Battistina is definitely an Italian woman of our time. She is a 47-year old internet-based accountant. When her partner invited her to go to Medjugorje, she was not very interested. Then, one morning, on her car radio, she heard the song, often played by Radio Maria that had irritated her so much for years when she was looking for a program. Unexpectedly that song moved her deeply; her tears flowed continuously, without any apparent reason. She understood that the Blessed Mother was calling her. But I will let her tell her own story ...
"Since a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in July 2012, everything has changed in my life, nothing is like before! My conversion happened during the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There were thousands of us outside around the Rotunda. Suddenly I found myself on my knees and I had the feeling that I was holding my living heart in my hands. I saw my entire life scroll down before my eyes. I clearly saw the good and the bad, and everything that seemed good at the time was becoming bad. I started to feel a great pain about my divorce.
How could I have broken a promise made in front of God? These words echoed in my mind, 'let no one split apart what God has joined together'. I then understood that my serenity was only in my mind because my heart was ice-cold. I had always felt I was on the side of the "righteous" and that I was a victim. Suddenly I saw how hard my heart was, I saw the suffering of my 4 children, what my father and my in-laws had endured, and I especially saw that I was not at all a victim. Actually I had never forgiven anyone. When my oldest daughter, 9 year-old and in 4th grade, had insisted on doing her first Holy Communion, I had told her it made no sense; and my last child had not even been baptized! I saw all the New Age books that I had bought over the past 20 years. How could I have spent all that time reading and taking courses on self-development, things that only ended up pushing me away from God and my family?
The pain was getting stronger and stronger and little by little I found myself with my face to the ground. I told myself, 'Lord, let me die here, because I am not worthy of even lifting my head from the ground'. At that moment I felt something like a huge hug filled with love, and a joy that is not of this world. And I told myself, 'During 18 years I thought I had given my children everything, but actually I had not given them anything because I had not given them this. So if I stay here to pray for them for the rest of my life, would that not be better than anything that I could do if I went back home? If I, as a mother, the soul of the household, had cultivated prayer instead of cultivating useless things, my children would still have a united family today!'
I understood that when you make the decision to shrug off the cross of marriage, you are actually putting it on your children's shoulders.
Then I felt that I had to keep the promise of faithfulness in marriage, so I decided to make a vow of chastity. I offered this to God so that a thousand families would not separate. My life partner felt the same way. He also told me that we should consecrate ourselves completely. Some priests told me that the vow of chastity was not necessary, others that it was just something we had made up, but I was quite certain and determined because it seemed so little in comparison with the infinite mercy that I had received.
My children thought I had become crazy because I was going to church and hung up a crucifix in the living-room. My eldest daughter was very irritated by my enthusiasm, and she told me, 'So what about all the things you've been telling us for the past 18 years?' 'I am sorry,' I told her. 'I was mistaken!'
In November I went back to Medjugorje with my 4 children so that they too would have an understanding and wisdom. I was very hopeful that they would meet the Lord. I was watching them from a distance, and waiting I thought, 'But if I, their mother, with the little love I am capable of, am so happy to see my children pray, how much happier must our Heavenly Mother be? And how unhappy will she be for her children who get lost!
During the pilgrimage all of my children's hearts were touched. We started studying the Catechism together. Nine months later, the youngest, 10 years old, was baptized, and all my children received Holy Communion during the same celebration. This was the most beautiful day of my life! It was as if I could see them all being reborn at the same time. My partner and I stayed together for a year, living like brother and sister. But every day I was asking God to be able to understand what His will was, whether we should stay close to support one another, or be separated completely. I kept that doubt in my heart for a long time but little by little the Lord led our paths to grow apart because of work.
After my conversion, I contacted my ex-husband again. For nine years every telephone call had ended with yelling on both sides; so for a year we did not talk to each other, and he would communicate with me through the children. When I recognized my mistakes,I looked at his faults as the consequences of my own, and then my resentment disappeared. I was the one who should ask for forgiveness! Little by little I started to feel the deep bond of marriage, sealed by God, and to feel once again a spouse. Yet I did not understand it. I asked a priest if it was all right to feel that I was a spouse, even though my husband was bonded to another person and had a son. The priest answered that the sacrament of marriage was indissoluble before God.
Now the love that I thought had been cancelled or even had never existed, I found it once again intact in the depths of my heart. I keep it in its purity and I pray every day for the conversion of my ex-husband and for all the families. I thank Jesus and Mary for the infinite grace that my family receives every day and I continue onward on this path of conversion."