And Jesus' question "Do you love Me?" made a deep impression upon the heart of little Teresa, and her joyful reply was ‘Yes, yes, always yes!’ as she wrote later in her diary.
Jesus was calling her to unite with Him for the conversion and salvation of sinners, and her "yes" drew her ever closer to Himself. To unite with Him, and be like Him, she would have to suffer and learn to sacrifice for others, and so began the painful, yet joyful mission as a victim soul that God had given to her. And not only was she guided by Jesus and Mary at a tender age, but also her guardian Angel who taught her to make sacrifices and to offer them in union with Jesus.
Her call to suffer in union with Jesus for the salvation of souls
For Teresa, the way to union with Jesus was to be the Way of the Cross, and Jesus Himself pointed this out to her in a vision of Himself carrying the cross, suffering and bleeding along the way. As she wrote in her diary ‘I was alone at home when Jesus appeared with a huge cross on his shoulders and showed me his scourged back full of open wounds. I used my handkerchief to wipe off the blood which flowed from his face and wounds’
It could not be any other way; she was a true follower of Christ and as such, she chose the way of the Cross. Not only that; she often suffered voluntarily for the salvation of sinners. As she wrote in her diary: ‘From the age of 6 years I found ways to suffer. I made a rope with many knots in it and tied it tightly around my hips. Every pain, every wound is a sacrifice for sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for the souls in danger of going to hell and for those who sin against chastity…’
Deep poverty - A hand to mouth existence
At times her families poverty was extreme, and the situation became even worse because of a flu epidemic. The whole family was confined to bed. Once more, Teresa turned to the Madonna for help; whereupon an angel came and said, ‘The heavenly Mother sent me to give you this money. It is enough for a week’s keep, but do not tell anyone how you came by this money. It is to stay a secret…’
When Teresa gave her mother the money, her mother received it gratefully, and happily went out shopping for groceries, but Teresa had a terrible scene with her father. He wanted to know who gave her the money and for what reason? She would not tell him, because the Angel had told her not to tell anyone, so her father then accused her of stealing it. He battered her, cursed and even spat upon her.
As punishment, he made her go with her mother every morning to sell vegetables. It was very hard work, as both had to rise at 4am, load up with vegetables and take them several kilometers to the market. Usually they had to stand there all day and try to sell all of the vegetables. Thus their day at this time often lasted from early morning until late in the afternoon. At the end of the day, both mother and child returned tired and worn out. Yet, how did the father receive them? Angrily and unappreciative as as usual, and cursing he often made them go to bed without having eaten supper. ‘It was a dog’s life,’ Teresa wrote in her diary. Yet it seems that Jesus had arranged it this way, or at least allowed it, so as to help her to accustom herself to sacrifices and suffering from a very young age.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appears to her
At age 7, on July 11 1950, the Blessed Virgin Mary told her: ‘My daughter, you will be asked to suffer a lot; you will have to go from one hospital to another, from one doctor to another, and nobody will be able to help you cure the illnesses that God will send you. These sufferings are necessary, because the sins of this world are great. Too many people keep on piercing the heart of my Son. If they do not repent, God will send this world a terrible punishment and catastrophe. Therefore, I ask you to pray and make reparation.’
You shall be like me!’ St Padre Pio appears to her
On November 1, 1950 (feast of All Saints) Teresa went to holy Mass. Just before Mass began, a venerable priest approached her and said: ‘Child, I recommend that you pray for the souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them.’
Teresa asked the priest his name. ‘I am Padre Pio,’ he answered smilingly. ‘Jesus told me to give you this news; one day you shall be like me. ‘Look…’
And, with those words he held out his hands and showed her the stigmata which he himself been given. He then blessed her and disappeared.
Called to sacrifice and suffer
Out of love for Jesus and the conversion of sinners Teresa was willing to take upon herself whatever suffering God permitted or sent. She didn’t have to wait long. It stared with strong abdominal pains, high fevers and one knee that began to swell to such a size, that the doctor decided to operate, but to no avail. These illnesses continued causing her severe pain and suffering at times, and after one year she also came down with pneumonia in her left lung.
As the years of her adolescence passed, there were many stays in several different hospitals and altogether she had roughly 117 operations, and because of this her body looked almost like a sieve, as she had holes, wounds and scars all over her sickly body.
'Will you help me to leave this cross for a while?’
On August 1, 1952 at age 9 Teresa was in a ‘deep sleep’. She found herself on a thorny path. There she met the crucified Jesus who asked her: ‘My little daughter, will you help me to leave this cross for a while?’ ‘Yes’, she answered at once. At that moment she felt herself grabbed by persons, who stretched her on the cross and nailed her to it.
When Teresa awoke from her ‘sleep’, she suddenly became aware of painful wounds on her hands, feet and her heart. She was understandably frightened at first, but then she recalled the vision of Padre Pio who had showed her his stigmata, and had told her that 'One day you shall be like me'.
This comforted her then she pondered the question of how Jesus could have chosen her; a poor simple peasant child. She considered herself totally unworthy, a ‘nobody’. But soon afterwards Jesus explained: ‘My daughter, I prefer to choose the humble, the meek and the lowly!’
After a few days the stigmata temporarily disappeared, only to return again in a few years time, as we shall soon see.
In a heavenly vision on November 1st 1952 while praying in church Teresa saw a pillar and standing on top of it was the Pope who was held upright by a golden chain. The pillar, symbolizing the Catholic church, swayed precariously from side to side and suddenly Teresa heard a request; ‘Are you willing to be a support for that pillar in these difficult times?’ The question worried Teresa, but she answered without hesitation; ‘Yes! Your will be done!’
And a few days later, Teresa saw in a dream many cursing, swearing people; from their eyes, ears and mouths shot hot flames, which immediately changed into ugly snakes. ‘After that dream,’Teresa wrote, ‘I was horrified at the thought that my father might become like one of those people in the eyes of God if he continued his awful swearing, so I told my father about that dream.’
The story of the 'dream' had an immediate effect and her father began to swear less often. Meanwhile, Teresa continued to pray and suffer for priests, the Church, the souls of the dead, the unchaste and for blasphemers.
Her guardian Angel teaches her a prayer
At age 12, on Sept. 20 1955 while she was once again in Caserta hospital, her guardian Angel taught her the following prayer, to renew her offering of herself to Jesus:
‘Oh my dear Jesus, You have suffered greatly for me; You have shed your blood for me. Please grant me this wish: make me worthy of You! Cleanse me in Your blood and light the fire of love in my soul! Oh beloved Jesus, let the rays of love which shine from your holy wounds be like flaming arrows to imprint upon me and make me a crucified victim with You.
Grant me a more intense thirst for You, and a deeper likeness and union with You; Give me a more burning love and purify me of my imperfections and make me more perfect for heaven.’
St Padre Pio appears to her again and helps her make a vow of virginity
On October 15th 1963 at 1:30pm Teresa -now age 20- was alone in the house. There was a knock at the door and when Teresa opened it, there was a monk who said that he had come to bring her Holy Communion. To her it seemed that the monk was Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. After Communion, Teresa and the monk prayed together. Then he asked, ‘Child, do you want to consecrate your virginity to the Holy Madonna?’m‘Yes, I do’ said Teresa.
Then the monk dictated to her the following prayer, which Teresa wrote in her diary; ‘Oh dearest Jesus, look on your servant at the pinnacle of happiness. Thank you for choosing lowly me. I give you my oath, that I shall serve you, body and soul, in pure virginity. Let me be dead to the ways of the world. I don’t belong to myself, I belong to you. I would rather lose my life than be untrue to you. Holy Mary, mother of Christ, please watch over me and protect my virginity and save me from any blemish. *Holy Gemma, holy Teresa, holy Maria Goretti, please dear sisters, help me to stay true to my God and my oath and give me a little of the love that you have for Jesus!’
A week later the same monk dictated another prayer, which is a excellent program of life for a consecrated Virgin, dedicated to God. Teresa wrote the dictation in her diary:
‘Jesus, before I see you in heaven, I shall live my life here below as a little host of love. Like the host in the tabernacle, I want to be all white and pure; between the altar and heaven together with you and sanctified to your glory.
Like the host in the hands of priests, so I shall be in the hands of my superiors. I want to be a sacrificial host and I wish to take upon myself every cross, whichever shape or form it may take. Amen!’
Sufferings at the hands of her father
Receiving Jesus in Holy Communion meant everything to Teresa. She could hardly live without It, and how much Teresa suffered under the opposition of her father, who did not want to let a priest into the house to bring her Holy Communion.
One day Teresa took courage and told her father openly; ‘It is useless to tell people to spy on me, to see if I take Holy Communion. I want to receive Communion!’
After saying this she soon asked a friend to request a priest to bring her Communion. He came and gave Teresa the host, which made her intensely happy, but hearing of this visit her father reacted in a devilish fashion; he went so far that he began to swear and curse the Madonna. This hurt Teresa deeply; so deeply that she told her father; ‘I shall leave this house!’
‘Good!’ he answered, ‘that is exactly what I want you to do! You will be doing me a big favour.’
Such painful sufferings are not surprising since she had long ago offered herself to Jesus as a sacrificial victim for saving souls, and she really felt the weight of this terrible situation, yet she still managed to pray: ‘Jesus, you know that if I had a thousand lives I would sacrifice them all for You and Your priests!’
On another occasion her father became convinced that she was "possessed" because she was always ill and acted so differently than most everyone else. He decided that she needed to be exorcised, but he wanted no help from the priests, choosing instead of all things a necromancer! Her father paid him for the sittings, during which Teresa was slapped in the face and water was poured over her head. Teresa told her father, ‘If you want to help me, buy the medicine the doctor prescribed instead of wasting it on necromancers.’ Her father told her that 'she wanted to be only a maiden who lives off of her parents wallet'. He ill-treated her now more than ever.
One morning, when she had a high fever, her father came into her room, spat in her face and pulled her by the hair out of bed. Then he walked away to his fields, staying in one of his barns for a month, without returning, so that he did not have to see Teresa. He only returned home under the condition that he would not have to set foot into her room again. These events gives the reader at least some idea of what Teresa suffered at the hands of her father. Yet she always prayed for the soul of her father, and she would often plead to Jesus for mercy on his behalf.
To finish the story of Teresa and her father, after she moved out of her house and went to live at Caserta her father no longer wanted to see her, and continued to refuse to see her up until his death. She continued to sacrifice and pray for him, and the time came when Jesus told her that he had only a short time left to live. Thus warned by Jesus of his approaching death, she tried one last time to visit him a few weeks before his death, and he once again refused.
The Blessed Virgin Mary obtains the grace of her fathers conversion
But everyone was very surprised when just 8 days before his death her father suddenly asked to see a priest, since he had never been really concerned about practising the faith up to that point. And then another surprise immediately followed when he requested to make his confession to the priest! And a third and final "shocker" was right afterwards when he requested Holy Communion, which he received devoutly. -How can one explain such a remarkable change? In the last days of his life, Teresa had turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary and beseeched Her to obtain from Jesus her fathers salvation. As Don Stefano M. Manelli points out in his book "Teresa Musco -Short Story of a Victim" like St Gemma Galgani, Teresa too had learned to turn to the Blessed Mother of God during the times when Jesus seemed severe or seemingly unwilling to grant a particular grace. Like Gemma, she learned the "secret" that the Blessed Virgin Mary can at times obtain graces from Jesus, that we alone ourselves can not.
In fact, the Blessed Virgin Mary often alleviated the cruel sufferings and pains of Teresa, accelerated an hour of grace, or obtained things from Jesus which seemed impossible to achieve, like the episode of a young girl who was cured from leukaemia. Teresa had turned to Jesus aking Him to heal the girl, saying ‘Dear Jesus, please grant this great miracle!’ But in reply Jesus simply told her; ‘Pray, Teresa pray!’
And, the days passed, but no miracle happened.
Then suddenly Teresa received the inspiration to ask the Virgin Mary--our kind and loving mother and intercessor for Her help. The Blessed Virgin soon appeared in a vision, but Teresa did not understand the words the heavenly mother spoke as She looked heavenwards, but she clearly heard Jesus’ answer; "My dear Mother, since it is your wish, then it shall be done!" And the child was miraculously cured.
'You shall be similar to Me' -Teresa receives the Stigmata
On Oct. 1968 Teresa lay crying on her bed because there was a very strong pain in both of her hands. Suddenly she heard a knock at the door and saw a ‘tall, extraordinary handsome man’. Instinctively Teresa sank to her knees and He then said:
‘You shall be similar to me. Keep offering yourself as a sacrificial victim – don’t tire of it. The suffering which led you along the road to Calvary I have taken away from you, but now I shall leave you My wounds. Do you want to follow Me?’ As always, Teresa answered, ‘Yes!’
Teresa neared the time of Crucifixion. Agonising pains had prepared her for the similarity with Jesus. Now, the hour of ascent onto the cross arrived, when she was to obtain the five wounds Jesus had received on the cross.
It happened on Holy Thursday, April 3, 1969, at 10am. Teresa saw the Mother of Jesus who was dressed in black, and wearing a black veil from head to foot. Tears seemed to be running down her face. She spoke to Teresa:
‘Teresa, my beloved Son desires to give you His wounds.’
Teresa suddenly felt dizzy when she heard these words and she suddenly found herself on her knees on the floor. Before her stood Jesus, even more radiant than before. Bright rays shone from His clothes. Then Jesus asked her; ‘Teresa, do you love Me?’ 'Yes, yes!’, came the reply.
‘Then Jesus took me into His arms and said:’
‘Now you must go the way to Calvary together with Me!’
‘And we began to climb steeply upwards. The ground was thorny and full of sharp cutting stones. When we reached the summit, I saw a very high cross and it terrified me. I was defenceless. Then two ugly men came along and grabbed me. They threw me onto the cross and nailed me to it. I felt my flesh tearing and my whole body shaking.’
The stigmata lasted for three full days. She could hardly move and wrote in her diary; ‘I can’t set my feet on the ground and can hardly move my hands; they are so swollen and I lose a lot of blood. On the back of my hands the shape of a nail appeared and the palm of my hands feel as if a piece of flesh is being ripped out of it. And, my heart feels as if it is being burned.’
She worried about what she would do, since she could hardly move when suddenly a Motherly voice interrupted her thoughts; ‘My daughter, count on My help and think of nothing else but of sacrificing your pain for My beloved sons, the priests. Let me lead your life; let me shape your future!’
On Thursday July 31st, Teresa went into ecstasy and she found herself near Jesus ‘who suffered indescribable pain.’ She wanted to help Him and to suffer with Him and asked Him to grant her wish.
She stated: ‘Jesus approached, took the crown of thorns from His head and with radiantly shining hands, pressed it on my head.’
It was truly painful, but she was very happy. She kept the crown of thorns for two hours, but from then on Teresa’s forehead was often seen to be dripping with blood.
A few months later, Teresa revealed that she also shared Jesus’ scourging: ‘Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday Jesus gives me this present: He allows me to feel a few strokes of His scourging, and it is very painful!’n
Finally she received the heart wound. In January 1970, Jesus appeared to Teresa;n ‘My dear daughter Teresa, I offer you the wound on my side for the salvation of souls.’ n
Overjoyed Teresa answered, ‘Yes, yes, I do want it! But Lord, how can you condescend such a favour on a low worm like me?’n
The heavenly grace came a few days later when Jesus once again appeared and showed her the wound on his side, leading to His most sacred Heart. Teresa gazed at it enraptured, and suddenly found herself on a hill, nailed to the cross, ‘in indescribable pain,’
A man approached her and shoved a lance into her heart. ‘I felt flesh tearing and the pain was so intense that I passed out. When I awoke I was on my bed, covered all over in blood.’
Weeping and bleeding pictures and statues
In the last one and a half years of her life there were times when Teresa was overcome by deep sadness due to the sins of humanity and the great offense that they give to Jesus. Bound up with Jesus' passion, she knew how much sacrifices and sufferings were needed to repair these sins. And it was at this time that many pictures of Jesus and the Madonna began to shed blood and tears.
The first time it happened, was Feb. 26th 1975. Teresa brought a picture of Jesus from Caiazzo to Caserta. Whilst cleaning the picture, she noticed tears of blood running down Jesus’ face.n
This was the first extraordinary sign.n
The Archbishop of Caserta examined the picture and then granted Teresa through her spiritual director, Padre Stefano M. Manelli, writtern permission on Good Friday, 1975 to exhibit it on her little prayer altar in her home.
For Teresa, it created new nasty incidents, for some of those who came to see the picture became doubting inquisitors. They wanted Teresa to explain how it was occurring, and their suspicions, presumptions and doubts about the phenomena weighed heavily upon her. She could only tell them; ‘Jesus doesn’t want to give any more messages [through her]. He wants to show the world greater, more concrete evidence…’
As other pictures and even statues began to weep and bleed, sometimes she asked herself in confusion, ‘What is happening in my house? Every day brings a miracle, some people believe and others doubt the reality of the great events. I do not doubt it. I know that Jesus does not want to give any more messages in words, but in greater things…’
On January 1976, Teresa wrote this note into her diary; ‘This year started with so much sorrow. My worst grief is to see the pictures crying blood.
This morning I asked the crucified Lord the reason for His tears and what the signs mean. Jesus told me from the cross; ‘Teresa, my daughter, there is so much malice and spite in the hearts of my sons, especially the ones who should give an good example and possess greater love. I ask you my daughter to pray for them and sacrifice yourself incessantly. You will never find understanding here below in this world, but up there you shall have happiness and glory…’
One of the last entries in Teresa’s diary, which finished on April 2, 1976, gives the explanation of the Blessed Virgin Mary concerning the tears shed by pictures and statues;
‘My daughter, those tears are to stir the hearts of many souls who are cold and also those who are weak willed. As for the others who never pray and consider prayer fanaticism, know this; if they do not change their ways, those tears signify their damnation!’
As time went on, the phenomena happened several times each day. Statues, ‘Ecce – Homo’ pictures, crucifixes, pictures of the child Jesus, pictures of Christ’s Sacred Heart and pictures of the Virgin Mary and others shed tears of blood. Sometimes the shedding of blood lasted for quarter of an hour. Watching them, Teresa was often moved to tears herself and wondered, ‘Could I be the reason for these tears as well?’ or, ‘What can I do to soothe the sorrow of Jesus and His most Holy Mother?’ Surely also this is a question for each one of us.
Her holy death
On March 13th 1973, Jesus in His infinite kindness and mercy told Teresa that it would not be long before she had to leave this world. Taking this to heart she began preparing herself for death.
On July 28th she visited her brother Luigi at Castel S. Lorenzo. Upon leaving she told him; ‘This is the last time that I shall come here. My mission is finished.’
On June 25th, she was rushed to the hospital in Caserta, and was given a room in the renal department. She suffered cheerfully, and she was able to console a young girl age 12 or 13 who was very weak--almost at death’s door. Also she was able to console a poor old woman who was worried where she could go after her discharge from hospital, because not one of her children wanted to have her. Finally she befriended a black woman who was for some reason avoided by the other patients. The poor woman was so pleased that someone cared that she told Teresa her whole life story.
As time progressed, Teresa’s condition deteriorated more and more. Renal dialysis was urgently needed, but in Caserta there was no free appointments for the dialysis machine. So they sent her by ambulance to Mercato S. Severino, where they were supposed to have a place free for emergencies; but in this case all beds were occupied. At last they decided to take he into the ‘Clinic dei Gerani’ in Naples.
Thus sent to and fro, the poor martyr Teresa received an explanation from the Madonna in her last ecstasy on July 25th; ‘I wanted to let you understand how I felt when there was no room for me at the inn. You’ll have only to suffer for a short time now, then I shall escort you into the presence of the Father.’
The ‘Clinic dei Gerani’ was a pleasant place. The good Sisters there were kind to the desperately ill patients, and the doctors and nurses treated her with respect and consideration. The treatment which Teresa had to undergo was long, drawn out and painful. She suffered bravely and without complaints. The doctors admired her composure and encouraged her. When Teresa was in the grip of the worst agonies, nothing could relieve pain and the sisters kept asking if she had any special wishes, but Teresa answered; ‘What I want, you can’t give me; I want paradise!’
She soon felt her time was near and she longed to enter into eternal life with her Jesus. But, before she could do so, she had to finish her sacrifice; just like Jesus, the crucified victim, had done.
During this period until the day she died, Teresa was cheerful, happy and keenly interested to finish her welfare work with old people, for throughout her life she had always cared for the wellbeing of old people, and especially for old priests who needed help and support.
On the Eve of her death, August 18th, Teresa had the pleasure of meeting her spiritual father, Father Borra, and they planned the purchase of a house for old priests, and poor old homeless men. She seemed to be in a hurry to finalise the deal. And she was not wrong…
The next day, although she was exhausted by painful headaches, she travelled from Caserta to the ‘Clinic dei Gerani’ for another treatment. During her journey she spoke a lot about the plans for the home for aged priests and the homeless men.
The last dialysis began, but soon alarming symptoms set in; her heart did not react! Terrible headaches and cramps forced Teresa to ask the Sisters to loosen the tapes. Her spiritual brother, Don (Father) Franco Amico encouraged her and prayed for her, most especially The Lord’s Prayer, Ave Maria, Gloria, Salva Regina, and the Act of Conformity with the Will of God.
Suddenly at the same time there began loud ringing from the bells of a nearby church, a news soon came that there was at the Church a sacrilegious theft of a consecrated Host.
So it happened that the Sisters left the clinic for a hour to partake to this prayer of atonement.
Teresa was alone, nailed to the cross and in terrible agony. That was the fulfilment of a pact between Teresa and the Madonna that was made in 1972; ‘Mother, then we agree, when the day arrives I want to be alone. I want to be alone like Jesus on the cross.’
Don Franco was in deep prayer while Teresa lay suffering. Suddenly Teresa called out; ‘Wait! Wait!.’ To whom did she address these words? One would surmise that it was to a vision of the Lord’s mother, who stood by her in those last previous moments of life, like She had stood by Jesus at the foot of His cross at His death.
Don Franco recalls; ‘After a moment of calm, Teresa suddenly stretched out her arms, to the height of her head and her whole body, her arms and legs took on a stiffness, as if she had just turned to marble. Teresa’s posture was just like that of Jesus in the throes of his death, with outstretched arms on the cross.’
Don Franco then gave her the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. The doctors decided to send her at once to Caserta. The Sisters placed her in the ambulance. When she arrived in Caserta she was already dead. Her holy death occurred on August 19th 1976. Like her Jesus, Teresa was 33 years old.
A few hours before her death in the ‘Clinic dei Gerani’, a woman patient had asked her; ‘Why does God allow me to suffer like this?’
Teresa had answered her; ‘But do you not know that Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to prove his love for us? To redeem us! Do you not know that our sins yelled just as loudly as the mob for His death? Blessed are those who know how to suffer and sacrifice everything to the Lord. Nothing gets lost. The Lord holds nothing back for Himself. He will repay us for all of our suffering!’
Teresa was dressed all in white, and on her hands could been seen the stigmata which became a final testament to the life of a sacrificial victim soul who offered her life and sufferings in union with Jesus for the conversion of sinners and for priests.
Learn more about these events here.