Tre Fontane (Rome): The Virgin of Revelation… Bruno Cornacchiola and the Plan to Kill the Pope
About Bruno Cornacchiola:
Here on the outskirts of Rome is one of the 20th Century’s more interesting apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The apparitions concerned a man named Bruno Cornacchiola, who planned to change history by killing the Pope. He was not a pleasant man to live with–he physically abused his wife and had a deep hatred for the Catholic Church.
His hostility to the Church was further inflamed as he came under the influence of a protestant German pastor who held the belief that the Catholic Church was responsible for most of the evils in the world. Bruno volunteered to fight in the Spanish civil war and while in Spain he went so far as to buy a dagger that he planned to use to kill the Pope and carved the words “death to the Pope” on the handle.
He insisted that his wife leave the Catholic church and join his protestant church. She gave in to this demand, only on the condition that he go to confession and do a nine-day First Friday Novena. It should be noted that his wife had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart. Bruno did the Novena but it had no immediate effect. His drunkenness and abuse continued and his hatred of the Catholic church grew even greater. He joined the Communist party and began to plan his assassination of the Pope.
About the Apparition to Bruno that changed everything:
Finally on April 12, 1947 (the Saturday after Easter), at the age of 33, his life took a dramatic turn. On that fateful day he was preparing for an anti-Catholic and anti-Marian speech that he was due to give the following day. The main purpose of his speech was to attack the Church’s teaching on the Immaculate Conception. So he began searching the Bible hoping to find evidence against the teaching.
The following is a recount of a pilgrim who had the opportunity to meet with Bruno in 1995 (photo below shows Bruno along with Monsignor Edward Kelty, at that time a resident of Rome) and Bruno described his experiences.
Here is the letter we received from that person:
“According to what Bruno told us, he had taken his 3 children to Tre Fontane (site of the martyrdom of Saint Paul) where he was going to buy chocolate at the famous Trappist monastery. While waiting for the shop to open he sat down to plan his talk as his children played nearby. He was interrupted by the children when they asked him to help look for a ball that they had lost.
While helping them look for it, he suddenly realized that his youngest son was missing. He then found the boy nearby in a small cave kneeling and smiling at something that Bruno could not see. His other two children joined him and all three of the children began talking about a “beautiful lady” whom only they could see. Bruno tried, but was unable to lift the children off the ground, and finally exclaimed “God help us“.
At that time, he felt two hands wipe his face and then finally saw a beautiful woman. She announced that she was the “Virgin of Revelation” and told Bruno that he had been persecuting her and it was now time for him to stop. She told him that the nine First Friday Masses that his wife had convinced him to attend had saved him.
She also announced that her body could not, and did not, decay upon death, hence she was assumed bodily in to heaven.
It is noteworthy that Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1950.
Much more was revealed to Bruno that we will not go in to here other than to say that he had a complete conversion and eventually did meet the Pope (Pius XII) some two years later in a private audience, showed his Holiness the dagger he had intended to use, and asked for his forgiveness.
Today the Franciscan Conventual Friars Minor have charge of the site at which a small chapel was built and a statue of Our Lady placed in the cave.
Although the apparitions themselves have neither been approved nor disapproved by the Church, the shrine does draw pilgrims from all over. Many healings, both physical–and more importantly–spiritual–have been reported by those who have visited here asking for Our Lady’s intercession.
In 1997, Pope John Paul II named the site “Holy Mary of the Third Millennium at Three Fountains”.
One of the stumbling blocks to approval is the erratic behavior of Bruno himself in later years. We must remember he was a very simple, un-educated man, having received almost no instruction in the Catholic faith, and no doubt subject to manipulation by others, so that he made some statements that were at odds with Church teaching and claimed several later apparitions and prophesies which did not come true as predicted. In addition, some statements he made about his background were inaccurate. Although this does not mean that the original apparitions were not real, it does tend to cloud the issue. But this is not an isolated case; we know that Satan will do his best to infiltrate any good thing. It is our belief, based on the amazing conversion of this once violent and hate-filled man, that the apparitions were real. But as mentioned earlier, it will be up to the Church to make the final decision.
There is much more to this story and we highly recommend Msgr. Fausto Rossi’s book “the Virgin of the Revelation”. Currently we cannot locate a publisher for the book but will continue to look for a source.
Finding Tre Fontane:
Tre Fontane (which means three fountains) is located fairly close to the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls and just across the street from the Church of Saint Paul at the Three Fountains in Tre Fontane(where St. Paul was beheaded).
To reach the site you take line B on the metro and get off at Laurentina (the last stop on the line!), come out of the metro station and walk to the main road, turn right and walk for about 10 minutes and the grotto is on that street.
Address: via Laurentina, 400, Roma
GPS coordinates: 41° 50′ 8.3400” N, 12° 28′ 49.7640” E
Tel: +39 (06) 591 1989
Click here for a link to the Missionaries of Divine Revelation website (there is an English language option).
1. Personal visits, interviews with Bruno by anonymous pilgrim.
2. Msgr. Fausto Rossi, The Virgin of the Revelation, 1994.
3. Sr. Emanuela, Missionaries of Divine Revelation