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  Presentation by father Amedeo Maria Riccardi
Excerpt from the publication

I wanted to carry out this booklet on Nennolina with the heart of someone who learnt how to love her, even having never met her. Watching her picture, her sister Margherita gave me, I can't admire just this child's beauty, because it's not a merely physical one, but it's a kind of beauty that transpires from her skin and reflects in her sweet big black eyes.

The lamp and the lily

It is the presence of the Holy Spirit, of the Eucharist which makes her marvellously sweet. What a marvellous gift of God for the Church! An angel, a real angel on earth. A great smile and the fullness of joy are reflected like lights in her eyes.

What Jesus said is incarnated in her youth, in her childhood: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid this things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight" ( Luke 10, 21).
Jesus gives thanks to the Father because He is delighted by the little ones. "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence". ( I Corinthians 1, 27-29).

As matter of fact Jesus says He came for the humble, the poor, the ill. That's it, then! In the Gospels the ones who turned to Jesus were humble, that is little, nonentity. And He made them strong. That's what happened to the Virgin Mary: "For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden" (Luke 1, 48)

God chooses a woman in the village of Nazareth to do great things! God chooses little Nennolina to realize, through her, great things in her extraordinary everyday life, in her illness and blessed family.

The Meo family took a strong example from the Nazarene family. Here she learnt how to love God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary. Here, in her home, she was catechized; here she learnt the deep love for the Eucharist and the wish to receive it on Christmas Night.

Jesus was born and had His home in Nennolina. I believe we can better understand the mystery of Incarnation thanks to this example of life. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" ( John 1, 14a). Someone called this servant of God "young mystic", a "young Doctor of the Church", and that's true. The Holy Spirit pervaded her soul in such a way that It spoke through her.

It wouldn't be the first time! Nennolina is a charming icon, that kindles tenderness. How can we not love a child? Who is not amazed by childish delicacy?

Her glance stirs up a smile on our lips, sign of joy and love. Well, that's our feeling when we look at her.
For my own part, I entrusted myself to her many times and she often listened to me. In one of her letters she promises to send a lot of lilies to Paradise, that is a lot of graces. Another expression we must remember is her wish to be "the lamp that burns in front of the tabernacle day and night"; and she managed to do it.

God immediately granted her prayer, He caught this flower that offered itself and He delighted in her. Jesus looks for adorers! Adorers means men and women who want to become instruments of His love. Nennolina was an instrument, a pencil in God's hands, as Blessed Teresa di Calcutta told us. O Jesus' child, help us to be children! You showed us who were the "babes" Jesus talks about and, in you, we see the speech of the mountain: "blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5,8).

I think that, also about Nennolina, we can speak of the Amplexus we see in St. Francesco d'Assisi or in St. Bernardo: Jesus who stretches His arm towards His beloved from the Cross, as to hug and share the burden of the Cross. This is the strongest moment of the soul, the moment in which you go up…to the Cross! It's the pre-eminently moment, it's the moment of fear but also the moment of abandoning: "do of me what You like" ( cf. Luke 1,38);
it's the Fiat, the Yes like the one Mary said. Nennolina asks for her health, she wants to have her leg back to her, but she doesn't believe this as important as her wish to become good. Her incessant request of souls: "Give me souls" is the sign of the offering. Her sentence means "I offer my life for their salvation". So Nennolina shows an extreme generosity, and perhaps she was not even conscious of this, but she answers Jesus' order: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man that lay down his life for his friend" (John 15,13).

God, in order to bring Man back to Him, lets His son die on the Cross. In the same way He offers to Nennolina the "gift" of pain, in order to bring souls back to Jesus. That's the point: pain is a gift, is grace, when you live it with joy and communion with Him.
Nennolina has never asked herself why, she only asked herself how to suffer her pain. Her silence amazes, she doesn't moan , just prays, invokes. The ones who live in communion with God engross with him. The handmaid of God doesn't worries about her salvation only, but also about the salvation of her family and of the whole world. What marvels God can do in souls! We all are "called to sanctity". Maybe we will not live the experience of little Nennolina, but our everyday lives teach us not to complain too much .

As I was saying, suffering is a gift. And it is a gift because it purifies us, makes us think about the essential things and put us in communion with God. Through it, you live a different relationship made of intimacy, familiarity and continuous glances of love. Saying that suffering is beautiful seems absurd; but is there not beauty in the Crucifix? Aren't we enchanted in front of the Cross? Often the crucifixes are made with opened eyes and I think that this means a living, conscious and true suffering.

What's more, His eyes are towards heaven (God), and that's the attitude of the ones who suffer. The ones who suffer intercede and ask for the others, not only for themselves. Best-loved child, teach us how to suffer! Lily of God, burning lamp, child of Jesus, teach us how to kiss Jesus! Quite always Nennolina ends her letters sending a kiss to Jesus, to Mary, to her family .

Her kisses surely comforted and softened Jesus, so that he could no more be separated from His child. For this reason He brought her with Him in the golden room of Paradise, where the most precious jewels are kept. And she surely went her place beside the Beloved and now she shines like a lamp and smells like a lily.

When Jesus is sad due to our sins, He looks at Nennolina, she kisses Him and smile and hope come back.
"Dear Jesus…" Nennolina writes, waiting impatiently for her first communion on Christmas day. I think Jesus was more anxious then Nennolina and more desirous to meet her and that He couldn't wait Christmas day to come, so that He could enter her little heart, His cradle.

father Amedeo Maria Riccardi


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