Archbishop Lefebvre on Maria Valtorta
Conference for the Carmelites of Quievrain, 21 July 1986
by Abp. Marcel Lefebvre
In the following excerpt of a 1986 conference he gave for the Carmelites of Quievrain, Archbishop Lefebvre cautions us against reading the so called "Poem of the Man God" by Maria Valtorta. He starts of by ridiculing the amount of trivial, insignificant and useless details which causes the book to take up 13 volumes and which exposes us to the danger of abandoning the spiritual level of the Gospel and of "materializing" the life of Our Lord. Towards the end he expresses his disbelief and disapproval of the "gross" nature of a passage he read of a conversation between Mary Magdalen and Our Lady.
In summary, the Archbishop obviously did not believe the book to be inspired in any way, but simply a product of the runaway imaginations of a woman.
Even if you don't understand French, it would still be worthwhile to listen to the audio file in order to appreciate the Archbishop's intonations and the resulting laughter of his audience.
So you see, at the occasion of this Source, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Source of our knowledge of God, and at the occasion of this contact with the Humanity of God, we will see how Our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed Himself. We will see a little more into the details how He has revealed the knowledge of God. But, at this point, I would like to make a little "parenthesis" concerning the diverse books which speak to us of God. I would like to say a few words to you on the Bible, on the Gospels, the New Testament. With them, we are sure of what we read, of what we learn, of what we discover about God in the Old Testament, in the New Testament. There is no hesitation there because the Bible is the Word of God. It is of faith. We have not the right to doubt an instant because Holy Scripture is the Word of God. It is not the word of the apostles. It is God Who speaks through the apostles. Of course, He uses their intelligence, their memory, their love and all that aid their faculties, but it is He Who is the Principal Author. The apostles are only instruments, as a pen. As a pen is the instrument of our writing, well the apostles have been intelligent instruments – the Good God has used their intelligence, their memory, their knowledge, but they are instruments of God. The words that have resulted in Scripture, God is the Author of them. It is He Who is responsible for all that is written. In consequence, there we have no doubt, when we read Holy Scripture, we know that it is God Who speaks. Therefore, what is there, we have no doubt of.
But, in the libraries of our convents and seminaries, there are how many, many writers who have written on Our Lord. We could fill a library with these books alone. There are certainly things very good, very holy, which have been approved by the Church – The Imitation of Jesus Christ, all these books on Holy Scripture, certain commentaries of Holy Scripture, explanations of Holy Scripture – anyway, these books are not lacking. But we have other books which are not just explanations of Holy Scripture or commentaries of Holy Scripture, but which present themselves in order to be also a certain revelation on Our Lord Jesus Christ. You have, for example, a recent book which has appeared, which is widely read and is easily found in the hands of persons, it is the book of Maria Valtorta. You have surely heard this book spoken of, and, you have perhaps read it yourselves – the book of Maria Valtorta, which is enormous – I believe there are 13 volumes on the Life of Our Lord.
So, what must one think of this? It is necessary to be truly very careful, very careful, and not to accord it immediately to faith because this person who calls herself inspired, who says to have seen all of these writings in vision, in particular, in all their details, very tiny details – truly even details of things very, very insignificant. The apostles are written of to the least of details, the conversations between the apostles and the Most Holy Virgin, between Philip and James, the character of this one and that one, all is written to the smallest of details.
I admit, I read part of it because Father Barrielle was very much in favor of this book of Maria Valtorta. He was convinced that it was absolutely true, that it could not be not true, that it does a lot of good. I don't say that it does not do good, to enter like that into the company of the apostles and the Blessed Virgin, and to see the Blessed Virgin live, to see the Child Jesus live, to see Him growing. It is true, that puts us in an atmosphere that makes us live more perhaps with Our Lord. But, there is a danger, also. It is that that can cause us to somewhat diminish the idea that we form of Our Lord when we read the Gospels. When we simply read the Scriptures and the commentaries on Scripture, we remain on a very spiritual level precisely because the Gospels do not enter into all of these physical, material details – the house of Nazareth in all its details, the preparations in the kitchen, the cooking of the food, all these little details, the little birds that are in the cage, and all that! There is something ravishing; it is captivating. But, there is perhaps this, also, that one causes Our Lord to almost descend to our level. Without doubt, the Good God wanted to live among us; it is clear. He did not want to live as an angel, He wasn't as Raphael, who accompanied Tobias and said "Actually, you believed I ate and I didn't eat because I nourish myself with another nourishment. I am one of the 7 who is standing before the Divine Majesty!" Tobias was on the ground, he was so afraid! And it seemed that he had eaten, yet he did not eat. Can we say that of Our Lord? I believe not! Our Lord has truly wanted to live as one of us, When Our Lord ate, He ate. He didn't have simply an apparent body. He had a True Body like us. He suffered in His Body; His Blood has been shed.
So, there is a little danger to let oneself materialize the Life of Our Lord too much. I even read a bit of Maria Valtorta, and I fell upon a passage which did not please me a lot, I assure you: the conversation of Mary Magdalen with the Most Holy Virgin at the foot of the Cross. Truly, I do not believe that St. Mary Magdalen has said things like that to the Blessed Virgin. It was really almost rude. Mary Magdalen saying to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "You, you are pure; me, all that I know in my life – I have become impure. Me, I am this, I am that, while you are this, you are that." That shocked me – speaking to the Blessed Virgin like that. Why recall her adulteries, her dissolute life, and in a manner almost gross, rude? I do not think that it is possible that Saint Mary Magdalen would address herself like that to the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross. It is not possible.
So, I don't know. But I admit that I put a question mark on her revelations. I am telling you because I believe they are not important. It is necessary to remain on the level of the knowledge of Our Lord, the knowledge of the Gospel, the level of the Gospel, not descending to things...
There are other of these books: Catherine Emmerich, Mary of Agreda. I think that they have things that are very beautiful. They are perhaps a lot more approved than Maria Valtorta. That can do a lot of good, I do not doubt it. However, I think that one must not give to these things the equivalence of the Gospel. I think that we have so many books of saints who have written of their life with Our Lord and all that has inspired them. I believe that I am prolonging a little too much – but let us read those books which are very edifying... We will never replace Holy Scripture. Consequently, we must have great esteem for the words of the Gospel and try to further discover the Good God through the Gospel.