The mystical phenomena of Maria Domenica Lazzeri (1815-1848)

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Maria Domenica Lazzeri (1815-1848)

A person could start with a question: how long can a human being stay without eating, drinking and sleeping? Maria Domenica Lazzeri for 14 years in a row, it seems. Protagonist, every Friday, of a sort of apparent death. On the hands, feet and forehead blood that ignores the force of gravity. Unexplained events, disappearances and more.Famous people visit it incessantly from all over Europe. A doctor follows the prodigies carefully and with a secular spirit.It is the setting in which the extraordinary events of this woman who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century in the town of Capriana, in Trentino unfold. Events that, despite a popularity on a continental level, have never managed to emerge completely. In fact, there are many still unsolved mysteries to which are added the uncertainty and prudence with which the Church seems to move, yesterday and today, around the events of Capriana.

With this book, Pino Loperfido completes a research that lasted about twenty years. And he does so almost in the form of a novel, with a narrative in which literature, history and science are intertwined with his most intimate personal memories.“La manutenzione dell’Universo”  is a surprising story, from different literary registers. It is a book of mourning, but it is also a journalistic chronicle; it is a modern memoir and at the same time a historical novel.

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A book which is causing much discussion, believers and non-believers, reporting reviews even at the national level, reaching the threshold of the fourth reprint. However you think of it, it is the portrait of a great woman, who in an era in which women practically counted for nothing, especially if poor and far from the city like her, managed to attract the attention of scholars, writers, bishops, nobles from all over Europe. Today, in 2022, we are still here talking about her …This is not a hagiography and it is no coincidence that the book came out at such a dramatic moment like pandemic. The bibliography concerning this mysticism has always been studded with accidental facts (and deaths of the authors …) which have always interrupted or postponed the publications.

Strange to say, but also Lazzeri’s “illness” in 1833 began due to a virus that left China
. She becomes infected by offering assistance to sick people. A bit of an ante-litteram nurse. He will no longer heal and will stay in bed – as reported by numerous testimonies, some also scientific – as mentioned, for 14 years, without eating, drinking or sleeping, manifesting the wonders mentioned in the book.The aspects that make this story “unique” compared to the stories of the other numerous Christian mystics are at least four. The Church has always ambiguously put this figure aside, when not censored: We have sensational testimonies from all over Europe (England, Germany, France). In particular that of a doctor who has followed his case for ten years. Some prodigies recorded on Lazzeri respond to laws of physics theorized only 200 years later. We are certain that many documents have been made to disappear or have been classified.In short, what Loperfido asks himself in the text is why, in the face of so many clear and indisputable testimonies, coming from various European countries, the story of Lazzeri still presents so many dark sides. The Church has always used great caution, when it has deliberately not allowed silence to fall on the extraordinary prodigies of Lazzeri. For this reason too, the beatification process, which began at the beginning of the Millennium, seems to have no real way out.

Finally, from a stylistic point of view, the book lends itself to multiple types of reading. It is a biography, a historical novel, a memoir (with the story of the “making of”, a little like Emmanuel Carrère). A text capable of questioning, surprising and moving.

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Pino Loperfido

Female mystic Maria Domenica Lazzeri was born on 16 May 1815 in Capriana, Italy. She didn’t eat, drink and sleep for the last 14 years of her life. She performed many wonders and supernatural interventions and died on 4 April 1848.Meneghina was the fifth of five children: two brothers – Pietro and Tomaso – and three sisters – the other two were Barbara and Carolina (known as Margherita, like her mother). When Domenica was born, on march the 16th 1815, she, who had the same surname as her husband, but no relationship, was already over 40 years old. His father was called Bortolomeo Lazzeri and was nicknamed Tomasi, like his father and all the members of his family. It is not known why, but in the village it was nicknamed El Tomasi del Casàl.As of 1833 she became bedridden most of her life. According to her physician she ate nothing for the last 14 years of her life except for receiving Holy Communion. She performed many others miraculous and supernatural interventions. Her cause was formally reopened in 1995 and she is currently styled Servant of God.

Maria’s prodigies reached an exceptional fame, crossing the Italian borders and was discussed throughout Europe; both doctors and men of letters reached his bedside (various reports on his condition were published and discussed), as well as religious authorities. Among these, are to remember Beda Weber, Anatole de Ségur, Joseph Streiter, Adolph Kolping, Edmond de Cazalès, Stefano Stampa Manzoni, Antonio Rosmini and John Beda Polding (archbishop of Sydney)

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Capriana, Trentino


On 19 and 30 August 1846 the French brothers Louis-Gaston and Anatole de Ségur visit Maria Domenica Lazzeri in Capriana. They are the children of Count Eugène and Sofia Rostopchina, a Russian, well-known writer of children’s books.

At the end of vespers, there is a knock at number 64. Mary’s sister, Carolina, greets them with gravity, with an involuntarily comic phrase: “Couldn’t you let my poor sister suffer quietly?”

Louis-Gaston and Anatole de Ségur watercolor

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Pubblicato da Pino Loperfido

Autore di narrativa e di teatro. Già ideatore e Direttore Artistico del "Trentino Book Festival". I suoi ultimi libri sono: "La manutenzione dell’universo. Il curioso caso di Maria Domenica Lazzeri” (Athesia, 2020) e "Ciò che non si può dire. Il racconto del Cermis" (Edizioni del Faro, 2022). Nel 2022 ha vinto il premio giornalistico "Contro l'odio in rete", indetto da Corecom e Ordine dei Giornalisti del Trentino Alto Adige. Dirige la collana "Solenoide" per conto delle Edizioni del Faro.