Natuzza Evolo never sought out contact with the dead on her own. It was God who decided when and which dead souls should meet her and convey their message through her.
People flocked to her house to recite the rosary and pray. Each such meeting would end with a discussion touching on various religious subjects. Natuzza always had a smile on her face. She was peaceful, levelheaded, and radiated a sense of joy. At times no one could predict, but most often during the recitation of the rosary or in the course of these discussions, she would fall into an ecstasy; and it was then that the dead souls would appear and address the people gathered in her house. Each soul spoke in its own voice. These were the voices of men, women, the elderly, the young, and even children. Such states of ecstasy would last from fifteen to thirty minutes.
Through Natuzza, the dead would impart messages to those alive on earth, as for example: “Know that eternity is right here where we are, and that you on earth are to mature and prepare yourselves for it. With heartfelt sorrow, beg the Merciful God to forgive all the serious sins you have consciously and deliberately committed. Ask Him also to forgive the sins you committed in good faith and the sins of others. Why do you not attend and ignore the Holy Mass? Is it perhaps because you refuse to give the priests satisfaction? When they celebrate the Holy Mass, our priests represent Jesus Christ. The fact that they have some flaw or weakness should be of no interest to you. Attend every Sunday Mass, obey God’s laws, walk the straight path. Jesus is very sad that there are so many sins in the world. Pray constantly, otherwise you will not overcome the evil in the world, which is the result of sin.”
The souls of those damned in hell would complain as follows: “Oh, if we could only return to earth! What sufferings would we not endure so as to be saved! How happy we should be, if we could remain here in this terrible suffering—even if this were to continue for as many years as there are grains of sand in the sea! We find ourselves in this eternal fire because many of us denied the existence of God or because we consciously rejected His boundless mercy and did not ask forgiveness for our sins.”
Many reports of Natuzza’s encounters with the dead have been preserved. Here is one of them, dated October 5, 1947: “On that evening, Dr. Nicola Valente was present at Natuzza’s house, together with his wife, brother, brother-in-law, and others. After a friendly discussion, we prayed the rosary. At 8:15, Natuzza leaned her head on her shoulder. Her lips moved slowly, but no sound came out; she became completely stiff. Then we heard a child’s voice. ‘We are sorry,’ it said. ‘No need to be afraid? There are two of us here, and we mean you no harm.’ The visitors announced that they were Dr. Valente’s dead children; and so they began a long conversation with their parents. Their words moved us listeners to tears. ‘We wish to give our parents some words of advice, but today we cannot do this, as there are too many people present. Dear Mother, we see how distressed you are, and how agitated Father is. Be strong and of good cheer.’
“Immediately afterwards there was another voice, sad and husky, breathing heavily: ‘I am Raffaele Barbuto of Porto Salvo.’ None of us present knew him. The voice went on: ‘I am damned for eternity in the infernal fire, because I did great harm to one of my daughters. Guard against sins of impurity. Do not scandalize others; respect women.’
“Then spoke Galati Gaspare, the cousin of a woman from Vibo Valentia. I thought it was the brother of Mrs. Galati from Mileto. But he said: ‘No, I am her cousin. I suffer in the fires of purgatory, because while I was on earth I thought only of amusing myself; but before my death I felt remorse and went to confession. Pray for me. I stand in great need of your prayers and intercession.’
“Then we heard a young woman’s terrified voice: ‘Because of the sin of calumny I am damned for eternity without respite or hope or relief. Nothing can help me. Think about your eternity while there is time. I seduced a priest. Many times I committed this terrible sin. I refused to repent and despise the sin of impurity. Now I am lost forever. Right after my death, Jesus said to me: Catherine, heaven is not for you.’ Finally, she cried out, ‘My life! My suffering! Mamma mia!’ None of us knew who this young woman was.
“Still another woman, this one from purgatory, flawlessly speaking the dialect of Palma, told us her name was Rosina Tripoli and that she was doing penance for her sins by kneeling before the image of the Mother of God in her house. A moment later, we heard a child’s voice. She identified herself as the sister of Dr. Valente, who was present among us. The little girl had died at the age of two. She said: ‘I am in heaven and praying for everyone. Pray earnestly for our father; he is in great need of your prayers at this time.’”
One day the people gathered in Natuzza’s house heard the voice of a dead child saying: “Some of you think these are thoughts expressed through a medium. But there is no medium here. It is by God’s will that we are speaking to you directly through the mouth of this girl (Natuzza). You may tell others without fear of error that you are hearing us from beyond the grave as if by radio. All this is happening by the will of Jesus who is with us now.”
On another occasion, one of the souls of the dead spoke as follows: “All those of you who are listening, know that what is happening here is with the consent of God. The girl (Natuzza) is only an instrument used by God to remind you to keep His commandments: the commandments of love, mercy, and sacrifice. It is a ‘radio message’ being beamed from the other world. Know that in the afterlife everyone will reckon with punishment for sin and reward for good conduct.”
The suffering souls of purgatory appeared to Natuzza in the bodies they had before they died, but dressed in their favorite garments. Children appeared as if they were about seven years old, and young men and women, as if they were in their early thirties. God chose these guises so as to allow them to be recognized by their loved ones. At first Natuzza was unable to tell the living and the dead apart. Only by touching them was she able to determine if these were souls of the dead from purgatory. She found it easy to recognize the souls from heaven, since these wore white garments and radiated the light of love and happiness. She did not see the souls of the damned; she only heard what God commanded them to say.
During her ecstasies, Natuzza rested her head on her shoulder as if she were asleep. Her lips scarcely moved, and yet the words flowed freely from her mouth. People did not hear her voice. It was the dead speaking—not just in Italian, but also in other languages: French, Spanish, German, and Turkish. They spoke in turn or in chorus. These were the voices of children, women, men, elderly people, priests, bishops, popes, philosophers, and peasants. All begged for prayers to help relieve their sufferings. They also called on their audience to repent and persevere on the path to perfection.
Saint Thomas Aquinas states in his Summa Theologiae that the souls in purgatory make appearances on earth to request our prayers so that they may be the sooner purged of their sins and go to heaven. They also come to bring solace to members of their families and friends—to strengthen and encourage them on the path of faith. Damned souls appear only at God’s express command. He uses their testimony of hell’s imaginable sufferings to strike healthy fear into the hearts of hardened sinners. His purpose is to rouse their consciences in order that they may come to their senses and repent.
We on earth are unable to comprehend the degree of pain suffered by the souls in purgatory. Saint Thomas tells us: “The slightest suffering in purgatory is like the greatest and sharpest pain on earth.” The poor souls in purgatory love God ardently. They accept suffering as the only means of preparing themselves for heaven. In this experience of suffering they are strengthened and consoled by Our Blessed Mother, the angels, and the saints.
Praying for the souls in purgatory is a great act of mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Mat 5:7). God values the mercy we extend to the poor souls even more highly than the mercy we extend to the living on earth. The Holy Mass is a great gift that we can offer the poor souls. When we pray for the dead, we obtain exceptional graces from God. Almsgiving offered for their intention is also of great service to them.
Only God—never man!—decides if the dead should appear to us on earth. The Catholic Church forbids the faithful to make contact with the dead through various mediums. Why? Because in doing they open themselves up to the action of unclean spirits who impersonate the souls of the dead. Those who take part in such spiritualist encounters sin grievously against the First Commandment and suffer untold spiritual harm. Participants in such séances fall prey to the action of evil spirits; instances of demonic possession often result.
The lawyer Silvio Colloca recounts witnessing one of Natuzza’s ecstasies in 1944. At one point, he heard a child’s voice say: “I am your uncle Silvio.” The eight-year-old Silvio, brother of the lawyer’s father, had died in 1874. A conversation arose between the two. The lawyer asked his boy-uncle about his sister Stella and her husband who lived in northern Italy. They had disappeared earlier in the war and not been heard of since. The dead boy told Colloca not to worry, since they were both alive, in Tarvisio, and doing well. After the war, Silvio discovered this to be true.
During this same ecstasy, Silvio’s brother-in-law tried to rouse Natuzza by shaking her. They heard the dead boy say: “It won’t help; you can throw her out the window and still she won’t wake up.” At last, the visitor from purgatory bade the lawyer good-bye: “I must go now; my time is up. Please receive Holy Communion on my behalf.”
The lawyer had scarcely recovered from his surprise when he heard another voice, this time the hoarse voice of a grown man. He recognized the voice of his relative who had belonged to the Masonic lodge and scorned the sacrament upon his death. “I suffer,” he said to the lawyer. “There is no hope for me. I am damned in the eternal flames. Terrible torments beset me constantly.” The words made an appalling impression on the listeners.
Jesus endeavors to reach us in many ways. He wants us to open our hearts and allow them to be bathed in the ocean of His limitless mercy. This is the only way we can be born again (cf. Jn 3:3). If, through Natuzza’s extraordinary charism, the souls of the dead testified to us about life after death, it was with the sole aim of prompting us to repent and accept the challenge of living the Gospel in obedience to Jesus, who lives, teaches, and acts in the Catholic Church.
During her apparition of April 1, 1982, Our Blessed Mother said to Natuzza: “Jesus is sad, for the whole world is renewing His crucifixion. People think only about earthly things, paying no heed to their spiritual life, and thus their souls. They do not realize that life on earth is short. They can gain the whole world, and yet if they are not with Jesus, they will lose their souls. Jesus is good and full of mercy, but He warns us: ‘Do not abuse my mercy.’”
Fr. Mieczysław Piotrowski SChr