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.
Her Father returned home to Italy two months after this pilgrimage.
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.
According to contemporary accounts, this was the second known appearance of the Blessed Mother to Mary Grace.
(Luigi LaPerchia later died in Memorial Hospital, New York City.)
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.
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.)
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.
Mary Grace received the Last Rites from Father Ferdinando Anzalone, O.M.I. of St. Nicholas Church.
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.
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.
View the "Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity" below.
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.
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.
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1882 to PRESENT
The St. Gerard Maiella Society, in Memoriam the Servant of God Mary Grace Bellotti
Our First President, Nunziata Marano ( Nancy)
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)
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 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
Rev. Michael A. Fuino (Passed away January 2008)