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                                                 Prologue



       Upon arriving at the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux, France in 1148 CE, on his way to Rome, Saint Malachy fell deathly ill. Sensing his end was near, he asked if he could have time alone with Saint Bernard. He spoke privately with his good friend and confidante in Saint Bernard’s native language, French.

       “My dearest Bernard. I am fast approaching the time of my release from this life. Before I go, good friend, I want to speak to you about my prophecies concerning the line of popes that will lead, in the end, to the dissolution of the Church.”

       “Brother Malachy, it is surely evident that the last days of the Church press heavily upon us. How long can the burden of corruption weigh upon the Church before she gives in and crumbles? But who is to know how long the wait? What is it that you would have me know?”        

       “Before the end, trickery will abide, for the two [popes] shall serve as one in preparation of the final judgment: the one, named in honor of the olive branch; and the second, extender of the olive branch in feigned capitulation unto the wide world. Thus the two will count as one in the succession of popes, anticipating what is assumed will be the apocalypse. In contrast to this impending doom, the last in line will repair the Church, resurrecting our Lord’s secret teachings that his disciples called The Way.”

      “Be that as it may, what is it you would have me do, my beloved Malachy?”

     “There will be those who will interpret my last entries as troublesome, containing a dire message…leading the Children to fear that the end of the world is come upon them. But, as in life, all endings are new beginnings. So it will be with my prophecy. The apocalypse, which the naysayers will have everyone believing is imminent, will, rather, open a new era of enlightenment come upon the world. All Glory to God. I implore you to secure my list, dearest Bernard, and bring it to the Holy Father for safe-keeping…only tell him of the intrigue of the two who are really one, and that the last in line, Petrus Romanus, will be the savior of Holy Mother Church. Tell His Holiness of this glorious mission to repair the Church, giving Her new life, a life worthy of acclamation. Can you promise to do this for me?”

       “But, of course, Malachy, it will be my great joy to do as you ask. I give you my solemn promise. Eliminate all thoughts of concern from your mind and be at peace, for I will see that your request is fully executed.”

       “Je vous remercie, cher ami. Je vous serai toujours reconnaissant.” (“Thank you [for this gift], my friend. I will be ever grateful.”) 

       “Je vous en prie. Reposez-vous maintenant, et je vous ferai apporter un peu de bouillon lorsque vous vous réveillerez.” (“You are most welcome. Rest now, and I will have some broth brought for you when you awake.”) 

       Within the hour, with many of the Brothers of the monastery surrounding him, Saint Malachy awoke from his slumber. Saint Bernard gently placed his arm behind Malachy’s shoulders, lifting him up so he could take a sip of broth. Looking upon the sad faces of his fellow devotees of the Lord, Malachy spoke in a weak but determined voice: “My brothers. Do not fret, for I go to a better place…and I will prepare for our reunion at the proper time. We will share in the feast of our Lord…and have our fill to overflowing of His bounty. Glory be to God.”

       Saint Malachy then smiled his last smile, closed his eyes, and breathed no more. He died peacefully in the arms of his beloved friend, Saint Bernard, escaping unto the glory of Heaven. Saint Bernard was true to his word. He delivered Saint Malachy’s vision of the line of popes-to-come to his former disciple, the newly crowned Holy Father, Pope Eugenius III.  Included was the clarification against any misinterpretation of his prediction; that the last pope would signal a new era of enlightenment and the salvation of the Church, rather than the start of the Apocalypse.

       The Prophecy of the Popes was finally released and published in 1595 CE, sans the clarification of the cryptic phrases concerning the last of the line of popes given by Saint Malachy to Saint Bernard over four hundred years earlier.

       The stage was now set for one of the most improbable outcomes in human history, but as the old proverb so elegantly states, the mills of the gods grind slowly, but surely and exceedingly fine. And being that the path to hell is paved with good intentions, as Saint Bernard so succinctly stated many, many years ago, the passage of time is strewn with unintended consequences.

       All the good intentions stemming from the decisions made by the Church’s hierarchy over the centuries, though lauded by them as noble and just, have resulted in a tumultuous era of heartache and confusion for the faithful masses. And as we all must, the Church would be compelled to pass through hell to get to heaven.





                                             Part One

                                  D’Alessio Family

















                                                      Chapter One


                                      The First Steps






















                    






Italy 1960


       Filomena Nunzia D’Alessio trudged along the cobblestone road on a seven hour walk to Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, a small agricultural community located in the Gargano Mountains of Southern Italy. An audience with Padre Pio, famous for his intercessions to God, had been arranged by the Bishop of Bari through his friendship with Filomena’s parish priest in her home town of Cerignola, some thirty kilometers from the friary.  She wanted to do this one last thing before she left Italy for America, where her husband of nearly thirty years, Ambrogio, awaited her arrival. They had decided to immigrate to New York City to start a new life. Married under pressure from her family at age fourteen, Filomena’s greatest hope was to have a child. At fifteen, and again at seventeen, she experienced one of a woman’s greatest fears; a miscarriage. After the second, doctors told her she would never conceive again. Hope had faded, and her one last effort to implore God for a miracle, she imagined, beckoned her from the Capuchin Friary in the person of Padre Pio. Filomena, now nearly forty-four years of age, believed whole-heartedly that Padre Pio could help. She was a devout Roman Catholic; attended Mass on a daily basis; prayed the Rosary nearly every day and prayed, also, for her family, as well as for the world at large.

       She was of small stature, only four foot eleven inches in height, with a medium build, and had long, wavy black hair and large brown eyes, with a lovely serene countenance that bespoke humility and grace. Being relatively uneducated, having only what would be considered the equivalent of passing elementary school, Filomena, nevertheless, read voluminously. Studying the history of the Saints of the Church was her favorite pastime. Only when all the chores associated with cleaning, gardening, shopping, and cooking were completed did she have the luxury of reading. The lives of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare were especially compelling to her because of the stories she heard from her husband’s grandmother and other members of his family. They were only rumors to be sure but, nonetheless, had been fascinating when she first heard them as a young, impressionable teenage girl yearning for adventure and romance.

       Filomena entered the chapel where she was to meet Padre Pio. She proceeded to the prayer candles situated to the left of the altar, then placed her donation in the receptacle and said a prayer to Jesus and to Saint Mary, his mother. This done, she went to the altar railing where she knelt, beads in hand, to pray the Rosary. After some minutes, she looked up and observed Padre Pio walking out of the vestibule behind the altar. He made his way toward the unassuming, middle-aged peasant woman, waiting patiently for him while attending to her Rosary. He was getting older now, but his stride still remained that of a man in his prime.

       Padre Pio was born in Pietrelcina, a small country town located less than an hour east of Naples, Italy, in 1887. From his early childhood it was evident that he had a deep piety. When he was five years old he solemnly consecrated himself to Jesus. Growing up he preferred to be by himself, where he could read and pray. At age seventeen, he traveled by oxcart to the seventeenth-century Friary of Saint Francis of Assisi and began six years of study for the priesthood. At the age of twenty-three he was ordained. Within a month of his ordination, as he knelt praying, Padre Pio experienced an apparition of Jesus. It was then that the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, were first visited upon his body. He asked that Jesus take away this annoyance adding, “I do want to suffer, even to die from suffering, but all in secret.” The wounds went away and the supra-natural life of Padre Pio remained hidden...for a while.
       Soon thereafter one of Padre Pio’s colleagues came to visit him in his room, only to observe what he first assumed was a dying man. Padre Pio was lying very still on his bed, breathing quietly, but non-responsive to voice or touch. His eyes were unfocused, staring steadily toward the ceiling, yet his face seemed aglow with an otherworldly radiance. The colleague rushed to the chapel, only a few doors down the hall, to pray for his friend. On his return, he was stunned to find Padre Pio alert and full of life. This was the beginning of Padre Pio’s documented string of ecstasies.

       The visible wounds of the stigmata returned to him some years later, and remained a constant for the last fifty years of his life. Word about the stigmata began to reach the outside world. Over the years, countless people, including physicians, examined Padre Pio’s wounds. He was not interested in the attempts by the world to explain his stigmata, but accepted it as a gift from God. Without complaint, or even a request for abatement, Padre Pio suffered the wounds of Christ as atonement of his sins and the sins of those for whom he prayed.

       Stories of miracles abound as they relate to Padre Pio’s public service to the faithful. He heard confessions for up to eighteen hours a day for weeks on end, never complaining about the humanity that pressed in on him, begging for absolution and healing. His stature as a man of God and miracle worker grew despite his protestations. For nearly sixty years he quietly served those that entreated him to intercede on their behalf. His remarkable life came to an end in 1968, and he was canonized a saint in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II, in 2002.

       As he approached Filomena, who was still kneeling at the altar, Padre Pio suddenly stopped and went into a spiritual ecstasy for which he was so famous. His eyes were closed and his radiant face tilted toward the heavens. He stood transfixed like a statue. It was several minutes before he came out of it. Then he continued toward the bewildered woman. With a look of tenderness and supreme confidence he came up to Filomena and took her hand.
        He said with a humble reverence, speaking in Italian, their native tongue: “You are barren and wish for a child to comfort you in your old age. Yes?”

        Filomena was shocked, “Father, how did you know?”

       “That is no matter, Madam. What is important is that you are truly blessed, for the Lord has looked into your heart and has answered your prayers. You are with child. She is to be called Maria, after the Lord’s companion.”

       Filomena burst into tears, grabbing Padre Pio’s hand, kissing it saying, “Thank you Father. Many thanks. Bless you Father. Bless you.”

       He quietly nodded in acceptance of her thanks, and then continued, “It is really about your grandsons that I would tell you about Filomena.”

       She thought, What?

       “Your child, Maria, shall be highly favored. Blessed is she among women, for the day will come when she will give birth to a special one who has the mark of God upon his soul. He will lead an old and weary Church into its Assumption. His twin will stand as his champion in the fight to win an opportunity for those souls who have been readied to move forward into the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. Many prophecies of old, given by God’s devoted servants, will finally come to bear. These prophecies shall be truly understood for the first time. Do not worry. It is the Will of the Father which will guide the hand of His servant, Pietro, your grandson.”

       Filomena stood before Padre Pio in stunned silence. She was in shock. Not in her wildest dreams had she expected anything like this. Padre Pio took her face in his hands and smiled at her, looked deeply into her eyes as if to give her a benediction, kissed her on the forehead, made the sign of the Cross, then turned and walked back from whence he came just minutes before, without so much as a word of explanation.

       Thoughts came tumbling into Filomena’s head: I am pregnant? Can it be true? I have waited so many years for a child. Now I am told by this holy man that I am to be a mother, and a grandmother! Of twins, no less! And they will have something to do with helping the Church? What did he mean by Assumption? And who was Maria, the Lord’s companion? This is too unbelievable. I best keep it to myself. But I have to tell Ambrogio. Do I dare share this with him? He wouldn’t believe it! No one would. Calm down, Filomena, calm down. I will bide my time. When the time is right…when the time is right.

       Filomena said a quick prayer of thanks to Jesus and Mother Mary. She made the sign of the Cross, looked toward the altar and the glorious artwork surrounding her, and then walked hurriedly out of the church. She made her way back down the cobblestone roadway to Cerignola feeling lightfooted and full of an extraordinary sense of joy, in spite of the long journey that carried on into nightfall. The next day she finished her preparations for the trip to New York, said her last arrivedercis, and then made her way to Naples in the back of a horse-drawn carriage, where she boarded the ocean liner which would take her to America; to her new home.

       Back in New York City Ambrogio D’Alessio was excitedly preparing for Filomena’s arrival. Having long ago come to terms with the idea of being childless, he was about to get the biggest surprise of his life.

The Call of Destiny
Secrets of the Lost Scrolls

“Your child, Maria, shall be highly favored. Blessed is she among women, for the day will come when she will give birth to a special one who has the mark of God upon his soul. He will lead an old and weary Church into its Assumption. His twin will stand as his champion in the fight to win an opportunity for those souls who have been readied to move forward into the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. Many prophecies of old, given by God’s devoted servants, will finally come to bear. These prophecies shall be truly understood for the first time. Do not worry. It is the Will of the Father which will guide the hand of His servant, Pietro, your grandson.”

The Call of Destiny

​Secrets of the Lost Scrolls