Famous Italian actress and convert, Claudia Koll, came to Medjugorje in the beginning of November on a pilgrimage. She gave interview to radio station “Mir” Medjugorje and she openly spoke about her life and her conversion. It felt as we had listened to the unwritten story of Mary Magdalene of our days. She told us about all of the troubles and difficulties she had while she was growing up, all beacuse her mom had died during her birth. She was raised by her granny and had many identity crises while she was educated and at the end got completely lost in the world of movie production. After a number of obscene roles in movies, Claudia walked through the Holy door on Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, in Jubilee Year of 2000 and instantly felt that the life she had up to that moment was broken and disappeared. And then, she said: “One day there was this dramatic situation that needed to be resolved and I did not know how to handle that at all. I remember being desperate, I walked the room up and down, and just simply in one moment I started to speak to God. I prayed Our Father and I was squeezing in the palms of my hands a little crucifix that one of my friends gave to me few days prior to that. In those moments, my whole being was turned towards the God, I felt as I was tied close to the Cross and I was able to feel complete liberation. I felt as I was immersed in something like a deep peace. And I rested in that feeling. No longer was I worried, nor afraid; it felt as there was only one feeling of deep silence, something unknown to me prior to that particular moment. It was that silence that spoke to me about God, I did not see Him, but I was able to feel Him. I asked Him, ´Why did You do that, why did you console me, I do not deserve that?’ Then I said: ‘You are my Father, I prayed to you in the prayer of Our Father and I told You that I would like to meet You!’ That was my prayer!”
“Lord did not take away my suffering, but He walked with me, slowly, and helped me to resolve that pain. Even more, that suffering was my journey towards Him, I started to feel desire to go back to the church. In the beginning I would just spend time in a church and enjoy silence and peace of God and that had brought me to the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. God started to heal me through the sacraments. It was a long process, with its ups and downs, but every time I would fall down, I would be getting up again.” She realised that she needs to follow Jesus and it needs to be on both of her feet, one of love and the other of truth. She would turn down all of the movie roles that were not in accordance with the spirit of Gospel. She told us interesting detail from those days: “One day I signed the contract that offered me lots of money. The role itself was not negative but I knew I shouldn’t have had signed that contract, since I was to meet those same people that I had promised to the Lord I would not meet ever again. The second I signed the contract I knew I made mistake. I was not able to say no, because I was still weak in my decisions. But, when I got the money for that project, I started to give it to the poor people in the church. I felt that money did not belong to me, it was the money of betrayal.”
The following chapter of her life was how she went to do mission work, in Ethiopia where she had witnessed so much poverty, famine, little children dying all over the place. She said: “I remember one little boy whose eyes were closed not because he was blind but because he did not have any water to wash his eyes. His eyes were inflamed because of all of the dirt that was in his eyes. I used moisture tissues to clean and wash out his eyes and while his eyes were being opened, the Lord was opening mine. I realised I lived in a luxurious home, I had expensive carpets, silver cutlery and none of that was able to save my life. I started to see everything in a different way and I realised I needed to give part of my wealth to those who were poor. “
After she came back, she visited the shrine of Divine Mercy and she was able to discover the message of Divine Mercy. “I realised that the Lord was saying to me ‘Claudia, if you fell down, that was because you trusted too much in your own abilities, trust me!’ For me, that was what ‘Jesus, I trust in you’ meant. I needed to realise that my conversion was going to happen together with Jesus and I should have trusted in my Lord more, from the beginning. I think that genuine faith is the one Abraham had, he hoped and believed beyond and against every hope and belief”, says Claudia.
Claudia also spoke about her relationship and devotion towards Our Lady. “Our Lady was always present in my life, ever since I was born. I remember watching a movie about Our Lady from Fatima, it was when I was 8, 10 years old, I do not remember exactly. And I remember saying how Our Lady was not just a statue, she was a woman. I was really impressed that Our Lady gave such important tasks to the visionaries. I remember, as I was going back home after seeing that movie, I was reciting a little prayer in my heart to Our Lady and I told her ‘I want to live with you and come to you, bring me closer to You as You brought Jacinta.’ I was asking from Our Lady to die, and Lord did not answer that prayer, but I think He wants me now to witness for Him, and all of the experiences I had are just evident proofs of Divine Mercy. “
Claudia mentioned how Our Lady was with her all along her conversion, and she feels strongly about Medjugorje and apparitions to the visionaries. In the moments of apparitions, she feels powerful presence of Our Lady. Describing one such event she said: “I could see that it was raining, but I did not feel rain drops on my umbrella at all. I think it is such a wonderful experience to feel Our Lady with heart. It never occurred to me to look for the signs, to look in the sky. I think that this encounter takes place in the depths of our hearts. I do not even want to look into the face of the visionary, I am only interested in my own prayer and encounter with Our Lady. “
Claudia emphasises especially the love she feels now through Our Lady’s presence. The love in a completely new way. The journey to that new experience had several stages. This is just one of them. “When my conversion began, first people that Lord would place in front of me were those who had AIDS. And it was through one of such young man, through his suffering that I got to know Christ’s love. I started to think about Jesus in a Garden of Gethsemane, and his sweat of blood, how he must have feared death. On the other hand, this young man was lying in a bed and he was in a very bad state. He was unable to speak because illness affected speech centre in his brain. But his eyes spoke about his fears. And when I took his hand, I felt great love in my heart. The love I never felt before, strong and gentle. It was that love that converted me. When I look into my past now, I think about how many times Jesus entered such areas of my life. But my eyes were blind, closed and I was not able to recognise Him. When my conversion started, I realised that Jesus was present in all those who were suffering.”
Claudia Koll is the founder of Association “The Works of the Father” that is dedicated to missionary work in Africa. She is building a house for disabled people called Little Lourdes. In the world of Arts, she is the Head of the Academy of Arts that was founded on the principles from the Letter to the Artists of late Holy Father John Paul II. Through this Academy, she wants to help young people to enter into the world of fame and spectacle in a healthy, Christian way. It is interesting that music from Medjugorje regularly plays inside this Academy.