpful that I can recommend them without reservation. I think more people should read these books to get a better picture of Jesus and his life on earth. I will refer to these books very often because they provide good food for thought.
Here is a brief summary of the main arguments raised pro or contra Maria Valtorta’s credibility:
- First of all, I would like to refer to a comprehensive e-book by Stephen Austin that describe Maria Valtorta’s books and all arguments that deal with their credibility and objections in great detail. The pro arguments here are a snippet / summary of it: http://www.valtorta.org.au/Defence/Maria%20Valtorta%20Summa%20%26%20Encyclopedia.pdf
- Maria Valtorta’s state of health and environment / circumstances and the unavailability of external resources
- Due to an accident, Maria Valtorta was no longer able to walk on her own – she was tied t bed and constantly relied on the help of others
- She suffered from 5 chronic illnesses and had many daily interruptions due to visits of doctors or others. She needed constant care, always had someone around her. These people saw who came to her, what she did, who visited her etc.
- Due to her illness she never left Italy and did not physically visit Palestine or any other location that she describes in her visions
- Maria Valtorta wrote her visions from 1943 to 1951 – mostly during the Second World War and at that time without the availability of the Internet or other books (apart from a Bible and a catechism) with the greatest possible interference from outside caused by the war
- While Maria was writing down her visions, she was also writing two other books, notebooks and the book Azariah. In my opinion, she simply would not have had the time to check all these details and insert them correctly
- Several people testified that Maria wrote down all her visions in one go, as soon as she received them. There were no revision or correction found in any of the 15,000 pages she wrote
- Maria received 647 visions. 166 visions of them were not in chronological order, only afterwards she received instructions from Jesus on how to arrange them. Studying her material, everything matches, people, places etc.
- Geology, topography, archeology, customs, clothing, surroundings etc .: Maria Valtorta describes 255 geographical locations in her visions. 9 of them were not yet discovered at the time Maria Valtorta wrote her visions. 79 towns that she describes in detail (including flora and fauna, exact location of the town, surrounding landscape and so on) were not noted in Atlasse at the time. All of their descriptions are 100% in accordance with local conditions. In addition, she describes with most detailed accuracy the clothes, traditions, customs from that Jewish period, which she (remember, she was bedridden and had no access to encyclopedias etc.) could not have known herself. Many professors read her books and no mistake was found
- Astronomy: Maria Valtorta describes all in such detail even the place of the starts in the sky and other temporal events such as harvest, flowering time, a rainbow, weather conditions, etc. She writes at the beginning of her books that she herself does not know how she knows the names of things (localities, stars etc.), an inner voice tells her this. A whole range of scientists and astrologers have analyzed all of these indications and have come to the conclusion that the stars Maria Valtorta describes match exactly the year and time in which Valtorta describes it. There is not a single mistake in their entire record from an astrological point of view. The probability of describing all of this without real visions exactly without errors is close to 0
- The content of their visions: the content of the visions and the description of what Jesus says and does is not only very impressive – it is divine. I can hardly imagine that an Italian woman who had hardly had any schooling or theology lessons, could describe the life of Jesus and his words, preaches and statements without real visions and without being inspired by the “good side”. Clergymen, a long list of bishops, archbishops and cardinals, studied theologians and biblical scholars, university professors, other saints (including Padre Pio and Mother Theresa) read them and considered them as authentic, credible, enriching and worth reading. In addition, Bible scholars have found that the visions of Valtorta logically clarify and solve some of the gospels obscurities that were dragged along the centuries as well as contradictions and translation errors in the Bible.
- Maria Valtorta had no personal benefit from writing these works: As is becomes evident from her personal notes, Maria Valtorta was afraid that she would be called crazy for having or claiming to have visions. Maria Valtorta initially did not want to publish her notes on the private disclosures. Her priest urged her to do so. She insisted that her name is not associated with it.
Contra-arguments and my personal opinion:
- The main criticism of the opponents is that a year after the death of Pope Pius XII (who endorsed Valtorta’s books according several testimonies), Valtorta’s books were put on the index of banned books by the catholic church in 1959. Here is a detailed description of all Church release events and responses: http://www.bardstown.com/~brchrys/Chrchval.html
My personal view: In 1961 Ms. Giraudo, from the Holy Office, granted permission to publish the second edition. 3 years later, in 1962 this index of banned books was abolished, some opponents claim that the index is still morally binding. It should be noted that many books were put on this index that were heavily propagated by the catholic church a few years later (e.g. the writings of Saint Faustina or Thomas Aquinas). After the subsequent Pope Paul VI received Valtorta’s books, in 1974 he had his secretary write a thank you and congratulation letter for the great documentation that was made in this work and is distributed spiritually through these books (the letter is available here) It is also interesting that the later Pope Benedict wrote in a letter from 1985 that the decision regarding the index was made to prevent simple, unprepared believers from reading these books. He does not indicate that those are not credible. Many bishops and theologians have studied the works and strongly recommend the books. To me, all of this sounds very contradictory and I have to say that the argument that the books were on a forbidden list of the Vatican more than 50 years ago for 3 years, while further editions of the same work were approved by the Vatican at the same time, in no way prevents me from reading these books.
- The Vatican newspaper “Osservatore Romano” from 6.1.1960 would have refuted the work in detail (Osservatore Romano 6.1.1960 https://www.cafarus.ch/valtorta.html in Italian)
My personal view: I read the article. It is a column on the far right of the issue and there are several reprehensible references to the lengthiness and flowery descriptions. Valtorta is compared to Dante. It is criticized that Jesus is described too modest and humble. The author of the article is disappointed by the role of Mary as she does not come across in the same way as in the Bible, thus staying in the background – however in Valtorta’s visions she leads discussions with Jesus and propagates the mission of Jesus in a very modern way. In addition, she is called the “second born” after Jesus, thus would come after the Trinity. I wonder who if not Mary comes after the Trinity in the heavenly hierarchy? To me, this article does not sound like a detailed refutation, but rather a description of personal taste that was not met by the books. Yes, the books are lengthy and they are subjective, personal observations of the visions. But these are also necessary in order to be able to classify the events and these detailed descriptions have also meant that astrologers and geographers were able to check these books well for their credibility.
- Some opponents cite contents of the book which, according to their personal opinion, are incorrect / false statements and contradict the Bible.
My personal view: First of all I would like to refer to Stephen Austin’s e-book, which deals with various content reviews in detail (in English) from page 725: (http://www.valtorta.org.au/Defence/ Maria% 20Valtorta% 20Summa% 20% 26% 20Encyclopedia.pdf) As Mr. Austin rightly observes in his e-book, content-related reviews of Valtorta’s work are mostly out of context. This means that they are misinterpreted and then make no sense to those who have not read the entire context. To mention the example Stephen Austin gives from the Bible: Someone could say in the Bible that there is no God “There is no God” (Psalm 14: 1; 53: 2) this is what the Bible says. However, if you look up the verse and read the whole sentence, you can see that it actually says “The fool speaks in his heart: There is no God” (Psalm 14: 1; 53: 2), quite a different meaning. Quoting just a section and stiffening it makes no sense and leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations which are then used by the opponents as arguments for errors in the entire work, which in my opinion is not acceptable.
- Other critics find the writing style tasteless e.g. that the relationship between John and Jesus is described in the books as very intimate and too familiar.
My personal view: One should not forget that these are private revelations. Maria Valtorta has captured her subjective personal impressions. This is not for everyone’s taste. She described it in her words which are very flowery. Someone else would have described it differently. On this particular case, the Bible also shows that Jesus had a very good relationship with John (Jn 21:24 “the disciple whom Jesus loved”).
- There are other critics who make recent claims that statements from Valtorta’s books might not be correct e.g. that Jesus and Maria also had sexual temptations or the screwdriver that was lying around and which apparently was not invented at the time
My personal view: the details that are used as arguments are simply not tenable. Here specifically to the two points mentioned: Sexual temptation of Jesus and Maria: How can God say that he has become human if he does not go through what a human goes through? Jesus was seduced by Satan in the desert, how can anyone say that afterwards he was no longer subjected to temptations. The question is not whether you have a temptation, but how you deal with it. Do you follow it or do you successfully resist temptation through willpower, the grace of God or the power of prayer (as Maria in Valtorta says). To claim that Jesus and Maria had no temptations is simply not tenable and can also not be proved by the bible.
The screwdriver: I found a blog where this is specifically addressed (http://campaign-mariavaltorta.blogspot.com/2011/05/gaining-momentum.html). According to this blog, researcher David J. Webster has proven that screws were invented in the 5th century BC and were commonly used as wood screws in the 1st century BC e.g. also in wine presses or olive oil presses. Screws and probably screwdrivers were made of wood at the time and probably didn’t look exactly as we know them today. To say there was no screwdriver at the time is simply wrong.
All allegations by critics focus on content details. However, no one manages to question the whole work, including the astrological and geological correctness of the books, which are extremely extraordinary or to find an error there. The books are not about screwdrivers, but about God about the life of Jesus on earth and the theological content, the statements that Jesus makes are very profound. I have not seen a critic yet who is able to refute these statements and not focus on small details.