Monday, January 16, 2023

The Miraculous Birth of Our Lord

Is the Holy Shroud a testimony of the Lord’s conception and birth, as well as of His Passion and death? It seems so, for this is what He told Maria Valtorta on May 20, 1949:


My Turin Shroud, O Maria, for whoever is able to see, is not just a testimony that I truly died and rose again, but also testifies to the way I was conceived and born, not according to the laws of humanity. It is thus a confirmation of the truths that my Religion teaches: my being conceived through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Maternity of Mary, her perpetual virginity, my passion and death, and my glorious resurrection. But this is confirmation for those to whom it is granted to see, in the light of God.” (The Notebooks, 1945-1950; May 20, 1949, p. 524.)


My attention to this Notebook entry was aroused by the statements of Catholic author Bertolami Ugo in his study entitled “The Shroud in the light of Maria Valtorta's writings,” available at Here


After presenting the above quote from Maria, Bertolami writes: 


Now to explain what Jesus means to refer to, I have reached the conclusion (and not only I) that Jesus is referring to the fact that the Shroud’s image lacks the mark of a navel, as can be seen on the crucifix of Msgr. Ricci and on the image of the Shroud’s thorax. (Tamburelli, G. 1980.) 


Adam, in many Medieval paintings, is represented without a navel. Jesus was born without injuring Our Lady’s virginity. This is confirmed many times in Jesus’ dictations to Maria Valtorta and is confirmed by the vision St. Bridget received. Correctly, Msgr. Ricci too, when reconstructing the crucifix on the basis of the Shroud, did not put a navel. 


In describing the birth of the Lord, Valtorta writes:


     “The light is given off more and more intensely from Mary’s body, it absorbs the moonlight. She seems to be drawing to Herself all the light that can descend from Heaven. She is now the Depository of the Light. She is to give this light to the world. And this blissful, uncontainable, immeasurable, eternal, divine Light which is about to be given, is heralded by a dawn, a morning star, a chorus of atoms of Light that increase continuously like a tide, and rise more and more like incense, and descend like a large stream and stretch out like veils…” 


    And the light increases more and more. It is now unbearable to the eye. And the Virgin disappears in so much light, as if She had been absorbed by an incandescent curtain...and the Mother emerges. Yes. When the light becomes endurable once again to my eyes, I see Mary with the new-born Son in Her arms. A little Baby, rosy and plump, bustling with His little hands as big as rose buds and kicking with His tiny feet that could be contained in the hollow of the heart of a rose: and is crying with a thin trembling voice, just like a new-born little lamb, opening His pretty little mouth that resembles a wild strawberry, and showing a tiny tongue that trembles against the rosy roof of His mouth.” (Poem of the Man-God, Chap. 29 Vol. 1.)


In order conform to Catholic teaching that Mary was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Our Lord, He must have emerged from her womb completely detached from any afterbirth matter, including the umbilical cord. Such matter might have been retained within the womb of His mother. As a sign of this miraculous detachment of His umbilical cord and placenta, it seems, from the Shroud, that He was born without a significantly visible navel. As He told Maria, the Shroud testifies that He was born “not according to the laws of humanity.”


Interestingly enough, we have confirmation of these words of Jesus to the mystic Maria Valtorta in the words of another mystic, Venerable Mary of Agreda. She writes: "The infant God therefore was brought forth from the virginal chamber unencumbered by any corporeal or material substance foreign to Himself." 


Quoting Agreda: 


    “At the end of the beatific rapture and vision of the Mother ever Virgin, which I have described above was born the Sun of Justice, the Only begotten of the eternal Father and of Mary most pure, beautiful, refulgent and immaculate, leaving Her untouched in her virginal integrity and purity and making Her more godlike and forever sacred; for He did not divide, but penetrated the virginal chamber as the rays of the sun penetrate the crystal shrine, lighting it up in prismatic beauty. Before I describe the miraculous manner in which this took place, I wish to say that the divine Child was born pure and disengaged, without the protecting shield called secundina, surrounded by which other children are commonly born, and in which they are enveloped in the wombs of their mothers. […] It is enough to know and suppose that in the generation and birth of the incarnate Word the arm of the Almighty selected and made use of all that substantially and unavoidably belonged to natural human generation, so that the Word could truly call Himself conceived and engendered as a true man and born of the substance of his Mother ever Virgin.


    “[...] but it was consequent upon his miraculous Birth that He be exempt and free from all that could be caused by the corruption or uncleanness of matter. Thus also this covering, or secundina, was not to fall a prey to corruption outside of the virginal womb, because it had been so closely connected and attached to his most holy body and because it was composed of the blood and substance of his Mother; in like manner it was not advisable to keep and preserve it outside of Her, nor was it becoming to give it the same privileges and importance as to his divine body in coming forth from the body of his most holy Mother, as I will yet explain. The wonder which would have to be wrought to dispose of that sacred covering outside of the womb could be wrought much more appropriately within.

    “The infant God therefore was brought forth from the virginal chamber unencumbered by any corporeal or material substance foreign to Himself. But He came forth glorious and transfigured for the divine and infinite wisdom decreed and ordained that the glory of his most holy soul should in his Birth overflow and communicate itself to his body, participating in the gifts of glory in the same way as happened afterwards in his Transfiguration on mount Tabor in the presence of the Apostles.” (Ven. Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God: Volume 3,The Incarnation, nos. 477-479; Ave Maria Institute, 1971.)


Maria Valtorta’s description that Jesus was born “in a chorus of atoms of Light” is seconded by another twentieth century mystic, the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta:


    “... I saw the Queen Mama in the act of giving birth to Little Baby Jesus. What a wonderful prodigy! It seemed that both Mother and Son were transmuted into most pure light. But in that light one could see very well the human nature of Jesus containing the Divinity within Itself, and serving as a veil to cover the Divinity; in such a way that, in tearing the veil of human nature, He was God, while covered by that veil, He was Man. Here is the prodigy of prodigies: God and Man, Man and God! Without leaving the Father and the Holy Spirit – because true love never separates – He comes to dwell in our midst, taking on human flesh. Now, it seemed to me that Mother and Son, in that most happy instant, remained as though spiritualized, and without the slightest difficulty Jesus came out of the Maternal womb, while both of them overflowed with excess of Love. In other words, those Most Pure Bodies were transformed into Light, and without the slightest impediment, Light Jesus came out of the Light of the Mother, while both One and the Other remained whole and intact, returning, then, to their natural state. 


    “Who can tell the beauty of the Little Baby who, at the moment of His birth, transfused, also externally, the rays of the Divinity? Who can tell the beauty of the Mother, who remained all absorbed in those Divine rays? And Saint Joseph? It seemed to me that he was not present at the act of the birth, but remained in another corner of the cave, all engrossed in that profound Mystery. And if he did not see with the eyes of the body, he saw very well with the eyes of the soul, because he remained enraptured in sublime ecstasy. 


    “Now, in the act in which the Little Baby came out to the light, I would have wanted to fly and take Him in my arms, but the Angels prevented me, saying that the honor of holding Him first belonged to the Mother. Then, the Most Holy Virgin, as though stirred, returned into Herself and from the hands of an Angel received Her Son in Her arms. In Her ardor of love, She squeezed Him so tightly that it seemed that She wanted to draw Him into Her womb again. Then, wanting to let Her ardent love pour out, She placed Him at Her breast to suckle.”


(Luisa Piccarreta, Book of Heaven, Volume 4, Dec. 25, 1900; available online Here.)

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