Father Don Vittorio Details Possible Miraculous Healing 

Dominican Priest Survived Accident, Coma

by Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa Toni Harris, OP
Co-Promoter of the Cause

“Father Vittorio Mazzuchelli . . . has a strong assumption that he may be a great-great-grandnephew of your Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP.” With these words, Sister Mary Paynter, OP, then Promoter of the Cause for Father Samuel, was introduced to the story of Don Vittorio Mazzucchelli. This news reached Sister Mary in a March 2006 email from, Msgr. Schmitz, Vicar General for the Institute of Christ the King, the congregation to which Don Vittorio belongs. Msgr. Schmitz wanted Sister Mary to know that, after being involved in a very serious automobile accident, Father Don Vittorio “awakened from his profound coma, that lasted more than a month, on the very day after the novena to Father Samuel ended” (Feb. 24, 2006). Over the 18 years since this initial contact, Promoters of the Cause—Sister Mary; Sister Diane Kennedy, OP; and Sister Judy Schaefer, OP—have made efforts to obtain more information and connect with Don. Father Samuel founded the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation in 1847. Upon his death, a penance chain was found around his waist. Since that time, people have prayed with the penance chain for healing through the intercession of Father Samuel.  

I was able to visit Father Don Vittorio in person on March 11, 2024, at Casa Santa Maria della Pietà, the care facility where he has resided for the past three years in Prato, Italy. Sister Nancy Celaschi, OSF, a Franciscan from the USA who has lived in Rome for decades, graciously accompanied me and translated our conversation with Father Don Vittorio. He is 60 years of age (born 100 years after death of Father Samuel), of medium height, and has brown hair, light blue eyes, a warm smile, and very gentle manner. His baptismal name is Mauro Paolo Mazzucchelli; Vittorio Maria is his religious name.   

Father Don Vittorio told us that, in his family, Father Samuel was always referred to as “Zio Beato” (Blessed Uncle). He recalled when he was a child and if he misbehaved, his grandfather would say, “Your Zio Beato would not be pleased with you.” When Father Don Vittorio expressed his desire to become a priest, his grandfather told him that, if so, he’d better work especially hard and become a “saint” because the family already had a “blessed.” As he spoke about his family, it was very clear that there was a pervasive sense of relationship with and devotion to Father Samuel—especially on the part of his grandfather.

In the course of our visit, Father Don Vittorio described to Sister Nancy and me his experience of awakening from the coma. What follows is my summary:

While Don Vittorio was comatose, he heard someone calling his name. Then a boy (about 15 years old) wearing a white, medical coat came to him in his hospital bed and urged him to get up and follow him. He helped Don Vittorio remove the bed covers, sit up, and put his slippers on. He said Don Vittorio had to get up because “they” were waiting for him. The boy led him to an elevator, and they took it up to a place where the door opened onto a wide, green, grassy field. Don Vittorio heard bells ringing. He saw what looked like three wells, but rather than being filled with water, they overflowed with light beaming up into the sky. Many people were walking around these wells of light. Some approached Don Vittorio. His grandmother, who had died in 1989, approached him and said, “This is not the place where you belong.” His aunt, who had died in 1974, also drew near and said, “They are waiting for you back there. You don’t belong here.” Finally, he heard a voice which he continues to believe was that of his Zio Beato, Father Samuel, who greeted him and said it was not Don Vittorio’s time to be there. Indicating that Don Vittorio should go back, his Zio Beato said, “Mazzucchellis do not surrender (give up).” Don Vittorio said that Father Samuel spoke with the same accent that Don Vittorio knew from his grandfather. At this moment, Don Vittorio became aware that the doctor in the hospital was moving his arms and speaking to him. He was in his hospital bed, awakening from the coma. 

Father Don Vittorio became emotional—was moved to tears—as he shared the experience of this vision, especially the encounter with his Zio Beato. The conversation was also moving for Sister Nancy and me.  

Father Don Vittorio emphasized again and again how much affection he has for his “cousins,” the “daughters” of his uncle—Father Samuel Mazzuchelli’s Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. He prays for the Sisters every day at his Mass. His grandfather showed him a photo of a large group of Sinsinawa Sisters and told him, “These are all your cousins.” Father Don Vittorio wanted very much to offer a blessing for all his Sinsinawa “cousins.” With my phone, I videoed Don Vittorio blessing the Congregation.  

Sister Judy Schaefer and I are continuing our efforts to obtain the necessary medical records documenting the unexpected awakening of Father Don Vittorio from his coma. No matter the outcome, the opportunity to meet Father Don Vittorio and to experience his profound relationship with his Zio Beato were unforgettable gifts. Please continue to pray that the fervent love and labors of Father Samuel may become more widely known.