But this vision of the Divino Niño, so touched her heart that the command given her by the Child Jesus, "Build a Temple for Me." became the focus of her life.
We would like to share with you Mother Angelica’s own words regarding her experience with Divino Niño.
"In 1995, we had a vice presidents’ meeting and decided to try and provide a Spanish network for South America. It was decided that I would go down and talk to Bishops and Nuncios in South America and see if they would be interested in making programs in their own specific Spanish accents so that when we were ready to establish a Spanish network we would have programs.
"One of the countries we went to was Colombia. In Bogota,
we had a wonderful priest host for the days we were there. He asked me if I would like to see the Church of Divino Niño. We said yes. I was very surprised by the poverty of the people and the beauty of this Church or Basilica. The Church was packed, the large courtyard was full of people. In the courtyard of the Church, I saw a bust of a priest, the founder of the Basilica. I asked Father who the founder was. I was inquisitive because the priest’s name was Fr. John Rizzo which was my father’s name. Who was Fr. John Rizzo? He was Italian and he came here years ago with the Salesians to just take care of the people, the very, very poor. They would have Mass at different times on Sundays, and people would walk miles. The priest had a devotion to the Divine Child, and he had a sculpture made. He would talk to the sculpture.
"One day he told Divino Niño that these people were hungry and there was no one to feed them. ‘If you don’t feed them, they will kill me and smash you into tiny pieces.’ This is a strange type of prayer. Soon carts appeared with food. This went on. Suddenly people came that were not well. ‘Divino Niño, if you don’t heal them they will kill me and smash you.’ ...he went to the Church (his superiors) to get money to build a Church. Instead, the people gave (him money) to build the Church.
"Father asked me if I would like to see the original statue that the priest had made. We had to walk up a small hill and at that time I was still in crutches. The statue was facing away from where I was standing. So, I just looked up as every one else was doing. Suddenly Divino Niño turned towards me and said ‘Build me a Temple and I will help those who help you.’"
The Child Jesus told Mother to build a Temple, and not knowing from where or how she would have the funds to do so, she said Yes! First, she had to find a place. The very last property she looked at is where the Shrine is located, today - on hundreds of acres of rolling hills in a remote rural farm area in Hanceville, Alabama. Allow us to have Mother Angelica tell you how she went about building the Temple in her own words:
"It’s unbelievable to me that, when Our dear Lord asked for a Temple, and said He would take care of those who helped us, I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be so beautiful....At every turn He would change it. It got bigger and bigger, and more beautiful. We were going to put just ordinary floor tile in the Church; He guided us to put in marble. In every possible way He intercepted some of our ideas, and we could see what He wanted. And so this is truly a Church that God has built - a real Temple, a place where the people can go and rest their souls, renew their faith, and give themselves an opportunity to receive the graces and the peace, the forgiveness and the mercy that only God can give.
"The statue of Divino Niño, the Divine Child Jesus, at the side Altar is the Child Jesus interceding for all of us.
The statue outside in the Piazza is a big monument, the divine Child Jesus inviting us to accept His love and His Heart, and to carry with us and within us the Childhood of Jesus.
For the Lord said ‘Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ And in Isaiah it gives us a good example of what God expects to do in this world in this life: it says ‘...and a little Child shall lead them.’ May we all be led by the Divino Niño Jesús.
"I know there’s something very special here.
The fruit of it, we don’t know. But everyone who comes in is very aware of the Presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. May it be so as long as the world exists.
Reference: Divino Nino of Bogota by Bob and Penny Lord
Minibook Available Divino Nino - $4.95
Mother Angelica has such a devotion to the Child Jesus. We remember bringing her the Infant of Atocha back from our Pilgrimage to Mexico.
We also remember her telling the story of the trip to Bogota and meeting Divino Nino.