Sighting of Jesus during a storm on the sea


So this is the story of how my grandmother saw Jesus on her boat ride to America.

My grandmother was in Italy during World War II, and Pacentro, where she was from, was a major bombing area for the Allies. So what they would do during World War II is that they took cities that didn’t have a lot of historical importance, and were very lowly densely populated-like farming villages and places like that. Back then, bombing a place was a show of power, basically. So it was a huge bombing site during WWII, and my grandmother fled Pacentro on a boat going to the US. She was very young, probably 12 or 13. She was on the boat, coming to the US, and she was very strongly Catholic.

The boat was very rocky- they were caught in a storm coming to New York, and everyone thought they were going to die. That’s how severe the storm is, they were all worried, they were all praying, all sort of getting their affairs in order as best they could when they were on a boat and going to a different country. And so, she thinks she’s going to die. The boat is rocking severely- there’s waves crashing on the bow, water sloshing over the edge, you couldn’t even go outside, everyone was hunkered down inside the ship.

So grandmother is down in the hull, she’s sick, she’s been on this boat for a week and a half, and she falls asleep. And in her dream, she sees Jesus in the waves, and Jesus looks at her- she’s standing on the bow of the boat, Titanic style, and Jesus is standing on the waves, he turns to her and says, “Celeste, you’re going to survive. You’re going to be OK. Everyone is going to live.” And when she wakes up, the storm has completely passed. So it’s sunny, the water is calm, there is no storm for the rest of the trip, they make it through the storm and back to America with no issue. So she believed that Jesus came down and told her- basically worked a miracle- she believed that there was some aspect of God that helped her arrive safely.


The informant was recounting an earlier story told by her grandmother, who was born in Italy before immigrating to the United States.


One of the first things I noticed about this story is how it’s very similar to a specific Bible story within the New Testament. It reminded me of the story of Jesus encountering the disciples during a storm by walking on water to approach their boat (Matthew 14:22-33). As religions tend to play a part in folklore, and as the first teller of this story was from a heavily Catholic region of Italy, this probably isn’t a coincidence. There could be an element of the grandmother finding comfort in their religion, in the face of almost hopeless circumstances, with how there really isn’t much else for them to do in the situation. When you can turn to no one else, you turn to God.