Ugo Festa was born in 1951 in Vicenza, Italy. He was diagnosed at an early age with multiple sclerosis and his health began to deteriorated gradually. This led to many other problems in his young life. By the age of 39, he was suffering from multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy, his spine was becoming distorted and he was having seizures daily. He continually attended doctors since the first onset of symptoms of the disease, but they could do nothing for him. As a reaction to the atrocious destiny ahead of him, his rebellion against God began.
Once while in hospital, the patient next to him began to talk about Lourdes. Ugo mocked and jeered the young man to the other patients in the ward. His mother in law suggested he should go to Lourdes and he scoffed at the idea, but in 1987 he went in an effort to prove his mother-in-law wrong about the healing waters in Lourdes and the mercy of God. Although Ugo didn’t receive a physical healing, he received a spiritual healing; a conviction that God exists.
Three years later, on the 28th April 1990, Ugo went with a pilgrimage to Rome for the beatification of Fr. Phillip Rinaldi. In addition to his other ailments, Ugo was suffering from memory loss, incontinence, and deficiency of sight due to nerve damage. In a wheelchair and clearly suffering, Ugo caught the attention of Mother Teresa, who bent down and gave him a hug. Mother Teresa was in Rome at the time with a group whom he also became acquainted with. Ugo was invited along with this group to a retreat at the shrine of Divine Mercy in Trent, but he refused. On leaving, one of the group, a nun, gave him five copies of the Divine Mercy Image and a Divine Mercy medal. Ugo knew nothing of Divine Mercy and nothing about Sr. Faustina, whose Divine Mercy revelations Pope John Paul II promoted
The following day the 29th April 1990, Ugo attended the Papal audience with Pope John Paul II, wearing the medal and carrying the Divine Mercy Images in his arms, to be blessed. At the bottom of the steps to St. Peters the Holy Father passed by. Ugo asked him to bless his Divine Mercy pictures. After blessing the pictures, the Pope John Paul II asked him how he was.
Ugo told him he felt very dejected and was going through a deep moral and spiritual crisis.
The Holy Father said “How could you have a crisis with Jesus the Divine Mercy in your arms? Entrust yourself to him and pray to my Sr. Faustina to intercede.”
With this advice Ugo changed his mind and decided that he would go to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Trent.
At the side altar in the Villa O’Santissima, Villazzano, Trent, Italy there was a shrine to the Divine Mercy with a life size icon of the Divine Image. For three days he prayed, his head bent down so as to not see what others were doing. Through his prayers, Ugo overcame the cause of his spiritual crisis, which was the bitterness he felt against his mother, who abandoned him at a young age.
On the fourth day of praying in front of this icon Ugo suddenly noticed the arms of the Image stretched out to him and tremendous warmth flowed through his body. Ugo saw the Lord come out from the image his white garment blowing as if in a breeze and walk toward him with His hands outstretched. Ugo didn’t want to believe it. He turned away, and so Jesus returned to the image.
This happened five times,
After the fifth time, Ugo expressed what was on his mind: ‘If it’s really You, lift me up, because I can’t move.'” He then heard Jesus say in a clear voice, “Rise up and walk.” Ugo felt himself being raised from the wheelchair. His emaciated legs were suddenly of normal size. He began to walk. All his ailments were instantly cured and he was more physically perfect than he had ever been in his life.
On the 19th August 1990, Ugo returned to the Vatican and during a Papal Audience at Paul VI Hall, was taken to meet Pope John Paul II again, but this time standing tall. He told him about the great grace he had received and thanked him for the words of inspiration which led him to Trent, and resulted in this great miracle of Divine Mercy. He gave Pope John Paul II a copy of the Divine Image, with the signatures on the back of the many people who witnessed the miracle on that day.
Doctors declared he was healed and that the healing had no scientific basis.
Ugo dedicated the rest of his life to spreading Divine Mercy, serving the poor and infirm in hospitals and on the streets in Italy and Africa. He would hand out Divine Mercy prayer cards and encourage people to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and venerate the Divine Mercy Image, as Christ Himself encouraged through St. Faustina in her visions in the 1930s. Christ promises many graces to those who venerate the image
Ugo was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. He told his friends he wasn’t fearful. He put his trust in Jesus.
On the 22nd May 2005, Ugo was found dead from gunshots to his head, in Italy. Two individuals were arrested. The motive is not known.
A Priest friend, Fr. Seraphim said; “But he predicted this, He said that his work in the streets was putting his life in danger, but he was willing to die for it.”
The icon of Jesus the Divine Mercy in Trent Italy, which Ugo was healed while praying before it, is now in the Divine Mercy Chapel, Šurmanci in the Parish of Medjugorje.