A visit by a living icon of God’s mercy
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
Upon reading her witness my mind and heart raced back to an incident which took place some two millenia ago, precisely in the city of Capernaum, the field of repentance, the city of comfort. Thus, the Lukan Gospel recounts: “And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in thePharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began towet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with theointment” (Luke 7:37-38).
It seems that time has brought this “woman of the city” (Luke 7:37) back into our own age. Her actual name is no longer Hebrew but Italian. Her dwelling place is no longer Israel but Italy. The woman we are talking about is none other than the famous Italian actress Claudia Koll who will be visiting our country this week on May 6 and 7. Claudia, a Mary Magdalene of our days, has an interesting story to tell us. The story of her own conversion to Jesus Christ.
Behind a career of success Claudia had to struggle with a life full of troubles and difficulties especially as she was growing up. Due to her mother’s death her grandmother took the responsibility of rearing Claudia up. As she was being educated the lures of the movie industry got into her way. Claudia ended up playing obscene roles in a number of movies.
But God did not give up on her. In fact when in the year 2000 Claudia, out of personal courtesy, accompanied her American friend to enter the Holy Door at St Peter in Rome, something powerful hit her innermost heart. She then recounted:
“One day there was this dramatic situation that needed to be resolved and I did not know how to handle that at all. I remember being desperate, I walked the room up and down, and just simply in one moment I started tospeak to God. I prayed Our Father and I was squeezing in the palms of my hands a little crucifix that one of my friends gave to me few days prior to that. In those moments, my whole being was turned towards God, I felt as I was tied close to the Cross and I was able to feel complete liberation. I felt as I was immersed in something like a deep peace. And I rested in that feeling. No longer was I worried, nor afraid; it felt as there was only one feeling of deep silence, something unknown to me prior to that particular moment. It was that silence that spoketo me about God, I did not see Him, but I was able to feel Him. I asked Him, ´Why did You do that, why did you console me, I do not deserve that?’ Then I said: ‘You are my Father, I prayed to you in the prayer of Our Father and I told You that I would like to meet You!’ That was my prayer!”
Claudia Koll’s witness shows that an authentic conversion is a process. “The Lord did not take away my suffering, but He walked with me, slowly, and helped me to resolve that pain. Even more, that suffering was my journey towards Him, I started to feel desire to go back to the church. In the beginning I would just spend time in a church and enjoy silence and peace of God and that had brought me to the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. God started to heal me through the sacraments. It was a long process, with its ups and downs, but every time I would fall down, I would be getting up again.”
If you are interested in listening more to what this living icon of God’s mercy has to share with us Maltese why not attending a prayer meeting at St Julians Parish Church on Friday May 6 at 7.30 pm? Or attending a lunch atthe Palace Hotel in Sliema on Saturday May 7? Bookings can be done by phoning 21442468 or 79442468.