Italian priest Maurizio Pallu, kidnapped last October in Nigeria and then freed after five days, took part in Pope Francis’ Mass in the chapel of Saint Martha’s Residence in the Vatican, on November 15, 2017. In a conversation on Vatican Radio, the missionary of the Neo-Catechumenal Way spoke about two “signs” he received from the Virgin Mary during his imprisonment.
Father Pallu spoke about his meeting with the Pontiff. “It was very beautiful. I went there with my mother, who will be 90 on November 21, and with my brothers of the team of Nigeria. The Holy Father was very kind to us; he was impressed by my mother, who, in his opinion, bears her 90 years very well! He asked her what she eats…and I must say she eats everything.”
“Then,” he added, [the Pope] asked me to talk about Nigeria. He told me he bears in his heart, in his preaching and in his prayers all those that suffer. He asked me: ’When are you going back to Nigeria?’ I answered him: “I think on December 1.’”
In fact, Father Pallu wants to return to Nigeria because, he says, “it’s a good moment, a very favourable moment” and one must act because corruption “has reached unbelievable levels.” Part of his desire is to help families. “The most serious problem of Africa is the family. To reconstruct Christian families, with young people who have zeal and love for Jesus Christ, could lead to a change in the social fabric, and that’s what the devil doesn’t want.”
Two Signs from Mary
Father Pallu also spoke of two “signs” of the Virgin Mary’s presence during his imprisonment. “When we were kidnapped on October 12, we were on our way to Benin City where…the Bishops re-consecrated Nigeria to the Virgin Mary for the second time. When they seized us – we were three hostages – we were taken to the forest, I wondered: let’s see how the Virgin Mary defers the devil’s work this time.”
On the day after being taken hostage, “a dialogue could have been opened with the leader of the band. There were eight of them; he was the only one who spoke English. I said to him: ‘You are my brothers, I pray for you.’ Then he relaxed and he said: ‘Yes, pray for me.” He said it with conviction.
“And I saw that in the subsequent situations he protected us. There was a truly bloodthirsty man in the band who struck the other hostage inhumanly, this Muslim brother . . . during the night, between Saturday and Sunday, I began to pray – moreover, the mosquitoes impeded sleeping, one slept outside – and I asked the Virgin Mary for help…and the next day the leader of the band sent that bloodthirsty man and two others away,” recalled the Italian priest.
He witnesses a second sign: I felt the presence of the Virgin very strongly, linked to the miracle of the sun at Fatima, on October 13, when the sun seemed to have moved at Benn City. The Episcopal Conference confirmed what happened. Whatever the case may be, one thing can be said: on October 13 the Virgin Mary gave a sign that She wishes to bring Jesus Christ – because the Virgin brings Jesus Christ conqueror of death – to Nigeria and to the world. I return with a double zeal because I think that Mary will help us to convert Africa and that will help everyone.”