The Words of the Ravaglioli Family
True Parents in Rome on their fourth world tour in 1972. It was during this time that Jolanda Pizzi met Father; at far left are the Porters, who had become the center of attention at a sitting with Jolanda three years earlier.
During the late 1940s, True Father was in Hungnam Special Labor Camp in North Korea, fighting to continue his mission, and for his very life. According to the testimony that follows, at the same time (and over the ensuing years) in Milan, in the peninsular nation of Italy, unusual communications were received from the spirit world during sittings held by a medium with the name Jolanda Pizzi. A high spirit was speaking through her, explaining about the light of God being in the world. Despite some initial skepticism, many who heard the testimony from this spirit guide in the 1960s and listened to the Divine Principle had profound experiences with God, leading them to join the young Unification Church community in Milan. We asked some of these early members to explain what they experienced, and extracts from their testimonies are presented here.
The four people from whose accounts this article is drawn are:
Elio D'Alberti: National messiah to the Czech Republic
Franco Ravaglioli: Former national leader of Italy
Luciana Ferrario: An early home member, now national messiah to Romania
Daniela Granata: She recorded many sittings with the medium, Jolanda, during the 1970s and 1980s, later transcribing and publishing them in a book Il Vero Amore [True Love] in 2009, from which a section has been translated into English and included at the end of this article.
Jolanda Pizzi (left), a spiritual medium, with Franco Ravaglioli's mother
I testified to him even, before knowing
When I came to know the Divine Principle brought to me by Martin, his wife and Barbara and Carla, it was not difficult for me to accept it, since for many years, from time to time, I had received, revelations about such content.
Even so, the Lord still wanted to give me testimony based on my faith.
I should explain, that I have been in direct communication with Jesus for many years; therefore, after reading the whole book, overjoyed for what I had come to know, still enraptured, in, that feeling of beatitude induced, Lou the reading, the presence of Jesus wanted me to write down what was happening to rue and which t now report.
[Jesus:] "I am here with you, my gentle instrument and dear sister, do not be afraid, but follow so you can help the prophesies be accomplished, since it has taken too long for them to come true. I am near you, do not be afraid and go to spread the divine truth, I will pave the way for you. My being near you will help you greatly. Be bold. Your preparation is good and you will be listened to. Sow well, for the harvest will be satisfactory."
I wish that all people encountering the Divine Principle may have such proof as to dispel any, fear or doubt, and may accept with a peaceful and hopeful ear this Last dispensation from God as the only salvation, for us and for the whole creation.
My mother and I knew a spiritualist lady named Jolanda. She loved Jesus very much. I am writing to testify how well the spirit world (in particular her spirit guide, Horward) was ready to testify to the Second Coming of the Messiah at that early time. True Father's suffering life was known in the spirit world, as was the fact that he had brought the light of the highest truth and the power of the greatest love of God. Words will never be sufficient to express the joy when the news came that "he is living on earth."
Franco soon after hearing the Principle
My mother learned that Horward, the spirit speaking through Jolanda, had been British and was the captain of a ship that sank in the thirteenth century. He and all his crew had perished. In Jolanda's early days, when he came down and spoke through her, Jolanda was completely out of her body. Her body was taken over by his spirit. My mother was very impressed by what this man said, because he was giving a very high level of spiritual guidance. He talked a lot about Jesus. When my mother came back from the sittings, she would tell us what he had told her -- about what to do in order to overcome difficulties, the support the spirit world was giving, and so on.
When my mother was pregnant with me, she had had a sitting with Horward. She was thinking to herself, I will talk about anything, but I won't talk about the baby in my womb. As soon as the sitting began, the spirit told my mother, "You have a wonderful baby in your womb"! My mother was shocked because she had not wanted to talk about her baby. The first thing he said was about me: "He will have a great future. He will be like a priest."
My mother said, loudly, "No! I don't want a son who is a priest; I want to have grandchildren, and I want to have a daughter-in-law."
Horward replied, "Yes, but in the future, priests will not be like they are now. You will have grandchildren and a daughter-in-law."
From childhood, Jolanda had paranormal powers, but she thought that all people were like her. She received help and support from her grandmother, who reassured her about the phenomena occurring to her (she felt the presence of spirits).
Horward came to her for the first time on February 3, 1948.
Jolanda told us that he testified to Mrs. Ravaglioli, a good friend of hers, about the baby she had in her womb and to whom she gave birth shortly afterward. He told her that her son would become a religious leader. Franco later became the national leader of our church in Italy.
Some of those who had attended sittings with Horward before us and were guided by him told us that from the very beginning he had talked about "this important person" who had a special role for the future of humankind, although in those years it was still impossible for this person to manifest himself openly. We are talking about the years 1948 to 1965.3
Horward told them to write whatever he said on paper and to keep the messages somewhere safe. "The time will come when you will understand," he said. They had a drawer overflowing with these pieces of paper. One of the things he said, which at the time had seemed strange, was "the marriage of the lamb has taken place."
My father died of cancer six years after I was born. Just before he died, he met my mother and me and asked for forgiveness for all the pain he had caused us. He said he would recover and we would be one family, together again. My mother was very hopeful about this.
When she went to a sitting, she told Horward what my father had said. Horward was silent for a time and then said, "I am sorry. You will not be able to see him again. You will hear about him only through that special device you have with numbers that go around." (He meant the telephone).
My mother said, "Oh, he's crazy; that's not possible -- of course we will meet!"
Two days later, the day before my mother was to meet my father, his sister called to say my father had died. My mother could indeed never meet him again, but just heard about him over the telephone.
Barbara Burrowes teaching Divine Principle in Milan in those early days; those present here include the Ferrarios, a lawyer and a businesswoman.
My grandfather had had healing power in his hands, and my mother discovered that she also had that gift. Our small apartment became a center for healing people. My mother could not stop the people coming. For my father, brother and other relatives, it was difficult to accept the situation because they could not understand what was happening. Finding myself in a position of having to balance different people's expectations of my mother, I began to ask myself about values in life. My faith in Jesus and in Mother Mary pushed me to find answers outside the Catholic Church. I started attending meetings where Mary appeared.
I had many unanswered questions. Often, I could not sleep at night. One night, an oriental man appeared in a dream, calling me by name. He said, "Elio, you are living a life without value." I awoke with a very clear mind. I wanted to be more useful to more people.
In particular, I questioned in my heart why so many marriages break down, though in the Bible it is written that man should not separate what God has united. I wondered what God thinks about marriage.
With greater determination than I had had before, I asked for an appointment with Jolanda's spiritual guide Horward. I asked him what God thought of marriage. He said, "No marriage has value in front of God. You cannot understand this now, but ask Jolanda to invite you again when she has a larger meeting." Little did I know that the most wonderful clarification was waiting for me.
That was 1969. In March, True Parents had come to Europe and had blessed the first couples there;' among them were Martin Porter and his wife. At that time, Martin lived far south in Rome, and he did not know Jolanda. It turned out that he decided to visit Milan on the same day that Jolanda had invited me to a "larger meeting." A lady who had been invited was unable to come, and that lady suggested Martin and his wife participate in her place.
There were many people, many couples. When it was my turn to put my question, I asked the same one as before. The answer at first seemed to be the same -- but there was a big difference. Horward, the spirit, then pointed to Martin and his wife, and said that their marriage did have value in front of God; that they were the only married couple there that was accepted by Heaven.
Everyone was surprised that Horward said only Martin's wedding was recognized by God. Because nobody knew him, because it was the first time he had come. Many were senior members of society with well-established marriages.° Horward spoke to Martin very humbly as if he were addressing a superior.
After this, Barbara Burrowes and Martin Porter began to teach the Principle to the group.
Around this time, Jolanda took all the pieces of paper with Horward's messages out of the drawer. In light of the Divine Principle teachings, the meaning of all the messages became clear. For example, the one that said, "The marriage of the lamb has occurred." All the messages were connected with True Father. That is how the Italian church began.
Jolanda had many revelations from Jesus. She could only accept that Father was the Messiah after she received direct revelation from Jesus. I remember that she said, "I could never think to replace Jesus. I was praying a lot to him, saying that if this is the right person you have to give me a sign."
Three months after the session with Jolanda when we met Martin Porter, Jolanda called to say that she had an important message for me. I went to her house one Saturday. She told me to sit down and then said, "The Messiah is on earth!" A wave of feelings came over me. If this were true, nothing in the world could be more wonderful.
The following Monday, we started Divine Principle lectures with Barbara Burrowes. When she explained the ideal of creation, I realized that my dreams concerning an ideal family were not my own fantasy. At the end of a tormented and conflicted history, God had planted the Tree of Life on earth. I took a photograph of True Father home to show to my mother. Being spiritually open, when she took the photo, she had a vision that from Father's face a great light, like sunshine, covered the world. My mother began to cry, feeling True Father's incredible suffering, which she said was beyond our imagination.
Jolanda's acceptance of True Father as the Messiah helped a number of people become the first group of disciples in northern Italy.
Children's Day 1970 at the church center in Milan; Luciana Ferrario is standing in the doorway holding her daughter (her husband Mario is at far right).
We often came to know what Father was going to do before it was announced, so we were absolutely certain that Jesus and therefore Horward were in contact with Father and were supporting what he was doing....
In 1972 Jolanda went to Rome to meet Father. He expressed his appreciation for what she was doing and through Mrs. Choi, who always accompanied Father in those days, she received Father's embrace and blessing.`'
As I grew up, I strongly believed what my mother told me about the sittings, but I never wanted to go. I was afraid. My mother was pushing me... She would ask, "Since you believe so much of what Horward's saying, why don't you talk to him yourself?" I would say no.
One day during a sitting in 1968, he told my mother through Jolanda, "Don't push your son to come. When the time is right, he will ask to come." So my mother came home. "Oh," she told me, "He said you will ask to come."
I said, "He's crazy. I will never ask to come; you know that. Don't talk to me about it anymore."
However, one morning, in September 1969, I woke up feeling that I had to go. I told my mother, "Please call Jolanda and make an appointment; I want to go to a sitting." My mother was shocked.
Going to a sitting is like being in a doctor's waiting room. You sit and wait for your turn. Each sitting lasted around thirty minutes. As soon as I sat down, I looked around and saw two or three people, and I thought, What am I doing here? Are we all crazy? I'll be talking to some spirit. I don't know where he is, or if he really exists.
Just as I was thinking of an excuse to run away, Jolanda's sister came through the door and said, "Oh Franco, it's your turn now." It was too late to escape, so I went into the room. I was expecting something terrifying, but Jolanda was just sitting in an armchair with a blanket on her knees, with her eyes closed. As soon as I entered the room, she said, with a strong English accent, "Oh I have been waiting so long to meet you! You finally came."
Without asking any questions, Horward began to talk. He said (making a long story short) that it was the time of a great revolution, not a physical one but a spiritual revolution, because God had sent his living light to earth and it was now walking among mankind. "If you have faith," he said, "you will find the light." All of a sudden, he stopped and asked, "Do you understand what I am saying?"
I said that I did, but he replied, "You don't understand one word of what I've said. But don't worry; in a few days, you will understand." I thanked him and left.
When Jolanda's sister asked me how it had gone, I told her what he'd said about the light of God walking on earth and that I didn't understand it. When she said that she knew what he meant, I was even more convinced that they were all a bunch of crazy people. I returned home and told my mother, "Please don't tell me to go there anymore; they're all nuts." And I forgot about it.
Some weeks later, Jolanda called to ask what I'd thought of the experience. I told her it had been very interesting. She said she was glad I'd enjoyed it and invited my mother and me to her house the next night because a lady was coming "to explain a nice philosophy from the Orient." I spoke to my mother, who agreed to go, which is how we met Barbara Burrowes.
At Jolanda's house, we heard the explanation of the first chapter, which was very interesting, very uplifting. Then we learned about the Fall, why human beings could not reach what the first chapter had promised. When I heard the Fall -- Satan, the snake, Adam and Eve -- I decided it was a poor imitation of Catholic theology. When we left, I told my mother, "Please don't ask me to come anymore. It makes no logical sense."
Jolanda invited us for another meeting the following week, but I told her I was busy. My mother, who had recently bought me a small car, wanted to go to the meeting. She said, "You see! I bought a car for you, but you won't even bring me to the meeting. What kind of thanks is that?"
So, I took her to the meeting to hear another "story." That night, Barbara explained the chapter on Jesus. I was shocked when I heard it. It was such a profound explanation. I was not a good Catholic at all. I went to church out of duty. I made offerings to help myself when I had school exams or to ask for grace when I needed something. I didn't believe in the church or the priests, but I had always believed that Jesus was a real person, who really existed. The explanation Barbara gave uplifted me, and from that time on, I continued to attend the meetings. We were doing one chapter at a time. I heard the final two chapters in a center they opened in Milan. After her explanation of the Principle, Barbara invited us to sit in a circle in the living room and pray. She explained that we should pray aloud and express what we feel, and so on.
I told myself that I hope she doesn't ask me to pray. And Barbara looked directly into my eyes and said, "Now, you pray." I was stunned. I did not know what to say, or how to start. Everyone else had bowed their heads and were waiting for me. I was trying to say good things in perfect Italian. The more I prayed, the more the prayer became natural. I began to feel I was really expressing myself, and I felt God's love and energy embracing me, giving me so much warmth and love. I started crying. At that moment, I accepted that True Father was the Messiah.
When I next talked to Horward, he asked, "Do you understand now what I meant when I said that the light was walking with men on earth? That is the light I was speaking of."
Daniela: We want to ask you how the Movement [the Unification Church] will develop.
Horward: The truth is the truth. The Principle shall continue. I already told you that. It will develop even more after the year 2000. It is not important whether the person who revealed it will still be alive at that time. I tell you, he shall work more freely and will accomplish more when he is in the spirit world than while he is on earth.
Here [in the spirit world] there are already many of his disciples, who are instructing other spirits. Most of the people in the spirit world do not know the Principle. That's why some spirits still speak through mediums about Christianity or even about things before Christianity.
Now they have to change, but it is very difficult, because they are spirits that are not advanced, that still ignore this message. Yet many other spirits here are getting ready to transmit this message....
Daniela: Many times we face great difficulties, since we don't know what to do... perhaps, because we do not have a sufficiently deep bond with Master.
Horward: You see Master only in his human form. You are used to worshipping idols on an altar. Master walks and does all the other things that men do; he has to act on earth like any other man, but internally there is a completely different mechanism with which he understands God's law and transmits it. God did not send us His son as a being to be worshipped on an altar. He sent him to help the earth. He sent him for him to work, and not in order to have a monument to him.
What I mean is that Master lives on earth in the same way any other man does; with more wisdom, of course, because he knows [God's plan]; you should not have the idea that he is different. He too has to brush his teeth, since one can't brush one's teeth with God's law, and if he loses a tooth he has to replace it with another. God's law is right and can do anything.... Do not worship him; He does not want to be worshipped; he just wants that through him you love God.