Revised Jun. 26th, 2015
THE ST. GERARD MAIELLA SOCIETY,
IN MEMORIAM MARY GRACE BELLOTTI
(MARY GRACE BELLOTTI LEAGUE OF LAY APOSTLES)

   MARY GRACE BELLOTTI was born with a Caul (a Veil) on November 9th, 1882 in the small village of Laurenzana, in the Province of Potenza, Italy. She was baptized three days later, and as was the custom then for the village children, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation two years later.
(
November 9th is the anniversary of the founding of the Redemptorist Order, in 1732)

   When she was two years old, her father Guiseppe (Joseph) Bellotti left Italy for America to begin establishing a better life for his family, for the family was in poverty and hardship. Because of an intense desire to see and know her father and have him return home and have the family reunited, Mary Grace at the age of nine and her mother Maria Teresa (Marchetta) Bellotti joined a pilgrimage from their town to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Viggiano, where in keeping with tradition, many of the faithful, then as now, travel in pilgrimage from nearby provinces. (usually in May and Sept.) The Madonna is looked upon as a great light that revives their faith, hope and love.

    Mary Grace made the three day walking journey to the shrine barefoot, and with the other devout pilgrims, fasted and abstained from meat for the entire journey.

    When they reached the shrine and Mary Grace knelt in prayer before the Madonna, (she experienced the first of a series of visions in her life). The Madonna appeared to her and said, "Child, your father is preparing to leave America now and he will come home to you. Having received your Grace, pray for the crippled boy who is beside you, for he does not know how to pray." In thanksgiving, Mary Grace prayed for the boy, and suddenly he set aside his crutches and ran to his parents.

   This was the first claim of a cure received through Mary Grace's intercession to God, the Blessed Mother and the Saints. It would be the first of many cures claimed and recorded by many in later years.

Her Father returned home to Italy two months after this pilgrimage.

   Even as a mere child, Mary Grace had great devotion towards God and the Blessed Virgin. After leaving her playmates, she would make visits to her Parish Church and kneel before the Blessed Sacrament.
Mary Grace had no formal education; her Catechism and Holy Bible were taught to her by her mother, and she studied these verbally and she absorbed every word.
As she grew to womanhood, she learned the arts of embroidery and cooking and excelled in both. It was Mary Grace the townspeople called upon to prepare the dinner for the Bishop when he came to Laurenzana to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. Honored, yet humble, she realized the fact that she was doing some small service for God in her own special way.

As a lay person, she suffered the many trials a young woman would suffer in those days, but hers were much worse. In 1903 she married Luigi LaPercha on December 3, 1903 in the Church of St. Mary the Assumption, Laurenzana, Italy. He met her while she was making her daily visits to church; he was a master plasterer working in the church. After knowing him for some time and repeatedly evading his offer for marriage, his temperament pushed the question to a final conclusion, and six months later they were boarding a ship to America and Mary Grace was in her sixth month of pregnancy.

Coming to America, a new life.

   On May 1st 1904 she left for America from the port of Naples on the Ship S.S. Palatia of the Hamburg- American Line. During the ocean crossing the S.S. Palatia encountered a heavy storm in the Azores area, and the ship's Master, M. Hogin, ordered all passengers to wear life jackets. Many feared the ship's hull was craked. Mary Grace prayed for their safe deliverance. The Holy Family appeared before her, and the Blessed Mother assured her of their safe arrival.
They landed safely in New York Harbor on May 17, 1904. Nunziata (Nancy) was born in New York City in 1904. She was named Nunziata in Honor of the Annunciation, as a reminder of the miracle that had taken place during the crossing on board the ship.

According to contemporary accounts, this was the second known appearance of the Blessed Mother to Mary Grace.

Soon after their arrival in America, Luigi LaPerchia became a changed man indulging in all the evil vices. Throughout the remainder of their married lives Mary Grace endured many beatings and humiliations. Ever mindful of her Holy Marriage Vows she offered her sufferings up to God as penance. She could not help her husband simply because he did not want to be helped. He lived his life as he chose to, but her daily prayers never diminished. Through his drinking and gambling he lost their home and in a drunken rage he threatened to kill her. She and her four year old daughter Nancy escaped and went to stay with her brother in Newark, for safety.

(Luigi LaPerchia later died in Memorial Hospital, New York City.)

   In 1908 they moved to West Hoboken ( Union City) New Jersey, and rented on Rose St. (now 21st St.), Just behind St. Michael's Monastery, Mary Grace Loved the monastery church, and would call St. Michael the Archangel her protector. Father Andrew Kenny, C.P. and Father Dominic Langenbacher, C.P. were Mary Grace's confessors. During this time period she helped many people that were sick, and prayed for them. Another priest of the monastery was Father Andrea (a Passionist), who was a holy man and knew Mary Grace but did not realize she was called "Faith Healer" by members of her parish community, as he mentioned in his letter to Bishop (later Archbishop of Newark) Thomas Walsh in 1930.

   Mary Grace also taught embroidery to the children and at the same time taught them the scriptures and related the life of Christ and the Saints in Poetry form. Mary Grace was such an excellent embroiderer that her works were placed on display by the Royal Society Embroidery Company for whom she became a sample maker. Most of her earnings she would use to help churches and people in need.

The Start of her active Lay Apostolate.

   In 1913 the family moved to a New York Avenue address between 18th and 19th Streets in Union City. Here during her noon day prayers she received a vision of Our Lord asking her to work for his honor and glory. Consenting, she began her active lay apostolate.

This is the third known appearance given to Mary Grace.

   From that day forth, whenever she heard that someone was sick she went to them, praying to God and the Saints for them. Many, especially the desperate cases she stayed with and prayed at great length together with members of their family until they recovered or went to their eternal reward. Mary Grace also aided many women in child birth, bringing babies into the world as a mid-wife and receiving the title of "Nurse" Such confidence and trust was placed in her that when she delivered babies, two local physicians, Drs. Sacco and D'Accierno simply signed the Birth Certificates. She sponsored many individuals for Conformation and Baptism, and through the “Passionist Fathers Missions” Mary Grace sponsored many foreign adoptions.

   On October 16, 1913, Mary Grace fulfilled her desire to find and work with a Saint that was not too well known and to make him known and spread his devotion for God's greater honor and glory. She found her patron, the Redemptorist St. Gerard Maiella, at a feast in his honor at St.Ann's Church in Hoboken, NJ. A great spiritual companionship began.

(View the story of St Gerard Maiella and pictures here in our web site.)

   St. Gerard is the patron saint for mothers, and the unborn, and women wanting to have children.

   Ever mindful of the needs of the Churches and Missions, once a year she made wine to be used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the priests of needy local parishes. She selected the grapes herself; in addition Mary Grace provided support by sending mass donations to many of the area churches. For Mary Grace believed and said "What you give to the Churches, you give to God, and that is what you will find in Heaven - Your Heavenly Treasure." Mary Grace also helped support a nursery school, which the Sisters of St. Francis had in Bayonne, NJ.

    Mary Grace had such special insight as to read the people's minds and knew what they had in their hearts. She knew who needed help the most and also knew when someone was on the way to see her for an important purpose. Her exhortations to all were - to have a lively faith in God and in His Mercy - to pray and do penance, to love God and neighbor. Pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints; go to Church and go to Confession; receive Holy Communion often. "For Holy Communion is your passport to Heaven". And always pray for the poor souls in Purgatory, and at the same time set a good example for all to follow, and she would always lead them to Saint Gerard.

   Her desire to build a chapel in honor of St. Gerard Maiella became a reality in the year 1922. Through many prayers, hard work and the help of others, the “Chapel House of St. Gerard” was completed. it was a chapel where people could come and visit and pray. It was located on 4th Street in Union City, in the St. Anthony of Padua parish area. The Alter Stone was presented to Mary Grace for the Chapel by Monsignor Rocco Pellettieri of the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Viggiano, Italy, and he registered it with the Archdioceses of Newark. He also asked for and received permission to celebrate mass at the Chapel. The Alter was dedicated to St. Joseph.

   Since that day in 1922 many masses were celebrated there and many favors were received through the intercession of St. Gerard and Mary Graces prayers. Father Peter Della Guistina of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Newark, Blessed prayer cards and Holy Metals there for Mary Grace to distribute. Mary Grace always insisted that everything was to be in accordance with and the approval of the Archdiocese.

   Mary Grace would pray alone for long hours, lying prostrate on the floor in her bedroom in the form of a cross, face down, hands out. Her special meditations were upon the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation and the Passion of Our Lord. She did much fasting, not only did she abstain from meat on Friday, but observed fast and abstinence on Wednesdays in honor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Saturdays as well in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. And as she became more involved in her work with people, she detached herself from all worldly pleasures. Always modest in her appearance and dress, which usually was a dark skirt and white blouse, wearing her black hair in a knot at the back of her head. Those who had the privilege to know and speak to Mary Grace Bellotti have attested that in her presence one was immediately aware of her holiness and closeness to God.

True Servant of our Crucified Savior

   Through her ministering to the sick, many people were cured and led back to the faith; she helped the sinner return to God. She consoled many hearts and taught people how to pray to God, the Blessed Mother and the Saints and saved souls, and all with a profound humility. Her only desire was to bring souls to Christ. Her fame for sanctity, spiritual and corporal works of mercy spread far and wide. She transmitted to those who came in contact with her - her own lively faith in the Holy Trinity.

After the death of her first husband, Mary Grace married Mr. Umberto Cavalli in 1926. He helped her during her last year on earth. He, as her husband, assisted the ladies who attended to Mary Grace due to her serious illness. He looked upon her as a very devout, holy woman of God, whom he deeply loved.

Worn by trials and labors for souls, she died a saintly death, November 10, 1927.
(It was the feast day of St. Andrew Avellino)

Mary Grace received the Last Rites from Father Ferdinando Anzalone, O.M.I. of St. Nicholas Church.

   Shortly before she died, a High Mass was said for her, and Father Andrea of St. Michael's Monastery was brought to her by her husband Umberto Cavalli to visit her before he said the Mass. In a letter to Bishop Walsh, he describes her illness and tells Bishop Walsh that he gave his blessing to her.

   During the time she was waked at her " Chapel House of St. Gerard" Her skin and body stayed soft and visitors commented that it looked like she was just sleeping. Hundreds of people visited her. The Bosetti Funeral Home, 1901 Bergenline Ave, Union City, NJ took care of the arrangements, and on November 14th a Solemn High Mass of Christian Burial was said at St. Michael's Monastery in Union City. It was attended by a large crowd of people. Interment was at Calvary Cemetery, Long Island City, New York.
(Third Calvary-section 25-Range 8- Plot B- Grave 15).

   Pilgrimages began spontaneously at Mary Grace's Grave and many people claimed cures through her intercession, and this continues on.

Through prayers asking for her intercession many favors have been received through her closeness to God.

All are recorded in our "Book of Testimonies and Favors Received".

View the "Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity" below.
(Imprimatur granted by + Thomas A. Boland, S.T.D. Archbishop of Newark, 1967)

   It was her only daughter Nunziatia (Nancy) in 1927 who carried on as per Mary Graces instructions, keeping the Chapel House of St. Gerard open for visits by the devotees of St. Gerard, and as the first President of the St. Gerard Maiella Society in memoriam Mary Grace Bettotti she continued to provide assistance to churches and missions in the Archdiocese of Newark and around the world..

This continues today, almost 100 years later.

Amen.

 

   This narrative of the life of Mary Grace Bellotti is a work of hagiography. There are many historical details that are left out, though all information contained here is supplied by documents that remain in the possesion of the St. Gerard Maiella Society. If you would like to know more about this remarkable person, contact us at the email below.

 

Click here for Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity

Click Here for PICTORIAL REVIEW - PHOTOGRAPHS 1882 to PRESENT

In the event that you receive some special favor through the
intercession of Mary Grace Bellotti,
kindly inform us in writing.

The St. Gerard Maiella Society, in Memoriam the Servant of God Mary Grace Bellotti
received the Imprimatur from His Excellency Thomas A. Boland, S.T.D.,
Archbishop of Newark New Jersey, on February 18, 1967 on the Prayer
to the Most Holy Trinity, and is the Promoter of the Beatification and Canonization
Cause of the Servant of God, Mary Grace Bellotti.

_________________________

In Honor of:

Our First President,   Nunziata Marano  ( Nancy)
Nancy was named   "Zealatrice for St.Gerard"  on July 20, 1957
BY
Padre Vincenzo Sorrente, Direttore Responsabile, St Gerard's Shrine, Materdomini Italy

Nancy Marano, President, and the “St. Gerard Maiella Society” have been “Officially Engaged” by the Holy See on May 21,1963, by His Eminence + Cardinal Confalonieri, Pontifical Commission for Latin America and President of the Latin America Commission. This gives the St. Gerard Maiella Society the Permission to carry on its work and for the disposition and collection of donations throughout the United States of America.

Our Second President,  Angelus J. Christie ( Charlie)

Our Third President,  Geraldine Passariello

Geraldine Passariello (1927 - 2010)
It is with much sadness that we report the passing of our President Geraldine Passariello.  She passed away on Saturday, September 18, 2010, peacefully, in Staten Island, New York. 

Geraldine was born in Brooklyn in 1927, and that was the same year of Mary Grace’s passing.  It was through her mother Anna that Geraldine, as a very young girl, learned about Mary Grace and grew to love her, and eventually work for her cause. She was a tireless worker for the Beatification and Canonization cause for over 60 years. She began by assisting Nancy Marano (Mary Grace’s daughter and founder of the St. Gerard Maiella Society) in the early 1950’s as her recording secretary and then handling all the correspondence with the clergy, and accompanying Nancy on several trips to Rome to meet influential priests in the Vatican, and at St. Gerard’s Shrine in Materdomini .  All those contacts that were made at that time continue today. In 1972 when Nancy passed away, Angelus J. Christie (Charlie) became President, and Geraldine served as his recording secretary and re-established all the contacts that she knew so well for him to carry on. In 1983 when Charlie was called home to the arms of Our Lord, who better was suited to take the position of President than Geraldine. She was voted in unanimously. The past 27 years the St. Gerard Maiella Society grew under her guidance and love of her position as President. She would always say that she was “Honored and Blessed” to be president.

All her devotion and hard work is what brought us to where we are today, the beginning of the “Informative Process” with the Archdioceses of Newark, New Jersey. This is what is required for the Beatification and Canonization process, and it was all made possible by the tireless work of our President Geraldine Passariello, who is now in the arms of her Beloved Mary Grace.

Sincerely yours in St. Gerard and Mary Grace,

The Officers of the St. Gerard Maiella Society

 


Our Historians, Counselors and Advisors:

Father Salvatore Profeta

Father Francis J. Litz  C.SS.R.

Father Nicholas Ferrante  C.SS.R.

Rev. Robes C. Charles, Pastor of St. Clement Church,
Trustee of the St. Gerard Maiella Society

Father Casimir Ruzindaza,
Trustee and Mission Emissary of the St. Gerard Maiella Society.
Priest at St. Philippe Du Roule Church, Paris, France 75008
Director of Radio Maria, Rwanda

 

Professor Patrick J. Hayes, Ph.D., Theology and Religious Studies
Director of the Mary Grace Bellotti Religious Scholarship Fund

Click here- Application for the Religious Scholarship Fund

Our Postulator:

Rev. Michael A. Fuino   (Passed away January 2008)
      Appointed In 1977 by His Excellency Archbishop Peter L. Gerety, Archbishop of Newark


Click Here for
The Story of St. Gerard

Michael G. Gigante, President
Installed December 22nd 2010, by Father Salvatore Profeta
St. Gerard Maiella Society

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The St. Gerard Maiella Society is listed in the
Official Catholic Directory 1988 Edition, under
The Archdiocese of Newark.