Bishop Johanan-Mariam Cazenave’s Preface for the Book The Valtorta Enigma
Bishop Johanan-Mariam Cazenave, the Secretary of the Syrian-French Synod, wrote a preface for Jean-François Lavère’s 339-page book entitled (in Italian) L’Enigma Valtorta (The Valtorta Enigma), (in French) L´énigme Valtorta, Une Vie de Jésus Romancée? (The Valtorta Enigma, a Fictionalized Life of Jesus?), and (in German) Das Rätsel Valtorta: Das Leben Jesu in Romanform?. Jean-François Lavère’s book was released in June 2012. The English translation of this book has been completed and is available as a free download here: The Valtorta Enigma: A Fictionalized Life of Jesus? by Jean-François Lavère (Official English Translation).
An English translation of the bishop’s preface is given in its entirety below. A PDF of this preface can also be downloaded here: Preface to L’Énigme Valtorta (The Valtorta Enigma).
Following the preface, more information about Jean-François Lavère’s book is given, along with some related information and details on where you can find out more information beyond the brief introduction of this article.
Our times abound as never before in books! A list of them would be quickly made from the causes they defend, the best and the worst, always with an expression of thought which is communicated in serious words, in order to transmit to others and convince them that what one shares is important for the author and the reader. The goal for the author here is clearly apologetic: to demonstrate scientifically that a work is inspired by God, that this God is the God of Christian revelation, and that this Christian revelation is addressed today to our contemporaries in order to deliver an important message which the Catholic Church should hold of great importance, since it is a charism which many times accompanies and illumines her own history.
This book is admirable in more than its title because, with scientific circumspection, it considers one of the great enigmas, too unknown, of our times: the case of Maria Valtorta, probably the greatest visionary in the history of Christianity! The consequences of this are considerable, because the fundamental light that Jean-François Lavère brings into this work rests on objective facts which are accessible to exact science tied to the most recent and primarily archeological discoveries. For the reader, the conclusions speak for themselves!
This remarkable work could not have been done fifty years ago. Maria Valtorta died in 1961; it was during the blackest years of the War that she was inspired with l’Evangile tel qu’il m’a été révélé [The Gospel as it was Revealed to Me]. Pope Pius XII, Sovereign Pontiff reigning at that time, issued on this publication a positive discernment: “Publish this work as it is. There is no need to give an opinion as to its origin, whether it is extraordinary or not; those who read will understand.” The word of a Pope is not without value and is based on the sentiment that the Pontiff shared with his contemporaries, that this text is orthodox. Pius XII, better than anyone, is the guarantor that the Work [of Valtorta] does not betray in any way the Canonical Gospels and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church; he therefore recommends this reading... Pius XII, however, prudent as befits his functions, specifies: “There is no need to give an opinion as to its origin, whether it be extraordinary or not.” The Holy Father did not have at his disposal then an objective tool of analysis which would permit him to affirm the supernatural origin of the Work. However he did not, for all that, close the door to this hypothesis, and even moved in a direction revealing his own intimate sentiments: “those who read will understand.”
Today, things have greatly changed. Science has progressed in an incredible way in half a century, and the computer has overturned research in all domains, unifying knowledge, classifying, coordinating analytical data. This has permitted immense progress, notably for the phenomena which concern us here: archeology and astronomy. For fifty years, let’s say from the end of the last (sic!) war, the state of Israel has encouraged excavations in all directions on most Jewish and Christian sites of its territory, precisely there where Jesus and His apostles tread two thousand years ago. A much more advanced knowledge of these sites has emerged than was available fifty years ago, giving us a multitude of places and new contexts, and details of life styles in what specialists call “Late Antiquity”.
It is precisely this which forms the power of the prodigious and patient work of Jean-François Lavère. This work in fact gives evidence of an astonishing agreement between the recent discoveries of science and the visionary descriptions of Maria Valtorta which are spread over thousands of pages: without erasures, without contradictions and in a unity of times and places as demonstrated by very rigorous research. All that, a half century ago: from the depth of her bed of suffering, without documentation and with no connection to a scientific community, this woman “sees” in real time and by a kind of shortcut: describing what some scholars would much later laboriously deduce from archeological data two thousand years old! Names of villages in Aramean, cities and monuments that disappeared and then are found again today, a knowledge of manners and customs, of scenery, attire...a whole context whereby the author of this Work amply demonstrates that this tour de force is impossible if one leaves no place for what the “seer” herself affirms: it is God who shows her, it is Jesus who dictates to her the instructions which accompany [His] illustrating the Gospels without ever betraying them: in their cultural context and often with moving poetry, consecrating the union of the True, of the Good, and of the Beautiful which rises from Christ like water from its source.
We see clearly that the reserve of Pius XII: “There is no need to give an opinion as to its origin, whether it be extraordinary or not,” has no longer any place here fifty years later: this Work is of an extraordinary origin. Without that it is simply inexplicable and even unthinkable for scientific objectivity. It is indeed astonishing to note that science could be so rigorous that, in order to remain consistent—and if it wants to remain honest—it must posit as a hypothesis the existence of a supernatural origin to a series of phenomena where the law of causality on which all science is based, is not called into question, but seen to be defective by the very facts which it analyzes. Every miracle enters into this type of process. In the case of Maria Valtorta, after a reading of this brilliant Work, science—which is a tool all the more effective as it gives rise to new facts unrecognized for two thousand years—sees itself, not immersed in epistemological subtleties, but confronted by a brutal contradiction of its own experience: How had this simple woman been able to know what was buried for two thousand years and which emerged again a half-century after her!
This true enigma joins two other great enigmas of Christian history in this domain: one, related to Christ Himself, and the other to the Holy Virgin, His Mother: I mean the Holy Shroud of Turin and the “Tilma” of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There again, it was necessary to await our time for the scientific tools and precision to stumble against facts extremely resistant to the logic of phenomena. Science exhausts itself in refining the analysis of the facts, and the more it advances the more it stumbles on its own contradiction in the demands of its own logic. A moment comes when, to escape absurdity, it is quite necessary to posit the hypothesis of the supernatural and the intuition of its emergence in the field of experience.
Yes, our time is fascinating and complex! The development of the sciences and of technology has brought us the best, but also the worst: well-being, but also the forgetfulness of God which it very often engenders. It has even been said in the West that “God has died”... Many churches are empty. The Christian influence has little by little been marginalized by a certain humanism cut off from its Gospel roots. And yet there remain the great enigmas of Christianity with all the power of a Divine Providence that accompanies the people of believers: the Holy Shroud of Turin does not prove the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and yet it resists a more and more keen scientific investigation, like a permanent question mark postulating a “space”, a “beyond”, which makes of this prestigious relic an acceptable witness to fortify the Christian faith in the face of the World. The Tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe also witnesses to us—thanks to contemporary science incapable of explaining phenomena which resist its analysis like an impenetrable wall—that the Mother of Jesus is legitimately the Mother of Saints and of sinners. Mary will probably one day be recognized as co-redemptrix of men through the grace of Her Son. In the framework of the communion of Saints, She is invested with a particular mission till the end of time, as Saint John announces in the Apocalypse.
As for the “enigma”, the third one: that of Maria Valtorta, and still for our own time, fifty years after her death it will remain an enigma for science, a witness to the Supernatural which has raised up this magisterial work for us. Yes, for us who await the Return of Christ in the difficult times which must precede it, when “the faith of a great number will grow cold,” when a time of persecutions predicted by numerous prophets must come. This witness of a simple and humble soul is offered to us as a journey twenty centuries back in time, to allow us to find again the roots of our faith in the tracks of Him Who walked upon the earth and the water, and Who today walks in our steps, always Living, always there, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, Son of David and Savior of men.
Finally, may I still be permitted to evoke the judgment of [St.] Padre Pio, he himself a living miraculous witness of the Christ that he carried within him. This Saint had no need of science or advanced technology to advise those he directed about l’Evangile tel qu’il m’a été révélé [The Gospel as it was Revealed to Me]: “not that you can read it, you must read it”!1 [See footnote] Illumined by the Holy Spirit, could [St. Padre Pio] have advised the reading of a Work which did not come from God? And if it comes from God, should not His “instrument” [i.e., Valtorta] be attentively and quickly examined by the Church as being an authentic witness of Jesus? Should not the Church be the privileged transmitter of the Word of Christ—which continues to incarnate Itself again in our troubled time—by manifesting her solicitude for the charisms? Whereas Pope Benedict XVI recently asked Christians to find again the spirit of Christianity of the Primitive Church, would it seem unreasonable to do it also through the Work of Maria Valtorta, when we know that this [Work] was ordered by Paul VI for the Vatican library? And since we know that Cardinal Stanislas Dziwisz testifies that he often saw one of the volumes of l’Evangile tel qu’il m’a été révélé [The Gospel as it was Revealed to Me] on the bedside table of Pope St. John Paul II?
In any case, many thanks to Jean-François Lavère for this considerable labor which has emphasized the reliability of the “revelations” of Maria Valtorta. Thanks to this indispensable work their supernatural origin seems here to be legitimately established, following upon the analysis of great theologians, like Msgr. Roschini, who have manifested the perfect orthodoxy of her revelations. As to their fruits, which according to Holy Scripture, permit us to judge the tree, they are numerous and of high quality, as received by those who testify that they have better understood the Love of Christ and benefitted from multiple graces in their contact with this Work, so clearly inspired... And that it leads to an authentic spirituality where rises again—the True Tradition—breathed into His first disciples by the Lord, and which we must absolutely find again now as the chaff threatens to smother the good grain! Numerous saints have announced a coming renewal: a return to a poor Church, modest and virtuous, manifesting a true unity far from those pitiable issues of nostalgia or rejection of the Church of our grandmothers! Christ manifested Himself to Maria Valtorta, not to invite us to stroll like a curious tourist, but rather to show us the way of this renewal!
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Ash Wednesday, 2012
Msgr. [Bishop] Johanan-Mariam de Cazenave is a graduate of the “Institut Catholique” of Paris, and of the Paris-Sorbonne University. Secretary of the Syro-French synod placed under the “homophorion” of his Eminence Mgr Joseph Koriloose IX, Major Metropolitan and dean of the Syrian-Orthodox church of the Indies of Malabar. This church, autocephalous since 1771, is under the egis of the orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and of all the East, His Holiness Ignatius IV Zakka, who signed, with His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1984, some agreements of reconciliation, ending an old schism of 1500 years. [cf. L’Osservatore Romano]
Translator's Footnote 1: St. Padre Pio’s actual reply was: “I do not advise you to, I order you to!” [“Non te lo consiglio, ma te lo ordino!”]. This was his reply to a spiritual daughter, Elisa Lucchi, when she asked him in 1967: “Father, I have heard talk about the books of Maria Valtorta. Do you advise me to read them?” So too, Mother Teresa of Calcutta carried Valtorta’s The Poem of the Man-God with her in her travels, according to her associate, Fr. Leo Maasburg, and told him multiple times to read it. [cf. Stephen Austin’s Summa and Encyclopedia to Maria Valtorta’s Extraordinary Work]
Source of Bishop Cazenave's Preface: L´énigme Valtorta, Une Vie de Jésus Romancée? (The Valtorta Enigma, a Fictionalized Life of Jesus?). By Jean-François Lavère. Rassemblement à Son Image. 2012. pp. 11-17. ISBN-13: 9782364630253.
Now we will give more details about Jean-François Lavère’s book along with some related information which will put his research into historical context. This is taken from the “Proof by Geography and Topography and Archaeology” chapter of A Summa and Encyclopedia to Maria Valtorta’s Extraordinary Work. Further information beyond the brief introduction here is given in that chapter of the e-book.
David Webster, M.Div., relates:1
An additional line of incontrovertible evidence (which Valtorta was encouraged by Jesus to include for the benefit of “the difficult doctors” of the Church) deals with the vast amount of geographical, climatic, agricultural, historical, astronomical, and cartographical information given in her work. Authorities in these fields have verified the accuracy of what she has reported with appropriate astonishment. Valtorta accurately identifies this agricultural and climatic information that is often unique to Palestine with the appropriate calendar period which she often specifically identifies. Without any evidence of planning and with hardly any corrections, Valtorta ends up with a perfectly flowing 3½ year story line with Jesus appropriately in Jerusalem and Judea for Passover and Pentecost in all four spring seasons, and at the Tabernacles in all three fall seasons of His ministry. Valtorta shows Jesus to have traversed the land of Palestine from one end to another in at least six cycles (some 4,000 miles), ministering in some 350 named locations, including places in Palestine known only to specialized archaeologists. Not once, however, does she have Jesus (or any one of the other 500 characters) in a place inconsistent with either the story line or distance or timing necessities.
In the next two article excerpts, a short chronological history of the scientific research done into Maria Valtorta’s work is given. The first article relates:2
The topography of Palestine in the days of Our Lord is no easy field. The many changes in Palestine due to human action and geological forces over the last two thousand years have made the location of many towns and places uncertain, despite many advances in the fields of history and archeology.
The visions of The Poem of The Man-God, however, provides a wealth of geographical, geological, and above all topographical details.
Comparing these details with existing scientific data was bound to be interesting.
In 1970, [Blessed] Fr. Allegra, an eminent biblical scholar who translated the entire Bible into Chinese, commented:
Everyone knows how much research scholars, especially Jewish scholars, have done to draw the various maps of the political geography of Palestine, from the time of the Maccabees [starting in 168 B.C.] until Bar Kokhba's uprising [A.D. 132-135]. For over twenty years they had to go through a heap of documents: the Talmud, Josephus Flavius, inscriptions [on ancient monuments, etc.], folklore, ancient itineraries... And yet the identity of quite a few places is still uncertain.
In The Poem of The Man-God, on the contrary, ...there is no such uncertainty. In at least 80% of cases, recent studies have proved that the identifications assumed in The Poem of The Man-God were right and I think that this number would increase if some expert were to study this matter in depth. The author [Maria Valtorta] sees the forks in the roads, the milestones that point the way, and the various crops depending on the kind of soil. She sees the many Roman bridges spanning several rivers or streams, as well as springs, running in certain seasons and dried up in others. She notes pronunciation differences between one region of Palestine and another, and a mass of other things that bewilder the reader or at least cause him to be wrapt in thought. (Il Bollettino Valtortiano: 23.)
By 1975, much more research had been done, mostly by Hans J. Hopfen, who now published a map of Palestine in the days of Our Lord, based on The Poem of The Man-God. A second edition came out in 1979 and a third, in 1983.
His work shows that
• the topographical data found in the visions granted to Maria Valtorta agree with all the well-established scientific data;
• Where scientific data were hazy and uncertain, the visions to Maria Valtorta provide usually precise, highly plausible alternatives.
Thus the visions of The Poem of The Man-God have made a phenomenal contribution to the difficult field of Palestinian topography in the days of Our Lord.
Since that time, Jean-François Lavère has picked up the major research. An article relates:3
Jean-François Lavère, a professional engineer, has been studying the works of Maria Valtorta for 25 years.
Convinced that the historicity of Maria Valtorta’s work would either prove itself, or show itself to be wrong, he undertook a systematic study of all of the details provided by her work.
He has methodically identified, over the years, more than 10,000 pieces of data from her work, in fields as diverse as the arts, astronomy, flora and fauna, ethnology, geography, geology, history and geopolitical science, technology, metrology [science of weights and measures], religions, social sciences, etc.
At present, 8,000 pieces of data have been analyzed and compared with different sources. This data is all shown to correspond to these sources with 99.6% accuracy!
For one who knows the life of the humble Maria Valtorta, it is difficult to attribute to her such encyclopedic knowledge that is so extensive and often so specialized.
Readers of Christian Magazine have already been able to discover several of the studies by Jean-François Lavère.
In the near future, devoted fans will undoubtedly have the opportunity to read more of his publications. In the meantime, Jean-François Lavère offers [on this website] several examples of his studies and comments on a few of the passages from Maria Valtorta’s works.
The website referenced in the above excerpt is in French. However, if you click on the following link, it will take you to a “Google Translate” version of the website in English. Note that this hyperlink uses the Google Translate service, and so the translation is very imperfect since it is being done by a computer algorithm and not by a human; but it’s better than nothing for those who do not know French. Here is the link: The Work of Jean-François Lavère.
Please note: if you initiate the “Google translate” service by clicking the above link, then any links clicked from within that page will also be automatically translated into English for you.
If you want additional articles about the evidence of the divine origin of Maria Valtorta’s work, the above website is a good start.
If you can read Italian, French, or German, you can order Jean-François Lavère’s 339-page book entitled (in Italian) L’Enigma Valtorta (The Valtorta Enigma), (in French) L´énigme Valtorta, Une Vie de Jésus Romancée? (The Valtorta Enigma, a Fictionalized Life of Jesus?), and (in German) Das Rätsel Valtorta: Das Leben Jesu in Romanform?. It provides concrete evidence to prove the extensive and remarkable accuracy of Maria Valtorta’s writings and visions from very many areas of science. I believe this book is one of the most important books about Maria Valtorta’s writings to be printed thus far because it is such a powerful compendium of proofs of the divine origin of her writings. It was released in June 2012. The English translation of this book has been completed and is available as a free download here: The Valtorta Enigma: A Fictionalized Life of Jesus? by Jean-François Lavère (Official English Translation). The Italian, French, and German versions are available for 20-24 euros at the following websites:
For the Italian version (ISBN-13: 9788879871747): L’Enigma Valtorta by Jean-François Lavère at Centro Editoriale Valtortiano
For the French version (ISBN-13: 9782364630253): L´énigme Valtorta, Une Vie de Jésus Romancée? by Jean-François Lavère at La Librairie des Éditions Catholiques
For the German version (ISBN-13: 9782880228781): Das Rätsel Valtorta: Das Leben Jesu in Romanform? by Jean-François Lavère at Parvis-Verlag
For more details, see the “Proof by Geography and Topography and Archaeology” chapter of A Summa and Encyclopedia to Maria Valtorta’s Extraordinary Work. Further information is provided in that chapter of the e-book.
Note that the original free downloadable e-book where this excerpt is taken from is available at David Webster’s website at the following link:
2. Fireworks: Sunrise of Truth Encyclopedia, Vol. 1. The Maria Valtorta Research Center. Kolbe's Publications: Sherbrooke, Canada. 1996. p. 110-111. ISBN: 2920285009. This book is also available online here:
3. The Work of Jean-François Lavère. Centro Editoriale Valtortiano. Translated from the original French.