It was with great joy that we learned of the forthcoming canonization of Blessed Elena Guerra, announced by the Vatican last Saturday, April 13. Two days earlier, on the occasion of her liturgical memorial, we had celebrated a mass in our chapel, giving thanks and asking for her speedy canonization, as we have been doing every day for years, so that her message might spread throughout the universal Church.


The story of her love for the Holy Spirit

Elena Guerra was confirmed at the age of eight. She later wrote in her diary: “From then on, every time I went to church for the Pentecost novena, I felt like I was in heaven”. As she grew up, and with no one to help her, she came to understand more and more that it was she who had to invoke the Holy Spirit.

At one point, inspired by the Lord, she decided to embark on an enterprise that went beyond her congregation, beyond Lucca and the whole of Italy, into the whole Church. She writes: “We must bring all the faithful back to the knowledge and love of the Holy Spirit, of whom Christ said to us: ‘He will guide you into all truth’” (Jn 16:13).


Elena Guerra, a gift to the Church

It was time to act, and no one was going to stop her. She wrote to Pope Leo XIII, insisted, wrote again and even went to see him in audience. She called for strong impulses for a “return to the Spirit” which, in the following century, would be so vividly announced by numerous movements and groups.

Increasingly convinced that the whole Church must return to invoking the Holy Spirit, she writes to the Pope, asking him to encourage all the Church’s bishops to recommend that parish priests prepare their faithful for the feast of Pentecost with a novena, possibly preached. Her wish was granted. On May 5, 1895, the Pope sent the bishops of the world a brief Provida Matris on devotion to the Holy Spirit, recommending the Pentecost novena to all Catholics for the return of dissidents to the Church.


A prophetic line that enriches the current of grace

On October 15 1900, Elena Guerra wrote to Pope Leo XIII asking him to give greater visibility to the Holy Spirit and to begin the new century with the Veni Creator Spiritus… which happened on January 1, 1901. Thousands of miles away, on the same day, the Revival took place in Pentecostalism, with the beginning of the Pentecostal-Charismatic trend in Topeka (Kansas), followed by an event on Azusa Street in 1906-1909, the famous Pentecostal Revival that forever changed the course of Christian history. In 1967, the Catholic Church in the United States experienced the famous “Duquesne Weekend“, an event that gave birth to the entire Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Elena Guerra is known as “the apostle of the Holy Spirit“. There is no doubt that she is a great gift to the Church and to the whole Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

We’ll be coming back to her life and message shortly.

Let us rejoice and give thanks to the Lord!                 


Pino Scafuro
CHARIS Moderator

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