Kingdom of the Divine Will
Luisa Piccarreta, Italy
Luisa Piccarreta was an uneducated peasant woman who was born in 1865. Although she suffered a mysterious ailment that confined her to bed from the age of twenty-two until her death in 1947, she lived for eighty-two years, filling thirty-four volumes with lengthy locutions from Jesus. These new revelations are necessary for salvation, and reveal among other things, that Luisa’s submission to the Divine Will is ushering in a new “era of sanctification” that will restore creation to its original state before the fall of Adam and Eve. During this time, it will be impossible to commit sin because all people will renounce their free will.
Luisa’s Kingdom of the Divine Will is linked in a special way to the locutions of the Italian priest, Father Gobbi. Her revelations are also promoted at Necedeh, Wisconsin, a condemned apparition site. According to Luisa, the Queen of Heaven has been traveling through all nations, placing a special mark on those that should not be touched by the chastisement that will precede the Kingdom of the Divine Will, an era in which mankind will be unable to sin because we will no longer have free will. The Catholic Church has always taught that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, that no marks are necessary for salvation other than Baptism and Confirmation, and that man’s free will is an irrevocable gift from God.
Beginning in 1889, Luisa’s life was controlled and animated by the Divine Will. At midnight or one o’clock in the morning she entered what she called her “usual state.” For five or six hours every night her body petrified, her breathing stopped, and her soul was separated from her body. As her lifeless body lay immobile in bed, her soul roamed the universe with Jesus, across time and space and into eternity, where they would visit heaven, hell and purgatory.
Luisa was once taken to paradise where she was mystically joined in a marital union with Jesus. The entity told her, “We took possession of your heart and made our permanent home there. We took control of your mind, your heart, all of you.” The principle is that anyone can live in the Divine Will by simply asking for it with the intention to renounce his or her human will permanently, using a ritualistic New Age prayer that is chanted on one’s knees. By doing this, a person will become like God, able to create just as God does.
Luisa’s writings also contain serious doctrinal errors and New Age language. The basic message is that there were three great eras in salvation history. The first was creation. The entity told Luisa that when God created Adam and Eve he did not give them free will, but instead infused them with the Divine Will. God took the Divine Will away so that Adam and Eve could be tested. Because Luisa was also told that humans are incapable of doing good if we have free will, the implication is that God was the cause of original sin, not man.
The second great era was redemption. The entity revealed that the second person to be infused with the Divine Will was the Virgin Mary, who was asked to give up her human will. If Mary did not have free will, she would have been merely a “channel” through which God could do whatever he pleased, the very word used in the messages. She would have been without virtue because all virtue is a disposition of the intellect and will that governs our conduct. She could not have loved while she was on earth because free will is what makes human beings capable of loving our God and neighbor.
The third era was completed through Luisa, who surrendered her human will to the entity speaking to her, thereby ushering in the “Era of Sanctification,” also known as the Kingdom of the Divine Will. When enough Catholics renounce their free will, it is promised that creation will be restored to its state before original sin. The renunciation of free will is said to be a “gift” that will make each person a god, incapable of sinning, and with the divine power to create. Luisa was told that she is our new mother, the greatest saint in history, and the one who brings sanctification to the world for the first time. The entity told Luisa that simply doing God’s will by grace only led the saints to a “poor and lowly union with God.”
The Divine Will is a revised version of Quietism, a philosophy that was declared a heresy by the Catholic Church. Quietism’s driving principle is that the individual can will only what God wills because his own will has been annihilated. Sin is therefore impossible and the soul does not need to practice virtue and good works because salvation and perfection are no longer his responsibility. In 1687 Pope Innocent XI condemned Quietism in the papal bull Coelestis Pastor.
The cardinals of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, on Wednesday, July 13, 1938, condemned and placed on the Index of prohibited books the following writings of Luisa Piccarreta: Watch of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ with a Treatise on the Blessed Virgin; In the Kingdom of the Divine Will; and The Queen of Heaven in the Kingdom of the Divine Will. The next day Pope Pius XI, approved, confirmed, and ordered the decision published.
Piccarreta’s thirty-four volumes of private revelation were surrendered to the Vatican in 1938 and those condemned were placed on the Index. Before the books were confiscated, the sisters of the Divine Zeal, an order founded by Piccarretta’s confessor, Annibale Di Francia, were allowed to transcribe volumes one through nineteen, which were then translated into English and Spanish and circulated with Di Francia’s Nihil Obstat. Archbishop Joseph Leo also granted an Imprimatur, all while the books were still on the Index.
The Kingdom of the Divine Will has garnered staunch supporters, although there is little ecclesiastical support for the movement in the United States, where many bishops have forbidden requests to hold conferences and have rejected any public or private promotion of the cause. Followers, who tend to attribute theological errors to faulty editing, believe that by renouncing one’s free will, a person can enter a new age of “peace and order,” a way of thinking shared by those involved in the occult. Many of them also accept the condemned writings of Maria Valtorta and the unapproved messages of Father Gobbi and Vassula Ryden.
Father Terrence Staples of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, published an extensive critique of the Divine Will on PetersNet, an orthodox Catholic website that argues against the possibility of “new revelation” because everything we need has been handed on by the apostles. Since then other Catholic organizations have expressed concern, among them Catholics United for the Faith, a group that published a bulletin explaining the many errors in the controversial writings.
In a letter to Catholics United for the Faith, Father John A. Hardon, S.J., wrote:
"In my judgment, the underlying premises of Luisa’s writings are not consistent with the magisterial teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus she claims that all we have to do is abandon our own will to the Divine Will, which can be found everywhere. There is an emphasis on complete passivity of the soul in Luisa’s writings. The result is a promotion of Quietism, which was condemned by the Church in the 17th century.
"Luisa’s writings openly promote the idea that she has received a new revelation. The faithful must accept this revelation to achieve the new way of holiness which equated the sanctity of Luisa Piccarreta with the sanctity of the Mother of God.
"According to Luisa, once a person receives this 'new sacrament' of the Divine Will, the human will, in effect, acts in such a way that the action is purely divine. This basic error was taught in the early centuries of Christianity and became a cardinal principle of the absolute predestination of such founders of Protestantism as John Calvin.
"If necessary, I shall be happy to provide further and more detailed analysis of the writings of Luisa Piccarreta. For the present, I will only quote from the formal letter of His Excellency, Andrew J. McDonald, Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas. He wrote to Father James E. Mancini, 'By this letter, I forbid either the public or the private promotion of the Kingdom of the Divine Will Movement in the Diocese of Little Rock.'" The bishop’s letter was dated November 26, 1997.
To add fuel to the controversy is the fact that in 1990 Pope John Paul II beatified Piccarretta’s confessor, Annibale Di Francia, a priest who allegedly praised her holy life and “sublime” teachings. Supporters point to the beatification as approval, while others question whether the Congregation had all the relevant documents when considering Di Francia’s cause. Some believe it is possible Luisa’s confessor was not familiar with all the volumes since he died before they were placed on the Index, or that he did not have such a close relationship with the seer as some people have maintained. There is no mention of Luisa Piccarreta in Di Francia’s biography.
Archbishop Carmelo Cassati of Trani, Italy, rescinded the authorization to promote Luisa Piccarreta’s cause for beatification and has prohibited any further publication of her work or any new conferences to promote her writings. He has promised to read Piccarretta’s work in her own handwriting, produce new translations, and study the theology of the revelations in the light of Church teaching. It is unlikely, however, that new translations will be sufficient to clarify the grave doctrinal errors contained in the work and their occult connections.
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