Religion: An Italian Lourdes?

The little Madonna was a poor thing. She was made of plaster, and her face was blank and pink. In the shapeless, pudgy fingers of her right hand she held a bleeding heart limned in red and gold. She was exactly like hundreds of other foot-high, hollow, plaster Madonnas that the Sicilian factory sold for $3, and like many of them she was a wedding present—to Antonietta and Angelo lannuso of Syracuse. Soon after they got the present in the spring of 1953, the commotion began.

Dark, devout Antonietta, then 20, became pregnant and began to suffer agonizing pains, during which her...

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