Another Carmelite visionary: Maria Crocifissa Curcio

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Monday, December 16, 2013


WHEN I was reading The Tablet magazine last week, my eye fell as by accident on a story of another Carmelite visionary, similar to St. Teresa of Lisieux.

Teresa lived in France in the 19th century; this Carmelite nun was unknown to me until this time. She is called Sr. Maria Crocifissa Curcio. After she died in 1957 her body was exhumed and was found incorrupt and this was a reason for Pope Benedict XVI to beatify her in 2005.

Sr. Curcio is born in Sicily, Italy at the end of the 19th century. She travelled to Rome for the canonization of Teresa of Lisieux in 1925. When she came home she founded her own religious congregation and set up her first convent in Santa Marinella, Italy and started her own Carmelite mission. The name of her congregation is: Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus. The congregation spread through Italy and to Brazil during Curcio’s life time and is now flourishing worldwide.

Sr. Maria Assunta is one of her sisters who is still alive and living today in Santa Marinella. She tells the following story about Sr. Curcio, the founder of her congregation: “Curcio had a spiritual director and partner in the person of Padre Lorenzo Van Den Eerenbeemt (I believe, he is of Dutch descend). Out of obedience to her spiritual director she started to write a diary which covers 4 years of her life. This diary reveals that she had interior locutions with Christ and with Mary. It is rich in the language of the Sacred Heart and of St. Teresa of Lisieux. What is most striking is that she had a sensual hunger for Christ in the Eucharist. She felt an infinite sensual union with Christ as her bridegroom. During one prayer she hears Christ tell her ‘You are my chalice, you are my ciborium.’ During another Mass she sees Christ nude (Curcio’s emphasis) in his Passion and hears Him say: ‘Cover my nakedness with your love.’ These prayers and locutions she had week after week.

But the writing down of all this was clearly a trial for Curcio. She didn’t want to show herself in any special light; writing wasn’t something she seemed particularly to enjoy. The poetry came to her; she didn’t create it. Curcio comes across as a soul ripped open to grace, ransacked by God’s Word. She is haunted, at times, by doubt and the ‘black shadows’ that threaten her.

One night, Maria Assunta (whose role seems to have been to sustain and support Curcio throughout her prayer life) comes to her and assures her that she will have the beatic vision. After 4 years, Curcio ceased writing – there were too many demands in her time.” Today there is a perpetual adoration in the chapel where Curso’s body reposes.

What is amazing is that a visionary like Curcio had such deep insights in the meaning of Christian faith and human relationships at a very young age. Like her contemporary, Theresa of Lisieux at the age of 24 had her so-called ‘little way’ – achieving goodness through trust in God and the humble and faithful performance of duty.

Theresa of Lisieux was called ‘the Little Flower of Jesus.’ She used to say: ‘One word or a pleasing smile is often enough to raise up a saddened and wounded soul.’ How true is this saying! Every day, early morning, I walk around our subdivision for physical exercise but also for mental and spiritual exercise. I meet so many people along the road and I experience time and again what a pleasing smile can do; a smile from my side but also a smile from the other.

Or take the other great Carmelite saint, Theresa of Avila. She said: ‘Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life… If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.’

All of us can be in one way or another visionary like Theresa of Lisieux, Theresa of Avila or Maria Crucifissa Curcio.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 16, 2013.

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