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Padre Pio

Padre Pio is now Saint Padre Pio. Padre Pio was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002. For many years in the past, thousands of people have climbed up the mountain path in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, to visitthe great Padre Pio, or at least see Padre Pio, the famous stigmatized Capuchin monk. Padre Pio was the first priest in the history of the Catholic Church to bear the holy wounds of Jesus Christ.

Padre Pio was born in the village of Pietrelcina, Italy, on May 25, 1887. Padre Pio's parents gave him the name of Francesco Forgione. There were eight children in total, three of whom died in infancy. Padre Pio's parents were simple hard working farmers. They were so poor, that Padre Pio's father Orazio went to the United States twice, in order to be able to provide for his family and earn enough money to educate Padre Pio for the priesthood.

As a child, Padre Pio avoided the company of other children, and did not take part in their games. Padre Pio had a great horror of sin and cried when he heard anyone blaspheming, or taking Gods name in vain. Even when Padre Pio was seven years old, Padre Pio could tell if somebody was in the state of sin. From the time Padre Pio was a child, Padre Pio would often think about the things of God and keep himself recollected.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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History of Padre Pio

In 1902, when Padre Pio was 15 years old, Padre Pio entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars. Padre Pio had poor health, but a strong will, and with Gods help, Padre Padre completed the Padre required studies and was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1910.

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio received the wounds of Our Lord, in his hands, feet and later on, his side. His long life was filled with hours and hours of suffering, penance, the Padre Padre Pad rearing of confessions and prayer especially the Rosary. Padre Pio said thousands and thousands of Rosaries.

Padre Pio had a very deep union with God and a tremendous love for the Padre Mass, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady. Padre Pio also had great devotion to his guardian angel and to St. Michael.

For over 50 years, Padre Pio suffered greatly, but Padre Pio was not one to complain. Padre Pio still kept his great sense of humor and practiced great charity towards all, forgetting about himself. Padre Pio worked many miracles through his prayers, both during his life and after his death.

All things must come to an end, and Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. Almost 100,000 people came to his funeral. Later Padre Pio's body was entombed in the crypt of Our Lady of Grace Church. Now thousands and thousands of people go to visit and pray at Padre Pios tomb. San Giovanni Rotondo has become in a sense another Lourdes, and one of the most popular shrines in the world, visited by thousands and thousands of people.

Padre Pio was like another St. Francis of Assisi. Padre Pio was looked upon as a saint even while Padre Pio was living. People would take every means possible to obtain a seat in the church where Padre Pio said Mass. The people would line up near the church door by 4:00 in the morning, or even earlier. It was worth your life to get in the way of those women who wanted to be the first into the church, to see their beloved Padre Pio. They would listen for the sound of rattling keys, then pandemonium ... As the doors of the church opened, a tidal wave of people poured into the church. If you didnt stand your ground, you would be literally jostled, trampled, thumped and pushed aside. Amidst all this thumping and bumping the women would roar and scream and shout at each other. They would abuse each other, using every means to be the first inside. The poor sacristan had a bad time of it, trying to make himself heard above the tumult, Pagans! Rogues! Scoundrels! ... Cant you wait? For the love of God, are you Christians or beasts? But his words fell on deaf ears.

La Casa di Sollievo della Sofferenza, the hospital founded by Padre Pio

 

Once settled in the church, the men and women were changed from wolves to lambs. They had attained their goal and now they knelt in prayer, looking more like angels, even though they were packed in like sardines.

But why did all these people use such violence to see Padre Pio? Padre Pio was their saint. They loved him with a passion. To them, Padre Pio was everything, and their greatest joy next to God and His saints.

When Padre Pio said Mass it was different. True there were other priests who said Mass very devoutly, but Padre Pios Mass was special. Padre Pio's Mass took from 1 to 1 hours. Padre Pio had much to pray for and many to pray for.

Padre Pio said many beautiful words about the Mass, thus revealing the very depths of his soul.

It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun, than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Holy Mass is a sacred union of Jesus and myself. I suffer unworthily all that was suffered by Jesus who deigned to allow me to share in his great enterprise of human Redemption.

When attending Holy Mass, renew your faith and meditate on that Victim who is being immolated for you in order to appease Divine Justice. Do not leave the altar without shedding tears of pain and of love for Jesus who was crucified for your eternal well-being.

Every holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we ourselves, do not know.

Padre Pio suffered when Padre Padre said Mass. It was hard for him to walk with his pierced feet. During Mass, when Padre Padre looked upon the Crucifix, Padre Pio was transformed. If you were able to observe the good Padre Pio, you would see that his face was filled with emotion, now fear, then joy, now sorrow, then agony. Padre Pio would speak with Our Lord. Tears would roll down his cheeks... And what did Padre Pio beg of Our Lord? Padre Pio would plead with God, and beg grace from Him for himself and others. But most of all Padre Pio would love God. How often did Padre Pio repeat these beautiful words to God, My Jesus, save everyone; I offer myself as a victim for everyone; strengthen me, take my heart, fill it with Your love, then command of me what You will.

Padre Pio was always full of charity. Padre Pio wanted all souls to go to Heaven. Padre Pio had thousands of spiritual children. Padre Pio said, I belong to everyone. Everyone can say, Padre Pio is mine. I love my exiled brothers very much. I love my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more. I have restored them to Jesus with pain and with love. I can forget myself, but not my spiritual children, and I assure you that, when the Lord calls me, I will say to Him: Lord, I shall remain at the gates of Paradise; I shall enter only when I have seen the last of my children enter.

Padre said also, I suffer so much because I can not lead all of my brothers to God. At times I am on the verge of heartbreak when I see so many suffering souls whom I am unable to help, and so many brothers who are allied to Satan!

Many people, even today, are being accepted as Padre Pios spiritual children. This can be done, because before dying, Padre Pio told his Franciscan brothers, that they could accept spiritual children on his behalf, after Padre Pio was dead.

Ah! The great mercy of God. Can we ever be grateful enough? God gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist. He sends us the Holy Ghost to strengthen us. He gives us Mary and Joseph, and all the angels and saints to help us. He gives us First Friday and First Saturday devotions to help save our souls.

And to top it all off, God gives to a doubting world another St. Francis of Assisi, but this time a priest, who bears the wounds of Christ and has all the spiritual gifts of the saints. Then this great man, this Padre Pio, accepts thousands as his spiritual children and promises to wait at the gates of Heaven until each and every one of them has entered! And people say God is not merciful! Retract your words, oh hard of heart! There is a God, and He is full of Mercy and Goodness.

How many people Padre Pio brought back to God! When the world has ended, and all is said and done, will Padre Pio be responsible for saving millions of souls? For sure thousands, and what a blessing it will be to see, not a picture or statue, but our beloved Padre Pio in person. For some, it will not be the first time, but for many it will be the first time.

Padre Pio was full of the wisdom of God. Inside the confessional and out, Padre Pio gave much spiritual advice to his penitents and spiritual children. Some of his counsels were:

In all that you do, always be humble, guarding jealously the purity of your heart and the purity of your body; these are the two wings which shall raise us to God and make us almost Divine.

Try to serve the Lord with all your heart and with all your will. He will always bless you more than you deserve.

Pray and hope; do not get upset. Anxiety serves no purpose. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.

Accept every pain and inconvenience that comes from Heaven. Thus you will attain perfection and sanctification.

Bear in mind that the more pleasing a soul is to God, the more it must be tried. Therefore, courage, and go forward, always.

Always keep close to Our Heavenly Mother, because She is the sea that must be crossed, in order to reach the shores of eternal splendor, in the Kingdom of Dawn.

Charity is the Queen of virtues, Charity holds the virtues together like a string of pearls. Just as the pearls fall when the string is broken, so too, are the virtues lost when charity is lacking.

Be careful never to become discouraged when you are spiritually ill. If God permits you to be weak and fall, it is not for the purpose of abandoning you, but rather, to make you humble, and more careful in the future.

Be calm in regards to your spirit, and always confide completely in Jesus. Make an effort to always conform to the Divine will in everything, in pleasure, and in adversity. Dont worry about tomorrow!

Make Christian use of your money and savings, then so much misery will disappear; so many aching bodies and afflicted beings, will find help and comfort.

Saint Padre Pio, pray for us!

More miraculous stories in the life of Saint Padre Pio
(This article is a continuation of miraculous stories in the life of St Padre Pio. Part 1 which is entitled "Little known stories in the life of St Padre Pio" can be found here
I would like to sincerely thank Brother Michael of the Cross and also Thomas Warner M.D. for transcribing these stories. -Webmaster)
 

 

The cure of Gaspare di Prazzo, Cianciana, Agrigento

Mr. Gaspare di Prazzo had a case of Mediterranean Fever which had become very serious. A woman, Signora Vacarro, knew of Padre Pio and recommended the patient invoke Padre Pio's help for a cure and Signora Vacarro gave Gaspare a picture of Padre Pio to use while invoking his intercession. Upon receiving the photo, the patient kissed the photograph of Padre Pio and begged him to cure him. 

A few days passed when one evening 
at 6pm the patient said to his wife: "Put someone at the door and don't let anyone in, because Padre Pio is coming, and I don't want to be seen by anyone.' 

The wife nodded assent and assured him that their nephew was already near the door.
 

Later that night, at eleven o'clock, when all were in bed and only his wife was sitting up by the patient's bedside, and the patient had a significant fever he said to his wife:
'Put out the light because Padre Pio is about to come, and I don't want to be seen by anyone, not even by you.' 

His wife obeyed and put out the light. All of a sudden the patient began to speak, very joyfully: "Oh! Padre 
Pio, are you here to heal me? I thank you. Pass your hand from my head to my feet. I cannot go on anymore and I do not want to leave my wife a widow...' 

The patient felt Padre 
Pio near his bed. He passed his stigmatized hand over all his body. His wife saw nobody, but understood that Padre Pio was beside her beloved spouse, and trembling in a corner of the room on her knees, weeping she also prayed to Padre Pio: ' As you have come, Padre Pio, ask Our Lord for the grace of my husband's cure.'
 
After a few minutes, the wife asked her

- See more at: http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2013/11/miracle-stories-in-life-of-st-padre-pio.html#sthash.aaf1IZj2.dpuf

I have worked and I want to work. I have prayed and I want to pray. I have kept watch and I want to keep watch. I have cried and I want to cry always for all of my brothers who are in exile. I know and understand that this is very little but this is what I know how to do; this is what I am able to do; and this is all that I can do.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 57 – Oct – Dec 2013

Stories from the Early Years

 

Padre Pio with Father Michael Nardone, Minister General of the Trinitarian Order. Karl Klugkist (feature story) was also a Trinitarian priest.

In July 1916, Father Paolino of Cascalenda, the superior of Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, traveled to the Capuchin monastery of St. Anne in Foggia in order to preach for the feast of St. Anne. Padre Pio lived at St. Annes monastery at that time. During his visit, Father Paolino noticed the poor state of Padre Pios health. He was extremely weak and frail and was unable to keep any food on his stomach. He was also suffering from the intense summer heat in Foggia.

Father Paolino invited Padre Pio to visit the Capuchin community in San Giovanni Rotondo, thinking that the change of climate might do him good and Padre Pio accepted the invitation with gratitude. At the time, Padre Pio was twenty-nine years old.

Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo was one of the poorest and oldest monasteries that the Capuchins possessed. It was also one of the most isolated foundations in the province. A profound silence surrounded the old whitewashed monastery and the small church that was attached to it. In the distance, the clang of sheep bells could be heard as shepherds took their flocks to graze on the mountain just behind the monastery. People from the town rarely walked up the long dirt path to the top of the hill in order to attend Mass at Our Lady of Grace.

Padre Pio loved the solitude and peace that the monastery provided, saying to one of his confreres, The silence here is beautiful. He also enjoyed the Capuchin community of priests and brothers who lived at Our Lady of Grace and they in turn enjoyed his company.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio felt the beneficial effects of breathing the fresh mountain air. The higher altitude seemed to agree with him and the cooler climate was a welcome break from the hot weather in Foggia. In the eight days that Padre Pio spent there, his health showed a marked improvement.

When Padre Pio returned to Foggia, he asked for permission to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. He received the permission from his superior and returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in September 1916. He would live with the Capuchins there for the next fifty-two years, until his death in 1968.

The testimonies that follow are from two of Padre Pios spiritual sons, Karl Klugkist and Nicola Pazienza. They met Padre Pio in the early years, not long after he was sent to Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo:

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The Russian prince, Karl Klugkist, was born in Kiev on March 25, 1871. After being exiled at the beginning of World War I, he moved to Italy. Karl, who was intelligent and well educated, was also a deeply spiritual man who was seeking a closer walk with the Lord.

In 1919, Karl learned of Padre Pio for the first time. A priest that Karl met in Foggia, Italy told him a few details of Padre Pio’s life. The priest had known Padre Pio when Padre Pio was a fifteen-year-old student in the Capuchin novitiate in Morcone. The priest told Karl that all of the young aspirants in the novitiate loved Padre Pio. The priests and instructors at Morcone felt the same way. They admired him for his goodness and for his humility. According to the priest who spoke to Karl, “There was not a trace of evil in Brother Pio.” Karl then read some articles in the newspaper about Padre Pio which further sparked his interest. He had a number of spiritual problems at the time and decided that it would be beneficial to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and speak to Padre Pio, asking for his counsel.

Karl had to wait two days to get a seat on the bus that traveled from Foggia to San Giovanni Rotondo. San Giovanni Rotondo was a popular destination at the time as many people wanted to make their confession to Padre Pio and to attend his Mass. Karl was finally able to board the bus but it was anything but a comfortable journey. It took two hours for the rickety old bus to maneuver along the worst kind of roads enroute to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. On the journey, Karl enjoyed looking out the window at the wide expanse of sky. He also enjoyed breathing the fresh mountain air which he found to be invigorating. However, the closer that he got to San Giovanni Rotondo, the more oppressive the landscape became. Scrub trees and rocks dotted the barren hills and the bleakness of the area made Karl feel depressed.

Karl was happy that he had been able to obtain a letter of introduction from the archbishop of Gaeta. The letter included a request that Karl be allowed to speak to Padre Pio. When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he handed his letter to the first Capuchin he saw. The Capuchin instructed Karl to go through the monastery courtyard and then enter the church through the small door that was just beyond.

When Karl walked into the church, the first thing he noticed was a Capuchin priest who was hearing a man’s confession in an open confessional. The penitent who knelt beside the priest appeared to be a local farmer. Slowly, the priest who was hearing the man’s confession raised his head and looked up at Karl. Karl recognized the priest immediately. It was Padre Pio. For some reason, he had not expected to see him so soon after arriving at the monastery. Karl felt both surprised and afraid at the same time.

The corridor was packed with men waiting in line to make their confession to Padre Pio. At the other end of the corridor, there was another door. There were a number of men trying to force their way through the door so that they too could get in the confessional line. They were dressed in work clothes and they all appeared to be farmers from the local area. The noise and commotion that the men were making struck Karl as very irreverent. He quickly summed up the situation and realized that in order to talk to Padre Pio about what was on his mind, he would need to get in the confessional line.

Karl took his place in the line and began to prepare himself for his encounter with Padre Pio. From where he was standing in line, he could easily observe Padre Pio. Karl noticed that he remained immobile, with his arms either crossed or resting on the chair in front of him while he heard confessions. He kept his head lowered. As Karl looked at Padre Pio, he was awed by the beauty of his face. It was the most beautiful face that he had ever seen. Karl got caught up in gazing at Padre Pio, and forgot all about making his preparation for confession.

Karl continued to stare at Padre Pio. Just before he gave absolution to the man who was in the confessional, Padre Pio recited a prayer in a low voice. Karl was close enough to hear the prayer. It sounded as though Padre Pio was speaking in another language, possibly an Asian language. Karl, who was fluent in a number of languages, could not identify the words.

Karl was still trying to focus his mind and prepare himself for confession. He let six men go in front of him in the line. All of a sudden, a man, thinking to do Karl favor, pushed him forward. Karl could postpone the encounter no longer. As he knelt before Padre Pio, he realized how truly unprepared he was to speak to him.

Padre Pio asked Karl when he had made his last confession. Karl told him that it had been the day before. “What sins have you committed since yesterday morning?” Padre Pio asked. Karl could not think of a single sin to confess. “I did not realize that I was going to have the opportunity to make my confession to you today,” Karl explained. “I am not really prepared to do so. I came here hoping that I might be able to have a chat with you.” The moment the words were out of his mouth, Karl regretted them. “That is impossible,” Padre Pio answered. “There are too many people waiting in line. I cannot allow people to have a chat with me. If you have something to tell me, you must tell it to me during confession.”

Karl had written out the items that he wanted to discuss with Padre Pio on a piece of paper. He wished that he had the paper with him but unfortunately he had left it in his suitcase. He knew that he had to speak quickly. There was not a minute to waste. Karl then began to talk about himself, jumping from one period of his life to another in no particular order.

As Karl spoke, he continued to study Padre Pio. He felt the full impact of his holiness. He was convinced that he was in the presence of a true saint. Padre Pio was different from anyone that Karl had ever met. Spiritually, he seemed to be in a class all by himself. To Karl, he appeared like a bright light, shining in the midst of the worlds darkness. He was direct and confident and there was no trace of false sweetness or sentimentality in his manner. At one point, Padre Pio blew on his hands several times, as if they were burning. He showed absolutely no self-consciousness in doing so.

Padre Pio listened with the greatest attention as Karl spoke, but he did not make eye contact with him. Because of it, Karl felt as though there was no personal relationship or personal connection between he and Padre Pio. Although Karl could have talked much longer, he finally stopped himself after about ten minutes, knowing that many others were waiting in line for the same opportunity.

When Karl finished speaking, Padre Pio said to him, “You are seeking the way but you have already found the way.” He did not admonish or scold Karl. He did not tell him what course to take in his life. He did not try to influence his will. He left him completely free to make his own decision. Then he spoke in the mysterious language that Karl had heard before but could not identify. Before leaving the confessional, Karl kissed Padre Pio’s hand. To his great surprise, he noticed a beautiful perfume coming from his hand.

During his visit to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Karl felt blessed to be able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. When Padre Pio came out of the sacristy, a great silence fell upon the congregation. At the Mass, Karl was seated close enough to the altar to see Padre Pio’s hands very clearly. Padre Pio had removed his gloves and Karl saw a red circular mark about the size of a small coin in the middle of each of his hands. Karl noticed blood trickling from the wounds in his hands during the Consecration. Karl could not contain his emotions and upon receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio, he began to weep.

After the Mass, two men approached Padre Pio and wanted to make their confession. Karl was standing nearby and noticed that Padre Pio would not agree to it. “Those men did not come here to make their confession,” Padre Pio said.

During the days of his visit to Our Lady of Grace monastery, Karl occasionally walked to town. Whenever he did so, it always felt as though he had stepped back in time. Life at the monastery seemed to be far removed from the secular concerns and realities of the modern world. Padre Pio reminded him more of a prophet from the Middle Ages than a man of the twentieth century.

On one of his visits to town, Karl met the local state commissioner. The commissioner told Karl that he had first-hand knowledge regarding Padre Pio’s gifts of reading hearts. One day, the commissioner went to the monastery to say goodbye to Padre Pio. He was going to be leaving his job in San Giovanni Rotondo in just a few days and another individual would soon be taking his place. Padre Pio smiled at the commissioner and said, “You are mistaken. You will not be leaving. You will stay in San Giovanni Rotondo for many months.” The commissioner was surprised at Padre Pio’s words. He did not want to disagree with him openly but he knew that Padre Pio was wrong. He had already received his transfer orders. However, a change was made at the last minute and the commissioner was asked to continue on with his job in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Karl enjoyed talking to the local citizens of San Giovanni Rotondo and he especially enjoyed the interesting stories they told him about Padre Pio. Karl learned that a blind woman had come to San Giovanni Rotondo from a long distance, hoping that her sight might be restored through contact with Padre Pio. When she finally had the opportunity to speak to Padre Pio, he said to her, “I cannot obtain the grace that you are asking for. But do not become discouraged, because you will soon be able to see.” The woman went away in great distress. She told the priest who had accompanied her on her journey that she had given up all hope of ever being able to see again. She kept thinking of Padre Pio’s words, “I cannot obtain the grace you are asking for.” She believed that Padre Pio had simply tried to pacify her when he told her that she would soon be able to see. But less than two hours later, while on the trip home, the woman suddenly regained her vision.

When Karl returned to his home in Rome, he spent many hours in church, praying to the Lord for enlightenment. He was trying to discern the path that God might be calling him to follow. He was very happy that he had been able to speak to Padre Pio one last time before leaving San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio told him that he would remember him in his prayers.

One day, when Karl was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, he saw two hands coming out of the tabernacle. The hands were holding a white habit with a red and blue cross on it. To his great surprise, the habit was coming toward him. He thought that his mind might be playing tricks on him. He closed his eyes and then opened them again. He rubbed his eyes to make sure that he was actually seeing what he thought he was seeing. It was true. It was not his imagination. He saw the white habit clearly and then finally, it disappeared.

Karl shared the unusual experience with his confessor. His confessor told him that there was a religious congregation called the Trinitarians who wore a white habit with a red and blue cross. His confessor then introduced him to the superior of the Trinitarians. Karl noticed that the habit the superior was wearing was identical to the one he had seen in the vision.

Karl realized that God had answered his prayers and had given him a clear sign of the vocation that he was to follow. He asked for admittance and was accepted into the Trinitarian Religious Order in Rome. He made simple vows and took the name, Brother Pio. He was sent to Canada where he made his solemn vows in 1924. Upon his ordination to the priesthood, he took the name Father Pio of the Most Holy Trinity. He felt Padre Pio’s loving presence helping him and guiding him in his priestly ministry. He always attributed the good that he was able to accomplish to Padre Pio’s intercession. Karl Klugkist (Father Pio of the Most Holy Trinity) died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1948 after a long and fruitful ministry in the Lord’s service.

I urge you to unite with me and draw near to Jesus with me, to receive his embrace and a kiss that sanctifies and saves us. . .Let us not cease then to kiss this divine Son in this way, for if these are the kisses we give him now, he himself will come to take us in his arms and give us the kiss of peace in the last sacraments at the hour of death. – St. Pio of Pietrelcina

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  Nicola Pazienza was a deeply religious man who was admired for his strong faith and outstanding moral character. He loved to pray the Rosary and took care to have his Rosary with him at all times. His friend, Antonio Di Maggio, was very much aware of Nicolas deep piety. One day he suggested to Nicola that he make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. There is a holy priest who has recently been transferred to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Antonio said. His name is Padre Pio. Many people believe that he is a saint. Since you are so religious, I think you should go and see him.

Although Nicola had not heard of Padre Pio, he was familiar with Our Lady of Grace monastery. Regularly, the lay brothers from the monastery made their rounds in the small surrounding towns and villages, seeking any offerings of food or supplies that could be donated to the Capuchin community. They often knocked on Nicola’s door. The lay brothers from St. Matthew of the Crucifix monastery did the same. Nicola always welcomed the lay brothers and did what he could to help them.

Nicola told his wife Theresa what Antonio had shared with him about Padre Pio. With all her heart, Theresa wanted her husband to visit San Giovanni Rotondo in order to meet Padre Pio. Nicola too, was very impressed by what Antonio had told him. He wanted to visit the saintly priest but at the time he could not make any plans to do so. He had his wheat harvest to tend to and it happened to be the time when the wheat needed to be winnowed.

Through years of experience, Nicola became very proficient in farm work. After the wheat was harvested, he would winnow it by throwing it upward into the breeze. The heavy wheat would fall back to the ground and the chaff would then be blown away by the wind. For many days he had waited, but unfortunately there had been no wind.

Just as Nicola finished speaking to his wife about Padre Pio, a gentle breeze began to blow. He was then able to winnow the wheat and afterward, he stored it in his loft. When the task was completed, he mounted his mule, and with his Rosary in his hand, he headed for San Giovanni Rotondo.

When Nicola arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, he learned that in order to see Padre Pio, he would have to present either a letter of introduction or a special permit issued by the

 

local police. Nicola had no idea that such paperwork was necessary. He had neither a letter of introduction nor a permit. He didnt think that he would have time to go to the police station and request a permit. His visit to Padre Pios monastery had to be a short one because his family was waiting for him to return home that very day. He decided to take a chance and try to enter the monastery without a permit.

Nicola noticed that a guard was standing watch in front of Our Lady of Grace monastery, monitoring all of the visitors who approached. When the guard saw that Nicola did not have a permit or a letter, he told him that he would not be able to see Padre Pio. Nicola was very disappointed. He had been looking forward with great anticipation to meeting him. As Nicola was speaking to the guard, one of the Capuchins came out of the church and motioned to Nicola. Padre Pio would like to see you, the Capuchin said to Nicola. Nicola was truly surprised. How could Padre Pio have possibly known that Nicola was standing outside, hoping to enter the monastery? They had never even met.

Nicola followed the Capuchin into the monastery and was soon standing in front of Padre Pio. Oh, I see that you have arrived, Padre Pio said. Who did you come with and how long did it take you to get here? Padre Pio asked. Once again, Nicola was caught by surprise. It certainly seemed as though Padre Pio had been expecting him. It took me three hours to get here on my mule, Nicola replied. I came by myself. You got here in half the time it would take an ordinary person to make the trip, Padre Pio said. The reason why you made such good time is because you were accompanied by Jesus and Mary. Nicola was becoming more astonished by the minute. Finally, he asked Padre Pio if he would give him a blessing and he was happy to do so. Nicola then kissed Padre Pios hand.

When Nicola returned to his home in the countryside, he told his wife Theresa all that had transpired. She was so amazed by her husbands words that she began to cry. For Nicola, the graces from the short visit to Padre Pio would long endure.

As time went by, Nicola became concerned about the attitude of several of his neighbors. For a reason that Nicola did not know, they seemed to harbor feelings of jealousy and resentment toward him and his family. One day, when Brother Bernardino, a Capuchin lay brother from Our Lady of Grace, visited his home, Nicola told him about his concerns. He asked Brother Bernardino to take a message to Padre Pio for him. Please tell Padre Pio that I am very worried because of the hostility of some of my neighbors. I am afraid that they might try to harm my family. Brother Bernardino agreed to relay the message to Padre Pio.

The next time Brother Bernardino visited Nicola, he told him that he had spoken to Padre Pio about the situation. After he explained Nicolas problem to Padre Pio, Padre Pio replied, Tell Nicola to carry on just as he always has and not to worry. The neighbors will do him no harm because the Virgin Mary and the Guardian Angel are always with him.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. – Psalm 34:7

, Hope, and Dont Worry Issue 56 July Sept 2013

Dreams of Padre Pio – Part III

 

There was once a Capuchin Brother at Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo who was assigned to help Padre Pio with many of his daily tasks. The Brother had a great devotion to Padre Pio and performed his work in an exemplary way. Every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. he would go to Padre Pios cell to assist him. The routine was always the same. Padre Pio would be sitting in his chair either reading his breviary or praying the Rosary. The Brother would then kiss his hand and proceed to straighten the covers on his bed and do other simple tasks in his cell.

One night, the Brother had a terrible dream. In truth, it was a nightmare. In his dream, Padre Pio was elderly and very ill. He was withdrawn and hardly able to move or speak, and it seemed as though he was about to die. In the dream, there was also another Padre Pio. He was floating in the air high above and was smiling, suffused with a beautiful light. But the Padre Pio that was predominant was the suffering one. When the Brother woke up, he was so upset that he burst into tears. He thought that the dream might have been a premonition of the future. Perhaps as Padre Pio grew older, his sufferings would increase more and more.

The Brothers dream occurred in 1957. Padre Pios hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering had just recently opened. Padre Pio was busy, not only with the many concerns of the hospital but also with the expansion of the Prayer Groups that he had founded. In addition, there was a steady flow of pilgrims who constantly poured into San Giovanni Rotondo in order to attend Padre Pios Mass and make their confession to him. While his heath was not the best, he was still able to accomplish a great deal of work each day. He seemed to have the necessary energy to do so.

The Brother could not get the disturbing dream out of his mind. He went to the little monastery chapel of Our Lady of Grace and with tears in his eyes, he prayed before the tabernacle. Jesus, I beg you, the Brother prayed. Please do not let anything bad happen to our Padre Pio. He has already suffered so much. I know that he belongs to you but he belongs to us too and we love him. Do not let his sufferings increase. Give them to me instead. I dont want Padre Pio to have to endure any more suffering. After praying at length in the chapel, the Brother made a great effort to put the dream out of his mind. He decided not to tell anyone about it.

The next morning, the Brother was at Padre Pios door at the usual time of 4:30 a.m. Like always, he found Padre Pio sitting in his chair, reading his breviary and preparing for the early morning Mass. The brother greeted him and kissed his hand. Much to his great surprise, Padre Pio slowly rose for his chair to a standing position. Padre Pio then embraced him and said, I want to thank you my son, for what you did for me last night! Padre Pio had felt the prayers that the good Brother had offered up for him and he was very grateful.

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When Susanna Berghis son slipped into a coma, the doctor could not offer her any hope of his recovery. One day while at his bedside, Susanna fell asleep and dreamed of Padre Pio. The dream was very beautiful. There was one detail which particularly struck Susanna. Padre Pio blessed her son three times and said, Bring him to me. She awoke and saw that her son was conscious and that he no longer had a fever. He made a complete recovery.

 

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Tony Cavaliere was searching for truth and enlightenment through the comparative study of world religions. At the same time, he decided to add a number of spiritual disciplines to his daily routine. Instead of finding inner peace and fulfillment through such practices, he began to experience a growing sense of anxiety. Fear and apprehension became his constant companions. He went to various doctors, trying to find help but to no avail.

Tony experienced frequent anxiety attacks as well as dizzy spells. As time passed, his symptoms grew worse and finally became debilitating. He was no longer able to work and he wondered if he would ever be able to live a normal life again. When he learned about Padre Pio, his interest was sparked. He told his wife that he would like to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo so that he could pray at Padre Pios tomb. Although he was a fallen away Catholic, he was familiar with the Churchs teaching regarding the intercessory power of the saints.

Tony and his wife were finally able to make the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. They visited the monastic cell where Padre Pio had lived for many years. They were able to see the church where he had celebrated Mass and to pray at his tomb. Everywhere Tony looked, he saw familiar signs of faith and the tranquil surroundings gave him a feeling of great peace.

After Tony and his wife returned home, his sister-in-law told him that she had an unusual dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was hearing her confession. She spoke to him and said, “Why don’t you give Tony back his health?” Padre Pio smiled at her and said, “Tell Tony that he will be fine.” In the dream, Padre Pio was holding a blue pillow with a Rosary on it. Give this Rosary to Tony, Padre Pio said.

The dream gave Tony the assurance that he would recover from his debilitating illness. One year later, he was in good health and good spirits, free from all of the symptoms that had previously made him ill. He returned to the practice of his Catholic faith and also became very devoted to the Rosary. I am dedicated to spreading the message of Padre Pio, the Rosary and the Catholic Church that brought me the peace of Christ, Tony said.

 

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Settimo Manelli once had a dream in which she saw Padre Pio in the glory of heaven. His face was transfigured with a great beauty. Everything around Padre Pio shone with a marvelous light. Especially beautiful was the intense and vivid color of the blue sky.

The next morning Settimo went to Padre Pios Mass and afterward she told him about the dream. Your face had such splendor in my dream, Settimo said. I dont want to hurt your feelings, but as I look at you now, you do not look attractive. Your face has no signs of that glory which I saw in my dream. Padre Pio smiled and said to her, I do not look attractive? About a year later, Settimo saw Padre Pio again. She was standing in the corridor of the monastery when he greeted her. He looked at her and said, It certainly was beautiful, wasnt it!

 

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In order to provide a better life for his family, Andre Mandato decided to move with his wife and children from Bologna, Italy to the United States. He sent in his application and all of the necessary paperwork, requesting a permanent visa to the United States. One night, Andre dreamed that Padre Pio spoke to him and said that his application had been rejected. Andre, if you turn in another application and choose a new sponsor, you will be accepted, Padre Pio said in the dream. When Andre woke up, he could not stop thinking about Padre Pios words. Could it be true? That very afternoon, he learned that his application had been rejected. He followed Padre Pios advice by selecting a new sponsor. He also submitted another application and soon received a permanent visa for the entire family.

 

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One of Padre Pios spiritual daughters was hired to work in the sewing room at Padre Pios hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Among many other projects that she worked on, she made the very first curtains for the hospital. She was able to have the curtains ready well before the hospitals inauguration day on May 6, 1956. She also made the nurses uniforms as well as the operating room gowns for the doctors.

The woman had a great devotion to Padre Pio. She made several of his brown habits and whenever any of his habits needed alteration, she was called upon to do the work. She always counted it a great privilege. She also used to make the small cushions that Padre Pio rested his wounded hands on when he prayed for extended periods of time in the choir loft of the church. She chose green velvet for the material because it was a color that was restful to the eyes.

Once, when she was making her confession to Padre Pio, she told him about a dream she had. In her dream, Padre Pio was a newborn baby. He was a beautiful baby but already the marks of the stigmata were on his body. Especially vivid in the dream were the wounds on his hands. The woman asked Padre Pio what the dream might mean. Padre Pios face became sad and he said to her, It means that Our Lord, Christ Crucified, has allowed you to see his wounds.

 

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Little Raffaele Mazzone receives a blessing from Padre Pio while his father Vincenzo looks on.

Vincenzo Mazzones six-month-old son, Raffaele, became seriously ill in 1967. He suffered from a continuous high fever. He was seen by a number of doctors but they were not able to come to an agreement regarding a diagnosis. He was given varying treatments and medicines but his health did not improve. On the contrary, he was becoming weaker with each passing day.

During this time of uncertainty and anxiety regarding little Raffaele, Vincenzos wife had a dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at a window, opening the curtains. He told her that little Raffaele should be in a place where the air was fresh. Then the dream was over. After she told her husband about the dream, they decided to make a trip from their home in Cerignola to San Giovanni Rotondo. Although it was difficult, they managed to get an immediate appointment with the pediatrician at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

When the pediatrician examined Raffaele, he could find nothing wrong with him. His temperature was normal and he appeared to be in perfect health. Vincenzo and his wife were elated. The next evening, Vincenzo went to the sacristy of the church in order to thank Padre Pio for his intercession. As Padre Pio passed by, Vincenzo knelt down. He had little Raffaele in his arms and he held him up to Padre Pio. With a slight smile, Padre Pio stopped and gave little Raffaele a blessing.

 

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Some time ago, I had a very vivid dream whereby I saw a man with a dark robe on and a beard. In my dream, the man said to me, I was wondering if you would like to become a nun, after your children are raised. I told him that I did not think so. But I said that I did have some things that I wanted to do for God once my children were raised. He said to me, But what are you planning to do for God right now? Shortly after that dream, I went to confession to Father Solcia at Our Lady of the Rosary. At the end of the confession, Father Solcia handed me a prayer card and said, Padre Pio is praying for you. On the prayer card was a picture of the same man I had seen in my dream. Below the picture were the words, Padre Pio.

– Name Withheld

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My thirteen year old sister Bernadette was paralyzed from birth. She was very bright and very pretty. In the last year of her life she suffered great sickness and severe pain with very little sleep or rest. She always wore a relic of Padre Pio pinned to her vest. One morning, Bernadette told us that she had slept all night and that a lovely man appeared at her bedside during the night. She said he wore a long dress with a rope tied around the waist and he had a beard. He told her he was taking her away to a land where she would have no pain or sickness ever again. Upon hearing this, my mother became very upset. The man held her hand and she said she was not afraid because he was a holy man. Bernadette asked him to leave her here a little bit longer. She talked about the holy man all the time. As the days went by we all knew she had seen somebody because she seemed so peaceful. Six weeks later, on June 1, 1978 Bernadette died with no pain. Padre Pio appeared to my little sister and took away her fear of death and guided her gently from this world to the next.

– Elizabeth Reid

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After suffering for ten years, in December, 1983, I started the novena to Padre Pio. In February, my condition grew worse. My ankles became swollen and the pain was unbearable. On February 10th, I was healed in a dream. I was in a beautiful chapel and Padre Pio came to me. He told me to sit and then he touched my swollen ankles. He touched my back and then he said, Get up and walk. You are healed. I awoke immediately from my bed and I walked without a single pain in my body. That morning I attended Mass to thank our Lord. The pain came back, but only for a moment because soon what felt like a warm hand touched my back and took my pain away. I have never known that pain again.

– G. W. Collins

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Not long ago I had a dream in which I was driving in a car with my father. As we were driving, I told my father to stop in front of Our Lady of Sorrows parish because I wanted to go inside. Our Lady of Sorrows is a parish in my hometown of Kansas City but it is not the parish I attend. In my dream, as I entered the church, I saw a statue of a man with a brown robe and a beard. At the base of the statue were dozens of beautiful red roses. There was a kneeler in front of the statue and so I knelt down. The statue then spoke to me, teaching me how to pray. It was the most beautiful dream I have ever had in my life. I often though about the statue and wondered who it was. At Christmas, I received a book about Padre Pio and when I saw a picture of a statue of Padre Pio it was exactly like the one in my dream. Knowing that Padre Pio is helping me in my journey through life is a great consolation

– Michael Feierabend

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Once, while on a job-hunting trip, I checked into a motel for the night. Several people who were at the motel made me feel uneasy. I began to feel a concern for the safety of my car and I hoped that it would not be vandalized in the night. Before I went to bed, I prayed and asked Padre Pio to watch over me and protect me and also my car. That night, I had a dream. In the dream, I was laying on my right side, and Padre Pio came and shook me awake saying, Brenda, I think youd better get up now. When I woke up, I was laying on my right side, just like in my dream. I looked at the clock and saw that it was 3:00 a.m. I was so groggy, that I fell asleep again. I then had a second dream in which Padre Pio shook me once again, saying with greater emphasis, Brenda! You had better get up now! At that, I got up and looked out the window. Sure enough, the two fellows who had concerned me after I checked in to the motel were at my car. One of them was under it! They left hastily when that saw me at the window. I am convinced that Padre Pio heard my prayer that night and came to my rescue.

-Brenda Zizzo

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My son Frankie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in July of 2005. He fought a long and hard battle against this illness for twenty seven months. He had four lung surgeries, amputation of his leg, radiation, and countless rounds of chemotherapy. He also developed a secondary cancer, leukemia. During his ordeal, Frankie kept hopeful and prayerful. He kept Jesus as the center of his life, and prayed to his patron saint, Padre Pio, whose picture he always kept with him. Frankie died on Sept. 14, 2007. He was 17 years old.

The morning of Frankies Mass of Christian Burial, my family and I were at the funeral home where there had been a public viewing of Frankie for two days. When it was almost time to say goodbye to my son and go to St. Ephrems in Brooklyn for the funeral Mass, I felt my strength failing me. I dreaded this final time, knowing I would never see my son again. At that moment I prayed to Padre Pio, begging him to help me.

The moment I finished my prayer, into the funeral home walked Ray Ewen. Ray had met Padre Pio in 1945 when he served in the U.S. military and was sent overseas to Italy. Ray has been a great promoter of Padre Pio ever since. Ray prayed for my son and he prayed for me. As he prayed, I felt a great sense of peace come over me and I received the strength I needed so badly. I know that Rays presence was an answer to my prayer. Ray does not live close by but he told me that when he woke up that morning he felt a very strong urge to get to the funeral home and see Frankie. It was not easy for him but he managed to find a ride with a close friend who was also very devoted to Padre Pio.

The celebrant of Frankies funeral Mass was Father Gerard Sauer. He was joined by four others priests and over 1000 people attended. Two beautiful eulogies were said, one by Frankies best friend, Gennaro Anzalone and the other by Dr. Joseph Marino, the Principal of Frankies school, Xaverian High School in Brooklyn. Dr. Marino told all present about Frankies faith in God and his devotion to Padre Pio.

It wasnt long afterward that I had a vivid dream about my son. In my dream, Frankie looked well and he was breathing easily. I thought that he was alive again. He let me know that he was in Heaven and only back to speak to me for a moment. He told me that he was in a place that was so beautiful that it was impossible to describe. He also told me he was with other children. I asked him if Padre Pio was there. Frankie looked at me and said, Padre Pio was there to meet me when I arrived.

– Camille Loccisano

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In July of 1992, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. I went through 6 months of chemotherapy. One night my son asked me if I had ever heard of Padre Pio and he told me a little bit about him from a program he had seen on television. My son is not very religious but was quite taken with this man at the time. Sometime shortly after this I had a dream. In my dream I was out walking alone and saw a group of people. I made my way toward them. As I approached, the others seemed to vanish and the back of this man, whom I thought was Jesus, drew me closer. As I went to speak, the man turned around. At first I saw his gentle face and then his eyes. Rays shot from his eyes and went through me. I woke up. My friend gave me a prayer card of Padre Pio. Imagine my surprise when I looked and saw that it was the man in my dream. I told my friend of my dream and she saw it as a sign of healing from my cancer. Ive thought of that ever since. I just finished my first year of tests and the cancer shows no signs of recurrence.

– Pat Yanics

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I recently had a very vivid dream in which I was walking with a man who was carrying a lantern. He was limping slightly as he walked and his posture was somewhat bent. He had a serious demeanor and I noticed that he seemed to be in a hurry. He spoke to me in Italian and said that a very important day was coming soon. I understood the Italian words in my dream even though I do not speak the language. Then the dream ended.

I told my good friend Tony Fajardo about the dream and he then showed me a picture of Padre Pio. There was no doubt about it. He was the man I had seen in my dream. I knew practically nothing about Padre Pio. Tony had told me on a previous occasion that he had the stigmata. That was the extent of my knowledge. I had never seen a photo of Padre Pio before. I did not even know that he was from Italy.

In my dream, I felt that Padre Pio was proud of me for finally realizing that the Catholic faith was destined to be a part of my life. This month I am going to begin to take classes so that I can be confirmed. In the dream, when Padre Pio said that an important date was coming up, I thought that he might be talking about his birthday. But since then, I have learned that he received the Stigmata on Sept 20 and that his feast day is September 23. I had the dream on September 6.

– Nicholas Beattie

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I lost my only son very tragically last year. I was very troubled as to whether my son was happy in his new dwelling. I prayed faithfully and daily to Padre Pio for some sign from my son. One night my son came to me in a dream and told me that God was very just and that he, my son, was happier than he had ever been on earth. I feel that this was more than a dream.

– Mrs. Feeney

 

Your sole concern should be the establishment of Gods reign in your heart, in this life and in the next. In this life, your study should be to bring about this reign of God, in your heart by his grace and through the plentitude of his love. You should live for God alone, and the life of your soul should be the life of God himself. You ought likewise to nourish yourself with God by thinking of his holy presence as often as you possibly can. That which constitutes the life of the saints is precisely their continual attention to God and this also should form the life of those who . . . seek only to accomplish his holy will, to love him and so make others love him.

– St. John Baptiste de la Salle

 

 

Books from Padre Pio Devotions
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry:True Stories of Padre Pio Book I  – written by Diane Allen, published by Padre Pio Press, and available at

 

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
 

Pray, Hope and Dont Worry Issue 55 April-June 2013

Dreams of Padre Pio – Part II

 

Lina Fiorellini receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio

Lina Fiorellini met Padre Pio in 1919. At that time, Lina was employed by the Pontremoli family. Lina thought very highly of the family and felt blessed that she could work for them. She spoke to Padre Pio and asked him to always keep the Pontremoli family in his prayers. They are good people, Padre Pio replied. I will remember them before the Lord and pray to Jesus for their salvation. Lina often shared her Catholic faith with Lucia Pontremoli and her son, Aldo. Although they were not Christians, they listened to Lina with great interest and respect. Lina also told them many stories about Padre Pio.

Aldo, who was a professor at the University of Milan, was preparing to go on an expedition to the North Pole. The whole world was following the upcoming expedition with great anticipation. It was scheduled for the spring of 1928. Shortly before Aldo and the crew left for the North Pole, they were granted an audience with Pope Pius XI. Aldo was so inspired by meeting the Pope that he sought out a Catholic priest and asked for baptism. Several days later, he left on the expedition. Tragically, Aldo lost his life, as did the other crew members, when the airship they were traveling in collided into ice.

A few months after Aldos death, Lina had a vivid dream. In her dream, Aldo spoke to her and said, I owe my salvation to you and to Padre Pio. He then kissed her on the forehead. The next time Lina went to San Giovanni Rotondo, she told Padre Pio about the dream. Was Aldo speaking the truth to me in my dream? Lina asked. Yes, your dream was true, Padre Pio replied. Aldo went from the North Pole to Paradise!

Lina continued to pray for Aldos mother, Lucia Pontremoli. Padre Pio encouraged Lina to offer up all of her sufferings for the conversion of souls, including Lucias. On Holy Thursday 1946, Lucia asked for baptism. Padre Pio was filled with joy when Lina told him the good news. Lina and Padre Pio had both been praying for Lucia for more than twenty-five years.

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There was a woman (name withheld) who was married to a very successful businessman. Soon after their marriage, her husband became cold and indifferent. When he got home from work in the evenings, he hardly spoke to her. Whenever he could find the chance to get away, he would leave the house and not return until very late in the evening. Feeling neglected and alone, the woman became very depressed. She prayed for a solution to the problem.

The woman possessed a holy card of Padre Pio. On one particular day, feeling the painful reality of her situation, she took the holy card in her hand and prayed, Padre Pio, I am very sad about the state of my marriage. Please wake my husband up and help him to change. Come to him in a dream or do whatever is necessary, in order to shake him out of his indifference toward me. Show him the error of his ways. Please save our marriage! Even though the woman knew practically nothing about Padre Pio, she was glad that she had prayed to him and asked for his help.

That evening her husband returned home very late as usual and during the night he had a strange dream. In his dream, he was in a beautiful building. It looked like a brand-new hospital and it had a lovely marble staircase. As he walked down the staircase, he saw five monks who were coming up the staircase toward him. Each one was wearing a brown habit. Following behind them was a sixth monk. The five monks walked past him but the sixth one stopped in front of him. The monk looked at him sternly and then raised his hand in a warning gesture. At once, the man thought of his wife and how badly he had been treating her. He recognized the monk who had looked at him in such a severe manner. It was Padre Pio.

The man felt shaken by the dream. He suddenly felt remorseful for his conduct toward his wife. The dream had seemed so real that it woke him up out of a sound sleep. He could hardly wait to tell his wife about it.

The next morning, the man knelt down at his wifes bedside. He gently touched her hair in a caress in order to waken her. He spoke to her with great tenderness and asked for forgiveness for his coldness and for his neglect. She could hardly believe it. He had not spoken to her with such affection since they were first married. Moreover, she had never known her husband to apologize for anything. To see him kneeling at her bedside was perhaps the greatest surprise of all. Because of his pride, he was definitely not the kind of man to get down on his knees for any reason whatsoever.

Later, the woman made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo and was able to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering. The hospital was beautiful in every way. She noticed the wide and attractive marble staircase near the entrance. She remembered her husband had told her that in his dream, he had been in a beautiful hospital that had a marble staircase. Because of the dream of Padre Pio, her husband made a great effort to change. Their marriage was blessed with happiness from that time forward.

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Antonio Ciannamea traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio on many occasions. He always felt it a privilege when he could visit Padre Pio in his cell. On one occasion, Antonio had an unusual dream. In his dream, Padre Pio was sitting in his customary chair in his cell and Antonio was kneeing beside him. Through Antonios parted lips, Padre Pio placed a tube and breathed into it three times. Padre Pios cheeks swelled as he blew the air into the tube. When Antonio felt Padre Pios breath, he experienced a great sense of well-being. Padre Pio then said to him, Go with Gods grace. With that, Antonio woke up.

For the most part, Antonio did not believe in the symbolism of dreams. But because the dream of Padre Pio had seemed so real, Antonio felt that it held a message. Exactly what that message was, he did not know. When he told his wife about the dream, she became worried. She told him to be careful when he was at work because to her, the dream seemed to be a kind of warning.

That day, Antonio visited a number of the different departments in the factory where he worked. About six tons of molten lead were about to be turned into the framework for the batteries of electricity accumulators. Some of the employees were busy cleaning extra filaments from the frameworks. At the same time, the conveyer belt was bringing lead bars forward for collection and loading.

The head factory technician had a piece of tube that he was placing into the lead. Suddenly, a shower of boiling lead flashed through the air. It reminded Antonio of a burst of violent machine gun fire. The solidified lead landed on Antonios hair, clothing and shoes. Antonio was filled with terror, but to his great relief not a drop had touched his skin. He was unhurt. The employees who were nearby and had witnessed the near fatal accident, told Antonio how lucky he was to have escaped injury.

That night, Antonio had another dream about Padre Pio. In his dream, Padre Pio was standing at the altar in his priestly vestments as Antonio knelt before him. Padre Pio turned to Antonio, blessed him and said, Let us give thanks to God!

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There was a man from Italy (name withheld) who was brought up in a good Catholic family, but when he grew older he left his faith far behind him. When asked what he believed in, he said simply, nothing. He became a self-declared atheist. The man married and had a family but secretly he was living a double life. He was unfaithful to his wife and had no desire to change.

One night, when the man was at a hotel with his girlfriend, he surprised himself and those around him by suddenly stating that he was leaving. He told his friends that he was going to drive to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio. All of the people who were with him thought that he was joking. Everyone knew that he was not the kind of person who would be interested in visiting a priest. The odd thing was, the man knew almost nothing about Padre Pio. Perhaps he had heard a few facts about Padre Pios life somewhere along the way, but there was nothing concrete that he could remember. Why he would suddenly have the overpowering urge to visit Padre Pio was a complete mystery.

It was about 2:30 a.m. when the man left the hotel. As he walked through the lobby toward the exit door, the hotel doorman asked him where he was going at such an hour. I am driving to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, the man exclaimed.  The doorman was well aware of the worldly life that the man led. But why would you want to go to a monastery in the middle of the night? What is the attraction? the doorman asked. The man could offer no explanation. He did not understand it himself.

The man arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace before sunrise and waited patiently in the darkness for the church to open. When Padre Pio began his Mass, the man became completely absorbed in it. All through the Mass, he experienced a wonderful feeling, something that he could not explain because he had never experienced it before. After the Mass, one of the Capuchins came up to him and asked him if he wanted to go to confession to Padre Pio. The thought had not even entered his mind, but since the Capuchin had suggested it to him, he decided that it was a good idea.

In the confessional, Padre Pio said to him, It has been a long time since your last confession, hasnt it. How long has it been? It has been fourteen or fifteen years, the man replied. Oh no, it has been a lot longer than that! Padre Pio said. What you want from me, I cannot give you. You must go to another who will give it to you. The man had no idea what Padre Pio was talking about.

The man left without making his confession. He had not even received a blessing from Padre Pio and yet, he felt very happy and very satisfied. He was grateful that he had been able to speak to Padre Pio for those few moments in the confessional and attending the Mass had been a beautiful experience, more than he ever imagined. He left San Giovanni Rotondo greatly uplifted and knew that he wanted to return again.

Shortly after that, the man had a dream. In his dream, he saw Padre Pio walking down a staircase toward him. He was accompanied by another person who was dressed in white. Padre Pio took a folded paper from the pocket of his habit and handed it to the man. The words, St. Alphonsus Liguori were written on the paper. Then the man woke up. The man frequently thought about the dream and wondered about its meaning.

A short time later, a nun who lived in the same town as the man, asked him for a favor. She needed a ride to Foggia and wondered if he might be able to take her there. He was happy to assist her. On the way to Foggia, he told her about his dream and asked her what she thought it meant. Perhaps it means that Padre Pio would like you to carry a picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori with you, the nun said.  Not long after, the nun brought him a picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori. The man was astonished to find that the picture was inside of a folded paper that was identical to the size and shape of the paper that Padre Pio had given to him in his dream. He carried the little picture with him at all times.

The nun told the man that St. Alphonsus had lived in the town of Pagani at the Redemptorist House. Many of his relics were still preserved and venerated there. She thought it would be meaningful for the man to visit the Redemptorist House and encouraged him to do so. He decided to follow the nuns advice and shortly after that he made a trip to Pagani.

At the Redemptorist House, the man asked to see a priest. Soon the resident priest came out and greeted him kindly. He showed him the chapel and the various relics of St. Alphonsus. He also showed him the room that St. Alphonsus had lived in. As the man stood in St. Alphonsus room, he suddenly felt a strong desire to go to confession. Almost as if reading the mans mind, the priest said to him, Would you like to go to confession? I would like very much to do so, the man replied. At that moment, he remembered the words that Padre Pio had spoken to him, What you want from me, I cant give you. You must go to another who will give it to you. The man was convinced that the priest who was standing before him was the one whom Padre Pio was referring to when he said, You must go to another.

The man knelt down and made a sincere confession. Unashamedly, he cried throughout the lengthy confession. The priest was so moved by the mans confession that he cried along with him. After the confession, the priest took him to the chapel where he gave him Holy Communion.

The man realized that Padre Pio had been leading him back to God, one step at a time. On his first visit to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he had been totally unprepared to approach the sacraments. But now, he was a completely changed person. He had a great desire to see Padre Pio again. When the man returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him with love and called him his son. They were words to treasure. He made his confession to Padre Pio and received absolution. He returned on many more occasions to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace.

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Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis

Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis and Padre Pio were fellow students and close companions in the Capuchin novitiate and their friendship became even deeper with the passage of time. Padre Pio was like a brother to Father Placido. After Padre Pios death on September 23, 1968, Father Placido wondered if perhaps his own time on earth might be drawing to a close. He spoke about it to Father Alberto DApolito. Father Alberto assured Father Placido that he was indeed healthy and would surely live for many more years. But Father Placido could not be convinced.

Not long after that, Father Placido told Father Alberto that he had a dream of Padre Pio. In the dream,Padre Pio said, Father Placido, you must prepare yourself. You will be joining me very soon. Will I be joining you in a few more years? Father Placido asked. No, Padre Pio replied. You will be joining me in just a little while. You will not see the end of this year. Father Placido died on December 25, 1968. He did not see the end of the year.

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There was once a woman (name withheld) who, due to deeply-rooted psychological problems, had not been out of her house for twenty-five years. In all of those years, she had not seen her brother. Finally, her brother contacted one of the relatives and found his sisters address. It was then that he learned the particulars of her problems. One night the woman had a dream about a saintly looking priest who smiled at her. Also, one afternoon she noticed the fragrance of roses in her home. One day, the homebound woman summoned up the necessary courage and was able to leave the house and go to Mass. Afterward, she found a magazine about Padre Pio and purchased it. She recognized him as the priest she had seen in her dream. Finally, her dear brother visited her. He told her that he had been praying to Padre Pio so that she would regain her confidence.

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Tom Dunne had a motorcycle accident and his left hand was damaged as a result. From that time forward, he always had pain in his hand. Tom began to pray the novena to Padre Pio every day. One night before Tom went to bed, he was reading a book on Padre Pio. The book told a story of a woman who asked Padre Pio if she could suffer some of the pain that he was suffering. Padre Pio said to her, If you had even a part of the pain that I have, you would die. Tom then said a prayer to Padre Pio with all the sincerity of his heart. Padre Pio, Tom prayed, I have chronic pain in my hand. My hands are important to me, but nevertheless, I would never ask you to suffer my pain. At that time, Tom had been enduring the pain in his hand for ten years. Not long after, Tom had a dream in which he saw Jesus and Padre Pio smiling at him. When he woke up, the pain in his left hand was gone, never to return.

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There was a woman (name withheld) whose financial problems became so serious that bankruptcy seemed inevitable. She had worked diligently to make a success of the family business but no matter what she did, it failed to turn a profit. Her brother Louis ran the ice cream manufacturing side of the business. He put in very long hours and was accustomed to working seven days a week. When Louis passed away, some of the other family members took over his part of the work. Unfortunately, the business went from bad to worse. Finally, the woman decided to sell it and pay off the bank loan and the debts that had accumulated. It was the only way she could avoid bankruptcy. About that time, the woman had a beautiful dream. In her dream, she saw Padre Pio who looked very happy. Padre Pio and her brother Louis were together. Everything is all right now, Padre Pio said to her in the dream.

From that day forward, the business prospered. There was a steady increase in customers to the extent that the woman had to buy more equipment and additional refrigerators. More employees had to be hired as well. Truly, Padre Pio had been watching over his spiritual children.

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Lilia Glorioso was the leader of a prayer group in Castelbuono, Italy. In 1972, she and her husband were preparing to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They were happy that all five of their children could be present for the joyful occasion. The anniversary celebration turned out to be a wonderful success. One of their daughters, Marianna, was returning to her home in Palermo right after the celebration. Mariannas fiancé and two other friends were traveling with her. On the trip home, Mariannas fiancé fell asleep at the wheel and their car crashed into a wall. Tragically, Marianna died in the accident. The other three passengers were not hurt.

Concetta De Garbo was a friend and a neighbor of Lilia Glorioso. On the very night that Marianna died, Concetta had a dream. She dreamed that she was walking on the main street of Castelbuono when a car stopped in front of her. The driver spoke to Concetta and told her that Padre Pio was inside the car. Padre Pio then spoke to Concetta and asked her where she was going. She told him that she was going to visit her sister who was very ill. I will go with you, Padre Pio said to Concetta and he invited her to get in the car.

In Concettas dream, she and Padre Pio soon arrived at her sisters house. Padre Pio prayed for Concettas sister and blessed her by placing his wounded hand on her. He then went over to the window which looked out onto the house of the Glorioso family. Be sure to tell her to hurry because I will not be able to wait for her! Padre Pio said to Concetta. She did not understand what he was talking about.

In her dream, Concetta then went over to the window and stood next to Padre Pio. As she looked out the window, she saw a woman across the street who seemed to be in great distress. She was dressed in black and her eyes were red from crying. Oh, it is Lilia, the mother, Padre Pio said. I feel so sorry for her. She is suffering so much! With that, Concetta woke up. Upon waking, Concetta heard loud voices as well as crying that seemed to be coming from the street. She went to the window and discovered that the noise was coming from the home of the Glorioso family. She got dressed and hurried over to their house. She then learned that Marianna had passed away.

That same day, Concetta visited her sister who had been gravely ill. She was surprised to see that her sister looked well. Her sister told her that all of her pain was gone and that she had never slept so well or so peacefully as she had on the previous night. Concetta remembered that in her dream, Padre Pio had prayed for her sister and had blessed her. Her sister made steady progress and was soon able to go back to work. When Concetta took her for a medical examination, the doctor gave her a clean bill of health.

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A Testimonial

My mother Angela had always been very devoted to Padre Pio and also to the Madonna Paradiso (the Madonna of Paradise) the patroness of the town where she grew up in Sicily.

When my brother Joseph was diagnosed with cancer, my mother prayed constantly to Padre Pio and to the Madonna, asking for a miracle. But a cure was not to be. My brother died in 2009 after suffering for one and a half years. My mother became so distraught and so heartbroken at my brothers death that she told the family she no longer believed in God or in the power of the saints. She said that she was going to take all the statues, sacred paintings, and religious articles out of her house and that she would never pray again. She was finished with religion forever.

Several weeks later, my mother told me that something amazing had happened. In the middle of the night she saw Padre Pio who said to her, I prayed as hard as I could for your son, but it was not meant to be. As he raised his hand and pointed upward he said, Everything depends on God.

The experience was so vivid that it woke my mother up from a sound sleep. She began to wonder, Was it a dream or did Padre Pio actually pay me a visit? She finally got back to sleep only to have the very same dream, exact in all the details. She again awakened and this time she stayed up for the rest of the night. The dream brought closure and peace to my mother. She never again spoke against the Church. She took up her practice of prayer and her devotions, just as she had in the past and remained faithful until her death.

– Margaret Gigante

 

St. Paul teaches that this life of ours is like traveling abroad from our home country. He says, As long as we are in the body, we are traveling away from the Lord (Corinthians 2: 5-6). Since we are still traveling in a foreign land, we ought to keep in mind what our home country is that country to which we must hasten by turning our backs on the attractions and delights of this life. This homeland toward which we travel is the only place where we can find true rest because God does not wish us to find rest anywhere else. The reason is simple: if God gave us perfect rest while we were still abroad, we would find no pleasure in returning home. 

– St. Augustine

 

Books by Padre Pio Devotions

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press. Available at

 

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 11 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press. Click on the “Books”

Pray, Hope and Dont Worry – Issue 54 – January-March 2013

Never let us put aside the thought of our ultimate aim. And what is this ultimate aim? To know God, principally, is why he conceived our days, our years. Therefore, let us try never to forget this ultimate aim, for everything depends on it. And for what reason? To serve him with faith, with love, and with constancy. Let us try to excel in all of this, then. Since God created us for love, he takes care of us for love, and for love he has promised us the prize.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina 

 

Dreams of Padre Pio

 

Giuseppe Di Sessas dear wife, Anna Maria, died in October1940. Giuseppe knew that he never wanted to remarry. Two months later, Giuseppe went to see Padre Pio. Giuseppe told him about his wifes death. He explained to Padre Pio that he prayed for his wife every day and offered many sacrifices on behalf of her soul. Padre Pio told Giuseppe that for the sake of his family, he should consider remarrying. Giuseppe explained to Padre Pio that he had decided not to marry again. For a second time, Padre Pio made the suggestion to him that he should remarry. As Giuseppe was leaving, Padre Pio said to him, I hope that you come back to San Giovanni Rotondo again. As far as the question of a remarriage is concerned, you will see that I am right.

Six years later, Giuseppe met a woman named Maria Grazia. Maria told Giuseppe about a dream she once had about Padre Pio. In her dream, Padre Pio told her that she should marry. She explained to Padre Pio that she had decided not to marry and told him that she felt called to another mission. Marriage too is a mission, Padre Pio said to her. If marriage is a mission, then make it work out for me, Maria replied. Then she woke up.

Giuseppe and Maria fell in love and when Giuseppe proposed marriage to her, Maria happily accepted. After the wedding, Giuseppe and his new bride made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio and to tell him the good news.

 

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 Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, the three shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal. When Eugenio was elected pope in 1939, and took the name Pope Pius XII, he placed his pontificate under the special protection of the Virgin Mary.

Pope Pius XII has often been spoken of as the most Marian pope in all of Church history. He consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942. In 1954, he introduced a new Marian feast to the Church, the Queenship of Mary. He was the first pope to call for a Marian year, a practice which was continued by Pope John Paul II in 1998. Many of the saints canonized by Pius XII had great devotion to the Virgin Mary such as Louis de Montfort, Pope Pius X, Catherine Labouré, Anthony Mary Claret, and Gemma Galgani.

Maria Guerriero of Rome, among others, was involved in a very extensive writing and research project which, when finished, would be given over to Pope Pius XII. The information that was being compiled was in reference to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In August 1940, Marias two sisters, Laura and Antonietta, were preparing to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Maria asked her sisters to tell Padre Pio about the material on the Assumption which she was preparing for Pope Pius XII. When Marias sisters relayed the message to Padre Pio, he was very pleased. He told Laura and Antoinetta that if the Blessed Virgin had chosen Maria for such an important task, she must persevere in it, even if it was tedious at times and even if the results were not immediate. He assured them that he would keep Maria in his prayers.

Maria devoted herself to the project in all of her free time. She often worked late into the night, after her daily duties were done. She had never been strong physically and after a time she began to suffer from exhaustion. Finally, her health broke. She was tormented by severe and prolonged headaches. The headaches were so painful that they proved to be debilitating. Eventually, she had to spend her days in a darkened room with her eyes closed. Marias family was very worried about her health. They wrote to Padre Pio and asked him for his continued prayers.

One night, during the time of her illness, Maria had a dream. She dreamed that she was knocking at the door of the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. In her dream, Brother Gerardo, who, in reality, was the doorkeeper of the monastery, answered the door. She told Brother Gerardo that she was in great need and that it was urgent that she speak to Padre Pio. It is impossible, Father Gerardo said. Women cannot enter the monastic enclosure. You can only speak to Padre Pio if you make your confession to him.  With tears in her eyes, Maria asked Brother Gerardo to tell Padre Pio that she was ill. Brother Gerardo did what Maria asked him to do. After a short time, Brother Gerardo returned. He led Maria into a small room in the monastery. In the dream, Padre Pio then came into the room. Two trickles of blood were flowing from his left temple down his cheek. How selfish I am, Maria thought to herself. Here I am complaining about my headaches and now before my very eyes, I see what Padre Pio suffers day in and day out. Maria felt like apologizing to Padre Pio. He tapped her on the head three times and then said to her, Maria, you are cured now.

When Maria woke up, she was completely free of pain. She felt strong enough to get out of bed and she was able to set about her work as though she had never been ill. That very day she wrote Padre Pio a letter, thanking him for her healing. A reply soon came back to her which said, Let us thank God and Our Lady that you are well now. You must go on with your work. Maria took up her research and writing again regarding the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and on January 31,1941, her work was finally completed and put on the desk of Pope Pius XII.

During the summer of 1941, Maria traveled with her sisters to San Giovanni Rotondo. While there, Maria made her confession to Padre Pio. In the confessional, Padre Pio smiled at Maria and to her great surprise, he tapped her on her head three times, exactly like he had done in her dream.  Am I still your spiritual daughter? Maria asked. Yes, you are, Padre Pio answered. Remember that a father is always a father. Children can stray, but you will never stray. Let us thank the Blessed Virgin who has protected you. You have been working for her for a long time. Dont be discouraged if your work does not have immediate results. Satan has always tried to attack Our Lady but he will never succeed. She will always be able to overcome him.

On November 1, 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII passed away on October 9, 1958.  Just as in his life, after his death, signs of his love for the Virgin Mary were still evident. He was buried in Rome in the crypt of St. Peters Basilica on the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, October 13, 1958. The Congregation for the Cause of Saints at the Vatican issued a decree which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. The decree gave its stamp of approval to the heroic virtues in the life of Pope Pius XII and the title of Venerable was then added to his name.

 

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Mrs. Bertolotti first learned about Padre Pio in 1946. She longed to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo but the years passed and she was never able to do so. One night, she dreamed that she was at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. She saw a man who walked toward the booking office where tickets could be obtained for Padre Pios confessional. The man had a letter in his hand that was addressed to Mrs. Bertolotti. He handed her the letter and with that she woke up.

Mrs. Bertolotti thought about the meaning of the dream. It almost seemed to her that she was being called to visit Padre Pio. The dream made such an impression on her that she decided to travel to Padre Pios monastery. It was a cold and rainy afternoon when she got ready to board the train. Due to the many difficulties in her life, there was a sadness in her heart that day. The dismal weather did nothing to lift her spirits. As soon as she got to the monastery, she went to the booking office and got a ticket for Padre Pios confessional. She had to wait ten days before her number was called. She was able to attend Padre Pios Mass every day while she waited. Spending time in prayer in the church of Our Lady of Grace and attending Padre Pios Mass each day made her feel like she was in heaven. The days passed quickly and her heart was filled with a wonderful peace.

Finally, Mrs. Bertolottis number was called. In the confessional, as she knelt before Padre Pio, she could not seem to find her words. Finally, she asked Padre Pio to accept her as his spiritual daughter and he agreed to do so. Before she left the confessional, she kissed his hand. When she returned to her home, she felt as though she had been completely transformed. The years ahead brought their share of problems, but Mrs. Bertolotti was no longer overwhelmed by them as she had been in the past. Her visit to Padre Pio had supplied her with the strength she needed to face all of the trials in her life.

 

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Aure Caviggioli was an antique dealer who lived in Monte Carlo, Italy. Absorbed in his work and in other interests, he had long neglected his spiritual life. On one occasion, he visited San Giovanni Rotondo and attended Padre Pios Mass. He felt uplifted by the experience. He returned to the monastery several more times. Because he felt a certain uneasiness when he was in Padre Pios presence, he was hesitant to make his confession to him.

Aure possessed a beautiful antique painting of the Virgin and Child that dated back to the 16th century.  When an acquaintance asked Aure about the value of the artwork, Aure told him that it was worth millions. That very night, Aure had a dream. In his dream, Padre Pio was looking directly at him. He had a very severe expression on his face.  You paid 25,000 lira for that painting, Padre Pio said. It is not worth millions and you know it!

When Aure woke up the next morning, he reflected on the dream. What Padre Pio had said to him in the dream was indeed true. The painting had cost him exactly 25,000 lira. After much thought, Aure decided to give the painting to Padre Pio. He traveled to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and presented it to him. Padre Pio smiled at Aure and accepted the painting. He seemed to be genuinely happy to receive the gift.

 

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Professor G. Felice Checcacci, a native of Genoa, had spent many years living in Asia. He had long abandoned his Christian faith, believing it to be a break off from several other world religions. When Felice returned to Italy, he read a book about Padre Pio which made a great impression on him. It caused him to reexamine all of his beliefs. One night he had a dream of Padre Pio. In his dream, Padre Pio spoke to him and said, Come and see me. Felice did not pay too much attention to the dream. About three months later, he had another dream. In his dream, Padre Pio said, I waited for you but you have not come.  And finally, he had a third experience in which Padre Pio said to him, If you wont come to see me, at least write to me!

The very next day, Felice wrote a letter to Padre Pio, recommending himself to his prayers. In the letter, he told Padre Pio that he was searching for peace of mind and peace of heart. In the late afternoon, just two days after sending the letter, Felice had a very strong desire to go to church. He had not done so in more than thirty years. As he sat alone in the quiet church, he was startled to hear a voice within his heart saying, Faith is not up for discussion; you either believe it or you do not believe it. You either accept it or you reject it; there is no middle ground. You must choose one way or the other. Felice was certain that it was Padre Pio who was speaking to him.

Felice knew that for a long time, he had been drawing his own conclusions about Christianity. He was using his reason and his intellect to try to understand transcendental truths. It wasnt possible. From that moment on, his life underwent a complete change. He felt a great sense of peace in his heart and he returned to the practice of his Christian faith.

 

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Aurilio Montalto of Bolzano, Italy visited San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio and to attend his Mass. He returned a number of times and felt so inspired that he decided to move there permanently with his wife and four children.  He bought a hotel close to the monastery and from the income, he was able to provide for his familys needs.

Aurilio had a brother who was a non-believer. His brother visited San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time right after Padre Pio passed away. Before the funeral, Aurilios brother had a desire to see Padre Pios body while it was lying in state. However, it was so crowded in the church that he was never able to do so.

One day Aurilio and his brother had a talk about Padre Pio. His brother explained that he had no feeling for Padre Pio. He certainly did not believe that he was a saint. All the talk about Padre Pio left him cold and completely indifferent.

Not long after, he walked over to the church of Our Lady of Grace and sat alone on one of the back benches. Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a stern voice. He turned to see who it was but there was no one there. He became frightened and immediately got up and moved to another bench the church. A second time, he heard an authoritative voice and felt someone touch his shoulder. He looked closely but there was no one there. Feeling a mounting fear, he broke out in a cold sweat. He could not understand what was happening.

The next time Aurilio saw his brother, he heard every detail of his unusual story. How does someone go about making their confession? his brother asked. Aurilio was happy to explain everything about the sacrament in great detail. How does one prepare himself to make his first Holy Communion? his brother asked. Again, Aurilio was delighted to explain it to him.

That night Aurilios brother had a dream. Padre Pio was standing beside him with a Rosary in his hand. In the dream, Padre Pio taught him how to pray. The dream marked the beginning of his conversion. Right after that, he asked to be received into the Catholic Church. From that time forward, he lived a very devout life.

 

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After Bernadette Palo had long-discarded her Catholic faith, she became interested in spiritualism and in the occult. One night she dreamed that she saw Padre Pio standing in front of a church. She told Padre Pio that something was bothering her.  Padre Pio smiled at her and said, Give it up! Give it up!  Bernadette understood that Padre Pio meant that she should give up her study of the occult.  But if I do that, how can I make progress on the spiritual path? How can I be good? Bernadette asked. God thinks you are good enough already, Padre Pio replied. After the dream, Bernadette had a desire to go to confession. She prayed for the courage to do so. She finally made her confession and returned to the sacraments after an absence of twelve years.

 

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When Nancy Sinisi developed a kidney disease, the doctor explained to the family that her condition was life-threatening. She was placed on dialysis three times a week and became a candidate for a kidney transplant. Nancys mother had recently learned about Padre Pio. She decided to write a letter to him, asking him for his prayers for her daughters recovery. The year was 1967. One day when Mrs. Sinisi was telling her family some of the details of Padre Pios life, the room became filled with a beautiful perfume.

It wasnt long before Mrs. Sinisi received a letter in reply from San Giovanni Rotondo. The letter said that Padre Pio was praying for Nancy. The letter also stated that prayer must always be made according to the will of God.

When the doctor confirmed that Nancy would definitely need a kidney transplant, Mary Ann, Nancys sister, became so concerned that she sent Padre Pio a telegram and requested his prayers. That night Mrs. Sinisi had a dream of Padre Pio. In the dream, Padre Pio said to her, It was not necessary for a telegram to be sent to me. I was already praying for Nancy! Later, Nancy received a kidney transplant. The operation went very well and the Sinisi family was confident that Padre Pio had assisted Nancy with his intercessory prayers.

 

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Michael Gervais and his parents once attended a series of inspirational talks given by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Augusta, Maine. One evening, one of the priests, Father Valliere, spoke about Padre Pio during his presentation. The Gervais family had never heard of Padre Pio. Mr. Gervais was so interested in what Father Valliere had said that he went to the Bangor public library and put in a request for several books on Padre Pio. They were evidently popular books because it took more than a month for them to arrive. The books had obviously been rebound because the covers were plain and devoid of pictures. Mr. Gervais placed them on the washing machine across from the kitchen window in his home and looked forward to reading them.

The next morning, Michaels mother told the family that she had a very unusual dream the night before. The dream made such an impact that it woke her up out of a sound sleep. She dreamed that she was awakened by a loud noise coming from the kitchen. When she went to investigate, she saw a bearded man with piercing dark eyes who was rattling the kitchen window, trying to get in the house. He looked like he was about thirty-five years old. Her husband let the man in the house. Mrs. Gervais then noticed a car parked in front of the house. As she stared at the car, some words appeared in a scroll-like manner on the side of the car. The words said, You and me and the Divinity and your children. The dream then ended.

The next evening, Mrs. Gervais finally got a chance to look at the library books that were still sitting on the washing machine near the kitchen window. Inside one of the books was a picture of Padre Pio. She recognized him instantly as the man she had seen in her dream. He appeared to be about the same age and had the same dark and piercing eyes. In the photograph, he was celebrating Mass. Underneath the picture were the words, Oh God, grant that through the mystery of this water and wine, we may be partakers of his Divinity, who had deigned to become partakers of our humanity, Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord.

 

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One of Padre Pios spiritual daughters met Padre Pio when she was just eighteen years old. She was suffering from poor health at the time. Padre Pio put his hand on her head and said to her, Do not worry about anything. His hand felt like a very heavy weight pressing on her head. She was healed at his touch. Later, when she married and had a family, there were many trials to face. She found out that her husband was unfaithful to her. To add to her heartache, one of her children became addicted to drugs. During this difficult time in her life, she had a vivid dream of Padre Pio. In her dream, she was in a country setting and in the distance she saw Padre Pio. He was running toward her.

As she pondered the meaning of the dream, she was convinced that it meant that Padre Pio knew all about her problems and was interceding for her. She recalled that the first time she made her confession to him, he told her not to worry about anything. She placed herself under Padre Pios protection and had faith that all would be well.

 

 

Grant me your grace, O most merciful Jesus that your grace may be with me, and work with me, and remain with me to the very end. Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to you. Let your will be mine. . . Grant that I may die to all things in the world, and for your sake, love to be despised and unknown in this life. Give me above all desires, the desire to rest in you and in you let my heart have peace. You are true peace of heart. You alone are its rest. Without you all things are difficult and troubled. In this peace, the selfsame that is in you, the Most High, the everlasting Good, I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.

– Thomas à Kempis

Pray, Hope and Dont Worry October-December 2012

Today we live in an activist society. We do many things, but we pray little. Padre Pios watchword was this: prayer and suffering. On these two foundations, Padre Pio built everything. And not only did he build materially, as in the Home for the Relief of Suffering, but also, he built in the souls of his followers. He truly built that which St. Augustine called the city of God.

– Piero Bargellini 

Elide Bellomo

 

Elide Bellomo was a dressmaker by trade and lived in Sestri Levante, a resort town not far from Genoa, Italy. When Elide’s aunt became terminally ill, Elide tried to show her as much love and support as she could. Elide’s aunt wanted to be well prepared spiritually when her final moment came. She had always had a fear of death. She showed Elide a holy card of Padre Pio and spoke to her often of him. “Please pray to Padre Pio so that I might have a happy death,” she would frequently say. Because her aunt spoke so much about Padre Pio, Elide decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would ask Padre Pio in person to pray for her aunt. Elide knew how pleased her aunt would be to hear of her plan.

In February 1947, Elide set out for San Giovanni Rotondo. She took a train from Sestri Levante to Foggia and did not arrive in Foggia until the following evening. When the train pulled into the station, she learned that she had just missed the last bus that was going to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would have to wait until the following day for the next bus. She was so disappointed at the news that she began to cry. Elide was exhausted from the thirty-hour journey. The train had been so crowded that she had to stand for most of the trip. In addition, not anticipating the winter weather, she had not dressed properly. She had been cold and uncomfortable since the time she had left her home.

The station master noticed Elide’s tears and asked her why she was crying. When she explained her frustrations to him, he took pity on her and led her to a small private room in the station. “You can sleep in here for the night,” the station master said. “The chair will be more comfortable to sleep in that the bench in the lobby. The stove will keep you warm. I will close the door so that no one will bother you. We will be sure to wake you up early in the morning so that you can catch the bus for San Giovanni Rotondo.”

The next morning, Elide was in better spirits. She boarded the bus and was happy to be on her way. The weather grew colder as the bus approached San Giovanni Rotondo. When the bus dropped her off, it was a two-mile walk through the snow in order to reach the monastery. Elide regretted that she had brought only a light jacket to wear. She also regretted that she was wearing sandals and had no other change of shoes.

The following day, Elide went to Padre Pio’s Mass. After Mass, she waited in line to make her confession. When she heard Padre Pio’s stern voice speaking to a penitent in the confessional, she lost her courage and decided to leave the line. Just as she was preparing to leave, the woman behind her gave her a strong push forward. Soon she was kneeling before Padre Pio. Fear clutched at her heart. Padre Pio’s voice was very gentle as he talked to her. It reminded her exactly of the way her own dear father used to talk to her when she was a little girl. As a matter of fact, Padre Pio used many of the same phrases that her father had used in days gone by.

 

 

Elide told Padre Pio that she had traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo from Sestri Levanti in order to ask for prayers for her aunt. “First make your confession, and then tell me about your aunt,” Padre Pio said. Elide started to make her confession but she could not find her words. Padre Pio helped her through the confession by asking her questions.

After the confession, Elide asked Padre Pio if he would accept her as his spiritual daughter. It was not something that she had planned to say. “Yes, I will accept you,” he answered. Then he asked Elide to tell him about her aunt. Elide told him of her aunt’s fear of death and of her desire to be well prepared when that moment came. Padre Pio listened carefully to all that Elide had to say. When she was finished talking, Padre Pio paused for a few moments of silence. “All will go well for your aunt,” Padre Pio said. He told Elide that she could be assured of his prayers.

Elide left the confessional greatly uplifted. All the inconveniences and hardships of the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo now seemed like trifles. The next day she left to go back to her home in Sestri Levante. A short time later, her aunt passed away. She had just received Holy Communion and was making her thanksgiving when she slipped peacefully into eternal life. It was truly a beautiful death. Elide knew that Padre Pio’s prayers had assisted her aunt.

Meeting Padre Pio had made a great impression on Elide and she looked forward with great anticipation to the time when she could make a return visit. Several months later she was able to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. “You are going to move here permanently,” Padre Pio said to Elide. “When the Home for the Relief of Suffering is completed, you will work there.” “Oh no,” Elide replied emphatically, “It would be impossible. I am a dressmaker by profession. I have no skills that would enable me to work in a hospital. Besides, my mother needs me. I would never be able to leave her.” Very gently Padre Pio said to her, “I will take care of your mother myself.” “But if my mother was to get sick, she would want me nearby.” “I will take care of that too,” Padre Pio replied. “You do not have to worry about anything. The hospital is now being built. You will come here and work. It is God’s will for you,” Padre Pio said firmly.

Elide knew that she would never move to San Giovanni Rotondo. It was a small backwater town that had nothing to offer her. Sestri Levante, on the other hand, where Elide made her home, was a lovely seaside resort city on the Mediterranean coast. The weather was mild and agreeable and the coastline was beautiful. Surrounded by her family and friends, Elide was very happy there. She had no intention of moving to San Giovanni Rotondo. She was convinced that only an act of God would cause her to leave her home town.

When Elide returned to Sestri Levante, she began organizing pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo. She wanted others to experience the same blessings that she had experienced while visiting Padre Pio’s monastery. Elide’s pilgrimages became very popular. She took small groups as well as large groups and had no trouble filling the seats.

On one occasion, when Elide was in San Giovanni Rotondo, she got word that her mother was ill. She returned to Sestri Levanti immediately. Fortunately, her mother’s condition had improved by the time she arrived home. Her mother had always said that she wanted Elide to be with her at the time of her death. She said to Elide, “I am at peace now. Even if I were to die soon, I feel prepared. I think Padre Pio is calling you to live near him. He needs you to help him with his work. I want you to move to San Giovanni Rotondo and assist him.” Not long after that, Elide’s mother had a beautiful dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at the foot of her bed and he gave her a blessing. She died the very next day.

Elide was deeply saddened by the loss of her mother. She returned to San Giovanni Rotondo and wept as she told Padre Pio about her mother’s death. “What am I going to do now?” Elide said to Padre Pio. “My mother, whom I loved so much, is gone. How will I continue?” “I am now your entire family – mother, father, and brother,” Padre Pio replied. “Your mother is in heaven. We must do our very best so that we too can arrive there someday. Let us concentrate on that.” His words brought her great comfort and great peace.

Elide moved to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1954. Two years later, the Home for the Relief of Suffering opened its doors. Padre Pio told Elide for the second time that she was going to work in the new hospital. “But I can’t,” Elide said. “I don’t have the experience.” Very quietly Padre Pio said to Elide, “Just do what you are told.”

The first day that Elide reported for work at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, she was greeted by a doctor and was given a white coat to put on, just like the one that he had on. The doctor gave her instructions on how to admit the patients and how to fill out the necessary forms and paperwork. Elide was able to learn the job quite easily. After about an hour of instruction, the doctor left her on her own. She found the work very enjoyable.

At the time, Elide was renting a single room, which was located very close to the hospital. A very nice little house became available for rent and Padre Pio told Elide that she should take it. Elide explained to Padre Pio that her salary at the hospital was not enough to cover the monthly rent. “Take the house,” Padre Pio said. “You will always have enough money for your needs with extra left over.” Elide rented the house. As it turned out, Padre Pio had been right. Elide was able to pay the rent each month with money left over.

Elide loved her job as admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. She was happy to be serving Padre Pio’s work. When she was asked to do the washing and ironing for the Capuchins who were in residence at Our Lady of Grace monastery, she gladly accepted the task.

One day, as Elide was doing the laundry for the Capuchins, she had the idea to keep one of Padre Pio’s undershirts. She knew that there were very strict rules in place regarding Padre Pio’s personal items. He was not allowed to give any of his possessions away. Elide knew that she could get into a lot of trouble for disobeying the rules. But the temptation to keep an article of Padre Pio’s clothing was so great that Elide gave in to her strong desire. One day, she sent the freshly laundered clothing and habits back to the monastery minus one of Padre Pio’s shirts.

The next time Elide went to confession to Padre Pio, she was very nervous. She hoped that he would not guess what she had done and at the same time she knew that it was practically impossible to keep a secret from him. In the confessional, Padre Pio’s first words to Elide were the words that she did not want to hear. “Have you stolen something that belonged to someone else?” he asked. “It is true,” Elide answered. “What is it that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “I stole a shirt,” Elide replied. “You stole a shirt? Well, who did it belong to?” Padre Pio inquired. “It belonged to you.” At that point, Elide could not contain her emotions any longer and she began to cry. “Well, did you need this shirt that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “Oh yes, I did need it. I truly needed it,” Elide answered. “Very well then,” Padre Pio said and then he changed the subject. “Now tell me what else you have been doing,” he exclaimed. He never mentioned the “stolen property” to her again. Elide was elated. She was able to keep the prized relic and all thanks were due to Padre Pio.

One morning, Elide was standing outside the church waiting for the doors to open for Mass. Two women who were standing nearby were having a lively discussion and Elide could not help but overhear what they were talking about. “I am going to send my guardian angel to Padre Pio,” one of the women said. “I will ask my angel to take a special message to him.” Elide thought that the talk about guardian angels was ridiculous. The women were obviously superstitious. When the Mass was concluded, Elide made her confession to Padre Pio. “Will you always assist me?” Elide asked him. “Yes, I will,” Padre Pio replied. “I will always be near you and I will send you my guardian angel to help you.” Elide realized that Padre Pio was trying to show her the error in her thinking. She was sorry she had judged the women in such a harsh way.

Padre Pio’s spiritual children who resided in San Giovanni Rotondo were fortunate to be able to receive Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Often before doing the simplest tasks, like going to an appointment or making a trip to town, they would ask Padre Pio for his blessing. In the late afternoons when Padre Pio took his recreation in the monastery garden, Elide would sometimes stand outside the garden wall and call to him, “Padre Pio, I am right outside the garden gate here. May I have your blessing?” Padre Pio would then open the gate, make the sign of the cross in blessing over Elide and then close the gate. Very satisfied, Elide would take her leave, usually to go back to her job at the hospital.

Receiving an individual blessing from Padre Pio was curtailed in 1960 with the visitation of Monsignor Carlo Maccari. Monsignor Maccari was sent to San Giovanni Rotondo from the Holy Office in Rome to investigate complaints that had been made against Padre Pio. There had been accusations in reference to possible financial irregularities at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. There were complaints regarding the unruly behavior in the church on the part of some of the pilgrims. There were complaints about Padre Pio himself. Numerous rumors about him had been circulating for years. Elide was working at the Home for the Relief of Suffering when Monsignor Maccari made his visitation.

Monsignor Maccari stayed at the Home for the Relief of Suffering during the time of his visit. Much to the dismay of the Capuchin superior at Our Lady of Grace monastery, he took it upon himself to intercept Padre Pio’s personal mail and read it. Even confidential letters were opened and scrutinized. It seemed as though Monsignor Maccari had brought with him certain preconceived ideas and even prejudices against Padre Pio. Before he returned to Rome, he set forth a number of directives that were to be strictly enforced. People would no longer be allowed to speak to Padre Pio as he was entering or exiting the confessional. The sacristy and the monastery garden became off limits to all members of the laity. A railing was to be built around the women’s confessional to make it more difficult for people to see and to speak to Padre Pio.

Padre Pio never contested the decisions of high church officials in reference to his ministry. He was very much aware that there was open hostility toward him. He would not speak to anyone about Monsignor Maccari’s visit and just as he had done in the past, he followed all of the directives to the letter.

Elide felt very sad about the restrictions that had been put in place as a consequence of the visit of Monsignor Maccari. Like many others, Elide depended on Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Now it seemed as though it would be practically impossible to greet Padre Pio each day and to receive his blessing. Elide came up with a solution to the problem and she spoke to Padre Pio about it. She told him that when he went to the garden in the afternoon for his recreation period, she would be standing on the other side of the wall. Of course, he would not be able to see her but she would be able to look through the keyhole of the gate and see him. “I would like you to pause as you pass by the garden gate and give me a blessing,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I will be waiting there.” Padre Pio was happy to agree to Elide’s request. Elide continued to receive his daily blessing, “through the garden wall” and Padre Pio did not break a single rule in doing so.

On January 30, 1964, Pope Paul VI announced that Padre Pio was restored to full freedom in his priestly ministry. Like many times in the past, it had been a waiting game. The accusations and complaints against him were eventually all shown to be false.

Padre Pio continued to direct his spiritual children step by step on the path toward holiness. Once, Elide’s brother surprised her by giving her a television set as a gift. She was delighted to receive it. When she told Padre Pio the good news about her new gift, he was not at all pleased. “I am sorry that you have invited the devil into your home!” Padre Pio said adamantly. Elide was shocked at his words. However, she could see that he meant what he said. Elide got the message loud and clear and decided to return the television to her brother.

Elide became very proficient as the hospital receptionist and admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One day without warning, Padre Pio told her that her job was going to be changed. She would become the hospital’s switchboard operator. The hospital had grown and expanded so much that a central switchboard had to be installed. Elide panicked at the thought of being in charge of a busy switchboard. “But I can’t do that,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I have no experience. I don’t think I would be up to the task. I am afraid that it would be too difficult.” “I want you to do what I am asking of you,” Padre Pio said. Elide complied with Padre Pio’s wishes and a technician trained her in the work. The ease with which she learned the job convinced her that Padre Pio was assisting her.

After Padre Pio’s death in 1968, Elide continued to live on in the little house in San Giovanni Rotondo, the one that Padre Pio had urged her to rent. The house had a lovely garden in the back which she enjoyed very much. She was very contented there. She eventually retired from her job at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Padre Pio had assured Elide that her needs would always be supplied. Time proved the truth of his words. Elide never lacked for anything. She felt blessed that she was able to give the extra money that she had at the end of each month to those who were less fortunate. She truly believed that Padre Pio was watching over her from heaven.

 

________________________________

 

A Testimony

I visited San Giovanni Rotodo on January 20, 1960. It was a Sunday and I was spurred on by the usual irresistible desire to be near Padre Pio again for a few days. In the sacristy of the new church, I noticed for the first time, posters everywhere, asking for blood donors for the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Those who were sick in Padre Pios hospital were in need of blood transfusions.

My desire to donate blood was so great that my first impulse was to go to the Home for the Relief of Suffering at once. But then I remembered how I had recently had an operation for a perforated ulcer and had nearly died. I also had very low blood pressure as well as pain in my gall bladder. I decided to talk it over with Padre Pio.

That morning and I told Padre Pio that I wanted to be a blood donor for his hospital. He searched me with his penetrating eyes and then kindly with that strong voice of his, and almost a demanding tone, said to me, Well, what are you waiting for?

At the hospital, the doctor examined me and asked a number of questions. When he measured my blood pressure and saw how low it was, he explained that I would not be able to be a donor. Doctor, I said to him, I asked Padre Pio about it a few moments ago and he sent me over here. I had great belief in Padre Pio and the doctor did as well. He allowed me to give my blood.

As I continued to donate my blood to the Home for the Relief of Suffering, my blood pressure improved and the pain in my gall bladder began to disappear. In other words, the more blood I gave, the better my health became. I was able to make fifty-two blood donations for the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

– Donato di Ge

 

 

“It is in time that I am able to do good to my neighbor, that I am able to love and help him… It is only along the path of my passing days that I am able to meet the suffering soul and to give a word of comfort and hope. Time is valuable, because it offers me the possibility to do good. Certainly upright Christian sentiment, knowledge, love and praise of God will continue in eternity, but they will be proportional to our knowledge, love and praise in time… Time is valuable because it offers me the possibility to prepare myself for eternity.”
 Father Gerardo di Flumeri

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 52 – July-September 2012

I attended Padre Pio’s Mass shortly after my ordination to the priesthood. It was a great school. It was of more benefit to me than all that I had studied in my years of theology. – Father Luigi Pasani

Father William Lauriola

From the editors: We visited Father William Lauriola at the rectory office of his parish, the Immaculate Conception chapel in San Francisco, CA. His testimony follows:

Father William (Guglielmo) Lauriola grew up in the small town of Monte Sant’ Angelo, just 16 miles east of San Giovanni Rotondo. His parents owned a store which sold agricultural supplies and many other items. From time to time, one of the Brothers from Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo would visit their store, asking for a donation for the needs of the Capuchin community. William’s parents were happy to help and they always asked for news about Padre Pio. As a young boy, William felt a great admiration for the Capuchin who visited their store. William decided that when he came of age, he too would like to enter a Religious Order so that he could dedicate his life to the Lord.

The citizens of Monte Sant’ Angelo were aware that Padre Pio often sent people to their town, advising them to pray at the holy sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel. They felt a sense of pride, knowing that Padre Pio held their town in the highest esteem. The angelic world was very real to Padre Pio, very present. His strong faith in angels was backed up by personal experience. He had been able to see and converse with his guardian angel since childhood. He always encouraged people to cultivate a devotion to the celestial beings, the angels.

When William was a child, his parents used to take him by bus to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Young William became so comfortable with Padre Pio that he would walk right up to him while he was hearing confessions and pull the white cord on his habit to let him know that he was waiting to greet him.

After William graduated from high school, he sought admittance to the Friars Minor branch of the Franciscan Order and was accepted. Through the long years of study at the monastery of St. Matthew in San Marco in Lamis, he continued to make trips to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to see Padre Pio.

William noticed that on Fridays, Padre Pio’s wounds were more painful than on any other day. A number of the people who attended his Mass felt such sympathy for him that they could not contain their tears. Many were elderly and walked to the church of Our Lady of Grace every day from their homes in San Marco in Lamis. It took two and a half hours to make the trip. They attended his Mass year round and experienced the intense heat, rain, wind, heavy fog, snow, and ice of the various seasons. On the long walk back home to San Marco in Lamis, they would talk about all that had transpired that morning at the Mass. “Did you notice how devoutly Padre Pio said the prayers for the living and the deceased today?” “Did you see the way he stared intently at the tabernacle?” “Did you hear how solemn his voice sounded as he repeated the sacred invocations?” “Did you notice how long Padre Pio held the host in his hands?”

Once, William invited two fellow seminarians to go with him to visit Padre Pio and they were happy to accept his invitation. William was worried about his two companions because they were both wavering in their vocation. He felt that the contact with Padre Pio might encourage them to persevere in their priestly studies. William knew that Padre Pio had the ability to help people on a deep spiritual level. One recalls the words of Charles Mandina of Los Angeles, who assisted Padre Pio as his language translator. Charles said, “Curiosity might initially bring people to Padre Pio, but once you had seen him, you couldn’t explain it, but you were changed.”

It was a cold winter day when William and his two companions met with Padre Pio in the monastery garden. Padre Pio motioned to the three young men to sit down on a nearby stone bench. No sooner had they sat down than they all jumped up in unison. Padre Pio was surprised. “But why did you all jump up so quickly?” Padre Pio asked. They explained that the bench was just too cold to sit on. Padre Pio then went into the monastery to get them some refreshments and soon came out with a basket of walnuts and some water. As it turned out, the two seminarians persevered in their priestly studies and were both ordained.

Father William was ordained to the priesthood at the Franciscan monastery in Biccari, Italy in 1953. He continued to visit Padre Pio whenever he could. He was invited to have lunch at Our Lady of Grace monastery on a number of occasions. Pasta and vegetable soup was often the main meal of the day. Father William noticed that Padre Pio was the only Capuchin that never appeared to be hungry when the food was served.

Father William was present once in the dining room when Padre Pio attempted to cut a large block of cheese with a very dull knife. He struggled with the task for a long time and could not seem to make any headway. Father William had the distinct impression that Padre Pio was simply trying to stall for time so that he would not have to eat his meal. To Padre Pio’s friends, his avoidance of food was always a mystery.

Padre Pio’s life, in many ways, would always have elements of mystery. Once, in the sacristy of the church, Padre Pio was greeted by one of his spiritual sons, Dr. Pietro Melillo. When Padre Pio left the sacristy to go back to his cell, Pietro offered his arm in support, and walked with him down the hall. When they got to the door that led to the monks’ cells, they found that it was locked. “Did you bring a key for the door?” Padre Pio asked. Pietro replied that he did not have a key with him. Padre Pio then pressed his index finger against the door, and it opened instantly. At the time, it did not occur to Pietro that anything unusual had happened. However, a short time later, as he reflected on the events of the day, he realized with amazement, that Padre Pio had accomplished the impossible. He had opened a locked door with the simple touch of his finger.

Father William remembers the first time the statue of Our Lady of Fatima came to San Giovanni Rotondo. The statue arrived in the back of a pick-up truck that was beautifully decorated with myriads of colorful flowers. Father William happened to be in San Giovanni Rotondo when the statue was leaving for its next destination, Monte Sant’ Angelo. Padre Pio’s eyes filled with tears as he bid his Heavenly Mother goodbye. Many years later, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima would arrive by helicopter and be greeted by even larger crowds throughout Italy.

Padre Pio continually spoke of the graces that were freely given by the Virgin Mary. When six-year-old Lucietta Pennelli of San Giovanni Rotondo contracted meningitis, her life was hanging in the balance. When she slipped into a coma, the doctor knew that her end was near. He told the family that there was nothing more that could be done to help her. Padre Pio’s prayers were sought and soon the little girl regained consciousness and made a complete recovery. When Lucietta’s father, Alfonso, went to the monastery to express his gratitude, Padre Pio took him up to the choir loft and pointed to the painting of Our Lady of Grace. “Do not thank me. Thank the Virgin Mary,” he said to Alfonso. Later, when Lucietta came to visit Padre Pio, he said to her, “Do you know why you are alive, Lucietta? It is because the “reaper,” by that I mean death, did not make it in time. Our Blessed Mother arrived before he did.”

As the years passed, Padre Pio’s spiritual family grew steadily in number. He was known to many as Padre Spiritual. People could feel his tender love and concern for their welfare. Indeed, at times, some of his spiritual children called him “Mama.” To one of his spiritual daughters who had lost her parents through death, he said, “You must always remember that I am now your father and your mother. I am your whole family.”

Father William recalled that Padre Pio often communicated more with gestures than words. Sometimes when he was alone with Padre Pio in the sacristy, Padre Pio would place both of his hands on William’s shoulders or on his head and pray for him. On other occasions, he would hold his hand and say a few simple words to him like, “be good.” Padre Pio had a penetrating gaze and William often had the impression that he knew exactly what was in his mind and heart. There were many others who also experienced Padre Pio’s gift of “reading hearts.”

On one occasion, Padre Pio leaned momentarily out of the confessional and spoke to a woman who was standing nearby. “You must go outside at once!” he said. The woman obeyed him immediately. It happened to be snowing heavily on that particular day. In the distance, she heard someone crying for help. It was a poor woman who was struggling up the hill toward the church and was in great need of assistance. She quickly rushed to help the poor woman.

As time passed, people descended on the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo in record numbers. Because of the crowds, the church was often filled with noise and confusion. Capuchin Father Innocenzo of Campobasso would frequently become upset about the noise. On more than one occasion, he shouted out to the congregation: “People of little faith! People of little faith!” He complained to Padre Pio about the problem. “It is true what you say,” Padre Pio replied. “Some of the people who come here do not have faith, yet nevertheless they receive blessings.” Margherita Cassano, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, once voiced her objection, “Why do so many curiosity seekers come here? They do not pray. They do not even believe!” Padre Pio said to her, “It is enough that they climb this mountain.”

On one occasion, Father William invited his niece, Immaculata (Ima), to take a trip with him to Pietrelcina, the town where Padre Pio was born and raised. In Pietrelcina, one could see many important landmarks of Padre Pio’s early life including the parish church of St. Anne’s where he was baptized, the small stone house at 32 Vico Storte Valle Street where he lived with his parents and four siblings, and La Torretta (the little tower), the small and secluded dwelling where he studied and prayed during his prolonged illnesses.

Ima accepted her uncle’s invitation to visit Pietrelcina but she was somewhat aloof and distant regarding Padre Pio. Father William tried to reason with her. “Ima,” he said, “Padre Pio is truly the saint of our times. Do not doubt it.” As he spoke the words, the air suddenly became filled with a beautiful perfume. Ima was so struck by the experience that her attitude changed completely and she became very devoted to Padre Pio. Ima, who was a physician, began to pray to Padre Pio regularly for his intercession regarding the patients who were under her care at the hospital.

Through the years, Father William has felt privileged to meet many people, both clergy and laity, who have inspired him by their great fidelity to God. One such person was his friend and fellow priest, Father Peter. Father Peter had to walk many miles to Father William’s parish in order to make his confession and he did so regularly. He continued to do so well past his 90th birthday.

Once after hearing Father Peter’s confession, Father William said to him, “I want you to let me drive you home in the jeep today. It is such a long distance for you to walk. I know you may not like the idea but I insist on doing so.” “But Father,” Father Peter protested, “I do not mind the walk. Besides, penance is so good for us. It is so necessary for our souls!” One is also reminded that Padre Pio continually stressed the value of self-denial and penance. “Remember, we did not come into this world for a holiday,” Padre Pio said.

Once, when Father William drove to Father Peter’s parish in order to pay him a visit, he was surprised to find that the doors to the church were wide open. The lights were on and the altar candles were lit. Everything was ready for the Mass to begin. However, Father Peter was nowhere to be found. As it turned out, Father Peter had felt ill on that particular day and realized that he would not be able to celebrate Mass. After making all the necessary preparations, he sat down in a chair and gently gave his soul back to God.

When Father William learned that he was going to be sent to serve in the missions in Korea, he looked forward to the new assignment with great anticipation. Before he left Italy, Padre Pio gave him some words of advice. “If you are able to accomplish any good works in Korea, always remember to give the credit to God,” Padre Pio said. “It is the grace of God that brings success to all of our efforts. Never attribute anything to yourself.” The missionary vocation had always been close to Padre Pio’s heart. As a young priest, he had volunteered to serve in the foreign missions but his request was denied. His health was considered to be too fragile to stand up to the demands of missionary life.

In Korea, Father William and three other Franciscans from his religious community founded the Sacred Heart Leper Colony. In time, it became home to 400 lepers. When Father William looked around at all the good that was being accomplished at the leper colony, he would sometimes find himself becoming filled with pride. Then he would remember Padre Pio’s words of wisdom: “Be sure to give all the credit to God. Do not attribute anything to yourself.”

Father William was inspired by the strong faith of the lepers at the Sacred Heart leper colony. One of the teenage girls who was afflicted by the disease said to him, “I know that my face and body are disfigured by this illness, but it is a comfort to know that when I am in heaven, my body will no longer show the ravages of leprosy. I will be in the presence of God where everything will reflect his light and his glory.” One is reminded of Padre Pio’s words, “Jesus does not ask you to carry the heavy cross with him, only a small piece of his cross, a piece that consists in human suffering.”

Father William was studying for a doctorate degree in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome when he got word that Padre Pio was very ill. The year was 1968. At the time, Father William was preparing for an important examination at the University. He told his professor that he had to leave at once for San Giovanni Rotondo. He explained that Padre Pio’s condition was grave, and he felt an urgency to visit him. He was aware that missing the test could set him back six months or more in completing his course of studies, but it could not be helped. He needed to be with his spiritual father.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque said, “We must make our life a continual preparation for the moment of our death and do all the good we can while there is still time.” Padre Pio had prayed often to St. Joseph for the grace of a happy death. He died peacefully and very well prepared in the early morning hours on September 23, 1968. In the church of Our Lady of Grace, Father William stood beside his coffin and gazed for the last time at his beloved friend. He was present at Padre Pio’s funeral, by far the largest in San Giovanni Rotondo’s history. It was estimated that 150,000 people attended the solemn funeral Mass.

Today, 2012, Father William is pastor emeritus at the Immaculate Conception chapel in San Francisco, where he has served for the last 43 years. At eighty-five years of age, he remains remarkably active. His ministry includes pastoral counseling, baptisms, weddings, Rosary vigils, funerals, house blessings, visits to the sick of his parish, and much more. He has two secretaries who assist him and he rarely takes a day off. He is the spiritual director for the Our Lady of Fatima devotions, the Padre Pio prayer group, the Divine Mercy prayer group and the Holy Family prayer group. After Mass on the first Sunday of each month, Father William leads special prayers for the God the Father prayer community. On the second Sunday, prayers are said with the St. Peregrine prayer community, and on the third Sunday, prayers are said with the Rosa Mystica prayer community. Father William still loves to teach Scripture and Catechism and for many years he has served as one of the exorcists for the archdiocese of San Francisco.

It was a blessing for us to meet Father William Lauriola and to visit his beautiful Immaculate Conception chapel. We were inspired by his kindness and his deep humility. Truly, we were blessed to meet him.

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 “It’s true Lord that you are always thinking of us. From the beginning of time, before we existed, even before the world existed, you have been dreaming of me, thinking of me, loving me. And it is true that your love created me. It’s true Lord, that you have conceived for my life a unique destiny. It’s true that you have an eternal plan for me, a wonderful plan that you have always cherished in your heart, as a father thinks over the smallest of the life of his little one, still unborn. It’s true that, always bending over me, you guide me to bring your plan about, light on my path and strength for my soul. . .You the divine Attentive One, you, the divine Patient One, you the divine Present One, see that at no time I forget your presence. I don’t ask you to bless what I myself have decided to do, but give me the grace to discover and to live what you have dreamed for me.”
– Father Michel Quoist

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While making a retreat at St. Joseph’s abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, we met Father Peter Pagano and Father James Mortimer. They were both visiting the abbey at the time of our retreat. Their testimonies follow:

Fr. James Mortimer:

“In 1958 I was able to make a trip to Rome to visit the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII. Three other priests from my diocese in Philadelphia accompanied me on the trip. We felt very blessed because, along with about fifteen other people, we were able to have a private audience with the Holy Father.

I felt a great sense of the Holy Spirit when we were in the presence of Pope Pius XII. He had such a profound and tangible spirituality. The priests who were with me, said that they felt the same way. We were convinced that we were truly in the presence of a saint. I brought him a gift, a zucchetta, which is the small hat the pope traditionally wears. I was delighted that he gave me his own zucchetta when I presented him with the gift. I treasured it as a relic.

After that, we went to Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. I did not know quite what to expect because at that time, I did not know that much about Padre Pio. I will say that if there were any doubts in my mind about Padre Pio, those doubts disappeared when I attended his Mass.

The church was very crowded that day. When Padre Pio came in to the church, a hush fell over the congregation. It was so quiet during Mass that you could have heard a pin drop. His Mass was awe-inspiring. I was very close to the altar and I could see the blood from the wounds in his hands. It was glistening.

After the Mass, I, along with the three priests I was with, had the privilege to each receive an individual blessing from Padre Pio. I was the first to receive the blessing. He put his hand on my head and prayed for me. I will say that I felt that I did not want to wash my hair, feeling that the blood from his wounded hand had touched it.”
– Father James Mortimer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Father Peter Pagano:

“I was ordained to the priesthood in 1952 in the diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. When I learned about Padre Pio and that he had the wounds of Christ, I was very moved. Each morning at Lauds, as I recited my morning prayers on my knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I offered my prayers for Padre Pio. I prayed that God would help him in his sufferings. I visited San Giovanni Rotondo in 1958 and I was able to make my confession to Padre Pio. He told me that he accepted me as his spiritual child and he called me, “child of my heart.”

I have always had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, our Mother and our Queen. I got in the habit of pinning a Miraculous Medal to my shirt. When people looked at me or spoke to me, they couldn’t miss the medal on my shirt. I asked Padre Pio to pray for my special intention, which was to spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He answered me and said, “Tutto cuore” (With all my heart).

In 1963, I went to visit Padre Pio once again, this time with Joe Peterson. Joe was a postman who worked in the Bronx in New York. He made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo every year on his vacation in order to see Padre Pio. Joe eventually moved to Cromwell, Connecticut where he had an apartment at the Holy Apostles Seminary. He often gave lectures on Padre Pio which were very well received.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, I told Padre Pio that I wanted to commission an artist to paint a picture of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Queen of the Universe for me. He recommended a woman named Olga who was actually a sculptor. When the painting was done, I asked Padre Pio to bless it and he was happy to do so. He liked the painting so much that he kidded with me and said, “If I was not a priest, I would take that painting from you and keep it for myself.”

Later, a person came up to me and told me that Padre Pio had pointed me out to several people and said, “I heard the confession of a good American priest today.” My devotion to Padre Pio has remained constant for these many years. I was able to order a life size bronze statue of Padre Pio from Rome which I placed in front of my house. This year, 2011, I turned 93 years old. I truly feel that Padre Pio has been with me for all these years.”

– Father Peter Pagano, North Adams, Massachusetts

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 51 – April-June 2012

Clarice Bruno

Clarice Bruno, was born in Chicago, Illinois into a devout Italian Catholic family. She attended Catholic schools throughout her youth and graduated from the fine Catholic institution, Rosemont College, in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Clarice, for the most part, took her Catholic faith for granted. She doubted many of the teachings of the Church. There was an indifference, an apathy in her heart regarding matters of religion. Although she attended Mass on Sundays, she did not consider herself to be a good Catholic.

Clarice made preparations for a trip to Chiavari, Italy in order to visit her friends and relatives. It was supposed to be a brief visit but it stretched out to be much longer. She enjoyed her trip to Chiavari so much that she decided to move there permanently.

After moving to Chiavari, Clarice felt a new lease on life. She enjoyed being reunited with her relatives and was happy to be making new friends. One night she had a vivid dream. In her dream, she was on her way to the church of Our Lady of Grace in Chiavari when the road suddenly became covered with large rocks. She tried to climb over them, but it proved to be impossible. Suddenly a large hand came from behind the rocks and helped her. At once, she found herself standing in front of the church. The large obstacle had been surmounted.

In front of the church, Clarice saw a Calvary composed of three wooden crosses. She was never able to lift her eyes from the base of the crosses because of the scene just beyond on the horizon. There, she saw a sea that was shimmering with an unearthly beauty. Sunlight danced upon the water and sparkled like diamonds. Clarice could not take her eyes from the beatific scene. Her heart felt an intense joy. When she woke up, she pondered the meaning of the dream. The beauty of the dream was beyond anything in her experience. She wondered if it could be a sign of something important that was soon to come into her life. She did not know.

At that time, Clarice was struggling with a heavy cross, a sorrow in her life. Her cross was waiting for her when she awoke in the morning and stayed with her until she fell asleep at night. She became very discouraged. Finally, she confided some of her anguish to a kind woman she had met a short time before. The woman advised her to seek the intercession of Padre Pio. She shared some of the facts surrounding Padre Pio’s life with Clarice.

Clarice felt skeptical about the woman’s words regarding Padre Pio. However, when the woman told her of some of the graces she had received through the intercession of Padre Pio, Clarice became more interested. “I think you should write a letter to Padre Pio,” the woman said. “In the letter, you can explain all that is troubling you. You can ask Padre Pio to pray for you.” Clarice became convinced that it was a good idea and quickly penned a letter and sent it. Clarice assumed that Padre Pio would soon write back to her. She imagined that it would be a long letter filled with spiritual insights and wise counsel. What she did not know was that all of Padre Pio’s correspondence was handled by his secretaries.

One night as Clarice was getting ready for bed, she noticed a very strong scent of roses in her room. She could find no explanation for the beautiful fragrance. She knew that there were no flowers in the house. There were certainly no flowers in her bedroom. She looked under her bed just to make sure that no one had hidden roses there, but just as she had suspected, she found nothing.

The next morning, Clarice greeted her uncle, her father, and several other friends who were sitting around the dining table downstairs. Clarice’s uncle, who lived at the house with her and her family, told her that he had a very strange experience the night before. As he was getting ready for bed, his room became filled with the fragrance of sweet-smelling flowers. It was a fresh and delightful fragrance and it lingered in the room for a long time. The fragrance of gardenias, then carnations, and finally violets followed. It happened between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. He thought that it might be a premonition of the death of a friend or relative. Clarice told her uncle that she too had the same experience the night before, when the beautiful scent of roses filled her room at about 12:30 a.m.

The next time Clarice saw the woman who had shared the story of Padre Pio’s life with her, she told her what she and her uncle had experienced in their home. The woman then explained to Clarice that Padre Pio often let people know that he was interceding for them by allowing them to experience a wonderful fragrance. Clarice had never heard of such a gift. She thought about the letter that she had written to Padre Pio. She had sent it to him just three days before. She was convinced that he had received her letter and was letting her know by the scent of roses that his spirit was with her. Clarice felt a great hope rise up in her heart. She had faith that Padre Pio was going to help her in her difficulties.

Clarice wrote a second letter to Padre Pio. She thanked him for the fragrance of roses that she had experienced. She included a donation in the letter. She told him that she had faith in him and that she was waiting for a reply. A few days after she wrote the second letter, she noticed the fragrance of lilies all around her. The wonderful fragrance came suddenly and with great intensity and then vanished just as suddenly as it had come.

Clarice decided to write a third letter to Padre Pio. Again she thanked him for the fragrances of roses and lilies. She wrote that she was waiting to hear his words of wisdom and again she enclosed a donation in the letter. After she sent the letter, the delightful perfumes ceased altogether. There were no more tangible signs of Padre Pio’s nearness.

Every day, Clarice went to the post office to see if a letter from Padre Pio was waiting for her, but no letter ever came. She often thought about her dream and the hand that lifted her over the barrier of rocks and placed her right at the entrance to Our Lady of Grace church. There was a barrier in her own life, a cross that she carried daily. More than anything else, she wanted to be freed from it. She clung to the hope that Padre Pio would be able to help her.

One night, Clarice’s darkened bedroom became illuminated with a soft light, similar to moonlight. As unbelievable as it was, she saw Padre Pio standing at the foot of her bed. He was wearing a brown Capuchin robe. Around his waist was his Capuchin cord and he rested one of his hands on it. He was wearing gloves that only covered part of his hands. There was fear in Clarice’s heart and at the same time there was no fear. Padre Pio said three words to her but she did not understand the meaning of the words. She tried to turn on the light next to her bed, but for some reason the light would not turn on.

A second time, Padre Pio repeated the three words, the words that she did not understand. Again she pushed the switch to turn on the light, but it would not turn on. For a third time, Padre Pio said the mysterious words. Then he vanished. The soft glow that reminded her of moonlight vanished right along with him. Clarice touched the light switch and this time it turned on easily. Just as the light came on, she saw her bedroom door swing open as if somebody was leaving the room.

Seeing Padre Pio at her bedside was something that Clarice would never have believed possible. She had waited a long time for a letter from him but she had never received one. She was not concerned about that anymore. She had received something much greater than a letter. Padre Pio had come to her in person. Clarice was certain now that Padre Pio was aware of her needs and that he would lead her on the right path.

Several months later, Clarice traveled to Rome to visit her good friend, Margherita Hamilton. Clarice shared with Margherita what she had recently learned about Padre Pio. Margherita told Clarice that she ought to consider visiting Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. After discussing all the particulars, they decided to make the trip together. From Rome, they boarded a train to Foggia and then took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo.

When Clarice and Margherita arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, they felt as though they had stepped back in time. San Giovanni Rotondo in the post World War II years was a primitive village. Both men and women rode mules and horse-drawn carts through the town. Electricity and running water seemed to be in short supply and in some parts of the town, nonexistent. The local women carried urns as they walked through the main street of town to the public well. Clarice described San Giovanni Rotondo as a “semi-wilderness.”

There were two hotels in the little town and neither were in good condition. Clarice and Margherita felt fortunate to find lodging in the cleaner of the two. In order to get to Padre Pio’s early morning Mass, they had to get up in the middle of the night and walk two miles in the darkness. There was not a single light on the road to guide them to the church.

During their first full day in San Giovanni Rotondo, Clarice and Margherita met Mary Pyle. Mary lived in a spacious house that was situated very close to the monastery. Nestled in an almond grove, Mary’s pink house was a haven for countless pilgrims who came to see Padre Pio. Clarice and Margherita felt fortunate to be able to rent two rooms in Mary’s home for the duration of their visit.

Mary Pyle was well aware that there was a shortage of accommodations in San Giovanni Rotondo and she did what she could to help the situation. She put three cots in the basement of her home in order to offer hospitality to the pilgrims who needed lodging. To provide for more people, Mary added another story to her house.

Although Clarice was very grateful for the hospitality, the room that Mary Pyle offered to her left much to be desired. The room was damp and cold and Clarice could find no way to take the chill off. There was a wood-burning stove in the corner of the room but unfortunately it was broken. The night stand consisted of a piece of wood on top of a stack of bricks. Clarice’s bed was very short and very narrow. The mattress was stuffed with dried leaves and corn husks. It was very uncomfortable to say the least. Nevertheless, she preferred the room she had been given to the room in the basement.

One had to admire Mary for her true Franciscan spirit and her detachment from worldly comforts and possessions. Her own bed was even more uncomfortable than the one given to Clarice. It was more like a wooden chest than a bed. No one could understand how Mary was able to sleep on such a hard bed. People often teased her about her bed but she could never be persuaded to exchange it for a more comfortable one.

Mary, who was born into a wealthy family in New York City, visited Padre Pio’s monastery for the first time in 1923. She was so impressed by attending his Mass and receiving his priestly blessing that she decided to move to San Giovanni Rotondo permanently. Mary had truly left her wealthy New York City lifestyle far behind her.

Mary was in the process of moving to a very small and modest room near the basement of her house when Clarice and Margherita made her acquaintance. The bedroom that Mary had been occupying was large and comfortable and included a sunny balcony. She decided to move to the lower floor of the house in order to offer her warm and pleasant room to the pilgrims.

During their visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, Clarice and Margherita were impressed by Mary’s many works of charity. A number of the people in the town were illiterate. They often knocked on Mary’s door, asking her to write letters for them. They would dictate the letters to Mary as she wrote. She was always very glad to be of assistance.

Mary, along with some of her companions, baked the hosts that were used for Holy Communion at the monastery and sewed the priestly vestments of the Capuchins. Her workload was always heavy and she hardly had a moment to spare. Padre Pio was very much aware of Mary’s generous heart. He often sent people to her house who had needs of one kind or another, knowing that Mary would help them to the best of her ability.

The children in San Giovanni Rotondo loved to visit Mary in her home. She often played games with them and made sure to keep little prizes on hand for such occasions. One favorite game was “Lotto.” Mary always included a Catechism lesson whenever the local children visited her. Due to Mary’s continual and dedicated efforts, the children in the area possessed an impressive understanding of their Catholic faith. When the local children were ready to make their first Holy Communion, Mary purchased suits for the boys and white dresses for the girls if their parents could not afford to do so.

Clarice felt very fortunate to be able to spend time with Mary Pyle as well as other devout souls who served Padre Pio’s work. Since the time she had arrived, Clarice had been looking forward to going to confession to Padre Pio. Finally, her opportunity came. When Clarice walked into the confessional and knelt down, she was struck by the fact that Padre Pio’s hand was resting on the cord of his Capuchin habit. She remembered that his hand was in the exact same position when he visited her in bilocation at her home in Chiavari. Clarice was also struck by Padre Pio’s eyes. They seemed to look right inside her soul. There was also a severity in his gaze.

In the confessional, Padre Pio told Clarice that he would do all the talking. He then began to name her sins one by one, and each time he did so, she confirmed that what he said was true. He counseled her regarding the burden that she had been carrying in her heart for such a long time. He told her that she was enduring a “true calvary.” “Even if you are not able to feel joy in carrying your cross, at least try to practice resignation and patience,” he said to her.

The confession to Padre Pio was over in less than three minutes. Clarice felt a great sense of peace in her heart. There had been no need for her to explain anything to Padre Pio. It was obvious that he was aware of everything in her life. In a few short words, he was able to counsel her and give her new hope.

Because it was so chilly in Mary Pyle’s home, Clarice used to walk briskly up and down the road that fronted her house, in an effort to warm up. One day, as Clarice walked past the church of Our Lady of Grace, she looked inside and noticed that several of the local women were cleaning it. She learned that they followed a regular weekly cleaning schedule. Clarice began to join the women in their work and counted it a great privilege.

The monastery church of Our Lady of Grace had a Franciscan simplicity and beauty that were uplifting to the spirit. Beautiful statues had been placed in the niches and alcoves. A lovely painting of Our Lady of Grace had a permanent place in the sanctuary. Over the altar railing was an arch on which delicate roses and lilies had been painted. It reminded Clarice of her experience in Chiavari when the beautiful fragrance of roses and lilies filled her room.

In the afternoons, the Capuchin priests and brothers would gather in the choir loft of the church for the recitation of their community prayers. At those times, Clarice and the other women who cleaned the church, observed a strict silence, taking care not to disturb the Capuchins in any way. Clarice was able to distinguish Padre Pio’s voice from the others during the time of vocal prayers. He never hurried through his prayers but pronounced each word slowly and with great deliberation. Clarice always noticed a sadness in Padre Pio’s voice as he prayed with his fellow Capuchins.

Clarice and Margherita were able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass each morning and they counted it a great and inestimable gift. At the time of Holy Communion, the people in the congregation walked up to the top of the stairs in the sanctuary. There they knelt before Padre Pio to receive Holy Communion. This saved him from having to walk down to the altar rail to distribute Holy Communion. The painful wounds of the stigmata that pierced his feet, made it very difficult for him to walk.

After Padre Pio’s early morning Mass, confessions were heard in the church until 10:00 a.m. When the confessions were over, all activity in the church stopped and did not resume again until the following morning. Each day during their visit, Clarice and Margherita had ample time to explore the town. On occasion, they would walk to the cemetery where Padre Pio’s parents were buried and pray at their graveside.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Clarice and Margherita made the acquaintance of a kind man named Mario who, along with his wife, owned a restaurant in town. The restaurant had a dirt floor, and oddly enough, there was a well right inside the restaurant. The restaurant looked more like a small cabin than an eating establishment. During the cold weather, the wind would whistle through the cracks in the walls. It was a primitive place, to be sure.

Mario’s wife had a great devotion to Padre Pio. On one occasion, when she made her confession to Padre Pio, she told him that she was concerned about her four-year-old son. “I feel worried,” she said to Padre Pio. “I have to work in the restaurant all the time with Mario, and I am not able to give my son the time or the attention that he needs.” Padre Pio told her not to worry. He told her that he would always watch over her son and that he would protect him from harm. The woman left the confessional greatly consoled.

A few days later, the woman heard the sound of screaming coming from the street. When she rushed out of the restaurant to find out what had happened, she saw her son being pulled out from underneath a large truck. The next time she went to confession to Padre Pio, she told him about the frightening incident. “My son was almost killed by a large truck,” the woman said. “Well, did he get hurt?” Padre Pio asked. “No, he did not,” the woman answered. “Did he get even a scratch?” Padre Pio asked. “No, not even that,” the woman replied. “That’s right,” Padre Pio said. “I told you that I would protect him.”

The days that Clarice and Margherita spent in San Giovanni Rotondo passed quickly. When it was time for them to return to their homes, they knew they had been truly blessed, far beyond their expectations. They made many subsequent trips to San Giovanni Rotondo through the years.

ne summer when Clarice was visiting the monastery, she became very ill with a painful intestinal problem. None of the remedies she tried proved to be of any help. She then remembered the blessed water of Padre Pio. There was a well in the courtyard of the monastery and both the well and the water in it had been blessed by Padre Pio. Many of the residents of the town had great faith in its healing powers and took the water home in bottles. Clarice drank some of the blessed water and was immediately healed of her intestinal problem.

Clarice often invited her friends and relatives to join her on her trips to San Giovanni Rotondo. She began organizing pilgrimages as well. She was instrumental in starting a number of Padre Pio prayer groups in her area and she remained dedicated to promoting Padre Pio for the rest of her life. “Try to remain under God’s gaze and God will always bear you witness,” Padre Pio said to her on one occasion.

When Clarice was diagnosed with an incurable illness, her faith remained strong. She hoped that she would recover but she was completely resigned to the will of God. She said that Divine Providence had always arranged the events in her life for her good. “If it happens that I should die soon, I know that this would be the best possible thing for me,” she said to her dear friend Margherita Hamilton. Clarice Bruno died peacefully on August 5, 1970.

 

I urge you to unite with me and draw near to Jesus with me, to receive his embrace and a kiss that sanctifies and saves us . . . Let us not cease then, to kiss this divine Son in this way, for if these are the kisses we give him now, he himself will come to take us in his arms and give us the kiss of peace in the last sacraments at the hour of death.
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 50 – January-March 2012

Diana Graves was an actress by profession who lived and worked in London, England. She suffered from emphysema and bronchiectasis. Both diseases were progressive and incurable, and as time passed, Diana was spending more and more time in the hospital, being treated for her chronic condition. When her health took a turn for the worse, her doctors strongly advised her to move to a milder climate. The damp and cold of London weakened her lungs and aggravated her breathing problems. For the sake of her health, she needed to relocate to a place that had a warm and dry climate.

Diana, who was thirty-five years old, decided to move to Rome where the climate would be more conducive to her health. Diana’s cousin, Jenny, lived in Rome, which was an added bonus. Rome also had the Cinecittà, a large film studio that hosted international movie productions as well as television productions. It was considered to be the hub of Italian cinema. With all of her acting experience, Diana hoped to be able to work there.

Life was not easy for Diana after she moved to Rome. She had some serious financial setbacks which were a cause of great anxiety to her. She also became so ill that she had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions. Her cousin, Jenny, suggested that they make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Hopefully, they would be able to ask Padre Pio to pray for Diana’s recovery. Diana thought it was an excellent idea.

After Diana had regained some of her strength, she and Jenny took a night train to Foggia and then a taxi to San Giovanni Rotondo. They arrived at the church of Our Lady of Grace just as the Mass was concluding. Diana was so weak and exhausted from the journey that she feared she might faint. She needed to get off of her feet but there wasn’t a single empty seat available in the church for her to sit in.

As Padre Pio made his way toward the confessional, a large group of people crowded around him. He looked ill and he appeared to be fighting for breath in the stifling atmosphere. Diana knew that Padre Pio suffered from the same general health problems that she did. He had chronic bronchitis and asthma which often made it difficult for him to breathe.

Diana was able to speak to one of the Capuchins, Father Dominic Meyer. She explained to him that she was very sick and wondered if it could be arranged for her to receive a blessing from Padre Pio. Father Dominic told Diana that there were people in the church who had been waiting weeks for the same opportunity. However, he said he would try to help.

An hour later, Father Dominic motioned for Diana and Jenny to follow him. Amidst a huge crowd of people who were pushing and shoving, they were able to enter the sacristy. With great effort, Father Dominic managed to close the door. There were about twelve people in the sacristy, and many looked as though they were very ill. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Father Dominic whispered in his ear, pointing certain people out to him. Padre Pio would then go to the person that Father Dominic had spoken to him about, and give that person an individual blessing. When Father Dominic pointed to Diana, Padre Pio smiled at her. He put his hand on her head and spoke words which she did not understand.

On the last day of their visit, Diana and Jenny went back to the monastery and spent time in the church of Our Lady of Grace. At one point, a woman who was standing directly behind Diana, let out a piercing scream. There was an atmosphere of sheer pandemonium in the church that day. Padre Pio was very upset by the noise. “Silence!” he exclaimed. “This is a holy place. No one should be making noise!”

After Diana left San Giovanni Rotondo, she realized what a great impact the visit to Padre Pio had made on her. “It was the only time in my life that I have come in contact with a man of almost perfect goodness and spiritual strength,” she said of Padre Pio. After returning to Rome, she felt a great sense of detachment from all earthly concerns. She no longer felt like she must desperately cling to life and she was now prepared to accept death, whenever it came. Seeing Padre Pio face to face gave her the strength to do so. Nothing else seemed to matter. Diana Graves died peacefully shortly after her visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

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I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside
Into the shadows where we could confide;
Away from the hustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

I needed the quiet, though at first I rebelled,
But gently, so gently my cross He upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things,
Though weakened in body my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when
strength filled my days
He loved me so gently, he drew me away.

I needed the quiet, no prison my bed
But a beautiful valley of blessing instead;
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide
I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside.

– Alice Hansche Mortenson

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Antonio Paladino of Foggia, Italy, earned his living as a day laborer. He had a serious accident on one occasion when he was hit by a car. Due to the accident, he lost most of the movement in his left foot. It became almost completely useless. He also incurred other serious injuries. Finally, he was declared totally disabled and was forced to retire from his job. Due to his disability, he received a small monthly pension.

Eventually, Antonio married and had a large family. As time passed, his health began to decline. He suffered from a heart condition as well as a lung disease. He was hospitalized on many occasions. Instead of improving, he grew steadily worse. The small pension he received was not enough to support his wife and twelve children. Antonio felt a growing sense of anger and frustration regarding the many trials in his life. As a result, he lost his faith in God. His moral life deteriorated as well. He had a deep sense of guilt regarding some of his actions but he did not have the motivation to change.

A number of people urged Antonio to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was considered to be one of the finest hospitals in Italy. It boasted of an impressive staff of doctors as well as state of the art medical technology. Antonio’s failing health caused him to feel desperate. He finally agreed to seek medical help in San Giovanni Rotondo. Antonio was taken to the Home for the Relief of Suffering on a stretcher on December 6, 1968. He hoped for improved health but was not confident that the doctors would be able to help him.

Day after day, Antonio lay in bed, immobilized and in great pain. A cane was beside his bed but it was of no use to him. His legs were completely paralyzed. Antonio’s anger and depression over his condition was apparent to all who entered his hospital room. He used bad language while speaking to the doctors, the nurses, and even to the nuns who worked at the hospital. He did not care that his profanities offended the hospital staff. It almost seemed as if he enjoyed offending people. Padre Pio, who had passed away several months before, was also on the receiving end of Antonio’s anger. What did Antonio think of Padre Pio? He believed him to be a deceiver and a charlatan. And Padre Pio’s hospital? It had not improved Antonio’s condition in any way. As far as he was concerned, the Home for the Relief of Suffering was just another failure. He was convinced that when he was finally discharged, he would be no better off than when he had entered. One of the nuns who worked at the hospital began to pray each day to Padre Pio for Antonio’s healing.

On the evening of December 12, Antonio was sleeping soundly in his hospital bed when he suddenly felt someone tapping him on the shoulder. Five times he was tapped on his shoulder. Antonio opened his eyes to find a monk standing beside his bed. “Get up and come with me,” the monk said. “But I cannot walk,” Antonio replied. “You must get up and follow me,” the monk insisted. Antonio looked over at the cane that was in his room, even though he knew it was useless to him. “You will not need that cane,” the monk said. Antonio was amazed to find that he could move his legs. He was able to get out of bed without assistance.

Antonio followed behind the monk who walked up and down the hospital corridor. Antonio had been immobile for so long that he was exhausted by the brief exercise. His entire body was sweating profusely. Nevertheless, he followed the monk obediently, like a puppy dog would follow its master. Finally, they returned to Antonio’s room. The monk smiled at Antonio and said, “You have done well. Are you convinced now that you can walk just like anyone else? Tomorrow you will feel even better than you do right now. Antonio, I want you to come and visit my tomb.” Right after that, the monk vanished. Antonio then understood that his visitor had been Padre Pio.

The next morning, Antonio felt a great happiness in his heart. He was simply bursting with joy. He felt renewed within and without. He realized that the constant pain that had wracked his body for many years was gone. His breathing too felt completely normal. He was certain that he no longer needed to depend on the oxygen tank that was at his bedside. When he got out of bed and walked down the hall, the hospital staff looked at him in disbelief. Antonio explained that Padre Pio had come to him in the night and had healed him. He told the details of his remarkable experience to the doctors, the nurses, and the patients. Everyone listened with great interest. For several days, Antonio did nothing but repeat his story over and over again to the many people who asked him for an explanation.

Dr. Federico Ficola, who worked in the orthopedic and trauma departments at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, listened with great interest to Antonio’s story. Dr. Ficola saw the amazing change in Antonio’s condition and marveled at it. Dr. Giuseppe Gusso, the chief of staff and medical director of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, also saw the transformation in Antonio’s physical condition. Dr. Gusso noted that Antonio’s personality seemed to have undergone a complete transformation as well.

Before his remarkable experience, Antonio had been openly hostile to those he came in contact with. His arrogance and sarcasm made him very unpleasant to be with. However, his anger and negativity seemed to have vanished overnight. He now interacted with people in a loving and friendly way. He had previously been a nonbeliever. He now acknowledged God sincerely, with his words and with his actions. It was obvious to everyone who spoke to him that he was a man of deep faith. He began to pray diligently for all of the patients at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Antonio had truly been healed in body, mind, and spirit.

Soon, Antonio was discharged from the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Upon leaving the hospital, he went to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. He had an important appointment to keep. When Padre Pio had appeared to him in the hospital, he had asked him to visit his tomb. Antonio walked down to the tomb unaided. He no longer needed to use a wheelchair. He knew that he had Padre Pio to thank for that.

A number of people were gathered at Padre Pio’s tomb when Antonio arrived. He knelt down and prayed aloud without any shame. In a strong voice, he named the serious sins in his life, one by one. He asked God to forgive him. He was truly sorry for the many wrongs of his past. All who were at the tomb heard Antonio’s public confession and were deeply moved. Many were crying when he finished his prayer. Antonio’s family and friends had hoped that he might receive some improvement in his health at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. No one had ever imagined that he would receive so much.

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In 1945, thirty-four-year-old Giuseppe Canaponi, a railway worker from Sarteano, Italy was riding to work on his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck. He was hospitalized with a fractured skull as well as numerous broken bones. For a while it was touch and go, and the doctors did not know if Giuseppe would live or die. Gradually, he recovered from all of his injuries except one. His left leg, which had been broken in five places, remained completely rigid and caused him constant pain.

Giuseppe had numerous surgeries on his leg as well as physical therapy, but to no avail. He had to use crutches in order to walk. His left knee too, was a problem. He was not able to bend his knee and was finally diagnosed with “fibrous ankylosis” of the knee. To add to his problems, the incisions made in his leg for the corrective surgeries, did not heal. The open and painful wounds added to his distress.

Giuseppe became very depressed. It had been more than two years since the accident but his condition had not improved. He was declared permanently disabled and forced to retire from his job at the railroad. His health in general was going in a downward spiral and he feared that death was approaching. His wife’s strong faith made up for his own lack of faith. She wrote several letters to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for Giuseppe’s healing. She told Giuseppe that they should make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, but he was not interested. He did not think it would be beneficial. Giuseppe’s wife continued to talk to him about Padre Pio and he finally agreed to make the trip.

Giuseppe and his wife took a train to Rome and then to Foggia. Giuseppe was in intense pain on the train trip. After they arrived in Foggia, Giuseppe lost his footing and took a very bad fall. He and his wife spent the night in the train station. The next morning, they took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Trying to get situated in a comfortable position on the bus was next to impossible. The bus driver dropped them off almost two miles from the monastery. A single dirt road lay in front of them. They had no choice but to walk the distance.

Giuseppe breathed a sigh of relief when he and his wife finally arrived at the little monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. The trip to San Giovanni Rotondo had been much more difficult that he had ever imagined. He was so exhausted from the journey that he slipped into one of the back pews and laid down. Taking a short rest in the church seemed to revive him.

Inside the church of Our Lady of Grace, there were several Capuchin priests. Giuseppe wondered if one of them might be Padre Pio. One of the Capuchins was hearing confessions in a nearby confessional. The curtain of the confessional was parted slightly and when the priest raised his hand to give the penitent absolution, Giuseppe noticed that he was wearing half-gloves. “That must certainly be Padre Pio!” Giuseppe said to himself. At that very moment, Padre Pio lifted his eyes and looked straight at him. When their eyes met, Giuseppe felt as though he had been hit by a bolt of electricity. His entire body began to tremble.

Giuseppe decided to wait in line to make his confession to Padre Pio. In the confessional, he did not have to worry about remembering all of the sins of his past. Padre Pio remembered them for him, down to the letter. He named them one by one, as Giuseppe listened and affirmed that what he said was true. Padre Pio was very kind and very compassionate. Giuseppe was suddenly able to see his sins for what they were – offenses against God. When Padre Pio gave him absolution, Giuseppe’s whole body began to tremble, just like it had when their eyes met for the first time.

When Giuseppe left the confessional, he felt like a new person. His wife saw him walking toward her and noticed that he looked very peaceful. She suddenly realized that Giuseppe was walking without his crutches. “Giuseppe, look. You are not using your crutches and you are walking just fine!” she said. Giuseppe had not noticed it until his wife mentioned it to him. He was just as astonished as she was. Not only was he walking unaided, he was also free of pain. But there was more. His knee had lost its rigidity. He then reflected that he had been able to kneel with ease while making his confession to Padre Pio, something that had previously been impossible for him to do. At the time he was making his confession, it had not occurred to him that he was doing anything unusual.

When Giuseppe returned to his hotel room, he examined his leg closely. He repeatedly knelt down on his “once immobile knee” and had no trouble doing so. In addition, the open and painful sores on his leg, which had bothered him for months, had all healed over. It was true. Giuseppe had received a miraculous healing.

The next day, Giuseppe went to the monastery to thank Padre Pio. “You do not need to thank me because I did not heal you,” Padre Pio said. “It was God who healed you. All I did was pray.” When Giuseppe went back to the doctor’s office for a check-up, he was greeted with amazement by his doctor. His doctor was shocked to see the change in his condition. Giuseppe’s case was eventually studied in Rome in a special Orthopedic Congress and presented to eight hundred doctors. His instantaneous recovery defied scientific explanation.

As time went by, Giuseppe made many more trips to see Padre Pio. The two became close friends. Giuseppe tried to think of different ways in which he could help the Capuchin community at Our Lady of Grace monastery. Because he had worked as an electrician for the railroad before his accident, he put his skills to good use. He thoroughly examined the wiring system at the monastery and did much repair work to the electrical outlets. Padre Pio was very happy to see the improvements he was making at the monastery.

As time passed, Giuseppe became a part of the inner circle of Padre Pio’s closest friends. On one occasion, Giuseppe went to see Padre Pio on a very cold and rainy evening. Even though he was not feeling well, he decided to visit Padre Pio anyway. Due to a sore throat and laryngitis, he was not able to speak above a whisper. He was soaking wet when he walked into Padre Pio’s cell. Father Carmelo was visiting with Padre Pio at the time.

Padre Pio noticed at once that Giuseppe looked ill. He asked Father Carmelo to see if he could find some warm clothes for Giuseppe to put on. Father Carmelo tried his best but could not find any. Padre Pio began to look around the room and finally found one of his large scarves. He put it around Giuseppe’s neck. At once, Giuseppe felt a wonderful warmth coursing through his entire body. “I feel better already!” he said to Padre Pio. As he spoke the words, he suddenly realized that his laryngitis was gone. Giuseppe felt such a sense of well-being that he did not want to take the scarf off. He wore it home that night and then kept it on for many days. Finally, Padre Pio told him that he could keep it. Giuseppe was very happy to be in possession of a relic of Padre Pio. Many of Padre Pio’s spiritual children had a desire for such a relic, but very few were able to obtain one.

One day, Padre Pio lost his handkerchief and was looking everywhere for it. Giuseppe had a handkerchief with him and offered it to Padre Pio. Padre Pio took it and put it inside his habit, over his heart wound. He always kept a cloth over the wound to absorb the blood. Later, Padre Pio returned Giuseppe’s handkerchief to him. Even though it had been washed and ironed, there were still blood stains visible on it.

On one occasion, Giuseppe felt a strong desire to pray for Padre Pio’s deceased parents, Grazio and Giuseppa Forgione. He began to pray for them faithfully every day. Later, he became busy with many other concerns, and eventually forgot to include them in his prayers. One day at the monastery, Padre Pio’s words surprised Giuseppe. “I want to thank you, Giuseppe,” Padre Pio said. “What do you want to thank me for?” Giuseppe asked. “I want to thank you for the prayers you said for my dear parents,” Padre Pio replied. Giuseppe had never mentioned to anyone that he had been praying for Grazio and Giuseppa.

From his very first meeting with Padre Pio in the confessional, Giuseppe felt Padre Pio’s paternal love and care. He was like a father to Giuseppe. It was true that Padre Pio had a reputation for being stern. That was not Giuseppe’s experience. In the years that followed, Giuseppe felt continually supported by Padre Pio’s prayers. He once stated that the only time he felt truly happy was when he was with Padre Pio.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 49 – October-December 2011

The word angel is derived from the ancient Greek word aggelos which means messenger. The angels are God’s instruments or messengers whom he uses to communicate his will. References to the celestial or non-corporal beings better known as angels, are mentioned more than 100 times in the Old Testament and more than 150 times in the New Testament. From the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation, scriptures speak of the existence of angels.

In the book of Genesis, the three men who appear to Abraham are angels who have taken human form (Genesis 18:2). An angel of the Lord appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) in order to lead the Israelites from captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land. The birth of Jesus was foretold by angels (Luke 2:14). An angel ministered to Jesus when he was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:11) and an angel comforted him in his Agony in the Garden (Luke 22:43). An angel rolled back the stone at the empty tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:5) and the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead was announced by an angel. In the book of Acts, God sent an angel to free the Apostle Peter after he was jailed by King Herod (Acts 12:7).

Among the angels that are mentioned in Holy Scripture, St. Michael the Archangel is described as “one of the chief princes” and the leader of the heavenly hosts. His name means, “Who is like God?” St. Michael has been honored and invoked as patron and protector of the Church since the time of the Apostles. The Greek Fathers of the Church placed St. Michael over all the other angels as “prince of the Seraphim.”

In an address to American pilgrims on October 3, 1958, Pope Pius XII spoke eloquently of the holy angels and said, “The angels are glorious, pure and splendid. They have been given to us as companions along the way of life. They have the task of watching over you all, so that you do not stray away from Christ, your Lord.”

Pope John Paul II emphasized the important role of angels when he gave six General Audiences in Rome from July 9 to August 20, 1986 entitled “Angels Participate in the History of Salvation.” In his catechesis on the holy angels, Pope John Paul II expressed the hope that all people would come to the realization of the reality of angels. In January of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “In the face of the challenges of our times and the tribulations which every individual experiences in his life, it is salutary to recall the powerful help and solicitous guidance of the holy angels who work together for the benefit of us all.”

Among the angelic beings, the role of the guardian angel is one of great importance. The Church teaches that the special work of the guardian angel is to guide an individual on his journey toward God and to protect him from harm during his earthly pilgrimage. The Church celebrates the feast of the Guardian Angels each year on October 2.

Padre Pio had an especially tender love and devotion for his guardian angel. From the time that he was five years old, he was able to see and converse with his guardian angel. In his childlike simplicity, he assumed that everyone had the same experience. Enjoying an intimate friendship with his angel, Padre Pio referred to him as the “companion of my childhood.” The loving relationship continued throughout Padre Pio’s life. For Padre Pio, his angel was his support, his protector, his teacher, his brother, and his friend. At times, Padre Pio’s guardian angel acted as his secretary as well as his heavenly “postman” carrying messages to his spiritual children.

Padre Pio’s guardian angel awakened him in the morning, and together they would join in prayer and praise to God. Padre Pio wrote to Father Agostino:

“Again at night when I close my eyes, the veil is lifted and I see Paradise open up before me; and gladdened by this vision I sleep with a smile of sweet beatitude on my lips and a perfectly tranquil countenance, waiting for the little companion of my childhood to come to waken me, so that we may sing together the morning praises to the Beloved of our hearts.” (Letters 1)

When Padre Pio was a newly ordained priest, Father Agostino visited him periodically in Pietrelcina and also corresponded with him through letters. Padre Pio benefitted greatly from Father Agostino’s wise counsel. It became obvious that the demons, who often tormented Padre Pio, were not pleased with the spiritual help that he was receiving from Father Agostino. They made many efforts to interfere. Often, Padre Pio would develop a violent headache when he started to answer one of Father Agostino’s letters. The headache would be accompanied by a severe pain in his right arm which would make it impossible for him to hold a pen in his hand and write. In addition, some of the letters exchanged between Father Agostino and Padre Pio were obviously tampered with. Some were mysteriously marred with ink stains.

Padre Pio told Father Agostino about the trouble the demons were causing. He also explained the situation to the parish priest of Pietrelcina, Father Salvatore Pannullo. Father Pannullo asked Padre Pio to summon him the next time he received a letter from Father Agostino as he wanted to be present when the letter was opened. Padre Pio did as instructed.

The next time Padre Pio received a letter from Father Agostino, Father Pannullo was standing right beside him. Upon opening the letter, Padre Pio and Father Pannullo discovered that it was completely covered with ink. Father Pannullo then placed a crucifix on the letter which made it a little easier to read. Father Pannullo left a written testimony regarding the letter and said:

“I, the undersigned, archpriest of Pietrelina, under holy oath, attest that the present letter, opened in my presence, arrived blotted out as it is, and was completely illegible. I put a crucifix on it, blessed it with holy water and recited holy exorcisms; I was able to read it as it is now. In fact, I called my niece, Grace Pannullo, a teacher. She read it in the presence of Padre Pio and myself, ignorant of what had happened before I called her.”

On another occasion, a letter arrived for Padre Pio from Father Agostino which consisted of nothing more than a blank sheet of paper. Padre Pio did not need to ask Father Agostino if he had forgotten to compose a letter. He was perfectly aware that the devil had tampered with it.

In order to confound the devil, Father Agostino got in the habit of writing to Padre Pio in French. Padre Pio had never studied French but he was able to read the letters with ease. From time to time he would reply to Father Agostino in French. Father Agostino also wrote to him in Greek and once again, he had no difficulty understanding.

Father Pannullo was perplexed about the letters that Padre Pio was receiving from Father Agostino. He knew that Padre Pio had studied neither Greek nor French and asked him how it was possible for him to read the letters. “You know, my guardian angel explains everything to me,” Padre Pio replied. On rare occasions, Padre Pio was also heard conversing in languages he had never studied.

On September 20, 1912, Padre Pio wrote to Father Agostino and said:

“The heavenly beings continue to visit me and to give me a foretaste of the rapture of the blessed. And while the mission of our guardian angels is a great one, my own angel’s mission is certainly greater, since he has the additional task of teaching me other languages.” (Letters I)

On one occasion, Father Agostino asked Padre Pio if Jesus often appeared to him. Padre Pio replied that Jesus frequently appeared to him and spoke to him. Sometimes he appeared with the visible marks of the crucifixion on his body. Padre Pio told Father Agostino that the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as his guardian angel also appeared to him.

In 1911, Padre Pio was sent to the Capuchin monastery of Venafro in the province of Isernia. Father Agostino was present in Venafro when Padre Pio went into a state of ecstasy. It was the first time that Father Agostino had ever seen him in a state of ecstatic prayer. He listened closely to the words Padre Pio spoke and realized that he was conversing with his guardian angel. While Father Agostino could see nothing, it was obvious to him that Padre Pio was able to see and communicate with angelic beings.

Padre Pio encouraged his spiritual daughter, Annita Rodote of Foggia, to have great devotion to her guardian angel. He wrote to her from Pietrelcina on July 15, 1915 and said:

“May your good guardian angel always watch over you; may he be your guide on the rugged path of life. May he always keep you in the grace of Jesus and sustain you with his hands so that you may not stumble on a stone. May he protect you under his wings from all the snares of the world, the devil and the flesh.

Have great devotion, Annita, to this good angel; how consoling it is to know that near us is a spirit who, from the cradle to the tomb, does not leave us even for an instant, not even when we dare to sin. And this heavenly spirit guides and protects us like a friend, a brother.” (Letters III)

On one occasion, when a man was making his confession to Padre Pio, it became apparent to him that Padre Pio was aware of his needs, even before he had a chance to verbalize them. “The angel told me about your problems,” Padre Pio explained. “I suffered greatly to hear of them. I understand your moments of sadness and moral suffering. Always remember that you are in my heart just as I am in yours.”

Padre Pio had a lifelong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel. He prayed to the Archangel daily. He had experienced the protection of St. Michael many times throughout his life. Every year, he would fast in order to prepare himself for St. Michael’s feast day on September 29. When hearing confessions, Padre Pio frequently asked individuals to recite prayers in honor of St. Michael as their penance. He often urged people to visit Monte Sant’ Angelo, the ancient shrine dedicated to St. Michael. It is one of the few sanctuaries in the world that is dedicated to an angel.

Among the many pilgrims that have traveled to the shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, there have been eight popes as well as many canonized saints including St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gerard Majella, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Thomas Aquinas and more. Emperors, kings, and princes through the centuries have also knelt in prayer at the holy grotto. It is indeed providential that the shrine of St. Michael is located on Mount Gargano, just a short distance from San Giovanni Rotondo.

In the summer of 1917, as a young priest, Padre Pio went on pilgrimage to St. Michael’s shrine accompanied by a number of Capuchin students. A cart and horse were provided by the father of one of the students. Padre Pio walked for part of the journey and also rode in the cart. The Capuchins prayed the Rosary and sang hymns to the Blessed Mother on the way. Upon arriving at the shrine, Padre Pio remained for a long time in prayer, kneeling at the foot of St. Michael’s altar.

Raffaelina Cerase, a spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, once learned an important lesson regarding Padre Pio’s trust in the holy angels. Raffaelina was a Third Order Franciscan who lived in the town of Foggia. When she wrote to Padre Pio, she sometimes included Mass offerings. Because she wanted to make sure that the letters arrived safely, she sent them by registered mail. Padre Pio felt that sending the letters in such a fashion showed a lack of trust and a lack of faith. He said to Raffaelina, “I think it best that you do not send your letters by registered mail. They have been put in very good hands.” The “hands” he was speaking of were the hands of his guardian angel.

Father Alessio Parente was assigned to be the sacristan at Our Lady of Grace monastery from 1959 -1961. From 1965 -1968, he served as Padre Pio’s personal assistant. Padre Pio was very appreciative of all that Father Alessio did to help him. He told one of his spiritual children that Father Alessio took care of him with great solicitude, like a “faithful puppy dog.” Father Alessio was filled with joy when he learned what Padre Pio had said about him and treasured the words for the rest of his life.

One morning at the conclusion of the Mass, Father Alessio had a very unusual experience. He had just distributed Holy Communion at the altar rail and had taken the empty ciborium back to the altar to purify it. Father Alessio poured water in the ciborium to wash it and then dried it with a purificator. He was just about to put the lid on the ciborium when, out of the corner of his eye, he became aware of something moving. From his right side, he saw a host float down from mid-air into the ciborium. He instinctively looked around to see if someone was there beside him, but no one was. He was shocked by what he had witnessed and told Padre Pio about the incident. Padre Pio advised him to be more attentive and not to rush when he was distributing Holy Communion. Padre Pio added that an angel had put the consecrated host in Father Alessio’s ciborium so as to keep it from falling on the floor.

Father Alessio used to assist Padre Pio when it was time for him to get into bed for the night. Afterward, he would wait in Padre Pio’s cell for Father Pellegrino to come in for the night duty. Lying in bed, Padre Pio would always recite the Rosary. Frequently, Father Alessio heard Padre Pio interrupt the Rosary by saying such things as, “Tell her that I will ask Jesus.” “Tell her that I will pray deeply about it.” “Tell him that I will remember him at my Mass.” It was only later that Father Alessio realized that Padre Pio was carrying on a conversation with the guardian angels of some of his spiritual children.

One afternoon, Padre Pio was sitting alone on the veranda, just outside his cell. He was praying the Rosary. Father Alessio felt it would be a good opportunity to go over some of the mail with Padre Pio. Many people wrote to Father Alessio and asked him to relay their individual messages to Padre Pio, seeking his counsel and advice. Father Alessio would always discuss the items with Padre Pio and then write back with Padre Pio’s recommendations.

Father Alessio told Padre Pio about a woman who had just written with a question about her job. She had an opportunity to make a job change and she was hoping that Padre Pio might be able to advise her about it. When Father Alessio put the question to Padre Pio, he was surprised at his response. “I am very busy right now,” Padre Pio replied. “I cannot answer your question at this time.”

Father Alessio was confused. It was obvious to him that Padre Pio was not busy. He was sitting alone with his Rosary in his hand. He always had his Rosary in hand. Father Alessio remained silent but he continued to think about the irony of Padre Pio’s remark. “There have been many guardian angels here today,” Padre Pio explained to Father Alessio. “They were bringing me messages from my spiritual children. Did you see them?” Father Alessio told Padre Pio that he had never seen a guardian angel in his life. He finally understood why Padre Pio had said that he was busy. He was busy communicating with that celestial world which very few mortals were privileged to glimpse.

Father Alessio knew that he was truly blessed to be able to assist Padre Pio on a daily basis. He was also on call through the night, because Padre Pio was often sick and needed help in the night hours. Father Alessio was not able to get sufficient sleep and frequently felt the physical and mental strain of the exhausting schedule.

Each morning, Father Alessio helped Padre Pio get ready for Mass. He would also help him up the altar steps and then remove his gloves before the Mass began. Afterward, he would rush to his room in order to catch a short nap. He was always so tired that he would usually fall asleep instantly. He had his alarm set so that he would be back in the church by the end of the Mass in order to help Padre Pio down the stairs of the altar. He would lead Padre Pio through the sacristy and then take him back to his cell.

Many times, Father Alessio was sleeping so deeply that he would not hear his alarm go off. At that point, he would hear someone knocking loudly at his door. When he answered the door, there was no one there. Mysteriously, the entire corridor would be empty. He would then realize that he had overslept and rush down to the church. Padre Pio would be invariably giving the final blessing. Father Alessio would be just in time to assist Padre Pio down the altar steps. This same scenario happened every time that Father Alessio’s alarm clock failed to wake him up.

Every day, when it was time for Padre Pio to hear confessions, Father Alessio would take Padre Pio’s arm and walk with him to the confessional. Once Padre Pio was situated in the confessional, Father Alessio would rush back to his cell to take a quick nap. Each time his alarm clock failed to wake him up, he would have a most unusual experience. He would hear a distinct voice saying to him, “Alessio, it is time to go to the church!” He would instantly wake up and hurry down to help Padre Pio out of the confessional. Sometimes he was a little late, but Padre Pio would always be there waiting for him. He would never attempt to walk through the crowded corridors by himself. Father Alessio was always there to protect him and to fend off the overly zealous devotees. Some carried scissors with them, and would like nothing more than to cut off a piece of Padre Pio’s habit or cut a bit of his hair for a relic.

One day, Father Alessio was sitting by Padre Pio’s side, thinking about his problem with oversleeping. He felt ashamed of himself for being so unreliable. He told Padre Pio that he could not understand why his alarm clock failed to wake him up. “You must buy yourself another alarm clock,” Padre Pio said. “I am not going to continue to send my guardian angel to you each day to wake you up!” It was then that Father Alessio realized for the first time who had been knocking on his door and calling to him in his sleep.

On one occasion, Father Alessio heard heavenly music in the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. It sounded like a choir of beautiful voices singing together in perfect harmony. Some of the other Capuchins also heard it. They couldn’t understand where the music was coming from and when they asked Padre Pio for an explanation, he told them that it was the voices of angels, taking souls from purgatory to Paradise. Evidently the Capuchins must have looked incredulous when they heard Padre Pio’s explanation, for he then added, “Why should the music of angels surprise you?” When asked on another occasion if angels were present at the Mass, Padre Pio answered that the whole celestial court was present at every Mass.

Once, at the end of a very busy day, Padre Pio was assisted by Father Gabriel and Father Giambattista, who lent their arm to him and escorted him out of the chapel. Father Gabriel told Padre Pio that he should get more rest as he looked exhausted. “When you go to bed for the night, you should ask your guardian angel to minister to you,” Father Gabriel said. “But I cannot ask that of him,” Padre Pio replied. “As you may know, he has to travel.” Father Gabriel, thinking that he had a good suggestion, then said, “Since your guardian angel has to travel about so much, could Father Giambattista and I lend you our guardian angels?” “No, never!” Padre Pio replied. “It does not work that way. A person can only be assisted by his own angel, not another’s.”

Father Dominic Meyer was serving at St. Felix Friary in Indiana when he was summoned to San Giovanni Rotondo. He served at Our Lady of Grace monastery from 1947 to 1953. He translated for the German and English visitors when they were speaking to Padre Pio. He also helped with the large volume of mail that came into the monastery and answered many of the letters of the German and English pilgrims.

One day, Father Dominic opened a letter from a woman who lived in the United States. She wanted to know if Padre Pio was able to see her guardian angel when she sent him with a message or was he only able to hear his voice. Father Dominic thought the woman’s question was ridiculous. His voice was dripping with sarcasm when he read the letter regarding the guardian angel to Padre Pio. Padre Pio made Father Dominic understand in no uncertain terms that he was not pleased with his attitude. “Father Domenico,” Padre Pio said firmly, “When that woman sends her guardian angel to me, I see the angel just like I see you!”

Although Father Dominic was initially skeptical about guardian angels, little by little Padre Pio taught him about the reality of the angelic realm. On one occasion, Father Dominic noticed that Padre Pio looked extremely tired. Padre Pio had an explanation for his fatigue. He told Father Dominic that the guardian angels had kept him up almost all night. Through contact with Padre Pio, Father Dominic eventually grew to have a strong belief in angels.

When Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968, several pilgrims who were in San Giovanni Rotondo reported to the Capuchins that they saw angels in the night sky. At the time of the sun’s rising, the angels disappeared just as mysteriously as they had come. Knowing Padre Pio’s lifelong devotion to the angels, one can hardly be surprised.

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Father Agostino made a trip to Naples during the summer of 1912. On the return trip home, he reached the town of Benevento just after midnight. He continued on to Pietrelcina and arrived there about three o’clock in the morning. He decided to stop at Padre Pio’s house. Upon arriving, he was surprised to find that the door was open. When he walked inside, he discovered that Padre Pio was in bed but he was not asleep. Father Agostino asked him why he had not locked the door for the night. “Aren’t you afraid to leave the door unlocked?” he said. “No, not at all,” Padre Pio replied. “I have the guardian angels of the house keeping watch through the night. There is no reason to fear.”

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Rosina Pannullo was a relative of the parish priest of Pietrelcina, Father Salvatore Pannullo.
Rosina had heard that Padre Pio possessed remarkable powers of intuition and she wanted to see for herself if it was true. She told Padre Pio that she was going to go to his room and take one of his personal possessions. Understandably, Padre Pio was not at all pleased with Rosina’s remark. “You will not be able to take anything from me,” Padre Pio said. “There is an angel who stands guard at the door of my home. He will not let you pass.”

Padre Pio told Father Pannullo about the incident with Rosina. “Rosina did not tell me what she planned to take from my room,” Padre Pio said. “However, I know that she was going to try to take my breviary.” When Father Pannullo questioned Rosina about it, she admitted that it was true. After speaking to Padre Pio, she decided not to carry out her plan.

Rosina’s father, Alfonso, also hoped to verify for himself whether Padre Pio truly had the remarkable intuition that people often spoke about. He decided to test Padre Pio’s abilities. On one occasion, Alfonso, had the audacity to say to Padre Pio, “I am going to enter your home and take something out of it.” “That would not be a good idea!” Padre Pio replied. “Perhaps something would happen to you and you would not be able to carry out your plan.” Alfonso paid no attention to the warning.

One day, Alfonso started to walk up the steps to Padre Pio’s house, when he suddenly began to feel very strange. He was not able to walk any farther than the first step. His legs became completely immobile. He feared that he might be having a stroke. When he turned to go down the stairs, he had no trouble walking. The next time he saw Padre Pio, he told him about the sudden paralysis and asked him for an explanation. “Well, I have a very good guardian angel on watch at my door,” Padre Pio said. “I am well protected!”

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Margharita Cassano, who lived in the town of Bari, visited San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time in 1948. She was very depressed because of the recent death of her father. Attending Padre Pio’s Mass and making her confession to him lifted her out of her sadness. She decided to move to San Giovanni Rotondo permanently. She told Padre Pio about her decision but he made no reply.

Margharita had a very difficult time finding a place to live and finally had to settle for a tiny one room hut in the countryside. It was an isolated dwelling and had neither electricity nor running water. There was not a single neighbor nearby. Even though it was a far cry from what she had hoped for, she was grateful at least to have a roof over her head.

To Margharita’s way of thinking, most of the people who moved to San Giovanni Rotondo seemed to have a much easier time than she did of finding accommodations and making ends meet. It hardly seemed fair. One day, without warning, Padre Pio suddenly said to her, “Well, did you come here for the good of your soul or to set yourself up in a comfortable life?” Margharita knew then that she needed to correct her attitude.

Margharita rose at 4:00 a.m. each morning in order to walk to the church of Our Lady of Grace to attend the morning Mass. In the winter time, the harsh winds and cold temperatures made the walking very difficult. In addition, making her way alone in the pitch darkness filled her with fear.

One morning on her way to Mass, Margharita heard a distinct voice which said, “One, two, one, two.” The voice almost seemed to be measuring her footsteps. When she stopped, the voice would stop. When she walked, the voice would resume. In the confessional she spoke to Padre Pio about the unusual experience. “I am afraid for my sanity,” Margharita said. “All the way to Mass I heard a voice which said – One, two, one, two. It makes no sense.” “It is nothing to be worried about,” Padre Pio replied. “It was the voice of your guardian angel. He was counting your footsteps to keep you company. He is letting you know that he is watching over you so that you will not be afraid anymore.”

Margharita still had many challenges to face. Due to her uneasiness at living in such an isolated place, it was usually hard for her to get to sleep at night. One night she prayed to Padre Pio to take away her fear. The next morning when she woke up, she found a beautiful German Shepherd dog sitting on her front porch. When she started out for Mass that morning, the dog walked on the path just in front of her, as if leading the way. To her great surprise, when Mass was over, he walked home with her. That night he slept on her doorstep. He seemed to have made himself perfectly at home and his presence took away Margharita’s anxieties. She could sleep soundly from then on, with no fear at all.

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Assunta Lops grew up in San Giovanni Rotondo. When she was fifteen years old she joined several other ladies who had a small store in town and with them, she began to sew the woolen half-gloves that Padre Pio wore to cover his stigmata.

On a number of occasions, Assunta went in person to deliver the gloves to Padre Pio. Sometimes she kissed the stigmata on his hands when his hands were uncovered. Once, when she took some new pairs of gloves to Padre Pio, he said to her, “Don’t touch my wounds. They are very painful today.”

One day, Assunta went to the church and found Padre Pio there by himself. She heard talking but no one was there. She asked Padre Pio about it. “Who was talking to you, Padre Pio?” Assunta asked. “It was the angels,” Padre Pio replied. “They keep me company and they sing.”

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In 1955, Cecil Humphrey-Smith of England, who was working as a chemist for the Heinz Company, was sent to the Po Valley in northern Italy where he did quality control work with the tomato crops in the area. Because Cecil had to work very long hours, he did not get sufficient sleep. One night, on the way home from work, he fell asleep at the wheel and had a terrible car accident. He was taken to the Municipal Hospital in Piacenza with a fractured skull, a broken vertebrae in his neck, and other broken bones.

The next day, Cecil’s good friend, the Marquis Bernardo Patrizi, came to visit him in the hospital. Bernardo, who was a good friend of Padre Pio, sent his guardian angel to Padre Pio to tell him that Cecil was involved in a very serious car accident and needed prayer. Evidently, Bernardo did the right thing because the next time Bernardo went to San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio confirmed that he had received the message.

Cecil soon returned to his wife and family in England but his health steadily declined. He had several bad falls which caused him further problems. He suffered from dizziness, fainting spells, and debilitating and agonizing headaches which made him ill and barely able to function. The headaches were like “red hot claws of steel” that moved from the top of his spine to his head with a terrible intensity. In order to bring Cecil relief, the doctor prescribed heavy pain killers which he soon became dependant on.

Seven years after Cecil’s car accident, Bernardo traveled to Canterbury, England to pay him a visit. When he saw the pitiful condition Cecil was in, Bernardo invited him to accompany him to Italy so that he could be examined by several doctors there. Cecil accepted Bernardo’s invitation. He saw several excellent doctors in Italy but to no avail.

While in Italy, Bernardo took Cecil to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio. On the day they arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, Cecil was weak and ill. In the sacristy of the church of Our Lady of Grace, along with a number of other men, they waited for Padre Pio. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Bernardo told Cecil to kneel down and to kiss Padre Pio’s hand. Bernardo introduced Padre Pio to Cecil by saying, “This is my good friend, Cecil. He is an Englishman. He was just ignorant enough to crash his car into a wall!” Padre Pio looked at Cecil and then tapped him on his head three times. He struck his head forcefully, right on the spot where the agonizing pain was localized. At Padre Pio’s touch, the pain vanished. From that moment onward, Cecil never suffered from another pain in his head. Seven years of intense suffering, was gone in an instant.

When Bernardo telephoned Cecil’s wife Alice in Canterbury and explained to her that Cecil had been healed, she was incredulous. She could hardly believe it. Bernardo spoke to Padre Pio and said, “From the time you touched Cecil on the head and blessed him, he has been relieved of his terrible headaches. Cecil’s wife Alice cannot really grasp the fact that he has been healed. If you would be willing to send her a telegram, I think she would believe that Cecil is fine now.” Padre Pio agreed to send a telegram.

Bernardo was one of the trustees of the funds for the Home for the Relief of Suffering. It was Bernardo who brought Barbara Ward to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio. Through Barbara’s efforts, the hospital received the financial help it needed so that the construction work could be completed.

Bernardo and other collaborators of the hospital often gathered together with Padre Pio in the evenings to discuss important matters regarding the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Bernardo started taking Cecil with him to the informal gatherings. Cecil noticed that during the discussions regarding the hospital, while Padre Pio listened with attention to whatever was being said, he also prayed. It was the same when he was having a conversation with someone. Cecil became aware of the fact that Padre Pio prayed constantly. No matter what else he might be doing, he was able to keep his mind recollected in prayer.

Cecil began to travel once or twice a year to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Once, when Cecil and Bernardo were talking to Padre Pio in his cell, Padre Pio took Cecil’s hand in his own and held it all through the conversation. Padre Pio seemed to love their visits.

On one occasion, Padre Pio asked Cecil if he loved his mother. “Of course I love my dear mother,” Cecil answered. “Doesn’t everybody?” Cecil thought it was an odd question to be asked. Padre Pio asked him the same question on many occasions. Finally, it dawned on Cecil that Padre Pio was speaking, not of his earthly mother, but of his heavenly mother, the Madonna.

Through his friendship with Padre Pio, Cecil learned a lot about the angels. Once when Cecil was getting ready to leave the monastery, as he said goodbye to Padre Pio, he told him that he would write to him soon. “Son,” Padre Pio said, “I have more letters than I can read. I am not able to keep up with my mail. Send your guardian angel to me instead.” From that time forward, whenever Cecil needed Padre Pio’s counsel, he sent his guardian angel to him with the message.

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Once, a married couple had a young daughter who was very ill. She had a persistent high fever, and although measures were taken to reduce it, the fever would not break. The mother decided to send her guardian angel to Padre Pio, asking for his prayerful intercession. Almost immediately, there was a reduction in the fever. Right after that, the girl drifted off into a deep and peaceful sleep. When the woman told her husband what had happened, he told her that he too had been praying to his guardian angel, asking his angel to deliver a message to Padre Pio requesting prayer for their daughter.

The father decided to go to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and thank Padre Pio personally for the recovery of their child. “Did you know that I sent my guardian angel to you?” the man asked Padre Pio. “Yes,” Padre Pio answered. “I received the message. First, your guardian angel came to me and about three minutes later, your wife’s angel came.”

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One evening, Capuchin Brother Bill Martin was standing with Padre Pio at his cell window. Many people had gathered below Padre Pio’s window and were waving goodnight to him. Padre Pio gave his priestly blessing to the crowd just like he did every evening. After the blessing, Brother Bill noticed that Padre Pio became very still. He seemed to be staring intently at something in his cell. Brother Bill looked in the direction that Padre Pio was staring, but there was nothing there. Padre Pio also appeared to be listening with attention to something that was being said to him. Brother Bill could hear nothing. Finally, Padre Pio said to Brother Bill, “Where is Martha Gemsch tonight?” Martha Gemsch was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters who always joined the other pilgrims each evening in bidding Padre Pio goodnight. Bill did not know the whereabouts of Martha.

The next time Brother Bill saw Martha, he told her that Padre Pio had asked about her. Martha explained to Bill that she had taken a trip to Rome. While in Rome, she thought about Padre Pio and the blessing that he gave each night at his window. Since she could not be there, she sent her guardian angel in her place. Martha confirmed what Brother Bill had suspected all along. Padre Pio had been talking to Martha’s guardian angel.

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Carmela Marocchino, who was Mary Pyle’s housekeeper, spent many years living happily in Mary’s large home which was just down the hill from the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Carmela was very close to Padre Pio. Sometimes when the weather was bad, Carmela would hesitate to walk to the monastery church. “Do not be afraid,” Padre Pio would say to Carmela, “The angel of the Lord will be at your side.”

On one occasion, Carmela felt deeply concerned about a particular problem in her life. She wanted to send her guardian angel to Padre Pio with a request for assistance but it was quite late at night. She didn’t want to disturb Padre Pio at such a late hour so she decided against it. The next time she saw Padre Pio she explained why she had not sent her angel. He told her that she could indeed send her angel to him at any time of the day or night. He was always happy to receive the message.

That God whom we desire to see and hold before us, is always ready to come to our assistance. Always faithful to his promises and seeing us fighting valiantly, he will send us his angels to sustain us in the trial.
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 50 – January-March 2012

Diana Graves was an actress by profession who lived and worked in London, England. She suffered from emphysema and bronchiectasis. Both diseases were progressive and incurable, and as time passed, Diana was spending more and more time in the hospital, being treated for her chronic condition. When her health took a turn for the worse, her doctors strongly advised her to move to a milder climate. The damp and cold of London weakened her lungs and aggravated her breathing problems. For the sake of her health, she needed to relocate to a place that had a warm and dry climate.

Diana, who was thirty-five years old, decided to move to Rome where the climate would be more conducive to her health. Diana’s cousin, Jenny, lived in Rome, which was an added bonus. Rome also had the Cinecittà, a large film studio that hosted international movie productions as well as television productions. It was considered to be the hub of Italian cinema. With all of her acting experience, Diana hoped to be able to work there.

Life was not easy for Diana after she moved to Rome. She had some serious financial setbacks which were a cause of great anxiety to her. She also became so ill that she had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions. Her cousin, Jenny, suggested that they make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Hopefully, they would be able to ask Padre Pio to pray for Diana’s recovery. Diana thought it was an excellent idea.

After Diana had regained some of her strength, she and Jenny took a night train to Foggia and then a taxi to San Giovanni Rotondo. They arrived at the church of Our Lady of Grace just as the Mass was concluding. Diana was so weak and exhausted from the journey that she feared she might faint. She needed to get off of her feet but there wasn’t a single empty seat available in the church for her to sit in.

As Padre Pio made his way toward the confessional, a large group of people crowded around him. He looked ill and he appeared to be fighting for breath in the stifling atmosphere. Diana knew that Padre Pio suffered from the same general health problems that she did. He had chronic bronchitis and asthma which often made it difficult for him to breathe.

Diana was able to speak to one of the Capuchins, Father Dominic Meyer. She explained to him that she was very sick and wondered if it could be arranged for her to receive a blessing from Padre Pio. Father Dominic told Diana that there were people in the church who had been waiting weeks for the same opportunity. However, he said he would try to help.

An hour later, Father Dominic motioned for Diana and Jenny to follow him. Amidst a huge crowd of people who were pushing and shoving, they were able to enter the sacristy. With great effort, Father Dominic managed to close the door. There were about twelve people in the sacristy, and many looked as though they were very ill. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Father Dominic whispered in his ear, pointing certain people out to him. Padre Pio would then go to the person that Father Dominic had spoken to him about, and give that person an individual blessing. When Father Dominic pointed to Diana, Padre Pio smiled at her. He put his hand on her head and spoke words which she did not understand.

On the last day of their visit, Diana and Jenny went back to the monastery and spent time in the church of Our Lady of Grace. At one point, a woman who was standing directly behind Diana, let out a piercing scream. There was an atmosphere of sheer pandemonium in the church that day. Padre Pio was very upset by the noise. “Silence!” he exclaimed. “This is a holy place. No one should be making noise!”

After Diana left San Giovanni Rotondo, she realized what a great impact the visit to Padre Pio had made on her. “It was the only time in my life that I have come in contact with a man of almost perfect goodness and spiritual strength,” she said of Padre Pio. After returning to Rome, she felt a great sense of detachment from all earthly concerns. She no longer felt like she must desperately cling to life and she was now prepared to accept death, whenever it came. Seeing Padre Pio face to face gave her the strength to do so. Nothing else seemed to matter. Diana Graves died peacefully shortly after her visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

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I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside
Into the shadows where we could confide;
Away from the hustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

I needed the quiet, though at first I rebelled,
But gently, so gently my cross He upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things,
Though weakened in body my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when
strength filled my days
He loved me so gently, he drew me away.

I needed the quiet, no prison my bed
But a beautiful valley of blessing instead;
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide
I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside.

– Alice Hansche Mortenson

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Antonio Paladino of Foggia, Italy, earned his living as a day laborer. He had a serious accident on one occasion when he was hit by a car. Due to the accident, he lost most of the movement in his left foot. It became almost completely useless. He also incurred other serious injuries. Finally, he was declared totally disabled and was forced to retire from his job. Due to his disability, he received a small monthly pension.

Eventually, Antonio married and had a large family. As time passed, his health began to decline. He suffered from a heart condition as well as a lung disease. He was hospitalized on many occasions. Instead of improving, he grew steadily worse. The small pension he received was not enough to support his wife and twelve children. Antonio felt a growing sense of anger and frustration regarding the many trials in his life. As a result, he lost his faith in God. His moral life deteriorated as well. He had a deep sense of guilt regarding some of his actions but he did not have the motivation to change.

A number of people urged Antonio to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was considered to be one of the finest hospitals in Italy. It boasted of an impressive staff of doctors as well as state of the art medical technology. Antonio’s failing health caused him to feel desperate. He finally agreed to seek medical help in San Giovanni Rotondo. Antonio was taken to the Home for the Relief of Suffering on a stretcher on December 6, 1968. He hoped for improved health but was not confident that the doctors would be able to help him.

Day after day, Antonio lay in bed, immobilized and in great pain. A cane was beside his bed but it was of no use to him. His legs were completely paralyzed. Antonio’s anger and depression over his condition was apparent to all who entered his hospital room. He used bad language while speaking to the doctors, the nurses, and even to the nuns who worked at the hospital. He did not care that his profanities offended the hospital staff. It almost seemed as if he enjoyed offending people. Padre Pio, who had passed away several months before, was also on the receiving end of Antonio’s anger. What did Antonio think of Padre Pio? He believed him to be a deceiver and a charlatan. And Padre Pio’s hospital? It had not improved Antonio’s condition in any way. As far as he was concerned, the Home for the Relief of Suffering was just another failure. He was convinced that when he was finally discharged, he would be no better off than when he had entered. One of the nuns who worked at the hospital began to pray each day to Padre Pio for Antonio’s healing.

On the evening of December 12, Antonio was sleeping soundly in his hospital bed when he suddenly felt someone tapping him on the shoulder. Five times he was tapped on his shoulder. Antonio opened his eyes to find a monk standing beside his bed. “Get up and come with me,” the monk said. “But I cannot walk,” Antonio replied. “You must get up and follow me,” the monk insisted. Antonio looked over at the cane that was in his room, even though he knew it was useless to him. “You will not need that cane,” the monk said. Antonio was amazed to find that he could move his legs. He was able to get out of bed without assistance.

Antonio followed behind the monk who walked up and down the hospital corridor. Antonio had been immobile for so long that he was exhausted by the brief exercise. His entire body was sweating profusely. Nevertheless, he followed the monk obediently, like a puppy dog would follow its master. Finally, they returned to Antonio’s room. The monk smiled at Antonio and said, “You have done well. Are you convinced now that you can walk just like anyone else? Tomorrow you will feel even better than you do right now. Antonio, I want you to come and visit my tomb.” Right after that, the monk vanished. Antonio then understood that his visitor had been Padre Pio.

The next morning, Antonio felt a great happiness in his heart. He was simply bursting with joy. He felt renewed within and without. He realized that the constant pain that had wracked his body for many years was gone. His breathing too felt completely normal. He was certain that he no longer needed to depend on the oxygen tank that was at his bedside. When he got out of bed and walked down the hall, the hospital staff looked at him in disbelief. Antonio explained that Padre Pio had come to him in the night and had healed him. He told the details of his remarkable experience to the doctors, the nurses, and the patients. Everyone listened with great interest. For several days, Antonio did nothing but repeat his story over and over again to the many people who asked him for an explanation.

Dr. Federico Ficola, who worked in the orthopedic and trauma departments at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, listened with great interest to Antonio’s story. Dr. Ficola saw the amazing change in Antonio’s condition and marveled at it. Dr. Giuseppe Gusso, the chief of staff and medical director of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, also saw the transformation in Antonio’s physical condition. Dr. Gusso noted that Antonio’s personality seemed to have undergone a complete transformation as well.

Before his remarkable experience, Antonio had been openly hostile to those he came in contact with. His arrogance and sarcasm made him very unpleasant to be with. However, his anger and negativity seemed to have vanished overnight. He now interacted with people in a loving and friendly way. He had previously been a nonbeliever. He now acknowledged God sincerely, with his words and with his actions. It was obvious to everyone who spoke to him that he was a man of deep faith. He began to pray diligently for all of the patients at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Antonio had truly been healed in body, mind, and spirit.

Soon, Antonio was discharged from the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Upon leaving the hospital, he went to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. He had an important appointment to keep. When Padre Pio had appeared to him in the hospital, he had asked him to visit his tomb. Antonio walked down to the tomb unaided. He no longer needed to use a wheelchair. He knew that he had Padre Pio to thank for that.

A number of people were gathered at Padre Pio’s tomb when Antonio arrived. He knelt down and prayed aloud without any shame. In a strong voice, he named the serious sins in his life, one by one. He asked God to forgive him. He was truly sorry for the many wrongs of his past. All who were at the tomb heard Antonio’s public confession and were deeply moved. Many were crying when he finished his prayer. Antonio’s family and friends had hoped that he might receive some improvement in his health at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. No one had ever imagined that he would receive so much.

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In 1945, thirty-four-year-old Giuseppe Canaponi, a railway worker from Sarteano, Italy was riding to work on his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck. He was hospitalized with a fractured skull as well as numerous broken bones. For a while it was touch and go, and the doctors did not know if Giuseppe would live or die. Gradually, he recovered from all of his injuries except one. His left leg, which had been broken in five places, remained completely rigid and caused him constant pain.

Giuseppe had numerous surgeries on his leg as well as physical therapy, but to no avail. He had to use crutches in order to walk. His left knee too, was a problem. He was not able to bend his knee and was finally diagnosed with “fibrous ankylosis” of the knee. To add to his problems, the incisions made in his leg for the corrective surgeries, did not heal. The open and painful wounds added to his distress.

Giuseppe became very depressed. It had been more than two years since the accident but his condition had not improved. He was declared permanently disabled and forced to retire from his job at the railroad. His health in general was going in a downward spiral and he feared that death was approaching. His wife’s strong faith made up for his own lack of faith. She wrote several letters to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for Giuseppe’s healing. She told Giuseppe that they should make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, but he was not interested. He did not think it would be beneficial. Giuseppe’s wife continued to talk to him about Padre Pio and he finally agreed to make the trip.

Giuseppe and his wife took a train to Rome and then to Foggia. Giuseppe was in intense pain on the train trip. After they arrived in Foggia, Giuseppe lost his footing and took a very bad fall. He and his wife spent the night in the train station. The next morning, they took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Trying to get situated in a comfortable position on the bus was next to impossible. The bus driver dropped them off almost two miles from the monastery. A single dirt road lay in front of them. They had no choice but to walk the distance.

Giuseppe breathed a sigh of relief when he and his wife finally arrived at the little monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. The trip to San Giovanni Rotondo had been much more difficult that he had ever imagined. He was so exhausted from the journey that he slipped into one of the back pews and laid down. Taking a short rest in the church seemed to revive him.

Inside the church of Our Lady of Grace, there were several Capuchin priests. Giuseppe wondered if one of them might be Padre Pio. One of the Capuchins was hearing confessions in a nearby confessional. The curtain of the confessional was parted slightly and when the priest raised his hand to give the penitent absolution, Giuseppe noticed that he was wearing half-gloves. “That must certainly be Padre Pio!” Giuseppe said to himself. At that very moment, Padre Pio lifted his eyes and looked straight at him. When their eyes met, Giuseppe felt as though he had been hit by a bolt of electricity. His entire body began to tremble.

Giuseppe decided to wait in line to make his confession to Padre Pio. In the confessional, he did not have to worry about remembering all of the sins of his past. Padre Pio remembered them for him, down to the letter. He named them one by one, as Giuseppe listened and affirmed that what he said was true. Padre Pio was very kind and very compassionate. Giuseppe was suddenly able to see his sins for what they were – offenses against God. When Padre Pio gave him absolution, Giuseppe’s whole body began to tremble, just like it had when their eyes met for the first time.

When Giuseppe left the confessional, he felt like a new person. His wife saw him walking toward her and noticed that he looked very peaceful. She suddenly realized that Giuseppe was walking without his crutches. “Giuseppe, look. You are not using your crutches and you are walking just fine!” she said. Giuseppe had not noticed it until his wife mentioned it to him. He was just as astonished as she was. Not only was he walking unaided, he was also free of pain. But there was more. His knee had lost its rigidity. He then reflected that he had been able to kneel with ease while making his confession to Padre Pio, something that had previously been impossible for him to do. At the time he was making his confession, it had not occurred to him that he was doing anything unusual.

When Giuseppe returned to his hotel room, he examined his leg closely. He repeatedly knelt down on his “once immobile knee” and had no trouble doing so. In addition, the open and painful sores on his leg, which had bothered him for months, had all healed over. It was true. Giuseppe had received a miraculous healing.

The next day, Giuseppe went to the monastery to thank Padre Pio. “You do not need to thank me because I did not heal you,” Padre Pio said. “It was God who healed you. All I did was pray.” When Giuseppe went back to the doctor’s office for a check-up, he was greeted with amazement by his doctor. His doctor was shocked to see the change in his condition. Giuseppe’s case was eventually studied in Rome in a special Orthopedic Congress and presented to eight hundred doctors. His instantaneous recovery defied scientific explanation.

As time went by, Giuseppe made many more trips to see Padre Pio. The two became close friends. Giuseppe tried to think of different ways in which he could help the Capuchin community at Our Lady of Grace monastery. Because he had worked as an electrician for the railroad before his accident, he put his skills to good use. He thoroughly examined the wiring system at the monastery and did much repair work to the electrical outlets. Padre Pio was very happy to see the improvements he was making at the monastery.

As time passed, Giuseppe became a part of the inner circle of Padre Pio’s closest friends. On one occasion, Giuseppe went to see Padre Pio on a very cold and rainy evening. Even though he was not feeling well, he decided to visit Padre Pio anyway. Due to a sore throat and laryngitis, he was not able to speak above a whisper. He was soaking wet when he walked into Padre Pio’s cell. Father Carmelo was visiting with Padre Pio at the time.

Padre Pio noticed at once that Giuseppe looked ill. He asked Father Carmelo to see if he could find some warm clothes for Giuseppe to put on. Father Carmelo tried his best but could not find any. Padre Pio began to look around the room and finally found one of his large scarves. He put it around Giuseppe’s neck. At once, Giuseppe felt a wonderful warmth coursing through his entire body. “I feel better already!” he said to Padre Pio. As he spoke the words, he suddenly realized that his laryngitis was gone. Giuseppe felt such a sense of well-being that he did not want to take the scarf off. He wore it home that night and then kept it on for many days. Finally, Padre Pio told him that he could keep it. Giuseppe was very happy to be in possession of a relic of Padre Pio. Many of Padre Pio’s spiritual children had a desire for such a relic, but very few were able to obtain one.

One day, Padre Pio lost his handkerchief and was looking everywhere for it. Giuseppe had a handkerchief with him and offered it to Padre Pio. Padre Pio took it and put it inside his habit, over his heart wound. He always kept a cloth over the wound to absorb the blood. Later, Padre Pio returned Giuseppe’s handkerchief to him. Even though it had been washed and ironed, there were still blood stains visible on it.

On one occasion, Giuseppe felt a strong desire to pray for Padre Pio’s deceased parents, Grazio and Giuseppa Forgione. He began to pray for them faithfully every day. Later, he became busy with many other concerns, and eventually forgot to include them in his prayers. One day at the monastery, Padre Pio’s words surprised Giuseppe. “I want to thank you, Giuseppe,” Padre Pio said. “What do you want to thank me for?” Giuseppe asked. “I want to thank you for the prayers you said for my dear parents,” Padre Pio replied. Giuseppe had never mentioned to anyone that he had been praying for Grazio and Giuseppa.

From his very first meeting with Padre Pio in the confessional, Giuseppe felt Padre Pio’s paternal love and care. He was like a father to Giuseppe. It was true that Padre Pio had a reputation for being stern. That was not Giuseppe’s experience. In the years that followed, Giuseppe felt continually supported by Padre Pio’s prayers. He once stated that the only time he felt truly happy was when he was with Padre Pio.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 48 – July-September 2011

Padre Pio’s Prophetic Spirit

Giovanna Boschi, had attended Padre Pio’s Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo for more than forty years. She also felt blessed that in those many years, she had been able to go to confession to Padre Pio on a regular basis. On one occasion, Giovanna decided to visit her good friend Margherita Hamilton in Rome. During the visit, she noticed a magnificent red rose on the terrace of Margherita’s house. She picked it and put it in a vase. Setting it on a table next to a little framed picture of Padre Pio, Giovanna said to Margherita, “This rose is so beautiful that I am going to take it to Padre Pio.”

Soon another friend came over to Margherita’s house to visit. The three ladies admired the rose sitting next to Padre Pio’s photograph. That afternoon they had a wonderful time conversing together. After a time, Margherita happened to glance at the little table beside them. “Look,” Margherita said to her companions, “The rose is not in the vase. It has disappeared!” The women lifted up the table and looked on the floor. They looked to the left, to the right, in front and behind. They looked everywhere in the general area, but the rose was nowhere to be seen. “This is impossible,” Margherita said. “The three of us never left the house. We have been sitting here all afternoon. The rose was here and now it is gone. Things cannot just vanish into thin air!” There was absolutely no explanation for the occurrence.

About three weeks later, Margherita and Giovanna decided to go to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace to visit Padre Pio. When they arrived at the monastery, they found Padre Pio in a small sitting room. To their great surprise, he was holding a beautiful rose in his hand. It was the rose that Giovanna had intended to give him, the one that had vanished into thin air. “Thank you very much for the rose, Giovanna,” Padre Pio said. “I appreciate your kindness.”

Needless to say, Giovanna and Margherita were shocked. Right before their eyes, they saw the miraculous rose. Giovanna said to Padre Pio, “Father, do you think I might be able to have that rose back?” “Of course you can,” Padre Pio replied. She took it home and put it in a frame. The rose would always remain one of Giovanna’s most treasured possessions.

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On January 20, 1936, Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti and several other men were visiting Padre Pio in his cell. As they were talking, Padre Pio suddenly interrupted the conversation and asked the men to kneel down with him and to pray. “We must pray for a soul who will soon appear before the judgment seat of God,” Padre Pio said. When they were finished praying, Padre Pio asked his friends if they knew who they had been praying for. They replied that they did not know. Padre Pio told them that they had been praying for George V, the King of England. Dr. Sanguinetti told Padre Pio that he had just read in the paper that the King’s health was not a cause for alarm. He had a head cold and no more. He was not in any danger. “What I am telling you is the truth,” Padre Pio answered.

About midnight, Father Aurelio heard a knock at his cell door. When he opened the door, there stood Padre Pio. “Let us pray for a soul who at this very moment has passed away and is now appearing before the tribunal of God. I am talking about the King of England,” Padre Pio said. The two priests prayed together for a while. The next day, the newspapers announced that the King had died. His death occurred at the same time that Padre Pio and Father Aurelio were praying together for him.

It was generally not Padre Pio’s habit to make statements about political or world leaders. However, at the time of King George V’s death, Padre Pio spoke of him and asked his friends to pray for his soul. It is not known whether Padre Pio had spoken of him at any other time. And what do we know of the King? We know that he was a man of faith and that he made it his practice to read from the Holy Scriptures every day. As a Protestant, he treated the Catholic Church with admirable respect. When George V became the King of England, he made a decision in favor of the Catholic Church. He refused to abide by the tradition in his country that called the Catholic Mass “superstitious and idolatrous.” History tells us that as the King of England, George was diligent and committed, and he influenced his country for good.

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Once a young woman was preparing to make a trip to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to make her confession to Padre Pio. She also wanted to discuss some very important personal matters with him. Before leaving for the monastery, the girl’s mother, spoke at length to her about Padre Pio. Her mother then kissed the palm of her hand three times and made a request. “Just as I have kissed the palm of your hand, I ask you to kiss Padre Pio’s hand for me,” her mother said.

The young woman was irritated by her mother’s words, which did not seem to be of much importance. She explained to her mother that her time would be very limited in the confessional. She was certain that it would be impossible for her to kiss Padre Pio’s hand three times. She would be lucky if she had the chance to kiss Padre Pio’s hand even once. But to kiss the palm of his hand? That did not seem likely. Most people kissed the back of his hand, if they had the opportunity to do so at all. “I have some very important things to discuss with Padre Pio,” the young woman said to her mother. “In my mind, I am reviewing everything I want to say to him so that I will not forget. I cannot promise you that I can do any thing other than that.”

As the girl was making her confession to Padre Pio, he gently brought the palm of his hand to her lips. The girl kissed his hand and then continued her confession. Two more times, he put the palm of his hand against her lips. She had no idea why he did so. After the confession was over, she walked out into the courtyard in front of the church. She told several people who were standing nearby about her confession to Padre Pio. She explained how he had pressed his hand to her lips. She asked them if they knew why he might have done so. None of the people had an answer to her question. It was not until the next day that the girl finally realized what had happened. Padre Pio was granting her mother’s wish.

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There was a woman who had received a great grace through the intercession of Padre Pio. She wanted to visit Padre Pio at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and she asked her husband to take her there. Her husband was a devout Catholic, but he was skeptical about Padre Pio. He doubted all the claims he had heard about his sanctity. He finally told his wife that he was willing to take her to San Giovanni Rotondo but he did not care to speak to Padre Pio.

During their days at the monastery, his wife tried to reason with him. “You have the opportunity to receive a blessing from Padre Pio and to have our son receive a blessing too. I am hoping and praying that you will take advantage of that opportunity,” his wife said. Finally, he gave in to his wife’s pleadings. The last day of the trip, he took his son to the place where the men waited for Padre Pio each day to receive his blessing. He stood off in the distance and hid himself in the shadows. After a time, Padre Pio came in. To some, he gave his blessing, to others he spoke a word of encouragement, and to others, he reached out and took the letters they handed him. When Padre Pio saw the man and his son, he turned to the son and said, “I know your name. Your name is Francesco Pio, just like mine.” Then he looked at the father and exclaimed, “I said that to your son in order that you would believe.” From that day forward, he believed.

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Luciano Livellara, who lived in Venice, Italy, was very concerned about his mother’s health. He traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to speak to Padre Pio about his mother. After he made his confession to Padre Pio, he asked him to remember his dear mother in his prayers. As Luciano started to rise from the kneeler to leave, Padre Pio stopped him. “Now, about that other matter,” Padre Pio said. “Break it off immediately! Do you understand?” Luciano understood at once what Padre Pio was talking about.

Luciano was deeply in love with a girl that he had been dating for a year. She had just recently told him that she was married. He had tried to end the relationship, but because of his love for her, he had not been able to do so. “I want to break up with her,” Luciano said to Padre Pio. “I have prayed about it and I have tried to end the relationship, but I have not been successful.” “Break it off immediately. Do it now!” Padre Pio repeated. Luciano got the message loud and clear. He went home to Venice, determined to do what Padre Pio had asked him to do. He never saw the girl again.

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Dr. Sciubba was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons. One day, he spoke to Padre Pio about one of his relatives who had decided to divorce her husband. The husband had mistreated her and was the cause of much unhappiness in the family. The marriage had become an “absolute disaster.” Dr. Sciubba believed that his relative was doing the right thing by seeking a divorce. Padre Pio did not agree with him. Each case was different, but in regard to this couple, Padre Pio did not feel that a divorce was the right solution. He told Dr. Sciubba quite frankly that the marriage should not be dissolved.

Dr. Sciubba went back to his relative and told her that Padre Pio was not in favor of her divorcing her husband. She thought deeply about it and decided to change her course of action. She wrote Padre Pio a long letter, sharing some of her heartaches regarding her marriage. The next morning, she decided to go to the post office and mail the letter. Before she left the house for the post office, there was a knock on her door. To her great amazement, her husband was standing at the door.

As it turned out, her husband had been to see Padre Pio to seek his counsel. He told Padre Pio that after many years of separation, he now wanted to reconcile with his wife. “Go to your wife and make up with her,” Padre Pio advised. “But I do not have the courage to do so,” the man replied. “I treated her badly and I am ashamed of my behavior. I do not feel like I can face her.” “Then tell her that I have sent you to reconcile with her,” Padre Pio said. “I am sure she would not believe me if I told her that,” the man answered. “Then tell her that I have already read the letter that she wrote to me,” Padre Pio said. Padre Pio then told the man some of the particulars in the letter, the letter that had not been sent yet.

As the man stood on the front porch and faced his wife, he was able to ask her for forgiveness. “I want our marriage to work out,” he said. “I have been to see Padre Pio because I wanted to speak to him about our relationship and our future. He too wants our marriage to work out. He told me that you wrote him a letter in which you poured out your heart to him.” His wife listened to her husband’s words with amazement. She was the only person who knew anything about the letter. And yet, Padre Pio obviously knew the contents. He had told her husband about it. The woman could feel her husband’s sincerity as he asked for forgiveness. She was able to let go of the painful events of the past. The couple reconciled with each other and felt the happiness once again of a loving marriage.

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A mother of five children traveled from Bologna to San Giovanni Rotondo on one occasion to see Padre Pio. She asked Padre Pio to accept her as one of his spiritual children and he agreed to do so. When she returned to Bologna she invoked Padre Pio’s presence every day and prayed, “Padre Pio, please watch over my five children; protect them and bless them.”

Being a busy mother of five children and living a long distance from San Giovanni Rotondo, more than five years passed before she was able to return to see Padre Pio. When she finally saw Padre Pio again, she made her confession to him. At the conclusion she said, “Padre Pio, watch over my five children; protect and bless them.” Padre Pio said, “How many times are you going to ask me that?” “What do you mean?” the woman asked. “This is the first time I have mentioned it.” “No, you have asked me that every day for the last five years!”

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Father Agostino of Campolieto was visiting Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo on one occasion and mentioned to him that he would soon be going back to Algeria. Padre Pio told him that there was danger awaiting him there and advised him not to go. Father Agostino thought about Padre Pio’s warning but did not feel that he could cancel his trip.

When Father Agostino returned to Algeria there was a conflict that arose between the French people who lived in the country and some of the other ethnic groups. Because Father Agostino spoke French, he was considered a suspect. One night, at 11:30 p.m. the police came to his door and arrested him. At that moment, Father Agostino remembered Padre Pio’s words. He was taken to the police station and questioned. He was finally released at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. The Capuchins in San Giovanni Rotondo noted that Padre Pio became suddenly ill at 11:00 p.m. the same night that Father Agostino was arrested. He remained ill until five o’clock the next morning.

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Mario Amendola was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons. Mario had a cousin who had fallen upon hard times. He was out of work and penniless. He spoke to Padre Pio about his desperate situation. Padre Pio advised him to move to the city of Falconara. “I do not think that is a good idea,” the man said. “I have friends in Rome who can help me but I do not know anyone in Falconara.” Padre Pio advised him once again to go to Falconara.

The man decided to follow Padre Pio’s advice. He moved to Falconara with his wife and children. One morning, a stranger approached him and said, “I work for the manager of a union. He told me that he would like to see you at his office.” The man went to the manager’s office and was offered an excellent job. The wages were more than he had ever hoped for. It was like a dream come true. How happy he was to have followed Padre Pio’s advice!

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Monsignor Gannon had an unusual experience on one of his visits to Padre Pio. After attending the afternoon holy hour at the monastery, he happened to see Father Pierino Galeone. For some strange reason, he had the irresistible urge to give Father Galeone some of his possessions. He took off his watch and gave it to Father Galeone. He also handed him his fountain pen as well as all of the money he had in his wallet. He could not explain his actions. He only knew that he had to do it.

Father Galeone had his hands cupped to receive the items and he was laughing all the while. Monsignor Gannon asked him why he was laughing. “This morning when I saw Padre Pio, he told me that I would be receiving a number of gifts today,” explained Father Galeone. “But it is neither Christmas nor Easter. Why would I be receiving gifts?” Father Galeone asked. Padre Pio simply repeated again, “You will be receiving many gifts today.” Although the incident was indeed mysterious, Monsignor Gannon was happy that Padre Pio had used him to play a part in it.

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Angelo Tomasini was the father of eight children. When one of his sons became ill, Angelo prayed to Padre Pio and asked for his intercession. To Angelo’s great joy, his son was healed of his illness. Angelo was convinced that Padre Pio had answered his prayers. He decided to make a trip to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to thank Padre Pio personally for his son’s recovery. He was able to take two of his sons with him on the trip.

After taking a train to Foggia, Angelo and his two sons boarded a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Once they arrived in the little town, Angelo observed that there were only a few rooming houses available for visitors to the area. Unfortunately, they were all in very poor condition. Nevertheless, Angelo felt grateful that he was able to find lodging.

The next morning, Angelo and his sons went the short distance to the monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. Angelo then stood in line to make his confession to Padre Pio. When Angelo’s turn came, as he began his confession, he noticed the unpleasant odor of sulphur in the air. He wondered if it had something to do with the sins that he was confessing at that very moment. He did not know. He had heard that people often perceived the heavenly fragrance of roses or lilies when they were near Padre Pio. But he was not so fortunate.

As Angelo made his confession, Padre Pio stared intently at a spot on the wall, directly above Angelo’s head. He then started flicking at the invisible object with his forefinger and thumb. He seemed to be trying to drive away something that he saw there. Was it a spirit? Was it a demon? Angelo wondered but he did not know the answer. However, the unpleasant odor of sulphur still pervaded the air. Angelo knew that it was not a positive sign by any stretch of the imagination.

In the confessional, Angelo told Padre Pio about his son’s remarkable healing. “I traveled the long distance to San Giovanni Rotondo because I wanted to thank you for your prayers. It is because of your intercession that my son has been healed,” Angelo said. “But it is not me you should thank,” Padre Pio replied. “It is the Lord you must thank because it is he who healed your son. I did nothing. Also, I would advise you to lead a better life if you claim to be a Christian.”

After Angelo made his confession, he asked Padre Pio if he would accept him and his two sons as his spiritual children. Padre Pio replied that he would accept them. Angelo explained to Padre Pio that he had a wife and six other children who were not able to make the trip with him. He wanted Padre Pio to accept them also as his spiritual children. “Yes, I will accept them too,” Padre Pio replied. “I hope that you can come back to San Giovanni Rotondo again sometime. You can then bring all the members of your family with you,” Padre Pio added. Angelo thought of his family at home and was very happy to know that they would all be under Padre Pio’s protection.

That afternoon, Angelo and his two sons attended the Benediction service in the monastery church. The next morning, they got up very early in order to attend Mass. During the Mass, Angelo knelt on the altar steps, right next to Padre Pio. Angelo noticed that while Padre Pio was saying Mass, his face, which was normally rather pale, was flushed with a red glow. Angelo began to doubt what he was seeing. His mind became flooded with negative thoughts. “This cannot be real,” Angelo said to himself. “My eyes are deceiving me. Padre Pio is a counterfeit.” Angelo knew that he was being tested. He had proof of Padre Pio’s holiness. There was no reason for him to doubt it. He had already experienced Padre Pio’s gift of reading of hearts, of miraculous healing, and more. Angelo talked back to the dark thoughts in his mind and before long they subsided.

Before Angelo left San Giovanni Rotondo to return to his home, he spoke to Padre Pio about his anxieties regarding a legal matter. There was a trial that was coming up in the near future and Angelo was very concerned about it. He explained to Padre Pio that he had committed no wrong. Padre Pio told him that he did not need to worry about the trial. “Be calm,” Padre Pio said. “Everything has been filed away.”

Shortly after Angelo returned home, he received notice from his employer that his job assignment was changing and that he was being transferred to a town not far from Rome. Angelo did not want to relocate to Rome. He was very happy where he was and he was afraid that the change would not be good for his family. However, Angelo had no choice in the matter.

The first day on his new job, Angelo spoke to the authorities regarding the upcoming trial. He was told that he did not need to concern himself about it because everything has been filed away. Angelo couldn’t believe it. The very same words that Padre Pio had used were now repeated. The next time Angelo went to San Giovanni Rotondo, he told Padre Pio that he had been transferred and was now living and working near Rome. Padre Pio assured him that the move was going to be beneficial to every member of his family.

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Nino Salveneschi made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio. He also wanted to ask him for his counsel. In the confessional, Nino said to Padre Pio, “I came here to make my confession to you more than thirty years ago. I cannot remember whether it was 1923 or 1924.” “It was 1924,” Padre Pio replied. “It was in the summertime.” Nino was shocked that Padre Pio remembered him as well as the time of his visit. It seemed impossible. Later, Nino had confirmation from his wife of the exact year and the season of the year. It had actually been thirty-one years previously, in the summer of 1924. Even though San Giovanni Rotondo was just a small village then, Nino had to wait two days to make his confession. Nino remembered clearly that he stood in line behind Prince Radziwill of Poland. Everyone had to wait their turn in line and no one was given special privileges, no matter what their status or social rank.

In the confessional thirty-one years later, Padre Pio advised Nino, who was a writer by profession, to always take great care to write books that would be uplifting and beneficial for people. Nino told Padre Pio of the cross he was bearing. He had lost his eyesight while living in Belgium, and wanted to know how he could best cope with the loss. Padre Pio advised him to try to accept the trial without bitterness or complaint. Nino thought of the words of Job in the Old Testament, The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). At the conclusion of Nino’s confession, Padre Pio told him to go in peace and that he would remember him in his prayers.

Even though his encounter with Padre Pio was short, Nino felt a great sense of peace. That peace remained with him in the difficult years that were to follow. In his many trials, he was able to feel Padre Pio’s presence. He later said that he felt that he owed his faith in God to Padre Pio.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 47 – April-June 2011

You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials;
but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor
of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears.

– 1 Peter 1:6-7

Anecdotes of Padre Pio – Part II

Pietruccio Cugino with Padre Pio

Pietruccio Cugino with Padre Pio

Pietro (Pietruccio) Cugino, of San Giovanni Rotondo was just six years old when his father took him to see Padre Pio for the first time. As time passed, Padre Pio grew to love Pietruccio with a fatherly affection. He gave Pietruccio instructions in the Catholic faith and prepared him to receive his first Holy Communion.

In the early days, farmers brought their sheep, horses, and donkeys to the monastery to be blessed by Padre Pio. Pietruccio often helped herd the animals onto the square just outside the church. When Pietruccio was twelve years old, he contracted an incurable eye disease and lost his sight. Even though he was blind, he still found many ways to assist Padre Pio. He liked picking the special wild herbs that Padre Pio enjoyed in his salad. Twice a day he went to the post office to collect the mail for the Capuchins. He did the shopping for the Capuchins as well. He became so familiar with the monastery and the surrounding area that he did not need a cane to get about. He knew every stone, every turn, every step and incline by heart. He became almost a permanent fixture at the monastery.

Padre Pio once said to some of his friends, “Consider the fact that Pietruccio is indeed fortunate. Because of his blindness, he is not able to see the sinful and evil things in this world.” As a matter of fact, Pietruccio used to thank God that he was blind because through it, he felt that he received many extra graces from Padre Pio, graces that were not give to others. He was allowed to go to Padre Pio’s cell whenever he wanted to. He would often visit Padre Pio in his cell in the evening and stay until Padre Pio got in bed. Then he would kneel at his bedside to receive his blessing.

Through the many years of their friendship, Padre Pio kept Pietruccio at his side. When he was weak and unsteady on his feet, he used to say to Pietruccio, “You lend me your arm and I will lend you my eyes.” He would lean upon Pietruccio’s strong arm when he walked from the monastery to the church. When Padre Pio became advanced in years, due to his many ailments, he sometimes had difficulty changing his clothing. Pietruccio counted it a privilege to assist him.

Each morning, Pietruccio was given a great honor. He preceded Padre Pio out of the sacristy when it was time for the Mass to begin and was allowed to stand very close to the altar for the duration of the Mass.

For Pietruccio, just to be near Padre Pio was a great, inestimable gift. It filled him with a deep joy, a joy that sustained him in all the ups and downs of his life. Every morning when Pietruccio woke up, he would reflect on the previous day. In his mind, he would go over everything that Padre Pio had said and done. Because he loved Padre Pio so much, he wanted to savor every memory.

Once, Pietruccio told Padre Pio that he had a great fear. “Padre Pio,” Pietruccio said. “I feel that as long as you are alive, you will always be near to help me. But because of my blindness, I worry about my future. What will happen to me after your death? Who will take care of me?” “The God who helped us yesterday, helps us today, and will help us tomorrow,” Padre Pio replied. “He wants us to abandon ourselves completely into his care.”

A few days before Padre Pio died, he said to Pietruccio, “I am sorry but I have to leave you.” “What do you mean?” Pietruccio asked. “Let us pray about it,” Padre Pio replied. Padre Pio died a few days later.

Pietruccio felt shattered by Padre Pio’s death. The thought of never seeing Padre Pio again was almost too much for him to bear. He began to feel, for the first time in his life, the full weight of his blindness. As he reflected on it, he became convinced that when Padre Pio was alive, he had carried the cross of his blindness for him. At that time, it did not seem to Pietruccio that it was a burden to be blind. But after Padre Pio passed away, he truly felt that it was a heavy cross.


There was a woman named Michelina who counted herself as one of Padre Pio’s loyal spiritual daughters. She had met Padre Pio for the first time when she was twelve years old. Every year she traveled from her home in Pescara to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio. After Padre Pio passed away, she continued to pray to him and ask for his intercession.

Michelina had experienced many trials in her life. Her husband passed away leaving her a widow at a relatively young age. Her son Alfredo became deeply involved in the dark world of drugs. His life was going from bad to worse. Michelina prayed to Padre Pio every day to intercede for Alfredo and to cure him of his addiction. In her prayers, she told Padre Pio that if he would help her son, she would walk the distance from Pescara to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray at his tomb and offer her thanksgiving.

For six years, Michelina prayed daily to Padre Pio for Alfredo. Finally, one day there was a breakthrough. Alfredo had a fight with one of the drug dealers. He decided to break away from the world of drugs forever. His life underwent a complete transformation and he vowed that he would never to go back to his former lifestyle.

Michelina was overjoyed. She had not forgotten the promise she had made to Padre Pio. She set off from Pescara to San Giovanni Rotondo with her walking stick and Rosary in hand. She was fifty-six years old. When she arrived in the town of Francavilla al Mare, one of her relatives decided to join her on the walk. He made a good effort but he was not able to continue for very long. Michelina passed through the towns of Termoli, Poggio Imperiale, and San Marco in Lamis enroute to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. By the time she reached San Giovanni Rotondo, she had walked 120 miles. Her knee was swollen and her exhaustion was great, but other than that, she was in good condition. She felt great happiness when she finally knelt at Padre Pio’s tomb. She prayed in thanksgiving for Alfredo’s deliverance from drugs and for his new beginning in life.

Michelina’s relatives, knowing the long and difficult journey she had made, met her in San Giovanni Rotondo. When she finished her prayers and devotions at Padre Pio’s tomb, they offered her a ride back home and she happily accepted.


On one occasion, Domenico Savino traveled on business from his home in Velletri to the northern part of Italy. On the return train trip home, he struck up a conversation with one of the passengers, a young man named Victor. Victor’s sincerity and goodness were so apparent that Domenico liked him at once.

As the two men talked together, Victor shared some of the burdens that were in his heart. He had used the last of the money in his family’s savings in order to travel to Milan in search of work. Unfortunately, he was not able to find a job there. His aged parents were in need of care and Victor was deeply concerned for them. He loved them both very much. Domenico’s heart went out to Victor. It seemed that he had more than his share of difficulties.

Not long after, Domenico was making preparations to visit Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. On the way to the monastery, Domenico passed through the town of Campania, where Victor lived. He stopped at Victor’s home and invited him to accompany him on the trip. “I assure you that you will feel the wonderful spiritual benefits of visiting the monastery,” Domenico said to Victor. “You can talk to Padre Pio about your many difficulties and ask him to pray for you,” he added. Victor was very happy to accept the invitation.

The trip to Padre Pio’s monastery had a transforming effect on Victor. While there, he made many visits to the little church of Our Lady of Grace and spent much of his time in prayer. He felt renewed in body, mind, and soul.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, Victor bought two photographs of Padre Pio. He was going to put one of the photos in his home. He decided that he was going to keep the other photograph with him at all times.

The days passed far too quickly and soon it was time for the two friends to return to their homes. A month later, Domenico received a letter from Victor. He wrote that he had found work in a mine in Belgium and was doing well. He was very happy because he was now able to send money home to his parents. He told Domenico that he made sure that he had Padre Pio’s photograph with him at all times. It was a spiritual connection to Padre Pio and it filled his heart with a great sense of peace.

Some time later, Domenico received another letter from Victor. Victor wrote that a terrible disaster had struck the mine where he worked. He and some of the other miners had been trapped underground for many hours when the mine shaft that they were working in collapsed.

During that terrible time of waiting, suspended between life and death, Victor talked to the other miners about Padre Pio. He also had Padre Pio’s photograph with him. It took many hours of exhausting work before the rescue crew was able to bring all of the miners to safety. The words that Victor spoke about Padre Pio, and the photograph which he shared, proved to be a great consolation to all the miners.


Padre Pio with Archbishop Tortolo

Padre Pio with Archbishop Tortolo

In November 1965, Archbishop Adolfo Tortolo of Parana, Argentina was able to spend several days at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. The Archbishop attended Padre Pio’s Mass and during the celebration of the Mass, he noticed a thin line of fresh red blood on Padre Pio’s left hand. After the Mass had ended, he had the opportunity to hold Padre Pio’s hands in his own. Padre Pio’s hands were so hot that the Archbishop described them as “burning like two lighted coals.”

Later on in the day, the Archbishop knelt before Padre Pio in order to make his confession. Padre Pio’s face was serene and his dark eyes were deep and very beautiful. “You are a bishop,” Padre Pio said. “You must give me your blessing.” Padre Pio then took the Archbishop’s hand and kissed it.

Padre Pio once confided to a friend that the wounds of the stigmata were especially painful to him in the night hours. He said, “One thing carries me to the next, and so the day passes. It is the nights that are hard to bear. If I ever allow myself to sleep, the pain of these wounds is multiplied beyond measure.”

Archbishop Tortola learned by experience the truth of Padre Pio’s statement. One night, while staying at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, the Archbishop heard moaning sounds coming from Padre Pio’s cell. The next day, he asked the Father Guardian if he knew what the sound could have been. The Father Guardian told him that even when Padre Pio was asleep, he continued to suffer through the night. He never slept more than a few hours, but even then, he was not able to have any relief from his pain.


Giuseppe Bassi, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons, used to attend Padre Pio’s Mass when it was held in the small and rustic 16th century church of Our Lady of Grace. At that time, it was Padre Pio’s practice to say his Mass at the side altar of St. Francis.

On one occasion, Giuseppe arrived at the church at 4:30 a.m. and waited in the darkness along with many others for the church to open. While they waited, some of the people who were standing in line near Giuseppe, began to converse together. Giuseppe listened with interest to the stories of Padre Pio that the devotees were sharing. One man explained how he had been healed of a very serious back condition through the intercession of Padre Pio. As soon as he finished his story, another man spoke up and said, “That is a lie! I am certain that you were not healed by Padre Pio or by anyone else!” Giuseppe and the others who were present were shocked at the man’s unkind remarks.

The man who made the unkind remark looked to be about twenty-five years old. His skin had an unhealthy, sallow color to it. From time to time, vulgar words would escape from his lips. He did not seem to feel the slightest sense of shame using profanities in such a sacred place. Giuseppe heard the man say that he was from the town of Romagna. That was as much as Giuseppe wanted to know about him. His sarcasm and his anger caused the others who were nearby to feel the same way as Giuseppe did. The man moved about in a nervous way and his body seemed to jerk when he shifted his weight from one side to the other. Among the devout and prayerful people who were gathered in front of the monastery church, the man seemed very much out of place.

Before long, one of the Capuchins came out and unlocked the doors to the church. Once inside, Giuseppe quickly made his way to the sacristy. Already, about fifty men were gathered there. Because of his previous visits to the monastery, Giuseppe knew the routine well. A few minutes before 5:00 a.m. the sacristy door would open and Padre Pio would appear. He would then make his way to the side altar of St. Francis where he said his Mass.

On this particular morning, as Padre Pio opened the sacristy door, his face was marked by an expression of deep suffering. All of the men, who had been waiting to see him, knelt down. Padre Pio dragged his feet as he made his way through the crowd. To some, he would offer his hand, to others, he would not. He had his own reasons for doing so.

When Padre Pio saw the man from Romagna kneeling in the sacristy, he paused momentarily and placed his hand on the man’s head. He then gave the man his blessing. From what Giuseppe had already witnessed, the young man certainly needed that blessing. At Padre Pio’s touch, the man’s entire body started shaking. He began to cry. Everyone present could hear his heartbreaking sobs. “Get up, young man,” Padre Pio said to him in an encouraging way. “It is good for you to cry. I know that you are sorry. You must have courage.” When the man finally rose to his feet, he seemed to be at peace.

Later on that morning, Giuseppe returned to his hotel. There in the lobby stood the man from Romagna. He had evidently booked a room in the same hotel. He was talking to several people who were standing in the hotel lobby with him. Giuseppe decided to join the conversation. The man from Romagna explained that he had come to San Giovanni Rotondo mainly out of curiosity. One of his co-workers had told him about Padre Pio and he found the information interesting. “As soon as Padre Pio touched me and looked at me with those eyes of universal judgment, I felt terrified. I felt an overwhelming urge to cry,” he explained.

Giuseppe noticed that the man’s physical appearance looked different. Before, he looked unattractive and unwell. Not anymore. He now had a glow of serenity and happiness on his face. Those few moments with Padre Pio were enough to bring about a remarkable transformation.


There was a woman (name withheld) who worked in Italy for an international Catholic organization. Her job responsibilities required her to spend much of her time in Rome, where she was in close communication with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In addition, her job required her to travel to many different parts of Italy. It seemed like whatever city she happened to be in, people wanted to talk to her about Padre Pio. They often encouraged her to visit Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo but she had no desire to do so. San Giovanni Rotondo was an impoverished village in the southern part of the country. Looking at a map, it was found on the “spur” of the Italian boot. It was not one of the towns that her organization required her to visit and she saw no good reason to make a special trip there. She began to feel irritated by the constant talk she heard about Padre Pio. She grew to dislike even the sound of his name.

The woman observed that most of the people who spoke to her about Padre Pio seemed to be overly zealous and even fanatical in their devotion to him. In her estimation, they were on the wrong track. She thought it was a shame that so many people had put Padre Pio on such a high pedestal.

In 1956, troubling developments occurred in the Catholic organization that the woman worked for. Once again, she heard the common refrain, “You should go to San Giovanni Rotondo and ask Padre Pio for advice. He will be able to help you.” To her, the suggestion seemed absurd. Padre Pio was a priest who practically never left the seclusion of his monastery. In all probability, he knew nothing about the Catholic organization that she worked for. He would be the least likely person to know how to advise her.

The woman sought the counsel of two priests whom she held in great esteem. They both were very familiar with her organization, having implemented it in their own diocese. Both priests listened with attention as she explained the problems within the organization. They advised her to the best of their abilities. However, her immediate supervisor had a completely different idea as to the solution. The woman, after much thought, finally made her own decision on the best course to take. Nevertheless, she was continually tormented by doubts about the decision she had made.

That year, several of the woman’s friends, including one nun as well as a dear friend who was a priest, invited her to spend Christmas in Naples with them. They knew that she was under a lot of pressure from the many responsibilities at her job. She accepted their invitation with gratitude.

One day, during the Christmas vacation, her friends announced that they were making a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. They wanted to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and they also wanted to deliver a number of Mass offerings which they had received from their friends who were not able to make the trip.

Although the woman had no desire personally to visit the monastery of Our Lady of Grace or to meet Padre Pio, simply to please her friends, she agreed to go. Even though she had previously thought that it would be futile to talk to Padre Pio about her work concerns, she reconsidered. As long as she was going to be visiting his monastery, if the opportunity presented itself, she would try to speak to him about the matter.

At 4:15 a.m. the woman and her little group stood outside of the church of Our Lady of Grace, waiting in the darkness for the doors to open. It was the middle of winter and bitterly cold. When the church doors opened at 5:00 a.m. everyone rushed inside, hoping to find a good seat close to the altar. What the woman and her companions had not bargained for, was the conduct of some of the local women of the area. Without regard for anyone, they pushed, pulled, and elbowed their way to the best seats in the church. The kind nun, who was one of the woman’s companions on the trip, had managed to find an excellent seat on the very front bench. Hard to believe but entirely true, the nun was unceremoniously removed from her seat and knocked to the ground.

The rude conduct in the church of some of the “locals” had been a disgraceful scene to witness. It was almost unbelievable. The woman not only blamed the locals for their outrageous behavior, she also blamed Padre Pio. After all, he was the cause of all the frenzy.

After a time, Padre Pio came out of the sacristy. Silence then descended upon the little church. From his first steps up the altar until the end of the Mass, he remained completely absorbed in prayer. The woman suddenly found herself carried into what she described as “another world.” Attending Padre Pio’s Mass was nothing like she had ever expected. She found it to be a “supernatural experience,” and was deeply edified.

The priest who had come from Naples with the woman and her other companions had been to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace several times before. He had even visited Padre Pio in his cell. Arrangements were made so that the woman and her party would be able to greet Padre Pio before they returned to Naples. They waited in the appointed hallway so that they could speak to him when he passed from the sacristy to the door that led to the Capuchins’ cells.

As it turned out, some of the local women, who had caused so much havoc in the church that morning, had come to wait for Padre Pio in the very same spot. Finally, the door of the sacristy opened and Padre Pio appeared. Assisted by two Capuchins on either side, he moved slowly down the corridor. The woman was close enough to get a good look at him. Padre Pio’s face was beautiful. It seemed to her to be the most beautiful face she had ever seen. His large, dark eyes, which registered both love and pain, reminded her of the suffering Christ.

As Padre Pio drew closer, the locals began to press upon him and crowd him. Not wanting to cause him any more discomfort than what he was experiencing at that moment, the woman drew back. She now stood behind the first row of women in the corridor.

Padre Pio then paused and finally stopped in front of the woman’s two companions and spoke to them. The woman realized that she was no longer in a good proximity to speak to Padre Pio. If only she had stayed in the front row with her friends, she too would have had a chance to speak to him. The many problems she faced at her place of employment suddenly flooded her mind. For a long time, her work situation had been a source of mental agony for her. She thought of the important decision that she had to make soon. She regretted that she would not be able to speak to Padre Pio about it.

Much to the woman’s great surprise, Padre Pio then looked straight in her direction. He smiled at her with great love and held out his hand to her. She had the distinct feeling that he was aware of all the thoughts that were in her mind at that very moment. As she looked in his eyes, she suddenly knew the right course to take regarding her work. Exactly how this could happen, she did not know. The doubts that had plagued her for such a long time, vanished. Without saying one word, Padre Pio had answered her urgent need. A peace, like nothing she had ever experienced before, swept over her. She was assured beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all would be well.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 46 – January-March 2011

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord . . . I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in thy words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate upon thy promise. Hear my voice in thy steadfast love; O Lord, in thy justice preserve my life.

– Psalm 119:145-149


Anecdotes of Padre Pio

Padre Pio and his life-long friend, Dr. Andrea Cardone at the time of their last visit.

Padre Pio and his life-long friend, Dr. Andrea Cardone at the time of their last visit.

In 1910, Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata on his hands. He told the parish priest of Pietrelcina, Father Salvatore Pannullo that he became aware of the painful wounds on his hands at the moment when Jesus and Mary had appeared to him. At that time, it was referred to as the “invisible stigmata,” because the marks would alternately appear and then disappear. Dr. Cardone was one of the few people who saw the red, puncture-like wounds of
the stigmata on Padre Pio’s hands before they became permanent. In 1918, when Padre Pio was thirty-one years old, the wounds became permanent. Dr. Cardone also examined Padre Pio’s stigmata after it became permanent and left a written statement regarding it. He wrote that the wounds “pierced the palms of his hands completely through, so much so that one could see light through them.” Shortly after obtaining his license to practice medicine, Dr. Andrea Cardone of Pietrelcina became the family doctor for Francesco Forgione (Padre Pio) as well as the entire Forgione family. In the early days, Dr. Cardone had no idea of the worldwide fame that Francesco would one day receive.

Dr. Cardone remembered that as a boy, Francesco would go to the parish church in Pietrelcina every day. Dr. Cardone sometimes watched young Francesco as he climbed the stairs that led to the church. Even before entering the church, Francesco was already recollected in prayer. He always kept his eyes lowered when he walked through the streets of Pietrelcina on his way to school. Some of the local children were without parental supervision and frequently used bad language. Dr. Cardone remembered that little Francesco would cry whenever he heard their profanities and would run away.

When Padre Pio was a young Capuchin monk in Pietrelcina, Dr. Cardone treated him for his many ailments. Often, Dr. Cardone was at a loss as to how to help him. Padre Pio had a chronic cough and was extremely thin. Many people in the town believed that he had tuberculosis. For this reason, some people avoided him, thinking that his condition was contagious. Dr. Cardone tested him on numerous occasions and was relieved to find out that he did not have tuberculosis. He accompanied Padre Pio to Naples in order to consult with Dr. Castellino, the leading physician of that time. But no matter what remedies were given, Francesco’s health did not improve. His frequent fevers too, were mysterious. Dr. Cardone confided to a friend that he believed that his fevers were of a supernatural origin.

Dr. Cardone remembered that just before Easter, Padre Pio used to gather the youth of Pietrelcina together at his home. He instructed them in the Mass readings of Good Friday and taught them the songs to be sung at intervals between the Passion prayers.

On one occasion, Dr. Cardone was very ill and burning with a high fever. Padre Pio appeared in bilocation at his bedside. He took Dr. Cardone’s wrist in his hand, as though checking his pulse. Dr. Cardone was instantly healed. After that, Dr. Cardone often said, “Padre Pio is a patient who heals the doctor.”

Through the years, Dr. Cardone always felt the beautiful impression of Padre Pio’s goodness, his sweetness, his superhuman modesty, and his many other virtues. Like a number of the other citizens of Pietrelcina, Dr. Cardone said that he felt honored to have Padre Pio as a personal friend. He also felt it a great privilege to be his doctor. “We of Pietrelcina are proud of the divine grace which works through Padre Pio and spreads so much good throughout the world,” Dr. Cardone said.


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Due to Padre Pio’s fragile health, after his ordination to the priesthood, he remained in his hometown of Pietrelcina for more than six years. It was a great disappointment for him to have to be separated from his religious community, but he did his best to accept it. During his years in Pietrelcina, his reputation for sanctity grew. The citizens of Pietrelcina nicknamed him, “our saint.”

Padre Pio found many ways to improve the lives of his fellow townsmen in Pietrelcina. A large number of the citizens who lived there had never had an opportunity to get an education. It was not unusual to see Padre Pio out in the fields with the local farmers and day laborers, instructing them in basic reading and writing. He also taught mathematics to the local people. He organized wholesome games for the citizens to participate in and directed a boys’ choir at the parish.

Padre Pio had only been a priest for several years when a local farmer of Pietrelcina summoned him one day. Lice had infested the farmer’s crops and fruit trees and all seemed doomed for destruction. The farmer asked Padre Pio if he would be willing to go with him to his fields and bless them. Padre Pio agreed to do so. He made the sign of the cross over the man’s land and prayed fervently. Shortly after Padre Pio has blessed the crops, the farmer was amazed to see that the lice had all fallen to the ground. The word spread rapidly among the townspeople. The other farmers decided to ask Padre Pio to bless their land as well. That year the harvest in Pietrelcina proved to be excellent.


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In the early days of Padre Pio’s ministry, a person once asked Padre Pio to come and bless their family home. Padre Pio agreed to do so. He got as far as the kitchen before he stopped. “I cannot go any farther,” he said, and he turned around and walked back out of the house. “The family who lives there spreads rumors,” he explained to his companion. “We can have no dealings with them.”

Padre Pio knew of a priest who used to visit the family. He warned the priest and said, “I would advise you not to go to that home any more. The people who live there spread lies and rumors about others.” On another occasion Padre Pio said, “When you spread rumors about someone, it means you have removed that person from your heart. When you take someone from your heart, Jesus also leaves with them.”


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When Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was a child growing up in Pietrelcina, he and his family lived in a very small house, number 32 on Vico Storte Valle (Crooked Valley Lane). It was a stone house with a reed ceiling, very much like all the other houses in the neighborhood. It was the house of poor people, who often struggled in order to survive.

The well at Piana Romana is still standing today.

The well at Piana Romana is still standing today.

The Forgiones also had a small landholding in the countryside of nearby Piana Romana. It included a vineyard and several fields. One day, Francesco’s father, Grazio Forgione, decided to dig a well on his land in Piana Romana. He dug three meters down but was not successful in finding water. Grazio became more and more frustrated in his attempts. Francesco, who was just a boy at the time, watched his father’s futile efforts. Finally Francesco said, “Father, you are not going to find water there.” He pointed to an area a short distance away and said, “But if you dig in this spot, you will find water.”

Grazio was doubtful that Francesco’s words were true. “Son, why should I believe what you are telling me? How do I know that I will find water there?” “You will see,” Francesco replied. Grazio realized that he had nothing to lose, so he decided to follow his son’s advice. Soon water started gushing from the exact spot that Francesco had pointed to. “Son, how did you know that water was there?” Grazio asked. “Jesus told me,” Francesco said simply. As time passed, the well continued to produce a steady and abundant supply of water, more than enough for the needs of the Forgione family.


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Countless people were inspired by the reverence and the intense devotion that Padre Pio exhibited whenever he celebrated Mass. He meditated deeply on every word of the Mass. He often shifted on his painful feet, and paused many times to pray in silence. At the Memento – the prayers for the living and the deceased – his voice sounded weary and strained. At times he trembled and wiped the tears from his eyes with a handkerchief. He once said that during the Mass the Lord allowed him to mystically see all of his spiritual children – those who were living as well as those who had already passed away.

During the Mass, Padre Pio’s eyes remained half-closed. If he opened his eyes at all, it was only to look at the altar. He appeared not to notice the people in the congregation, the lights, or the priests who assisted him. On one occasion, he spoke about the Mass he had just celebrated and said, “I almost forgot being in this world.”

The mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, Francesco Morcaldi, once asked Padre Pio to celebrate Mass in front of the town hall. When the local citizens as well as people from the surrounding areas heard that Padre Pio had accepted the mayor’s invitation, they were filled with enthusiasm. On the day of the Mass, huge numbers of people descended on the town. The square in front of the town hall as well as the adjacent streets were completely full.

After the Mass, the mayor accompanied Padre Pio back to the monastery. “It was such a wonderful turnout,” the mayor said to Padre Pio. “Did you see the crowds who came to attend your Mass? Did you notice that the streets were full to overflowing?” “No, I did not notice the people,” Padre Pio replied. “As a matter of fact, I was not aware that I was celebrating Mass in the open air. I became so absorbed in the prayers that I did not notice anything.”


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There was once a man from Turin, Italy who had a great desire to speak to Padre Pio. He wanted to seek Padre Pio’s advice on a personal matter that was of great importance to him. Every time he tried to plan a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, his way was blocked.

The man was finally able to visit Padre Pio but unfortunately the trip had come too late. “I am so happy that I could discuss my situation with you and receive your advice,” the man said to Padre Pio. “But I am sorry to say that time is against me. The information that I discussed with you needs to be received in Turin almost at this very moment. Even if I were to send a telegram, it would not make a difference now. The deadline has come,” the man said.

“Don’t worry about the deadline,” Padre Pio replied. “Write a letter immediately and take it to the post office as fast as you can.” The man did what Padre Pio suggested even though he was convinced that it would do no good. Miraculously, the letter was received in Turin in a half-hour’s time. The postmark was clearly visible on the envelope. The letter had traveled a distance of more than six hundred and fifty miles in thirty minutes. The man was incredulous and also greatly relieved; the information had reached its destination on time.


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On one occasion, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters wanted to give him a gift. After thinking about it for some time, she decided to give him two canaries. One day, with her bird cage in hand, she boarded a train to San Giovanni Rotondo so that she could present him with the unusual gift.

When the woman arrived at the monastery door, she was greeted by the porter. The woman told him that the canaries were a gift for Padre Pio. “We are not allowed to keep anything for ourselves unless we have the permission of our superior,” the porter explained. “There is a strict rule in place regarding gifts of any kind.” “But couldn’t you please try to do something to help? I traveled a long distance by train in order to come here and I have a great desire to give Padre Pio these birds.” The porter then took the birdcage from the woman. He told her that he would let Padre Pio know about her gift.

The porter then took the birds to his own cell temporarily. Soon he heard a knock at the door. To his great surprise, Padre Pio was standing there. “These birds just arrived,” the porter said. “A woman brought them for you and has a great desire that you receive them.” Padre Pio went over to the birds and for a few moments began to play with them. “Please do me a favor,” Padre Pio said to the porter. “Take the cage over to my cell. I would like to keep the birds for an hour or so.” The next day, the porter told the woman that Padre Pio had enjoyed the birds, even though he could not keep them. She was very happy to hear the news and very satisfied.


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Alfonso De Rosa was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons. One day, he had the overwhelming urge to see Padre Pio. He could not stop thinking about it. Alfonso decided to make the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo. He felt blessed that he was able to attend Padre Pio’s early morning Mass. After the Mass, he asked the Father Guardian if he could visit Padre Pio in his cell but he was denied permission. Alfonso went back into the church to pray. Sometime later that day, he spoke to the Father Guardian again. For a second time, he asked if it would be possible for him to speak to Padre Pio and for a second time the Father Guardian said no.

Alfonso was very disappointed. He returned to the church once again to pray. He tried to resign himself to the fact that he would not be able to speak to Padre Pio that day. He had done all he could but he had not been able to change the Father Guardian’s mind. While he was sitting quietly in the church, a stranger approached him. “Are you the man who has a great desire to see Padre Pio today?” the stranger asked. Alfonso replied that indeed he was. “Follow me then,” the man said.

The man led Alfonso to the sacristy of the church. Alfonso was very surprised to see that the gate near the sacristy was unlocked. He proceeded to follow the man through the gate. The door which led to the monks’ private quarters was also unlocked. The man opened the door nonchalantly and motioned for Alfonso to follow him. They then entered the corridor that led to the Capuchins’ cells. At that point, the stranger disappeared from Alfonso’s view. Alfonso simply could not figure out where he had gone. He was there one moment and gone the next.

Two Capuchins who were standing in the corridor looked surprised when they noticed Alfonso’s presence. Alfonso knew that they would probably demand that he leave the area at once. He could not allow that to happen. He ran the rest of the way down the corridor to Padre Pio’s cell. Padre Pio was standing at the door of his cell, saying goodbye to several American priests who were taking their leave. Padre Pio then saw Alfonso. He welcomed him lovingly and gave hima blessing. It was what Alfonso had been hoping and praying for all day. Alfonso’s joy was so great that he could not contain himself. Unashamedly, he began to cry.


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Michael Conistabile had often heard people speak of Padre Pio and his remarkable spiritual gifts. He listened but he did not believe. To Michael, the talk about the miracles and healings associated with Padre Pio seemed to be pure fantasy. As far as Michael was concerned, there were a lot of fanatical people in the world with
overactive imaginations. He remained skeptical about Padre Pio.

After a time, the discussions that Michael heard about Padre Pio began to arouse his curiosity. In June 1950, he decided to take his wife and his one year old son, Gianfranco, to visit Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. He wanted to find out for himself the truth about Padre Pio.

Michael found a hotel for his family about one-half mile from the monastery. The next morning, when Michael and his family arrived at the church for Mass, Padre Pio was already at the altar. When the Mass began, Michael had a chance to look at him closely. “He looks just like any other Capuchin,” Michael said to himself. Michael saw nothing singular or special about him. But as the Mass progressed, Michael witnessed something extraordinary.

As the congregation prayed the Our Father, Michael noticed that the palms of Padre Pio=s hands were shining. The wounds in the middle of his hands were a very bright red, a brilliant red. The brightness dazzled Michael’s eyes. He shut his eyes momentarily and then opened them. He looked at Padre Pio’s hands once again. He wanted to make sure that what he had seen was not an hallucination. He knew that it was not. The light from Padre Pio’s hands continued to shine with great intensity. It was as if Padre Pio’s wounded hands were illuminated by a thousand electric lights. Michael lowered his eyes and then knelt down. He felt completely confused by what he had witnessed.

The next day, Michael took little Gianfranco with him to the monastery. He was walking down one of the corridors when, much to his great surprise, he happened to see Padre Pio. With little Gianfranco in his arms, Michael greeted Padre Pio and asked him to give his young son a blessing. “Please pray for my little son so that he may someday become a missionary,” Michael said. “But why a missionary?” Padre Pio asked. “Let him be what God wills him to be.” He then placed his hand on the head of Gianfranco and blessed him. He gave Michael a blessing as well. He spoke to Michael about the nearby shrine in Monte Sant’ Angelo which was dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. He encouraged him to take his family there for a visit.

Every morning at the monastery, Michael went to the sacristy before Mass and waited for Padre Pio. He helped Padre Pio put on his priestly vestments before Mass. When Padre Pio returned to the sacristy after celebrating Mass, Michael was there to assist him. He and his family were able to spend more than a week in San Giovanni Rotondo. Michael had come as a skeptic. He left as a believer.


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Teresita De Vecchi, went to San Giovanni Rotondo on one occasion in order to make her confession to Padre Pio. As she waited in the confessional line, she was able to see Padre Pio clearly. She noticed that his customary half-gloves covered his hands completely. Teresita had a great desire to see the wounds in his hands. At
the very moment she was thinking about his hands and wishing that she could see them, Padre Pio slowly pulled up one of his gloves so that his entire hand was exposed. Teresita noticed that his hand was very white and smooth. In the center of his palm was a large crust of clotted blood which reached almost to his fingers. After a moment, he slowly pulled the glove back down over his hand.

Teresita made her confession to Padre Pio and before she left the confessional, she kissed his hand. She became instantly aware of a strong smell of carbolic acid. After she left the confessional, it lingered in the air around her for several hours. When she returned to her home, she could not get the thought of Padre Pio out of her mind. She kept thinking about the intensity of his dark and piercing eyes and the terrible wounds in his hands.

Several weeks later, Teresita was on a train trip to the city of Lugano in southern Switzerland. As she passed through a mountainous region, she looked out the window and saw the town that she had grown up in. A feeling of homesickness swept over her. Her heart was aching as she thought of her dear family. Precious memories of days gone by flooded her mind. Suddenly, she noticed the same smell of carbolic acid that she had perceived when she kissed Padre Pio’s hand in the confessional. She knew then that Padre Pio was near and was aware of her sadness.

Not long after, Teresita traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo again. She attended the early morning Mass and afterward she waited in the corridor in order to greet Padre Pio. For some reason, when Padre Pio stepped into the corridor, he looked altogether different from the way he had looked when he was at the altar that morning. He seemed to be much taller. He looked luminous and majestic. As he passed down the corridor, he left a trail of perfume behind him.

On another visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, Teresita obtained a ticket for Padre Pio’s confessional. She waited three weeks but still her name was not called. Finally, having a family commitment to attend to, she could wait no longer. She had to return to her home.

Before leaving San Giovanni Rotondo, Teresita decided to go to the monastery one last time and wait below the little window where Padre Pio appeared each afternoon to give his blessing to the faithful. Just as Teresita got to the area below Padre Pio’s window, she learned that he had already given his blessing for the day. The little window was closed and locked. “Padre Pio has now retired for the day,” Teresita was told. “He will return again tomorrow afternoon to give his blessing.” About twenty people were still standing below Padre Pio’s window, praying the Rosary together. Teresita decided to stay and pray the Rosary with the group.

As Teresita prayed the Rosary, she sent up her fervent petition to Padre Pio. She prayed, “Padre Pio, soon I have to catch a train and return to my home and my family. I waited three weeks to make my confession to you but I was not able to do so. My number was not called. Before I return to my home, I ask you to give me a blessing, a big blessing!”

The little Rosary group continued with their prayers. About ten minutes later, much to everyone’s great surprise, the little window of Padre Pio’s cell opened once again. Padre Pio appeared at the window and looked out on the small group. For the second time that day, he gave his priestly blessing. Afterward, he started waving something in the air. It was not the customary handkerchief that he normally held in his hand each afternoon when he waved to the crowd. It was something much bigger. Teresita looked closely. Padre Pio was waving a bed sheet! The little Rosary group could not believe their eyes. “What on earth is Padre Pio doing?” they said in unison. They began to laugh. But Teresita understood. It was an answer to her petition. It was the “big blessing” she had been praying for.

As time passed, Teresita became aware that Padre Pio was watching over her in countless ways. She had asked him to accept her as his spiritual child and he had agreed to do so. “I will be your father,” he said. “Just don’t do anything to embarrass me!”

One summer day after visiting the monastery, Teresita was getting ready to walk to town. Without warning, she was suddenly caught in a downpour. Unfortunately, she did not have an umbrella with her. She broke into a run. As she ran toward the town, she felt as though she was in a tunnel. It was raining on both sides of her, but not on her. By the time she got to town, she should have been drenched. But instead, she was completely dry. She had just attended Padre Pio’s Mass and had offered her Holy Communion for his intentions.

Teresita knew the privilege that was hers to be able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. Once, at Padre Pio’s Mass, Teresita felt fortunate to find an excellent seat in the very front of the church. She was able to see Padre Pio clearly. He cried through most of the Mass and he dried his eyes with a white handkerchief that was on the altar. Teresita noticed that the blood from the wounds on his hands had stained the handkerchief. As she looked at the handkerchief, she thought to herself how much she would like to possess it. What a blessing it would be to have a relic of Padre Pio. Several hours later, to her great joy, she was given the handkerchief to keep.


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A special thank you to Josie Grossi of Montreal, Canada who sent us her testimony through the Send Your Testimony link at our website, www.saintpio.org.

I Asked Padre Pio to Send Me a Sign

A few years ago I was praying to St. Pio and I asked him to send me a sign that he was listening to my prayers. Well, about a week later I received a package in the mail from Italy. The package came from San Giovanni Rotondo. A letter inside the package informed me that I had won the “Epiphany Raffle.” I had never even heard of the Epiphany Raffle. I won books on St. Pio, a number of beautiful photographs of St. Pio, a St. Pio hat and many other St. Pio items. Padre Pio had given me his sign that he was definitely listening to my prayers.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 45 – October-December 2010

I am ready for everything, as long as Jesus is content to save the souls of my brothers,
especially those he has entrusted to my care.
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Stories from the War Years


Teseo Isani was a military officer who was stationed in Verona, Italy during World War II. During that time, a friend confided to Teseo that for many days he had been hiding an American soldier in his home. He was aware of the danger of the situation. If he was caught by the Gestapo, it would be his death sentence. He asked Teseo if he would be willing to take the American soldier and he agreed to do so.

For a temporary solution, Teseo hid the American in his truck under a large load of wood. Unfortunately, soon after Teseo did so, the Gestapo became suspicious. Teseo’s truck was searched and the American was found. Teseo was immediately arrested and placed in custody. He was condemned to death for his crime of harboring an enemy.

In the detention facility, Teseo waited for his execution day. There was nothing he could do to save himself. One day, Teseo suddenly heard a very distinct voice which said to him with great insistence, “Escape! Escape!” Teseo did not know where the voice had come from. He was not sure of the meaning of the message either. He did not have the means to escape. He knew that if he tried to walk out of the detention facility, he would be instantly shot. There were armed guards stationed at every check point who were not afraid to use their weapons at a moment’s notice. However, Teseo reasoned to himself that he was going die anyway. “What does it matter if I die today or tomorrow?” he said to himself.

Teseo opened the door of his cell and looked down the hall. Armed guards were standing at various posts all along the corridor. He decided to take the plunge. He stepped out into the corridor and started walking and to his utter amazement, the guards did not seem to notice him. Suddenly, one of the guards became aware of Teseo and reached for his gun. He pointed it at Teseo and pulled the trigger but it failed to go off. Teseo then broke into a run and managed to flee unharmed.

The Nazis posted Teseo’s picture throughout the city of Verona. A large sum of 100,000 lire was offered to anyone who could find the fugitive. But Teseo was safe. He had already made his way into Switzerland.

Three years later, Teseo listened with great interest as someone told him about a holy priest named Padre Pio who lived in the southern part of Italy. He decided to make a trip to Padre Pio’s monastery in hopes of meeting him. At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Teseo was able to make his confession to Padre Pio. That evening when he returned to his hotel, he had a very unusual experience. As soon as he opened the door to his room, he heard a voice which said to him, “Escape! Escape!” It was the very same voice he had heard during the second World War. Since he had just spoken to Padre Pio for the first time, he now recognized the voice as belonging to Padre Pio. He made his way immediately back to the monastery. When Teseo stood in the presence of Padre Pio once again, he was overcome with emotion and burst into tears. Padre Pio understood. Referring all of the credit to God, Padre Pio said simply, “Let us thank the Lord.”

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Francesco Cavicchi and his wife visited Padre Pio’s monastery for the first time in June 1967. Francesco’s wife had a great desire to meet Padre Pio. She spoke to Francesco about it and insisted that he accompany her. He did not share his wife’s enthusiasm regarding the trip to the monastery but in order to please her, he finally agreed to go.

Francesco had learned that Padre Pio would not hear a person’s confession if it had been less than ten days since their last confession. Francesco had been to confession just three days before. But since he had made a special trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, he did not want to miss the opportunity. He decided to take a chance and go to confession anyway and he hoped that he would not be found out.

Padre Pio was hearing the men’s confessions in the sacristy of the old church. As Francesco waited in the confessional line, he grew more and more uneasy. He wondered to himself how he had the nerve to disregard the “ten-day rule.” Padre Pio looked out at the men waiting in the line, and his eyes fell on Francesco. “Come forward, my son,” Padre Pio said to Francesco. “I have been waiting for you for a long time.” Francesco could not grasp the meaning of his words. How could Padre Pio have been waiting for him for a long time? They had never even met.

Francesco knelt down in the dim light of the sacristy. As he made a move to kiss Padre Pio’s hand, Padre Pio withdrew it from him. It was not a good sign and Francesco knew it. Next, Padre Pio asked Francesco the question that he did not want to hear. “How long has it been since your last confession?” There was a silence while Francesco pretended to be thinking about the answer to the question. He told Padre Pio that he could not remember when he made his last confession.

Padre Pio then asked him some other questions, and Francesco breathed a sigh of relief. He had not been sent out of the confessional like he feared. He was grateful that he was still kneeling beside Padre Pio. Once again Padre Pio asked him, “Now tell me, how many days has it been since your last confession?” Before Francesco could answer, Padre Pio changed the subject and began talking about the Prayer Groups. Finally, he said once again, “How long has it been since your last confession?”

Francesco did not know what to say. He was sure that Padre Pio could read his heart and his mind. It seemed obvious that Francesco was trying to avoid the question. Francesco had kept head down and his eyes lowered from the time he had entered the confessional. He did not have the courage to look at Padre Pio full in the face. But now, for the first time, Francesco lifted his gaze and looked directly at him.

Padre Pio was looking at Francesco with an expression of great tenderness and love. “I do not remember how long it has been since my last confession,” Francesco repeated. Padre Pio then became serious. “You have a short memory, don’t you. But let me ask you this. Do you remember the bombardment in Rimini many years back? Do you remember the air raid shelter? Do you remember the trolley bus? But why am I asking you to go back in time? You cannot even remember what you did less that one week ago!”

Padre Pio was speaking to Francesco about an incident that had happened back in 1943, during the second World War. Francesco remembered the incident well. He would never be able to forget it for as long as he lived. He was twenty-eight years old at the time and worked for the State Railway in the city of Rimini.

On that particular November day in 1943, Francesco happened to be riding the trolley bus back to his home for his lunch break. There were about ten other people on the bus that day. Included in the number was a middle-aged Capuchin monk.

Suddenly, the sirens in the city gave warning of an air-raid. Bombs then began to fall all around. The bus driver accelerated to a frantic speed in an effort to escape the danger. When fragments from falling bombs cut the electric power lines, the driver was forced to stop the bus. The passengers were filled with panic. Francesco was certain that he was going to die.

In the midst of great fear and confusion, everyone then exited the bus and ran toward an air-raid shelter that was nearby. Due to an obstacle in his path, Francesco had great difficulty getting off of the bus. He was the last person to enter the air-raid shelter. Inside the shelter, the Capuchin monk who had been on the bus, had already begun to recite the Rosary. It had a calming effect on all who were gathered there. Soon everyone was praying with the Capuchin. Meanwhile, bombs continued to explode all around. The air-raid shelter shook on its foundation and Francesco knew that it could collapse at any moment. However, amid all the noise and destruction, there was no panic or screaming inside the shelter. The Capuchin monk seemed to inspire confidence in everyone. Thirty minutes passed. The small group had just finished reciting the Rosary when the sirens in the city gave the “all clear” signal.

The Capuchin was the first to leave the shelter. Everyone then followed out behind him. “Were you the monk who was on the bus with me?” Francesco asked Padre Pio. “Well, who did you think it was?” Padre Pio answered. “I have already explained to you that Jesus and the Blessed Mother can intervene in our lives, even if we are not aware of it.” Francesco had always known how lucky he had been to escape death that frightful November day. He was convinced that Divine Providence had assisted everyone who was in the air-raid shelter with him. At the time, he had not even heard of Padre Pio.

When Padre Pio saw Francesco in the confessional line, he told him that he had been waiting for him for a long time. The wartime incident that Padre Pio brought to Francesco’s attention had happened twenty-four years before. Had he actually been waiting for Francesco to return after all those years? Francesco was convinced that he had.

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Corporal Joe Asterita was an American serviceman who was stationed in Cerignola, Italy during World War II. Along with other soldiers in his squadron, Joe used to visit Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo when he had the opportunity. Joe was fluent in Italian with the added benefit of being able to understand the dialect of those who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo. He often translated for the other GI’s who wanted to speak to Padre Pio.

On one occasion, Padre Pio told Joe that five people who had visited the monastery needed a ride back to their home in Foggia. He asked Joe to drive them back. Joe told Padre Pio that it was against United States Army regulations to use military vehicles to provide transportation for civilians. Padre Pio was very firm and insisted that Joe do him the favor. Joe carefully considered the matter but finally decided against it. The risk of getting caught was too great. “Army regulations forbid me to transport those who are non-military. I am sorry but I cannot break the rule,” Joe said.

Speaking with authority, Padre Pio then said to Joe, “Remember this. Anytime I ask you to do something for me, it will work out. You need have no fear.” Joe was finally convinced. He then allowed the two men, two women and a little boy to get into his military jeep. Shortly after they were on the road, Joe saw two Military Police Officers coming in their direction. The Military Police Officers looked in the jeep but passed right on by without stopping Joe. At that moment, the air became filled with a delightful perfume. As they continued on the road to Foggia, they encountered one Military Police Officer after another, but they were never pulled over. The fragrant perfume stayed in the air until the five Italian citizens were dropped off safely in Foggia.

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The Souls of the Departed  –  Padre Pio often reminded people of the importance of praying for the souls of the departed. He used to say, “We must empty Purgatory with our prayers.” When Padre Pio celebrated Mass, during the time of the prayers for the living and the deceased, he would pause for an extended period of silence. At times, the Lord enlightened him regarding the state of those who had already passed away. He once said to Father Alessio Parente, “You are going to be amazed to find souls in Heaven who you would never have expected to find there.”


In the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, there was a wooden box mounted to the wall with a notice above it reminding the Capuchins to pray for the deceased. A categorical list was posted, which included souls of deceased priests, souls close to heaven, forgotten souls, etc. Small disks were inside the wooden box with numbers on them referring to the category of souls to pray for. Regularly, Padre Pio would take a disk from the box and pause in silence as he devoutly recited the prayer for the deceased – “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”

The efficacy of Padre Pio’s prayers for the deceased was revealed on one occasion in a startling way. During the first World War, the main door of the monastery of Our Lady of Grace was locked every evening after the ringing of the Angelus bell. An iron bar secured the door and kept the monastery safe from intruders. One evening, the superior of the monastery, Father Raffaele, heard voices shouting, “Viva Padre Pio! Viva Padre Pio!” (Long live Padre Pio!) He immediately notified the porter, Brother Gerardo. “Strangers have somehow managed to enter the monastery, even though the door is locked,” Father Raffaele said. “They are downstairs in the hallway shouting in unison. You must go down there immediately and make them leave!”

Brother Gerardo left at once to take care of the matter. He returned a short time later and said to Father Raffaele, “The door is locked and secured and there are no intruders downstairs.” Father Raffaele was perplexed. He knew what he had heard and he could not doubt it. He was also well aware that unusual incidents happened from time to time at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Those unusual events almost always involved Padre Pio. Father Raffaele had lived with Padre Pio long enough to know that he was living in a supernatural reality. As one of the Capuchins described it, “Padre Pio was living with one foot on earth and one foot in Heaven.”

Father Raffaele decided to ask Padre Pio about the mysterious voices he had heard in the hallway. The next morning he said to Padre Pio, “Something very strange happened last night. Even though the doors were locked and secured, I was certain that intruders had broken into the monastery. I distinctly heard them shouting your name in the corridor and saying, “Viva Padre Pio!” I have no doubt about what I heard. When Brother Gerardo went downstairs to escort the people out, there was no one there. Do you know anything about this?” “Those were the souls of deceased soldiers who had walked up the hill to thank me for my prayers,” Padre Pio replied. “There are more souls of the dead than of the living who climb the hill to the monastery to request my prayers.”

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Jerry Berrigan wrote to us at Padre Pio Devotions regarding his experience with Padre Pio during World War II. This is Jerry’s story:

I met Padre Pio when I served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. I had enlisted in January 1942 and was eventually sent to the U.S. military base in Cerignola, Italy. As a Staff Sargent, I was assigned to the ground crew and worked in the technical supply department for the U.S. fighter planes. I was also the assistant to our chaplain, Father Stanley Kusman, S.M., a Marianist priest.

One day, Father Kusman asked me an unusual question. “Jerry, how would you like to visit a saint today?” He went on to tell me a little bit about Padre Pio and invited me to go with him to Padre Pio’s monastery. I had never heard of Padre Pio but I was happy to accept his invitation. Two other GIs from my squadron went along with us.


Father Kusman drove us to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in a military jeep. The church of Our Lady of Grace was a poor little country church. It was very plain and very simple. As soon as we walked through the door, I realized that I had forgotten something and I went back out to the jeep to get it. When I walked back into the church, I was overwhelmed by an intense fragrance of fresh flowers. The wonderful scent of carnations, lilies, and roses filled the air. I looked around but there were no flowers anywhere inside.

Father Kusman was in the sacristy, conversing in Italian with a Capuchin who wore a brown habit with a cord at his waist. As I drew closer, I realized that he was talking to Padre Pio. As I looked at Padre Pio, I felt wonderstruck. I knew immediately that he was an extraordinary human being. Father Kusman then introduced me to him. I did not speak Italian but even if I did, I would not have been able to say even one word. I felt overwhelmed by his presence. Father Kusman asked Padre Pio if we could attend his Mass on our next visit and if I could be his altar server. “Si, si,” he replied. There were a few children in the church making noise and Padre Pio let them know in no uncertain terms that they were to be quiet. That was my first brief meeting with Padre Pio.

After we left to return to the base, I told Father Kusman and the other GIs about the beautiful fragrance of flowers in the church. None of them had experienced it. Father Kusman then explained to me that it was a sign of blessing from Padre Pio. Father Kusman also shared more about Padre Pio’s life with us. He told us that Padre Pio had a spiritual connection with the German mystic, Therese Neumann. Therese Neumann was a simple and devout lay woman who lived in a small farming village in Konnersreuth, Germany. Her deep spirituality touched many souls. She had many of the charismatic gifts that Padre Pio possessed, including the gift of reading hearts, miracles, healing, and more. Like Padre Pio, she bore the five wounds of Christ. Many of the American GIs went to Germany to visit Therese at the end of World War II. Padre Pio had a great deal of knowledge about Therese Neumann. Father Kusman had been told
that Padre Pio had visited her through bilocation.

The next time Father Kusman took us to the monastery, I was apprehensive. Thinking about being Padre Pio’s altar server was more than a little unsettling. I hoped that I would be able to perform all the duties of the altar server well and that I would not forget any of the Latin responses.

It turned out to be a very long Mass. As I knelt on the stone floor of the dimly lit church, my knees began to ache. It was very cold inside the church. Since it was wartime, the congregation consisted mainly of women and children. Most of the men in the village had no doubt been called up to serve in the Italian army. During the Mass, everyone stared at Padre Pio’s hands. I saw that the wounds in the center of his hands were bleeding at the time of the Consecration. All of the American soldiers who were there that day were deeply impressed.

Meeting Padre Pio and assisting at his Mass served to strengthen my faith. It also gave me a sense of confidence that I would be protected. As soldiers in the second World War, our lives were in constant danger. I felt a peace within and I knew that I had met a living saint.

After the war, I attended Holy Cross College in Massachusetts. I eventually got a PhD in English and I enjoyed being a college professor for more than 25 years. I turned 90 years old, this year, 2010. The experience of meeting Padre Pio has stayed with me for my whole life.

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There was a woman once (name withheld) who lived in Italy whose husband had died in the second World War. After the death of her husband, her in-laws treated her and her two children very badly. The woman was in great financial need but her in-laws were not willing to help in any way. To make matters worse, they took possession of the home that had belonged to her and her husband.

The woman and her children moved from the city into the country, thinking that it would be less expensive. When her eldest son was about to make his first Holy Communion, the woman had a dilemma. She could not afford to buy the proper clothing for him for that very special day. She decided to alter one of her husband’s suits to fit him. In that way, her son would be able to be dressed appropriately, just like all the other children. Her relatives refused to return her husband’s suit to her. They also confiscated most of the household possessions. Finally, they sold her husband’s home and kept all of the profits for themselves. The woman tried to confront them about the injustice of their actions, but they refused to speak to her.

The woman needed advice about her many problems, especially her desperate financial situation. She wanted to talk to Padre Pio but she could not afford to make the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Her faith in Padre Pio was indeed great. She knew in her heart that nothing was impossible and she never lost hope that one day she would be able to visit him at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace.

As it turned out, the woman won 25,000 lire in the Italian lottery. The unexpected money enabled her to make the trip. Everything seemed to work out in her favor. Once she arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, she began to look for lodging. Finding a room was harder than she had ever imagined. Although she had to settle for sleeping in the corridor of a local establishment, she was grateful that at least she had a roof over her head.

The woman attended Padre Pio’s Mass and was very inspired. She had the unmistakable impression that Padre Pio was in “direct contact with God.” She felt carried away into a place of great peace. The Mass had such an impact on her that she felt totally transformed. She began to have the desire to change her life. She had been living with a man whom she loved very much. She decided that when she returned home, she would end the illicit relationship. She wanted to talk to Padre Pio about her decision.

The woman was very nervous when she stepped into Padre Pio’s confessional. “I want to make a full confession,” she said to Padre Pio. “I want my life to change. When I go back to my home, I want to feel like I have felt during these days that I have spent here in San Giovanni Rotondo.” “Are you truly sorry for your past sins?” Padre Pio asked her. “Yes, I am truly sorry for all of them,” the woman replied. “Go in peace,” Padre Pio said. He gave her absolution and placed his wounded hand on her head. He let his hand rest on her head for quite a long time. “When I return to my home, what can I do so that I will be able to live as I have lived these days near the monastery?” the woman asked. “When you go back to your town, you will meet someone who will help you,” Padre Pio answered.

About a week after returning to her home, the woman happened to make the acquaintance of a kind lady who helped her in incalculable ways. She remembered that Padre Pio had told her that she would meet such a person. Back at the factory where she worked, she made a public statement. She apologized to all of her co-workers and told them that she was sorry that she had used bad language in the past. “I apologize for the off-color jokes I once told you all. I promise you that you will never hear me tell them again.” She let go of the resentment and anger that she had held in her heart for her relatives. She knew that her desire for revenge was wrong and through prayer she was able to overcome her feelings of bitterness.

The woman decided not to marry again. Eventually, she was able to receive her deceased husband’s war pension which was a great financial help to her. She continued to pray to Padre Pio faithfully. Through Padre Pio’s intercession, one of her sons received a physical healing. As the years passed, the woman’s situation continued to improve and she received many graces for which she felt a profound gratitude.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 44 – July-September 2010

Download Newsletter Issue 44, July-September 2010

 

I feel all your troubles, as if they were my own.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

A Testimony by Fr. Louis Solcia, CRSP

Spiritual Director of the Padre Pio Prayer Group of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, San Diego, CA

Amelie Gonzales was a little girl at our parish who taught me many things. She taught me much about both life and death. Her short life was a blessing to her family and to all those who knew her. It certainly was a blessing to me.

Amelie’s mother, Amata, and her grandmother Marlene, regularly attended our Padre Pio prayer group at Our Lady of the Rosary. The family was very devout. Amelie, who followed the good example of her mother and grandmother, was a very spiritual child. Amata told me that when she took Amelie to the store each week, Amelie always wanted to buy a bouquet of roses to place in front of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Amelie was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer called Pluropulmonary Blastoma. It is a cancer that occurs most often in infants and children but has also been reported in adults. The doctors hoped that chemotherapy treatments would arrest the cancer. Finally, the doctors told the family that they had done everything in their power to save Amelie. They had used every modern medical means at their disposal. There was nothing more they could do.

Amelie grew weaker as the cancer progressed but strangely enough, she never looked sick. She had a desire to receive Holy Communion. Children ordinarily do not receive their first Holy Communion before the age of seven. Amelie was just five years old. But because she had a spiritual maturity beyond her years and because of her terminal diagnosis, I was able to give her Holy Communion.

Amelie told her mother that Padre Pio had come to her and had given her a blessing. One day, near the end of her life, she was lying in her bed, looking up at the ceiling in her room. Suddenly, the ceiling disappeared, and in its place she saw the evening sky, studded with brilliant stars. Jesus and Mary were there in the sky and they were smiling at her. Later, her mother showed her a holy card of Jesus. “Amelie, did Jesus look like this?” she asked. “No, he didn’t,” she replied. “He was so bright!”

Our Padre Pio prayer group had prayed for many weeks for Amelie. We all hoped in our hearts that she would be healed. But it was not to be. Amelie died peacefully in her mother’s arms on December 14, 2009. On the day that she died, she saw a white butterfly. “Mommy, don’t you see the butterfly?” she asked. But her mother could not see it. No one saw it but Amelie. After her death, Amelie truly looked like a little angel.

I had a desire to visit the cemetery where Amelie was buried and I went there on several occasions to pray. Beautiful red roses in a heart-shaped pattern had been placed on her grave by her mother. In my heart, I felt a great sadness. I wondered why God had taken such a beautiful little girl and left us all with such heavy hearts. I especially felt sorry for Amelie’s family because of their grief. But then I reasoned to myself that God never allows something bad to happen unless He can draw good out of it. I have been a priest for more than fifty years and I have always believed that. But in this situation, I struggled with God. Although at the time, I could not see past the pain of the situation, soon I would see the good that God would draw out of Amelie’s death.

Amelie’s best friend was her eight-year-old cousin, Alexis. The two girls were inseparable. After Amelie’s death, Alexis’ sister, Cassandra, had a vivid dream. In her dream, Amelie was looking everywhere for Alexis. “Where is Alexis?” she asked. “I want to find Alexis!” It was shortly after Cassandra’s dream that Alexis announced that she wanted to take instructions in the Catholic faith and be baptized. Everyone in the family was surprised. Alexis’ desire seemed to come out of nowhere. There was certainly no one in her family encouraging her to take that step. Alexis’ mother had no religious affiliation and she never took the family to church on Sunday. However, she was willing to let Alexis take instruction in the Catholic faith. I had the sense that the dream of Amelie was instrumental in Alexis’ desire to become a Catholic. Amelie’s mother now brings Alexis to our parish once a week. I am giving her the instructions myself and preparing her for baptism, confirmation and for her first Holy Communion.

God can and does draw good out of the hard and painful situations in life. We only have to look and we will see.

 

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven – A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot … a time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

 

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Melissa Finn contacted us through our website at www.saintpio.org regarding her son Joey’s remarkable story.

Joey Finn of Hudson, New York had been coping with severe asthma for most of his childhood. In 2005, when Joey was ten years old, he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an incurable disease that makes it difficult to breathe and eventually destroys the lungs completely. Joey’s lungs already showed the damage from the disease and he would have to have breathing treatments twice a day for the rest of his life. The median survival age for those who have the disease is in the early thirties.

Shortly after Joey’s diagnosis, his mother, Melissa Finn was introduced to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization which offers children with chronic, life threatening diseases, the opportunity to make a wish and have it granted. For the youth who daily struggle with incurable illnesses, the chance to have a wish come true can lift their spirits and enrich their lives. It gives them something positive to look forward to in life. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, in its ministry of compassion, has brought happiness to countless children.

When Joey said that he would like to submit a wish to the Foundation for consideration, his mother assumed that he would request a trip to Disney World in Florida. However, when he told his mother what he wished for, she could not have been more surprised. Joey wanted to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray at the tomb of Padre Pio. He also wanted to see the holy father in Rome. Where did the desire come from? That is a good question. Joey did not grow up in a particularly religious household. Although the Finns were Catholics, they did not attend Mass on Sunday. As it turned out, Joey had seen a documentary on the life of Padre Pio on the History Channel which had greatly inspired him. He learned about Padre Pio’s stigmata, his prayer life, and his deep faith in
God. Like Joey, Padre Pio had suffered most of his life with poor health. He was afflicted with chronic breathing problems, including asthma and bronchitis. It was an acute case of asthma that was a contributing cause of Padre Pio’s death in September 1968.

In thinking of her son’s wish, Melissa had one deep concern. She was afraid that Joey would be crushed if he expected a miracle from Padre Pio and did not receive one. She talked to him about it and he assured her that was not the case. He had a devotion to Padre Pio and wanted to pray at his tomb. He intended to offer up his prayers for all the people in the world who were stricken with cystic fibrosis and to pray that there would someday be a cure. He was certain that there would be no disappointment in that.

One recalls that Padre Pio felt a great call to help the sick and suffering, not only through his daily intercessory prayers but also through concrete action. He founded the Home for the Relief of Suffering for that very reason. He spoke of it as his “earthly mission.” There were many scoffers and detractors who doubted that the project could ever succeed. But against all odds, the Home grew and prospered and has helped countless lives.

Joey Finn’s wish was certainly one of the most unique that had been submitted to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Some of the popular requests included a shopping spree at the mall, an outdoor playground, and a trip to the Super Bowl. Occasionally, children requested a trip to Honolulu or Hollywood. But the request to visit San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy had to be a first. The Foundation checked with Joey’s mother to make sure that it was his wish and not hers. She assured them that she was just as surprised as anyone else when she found out Joey’s wish. Joey’s request was finally approved and in June 2007, twelve-year-old Joey along with his mother, father and thirteen-year-old sister made preparations to travel to Italy. Their first surprise came, shortly after they boarded the plane. The pilot came over the loud speaker and proposed a question to all the passengers. “Is it true that Joey Finn, who is sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, is on board the plane?” the pilot asked. Joey’s excitement intensified when the pilot asked him if he would like to step to the cockpit and turn the key to start the airplane. His reply was an enthusiastic, “Yes!” It was the beginning of an extraordinary journey for the entire Finn family.

The first stop on their remarkable pilgrimage was to Rome, where they toured the Vatican. They spent time at the beautiful Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Catacombs, the Holy Stairs and more. Along with a multitude of others, they were able to see the Holy Father and to receive his papal blessing. Joey took many excellent pictures of the Holy Father.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, the pilgrims who were waiting in line to make a visit to Padre Pio’s tomb, prayed the Rosary while they waited. Joey and his family joined in the prayers. They literally just squeezed into the church as it was closing that evening. Melissa was the very last person allowed to enter before the doors were locked.

Padre Pio’s tomb was below the main altar of the church and was surrounded by an iron enclosure. People were able to draw very close to the tomb but the iron enclosure prevented anyone from actually touching it. On the evening of the Finns’ visit, the little iron gate was unlocked and opened. All those who were present that evening were allowed to place their hand on Padre Pio’s tomb. Melissa Finn was later told that the iron gate is customarily closed and locked at all times.

The Finn family never imagined the impact the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo would have on their lives. Melissa Finn felt compelled to go to confession while visiting the monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. She had not been to confession in more than twenty-five years. Joey told his mother that when he stood and prayed at Padre Pio’s tomb, he had the sense that Padre Pio had heard his prayers. “Padre Pio has taken our family in as his own,” Joey said to his mother.

For the Finns, the time spent at Padre Pio’s monastery was a time of spiritual renewal and positive change. After returning home, they began to attend Mass together every Sunday as a family. It was something they had not done for a long time. Joey had a desire to learn more about his Catholic faith and to serve the Church. He soon became an altar server each Sunday at Mass.

Joey had been able to purchase some very meaningful souvenirs of Padre Pio while in Italy. Back in Hudson, New York, he set up his own little shrine dedicated to his patron saint and placed it on display in his home. Quite unexpectedly, he even received a third class relic of the saint. A nurse who had heard about Joey was touched by his story. She sent him a very special gift. It was a Rosary which had been blessed by Padre Pio. One of her elderly patients had given it to her. “I believe that Joey found something in Italy which is of equal value to finding a cure for his disease,” Melissa Finn said. “He found his faith, the strength that he will need in his lifetime to endure the challenges that lie ahead of him. He prayed, he listened, he learned … He did this of his own free will and with great determination.” In the final analysis, the greatest healings of all are those that take place in the human soul.

 

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We had several extended telephone interviews with Judy Hayes. She is a woman of great faith and inspiration.

Judy Hayes of Holiday, Florida woke up one morning to find that a large lump had appeared on her neck. She went to the doctor that very morning and was put through a
multitude of tests. The results were not good. Judy was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in stage four, the final stage. The cancer had already spread to her bones.

Before her first chemotherapy treatment, Judy went to a Catholic Gift Shop. She wanted to get some prayer and novena cards of her favorite saints. She was nervous about receiving chemotherapy and planned to pray throughout the treatment.

In the Catholic Gift Shop, the prayer cards and novenas were on a small rack that could be turned in a circular fashion. Three times Judy turned the rack and three times it stopped at a holy card of Padre Pio. However, her devotion was to St. Jude, St. Anthony, and the Infant of Prague. When she found what she was looking for, she made her purchases. She was just opening the door to walk out of the shop when she stopped and turned back. Judy felt guilty. It truly seemed like the little prayer card of Padre Pio had been calling to her. “O.K. Padre Pio, I will take you home with me,” Judy said silently. “I pray that you will be with me and heal me of the cancer.”

The chemotherapy and radiation treatments made Judy very ill. In December, she came down with pneumonia and had to be admitted to the hospital. She became weaker by the day. She lost the ability to walk. Her condition seemed to go from bad to worse. She developed dangerous blood clots and had to be treated for congestive heart failure. She was in and out of the intensive care unit. She had to go into surgery to have her gall bladder removed. Finally, after many months in the hospital, she was sent to a nursing home. However, she soon developed an infection and had to be readmitted to the hospital.

But her condition did not improve. She was placed on a ventilator for nine days. She drifted in and out of consciousness, barely holding on to life. Through the long days and nights, she petitioned Padre Pio to help her. She prayed to him, dialogued with him, entreated him, begged him. For some reason, it was Padre Pio that she addressed her urgent prayers to rather than to the saints that she had been devoted to for years.

One particularly day, as Judy lay silent and immobile in her hospital bed, she heard the nurse supervisor talking to some of the other medical staff. “Before you leave your shift tonight, prepare Judy Hayes’ death certificate,” the nurse supervisor said. “Make sure you have the doctor sign it before he goes home. I have been observing her throughout the day. She is going to die tonight.” Judy was devastated by the words. Everything within her cried out against it. She didn’t want to die. She couldn’t die! She begged Padre Pio to help her.

People everywhere were praying for Judy Hayes. One of her dear friends, who was in a nursing home, prayed a Rosary for Judy every morning at 2:00 a.m. To the amazement of everyone, Judy’s strength slowly returned. She was eventually discharged from the hospital and was able to return to her home.

After Judy’s recovery, she had a great desire to promote Padre Pio. She was convinced that she was alive and well because of his intercession. She made it a habit to keep Padre Pio prayer cards in her purse at all times and she found many opportunities to give them to others. People were inspired by her faith and trust in God. Many people were helped, just by meeting Judy.

One afternoon when Judy was enjoying an afternoon out in the Florida sunshine, she happened to see a woman that she felt urged to speak to. The woman was a complete stranger to her. Not knowing what possessed her, Judy went up to the woman and asked her if she was a Catholic. Judy was not in the habit of asking people their religious affiliation, especially not a perfect stranger. It simply did not seem like an appropriate thing to do. The woman however, did not mind the question at all, and answered in the affirmative. Judy then gave her a Padre Pio prayer card. She told her a little bit about Padre Pio and showed her the beautiful prayer on the back of the card. “Oh, you are an answer to my prayers!” the woman said to Judy. She then went on to explain her situation. For weeks, the woman had been taking care of her dear husband who had a terminal illness. She had become very depressed as she watched him slowly dying. She had not wanted to leave her husband that day but she had done so at the insistence of a friend. Her friend was adamant that she take a needed break. Her friend was taking care of her husband in her place that afternoon.

The woman explained that she had been praying when Judy came up and spoke to her. “Oh God,” she prayed, “Please send me a sign of hope. I need greater faith in You and I need strength to go on. I am so depressed. Please send me someone who will help me!” With her eyes brimming with tears, the woman thanked Judy for the holy card of Padre Pio and assured her that she would pray to him.

 

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Our friend, Marsha Jacques of San Diego County sent us this remarkable testimony.

Marsha Jacques felt very fortunate to possess four shirts which were blessed with a first class relic of Padre Pio. The shirts had also been blessed by a holy priest. Marsha decided to give one of the shirts to her neighbor, Julie Bouldin. Julie suffered from chronic pain and many serious health issues. Julie, who had a devotion to Padre Pio, was very happy to receive the shirt.

Julie was not the only person in her family who could benefit from the relic of a saint. At that time, her brother-in-law, Jim, was in critical condition at the hospital. Jim had suffered a massive heart attack not long before which required quadruple bypass surgery. He made it through the surgery but soon after, he developed pneumonia. His condition deteriorated and his bodily organs began to shut down. He finally had to be placed on life support.

The days passed but there was no change, no improvement in Jim’s condition. He was in a deeply unconscious state and machines were now keeping his body alive. After some time on life support, the doctor told Jim’s wife, Mercy, that Jim was not going to recover. It was just a matter of time. He said that it was time to talk about the idea of discontinuing the life support.

Mercy was in a great state of distress when she called Julie, her sister, to tell her the news. Julie advised Mercy not to make any quick decisions. It was almost Christmas. It would be too hard to even think of removing the life support at Christmas time. She advised her to wait until after the holidays to consider it.

Julie wanted to bring the shirt blessed by the relic of Padre Pio to the hospital and pray for Jim. Mercy thought it was a wonderful idea. Jim was not a person of faith. He was an atheist. Although he did not believe in the power of prayer, his wife and his sister-in-law certainly did.In the Intensive Care Unit, Julie and Mercy placed the blessed shirt over Jim. They prayed the Novena to the Sacred Heart for him and put their complete trust in God. Jim remained completely still and unresponsive.

The next day, when they returned to the hospital, his condition was the same. But on the third day, there was a change. When they went into his room, Jim’s eyes were open. He seemed to be trying to communicate with them but he was not able to since there was a large tube down his throat. Mercy told him that they were praying the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for him. She spoke to him of Padre Pio and told him about the relic that they had placed on his chest. She asked him if it was all right with him if they continued the prayers for his healing. Through the expression in his eyes, it seemed as though Jim was trying to tell them that he was glad they were praying and wanted them to continue.

Each day of the novena, Jim became a little more aware, a little more conscious of his surroundings. The doctor was incredulous at his improvement. “Even if he lives, he will be permanently disabled,” the doctor told Mercy. “He will have to spend a long time in a nursing home, relearning motor skills. He will never be able to work again.” But Mercy was not concerned about that. Her husband was now slowly recuperating. Her prayers and her sister’s prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had been answered.

Jim was discharged to a nursing home where he received physical therapy and continued to improve. He insisted that the blessed shirt remain with him at all times. He was either wearing it or had it right beside his bed. His atheistic beliefs are now a thing of the past. He was eventually able to return to his full time job. Jim is convinced that he has been given a second chance at life through the prayers of his family.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 43 – April-June 2010


We recently heard that a man named Alex Quinn from Northern Ireland had received a very special grace through the intercession of Padre Pio. We were able to contact Alex in Belfast and learn more about his remarkable story.

A Hymn to Padre Pio

In June of 1998 Alex Quinn’s fifteen-year-old son Philip, was sent home from school with a very bad headache. Within hours after coming home, Philip became paralyzed. Alex and his wife Deirdre rushed Philip to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. They were both terrified that their son was dying. The initial tests that were taken indicated that Philip had a brain tumor. But four days later, after a multitude of tests, Philip was diagnosed with the deadly disease called encephalitis. The virus had attacked the part of Philip’s brain that controlled movement, speech and memory.

Alex and his wife Deirdre were devastated. They tried to hide their fear from their son and made every effort to appear upbeat and positive when they visited him in the hospital. Day after day he lay motionless and speechless in his hospital bed, showing no sign of improvement. It was heartbreaking for Alex and Deirdre to witness. Philip still had a slight bit of movement left in his hands. He communicated with his parents by placing his thumb up to say “yes” and placing his thumb down to say “no.”

Alex learned that there was a man in Belfast named Brendan Rogers who possessed a relic of Padre Pio, a bandage that had covered his wounded side. The relic had been given to Brendan by Father Alessio Parente, Padre Pio’s personal secretary. Alex got in touch with Brendan and he kindly agreed to bring the relic to Philip. In the Royal Victoria Hospital, Philip was blessed with the relic of Padre Pio and all who were present prayed for his healing.

Weeks went by but sadly there was no improvement in Philip’s condition. Finally, in September, there was a change. When Alex arrived at the hospital to visit his son, Deirdre was in tears. But they were not the usual tears of sadness, they were tears of joy. With great emotion, she told Alex that Philip had spoken a word to her that day. He had said, “mom.” Alex cried too, not only because his heart was filled with renewed hope, but also because it happened to be September 23, Padre Pio’s feast day. From that day forward, Philip slowly began to improve. He would eventually make a complete recovery.

September 23 marked a turning point in Alex’s life as well. He had prayed to Padre Pio for his son’s healing and Padre Pio had sent him an unmistakable sign that he had heard his prayers. Alex knew that his life would never be the same. He now felt certain that he had a special calling, a special mission to somehow express his gratitude to Padre Pio. He did not know how he would do so but he was determined to find a way.

In 2002, Alex’s wife Deirdre was diagnosed with cancer. The family prayed to Padre Pio for another miracle but on August 15, 2003, on the feast of the Assumption, Deirdre passed away. She was surrounded by her loving family. Alex prayed that he would be able to accept the passing of his dear wife.

The night before Deirdre’s funeral, Alex had a vision of his wife. She had a beautiful smile on her face and she was being carried to Heaven by an angel. Alex was at peace, knowing that his wife was now free of pain and was happy in Heaven. Alex clung to his faith in God and found the strength to go on.

Alex began to regularly attend a Padre Pio prayer group that was held in Belfast. One evening at the prayer group, Father O’Rawe, the spiritual director of the group, said that he would like one of the members of the group to compose a hymn to Padre Pio. As Father O’Rawe said the words, he looked directly at Alex. For many reasons, Alex seemed to be the perfect choice.

In addition to his job as a teacher at a primary school in West Belfast, Alex was also a professional musician and a song writer. He wrote the famous song Belfast which had become a big hit throughout the United Kingdom. Alex belonged to a musical group called Barnbrack. The group had been on tour through Ireland, Scotland, England, and Canada and had even sung for the president of Ireland. People everywhere loved listening to the Irish folk ballads that Barnbrack sang.

Alex thought that Father O’Rawe had a wonderful idea regarding the hymn to Padre Pio. He decided to do his best to write a hymn in Padre Pio’s honor. He felt that he owed Padre Pio a great debt. Alex was certain that his son’s miraculous recovery was due to Padre Pio’s intercession.

After Alex finished writing the song to Padre Pio, he went to a recording studio to have it professionally mastered. When the song was released, it became very popular in Ireland where devotion to Padre Pio has always been strong. The CD also featured thirteen other hymns including traditional favorites such as Our God Reigns and Be Not Afraid. Soon England and other countries as well were listening to the hymn to Padre Pio and buying the CD.

Alex decided to give all of the royalties from the song Hymn to Padre Pio to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo where Padre Pio had lived for more than fifty years. Alex knew that the Capuchins in residence there depended on the generosity of others to carry on their apostolate. Alex planned to go in person to deliver the check.

When Alex’s royalties for his song to Padre Pio reached more than 10,000 Euros, he made preparations for his trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. He felt very insecure about traveling alone. In the past, he had always had his wife at his side whenever he went on a trip. One of Alex’s friends was an Italian man. Alex asked him to write a note in Italian explaining that he was traveling to San Giovanni Rotondo. That way, if he got lost or turned around or had any difficulties on the trip, at least he would be able to have the note in hand which explained his destination. Alex’s friend was happy to provide him with the note.

When Alex arrived at the airport in Rome, he looked for a taxi to take him to the bus station. It proved to be more difficult than he had imagined. Evidently, Alex’s Irish accent made it almost impossible for the taxi driver to understand him. The taxi driver summoned five other taxi drivers in order to see if they could decipher what Alex was saying. Finally, one seemed to understand and motioned him to get in his taxi.

Once at the bus station, Alex had the same difficulty when trying to communicate with the ticket-taker. When he asked for a round trip ticket to San Giovanni Rotondo, the ticket-taker could not understand his “Irish brogue.” Alex repeated his request a number of times but to no avail. He finally had to settle for a one way ticket.

When the bus driver made a stop at a convenience store, everyone got off the bus to get something to eat. After Alex had a bite to eat, he stood close to the bus, waiting for the driver to return. By now it had grown dark. He was very tired but he had to stay alert. He estimated that he would get to San Giovanni about midnight. He had made no hotel reservations and he had no idea where he would be staying for the night.

As Alex was pondering his immediate situation and trying not to give in to a nagging feeling of anxiety, a stranger approached him. He spoke to Alex in Italian but unfortunately Alex did not understand a single word of what he said. Alex then spoke to the man in English but the man was not able to understand him. Finally, because of the communication problem, the man simply stared at Alex. He was so friendly and engaging that it seemed a shame to Alex that they could not talk to each other. Alex then remembered the note in his wallet. He handed it to the man who read it with interest.

Soon everyone got back on the bus. Alex noticed that the kind man who had just spoken to him also boarded the bus. During the journey, Alex observed that the man was constantly on his cell phone, making one call after another. The bus driver made many stops along the way, letting people out at one small town after another. Every time the bus pulled to the side of the road to let people off, Alex would ask the bus driver if they were in San Giovanni Rotondo. He couldn’t relax because he was afraid of missing his stop.

When the bus arrived in the town of Foggia, the kind man communicated to Alex by way of hand signals that he was to get off the bus with him. Alex was confused. He was not traveling to Foggia but to San Giovanni Rotondo. But for some reason, Alex trusted the man completely. He did as instructed. They were the only two passengers who got off at the Foggia stop.

In Foggia, Alex and his new found friend, boarded another bus. Alex learned that it was the bus that went to San Giovanni Rotondo. Alex couldn’t believe it. He had no idea that he needed to transfer to a second bus in order to reach his destination. If he had not been assisted by the man, who knows where he might have ended up that night.

When the bus arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, the man motioned to Alex to follow him. They walked for about twenty minutes until they arrived at the man’s house. The man then drove Alex to a beautiful hotel. To Alex’s great surprise, it was right next to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Alex learned that the man had been using his cell phone on the bus, making one call after another, in order to make a hotel reservation for him.

The man went into the hotel and spoke to the manager. Alex was then given one of the finest hotel rooms available. After the man bid him farewell, Alex never saw him again. Unfortunately, he never even got his name. He had been a true “guardian angel” to Alex.

At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Alex received a warm welcome from the Capuchin community. They were very grateful to accept his generous donation.
They were truly happy about the success of his song to Padre Pio. They invited him to eat with them in the monastery refectory, the same refectory where Padre Pio had taken all of his meals.

The Capuchins also took Alex to the private chapel where Padre Pio used to say his Mass during the 1930’s when he was segregated from the public. Alex prayed in thanksgiving for the healing of his son. He also prayed for his wife Deirdre. He knew that she was with God now. He had the great consolation of seeing that she was at peace and that she was happy.

There would be many more occasions in Alex’s life to give thanks to God for blessings received. He was now able to see that much good had come out of the painful experiences of the past. He would continue to see the hand of God working in miraculous ways in his life.

For more information on the CD by Alex Quinn A Hymn to Padre Pio visit www.barnbrack.bandcamp.com or contact Alex Quinn at: alexquinn1@yahoo.co.uk 

 

The Testimony of Bill Gleason

We recently spoke to Bill Gleason , a member of the Padre Pio prayer group at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in San Diego. The following is Bill’s story:

Bill Gleason was getting ready to have shoulder surgery in the winter of 2008. The night before the surgery, Bill decided to go to the rectory at Our Lady of the Rosary parish and ask one of the priests for a blessing. Father Louis Solcia answered the rectory door that evening. He blessed Bill with the holy oil of St. Pio and gave him a prayer card. It had St. Pio’s picture on one side and the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the other. Bill did not know anything about St. Pio but he was happy to accept the holy card. Father Louis told him to put it in the pocket of his hospital gown and to keep it there during the surgery.

Bill was not too concerned about the surgery. It was going to be a routine operation, a rotator cuff repair. Nevertheless, he was going to have to go under general anesthetic and he was glad that Father Solcia had prayed for him. Bill had been praying quite a lot in recent months. Due to budget cuts in the state of California, he had been laid off from his supervisory position at the County Office of Education. Ever since the lay off, he had prayed to God for guidance. “Lord, show me what you want me to do with my life and lead me in the path you have marked out for me,” he frequently prayed.

Bill had the shoulder surgery and was to be discharged from the hospital that very afternoon. However, during the surgery, Bill’s breathing became erratic. He had to stay overnight in the hospital and receive breathing treatments throughout the night. Late that evening, his wife Mary Ann called his nurse to see how he was doing. She told the nurse that Bill had a Padre Pio prayer card in the pocket of his hospital gown and she wanted to make sure that he still had it with him. The nurse explained to Mary Ann that Bill had put on a new gown and his other gown had already been sent to the hospital laundry room. The nurse was sorry, but it was too late to recover it.

The next morning, Bill was very surprised to see his Padre Pio prayer card in his room. Bill’s nurse told him that she could sense Mary Ann’s disappointment upon learning that the prayer card was gone. The nurse realized that it must have been important. About two o’clock in the morning, she felt a strong urge to go in search of Bill’s holy card. She went to the hospital laundry room and looked through the bins of dirty clothes until she found it.

After Bill was released from the hospital, he told Mary Ann that he thought they should start attending the Padre Pio prayer group at Our Lady of the Rosary parish. Neither of them had ever attended it before. He also wanted to make a commitment to pray the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day. Father Solcia had told him that it was the prayer that Padre Pio had said daily throughout his life. Bill had thought a lot about the fact that his nurse at the hospital had taken it upon herself to search for his Padre Pio prayer card. No one had asked her to do so. Bill was amazed, not only that she went in search of it, but also that she had found it. He felt for certain that the odds were against recovering it. He believed that it was a sign that he should start attending the Padre Pio devotions.

Toward the end of the year, Bill began to feel ill. He had chronic pain which seemed to intensify with each passing day. Finally, he was hospitalized. Tests revealed that he had Crohn’s Disease. His condition continued to deteriorate. Further tests were taken which indicated that Bill did not have Crohn’s disease. His illness remained undiagnosed.

During his hospital stay, Bill contracted pneumonia as well as the potentially deadly bacterial staph infection called MRSA. His condition became critical. He drifted in and out of consciousness. His breathing became erratic, his heartbeat became irregular, and his blood pressure could not be stabilized. As a last resort, his doctor put him into a medically induced coma.

Finally, after Bill had been in a coma for many days, the doctor told Mary Ann that he could offer no hope for her husband. He had done everything that he could for Bill. Bill was dying. The doctor told Mary Ann to take care of any arrangements that she needed to. Mary Ann called Father Solcia and told him the news. He immediately came down to the hospital and gave Bill the Last Rites and the blessing for the dying.

To his family’s great relief, Bill did not pass away. He came back to consciousness after being in a coma for eighteen days. He told Mary Ann that while he was in a comatose state, he had a remarkable experience. He found himself in a place of pitch darkness. There he saw the faces of frightful demons. It was truly a place of pain and suffering. An angel came to Bill and tried to lead him out of the dark ravine. “We have to climb the mountain, Bill. We have to go toward the light,” his good angel would say. No matter how hard Bill tried, he was always pulled back down toward the darkness. More than anything in the world, Bill wanted to get to the place of light.

At one point, Bill saw a saintly man dressed in robes of pure white. Looking closer, he realized that it was St. Benedict. “Save me!” Bill entreated St. Benedict. St. Benedict pointed toward his right, indicating the way that Bill was to go. Bill went in that direction and soon saw a figure close to him. It was Padre Pio. “Stop right there, Bill,” Padre Pio said, in a voice full of authority. “You must go back. Your work is not finished.” “But what work?” Bill asked. Padre Pio made no reply.

Bill knew that the light was up ahead, but he only had a faint glimpse of it. He was never able to reach it. Instead, when he finally opened his eyes, he saw his earthly angel, Mary Ann, at his hospital bedside. How happy his family was to know that Bill had returned to the land of the living!

All together, Bill spent a total of seventy-eight days in the hospital. He weighed 223 lbs. when he was admitted and he weighed 139 lbs. on the day he was sent home. Bill’s recovery took many months. His family took expert care of him. They were just glad that he was alive.

Bill’s experience in the hospital gave him a whole new perspective on life. Before his illness, he had often attended Mass simply to fulfill his Sunday obligation. Not anymore. Today, he looks forward to going to Mass on Sundays. He knows what a privilege it is. His relationship with God has become much deeper and much more real. He has peace of mind and peace of heart. His faith is stronger now than it has ever been in his life.

These days, Bill assists Mary Ann in Our Lady’s Catholic Book and Gift Shop on the grounds of Our Lady of the Rosary parish. He sees his work there as a ministry. He always wears a little pin of St. Pio and a medal of St. Benedict. People often ask him about the pin and the medal. It has become an opportunity for him to share his faith with others. He keeps prayer cards of St. Pio with him and often gives them to the customers at the shop.

At the Padre Pio prayer group one evening, Father Solcia surprised Bill by asking him to step forward and share his testimony with the prayer group. He was happy to do so. Since that time, many people have asked Bill to relate his story of how Padre Pio helped him in the hospital, after his doctors had informed his family that he had no hope of recovery. A number of people have told Bill that his words have strengthened their faith.

Bill feels that he has been given a second chance at life. His family was certain that they were losing him. His own doctor confirmed it. But as our faith teaches us, God always has the final word. Indeed, our lives are in His hands. Bill knows for certain now that he has work left to do. Each new day is a gift from God and an opportunity to share his faith and to serve. Today Bill is alive and well and working in the service the Lord.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 42 – January-March 2010

In Heaven, everything will be spring as far as beauty is concerned, autumn as far as enjoyment is concerned, summer as far as love is concerned. There will be no winter; but here winter is necessary to exercise self-denial and a thousand other little but beautiful virtues which are exercised at times of sterility.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Padre Pio: A Remarkable Intercessor

Yvette Levasseur experienced sadness and hardship from her earliest years. Her parents both died when she was just a child. After her parents’ death, her aunt and uncle who lived in Paris, France adopted her. Yvette moved from her home in Great Britain to live with them. Her aunt and uncle owned a small business in the downtown section of Paris where they made shoes for the handicapped. Yvette soon learned the trade and was able to help them in the shoe shop.

When Yvette was sixteen years old, her aunt passed away from cancer. Just two years later, her uncle also died. Yvette was on her own and very much alone in the big and bustling city of Paris. She gained strength by attending daily Mass at Our Lady of Victories parish.

After her aunt and uncle died, Yvette continued to make shoes. She lived alone in a tiny room above the shoe shop. It was a struggle to keep the business going and she barely had enough money for necessities. At times, bread and milk were her only staples as she could afford no more.One day at the bookstore in the parish of Our Lady of Victories, Yvette saw a book on Padre Pio. It looked so interesting that she purchased it. After she read the book, she had a great desire to visit Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. However, she knew it would be impossible as she did not have the financial means to make such a trip. By a stroke of luck, shortly after reading the book, she met a couple who were going to San Giovanni Rotondo. They invited her to go with them and she happily agreed. The year was 1958. She was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and to experience what she called the “true greatness” of Padre Pio’s presence.

After Yvette returned to Paris, she wrote a letter to Padre Pio asking for his prayers. She received a letter back which said that Padre Pio was praying for her and that he sent her his blessing. Shortly after, Yvette was offered a job. A woman wanted to hire Yvette to accompany her family on a two-month holiday trip to Savoia and tutor her two small children. Yvette.thought that it would be to her advantage to accept the job but first she wanted Padre Pio’s approval. She wrote to Padre Pio and asked him for advice. Soon a letter came back in the mail. “Do not take the job; remain in Paris,” were Padre Pio’s words of counsel. Yvette followed his advice.

Meanwhile, business at the shoe shop continued to decline. Yvette decided that it would be better to sell the business and get what money she could out of it rather than continue on a downward spiral and possibly lose everything. She wrote to Padre Pio again and asked for his advice. Once again, the answer from Padre Pio was a definite “no.” Yvette trusted Padre Pio completely and did not put the business up for sale.

A third opportunity soon presented itself. A woman wanted to hire Yvette to work as an assistant in her boutique in Luxembourg. To Yvette, it sounded like a good opportunity. It.would mean that she would have to leave Paris, but she didn’t mind. It was proving to be too difficult for her to make a living there. For the third time, she asked Padre Pio for advice and for the third time, his answer was “no.” Yvette decided to obey him blindly.Shortly after that, Yvette met a very nice man in Paris named Maurice. Before long, they married. Much to Maurice’s surprise, shortly before the wedding, he inherited a very profitable business from one of his relatives. Because of the inheritance, Maurice and Yvette were able to live very comfortably. The financial worries that had plagued Yvette for so long, were over for good. Soon their marriage was blessed with a beautiful son. Yvette returned to San Giovanni Rotondo to thank Padre Pio for his prayers and for her many blessings – her loving husband and her new son. To their great joy, Yvette and Maurice were blessed with two more children.

When Yvette thought about her life and all that had happened to her, it became clear to her why Padre Pio had advised her to stay in Paris. It was in Paris that she met her wonderful husband, Maurice. If she had accepted the job opportunities that had presented themselves, she would have had to leave Paris. If she had left Paris, her life would have taken a completely different turn. How happy she was that she followed Padre Pio’s advice.

After losing her parents and her aunt and uncle when she was young, Yvette had a great desire for a family of her own. Because she had experienced loneliness and personal loss in her youth, she knew the value and the blessing of family life. A good family was a true gift from God. Yvette would never take her family for granted. She had trusted Padre Pio enough to follow his counsel, even though at the time, his advice seemed hard to understand. In the end, his guidance proved to be perfect.

 

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In 1947, Nicola De Vincentis worked as the head station master at the San Severo train station in Italy. One morning upon rising from bed, Nicola’s legs gave way from under him and he collapsed on the floor. His entire body felt paralyzed. He was seen and examined by a number of doctors. None however, were able to determine the cause of his problem. Finally, Nicola was advised by his primary doctor to travel to Rome to see the highly-esteemed and well-known neurologist, Dr. Ugo Cerletti.

Dr. Cerletti diagnosed Nicola with the tropical virus, “poliradicdaneurite.” The long-term effects of the virus were severe and Dr. Cerletti tried to break the news as gently as he could to Nicola. He told Nicola that he would never be able to recover completely from the virus. He believed that with therapy, Nicola would someday be able to walk again. However, he was certain that Nicola would have to use crutches for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, it would be impossible for him to continue working at the San Severo train station.

Nicola was put on an intense physical therapy program which included galvanic stimulation, leg, thigh, and arm massage, and injections. Very slowly, his condition began to improve as movement returned to his body. He had a problem with his equilibrium which caused him to feel dizzy most of the time. Because he was so unsteady on his feet, he was advised to use a walker for support.

After a five-month stay at the rehabilitation clinic, Nicola was finally released. Shortly after returning to his home, he tripped and broke his right foot. He had to go back to the clinic where he spent another forty days. A short time later, the Foggia Administration of Health gave him a thorough physical examination and officially declared him to be disabled. He would never be able to return to his job as station master. The ruling was very difficult for Nicola to come to terms with. Thinking about the loss of his job and his uncertain future, filled him with great anxiety.

Nicola’s friend, Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis, who lived at the Capuchin monastery in San Severo, advised him to visit Padre Pio. Nicola had heard of the saintly priest but he knew very little about him. By this time, he had been suffering from the tropical virus for eighteen months. As a last resort, he decided to accept Father Placido’s suggestion to see Padre Pio.

Nicola and Father Placido took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. The bus driver would not take them up the hill to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace because the road was in such poor condition. Instead, they were dropped off at a crossroads with no choice but to walk the rest of the distance to the monastery. Holding tightly to Father Placido’s arm as well as using a cane for support, Nicola made a great effort to walk up the hill. However, after taking just a few steps, he lost his balance and fell to the ground. It became clear that he was not going to be able to walk. Father Placido had no resort but to carry Nicola on his back all the way up the hill. Although he was elderly, Father Placido managed to get Nicola up the incline and to the monastery.

When Nicola and Father Placido finally arrived at Our Lady of Grace monastery, they found Padre Pio taking a few moments of leisure in the monastery garden. Upon being introduced to Nicola, Padre Pio embraced him lovingly. He asked Nicola to sit next to him on the garden bench. Nicola then told Padre Pio about his illness and all that he had suffered since he had contracted the tropical virus. The next morning, Nicola and Father Placido attended Padre Pio’s Mass. Padre Pio made special arrangements for Nicola to sit in a chair that was placed very close to him at the altar.

Father Placido and Nicola had to return by bus to San Severo after the Mass. Father Placido wanted to make sure that Nicola had a chance to say goodbye to Padre Pio. However, Padre Pio had retired to his cell after the morning Mass and nobody was to disturb him. Father Placido took Nicola to the private quarters of the monastery and knocked on Padre Pio’s cell door. “Padre Pio, Nicola and I are leaving now by bus for San Severo. Nicola would like to say goodbye to you,” Father Placido said. Padre Pio opened the door immediately. He gave Nicola a blessing and said to him, “Trust in the grace of the Lord.” He then added, “When you get home, I want you to take a ride on your bicycle. After that, you should make another request for a medical examination from the office of the Central Administration of Health in Rome.”Nicola thought deeply about Padre Pio’s words. Padre Pio’s suggestion that he ride a bicycle seemed like very strange advice. For a man in Nicola’s condition, riding a bicycle was a dangerous proposition. Even if he wanted to, Nicola was quite certain that he would not be able to manage it. He had not even been able to walk up the hill to Padre Pio’s monastery. Father Placido had carried him up. Nicola still had problems with his equilibrium and balance. He had frequent dizzy spells. Padre Pio must have been joking to suggest that he ride a bicycle. But Nicola knew that he wasn’t joking. It was obvious that he was perfectly serious.

On the return trip to San Severo, Father Placido and Nicola discussed the matter. Father Placido had known Padre Pio for a long time and had full confidence in him. He encouraged Nicola to do what Padre Pio had advised him to do. “Padre Pio told you to trust in the grace of the Lord,” Father Placido said. “You must follow his advice. Pray about it as well. He has his own reasons for asking you to ride a bicycle. I think you should do what he said.” Nicola prayed for guidance. After praying, he seemed to have a great boost of faith and greater confidence in Padre Pio. He decided to follow Padre Pio’s unusual advice.

Upon returning home, Nicola got his bicycle out. He waited till the late evening when all of his neighbors had gone indoors. He did not want to make a spectacle of himself. He got on his bicycle and rode it about one hundred yards before taking a fall. He hit the ground so hard that he was almost knocked unconscious. Thinking that he might be dying, he prayed and begged God for help. All of a sudden, he felt someone lift him up from the ground and place him back on the seat of his bicycle. But how was it possible? He was alone. There was no one in sight. Back on the bicycle, he found that he could pedal it with ease. His joints and limbs suddenly felt flexible. The muscle constriction and paralysis had disappeared and he felt strong and energized. His equilibrium had also returned. He knew at that moment that he had been healed.

Like Padre Pio had asked him to do, Nicola went to the Railway Health Administration of Rome and made a request for another medical examination. He marked down on his application that he had received a miraculous healing. A number of doctors and neurologists examined him, under the supervision of Dr. Ugo Cerletti. They were dumbfounded by.the change in his condition. After a thorough examination, he was declared fit to resume his job. He returned to his position as head station master at San Severo and worked there until he reached retirement age. He remained in excellent health, free from any symptoms of the tropical virus. He remained a devoted spiritual son of Padre Pio for the rest of his life.

 

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We recently met Father Jim Muntz at a Catholic prayer breakfast. Father Jim Muntz visited San Giovanni Rotondo four times and was encouraged by Padre Pio to become a priest. This is his testimony:

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up on Long Island, in New York. Somewhere along the way, I heard about Padre Pio and I had a great desire to meet him. I took it upon myself to learn the Italian language so that I could communicate with him. I visited him on four different occasions in San Giovanni Rotondo.

The first time I went to San Giovanni Rotondo and walked into the church of Our Lady of Grace, I could perceive the strong smell of blood. I attended Padre Pio’s Mass and I was very impressed by the reverence with which he celebrated the Mass. The Mass lasted a very long time.

After Mass, I waited to make my confession to Padre Pio. The mens’ confessions were face to face and were held in the sacristy of the church. While waiting in line, I heard Padre Pio shout at the man who was making his confession. Padre Pio raised his voice and said, “What was that you said you did?” All of us who were standing in line felt very sorry for the man. We all backed up in the line so as to give the man more privacy. For his sake, we wanted to make sure that we did not hear his reply to Padre Pio’s question.

I was nervous when I made my confession to Padre Pio for the first time. Padre Pio was very calm as he heard my confession. It only lasted a few minutes. Later, I asked Padre Pio about the desire I had to become a priest. I wanted to know if he thought that I had a vocation to the priesthood. “Yes, you must become a priest,” he said. “You must go to the bishop and insist that you be ordained.” I was very shy by nature. I did not feel that I had the courage to insist on anything to a bishop. But because of the advice Padre Pio gave me, I finally spoke to the bishop. After I completed all my theological requirements, I was ordained to the priesthood.

Before the Mass, Padre Pio would always take his gloves off. Sometimes, a scab from the stigmata on his hands would detach itself and fall to the floor when he removed his gloves. People who were nearby watched for this, and if a scab fell to the floor, they would rush to get it. It was a precious first class relic.

Padre Pio would rarely allow people in his company if they were living immoral or sinful lives, and had no desire to change. He would often send people away with strong words. Many were offended, but almost all returned. He was truly guided by God in his dealings with others. He had the gift of reading hearts, of prophecy, and of discernment of spirits to a remarkable degree. If he counseled a person, he spoke in a direct manner. He did not want to repeat his words.

I went to San Giovanni Rotondo four times. Each time I was able to make my confession to Padre Pio. While in San Giovanni Rotondo, I visited Mary Pyle. Mary lived in a home very close to the monastery and had dedicated her life to Padre Pio. Mary was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. She spoke to me a lot about the Third Order. I was inspired by Mary’s words and because of her encouragement, I became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis.

Many people came to Padre Pio asking for healing from their illnesses. Padre Pio often spoke to people about his good friend Pietruccio Cugino. He held him up as a model for others to follow. Pietruccio was blind but he never asked Padre Pio to pray for his healing. Each morning at Mass, Padre Pio allowed Pietruccio to sit very close to him at the altar. Padre Pio wanted people to practice prayer and penance. He felt that too many people were seeking physical healing. He once said, “So many come to San Giovanni Rotondo asking for healing. So few ask for the grace to bear their cross.”

I had an undiagnosed illness when I visited Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. I was not healed of my illness but I received much more that a physical healing. As time went by, I realized the true spiritual greatness of Padre Pio. I have read more than thirty books on his life. I know of no other saint in history that has been given the spiritual gifts that the Lord gave to Padre Pio. I realize how truly blessed I was to meet him.

Father Jim Muntz


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Father Peter Rookey, OSM recently spoke with us about his trip to visit Padre Pio in the early 1950’s. This is his story:

I joined the Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) and was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1941. In 1954, I was appointed as Assistant General of the Servite order. I was sent to Rome and spent six years at this assignment. Two times I traveled from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio and make my confession to him. I spoke Italian and I was glad that there would be no language barrier. I also wanted to talk to Padre Pio about the many problems I encountered as Assistant General for the Servites. It was a difficult job in many ways. I felt that Padre Pio could help me with his advice.

The beautiful altar of St. Francis where Padre Pio celebrated Mass for many years.

The beautiful altar of St. Francis where Padre Pio celebrated Mass for many years.

Padre Pio did indeed help me. He gave me advice which I have never forgotten, even after these many years. He said to me, “Always, and in all circumstances, be obedient to your superiors.” It was his habit to say a few simple words but his words were filled with wisdom.

At the time I visited San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio said Mass at the side altar of St. Francis at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. When it was time for the Mass to begin, Padre Pio came out of the sacristy with two Capuchins, one on either side. It was apparent to me that they were there to protect him. They reminded me of bodyguards. Padre Pio said the Mass very slowly with many long periods of silence. He went into ecstasy several times during the Mass and became completely still.

I had made arrangements with the Capuchins to say my Mass after Padre Pio was finished with his. At the conclusion of his Mass, the same two Capuchins stood one on either side of him and escorted him back into the sacristy. The simple side altar of St. Francis had just the bare essentials – an altar cloth, two candles, water and wine, and a crucifix. As Padre Pio walked toward the sacristy, I approached the simple altar where he had just said Mass. As I did, I perceived the beautiful fragrance of roses filling the church. It was a heavenly fragrance, not of this earth. I knew that it was a special blessing imparted by Padre Pio for all who were in the church that day.

– Father Peter Rookey, OSM


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When Father Carl Gismondi, FSSP was assigned to be the pastor at St. Anne’s parish in San Diego, he organized a monthly Padre Pio prayer group. It has been a blessing to those who have attended. We recently learned that Father Gismondi received a very beautiful grace. This is his testimony:

Not long ago, I was hearing confessions at St. Anne’s parish on a Friday, in the middle of the summer. It happened to be a very hot day. We do not have air conditioning at the parish and it can become quite uncomfortable in the summer time. In the confessional, it can be even more stifling.

The confessional is built with maximum insulation in order to be sound proof for the sake of the privacy of the penitent. That means it is also to some degree “air proof.” On this particular day, in that very uncomfortable heat, I suddenly felt a very cool breeze coming down from the top of the confessional. I would describe it as “sprinkling down,” bringing me a great deal of relief. The cool air flowed only from the top. The sides of the confessional were not affected.

I was startled by the gentle and cool breeze. Before I became a priest, I was an engineer. I wondered, from the perspective of an engineer, how a breeze could possibly come be coming from the top of the confessional. I began to analyze the situation but I could come to no conclusion.

After Mass, when I greeted the people who were leaving the church, a woman approached me and said, “Father, I felt so sorry for you while you were hearing confessions. It was so hot in the church that I knew it must be very uncomfortable for you in the confessional. I said a prayer to Padre Pio on your behalf. I prayed, “Padre Pio, please send Father Gismondi a cool breeze to make him more comfortable while he is hearing confessions.”

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 41 – October-December 2009

Let us always keep before our eyes the fact that, here on earth, we are on a battlefield,
and that in Paradise we shall receive the crown of victory; that this is a testing-ground,
and the prize will be awarded up above; that we are now in a land of exile,
while our true homeland is Heaven, to which we must continually aspire.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

An Interview with Sister Pia of Jesus Crucified for the Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry Newsletter

Alexandra (Alix) Brown grew up in a wealthy and socially privileged family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was raised as an Episcopalian and although she attended church regularly with her family all throughout her youth, it was not something that she enjoyed. At that time, she could describe churchgoing in one simple word, “boring.” To Alix, people went to church because it was a social custom and obligation and nothing more. Religion was simply a crutch
to try to come to terms with what no one could really understand. And God? God was a “dead word” in Alix’s way of thinking. Church was dry and meaningless and Alix felt that for her, it was unnecessary.

Alix was interested in other things. She enjoyed the wide variety of cultural events that were available in Philadelphia. She found enjoyment in art, music, and the theater. She loved elegant dinner parties, beautiful clothing and the “good things” that money could buy. In her privileged upbringing, money could buy almost anything she wanted.

After completing high school, Alix enrolled in the prestigious Briarcliff womens’ college in Westchester County, New York. There she met many women who, like her, were from wealthy families and who, like her, had been somewhat “spoiled” by an abundance of material advantages.

As the scriptures note, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) The “season” for searching out the deeper meaning of life, came to Alix while attending Briarcliff College. Even though she did not believe in God, in some mysterious way, she was searching for Him. She began to spend a lot of time in the college library, reading books on world religions. The Eastern religions of India and Asia attracted her. However, in her study, she found that there were many doctrines in the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism which she could not accept.

Alix moved to Florence, Italy in her second year of college to study classical art. She had been accepted at the Simi Art Studio in Florence, which was considered to be one of the finest art schools in Italy. One of the students she met at the Studio was a wonderful and gifted man named Antonio Ciccone. Alix enjoyed his friendship and admired him for his remarkable artistic talent.

Antonio, who had grown up in San Giovanni Rotondo, had experienced many hardships throughout his childhood. His father, a widower, was very poor and could barely provide for Antonio and the other children. Antonio tended sheep like many other young boys in the area. He loved to draw and sketch and it soon became obvious that he possessed an amazing artistic talent.

Throughout Antonio’s youth, he had many opportunities to visit Padre Pio and to attend his Mass. Antonio used to try to memorize the fine details of Padre Pio’s face in order to draw it. One time, Padre Pio turned Antonio out of the confessional because he realized that he had come primarily to study his face. Padre Pio had an aversion to being stared at and made it quite clear to Antonio.

Padre Pio used to go to the monastery garden at the end of the day where he enjoyed the company of his friends and fellow-Capuchins. Antonio was able to visit with Padre Pio in the garden on many occasions. Antonio found the time in the garden to be a wonderful opportunity to carefully concentrate on the details of Padre Pio’s face for his drawings. Padre Pio would notice it and say to Antonio, “Why are you looking at me like that?” Antonio would answer, “I am studying.”

Padre Pio used to call Antonio, “Pitturi” (little painter) and he always had Antonio’s best interests at heart. He wanted him to lead an exemplary Christian life. Once, in the confessional, Padre Pio took both of Antonio’s hands in his own and held them for the duration of Antonio’s confession. “Please don’t disappoint me,” he said to Antonio.

At one time, Antonio thought that he might have a vocation to the religious life and considered joining the Capuchin order. In clear and unmistakable words, Padre Pio said to Antonio, “No, you must paint. That is your path.” Years later, Antonio’s remarkably beautiful religious paintings would be placed in the Capuchin monastery of Our Lady of Grace as well as in Padre Pio’s hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

A wonderful opportunity opened up for Antonio when a devout couple from Florence who knew Padre Pio, invited Antonio to live with them and study art in Florence. They had the financial means to provide for his education. Padre Pio was very happy about the arrangement and Antonio left for Florence with Padre Pio’s blessing.

Alix Brown considered Antonio to be the most gifted student at the Simi Art Studio in Florence. He used to wear a Rosary around his neck, which always looked very striking to Alix. She admired him for his deep spirituality. Antonio told her many stories of his childhood, and of his experiences of knowing Padre Pio. He encouraged her to visit Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Because of the example of Antonio, as well as that of other devout Catholics that she had met in Florence, in her private and ongoing study of world religions, Alix decided to take a closer look at Christianity. The information that Antonio had shared with her about Padre Pio was very meaningful to her. She began to ponder the fact that Padre Pio was a Catholic and she had a desire to learn more about the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Alix Brown’s study of Catholicism eventually led her to the decision to enter the Catholic Church, a plan that her family members were opposed to. Her parents would not give their permission and instead told her to delay her decision for two years, until she was twenty-one years old. Alix did what her parents asked of her. She waited patiently until her twenty-first birthday and was finally received into the Catholic church in 1961.

After her conversion to Catholicism, Alix received an invitation from a good friend, Louise, to make a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo. Alix remembered the interesting conversations she had with Antonio Ciccone about Padre Pio and was happy to accept the invitation.

It took thirteen hours for Alix and Louise to drive from Florence to San Giovanni Rotondo. It rained heavily for most of the trip. They felt fortunate to find lodging in the one and only hotel in the area. The town was rural and undeveloped and lacked many of the amenities that most people take for granted. For instance, there was very little hot water available in the hotel, something that Alix found surprising.

The next morning, the girls got up very early in order to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. The “new” church where the Mass was said had been constructed in 1959, and was built right next door to the older one. San Giovanni Rotondo had outgrown the small but beautiful 16th century church of Our Lady of Grace. The new church was large and spacious compared to the original and could accommodate one thousand people. When Padre Pio was taken to see it for the first time, he spoke prophetically, “It is not big enough.” And it was true. Not estimating accurately the crowds that would be coming to San Giovanni Rotondo in the future, those who laid the plans did not make the church large enough. On many occasions, Mass had to be said in an outdoor portico, because the church could not contain the people.

The local Italian people were territorial and aggressive when the church doors opened in the early morning. There was plenty of pushing, shoving, and elbowing that occurred as the people rushed forward to the sanctuary of the church. They obviously felt entitled to the best seats which were closest to the altar. Their conduct did not bother Alix. She had an understanding of the culture from her time spent living in Florence. Although it was noisy in the church as people hurried to find a seat, once the Mass started, the congregation became completely silent and all eyes were on Padre Pio.

Padre Pio said the Mass slowly and prayerfully. One could sense his union with God. Deeply recollected, he seemed to become lost in the mystery of the Mass. A sense of the sacred pervaded the church. Alix was awed by the experience.

Alix had decided that her trip to San Giovanni Rotondo would be an act of thanksgiving for her recent entry into the Catholic church. Yes, she had come to attend Padre Pio’s Mass, but she had also come to thank God for the great gift of faith that she had received and for the blessings of being Catholic. It was easy to pray in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was easy to think about God. The entire area, though poor and unimpressive outwardly, was pervaded with a sense of the supernatural.

After Louise and Alix attended Padre Pio’s early morning Mass, Alix stayed inside the church to pray in silence. It was there that she received the incredible grace of a religious vocation. In an instant, and “deep down in her soul” Alix was suddenly and unmistakably aware that God was calling her to leave everything in the world, and become a religious. It was something she had never even considered as a possibility. She had never felt the slightest attraction to the life of a consecrated religious. She had thought at length about her future and was intending to pursue a career in art. For as long as she could remember, she had wanted to marry and raise a family. She assumed that her future husband would probably be Italian, since she loved living in Italy and planned to live there permanently. But in a flash, everything changed.

Alix felt that she had been given an invitation by God to follow the path of the consecrated life. She knew what that meant. The strict vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience were nothing to take lightly. But she felt convinced that it was God’s will for her and she wanted to follow His will. She knew what a privilege it was to be called to such a vocation. As to which religious order to enter, she did not have the slightest idea. Each order had its own
unique charism. There were the Franciscans, the Benedictines, the Cistercians, the Carmelites, and many more. There were missionary nuns, contemplative nuns, teaching nuns, and nursing nuns. She had a great desire to speak to Padre Pio about the matter. She hoped that he would advise her and direct her to a holy religious congregation.

When it was time for Alix and Louise to go back to Florence, Alix knew for certain that she wanted to return again to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. The visit had been a remarkable experience. She had been able to talk to a number of the residents in the area who shared many stories with her about Padre Pio. The miracles that surrounded his life and his extraordinary spiritual gifts were well known and well documented. They were of course, a part of his spirituality, but to Alix, they were not the most important part. To her, the most significant feature of Padre Pio’s life centered on his all-consuming love for God and for the Church. After attending his early morning Mass, Alix came to the conclusion that his Mass was without a doubt, the greatest miracle of all.

Alix returned to San Giovanni Rotondo the following month. She made her confession to Padre Pio and told him what had happened on her first visit to the monastery, when she felt that God was calling her to a vocation in religious life. She asked him to advise her on the next step she should take. “You must pray,” Padre Pio said simply. He gave her no other words of advice on the matter. Alix was hoping that he would make the decision for her as to which religious order to enter, but no such luck. She made many subsequent confessions to Padre Pio and always spoke to him about her vocation, asking for his
guidanceand direction. His advice was always the same, “You must pray.” “Padre Pio made me do all the work in finding the right congregation,” Alix said, “He would not do the work for me.”

Alix returned each month to San Giovanni Rotondo for the next six months – sometimes for a few days and sometimes for weeks at a time. She did not mind the thirteen-hour journey from Florence. It was well worth every sacrifice and every inconvenience.

Through her many visits to San Giovanni Rotondo, Alix became acquainted with Padre Pio’s American secretary, Mary Pyle. Mary had become almost a legend in the town. Everyone either knew Mary or knew of her. People sought her out because she had worked tirelessly for Padre Pio and had faithfully assisted him for many years.

Mary, who was born into a wealthy family in New York City, visited Padre Pio’s monastery for the first time in 1923. She was so impressed by attending his Mass and receiving his priestly blessing that she decided to move to San Giovanni Rotondo permanently. When Alix met Mary, she had been living just down the hill from the monastery for more than thirty-five years. Like many others, Alix had a great admiration for Mary and as time passed the two became close friends.

Mary felt a special call, a special vocation to make Padre Pio known to others. Her workload was always heavy as she answered the letters that came into the monastery, baked the hosts that were used for Holy Communion, sewed the priestly vestments of the Capuchins, and greeted the pilgrims who visited San Giovanni Rotondo. Mary had many other duties, too numerous to mention. She was generous and kindhearted and always available to help anyone who needed assistance. Her charity and her many good works were an inspiration to Alix. Alix described Mary Pyle as having a “beautiful radiance” about her person.

Mary would talk about Padre Pio for hours to the visitors who came to the monastery. She never tired of telling the same stories about Padre Pio, over and over again. Alix recognized Mary’s availability to the pilgrims and her willingness to share anecdotes and stories of Padre Pio’s life with them as an important “apostolic work.” Literally thousands of people were introduced to Padre Pio through the years because of Mary Pyle’s efforts.

Mary wore the brown habit of the Third Order Franciscans. On one occasion, she sent one of her new habits over to the monastery to have Padre Pio bless it. However, whether he was jesting or not, for a reason that no one knew, he did not readily bless it but instead complained about it. Mary was told what had happened. “Did he finally bless my habit?” Mary asked. “Yes, he did. He made the sign of the cross over it,” the Capuchin replied. “Where was the habit when he blessed it?” Mary asked. “It was sitting on his lap,” the Capuchin answered. “Well, that is good enough for me!” Mary said and she was filled with
gratitude. Mary treasured a word, a glance, a blessing from Padre Pio. Her dedication to him was total.

Mary Pyle was advanced in years and was beginning to have numerous problems with her health when Alix met her. It became difficult for her to walk. After Mass, Alix used to take Mary’s arm and help her down the hill to her home just below the monastery. Mary had a little basket in her home that contained memorial cards with prayer requests for the deceased. Mary referred to the basket as a little “graveyard.” If any memorial cards came in, she asked Alix to be sure and put them with the others. Every day without exception, Mary faithfully prayed for the souls of all who had memorial cards in the basket.

It was Mary’s habit, especially in her later years, to take a nap every afternoon after her midday meal. Alix used to help her up the stairs to her small
bedroom on the second floor of her home. It took a great effort for Mary to get up the stairs. She often asked Alix to read to her until she fell asleep.
Because Mary had led an intensely active life, it was very difficult for her to accept her declining health. After Alix moved back to the United States,
Mary had a stroke. She wrote several letters to Alix and asked for her prayers so that she would be able to accept her condition and surrender completely to God’s will.

Alix knew how fortunate she was to be able to spend so much time in San Giovanni Rotondo, meeting the Capuchins, the pilgrims, and great souls like Mary Pyle, as well as others who had dedicated their lives to assisting Padre Pio’s work.

To Alix, San Giovanni Rotondo, from an architectural and artistic standpoint, was a town that was greatly lacking in style and beauty. It did not have the old world charm of places like Pietrelcina, Assisi, or Perugia, with their cobblestone streets, interesting structures, quaint buildings, and beautiful churches.

While the architectural style may have left much to be desired, Alix nevertheless felt inspired by the geography of the area. The wide-open expanses, the rocky, barren hills, heavy rains in the autumn and winter, the strong winds that often howled and whipped down the Gargano mountain, the cold, bright stars that filled the early morning sky – this was San Giovanni Rotondo. To Alix, there was a mystical feeling to the landscape and the terrain. And most important of all, Padre Pio lived there.

Alix was also aware of the invisible forces that were at work in San Giovanni Rotondo, the age-old battle of good versus evil. Although it was not something that she could see with her eyes, she could sense it and feel it. One recalls that Padre Pio had a vision when he was fifteen years old, of that very battle of good verses evil which takes place within the human soul. His vision was a revelation of the spiritual warfare that he would encounter
throughout his life.

In the vision, the young Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) suddenly saw a majestic and beautiful figure standing beside him. The man had a radiant countenance, similar to the brightness of the sun. He said to Francesco, “I am here to tell you that you are going to have to fight like a courageous warrior.” The resplendent figure took Francesco by the hand and led him to an open field. In the field stood two large groups of men. One group had beautiful and shining faces. They were wearing robes of the purest white. The other group was dressed in black garments. They were ugly and frightening in
appearance.

Francesco stood in the middle of the open field with the radiant figure beside him. Suddenly he saw a treacherous and hideous being coming toward him. The gruesome figure was so tall that he appeared to be a giant. “You must fight with this creature,” the resplendent man said to Francesco. “But do not worry because I will be with you.”

Francesco became terrified as the monster-like figure advanced toward him. He felt weak and began to tremble uncontrollably. He thought that he was going to faint. Francesco’s spiritual guide then took his arm to support him. He felt strengthened by the celestial man’s touch. Francesco entered into a violent battle with his dangerous adversary and finally conquered him. The radiant figure placed a magnificent crown on Francesco’s head but then quickly removed it. He said to Francesco, “You will receive a crown that is even more beautiful than this one if you will continue to stand up to the dark being whom you
just fought. Be strong and do not fear. I will always be near and will always help you.”

Shortly after, Francesco had another vision and was given the realization that the beautiful and resplendent man who had stood beside him in the vision was Jesus. In truth, it was Jesus who was always with him, assisting him in the many trials and tribulations of his life. In his fight against evil forces and in his life-long battle against demons, Padre Pio would always remain close to God and would be victorious.

If the demons attacked Padre Pio at times, the angels were always nearby to shield and protect him. The angelic realm was very real and very much alive to Padre Pio. Whenever he spoke about angels, he spoke from his own direct experience. He had been able to see and communicate with angels from his childhood.

Monte Sant Angelo, the beautiful shrine dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, was located approximately twenty-five miles from San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio, who had a life-long devotion to St. Michael, had made a pilgrimage there in his youth. He often encouraged people to visit the shrine. On one occasion, Alix was invited to go with a group of friends to Monte Sant Angelo. They intended to make the pilgrimage on foot, as an act of penance and sacrifice.

In the confessional, Alix told Padre Pio about her plan to visit the shrine and asked him for his blessing on the trip. Padre Pio made no reply. Thinking that he might not have heard her, Alix repeated her request, this time even louder. Once again, there was no response. As it turned out, on the day of the pilgrimage, Alix became ill and could not go with her friends. Most likely, Padre Pio had known that she would not be able to go on the pilgrimage and so had not given his priestly blessing.

Alix went to confession numerous times to Padre Pio. In the confessional, before Alix could name her sins, Padre Pio often began by asking her a number of direct questions regarding those very sins. “Have you told the truth?” he would say. “Have you exaggerated?” he would inquire. While many people do not consider exaggeration to be a matter of consequence, Padre Pio obviously did. It was something that needed to be addressed and corrected. He was particular and exacting to the smallest detail.

Other than a few simple questions that he might ask, Padre Pio usually said very little in the confessional. If he was asked a question directly, he often answered by a simple “yes” or “no.” Although confessions to Padre Pio were generally short, they were extremely beneficial, as so many people testified. Padre Pio was concerned with the soul and how that soul could be saved. Everything else was secondary. “Trust in God and pray,” were his frequent words. There were always long lines of people waiting to make their confession to him and there was simply no time for discussions or extended conversations.

Alix investigated many different religious orders in an effort to find one that would be suitable for her. As Padre Pio advised her, she spent many hours in prayer, invoking God’s intercession. When she read a biography of St. Teresa of Avila, she felt drawn to the Carmelite spirituality. She visited a cloistered Carmelite congregation on the East Coast to inquire about their way of life. The moment she walked through the door, it felt like home. She was accepted into the congregation. Since she chose an enclosed order, there would be no going out into the world, no traveling about. She did not think it would be a difficult adjustment. For Alix, the greatest difficulty that she faced was leaving Padre Pio, knowing that she would never see him again. Before joining the Carmelites, Alix wanted to visit Padre Pio one last time.

In 1963, Alix spent four months in San Giovanni Rotondo. She attended Padre Pio’s early Mass every morning and then spent the greater part of the day in church. At 11:30 a.m. each day, Padre Pio went to the balcony of the church for his private recitation of the Rosary. Most of the pilgrims who visited the monastery were not aware that he did this. Because Alix had spent so much time in San Giovanni Rotondo, she was very familiar with his daily routine. She made sure that she too was in the church at 11:30 a.m. each day to pray her Rosary and to unite her own prayers with Padre Pio’s. It was always a consolation for her to look up into the balcony and see Padre Pio deeply engrossed in prayer. She felt that she benefitted just by being near him.

When Padre Pio finished praying his morning Rosary, he would walk across the upper balcony of the church and through a connecting door into the old church. There he would recite the Angelus, the beautiful prayer to the angel of God, with all who were gathered. Afterward, he would bless the crowd. Daily, Alix recited the Angelus with Padre Pio, and then received his blessing.

Alix attended Benediction every afternoon in the church, with Padre Pio presiding. It was truly a blessed experience. The way Padre Pio held the monstrance for Benediction was something that Alix had never seen before. He was so aware of the true presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that he held in his hands. His face was radiant during the Benediction. Mary Pyle played the organ and directed the choir which sang at Benediction every afternoon.

In the evening before retiring, Alix joined the local people who stood at Padre Pio’s window and sang their goodnight songs to him. Buona Notte, Padre Pio (Good night, Padre Pio) was one of the favorites.

Alix entered in the cloistered Carmelite convent in June 1964. After six months as a postulant, she became a novice and took the religious habit. At that
time, she was invited to choose a new name. The Carmelite tradition allows the novice to choose two names – a first name and a religious title to follow. For her, the decision was easy. Her new name became Sister Pia of Jesus Crucified. She wanted to stay as close to Padre Pio as she could. Taking his name would be a constant reminder of him.

Of all the memories that Sister Pia has of visiting San Giovanni Rotondo, attending Padre Pio’s Mass is the one that she treasures most. The way Padre Pio celebrated Mass was a sermon in itself. His recollection, his reverence, his long pauses of prayerful silence, all spoke of his great love for God. A man who attended Padre Pio’s Mass once said, “When I saw Padre Pio genuflect, I was deeply edified. It reminded me of Jesus, beneath the Cross. I had never seen a genuflection like it before and I have never seen one since. I will never forget it for as long as I live.”

Padre Pio wanted people to make a good preparation before receiving Holy Communion and a thoughtful and prayerful thanksgiving afterward. “The thanksgiving after Mass is something that must never be neglected,” he once said. His own thanksgiving after Mass lasted at least forty-five minutes.

Padre Pio strictly observed the fasting rules of the Church before receiving Holy Communion and he insisted that everyone else do the same. He wanted people to dress modestly in the house of God. He was accused of being old-fashioned and unbending in this regard, but he would not compromise. People would not be admitted inside the church if they were not dressed modestly. There were to be no conversations, no talking for any reason, once inside the church. Instead, a strict silence was to be observed. God was very near; it was a time to put everything else aside but the thought of God.

These considerations are especially important for the times we live in today, when many beautiful and devotional Catholic practices and traditions have been long-since abandoned. Sadly to say, many people have lost a great treasure – a spirit and an attitude of reverence and a sense of the sacred. But in truth, what has been lost can be reclaimed. Let us hope and pray for this intention.

Throughout her many years as a Carmelite nun, Sister Pia has frequently gone back in time to those early days, when she visited Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. Nothing had been a coincidence. It had all been a God-incidence, leading her step by step to the place where she belonged.

Sister Pia has pondered the fact that she received the grace of a religious vocation, not in Florence where she had studied art, or in New York where she attended college, or in Philadelphia where she had grown up, but on a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, that small and remote town in southern Italy that
seemed so very ordinary and unimpressive and lacking in so many ways. There, in the church of Our Lady of Grace, where Padre Pio had said daily Mass for most of his priestly life, where he had spent countless hours in prayer and in hearing confessions, she received the call to offer her life totally to God and to dedicate herself to prayer and reparation, and live hidden from the world.

In 1965, Padre Pio sent a message to Sister Pia through his assistant, Padre Pellegrino Funicelli. The message said, “Tell Sister Pia to keep herself burning ardently like a little lamp before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” That is exactly what Sister Pia has been doing for these many years.


Let your desire be to see God; your fear that you may lose Him; your sorrow that you are not having fruition of Him; your joy that He can bring you to Himself. Thus you will live in great peace.

St.Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

 

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History of Padre Pio

In 1902, when Padre Pio was 15 years old, Padre Pio entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars. Padre Pio had poor health, but a strong will, and with Gods help, Padre Padre completed the Padre required studies and was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1910.

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio received the wounds of Our Lord, in his hands, feet and later on, his side. His long life was filled with hours and hours of suffering, penance, the Padre Padre Pad rearing of confessions and prayer especially the Rosary. Padre Pio said thousands and thousands of Rosaries.

Padre Pio had a very deep union with God and a tremendous love for the Padre Mass, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady. Padre Pio also had great devotion to his guardian angel and to St. Michael.

For over 50 years, Padre Pio suffered greatly, but Padre Pio was not one to complain. Padre Pio still kept his great sense of humor and practiced great charity towards all, forgetting about himself. Padre Pio worked many miracles through his prayers, both during his life and after his death.

All things must come to an end, and Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. Almost 100,000 people came to his funeral. Later Padre Pio's body was entombed in the crypt of Our Lady of Grace Church. Now thousands and thousands of people go to visit and pray at Padre Pios tomb. San Giovanni Rotondo has become in a sense another Lourdes, and one of the most popular shrines in the world, visited by thousands and thousands of people.

Padre Pio was like another St. Francis of Assisi. Padre Pio was looked upon as a saint even while Padre Pio was living. People would take every means possible to obtain a seat in the church where Padre Pio said Mass. The people would line up near the church door by 4:00 in the morning, or even earlier. It was worth your life to get in the way of those women who wanted to be the first into the church, to see their beloved Padre Pio. They would listen for the sound of rattling keys, then pandemonium ... As the doors of the church opened, a tidal wave of people poured into the church. If you didnt stand your ground, you would be literally jostled, trampled, thumped and pushed aside. Amidst all this thumping and bumping the women would roar and scream and shout at each other. They would abuse each other, using every means to be the first inside. The poor sacristan had a bad time of it, trying to make himself heard above the tumult, Pagans! Rogues! Scoundrels! ... Cant you wait? For the love of God, are you Christians or beasts? But his words fell on deaf ears.

La Casa di Sollievo della Sofferenza, the hospital founded by Padre Pio

 

Once settled in the church, the men and women were changed from wolves to lambs. They had attained their goal and now they knelt in prayer, looking more like angels, even though they were packed in like sardines.

But why did all these people use such violence to see Padre Pio? Padre Pio was their saint. They loved him with a passion. To them, Padre Pio was everything, and their greatest joy next to God and His saints.

When Padre Pio said Mass it was different. True there were other priests who said Mass very devoutly, but Padre Pios Mass was special. Padre Pio's Mass took from 1 to 1 hours. Padre Pio had much to pray for and many to pray for.

Padre Pio said many beautiful words about the Mass, thus revealing the very depths of his soul.

It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun, than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Holy Mass is a sacred union of Jesus and myself. I suffer unworthily all that was suffered by Jesus who deigned to allow me to share in his great enterprise of human Redemption.

When attending Holy Mass, renew your faith and meditate on that Victim who is being immolated for you in order to appease Divine Justice. Do not leave the altar without shedding tears of pain and of love for Jesus who was crucified for your eternal well-being.

Every holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we ourselves, do not know.

Padre Pio suffered when Padre Padre said Mass. It was hard for him to walk with his pierced feet. During Mass, when Padre Padre looked upon the Crucifix, Padre Pio was transformed. If you were able to observe the good Padre Pio, you would see that his face was filled with emotion, now fear, then joy, now sorrow, then agony. Padre Pio would speak with Our Lord. Tears would roll down his cheeks... And what did Padre Pio beg of Our Lord? Padre Pio would plead with God, and beg grace from Him for himself and others. But most of all Padre Pio would love God. How often did Padre Pio repeat these beautiful words to God, My Jesus, save everyone; I offer myself as a victim for everyone; strengthen me, take my heart, fill it with Your love, then command of me what You will.

Padre Pio was always full of charity. Padre Pio wanted all souls to go to Heaven. Padre Pio had thousands of spiritual children. Padre Pio said, I belong to everyone. Everyone can say, Padre Pio is mine. I love my exiled brothers very much. I love my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more. I have restored them to Jesus with pain and with love. I can forget myself, but not my spiritual children, and I assure you that, when the Lord calls me, I will say to Him: Lord, I shall remain at the gates of Paradise; I shall enter only when I have seen the last of my children enter.

Padre said also, I suffer so much because I can not lead all of my brothers to God. At times I am on the verge of heartbreak when I see so many suffering souls whom I am unable to help, and so many brothers who are allied to Satan!

Many people, even today, are being accepted as Padre Pios spiritual children. This can be done, because before dying, Padre Pio told his Franciscan brothers, that they could accept spiritual children on his behalf, after Padre Pio was dead.

Ah! The great mercy of God. Can we ever be grateful enough? God gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist. He sends us the Holy Ghost to strengthen us. He gives us Mary and Joseph, and all the angels and saints to help us. He gives us First Friday and First Saturday devotions to help save our souls.

And to top it all off, God gives to a doubting world another St. Francis of Assisi, but this time a priest, who bears the wounds of Christ and has all the spiritual gifts of the saints. Then this great man, this Padre Pio, accepts thousands as his spiritual children and promises to wait at the gates of Heaven until each and every one of them has entered! And people say God is not merciful! Retract your words, oh hard of heart! There is a God, and He is full of Mercy and Goodness.

How many people Padre Pio brought back to God! When the world has ended, and all is said and done, will Padre Pio be responsible for saving millions of souls? For sure thousands, and what a blessing it will be to see, not a picture or statue, but our beloved Padre Pio in person. For some, it will not be the first time, but for many it will be the first time.

Padre Pio was full of the wisdom of God. Inside the confessional and out, Padre Pio gave much spiritual advice to his penitents and spiritual children. Some of his counsels were:

In all that you do, always be humble, guarding jealously the purity of your heart and the purity of your body; these are the two wings which shall raise us to God and make us almost Divine.

Try to serve the Lord with all your heart and with all your will. He will always bless you more than you deserve.

Pray and hope; do not get upset. Anxiety serves no purpose. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.

Accept every pain and inconvenience that comes from Heaven. Thus you will attain perfection and sanctification.

Bear in mind that the more pleasing a soul is to God, the more it must be tried. Therefore, courage, and go forward, always.

Always keep close to Our Heavenly Mother, because She is the sea that must be crossed, in order to reach the shores of eternal splendor, in the Kingdom of Dawn.

Charity is the Queen of virtues, Charity holds the virtues together like a string of pearls. Just as the pearls fall when the string is broken, so too, are the virtues lost when charity is lacking.

Be careful never to become discouraged when you are spiritually ill. If God permits you to be weak and fall, it is not for the purpose of abandoning you, but rather, to make you humble, and more careful in the future.

Be calm in regards to your spirit, and always confide completely in Jesus. Make an effort to always conform to the Divine will in everything, in pleasure, and in adversity. Dont worry about tomorrow!

Make Christian use of your money and savings, then so much misery will disappear; so many aching bodies and afflicted beings, will find help and comfort.

Saint Padre Pio, pray for us!

More miraculous stories in the life of Saint Padre Pio
(This article is a continuation of miraculous stories in the life of St Padre Pio. Part 1 which is entitled "Little known stories in the life of St Padre Pio" can be found here
I would like to sincerely thank Brother Michael of the Cross and also Thomas Warner M.D. for transcribing these stories. -Webmaster)
 

 

The cure of Gaspare di Prazzo, Cianciana, Agrigento

Mr. Gaspare di Prazzo had a case of Mediterranean Fever which had become very serious. A woman, Signora Vacarro, knew of Padre Pio and recommended the patient invoke Padre Pio's help for a cure and Signora Vacarro gave Gaspare a picture of Padre Pio to use while invoking his intercession. Upon receiving the photo, the patient kissed the photograph of Padre Pio and begged him to cure him. 

A few days passed when one evening 
at 6pm the patient said to his wife: "Put someone at the door and don't let anyone in, because Padre Pio is coming, and I don't want to be seen by anyone.' 

The wife nodded assent and assured him that their nephew was already near the door.
 

Later that night, at eleven o'clock, when all were in bed and only his wife was sitting up by the patient's bedside, and the patient had a significant fever he said to his wife:
'Put out the light because Padre Pio is about to come, and I don't want to be seen by anyone, not even by you.' 

His wife obeyed and put out the light. All of a sudden the patient began to speak, very joyfully: "Oh! Padre 
Pio, are you here to heal me? I thank you. Pass your hand from my head to my feet. I cannot go on anymore and I do not want to leave my wife a widow...' 

The patient felt Padre 
Pio near his bed. He passed his stigmatized hand over all his body. His wife saw nobody, but understood that Padre Pio was beside her beloved spouse, and trembling in a corner of the room on her knees, weeping she also prayed to Padre Pio: ' As you have come, Padre Pio, ask Our Lord for the grace of my husband's cure.'
 
After a few minutes, the wife asked her

- See more at: http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2013/11/miracle-stories-in-life-of-st-padre-pio.html#sthash.aaf1IZj2.dpuf

A Short Biography

Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, in the small farming town of Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25, 1887. Although the Forgiones were poor in material goods, they were certainly rich in their faith life and in the love of God.

Even as a young boy, Francesco had already shown signs of extraordinary gifts of grace. At the age of five, he dedicated his life to God. From his early childhood, he showed a remarkable recollection of spirit and a love for the religious life. His mother described him as a quiet child who, from his earliest years, loved to go to church and to pray. As a young boy, he was able to see and communicate with, not only his guardian angel but also with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In his simplicity, Francesco assumed everyone had the same experiences. Once a woman who noticed his spiritual demeanor asked him, “When did you consecrate your life to God? Was it at your first Holy Communion?” and he answered, “Always, daughter, always.”

When Francesco was fifteen years old, he was admitted to the novitiate of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor in Morcone, Italy. He was admired by his fellow-students as well as by his Superiors for his exemplary behavior and his deep piety. One of the novices stated, “There was something which distinguished him from the other students. Whenever I saw him, he was always humble, recollected, and silent. What struck me most about Brother Pio was his love of prayer.”

On August 10, 1910, at the age of twenty-three, Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood. The celebration of the Holy Mass was for Padre Pio, the center of his spirituality.  Due to the long pauses of contemplative silence into which he entered at various parts of the Holy Sacrifice, his Mass could sometimes last several hours.  Everything about him spoke of how intensely he was living the Passion of Christ. The parish priest in Pietrelcina called Padre Pio’s Mass, “an incomprehensible mystery.” When asked to shorten his Mass, Padre Pio replied, “God knows that I want to say Mass just like any other priest, but I cannot do it.”

His parishioners were deeply impressed by his piety and one by one they began to come to him, seeking his counsel. For many, even a few moments in his presence, proved to be a life changing experience. As the years passed, pilgrims began to come to him by the thousands, from every corner of the world, drawn by the spiritual riches which flowed so freely from his extraordinary ministry. To his spiritual children he would say, “It seems to me as if Jesus has no other concern but the sanctification of your soul.”

Padre Pio is understood above all else as a man of prayer. Before he was thirty years old he had already reached the summit of the spiritual life known as the “unitive way” of transforming union with God. He prayed almost continuously. His prayers were usually very simple. He loved to pray the Rosary and recommended it to others. To someone who asked him what legacy he wished to leave to his spiritual children, his brief reply was, “My child, the Rosary.” He had a special mission to the souls in Purgatory and encouraged everyone to pray for them. He used to say, “We must empty Purgatory with our prayers.” Father Agostino Daniele, his confessor, director, and beloved friend said, “One admires in Padre Pio, his habitual union with God. When he speaks or is spoken to, we are aware that his heart and mind are not distracted from the thought and sentiment of God.”

Padre Pio suffered from poor health his entire life, once saying that his health had been declining from the time he was nine years old. After his ordination to the priesthood, he remained in his hometown of Pietrelcina and was separated from his religious community for more than five years due to his precarious health.  Although the cause of his prolonged and debilitating illnesses remained a mystery to his doctors, Padre Pio did not become discouraged. He offered all of his bodily sufferings to God as a sacrifice, for the conversion of souls. He experienced many spiritual sufferings as well. “I am fully convinced that my illness is due to a special permission of God,” he said.

Shortly after his ordination, he wrote a letter to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto Nardella, in which he asked permission to offer his life as a victim for sinners. He wrote, “For a long time I have felt in myself a need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. This desire has been growing continually in my heart so that it has now become what I would call a strong passion. . .It seems to me that Jesus wants this.” The marks of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appeared on Padre Pio’s body, on Friday, September 20, 1918, while he was praying before a crucifix and making his thanksgiving after Mass. He was thirty-one years old and became the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. With resignation and serenity, he bore the painful wounds in his hands, feet, and side for fifty years.

In addition, God endowed Padre Pio with many extraordinary spiritual gifts and charisms including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to abstain beyond man’s natural powers from both sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues (the ability to speak and understand languages that he had never studied), the gift of conversions, the grace to see angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence. When a friend once questioned him about these charisms, Padre Pio said, “You know, they are a mystery to me, too.” Although he received more than his share of spiritual gifts, he never sought them, never felt worthy of them. He never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God.

His day began at 2:30 a.m. when he would rise to begin his prayers and to make his preparation for Mass. He was able to carry on a busy apostolate with only a few hours of sleep each night and an amount of food that was so small (300-400 calories a day) that his fellow priests stated that it was not enough food even to keep a small child alive. Between Mass and confessions, his workday lasted 19 hours. He very rarely left the monastery and never took even a day’s vacation from his grueling schedule in 51 years. He never read a newspaper or listened to the radio. He cautioned his spiritual children against watching television.

In his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, he lived the Franciscan spirit of poverty with detachment from self, from possessions, and from comforts. He always had a great love for the virtue of chastity, and his behavior was modest in all situations and with all people. In his lifetime, Padre Pio reconciled thousands of men and women back to their faith.

The prayer groups that Padre Pio established have now spread throughout the world. He gave a new spirit to hospitals by founding one which he called “The Home for the Relief of Suffering.” He saw the image of Christ in the poor, the suffering, and the sick and gave himself particularly to them. He once said, “Bring God to all those who are sick. This will help them more than any other remedy.”

Serene and well prepared, he surrendered to Sister Death on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. He died as he had lived, with his Rosary in his hands. His last words were Gesú, Maria Jesus, Mary – which he repeated over and over until he breathed his last. He had often declared, “After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.”

In 1971, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the superiors of the Capuchin order, said of Padre Pio, “What fame he had. How many followers from around the world. Why? Was it because he was a philosopher, a scholar, or because he had means at his disposal? No, it was because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning until night and was a marked representative of the stigmata of Our Lord. He was truly a man of prayer and suffering.”

In one of the largest liturgies in the Vatican’s history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio on June 16, 2002. During his homily, Pope John Paul recalled how, in 1947, as a young priest he journeyed from Poland to make his confession to Padre Pio. “Prayer and charitythis is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching,” the Pope said.

Drawing approximately eight million pilgrims each year, San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Pio lived and is now buried, is second only to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in its number of annual visitors.

St. Pio’s whole life might be summed up in the words of St. Paul to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.

Chronology

 

May 25, 1887
Francesco Forgione was born at 5:00pm in Pietrelcina, Italy to Grazio and Maria Giuseppa Forgione.
Jan. 6, 1903 At age 15, he entered the Capuchin Novitiate in Morcone, Italy.
Jan. 22, 1903 Investiture into the Capuchin Order taking the Franciscan habit and the name “Brother Pio”.
Aug. 10, 1910 At twenty-three years old, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Paolo Schinosi in the Cathedral in Benevento, Italy.
Aug. 14, 1910 Said his first Mass at “Our Lady of the Angels” parish in Pietrelcina.
Sept. 1910 Received the temporary or invisible stigmata at the family farm in Piana Romana. The painful wounds would appear and disappear.
Nov. 6, 1915 Drafted into the Italian Army. On Dec. 6, he was assigned to the 10th Medical Corps in Naples. Due to poor health, he was continually discharged and recalled until March 16, 1918 when he was declared unfit for military service.
Sept. 4, 1916 Transferred to “Our Lady of Grace” Monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Aug. 5, 1918 Transverberation of his heart, causing a visible wound on his side.
Sept. 20, 1918 Received the visible stigmata while praying before a crucifix in the monastery church of “Our Lady of Grace.” He became the first priest in the history of the Catholic Church to bear the stigmata.
May 15, 1919 His Superiors call for first medical examination of stigmata by Dr. Romanelli. On July 26, 1919 he is examined by Dr. Bignami and on October 9, 1919 by Dr. Festa.
May 5, 1956 Inauguration of his hospital, “Home for the Relief of Suffering.”
July 31, 1968 His Prayer Groups are given official recognition by the Vatican.
Sept. 23, 1968 Padre Pio died at 2:30am. His last words were, “Jesus, Mary.” The Father Guardian of the Monastery stated that ten minutes after Padre Pio’s death, all traces of the stigmata on his hands, feet and side had disappeared.
Dec. 21, 1998 The scientifically unexplainable healing of Mrs. Consiglia De Martino of Salerno, Italy, needed miracle for beatification, is approved by Congregation for the Cause of Saints.
May 2, 1999 Beatified by Pope John Paul II
Dec. 18, 2000 The scientifically unexplainable healing of 7-year-old Matteo Collela of San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, needed miracle for canonization, is approved by Congregation for the Cause of the Saints.
June 16, 2002 Canonized by Pope John Paul II
Sept. 23 Feast Day
Patron of Civil Defense Workers Evey year, eight million pilgrims visit the monastery of “Our Lady of Grace” in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy to pray at the tomb of St. Pio Pietrelcina. As a place of pilgrimage, St. Pio’s shrine is second only to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, in its number of annual visitors.

Padre Pio: Director of Souls

In this issue of our Pray, Hope, and Dont Worry newsletter, we have included a number of impressive testimonies regarding Padre Pios gifts and abilities as a spiritual director par excellence.

There was once a man who lived in Rome (name withheld) who had fallen upon hard times. He had searched for work for months with no success. Because he was not able to support his wife and children, he felt like a total failure. Each day, his situation became more desperate. There would be an endless search for work. He would come home to his family with empty pockets and with no hope of finding employment. When he woke up each morning, he dreaded the new day.

One morning, the mans depression was so great that he could not think in a rational manner. He decided that it would be better to end his life. While his wife and two children were sleeping peacefully in another part of the house, he turned on the gas in the kitchen. He told himself that his problems would soon be over. Suddenly he heard his son calling his name and it caused him to come to his senses. He quickly turned off the gas and rushed to see what his little boy wanted. After he put his son back to bed, his eyes fell on the crucifix that was hanging on the wall. His wife had put it there. He felt that his wife was fortunate because she had a strong faith in God. He however, had no faith.

One day when the man was on a bus, he struck up a conversation with the person who was sitting next to him. That person happened to be the famous actor, Carlo Campanini. The man told Carlo about his many difficulties. Carlo asked him if he had ever heard of Padre Pio and the man replied that he had not. Carlo shared some facts about Padre Pios life. He explained that Padre Pio was a very holy Capuchin priest and a great intercessor with the Lord. Carlo felt that Padre Pio would be able to help the man. He suggested that they go together to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio and the man agreed to go.

On the way to San Giovanni Rotondo, the man wondered to himself why he had agreed to make the trip. He was not a person of faith. He had no interest in things of a religious nature. He couldnt imagine that he would enjoy spending time at a monastery. He also thought that it was very odd that Carlo Campanini would have such a strong religious inclination. Carlo had fame, fortune, friends, and the respect and admiration of millions. What would motivate him to have so much devotion to a Catholic priest?

The next morning the man went with Carlo to Padre Pios Mass. It was the very first time he had ever attended Mass. He tried to follow along as best he could but he was not able to understand the formal prayers or the scripture readings. It was all new to him. He could not grasp it. When the others in the congregation knelt down, he followed suit. When they stood up, he stood up. He tried to say the name Jesus. For the duration of the Mass he kept repeating the name Jesus. It was his only prayer.

After Mass, the man went into the sacristy with a number of others in order to receive Padre Pios blessing. Padre Pio was walking toward the fountain in the sacristy to wash his hands when he noticed the man. Padre Pio looked at him with a penetrating gaze and then smiled at him. The man felt an instant connection. He could not explain it, but for some strange reason, it seemed as though Padre Pio had been expecting him.

Later on in the afternoon, the man saw Padre Pio again and was able to speak to him. I do not believe in God, the man said to Padre Pio. That is not true, Padre Pio replied. There was a time when you did not believe in God. But that was in the past. As for now, you do believe. Padre Pio then took the man to his cell and heard his confession. The man told Padre Pio that he did not know how to pray and Padre Pio gave him simple instructions in prayer. The man still felt a sense of guilt and shame over the sins of his past and he told Padre Pio so. Do you think that St. Peter will want to know about this when you go to heaven? Padre Pio asked. Of course he will not! Padre Pio added. He then gave the man a fatherly embrace. The darkness and the pain that had been in his heart for years, suddenly vanished. Unashamedly, he began to cry. When he left the monastery, he had one last coin in his pocket. He gave it to a beggar who was standing nearby. He was now completely penniless but ironically, he felt freer than he had in years.

When the man returned to Rome, he was faithful to attend Mass every Sunday with his wife and children. He asked for instruction and was taught how to use the Missal in order to follow the prayers and readings of the Mass. He still had many difficulties to face in his life, but he no longer felt hopeless. His new found faith gave him the light he needed to see each day to its completion and to give thanks to God for blessings received.

 

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Dr. Ezio Saltamerenda was the director of the Biotherapeutic Institute in Genoa, Italy. Ezio had been an atheist from the time he was a teenager. As the years passed, he felt an ever greater hostility toward religion and looked with disdain on people who believed in God. Ezio felt that it was his duty to convince people that religion was for the weak and feeble minded.

On one occasion, Ezio was introduced to an industrialist from Genoa, Mario Cavaliere. Mario happened to be a spiritual son of Padre Pio. In Marios office, Ezio noticed a photograph of Padre Pio on the desk. As he glanced at the photograph, he felt a strange tightness in his throat. Mario noticed Ezio staring at the photo and told him some brief facts about Padre Pios life.

Even though priests and clergymen were not people that Dr. Ezio admired or respected, the words that Mario spoke about Padre Pio made a deep impression on him. The next morning, he felt an overwhelming urge to meet Padre Pio. He could not understand where the desire was coming from but he felt powerless to resist it. He left for San Giovanni Rotondo that very evening.

When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he was told to wait for Padre Pio in the sacristy. When Padre Pio walked into the sacristy, Ezio felt the same tightness in his throat that he had felt when he saw Padre Pios picture for the first time. Suddenly, without having any idea why, Ezio felt like crying.

Ezio was informed that the only way he could speak to Padre Pio was if he made his confession to him. He decided to wait in the confessional line. When it was his turn, he explained to Padre Pio that he wanted to ask him for a blessing for a relative who was sick. He did not want to make his confession. Padre Pio had a severe expression on his face and said to him, Do you ever think of the state of your soul? Yes, I do think of the state of my soul, Ezio replied. Padre Pio then asked him what he believed the purpose of life was. The purpose of life is the preservation of the species, Ezio replied. Padre Pio told Ezio that his soul was in a dreadful state and then he asked him to leave the confessional. Ezio tried to stand up but for some strange reason he felt riveted to the ground. He was completely confused. Finally, he managed to leave the confessional.

Even though Ezios first encounter with Padre Pio had not gone well, he wanted to see him again. He wondered what the second encounter would be like. Fighting the fear in his heart, he gathered up his courage and returned the next day. He tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as he stood in the corridor among a group of men who were waiting for Padre Pio. When Padre Pio saw Ezio, he said to him, Man from Genoa, you live near the seaside but you do not know how to wash. You have a dirty face! Then he added, You are a strong boat without a captain. Once again, he asked him to leave.

All of the men who were waiting in line had heard Padre Pios words. Ezio felt the embarrassment of being humiliated in public. In his heart, he felt a great anguish. He went for a walk in an open field near the monastery. He tried to clear his mind and to think about what he should do next. He was hurt by Padre Pios coldness, but it only made him long with a greater intensity to be near him. He told one of the other Capuchins all that had happened. The Capuchin was very kind to Ezio and tried to encourage him. He took him to Padre Pios cell. As they entered the cell, Ezio became aware of the beautiful fragrance of violets. When Padre Pio saw Ezio, he told him to go downstairs and wait for him. He would come down soon to hear his confession.

Ezio made a sincere confession and he cried unashamedly throughout. Later he was to say that making his confession to Padre Pio was the most beautiful moment of his life. His previous encounters with Padre Pio had been painful, no doubt, but that was all in the past. After he received absolution, he spoke to Padre Pio from his heart and said, I hope that the sorrow that I have felt for my sins and also my conversion to the faith has been of some consolation to you. My son, Padre Pio replied lovingly, Indeed, it has been a great consolation to me. God bless you always. Later he told Ezio that he would always be with him in spirit.

Ezio had not been mistaken. Padre Pio had called him my son. Ezios heart was bursting with joy. When Dr. Ezio Saltamerenda returned to his home in Genoa, he was a changed man. It was the beginning of a completely different life for him, and he shared his new found faith with everyone.

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Giuseppe Minto of Milan, Italy was a Camilian friar of the Institute of St. Camillo of Alberoni. The members of his religious congregation cared for the sick and infirm. One of the sick patients that Giuseppe was assisting, spoke to him about Padre Pio and encouraged him to visit San Giovanni Rotondo.

Giuseppe was finally able to make the trip in March 1959. When he met Padre Pio and kissed his hand, he perceived a beautiful fragrance which he described as a mixture of roses, incense, and carbolic acid. He also had the opportunity to assist as altar server at Padre Pios Mass on several occasions. During the Mass, just before the Eucharistic prayer, as Giuseppe poured water over Padre Pios wounded hands, he felt immensely blessed.

After the Mass, Padre Pio made his thanksgiving behind a curtain. Giuseppe happened to look past the curtain and he was able to see Padre Pio clearly. In his hand, he had a large stack of letters from people requesting his prayers. Padre Pios lips were moving and he was gesturing as though he was talking to someone, but there was no one there. Giuseppe understood then that Padre Pio was speaking to God.

Giuseppe waited in the sacristy to make his confession to Padre Pio. He sat on a bench with many other men. Near him was an engineer, who was so frightened at the prospect of making his confession to Padre Pio that he was trembling. Giuseppe felt sorry for him and tried to say a word to console him. When the engineers turn came, he started to walk toward the confessional but was so overcome by emotion and fear that he fell to the floor. Padre Pio was very loving. He encouraged the man to step forward and he pointed him to the kneeler.

Once, when Giuseppe was making his confession to Padre Pio, he began speaking about something that was totally unrelated to the matter at hand. Padre Pio stopped him short. There is no time to lose, my son, Padre Pio said. He did not want to waste a minute. Before Giuseppe left San Giovanni Rotondo to return to Milan, he asked Padre Pio to give him a word to take back to the other priests and brothers in his religious congregation. Say this to your brothers, Padre Pio replied. Let us sanctify ourselves and treat the sick well. Let us live well and we will bring upon ourselves the blessings of the Lord.

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Romana Bianchi had been suffering from arthritis of the spine for several years. She was in constant pain and no medicine that the doctor prescribed brought her any relief. She spent most of her time in bed, hardly able to move. Romana had a husband and three children to care for but it became increasingly difficult for her to see to the needs of her family. She decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio and to ask him to pray that her health would be restored. She also had another special intention. Romanas father-in-law lived in her household and their relationship was very strained. Romana hoped that they could resolve their problems so that peace would return to the home. It was a situation that needed prayer.

Romana traveled from her home in Gemona del Friuli in northeastern Italy to San Giovanni Rotondo. The year was 1963. In the confessional, Padre Pio asked Romana if she went to Mass on Sundays. She told him that she did not. Next, he asked her if she had gone to Mass on Easter Sunday. Again, she said no. Padre Pio became upset and raised his voice in disapproval.

Romana was not put off by Padre Pios strong words, nor was she intimidated by his sternness. She did what very few people had the courage to do. She spoke up to him. Listen, I am desperate, Romana said to Padre Pio. If I was not desperate, I would never have traveled such a long distance from one end of Italy to the other in order to see you. I am here because I need help. My heart feels like ice. For a long time, I have been on the point of giving up completely. I have been so sick that I cannot even pray.

Romanas words caused Padre Pios attitude to soften. She continued with her confession. When she was finished, Padre Pio gave her absolution. When he said, Go in peace, a great peace filled Romanas heart. She went back to Gemona del Friuli, healed in body and also in spirit. The chronic pain left her and never returned. She felt like her old self again. Not only that, her relationship with her father-in-law improved dramatically. Peace was restored to their relationship and she grew to have a deep affection for him. In the last years of his life, when he became bedridden, Romana cared for him lovingly and considered it a privilege.

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Probo Vaccarini traveled from his home in Rimini to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio. Eight of Probos friends asked him to speak to Padre Pio on their behalf. Probo decided that the best way to present his friends prayer petitions to Padre Pio was to write them out on a single piece of paper.

While making his confession to Padre Pio, Probo kept thinking about the note in his pocket with the petitions on it. He wondered when would be the appropriate time for him to talk to Padre Pio about his friends needs. Padre Pio noticed Probos restlessness. After Padre Pio gave him absolution, he said to him, I want you to leave now! But wait, Probo said. Eight of my friends would like you to pray for their intentions. I have their names and their petitions which they have asked me to relay to you. You should not be thinking about your friends while you are in the confessional, Padre Pio replied. If you do not leave at once, I will.

Padre Pio stood up and made a motion to leave. A strange feeling suddenly came over Probo. He felt rooted to his place. He could not move. He could not have left the confessional if he had wanted to. Padre Pio seemed to be aware of how uncomfortable Probo felt. He once again took his seat. Go ahead and ask me what you want to regarding your friends, Padre Pio said. Probo took the paper with the petitions on it out of his pocket. It was completely blank. You must hurry, Padre Pio said. There are many other people who are waiting in line to make their confession. We do not have any time to lose. I dont understand what happened, Probo replied. The paper that I wrote the petitions on is now blank! He noticed that Padre Pio had a broad grin on his face.

Padre Pio then proceeded to make seven statements. Each statement was an accurate reference to the petitions of Probos seven friends. Probo wondered why Padre Pio had only addressed the needs of seven of his friends when it was actually eight who made the request. As it turned out, the person that Padre Pio omitted, had the opportunity to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and speak for himself.

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On one occasion, Padre Pio was in the choir loft of the church, making his thanksgiving after Mass. Brother Costantino approached him and told him that there was a man downstairs in the church who wanted to make his confession. He asked Padre Pio if it would be all right if he brought the man up to the choir loft so that he could make his confession. Padre Pio made no reply. Brother Costantino waited for a time and finally went back downstairs.

A few moments later Brother Costantino returned to the choir loft. Padre Pio, Brother Costantino said, The man who wants to make his confession to you is still downstairs. He cannot wait any longer. He is a chauffeur and there are people calling for him to drive them to their destinations. That man has made the Lord wait for twenty-five years, Padre Pio said. He can wait five minutes for me to finish my prayers!

Brother Costantino was not sure what Padre Pio was talking about. He went downstairs for the second time. The man was still standing in the corridor. I have to leave now, the man said impatiently. I cannot wait a minute longer. Besides that, I am afraid to make my confession to Padre Pio. Why are you afraid? Brother Costantino asked. I am afraid because it has been twenty-five years since my last confession.

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Umberto Iorio once traveled from Morcone to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio. He was twenty-five years old. Do you go to Mass? Padre Pio asked. I attend Mass once in awhile, Umberto replied. Why do you live in the desert? Padre Pio asked him, referring to the way he was neglecting his spiritual life. You must start going to Mass and then you can come back and I will hear your confession, Padre Pio said.

Umberto got up casually from the kneeler. With a nonchalant attitude, he walked out of the confessional. From all appearances, he seemed to be completely indifferent to what Padre Pio had said to him. As soon as he left the church and walked out into the open air, he began to sob. As though a light had been turned on inside his mind, he suddenly understood the error of his ways. He felt a deep remorse. After that brief encounter with Padre Pio, Umberto never missed Mass again.

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Cornelia Zolezzi of Chiavari, Italy had a pressing problem in her life and took a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in hopes of speaking to Padre Pio about it. Cornelia owned an apartment in Chiavari and when she made a temporary move to Florence, she sublet her apartment to a woman whom she thought would be an ideal tenant. Later, when Cornelia was returning to Chiavari to take up residence, she gave the woman advanced notice to vacate the apartment. However, the woman refused to leave. Cornelia had no choice but to move back into her apartment while her tenant was still occupying it. It soon became an intolerable situation. Cornelia had no privacy and as time passed, she grew more and more unhappy about the situation.

At the time of Cornelias visit, people were not allowed to make their confession to Padre Pio if it had been less than a week since their last confession. There was sound logic behind the rule. Considering the ever-growing number of people who flocked to Padre Pios confessional, the long lines and the long wait became unmanageable.

Cornelia knew that she was breaking the rules when she stood in the womens line for Padre Pios confessional. She had been to confession just a few days previously. However, she was so distraught about her living situation that she was willing to take her chances in order to speak to Padre Pio.

Cornelia walked into Padre Pios confessional and knelt down. You are in the grace of God, he said to her, indicating that she had recently made her confession and that all was well. He would not hear her confession. Cornelia was disappointed but there was nothing she could do.

When Cornelia returned to Chiavari, she was very surprised to find that her tenant had moved out of the apartment. One of the neighbors told Cornelia that a moving van had arrived in front of the apartment in the morning. After all of the womans furniture and personal belongings were loaded into the moving van, the driver and the woman left together. When Cornelia inquired as to the time that the woman left, her neighbor told her that she left at about 8:30 a.m. That was the same time that Cornelia had knelt before Padre Pio in the confessional.

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There was a man once who entered Padre Pios confessional and found it to be a very disheartening experience. The year was 1963. Padre Pio did not even permit the man to kneel down, but instead asked him to leave at once. The man felt insulted. He went to one of the other Capuchins and told him what had happened and how upset he was. Padre Pio treated you that way because he cares about you, the Capuchin told him. He wants you to change your life and to save your soul. The Capuchin then heard the mans confession and gave him absolution. He counseled the man and told him that it was very important for him to get his life back on the spiritual track. He noticed that in many ways, the mans ideas about religion were very shallow. He knew very little about his Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, the man did not heed the Capuchins advice and continued to live a sinful life. He betrayed his familys trust and on many occasions was dishonest in his business practices. However, after meeting Padre Pio, something slowly started to change within him. He visited San Giovanni Rotondo on seven more occasions but always made sure that he kept a good distance from Padre Pios confessional. Once had been enough.

Through his visits to the monastery, the man learned of Padre Pios daily schedule. He knew that Padre Pio passed through the St. Francis hall each day after hearing the womens confessions. One day, he had a great desire to see Padre Pio. He did not want to speak to him. He simply wanted to see him.

The man went to the St. Francis hall and stood in a corner so that he would not be noticed. He did not want to attract any attention to himself. Padre Pio soon came out of the elevator and entered the St. Francis hall. Although many people surrounded him, he kept his arms folded across his chest so that no one could kiss his hands.

The man was surprised to see that Padre Pio had spotted him standing in the corner and was staring at him. Padre Pio then walked directly over to him and stretched out his hand. The man was very happy for the opportunity to kiss Padre Pios hand. Padre Pio then blessed him. The man could not believe his good fortune.

One day, the man gathered enough courage to return to Padre Pios confessional. He spoke to Padre Pio from his heart. He told Padre Pio that he had been trying to overcome the sins in his life but had not been able to completely free himself from them. But is that not repentance? Padre Pio said to him lovingly. Padre Pios encouraging words filled the man with hope. He made a good confession and felt truly blessed to receive absolution from Padre Pio.

Whenever things go wrong, the first casualty is always hope. It is fragile, like rare cut glass. We can lose it so easily. St. Paul tells us that, for those who follow Christ, there is Someone who protects and saves our hope; the Father of Jesus. St. Paul tells us that our hope is safe with God. It is well beyond any damage that can be afflicted by human disaster or natural cataclysm. God truly holds our hope and guards it.

– Father Harry Cronin, C.S.C.

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 62 – January – March 2015

In Padre Pios presence, one felt that nothing on this earth was of any importance except one thing, to be in the grace of God.

  Kathleen Thornton

Padre Pio Director of Souls

Padre Pios fame as a confessor drew immense crowds to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. As the crowds grew larger, Padre Pio, by necessity, became more inaccessible to the pilgrims. Outside of the confessional, it was almost impossible for a person to be able to have a conversation with him. Once, one of his spiritual daughters complained to him about the lack of time he had to give her in the confessional. He said to her, I have spoken to you for many years. Now I ask you to put into practice those things that I have told you to do.

As a confessor, Padre Pio wanted people to understand the seriousness of sin. We have a greater fear of mortal sin than of fire, Padre Pio once said. On another occasion he said, Beware of sin as of a poisonous viper. When penitents put questions to him regarding moral issues, his answers left no doubt as to the difference between right and wrong and the proper course to follow. One man said, Padre Pios words were firm, candid and pure. A man once confessed to him that he had thoughts against chastity. How many times have you had those thoughts? Padre Pio asked. Six or seven times, the man replied. But seven is not the same as six because it means one more deadly sin, Padre Pio answered.

Padre Pio had a great fear of offending God and was ready to go to any length to avoid doing so. He had no illusions about human nature. He said, As long as there remains a drop of blood in our bodies, there will always be a struggle between right and wrong. Looking back on his life, he once said, Temptations that concern my secular life are those that most upset me . . . They bring on a cold sweat and make me tremble . . . In those moments, all I can do is cry.

In 1915, Padre Pio wrote to Father Agostino:

The thought of going astray and . . . offending God fills me with terror. It paralyzes my limbs, and both body and soul feel as if they are being squeezed in a powerful vise. My bones feel as if they are being dislocated . . . crushed and ground up.

The general opinion was that making ones confession to Padre Pio was of profound spiritual benefit. Nevertheless, to confess to Padre Pio was not an easy task for most. As one person described it, To go to confession to Padre Pio was to allow him to look right inside your soul. As a confessor, he was strict and demanding. He had great moral strength in directing souls and he did not hesitate to tell the penitents what they needed to do in order to change their lives. He often told people what they did not want to hear. He had a strong character and was afraid of no one. Many people wanted to make their confession to him but were held back by their fear. One man stated, It is less frightening to take a difficult examination at the university than to make ones confession to Padre Pio.

In the confessional, Padre Pio did not want people to make excuses for their sins and omissions. A woman from Gioia del Colle, Italy visited Padre Pio on one occasion. During her confession, she said that she missed Mass the previous Sunday because of the rain. Yes, but when you left to come to San Giovanni Rotondo, it was raining too, Padre Pio replied. You must never miss Mass again on Sunday unless illness prevents you from attending, he added.

 

A photo of the confessional used by Padre Pio in the early days.

An atheist was once introduced to Padre Pio and the visit resulted in the mans conversion. He said, I went to see Padre Pio when I had a thousand reasons for not believing in God. With great delicacy, little by little, he led me back to the faith and gave me the moral stability I lacked.

Padre Pio attached enormous importance to the frequent reception of the sacrament of confession. He used to say, Even if a room is sealed off completely, dust will still accumulate in it. Padre Pio practiced what he advocated to others. He went to confession frequently. Before making his confession, he prayed deeply and sought the intercession of the Virgin Mary. He always felt a great remorse for his sins and often cried when making his confession. To Father Benedetto, who was his spiritual director for twelve years, Padre Pio wrote, I am seeking the amendment of my life, my spiritual resurrection, true and substantial love, the sincere conversion of my whole self to Him.

Mr. Livio Dimatteo met Padre Pio in 1959. On one occasion, Livio had been undergoing a strong temptation which he was convinced was, from the devil. Because of it, he was afraid to make his confession to Padre Pio. When he finally gathered up the courage and entered Padre Pios confessional, Padre Pio placed his hand, much harder than usual, on Livios head. Livio was certain that Padre Pio knew all about the temptation and would assist him through his prayers.

One man who had initially been denied absolution by Padre Pio stated that Padre Pio was the only person who had been able to help him break away from his destructive lifestyle. Thanks to Padre Pio, I was able to understand the gravity of my sins, the man said. Previously, the man had always justified his immoral conduct and had no desire to change. People tried to show him the error of his ways but nothing that anyone said made a difference to him. The shock of being denied absolution by Padre Pio caused the him to reflect on his life. He made a good examination of conscience and later made a sincere confession and received absolution.

When twelve-year-old Mariella Lotti of Cosenza approached Padre Pios confessional, his words startled her. If I heard your confession right now, we would get nowhere. You are not prepared to make your confession at this time, Padre Pio said. Mariella, as well as her parents, felt offended, but when Padre Pio gave a further explanation for his actions, they not only understood, they agreed with him. It proved to be a turning point in young Mariellas life. Another young woman wanted to make her confession to Padre Pio but she was not willing to make the needed changes in her life. Padre Pio spoke of her and said, She is just like coal. When exposed, it stains. When lit, it burns.

Padre Pio prayed continually for the salvation of all people. To a woman who was in great need he said, Rest assured that I will pray for you. Even after my death I will remember you in my prayers. To another he said, You must understand the responsibility I have assumed before Jesus for you. If something bad should happen to you which is to your spiritual detriment, Jesus will ask me to account for it directly. To a woman who asked him how often she could write to him, he responded, Write to me whenever you have the desire or the need. In me, you will always find a father.

Antonio Monari had a remarkable experience the first time he entered Padre Pios confessional. Antonio stated:

I was expecting to see a saint but I never imagined I would experience what I did. I told Padre Pio the many troubles of my family and myself and he listened paternally. I asked him for a grace for which I had waited many years for in vain. Men can do nothing my son, Padre Pio said and he pointed upward. Only God who is above can help us. I will pray for you, he added. He then gave me his blessing. I cannot describe to you the feeling of profound emotion I felt, so much so that when I got up, I lost my balance. He touched me affectionately on the right side of my head. My right ear, in which I was completely deaf, suddenly opened and I have been able to hear perfectly ever since.

In the confessional, people frequently asked Padre Pio for his counsel regarding family situations, vocational choices, business concerns, health issues, and even advice on farming matters. He was glad if he could help people on any level, but above all else, his desire was to help people on a spiritual level. He wanted people to realize their need for God. Professor Michael Melillo, one of Padre Pios spiritual sons, once said to Padre Pio, Father, please give me some spiritual advice that I can use for my whole life. Padre Pio answered him and said, You have been born to know, to love and to serve God, and to be happy with him eternally in heaven.

Capuchin Father Ruggero observed that many of the pilgrims who greeted Padre Pio handed him personal letters which contained their prayer requests. It seemed impossible for Padre Pio to read all the letters that he received. Father Ruggero wondered how he could find the time to pray for so many people. He asked Padre Pio how he could keep up with the task. Padre Pio touched his hand to his heart and said, This is where they all pass. They are all here in my heart.

Padre Pio insisted that people dress modestly whenever entering the church to attend Mass or to make their confession. To many, his standards of modesty were considered to be extreme. As time passed, Padre Pio became even stricter regarding church attire. One priest, who knew of Padre Pios rigid standards, told him that he could not insist on such a strict dress code in his parish because he feared that the members of his congregation would become angry and quit. An empty church is better than a profaned one, Padre Pio replied.

There was once a lady from Germany who made her confession to Padre Pio. She was fluent in Italian and was planning to make her confession in Italian. Before she could say even one word, Padre Pio began speaking to her in German. She noticed that his accent was perfect. Sometime later, she saw Padre Pio again. She spoke to him in German but he made no reply. She spoke to him a second time in German. He said nothing. Finally, she spoke to him in Italian and said, Padre Pio, you spoke so well with me in German in the confessional. Why is it that you will not do so now? Oh, he replied. Confession is a completely different matter.

Padre Pios fidelity to his priestly ministry as a confessor was revealed to Dr. Filippo Pancaro on one occasion. Dr. Pancaro, who was on staff at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, once gave Padre Pio a thorough physical examination. Besides having a high fever, Padre Pio also complained of dizziness, weakness, and a disturbing ringing in his ears. His exhaustion at the time was so great that he could hardly stand on his feet. Dr. Pancaro told Padre Pio that he needed to rest more in order to regain his strength. He advised him to discontinue hearing the evening confessions for a while.

Padre Pio was very disappointed at the doctors words. If that is an order, I will do it, Padre Pio said. But only if it is an order. I do not want to cut back on hearing confessions. Padre Pio then asked the doctor for his prayers. I ask you to pray for me to the Virgin Mary, Padre Pio said. Pray that my health will be restored. Dr. Pancaro assured him that he would do so. Padre Pio told the doctor that if he had a choice between losing his sight or his hearing, he would prefer to lose his sight. As long as I have my hearing, I will always be able to continue to hear confessions, he said. He once told Father Agostino that he would prefer to be taken to the confessional in a wheelchair rather than to stop hearing confessions.

Several hours before he died, Padre Pio asked the priest who was assisting him, Father Pellegrino Funicelli, to hear his confession. After making his confession, he said to Father Pellegrino, Ask all my brothers to forgive me for all of the trouble I have caused them. If the Lord should call me tonight, please ask all of my spiritual children to say a prayer for my soul.

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Gina Deiana was engaged to be married and was looking forward to the day of her wedding with great anticipation. Two months before the wedding, her fiancé broke up with her. He did not have the courtesy to speak to Gina in person about his decision or even to call her on the telephone. He simply left her a short note indicating that their relationship was over. Gina was devastated by his actions and sunk into a deep depression. Her sadness became so overwhelming that she lost all joy in living.

Soon after the break up, Gina happened to read an article about Padre Pio in a magazine. She had a strong desire to visit Padre Pio and so she invited her aunt to make the trip with her to San Giovanni Rotondo. They left from their home in Genova, and arrived at Padre Pios monastery two days later. The year was 1952. They felt fortunate to book a room in the one and only hotel in the town.

The following morning, Gina and her aunt attended Padre Pios early Mass. Later that day, a woman whom Gina had never seen before, approached her and said, You are the girl whose fiancé broke up with her. Am I right about that? But how did you know? Gina asked. Padre Pio told me about you, the woman answered. He wants you to stay here in San Giovanni Rotondo longer than you had intended to. Also, he would like to speak to you. But our funds are very limited. We cannot afford to stay any longer than planned, Gina said. Dont give it another thought. I will be happy to lend you the money, the woman replied. The womans name was Angelina Serritelli. She was one of Padre Pios spiritual daughters and she went to great lengths to assist him in any way that she could.

Gina was amazed by her conversation with Angelina Serritelli. She and her aunt were strangers in the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo. No one but Ginas mother knew about their trip. But Padre Pio obviously knew that Gina was there. He had sent Angelina to greet her. Gina called her mother in Genova and told her that she and her aunt would be staying longer than they had anticipated.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Gina was able to make her confession to Padre Pio. During the confession, she told Padre Pio that her fiancé had abandoned her and that she was very depressed. Although she had made an effort to get over the traumatic incident, she had not succeeded. She told Padre Pio that she had stopped receiving Holy Communion because she had been so upset.

In a fatherly way, Padre Pio counseled Gina. Be calm, he said. You must try to stop thinking about your fiancé and how he betrayed you. He was not worthy of you. Gina felt at peace for the first time in a very long time. Padre Pio spoke to her with great tenderness, almost making light of the sins that she confessed. He then gave her a picture of Jesus. On the back of the picture, he had written the words, Let Jesus be the center of all your aspirations. After making her confession to Padre Pio, Gina was able to put the past behind her and move forward in life.

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Guido Biondi visited San Giovanni Rotondo and made his confession to Padre Pio for the first time in 1956. In the confessional, Padre Pio asked Guido if he attended Mass on Sundays. Guido replied that he went to Mass once in awhile. Then you must leave, Padre Pio told him. Come back in one month and I will hear your confession at that time, Padre Pio added. Guido was angry when he rose from his kneeling position. He could hardly wait to get out of the confessional. He felt indignant and humiliated that Padre Pio had dismissed him in such a rough way. When he walked out of the church, he immediately went to the bus stop in order to catch the first bus that was leaving for Foggia.

On the bus trip to Foggia, Guidos anger began to subside. As he thought about what had transpired in the confessional, he became more objective. He was able to understand why Padre Pio had spoken to him the way he had. Guido took stock of his life, and for the first time, he felt guilty about many of the actions of his past. He had turned his back on God and in doing so, he had lost his way. He suddenly felt the crushing burden of his many sins.

After Guido returned to his home, he went over every detail of his brief encounter with Padre Pio. He wanted with his whole heart to speak to Padre Pio again but he felt too embarrassed to do so. Padre Pio had rejected him and he did not feel that he could ever face him again.

Guido had a very good job in the automobile industry where he was supervisor to more than one hundred employees. Back at work, he found it difficult to concentrate. He began to lose weight and his health deteriorated. He neglected his responsibilities at work. One day, he had great difficulty breathing. His body was wracked with pain. He prayed to Padre Pio and at once his painful symptoms disappeared. The answered prayer from Padre Pio gave him the courage to make a return trip to San Giovanni Rotondo.

At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Guido noticed a Capuchin who greeted five men that were standing nearby. The Capuchin motioned for the men to follow him. What seemed to be a force outside himself impelled Guido to join the group of five men. They followed the Capuchin up some stairs and then down a long and narrow corridor. Suddenly, they were standing in front of Padre Pios cell. They knocked on the door and heard a loud voice inviting them to come in. Guido was the last one to enter Padre Pios cell.

Padre Pio greeted the men and asked them for an update regarding someone who was ill. Guido understood then that the five men he had followed into Padre Pios cell were all doctors. They worked at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One of the doctors spoke to Padre Pio at length about the individual who was ill. After the doctors conversed with Padre Pio for a while, one by one, they kissed his hand and then left. Guido was suddenly standing all alone with Padre Pio. Fear gripped his heart. Padre Pio smiled at him and offered him his hand. Very moved, Guido kissed Padre Pios hand and then left.

Those few moments with Padre Pio had made a remarkable impression on Guido. He knew that it was no accident that he had followed the five doctors to Padre Pios cell. He was certain that it had been arranged by Divine Providence. That very evening, Guido had an opportunity to make his confession to Padre Pio. He no longer felt afraid. He was able to make a sincere confession. Padre Pio was very kind to him. He blessed him and gave him absolution. When Guido rose to his feet, he felt purified and immensely happy.

Guidos friend had been waiting for him in the little square just outside. When Guido left the confessional, he could hardly contain himself. He ran out of the church and with great joy, he began to shout to his friend, He has absolved me, he has absolved me!

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Italian-born Dino Segre was a well-known and highly esteemed author. He took the name Pitigrilli as his signature name for all of his published works. Dino was talented and successful and had more money than he could spend. Although he was not religious, as time passed, Dino began to think more and more about the deeper meaning of life. In the process, his interest in spirituality gradually began to grow.

At the advice of a friend, Dino decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Dino was famous throughout Italy but while he was visiting the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he wanted to remain completely anonymous. He hoped that no one would recognize him. On the morning that he attended Padre Pios Mass, he sat in the very back of the church and tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

During the Mass, when Padre Pio prayed for the living and the deceased, he spoke to the congregation and said, Pray, brethren. Pray with your whole hearts for someone who is here with us today, someone who is in great need of our prayers. One day he will receive Holy Communion at the Lords table. He will be instrumental in bringing others with him back to the Church, others who have lived without God, just like he has.

Dino was thunderstruck by Padre Pios words. He was certain that Padre Pio was speaking about him. There was not a doubt in his mind. Dino felt as though his heart was breaking. He began to cry. Try as he might, it was impossible for him to stop the flood of tears.

After the Mass, Dino had an opportunity to make his confession to Padre Pio. The moment he knelt down in the confessional, Padre Pio quoted from scripture and said to him, What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Of course, Dino knew the answer to the question. It profited a man nothing. Padre Pio was obviously speaking about the worldly life that Dino had been leading for many years. Padre Pio then said to him, The Lord has been very good to you.

The encounter with Padre Pio marked a turning point in the life of Dino Segre. After he left San Giovanni Rotondo, he went to his publisher and insisted that certain books he had written be permanently taken off the market. He was aware that his decision would cause him to incur a great financial loss, but he didnt care. He knew that Padre Pio set a very high moral and spiritual standard. With all his heart, he wanted his literary works to reflect that standard. For the rest of his life, he wrote only books that had a Christian theme, books that would help encourage others in the practice of their faith.

 

I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son. It is a story about returning. I realize the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to strange images. I have to return. Returning is a lifelong struggle.Gods love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home. . .so why delay? God is standing there with open arms, waiting to embrace me. He wont ask any questions about my past. Just having me back is all he desires.

– Henri Nouwen

Padre Pio Devotions – Books
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book I
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 61 – October-December 2014

Padre Pio Director of Souls

 

Twelve-year-old Pio A bresch (right) assists Padre Pio at Mass. Padre Pio predicted that young Pio would one day become a priest. Pios father, Friedrich Abresch took the photograph.

Padre Pio, in his lifetime, reconciled innumerable souls back to God through the sacrament of confession. He was always in great demand as a confessor. People were willing to wait many days and brave any inconvenience in order to make their confession to him. In the early days, before there were accommodations for the pilgrims, the men who waited to make their confession to Padre Pio would sometimes sleep at night in the fields near the monastery. Some would even pitch tents in the open areas. When the sun rose, they would resume their place in the confessional line. <p>&nbsp;</p>

For years, Padre Pio spent the greater part of each day in the confessional. It was for this reason that he was often spoken of as a martyr of the confessional. Pope Pius XII referred to Padre Pio as the confessor of Europe. Once, Archbishop Andrea Cesarano of Manfredonia and Pope Pius XII were talking together about Padre Pio. What does Padre Pio do? the pope asked. Your Holiness, Archbishop Cesarano replied, He takes away the sins of the world.

Padre Pio had a true understanding of human weakness and was willing to go to great lengths to help a person. However, if a person was not sorry for his sins, Padre Pio did not feel that he could do much for that individual. He recommended to some individuals that they go to one of the other Capuchins to make their confession, rather than to him, without explaining the reason why. When he sent people out of the confessional because they were not adequately prepared to make their confession, it weighed on him. If you could only understand how I suffer when I have to refuse absolution, Padre Pio said. But it is better to be criticized by a man in this life than by God in the next life. He never advocated that other priests adopt his unconventional methods. What I do, you cannot do, he once said to a fellow priest.

Angelo Battisti, an administrator at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, knew that Padre Pio spent long hours praying for the intentions of his spiritual children. Angelo once offered a suggestion to Padre Pio. It is far too time-consuming for you to pray for people on an individual basis, Angelo said. There are just too many people who are requesting your prayers. Why dont you pray for the people in general rather than individually? It would save you a lot of time. I cannot do that, Padre Pio replied. I must present their needs to God, one at a time.

The Lord endowed Padre Pio with extraordinary spiritual charisms for his ministry in the confessional. He was given the gift of reading hearts and of infused knowledge. These gifts were present even in the early days of his priesthood. In 1921, Padre Pio wrote a letter to Father Agostino and explained that the knowledge he possessed came down from above, indicating that it was given to him by God. To Cleonice Morcaldi, the daughter of the mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio said, I see you inside and out, just like you see yourself in a mirror.

During World War II, an American soldier had the opportunity to make a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo. At the monastery, he was not able to make his confession to Padre Pio because he did not speak Italian. Instead, he was directed to the confessional of a priest who was hearing confessions in English. As the soldier passed through the sacristy, he saw Padre Pio for the first time. Padre Pio stared at the young American with deep concentration. During those moments, the soldier became aware that his mind was being healed. He could feel a definite change in his thought patterns, a complete shift in his usual way of thinking.

Father Nello Castello of Padua, Italy, went to confession to Padre Pio on numerous occasions. Father Castello described confession to Padre Pio as both jolting and enlightening. He said, Padre Pio gave me counsel that reflected the whole range of my existence, past and future. At times he would surprise me with suggestions unconnected with the sins I confessed. But later, events made it clear that his counsels had been prophetic. Padre Pio knew my problems better than I did.

One woman who made her confession to Padre Pio was plagued with personal problems that were almost overwhelming. Padre Pio said to her, You must not be anxious or worried about anything because I am here with you. To another who was undergoing severe trials he said, Unite yourself to my prayers. To the penitents, Padre Pio was a confidant, a friend, a counselor and above all a father. People could feel his concern and his loving care. He said to Monsignor Giancarlo Setti, whom he asked to oversee the Padre Pio prayer groups worldwide, Monsignor, you look after the prayer groups and I will look after your soul.

Many people testified that their encounter with Padre Pio in the confessional brought them back to a state of inward peace. To a woman who felt intense sorrow because of the death of her child, Padre Pio said, I want you to know that your child has gone to a place where there is no more pain, no more suffering. That should be a great consolation to you. And indeed, his words were truly a great consolation to the woman.

Father Vincenzo of Casacalenda wrote:

Padre Pio was always at our disposal. Even when we could not get near him because of the crowds, it was enough for us to turn our thoughts to him. We felt him standing by us, not only protectively but so many times also tangibly, through the prodigious perfume of sanctity which we were conscious of.

He always stood by us both materially and spiritually. He accepted all our requests, met all our anxieties, listened to all our sins. He took upon himself all our miseries as if they were his own, to such an extent that he sometimes lamented, I cant go on any more. This humble confession of the heaviness of his cross, moves and comforts us at the same time. His was an endless love.

Father Vincenzo also made mention of Padre Pios gift of reading hearts. He said, “I was afraid of Padre Pios gaze – a gaze which searched you. And yet, it was not a hard gaze; no, it was a sweet one. When he looked at you, he stripped you. If Padre Pio looked at you and smiled, you felt you had received a blessing. If he did not look at you, you were afraid.”

Padre Pio knew that being a minister of the sacrament of reconciliation was a great responsibility. The responsibility often weighed heavily on him. He once said to Capuchin Father Domenico Laballarte, In the confessional we dispense the blood of Christ. Be careful not to pour out such precious blood too easily or too lightly.

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German-born Friedrich Abresch lived in Bologna, Italy where he worked as a professional photographer. He converted to Catholicism in order to please his fiancé, Amalia, who was a Catholic. Friedrich was a Catholic in name only. He did not have faith in the teachings of the Church. He rarely went to Mass and as time passed he began to feel a great antipathy for anything that had to do with Catholicism. Later, he took up the study of spiritualism, occultism, and magic.

When Friedrich learned about Padre Pio, his curiosity was aroused. He was fascinated by the stories of the miracles and healings associated with Padre Pio and wanted to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to meet him. In Friedrichs mind, the only negative factor was that Padre Pio was a Catholic. Could these obvious manifestations of Gods power really be coming from a Catholic priest? Friedrich wondered how it could be possible.

 

Mr. Friedrich Abresch

Friedrich was finally able to make the trip to see Padre Pio in 1925. He was twenty-eight years old. When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him, but was by no means cordial. He only made a few rather cold remarks. Friedrich had traveled a long distance from Bologna to the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo and was somehow expecting a friendlier reception.

Later, when Friedrich made his confession to Padre Pio, Padre Pio told him that in his previous confessions, he had withheld serious sins from his confessor. His words, which were true, shocked Friedrich. He wondered how Padre Pio could have known. Padre Pio then asked Friedrich if his previous confessions had been made in good faith. He answered that they had not. Friedrich told Padre Pio that he did not believe in the sacrament of confession. Although he felt that it was a useful psychological and social tool, he did not believe that it could impart grace. However, Friedrich had been deeply moved by his few moments with Padre Pio and by the fact that Padre Pio could see into the secret depth of his soul. I did not believe in the sacrament of confession before, Friedrich said to Padre Pio. But now suddenly, by talking with you, I believe in it, he added.

As though in great pain, Padre Pio told Friedrich that his beliefs were all heresies. He added that all of his past communions had been sacrilegious. Make a good examination of conscience, Padre Pio said. Try to remember when you last made a sincere confession. You must make a general confession. He told Friedrich that he would hear his confession later in the day. Jesus has been more merciful to you than he was to Judas! Padre Pio said. He then left Friedrich in the sacristy and went to hear the womens confessions.

Friedrich felt shaken to his roots by his contact with Padre Pio. He also felt dazed and confused. He tried to gather his thoughts together but he could not seem to concentrate. He made a supreme effort to recall the last time he made a sincere confession. Try as he might, he could not remember. He tried to focus his mind and make an examination of conscience so that he would be prepared to make a general confession.

Friedrich decided that he would tell Padre Pio that he had been a Lutheran before converting to Catholicism. He would explain that he had been conditionally baptized into the Catholic Church. At that time, all of his sins were forgiven. He would begin his confession by talking about his childhood.

When Friedrich knelt before Padre Pio once again in the confessional, before he could finish his first sentence, Padre Pio interrupted him. When did you make your last good confession? Padre Pio asked. Friedrich was not sure if he had ever made a good confession. He told Padre Pio that he could not remember. Padre Pio then reminded him of the time, adding some of the particulars of that confession. It took place shortly after Friedrich was married. That confession had long slipped from his memory but he realized that Padre Pio was right. Begin your confession from the time I have just mentioned, Padre Pio said. Friedrich was astonished that Padre Pio had such detailed knowledge of the events of his past life. He realized that he had come in contact with the supernatural.

Padre Pio then enumerated all of Friedrichs mortal sins by asking him questions about those very sins. He was even able to state the number of times he had neglected to go to Mass. Everything was laid bare before Friedrichs eyes. He made Friedrich understand the gravity of the state of his soul. You have launched a hymn to Satan, whereas Jesus, in his tremendous love, has broken himself for you, Padre Pio said. He then gave Friedrich a penance. When Padre Pio pronounced the words of absolution, Friedrich found it hard to breathe. He felt like he was suffocating. But after he left the confessional, his joy was so great that he could hardly contain himself.

From that day forward, Friedrich attended Mass every day. Friedrich later prepared a written testimony stating that he believed, not only in all of the dogmas and precepts of the Catholic Church, but also in all of the Churchs traditions and ceremonies, even down to the smallest detail. He stated that his faith was so strong that no one would ever be able to shake it. He would prefer to lose his life rather than his faith.

Friedrich had a great desire to be near Padre Pio. He and Amalia decided to move from their home in Bologna to San Giovanni Rotondo. There, they became active members of the Third Order of St. Francis. They were very happy living close to Padre Pio and participating in the spiritual life of the church of Our Lady of Grace.

One day, while in the church of Our Lady of Grace, Friedrich took some photographs of Padre Pio during the celebration of the Mass. He had not asked permission to do so. Much to Friedrichs surprise, the photos all turned out blank. The next time he wanted to take a photograph of Padre Pio, he asked for his permission. Padre Pio was strongly opposed to the idea and would not agree to it. But Friedrich was persistent. He asked the Capuchin superior for permission and he gave his consent. Padre Pio submitted out of obedience to his superior but he still resisted the idea. When Padre Pio was told that the photos were a consolation to many people, he finally became more accepting. Friedrich became Padre Pios official photographer and left a number of exceptional photographs of him to posterity.

In honor of their spiritual father, when Amalia and Friedrich welcomed their newborn son into the world, they named him Pio. Both Friedrich and his son Pio, served Padre Pios Mass on many occasions. Padre Pio predicted that Pio Abresch would one day become a priest and would have a high position in the Church. His prophecy came true. Pio Abresch was ordained to the priesthood in 1956. Monsignor Pio Abresch was sent to Rome and was assigned to work at the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican. Friedrich Abresch died in August 1969, almost one year after the death of Padre Pio.

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Biagio Fusco saw Padre Pio for the first time in 1919. Some of his relatives had urged him to make the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo and he also felt motivated by a certain sense of curiosity regarding Padre Pio. He happened to arrive at the monastery just as Padre Pio had begun to say Mass. During the Mass, Biagio began to think about how far he had drifted from his faith. His moral and spiritual life had been on the downhill slide for a long time. He was so moved by Padre Pios Mass that he felt suddenly inspired to change his life and to return to the sacraments. Biagio was also able to make his confession to Padre Pio. The church and the confessional were very crowded that day. The Italian state police (the Carabenieri) were present to maintain order in the church.

After Biagio returned to his home, he continued to think about Padre Pio. Before his visit to Padre Pio, nothing could motivate him to change his life. He was attached to his sins and did not have the will or the desire to change. But the short visit to Padre Pio produced a radical transformation in his life. Sometimes Biagio noticed the unexplainable scent of violets, roses, and incense in the air. He felt it was a sign that Padre Pio was trying to encourage him to sustain his faith in its first steps.

Several years later, Biagio returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and was able once again to make his confession to Padre Pio. When Biagio confessed a particular sin, Padre Pio interrupted him and said, You confessed that sin two years ago. You are a backslider. Biagio knew that Padre Pio heard confessions day in and day out, for many hours a day. He was astonished that Padre Pio was able to remember what he had confessed to him in the past.

The next time Biagio visited San Giovanni Rotondo, he had a very important matter to discuss with Padre Pio. In the confessional, he explained to Padre Pio that he would soon be taking an examination for a teaching position. He had been trying for four years to obtain a job as a teacher, to no avail. Biagio asked Padre Pio to pray that he would pass the test and also to pray that he would secure a job. Biagio had a wife and six children to support and he constantly worried about his precarious financial situation. As Biagio was telling Padre Pio about the upcoming test, Padre Pio raised his eyes upward. His face became serene and beautiful. As Biagio gazed at him, he was convinced that all would be well.

Shortly after that, Biagio received a letter in the mail which offered him a teaching position in a nearby town. The letter was dated July 27, 1923, the same date that he had made his confession to Padre Pio and had requested his prayers. With great joy and thanksgiving in his heart, Biagio accepted the teaching position.

Biagio went to the school board in order to negotiate for the school that he wanted to work at. The board member who met with him told him how fortunate he was. Jobs these days are extremely scarce, he said. You are indeed very lucky to have been hired. It is almost like a miracle! At his words, the air became filled with a strong perfume. Biagio knew at that moment that Padre Pio was present and was interceding for him. Biagio was assigned to work at the school of his choice and after a short time the job became permanent.

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Eighteen-year-old Andre Mandato attended Mass every Sunday without fail. Even so, he only went to confession once in a great while. To Andre, it did not seem necessary. He never had any serious sins to confess or any pressing problems that he needed to discuss with a priest. But more important, he lacked faith in the value of confession. He knew very well that the Church taught that the sacrament of reconciliation imparted sanctifying grace to the penitent. However, in his heart, Andre was not convinced that it was true. Andres attitude underwent a complete change when he made his confession to Padre Pio for the first time.

Andre was very surprised in the confessional when Padre Pio began to name his sins. You use bad language; you swear, Padre Pio said to Andre. It is true, Andre replied. There was no denying the fact. You know in your heart that it is wrong, Padre Pio said. You swear and then you ask God for forgiveness. But simply asking God for forgiveness is not enough.

Padre Pios words shocked Andre. He had always believed that asking God for forgiveness was enough. But as he reflected on it, he was able to grasp what Padre Pio was trying to convey to him. If a person asked forgiveness of God for a sin that was committed, that person should make a supreme effort never to commit the sin again. Unfortunately, that was not always the case. In Andres life, it was not the case. Andre was suddenly able to understand the true malice of sin, and the seriousness of offending God.

When Andre left the confessional, he felt crushed. He began to cry and was unable to stop. The confession to Padre Pio marked a true turning point in his life and brought about a great spiritual change within him.

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When Dr. Remo Vincenti and his son visited San Giovanni Rotondo, his son obtained a ticket from the booking office so that he could make his confession to Padre Pio. When his sons ticket number was close to being called, Remo suddenly realized that there was a problem. Padre Pio did not hear confessions if it was less than ten days since a persons last confession and just a few days before, Remos son had gone to confession. Remo advised his son to stay in the line anyway and to take his chances. Perhaps Padre Pio would make an exception to the rule. In the meantime, Remo prayed with great intensity, Padre Pio, please hear my sons confession. Do it out of love for the Blessed Virgin. Dont send him away. Please!

In the end, everything worked out perfectly and Remo was very happy that his son was able to make his confession to Padre Pio. Before Remo and his son left the monastery to return to their home in Terni, Italy, they went to say goodbye to Padre Pio. When Padre Pio caught sight of Remo, his face brightened. Before Remo had a chance to utter a single word, Padre Pio said to him, I would have done it out of love for you. Words to treasure! He had prayed that Padre Pio hear his sons confession out of his love for the Virgin Mary. But Padre Pio assured Remo that his love for him was very great, and because of that love, he had answered Remos heartfelt prayer.

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Monsignor John Gannon had a great devotion to Padre Pio and visited him in San Giovanni Rotondo on a number of occasions. Padre Pio always referred to him as the American Monsignor. Monsignor Gannon spoke to Padre Pios assistant, Father Eusebio Notte and said, There must be many American priests whom Padre Pio refers to as the American Monsignor. No, you are the only one he refers to in that way, Father Eusebio replied.

Once, Monsignor Gannon was speaking with some friends at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Suddenly, a man approached the group with a ticket for Padre Pios confessional in his hand. I am not going to be able to use this ticket, the man said. Would any of you like to have it? You should give it to Monsignor Gannon, a man in the group replied. Monsignor Gannon now had a ticket for Padre Pios confessional, but he had a problem. He could not speak Italian and Padre Pio did not hear confessions in English. One of Monsignors friends who spoke Italian offered to help him. He told him to write out his confession and he would translate it into the Italian dialect that Padre Pio spoke. Monsignor Gannon was very grateful for the help.

Monsignor Gannon practiced making his confession in Italian until he felt confident that Padre Pio would be able to understand him. In the confessional, Monsignor began to read from the paper that his friend had transcribed for him. When he got half way through his confession, Padre Pio suddenly interrupted him. He repeated what was on the rest of the paper, word for word. Monsignor Gannon knew that it was impossible for Padre Pio to see what was written on the paper that he had in his hand. He could hardly believe what had happened.

Monsignor Gannon remained close to Padre Pio through the years. In 1962, he received a letter from Father Eusebio Notte. In the letter, Father Eusebio told Monsignor Gannon that Padre Pio faithfully remembered him before the Lord, especially during Mass. Padre Pio said that you are his spiritual child, Father Eusebio wrote. You belong to him and he has some rights on you. He does not forget you in his prayers and he does not want you to forget him.

 

When disturbed by passions and misfortunes, may the sweet hope of His inexhaustible mercy sustain us. Let us hasten confidently to the tribunal of penance where He awaits us at every instant with the anxiety of a father, and even though we are aware of our inability to repay Him, let us have no doubts about the solemn pardon pronounced over our errors. Let us place a tombstone over them, just as the Lord has done.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 60 – July – September – 2014

 

Photo of Father Alberto D’Apolito & Padre Pio in 1957.

Let us always strive more and more to love the Lord. This great truth of loving God must not seem hard to us; on the contrary, we must consider ourselves honored, because the Lord God didnt limit himself to creating us and telling us to love him, but he made a commandment of it . . . He commands us to do so, and the commandment is full of love. It is he who instills it into our hearts. It is he who gives us the means to be able to love him. But that which is more surprising, he has also promised us the prize. It isnt something that is temporary, passing, or limited. It is as eternal as he is eternal; it is as immense as he is immense; it is as lasting as he is lasting. And God lasts forever, for all eternity.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

 

Padre Pio – A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts – Part II

On August 22, 1922, Alberto DApolito entered the Capuchin novitiate in Morcone, Italy and began the long years of study and formation for the priesthood. On one occasion during a few days of vacation time, he received permission to visit Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.

One day, during his visit, Alberto noticed Padre Pio staring out the window at a mountain in the distance. Alberto greeted Padre Pio, but he did not seem to hear him. He appeared to be deep in thought. When Alberto approached him, Padre Pio was not even aware of his presence. Alberto tried to kiss Padre Pios hand but he noticed that it was completely rigid. He heard Padre Pio say, Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis. Padre Pio was pronouncing the Latin words of absolution, just as he did when he was hearing someones confession.

Alberto ran to get the superior of the monastery, Father Tommaso. Father Tommaso rushed to the window where Padre Pio was standing. Padre Pio was still in the process of repeating the Latin formula of absolution when Father Tommaso approached him. Suddenly, Padre Pio shook himself, as though he was waking up from a deep sleep. He looked at Alberto and Father Tommaso and greeted them. Oh, I was not aware that you were standing here beside me. I was looking out the window at the mountains, Padre Pio said.

A short time later, a telegram arrived for Father Tommaso from the city of Turin. It was from the relative of a man who had just passed away. The relative sent the telegram in order to thank Father Tommaso for allowing Padre Pio to leave the monastery and assist the dying man. It confirmed to Father Tommaso and Alberto what they had already suspected. Padre Pio had gone in bilocation to hear the mans confession and to assist him in his last moments.

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Maria Pompilio, who was one of Padre Pios faithful spiritual daughters, worked as a school teacher in San Giovanni Rotondo. She attended Padre Pios Mass every morning and went to confession to him regularly. Through the years, she had received many graces through her contact with Padre Pio.

Once, on Christmas Eve, Padre Pio had gone to the sacristy of the church about 8:00 p.m. to hear the mens confessions. It happened to be a very cold night. Because there was no heating in the monastery at that time, a stove had been placed in the sacristy to take the chill off.

While Padre Pio was hearing the mens confessions, Maria Pompilio and several other women stayed in the church to pray. After the confessions were over, Maria and her companions went into the sacristy to greet Padre Pio and to kiss his hand. Maria noticed that Padre Pios hand was ice cold. Padre Pio greeted his spiritual daughters and said to them, May the Child Jesus make you feel his mercy and his tender love. It is so cold tonight, Padre Pio, one of his spiritual daughters said. Please speak to us for a while. Tell us more about the Infant Jesus and fill us with the warmth of his love.

Padre Pio then took his spiritual daughters to the visitors room in the monastery. There was a long table in the room with enough chairs for everyone to be seated comfortably. Padre Pio spoke about the Christmas Mysteries and said, Daughters, let us meditate on the words of scripture in the book of John. John, the beloved disciple said, And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Tears filled Padre Pios eyes as he quoted Johns words from scripture. He paused for a moment to dry his eyes and then continued. He reflected on the privations of Jesus birth and infancy. He spoke of how Jesus was born in the winter, the coldest season of the year, in the depth of the night. There among the animals, he was laid in the manger. Mary and Joseph attended him lovingly as the angels in heaven rejoiced.

Suddenly Padre Pio closed his eyes and became silent. Padre Pio has fallen asleep, one of the women whispered. He heard confessions all day today and he is exhausted. Lets be very quiet and use the time to pray until he wakes up. I do not think he is asleep, one of the other women said. This is Christmas Eve. I believe that Padre Pio is in deep communion with Jesus at this very moment. It is truly a privilege for us to be sitting here with him.

After about thirty minutes, Padre Pio opened his eyes. One of his spiritual daughters then said to him, Padre Pio, you were silent for a long time. Since it is Christmas Eve, we were wondering if you were with the Baby Jesus? Padre Pio made no reply. Another said, Padre Pio, please tell us what you experienced as you sat with your eyes closed. If you promise not to say a word about it until after my death, I will tell you, Padre Pio replied. We give you our word that we will tell no one, the women said in unison.

Padre Pio then said to the women, The Lord permitted me to wish a happy Christmas to my brother Michael who is in America and also to my sister, Sister Pia, in her convent in Rome. Then Jesus showed me all of my spiritual children who have passed on to eternal life and I saw their dwelling places in heaven. The women were deeply inspired by his words.

Before long, it was time for Padre Pio to prepare for the celebration of the Christmas Midnight Mass. Softly glowing candles illuminated the little 16th century church of Our Lady of Grace. The church had never looked so beautiful. When the Mass began, Padre Pio, who held a small statue of the baby Jesus in his arms, processed solemnly down the aisle toward the Christmas crib. Together with the choir, the Capuchins and the entire congregation sang Christmas carols and hymns of praise to God. All hearts seemed to glow with the fire of Gods love.

After the midnight Mass, before retiring to his cell, Padre Pio spoke to his spiritual daughters for the last time that evening and said, Tonight heaven opened and many graces came down into your souls. Truly, they had all been blessed.

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In 1966, Father Jean Derobert made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Padre Pio told Father Derobert that he wanted him to start a prayer group in Paris. At that time, Father Derobert was the chaplain of a college that was located on the outskirts of Paris. Father Derobert was apprehensive about the idea of starting a prayer group. For one thing, he did not know many people in Paris. Without an ample number of contacts, he did not see how he would be able to interest people in the idea. Just the thought of organizing a prayer group filled him with fear.

Padre Pio, however, was not the least bit dismayed at Father Deroberts concerns. He simply smiled at him and said, I will help you. When Father Derobert returned to France, he told a friend about his conversation with Padre Pio. His friend was excited at the prospect of having a prayer group in Paris. Padre Pio has sent me here to help you, the friend replied. I feel certain of it. Father Derobert could not have been more surprised.

Father Derobert and his friend soon found a beautiful chapel in Paris where they received permission to hold monthly prayer meetings. From the very beginning, a number of people showed great interest and attended regularly. Everything was moving forward in a wonderful way.

A year later, Father Derobert returned to San Giovanni Rotondo. As soon as Padre Pio saw him, he wanted news about the prayer group. He listened with great interest as Father Derobert gave him a full report. Padre Pio then said, I know the group well. There are some very beautiful souls who attend. I go there often. He then proceeded to describe in detail, the lovely chapel where they met each month. As a matter of fact, many of the members of the prayer group had told Father Derobert that they often felt Padre Pios presence at their monthly meetings. Before Father Derobert returned to Paris, Padre Pio gave him some words of wisdom. Do nothing but pray, he said.

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Monsignor John Gannon was acquainted with a retired navy man who lived in Washington, D.C. The man had attempted suicide on two different occasions. Monsignor Gannon, who was very devoted to Padre Pio, advised the man to pray to Padre Pio and to ask for his intercession. He gave him a prayer card of Padre Pio. The man followed Monsignor Gannons advice and frequently repeated the prayer to Padre Pio.

One night, the man went to a bar, and feeling a great sense of hopelessness and despair, he began to think once again about ending his life. There was a man at the bar with a beard who came over to him and said hello. I know what you are planning to do tonight. Dont do it! the stranger said emphatically. Monsignor Gannons friend then asked the stranger for his name. He could not understand him completely but his name sounded something like Pio. There was no suicide attempt that night, thanks be to God. The man was convinced that Padre Pio paid him a visit and interceded for him in his darkest hour.

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Giuseppe Massa was studying theology in Rome in preparation for the priesthood when he became ill. His mother was very worried about his condition. One day his mother, who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo, spoke to Padre Pio about Giuseppes illness and asked him for his prayers.

Giuseppe soon recovered and was able to continue his studies for the priesthood. It was a great day for the entire Massa family when Giuseppe was ordained a Salesian priest. On the occasion of his ordination, Padre Pio wrote him a personal note and said, I pray that you will be a holy priest and a perfect victim. Father Giuseppe treasured the handwritten note from Padre Pio. Shortly after his ordination, Father Giuseppe became ill. The high fever and weakness that he had experienced previously, returned once again. He was finally diagnosed with a kidney disease and was told that he would have to have surgery.

The doctor spoke to Father Giuseppes mother and told her that it was advisable that she travel to Rome and stand by at the hospital during the time of her sons surgery. Mrs. Massa knew that it would be very difficult for her to make the trip to Rome. She could not decide what to do. She went to the monastery and asked Padre Pio for his advice. You already have five other children to care for. You should not make the trip to Rome, Padre Pio said emphatically. But I think Father Giuseppe will want me to be there when he is having the operation. How will he manage without me? Mrs. Massa replied. She then began to cry. Seeing Mrs. Massa so distraught, Padre Pio felt very sorry for her. If you dont think I should go to Rome to be with my son, then I want you to go in my place, Mrs. Massa said. Oh, all right then, Padre Pio replied, I will go.

After Father Giuseppe had his surgery, his health steadily improved. Later, he told his mother that while he was in the hospital, Padre Pio had come and had stood at his bedside. When Father Giuseppe had the opportunity, he traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo and spoke to Padre Pio. He thanked Padre Pio for the visitation he had made to him in his hour of need.

Father Giuseppes health continued to improve. He would live for fifty more years. Dedicating his time and effort to the religious education of youth, he helped countless souls through his priestly ministry. He truly became the holy priest that Padre Pio prayed that he would be.

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A photograph of Giovanni Gigliozzi (center).

Giovanni Gigliozzi, was a famous journalist, broadcaster and writer who lived and worked in Rome. Giovanni had a great love for Padre Pio and Padre Pio in turn, had a great love for him. Giovannis beautiful spiritual reflections and writings were presented in some of the earliest publications put out by Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. Giovanni always looked forward to attending Padre Pios Mass and he did so whenever his schedule would allow him to.

For a long time, Giovanni had suffered from migraine headaches. On one occasion, shortly before he was scheduled to go on the air at his broadcast studio in Rome, he had a severe migraine headache. He knew from experience that the terrible headache would probably last for a long time. He told the director of the show that he would not be able to do the program that day. But you have to do the program! the director said. We have no one who can substitute for you. The director led him to one of the offices that had a couch. He told him to lie down and rest and perhaps the headache would go away. Giovanni followed his advice. He stretched out on the couch, closed his eyes and tried to relax.

Lying on the office couch, Giovanni suddenly heard a strange sound; it sounded like the clicking of Rosary beads. Next, he heard footsteps. He opened his eyes and to his utter surprise, he saw Padre Pio standing beside him. He was staring intently at Giovanni. Giovanni was so startled by the unexpected appearance of Padre Pio that he let out a scream. The thought occurred to Giovanni that perhaps he was about to die and that Padre Pio was there to usher him into the next world. Padre Pio smiled and put his hand on Giovannis head in a blessing. Right after that, he disappeared. Giovanni then realized that his migraine headache had vanished. He was able to continue with the scheduled broadcast that day.

The next time Giovanni visited the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him and said, By the way, how are those headaches doing? I am feeling very well now, Giovanni replied. And I thank you for assisting me. Padre Pio then smiled at him and said, My goodness, those hallucinations! It was Padre Pios way of confirming to Giovanni that he had come to his aide.

Though I was honored by his presence for such a long time, I understood practically nothing about Padre Pio. . .And if I have not understood him, believe me, it is not all my fault. Padre Pio had a special talent for hiding himself. He was humble, but with cleverness, I dare say, with merriment. Although he had so many virtues, he never let them weigh on those who were around him. Giovanni Gigliozzi

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Martha Gemsch had been devoted to Padre Pio for many years. Martha had a sister named Lisa who was planning to make a trip to the missions. Lisa, who was an x-ray technician, was a person who had great compassion for others. She wanted to bring the modern-day technology of her profession to India as well as to other third world countries. She talked to Padre Pio about her plans and he advised her against it. However, she could not be swayed by his words and was determined to follow her heart.

Lisa was in the city of Dar es Salaam on the coast of East Africa when she was involved in a terrible auto accident. She died in the hospital the day after the accident. The day that Lisa died was the first day that Padre Pio had resumed hearing confessions after a long absence due to illness. That day, Martha, Lisas sister, was at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. She noticed that Padre Pio didnt seem like himself. He was unusually quiet all through the day and seemed very unhappy.

According to Lisas doctor, Lisa died peacefully and with a smile on her face, even though she died alone and without the support of family or friends. One of the nuns who worked at the hospital, spoke to Lisas sister, Martha. The nun told her that Padre Pio had come to her in bilocation at the hospital. He spoke her and said, I feel so sorry about what happened to Lisa, but I was here to assist her. Martha was greatly consoled to know that her sister was assisted by Padre Pio at the time of her death.

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Twenty year old Tony Collette of Houston, Texas had a rare disease that affected his muscles and nervous system. He lived in a constant state of pain. He wore braces on his legs and had metal supports for his weak back. Even with crutches, it was very difficult for Tony to walk. He had several operations, but his condition did not improve. The doctor finally told Tony that nothing more could be done for him.

In 1973, Tony saw a Capuchin monk enter his room. He recognized him at once as Padre Pio. He had a great devotion to Padre Pio and had prayed to him many times through the years. Padre Pio smiled at Tony and said, I want to help you. Do not be afraid. At that moment, Tony felt a tremor course through his entire body. He felt the presence of God in the room. He suddenly realized that he was free of pain. Tony was permanently healed from his debilitating illness.

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Padre Pio and his Friends from Ireland

In 1967, Franciscan lay brother Pius McLaughlin of Derry, Ireland had the honor of being chosen to attend the General Chapter Meeting of the Franciscan Order which was held in Assisi, Italy. His responsibilities included assisting the English speaking provincials who were attending the Chapter from many different parts of the world.

One day, three of the provincials wanted to visit Padre Pio and asked Brother Pius to make the arrangements. He traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo with them and they were invited to stay in the monastery for the duration of their visit. Brother Pius was able to make his confession to Padre Pio, an experience that, as he said, transformed his life forever.

After Brother Pius finished his confession, there was a long period of silence. Finally Padre Pio said to him, You did not mention that you were a Franciscan lay brother. Brother Pius was shaken by his words. It had not occurred to him to tell Padre Pio that he was a lay brother and he certainly wasnt trying to hide it. But the fact that Padre Pio had knowledge of it came as a shock.

Next Padre Pio said, Would you like to talk to me about your problem and what you plan do about it? Brother Pius wasnt sure what Padre Pio was talking about and was at a complete loss for words. He began to perspire heavily and felt very much afraid. Finally he said, I dont have a problem. Padre Pio answered and said, But you do have a problem. I dont have a problem, Brother Pius repeated. You have a problem, Padre Pio said once again. It suddenly dawned on Brother Pius what Padre Pio was talking about. Actually, there is something that has been bothering me, Brother Pius said. For a long time I have carried a secret desire in my heart to become a priest but I am worried that I will not be accepted.

Padre Pio encouraged Brother Pius in his vocation and said, Pray to God with all your heart and ask for His guidance. I advise you also to ask the permission from your superior. The next week, when Brother Pius returned to Assisi he spoke to his superior about his desire to study for the priesthood. His superior was surprised and explained to Brother Pius that there might be obstacles that could stand in the way. There would also be long years of schooling and study ahead. In the Irish province where Brother Pius had made his profession, there had never been a single instance of a lay brother becoming an ordained priest. It simply wasn’t done. Brother Pius was determined to do his very best. He was accepted into the seminary and did well in his studies. He was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1973.

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A Prayer

Dear Lord, help me to remove from my mind every thought or opinion which you would not sanction; every feeling from my heart which you would not approve. Grant that I may spend the hours of the day gladly working with you according to your will. Help me just for today and be with me in it: in the long hours of work, that I many not grow weary or slack in serving you; in conversations, that they may not be to me occasions of uncharitableness; in the days worries and disappointments that I may be patient with myself and with those around me; in moments of fatigue and illness, that I may be mindful of others rather than of myself; in temptations, that I may be loyal; so that when the day is over I may lay it at your feet, with its successes which are all yours, and its failures which are all my own, and feel that life is real and peaceful and blessed when spent with you as the guest of my soul.
Amen

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 59 – April – June 2014

 

Padre Pio  A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts

Padre Pio had a human aspect. He appears like others in the civilian registers. He is a fellow countryman and a contemporary of our own, born into a certain family, into a certain society, which gives him an identity card like any other citizen. But on the other hand, he appears as one destined to serve a divine purpose, sent as it was, to be a lightning conductor to protect us, as one who is merely lent to us here below to attend to the matter of our salvation.

– Ferdinando Gambardella

Padre Pio – A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts

Bilocation is the phenomenon in which a person is in one place at a given moment and is in another place at the same time. Although bilocation is indeed rare, instances of it in the lives of the saints are welldocumented. Nevertheless, it remains a mystery that cannot be fully explained, and in many ways it seems to be beyond the limits of human understanding.

There is little doubt that Padre Pio had the extraordinary gift of bilocation. During his lifetime, although he remained inside the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he was observed at times, in many different parts of the world. He was reportedly seen at the canonization of St. Therese of Lisieux in Rome in 1925. He also hinted that he sometimes went in spirit to the Holy House of Loreto, a shrine that he often encouraged people to visit. Located in Loreto, Italy, it is one of the most revered Marian shrines in the world. The Capuchins who lived with Padre Pio often wanted to question him about his gift of bilocation, but were reticent to bring up the subject.

Although Padre Pio was never known to speak at length about bilocation, from time to time he made brief comments about it. One time, the Capuchins were talking about St. Anthony of Padua’s ability to bilocate. One of the Capuchins said that he wondered if a person who bilocated actually knew that he was doing so.  “Of course the person knows,” Padre Pio replied. “He might not know if it is his body or if it is his soul that in bilocating, but he is very conscious of what is happening and he knows where he is going.”

In 1931, Father Agostino presided at a ceremony for religious profession in a Carmelite convent in Florence. One of the nuns who lived at the convent told Father Agostino that Padre Pio had appeared to her in bilocation. One day, Father Agostino, who was very close to Padre Pio, decided to ask him about it. “Do you sometimes take little trips to Florence?” he asked. “Sometimes I do,” Padre Pio replied. The nun also told Father Agostino that she begged Padre Pio to make a visitation to one of the other Sisters in the convent, Sister Beniamina. “No, I cannot visit her,” Padre Pio replied. “I do not have God’s permission.” When Father Agostino asked Padre Pio if he had made such a statement to the nun, he admitted that he had.

Father Eusebio Notte served as Padre Pio’s personal assistant for five years. Father Eusebio had an outgoing and engaging personality and a good sense of humor. When Padre Pio was feeling unhappy or ill, Father Eusebio was almost always able to cheer him up and bring a smile to his face. He seemed to know just the right words to say. The other Capuchins marveled at the wonderful rapport that Father Eusebio had with Padre Pio.

In the evenings, when Father Eusebio helped Padre Pio get ready for bed, he would sometimes tease him by saying, “Bon voyage!” He was referring to Padre Pio’s reported  “night time travels” through bilocation. On one occasion, when Father Eusebio was biding Padre Pio goodnight, he said to him, “I would like you to take me with you tonight. I will fasten my belt to yours and we will fly together.” “But what if your belt becomes loosened when we are up in the air?” Padre Pio asked. Padre Eusebio then smiled at him and said, “Well, perhaps it is better for me to stay in the monastery tonight.”

Padre Pio appeared in bilocation to his personal physician, Dr. Andrea Cardone of Pietrelcina, on several occasions. Dr. Cardone left a written testimony regarding the details. One of the visitations occurred on September 23, 1968 at six o’clock in the morning. Padre Pio had passed away approximately four hours before.

Padre Pio once told Father Alessio Parente, “I only know one thing, I go wherever God sends me.” On another occasion, he said to Father Pellegrino Funicelli, “All I can tell you is that I always try to remain attached to the thread of God’s will.” Through the gift of bilocation, Padre Pio was able to visit many of his spiritual children who were in great need of his help. He comforted those who were bereaved, came to the rescue of those in danger, and assisted the dying. It was part of his mission to souls. He truly remained conformed to the thread of God’s will.

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Padre Pio was a seventeen-year-old Capuchin student residing at the monastery of St. Francis of Assisi at Sant’ Elia a Pianisi when he had his first experience of bilocation. It happened on the evening of January 18, 1905. He was praying in the choir loft of the monastery church at eleven o’clock in the evening with a fellow Capuchin, Brother Anastasio. Suddenly, Brother Pio found himself in a large and beautiful estate in a faraway place. There, he ministered to a man who was dying. In the same house, a baby girl had just been born.

The Virgin Mary then spoke to Brother Pio and said, “I entrust this child to your care. She is a precious jewel. I want you to polish her and make her as brilliant as possible because one day I want to adorn myself with her.” “But how can I do that?” Brother Pio answered. “I am a simple Capuchin Brother. My future is uncertain. I do not even know if I will be ordained. And besides, how could I take care of a child?” “You will see,” the Virgin replied. “She will come to you. You will meet her at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.” The Virgin then vanished and Brother Pio found himself once again seated beside Brother Anastasio in the church.

Brother Pio knew that he had not fallen asleep in the monastery chapel and dreamed about the incident that had just occurred. He also knew that the experience had not been a product of his imagination. Nor was it an hallucination. But as to what had really happened, he did not know. The experience was so strange that he decided to write down all of the details. He gave his written testimony to Father Agostino.

As it turned out, the beautiful home that Brother Pio suddenly found himself in was the home of Giovanni Rizzani. It was located about three hundred and fifty miles away in the city of Udine, in northern Italy. Giovanni had been suffering for many months from a terminal illness. The night of Brother Pio’s visitation, Giovanni was on his death bed.

During Giovanni’s illness, he had informed his wife Leonilde that he did not want a priest to come to visit him. Giovanni had a great hostility toward religion. His friends kept a watch to make sure that no members of the clergy approached the house.

Leonilde Rizzani was a fervent Catholic. Her greatest desire was that her husband make peace with God before his death. She prayed to God and asked him to change her husband’s heart. When Giovanni seemed to be near the end, Leonilde begged the Lord for his salvation. As she was praying, she saw a young Capuchin monk. She could not understand what was happening because he appeared and then he seemed to disappear right before her eyes.

 

Leonilde, at that time was pregnant. In those anxious moments, she went into premature labor. Soon she gave birth to a baby girl. A friend of the family noticed that a Capuchin monk was standing in the darkness just outside of the Rizzani house. He insisted that the Capuchin be allowed inside. He knew that Giovanni had given specific orders against letting any clergy members in the house. However, it seemed only right to allow the Capuchin to come inside and baptize the newborn baby.

As soon as the Capuchin stepped inside the house, he went directly to Giovanni’s room. No one tried to stop him. He spoke to Giovanni privately. Before the visit was over, Giovanni asked for forgiveness for his sins and made his peace with God. He died later that night.

After Giovanni passed away, Leonilde decided to move with her new baby, Giovanna, to Rome. In 1922, when Giovanna was a teenager, she visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. At the Basilica, Giovanna was hoping to have the opportunity to go to confession. She had been having many doubts about her faith and she felt that her spiritual life was in a precarious state because of it. She wanted to talk to a priest and ask for advice. However, St. Peter’s was about to close so she realized that she would have to wait for another opportunity.

Giovanna was just about to exit the church when she saw a Capuchin priest standing near one of the confessionals. She asked him if he would hear her confession and he agreed to do so. The priest heard her confession and also gave her excellent spiritual counsel regarding her doubts about the faith. After Giovanna left the confessional, she told the sacristan that she wanted to wait for the priest to come out so that she could ask him his name. Giovanna waited but the priest did not come out. Finally, the sacristan looked in the confessional and found that it was empty.

The following year, Giovanna made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. She stood in a crowded corridor with many others who were waiting to greet Padre Pio. When he passed through the corridor, he noticed Giovanna. He said to her, “Daughter, I know you. On the very day that your father died, you were born.” Giovanna did not know what to make of his words.

The next day, Giovanna returned to the church and was able to make her confession to Padre Pio. Lovingly, Padre Pio told her that he had been waiting for her for many years. Giovanna thought that he had mistaken her for someone else.  Padre Pio went on to explain to her that he was the priest who had heard her confession the year before in St. Peter’s Basilica. “You belong to me, daughter. You have been entrusted to me by the Madonna,” he said. Giovanna was later able to read the statement that Padre Pio had written and had given to Father Agostino regarding his experience of bilocation on January 18, 1905. Giovanna noted that everything in the letter was accurate according to her birthdate as well as her family history.

Padre Pio told Giovanna that he wanted her to visit San Giovanni Rotondo often. Through the years she was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass on many occasions and to make her confession to him. He encouraged her to enroll in the Third Order of St. Francis and she did so. He truly took care of her soul.

A short time before Padre Pio’s death, Giovanna felt in her heart that he was calling her to come to San Giovanni Rotondo. Just four days before he passed away, she was able to talk with him. “You will not see me again,” he said to her. She then understood that it was to be their last visit. Giovanna knew that for many years, she had been spiritually guided by a saint. She was aware that she had been blessed immeasurably. “I will be able to help you much more when I am in heaven,” he frequently repeated to his spiritual children.

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In 1905, Father Benedetto Nardella was Padre Pio’s professor of philosophy at the Capuchin monastery in San Marco La Catola. At that time, Padre Pio was a student in formation for the priesthood. Father Benedetto was a popular and gifted teacher as well as an author, theologian, and preacher. His preaching ability was so outstanding that he was in great demand in many parts of Italy. He was also an extraordinary spiritual director and his reputation for holiness increased with the passage of time. He was eventually elected Minister Provincial of the Capuchin order.

Father Benedetto was to become Padre Pio’s first spiritual director. He accompanied Padre Pio step by step on his spiritual journey and helped him in incalculable ways. Padre Pio often said that Father Benedetto understood his soul like no other. He considered Father Benedetto to be his “true teacher” in the ways of the spirit.

After Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood, he too became a spiritual director to a number of people who were seeking a closer union with the Lord. Whenever he was praised for his ability to direct souls, he referred all the credit to Father Benedetto. He used to tell people that he had received his training from Father Benedetto.

In 1922, Padre Pio’s fame as the “priest with the stigmata” was spreading rapidly. Some members of the clergy became jealous of Padre Pio and resented his popularity with the laity. They went to great lengths in their efforts to discredit him.That year, many severe restrictions were placed on his ministry by the Holy Office in Rome. One directive called for the dismissal of Father Benedetto as his spiritual director. No clear explanation was ever given as to the reason for the decision. The two Capuchins were ordered to cease all communication with each other.

Father Benedetto had been Padre Pio’s spiritual director for twelve years. The news was a crushing blow to both priests but especially to Padre Pio, who depended on Father Benedetto’s excellent spiritual counsel. Nevertheless, the two priests obeyed the directive without a complaint.

In the years that followed, whenever Father Benedetto passed through San Giovanni Rotondo, he would mentally send Padre Pio his blessing. Always obedient to the voice of the Church, he made no attempt to visit him.

Father Benedetto was living at the Capuchin monastery in San Severo in 1942 when he became gravely ill. Father Aurelio, who was the superior of the monastery at the time, stayed at his bedside during what proved to be his final illness. He asked Father Benedetto if he would like him to send for Padre Pio. Under the circumstances, it could be easily arranged. It had been twenty years since Father Benedetto and Padre Pio had last seen each other. “There is no need to send for Padre Pio,” Father Benedetto replied. “He is right here beside me.” Shortly after saying that, Father Benedetto passed away.

 Father Carmelo Durante of Sessano used to go to Padre Pio’s cell in the evening to say goodnight to him. One time, as he bid Padre Pio goodnight, Padre Pio said to him, “I am in a hurry because I must make a long journey tonight.” “Where are you going?” Father Carmelo asked. Padre Pio made no reply. There was a moment of silence and then Padre Pio added, “To make this journey, I do not need the permission of my superior.” At the time, Father Carmelo was the superior of Our Lady of Grace monastery. So it was that Padre Pio, with a bit of humor, hinted to Father Carmelo that he was going to visit someone through bilocation. He would say no more.

Once, in the monastery dining room, Father Carmelo was speaking to his fellow Capuchins about the marvels of air travel. “Do you know that a nonstop flight from Rome to New York takes less than twelve hours?” Father Carmelo said. The information seemed incredible to all of the Capuchins. But Padre Pio was not impressed. “That is a long time!” Padre Pio remarked. “It only takes a second when I travel,” he added.

In 1954, Father Carmelo was making a detailed study of Padre Pio’s first years in San Giovanni Rotondo. In order to gather information, he organized some meetings with Padre Pio’s spiritual children who had been with him from the beginning. He met with Rachele Russo, the Ventrella sisters, the Pompilio sisters, Filomena Fini, Rosinella Gisolfi, Nina Campanile and others.

During the first meeting, there were ten people in attendance. While the meeting was in progress, Rosinella Gisolfi whispered that she could see Padre Pio in the room. Rosinella, who had received spiritual direction from Padre Pio through the years, was a very devout woman. Father Carmelo was certain that she was telling the truth. He had no reason to doubt it. But he wanted confirmation regarding Rosinella’s claim.

Father Carmelo did not want to ask Padre Pio directly about the bilocation incident. When he returned to the monastery, he asked the Capuchins about Padre Pio’s activities that evening. They told him that Padre Pio had conducted the Benediction service in the church just like always and that he had spoken to some visitors. After that, he went to bed.

At Father Carmelo’s second meeting with Padre Pio’s spiritual children, Rosinella saw Padre Pio once again. Father Carmelo decided to speak to Padre Pio about it. One day he gathered up his courage and said to Padre Pio, “Rosinella said that you . . . ” and then he trailed off. He lost his nerve midway through the sentence. “What did Rosinella say?” asked Padre Pio. With a great effort, Father Carmelo was finally able to blurt out the words, “Rosinella said that you are present at our meetings through bilocation.”  “Well, don’t you want me to come to those meetings?” Padre Pio asked. As usual, his words were evasive.

Rosinella told Father Carmelo that Padre Pio was present at their third meeting. As time passed, speaking to Padre Pio about bilocation became easier. When Father Carmelo questioned Padre Pio about being present at their third meeting, he confirmed that it was true. “Yes, of course I was at the meeting,” Padre Pio exclaimed. Several weeks later Padre Pio said to Father Carmelo, “You never ask me anymore if I attend your meetings. Don’t you want to know?”  “The reason that I don’t ask is because I am now convinced that you are always there,” Father Carmelo replied. “Yes, it is true,” Padre Pio said. “I accompany you always and everywhere.”

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 Pope Pius X was a man who possessed countless saintly virtues – charity, apostolic zeal, deep humility, piety, simplicity, and more. He has often been called “The Pope of the Eucharist.” He encouraged people to receive Holy Communion frequently and if possible daily. He used to say, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”

Pope Pius X was distinguished by his extraordinary charity and kindness, especially his habitual generosity to the poor. At his own expense, he filled the Vatican with refugees from the devastating earthquake of 1908 in Messina, Sicily. His decision to help the displaced people came long before the Italian government had decided on an action plan.

Pope Pius X, who had a lifelong devotion to the Virgin Mary, became ill on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15) in 1914. He died five days later. The world mourned the death of the gentle and humble prelate who had remained a country priest at heart throughout his long life. His last will and testament gave a remarkable insight into his character. He said, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I want to die poor.”

Pope Pius X was buried in a simple and unadorned tomb in a crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Shortly after his death, the faithful began to make pilgrimages to his tomb. Accounts of miraculous favors and cures were soon reported. Miracles and healings had been reported during his lifetime as well. On May 29, 1954, Pius X was canonized by Pope Pius XII.

Padre Pio always had a great love for Pope Pius X. He spoke of him often and with profound reverence. It was common knowledge that Padre Pio did not leave the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. However, on a number of occasions, people reported that they saw Padre Pio praying at the tomb of Pope Pius X in Rome. Pope Pius XI had heard the reports on more than one occasion and did not know what to make of them. He decided to ask the saintly priest, Father Luigi Orione, for his opinion on the matter.

Father Orione (who was canonized in 2004 by Pope John Paul II) was held in great esteem by Pope Pius XI. Members of the clergy as well as people from all walks of life were aware of his great spiritual stature. One day Pope Pius XI asked Father Orione if he believed that Padre Pio came in spirit to pray at the tomb of Pope Pius X. “It is true what the people have said,” Father Orione replied. “I too have seen Padre Pio praying at the tomb of St. Pius X.” “I trust your word,” the pope replied. “If you say it is true, I also believe.”

 Brother Costantino was a lay brother who lived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio admired him for his Franciscan humility and simplicity and for his strong faith. Every day Brother Costantino went to town to collect donations for the monastery. Many times, people asked him to carry a message to Padre Pio and he was always glad to do so. By the same token, when he returned to town, he was usually able to bring a reply from Padre Pio.

In 1958, Brother Costantino became ill and was admitted to the Home for the Relief of Suffering. He had just recently celebrated fifty years of religious profession. Padre Pio had presided at the ceremony in which Brother Costantino renewed his vows to the religious life.

One day, a man who had visited Brother Costantino at the hospital spoke to Padre Pio and said, “I think Brother Costantino would be very pleased if you would go to the hospital and visit him. It would mean so much to him.” Padre Pio told the man that he had already been to the hospital to visit Brother Costantino.

Father Giovanni, one of the Capuchins, happened to be standing nearby and overheard the conversation between the man and Padre Pio. He was certain that Padre Pio had not been over to the hospital to pay a visit to Brother Costantino. Because of Padre Pio’s popularity, it was an “event” whenever he left the monastery and it always created quite a sensation. People generally talked about it for days. If Padre Pio had been visiting Brother Costantino at the hospital, Father Giovanni as well as the other Capuchins, would have been the first to know.

Father Giovanni went to the Home for the Relief of Suffering and spoke to Brother Costantino. “Has Padre Pio been here to visit you since your hospitalization?” he asked.  “Oh, yes,” Brother Costantino replied. “He comes two or three times every day to see me. It is a great consolation to have him at my bedside. He gives me resignation.” Brother Costantino knew that his end was near.

Padre Pio loved Brother Costantino very much. Through bilocation, he was able to console his Capuchin Brother. He helped him to accept his death in a true spirit of resignation to God’s will.

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 58 – Jan – March 2014

Prayer was the key to Padre Pios existence and the guarantee of his mission. Prayer was his daily activity. He also dedicated many hours of the night to prayer. It was the task which he felt was particularly his own and which drew upon him the attention of the whole world. At the altar, in his cell, or in the monastery garden, with his hands folded in prayer or holding his Rosary, his world was God to be contemplated, to be praised, to be entreated, to be propitiated. More than anything else, his was a life of prayer, of uninterrupted conversation with God.

– Father Fernanado of Riese Pio X

Father Denys Pierre Auvray, a French priest of the Dominican Order, visited Padre Pio for the first time in 1956. Father Denys was able to talk with Padre Pio during the Capuchins recreation period, when Padre Pio and the others took a short break from their busy schedules. Since Father Denys did not speak Italian, he spoke to Padre Pio in Latin. Among all the brown-robed Capuchins who were gathered together that day, Father Denys stood out in his long white wool Dominican habit.

Father Denys was very happy that he had been able to talk to Padre Pio but he knew that it would be much better if he could converse with him in Italian rather than Latin. He also had a great desire to make his confession to Padre Pio. He decided to study the Italian language so that he could communicate freely with Padre Pio and receive spiritual direction from him.

Father Denys made many return trips to San Giovanni Rotondo. When he visited, he frequently lodged at the Villa Pia hotel, not far from the Capuchin monastery. One afternoon when he returned to his room at the Villa Pia, he noticed that it was pervaded by a strong perfume. It had happened on more than one occasion and he became very concerned. He spoke to Luigi, one of the employees at the hotel, and voiced a complaint. Someone is sneaking into my room when I am out and I am very upset. I always keep my door locked when I am away but I believe that a woman has been unlocking my door and going inside. I have proof because there is a strong scent of perfume that is still lingering inside the room. In order to prove his point, he invited Luigi to step inside his room.

Luigi entered Father Denys room and noticed the fragrance at once. He did his best to explain the phenomenon to Father Denys. The fragrance in your room is not because a lady has been coming in while you are away, Luigi said. The fragrance is from Padre Pio.

Luigi explained to Father Denys that sometimes Padre Pio made his presence known by a wonderful fragrance. As he was talking to Father Denys, the room suddenly became pervaded with the strong scent of incense. You see, said Luigi. Now we notice the fragrance of incense. It just so happens that Padre Pio is at the church right now presiding at the Benediction service. The penetrating fragrance of Padre Pios perfume stayed in Father Denys room for the next fifteen days.

 

Father Denys Auvray

During Father Denys visits to San Giovanni Rotondo, he met many of the people who collaborated with Padre Pio in his apostolic works. Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti was one of those individuals. Emilia Sanguinetti, the doctors wife, told Father Denys that she made it a practice to go to confession to Padre Pio once each week. On one occasion when she was making her confession, she noticed that Padre Pios face was swollen. There was also a small cut on his face. She asked him about it and he told her that the injury occurred when he was reciting the exorcism prayers over a woman who was possessed. At that moment, the devil struck him. Padre Pio told Emilia that if he had received the blow just a millimeter lower, it would have taken out his eye.

At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, there were generally always long lines of people waiting to make their confession to Padre Pio. Father Denys was impressed by the fact that Padre Pio met thousands of people in his lifetime, but he saw each person as an individual. He marveled at Padre Pios gifts of discernment and reading of hearts.

Father Denys was speaking with Padre Pio on one occasion when he made a comment about the weather. What is it about San Giovanni Rotondo? It certainly rains too much. It rains almost constantly! Father Denys remarked. Yes, it does rain a lot here, Padre Pio replied. But here it also rains the Asian flu. Evidently Padre Pio could sense what was about to happen, because shortly after he spoke the words, Father Denys came down with the Asian flu.

Father Denys heard much talk about Padre Pios love for the angels. Every day at the monastery, Father Denys observed that Padre Pio prayed to St. Michael the Archangel. One day, he asked Padre Pio, Are the angels really present to you? Are they with you when you retire for the night and do they ever help you get to sleep? Yes, they are with me, Padre Pio replied. They help me get to sleep unless they are coming to deliver a message from my spiritual children. In that case, they come to wake me up.

On one occasion, Father Denys sent his guardian angel to Padre Pio. It happened when he was preaching a retreat to a religious order of nuns in the seaside town of Biarritz, in the southwest part of France. During the retreat, he suddenly began to feel very ill. Worried that he might not be able to continue with the program, Father Denys prayed with urgency to his guardian angel. Dear guardian angel, he prayed, Please take a message to Padre Pio for me. Tell him that I am very sick and I need his prayers so that I can recover. Otherwise, I do not see how I can complete this retreat. To Father Denys great relief, he soon began to feel better and he managed to preach all the sermons in the retreat.

Later, Father Denys wrote a letter to one of the Capuchins at Our Lady of Grace monastery. He explained that he had sent his guardian angel to Padre Pio and he wanted to know if Padre Pio had received the message. The Capuchin wrote back to Father Denys and told him that he had spoken to Padre Pio about the matter. Padre Pio said that Father Denys guardian angel had paid him a visit. Padre Pio hoped that Father Denys was feeling better and he had been praying for him ever since he had received the angelic message regarding his illness.

From time to time, Father Denys was troubled by various health issues. He told Padre Pio that if the state of his health improved, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He had always had a desire to go there. If I become stronger physically, I would like to go on pilgrimage in thanksgiving to God for the blessing of good health, Father Denys said. Of course, Divine Providence would have to assist me, because the expenses of such a trip would be enormous, far more than I would be able to afford. Padre Pio listened to Father Denys but made no comment.

One day, in the hotel dining room, Father Denys met a couple from Lebanon, Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert. Father Denys was enjoyed the fact that he could converse with them in his native French. They told Father Denys that they had come to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to ask Padre Pio for his prayers. Their son had died tragically in an accident in India just three months previously.

Father Denys felt very sorry for the couple. He knew that it was almost impossible for the pilgrims to speak to Padre Pio privately. There were visitors at the monastery from all parts of the world. Almost everyone had a desire to speak to Padre Pio. The Capuchins were very protective and did their best to shield Padre Pio from the crowds. Because Father Denys was a priest, he had easier access to Padre Pio. He decided to speak to Padre Pio and see if he could arrange for Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert to meet him.

Father Denys went to the monastery and told Padre Pio about Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert. The couples son has recently died, Father Denys said. They have come here to ask you for your prayers, he added. All right, Padre Pio answered. I will be happy to pray for their son. But they have a great desire to meet you and to speak to you, Father Denys said. It will not be necessary, Padre Pio replied. But it is necessary, Father Denys answered. They need to see you.

That afternoon, Padre Pio presided at the Benediction service, just like he did every day. After Benediction, Father Denys told Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert to follow him into the sacristy. Padre Pio would be there shortly. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Father Denys introduced him to the couple and said, Padre Pio, this is the couple I was telling you about. Their son died three months ago. Mr. DeChabert had a photograph of his son, and he gave it to Padre Pio. Padre Pio held the photo in his hand and looked at it in silence. Finally, he blessed it. Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert felt greatly consoled.

Father Denys was always happy whenever he had a chance to spend time with Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert. Since the couple lived in Lebanon, Father Denys told them that he had always been interested in the Holy Land. He asked them if they had ever traveled there and they replied that they had. I am particularly interested in Jerusalem, Father Denys said. Have you ever been there? he asked the couple. Of course we have, Mr. DeChabert replied. It is only an hour plane ride from where we live in Beirut. And you, have you ever been to the Holy Land? Mr. DeChabert asked. No, I have not, Father Denys replied. I have always wanted to go there but my health is not the best and besides, I would never be able to afford it. It wouldnt be expensive at all, Mr. DeChabert said. It would be free. I am going to give you a first-class ticket. I am the Director of Public Transportation in Lebanon.

Father Denys was astonished. He thought about his lifelong desire to visit the Holy Land and he remembered the time he had spoken to Padre Pio about it. He had the feeling that Padre Pio had something to do with the unexpected gift.

In 1963, Father Denys traveled to the Holy Land for a three-week stay. Later, he visited Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert in Beirut, Lebanon. Before the trip to the DeChaberts homeland, Father Denys spoke to Padre Pio about it. In that country, you will suffer, Padre Pio said. Father Denys was not sure what he meant, but he would soon find out. The widespread poverty in Lebanon was very painful for Father Denys to witness. To see the privation and the hardship of so many people, caused him great suffering.

To Father Denys, Padre Pio was a model of holiness for all people, both priests and laity. Whenever Padre Pio spoke about God, Father Denys always had the sense that he was speaking about someone that he had intimate contact with, someone that he knew very well. When Father Denys looked back on the many times he was able to visit Padre Pio through the years, he knew how truly fortunate he was. To Father Denys, every encounter with Padre Pio had been a time of grace.

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Nonce Gargano, who owned a furniture store in Marseilles, France, was a close friend of Mr. Bossi, who was one of his regular customers. Mr. Bossi used to visit Nonce at the furniture store almost every day. One day, Mr. Bossi asked Nonce if he had ever heard of Padre Pio and he answered that he had not. Mr. Bossi went on to tell him many facts about Padre Pios life and spirituality and encouraged him to make a visit to Padre Pios monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo if he ever got the change.

Not long after that, Nonces twenty-six-year-old daughter Arlette became gravely ill. She was diagnosed with a very serious lung disease and had to be sent to a sanitarium which was almost two hundred miles from Nonces home in Marseilles. Nonce kept Mr. Bossi informed on Arlettes condition.

As the days passed, Nonce became more and more worried about his daughters health. Mr. Bossi could see the fear and anxiety in Nonces face. He gave him a picture of Padre Pio and said, Take this picture of Padre Pio to your daughter and have her place it on her chest. Nonce did what his friend suggested. He took the photo to Arlette and encouraged her to pray to Padre Pio.

During Nonces visit, Arlettes doctor asked him to come into his office. I have bad news for you, the doctor said. He showed him the x-rays of Arlettes lungs. The cavities within her lungs had become more pronounced and had spread throughout both lungs. The doctor told Nonce that the only solution would be for Arlette to have surgery.

When Nonce returned to Marseilles, he was anxious to give Mr. Bossi an update regarding his daughters condition. He was disappointed when he remembered that Mr. Bossi was not in town. He had made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pios monastery. However, he had given Nonce the telephone number of the hotel that he was staying at. Nonce called the hotel and was soon able to speak to his friend. He explained to him the distressing news that Arlettes doctor had just told him. Dont worry, Mr. Bossi said. We will ask Padre Pio to pray for Arlette.

A few days later, Nonce went back to the sanitarium in order to give his permission for Arlette to have the operation. He was greeted by the doctor and shown a brand-new set of x-rays. The x-rays showed that Arlettes lungs were now completely normal. The doctor told Nonce that there was no explanation for the improvement. It was the doctors opinion that Arlette had received a miraculous cure. Your daughter has been healed, the doctor said to Nonce.  We have never before seen a miracle like this at the sanitarium. Nonce was astonished by the news. He realized that it was the supernatural intervention of Padre Pio that had cured his daughter.

In 1966, Nonce took his wife and children to San Giovanni Rotondo. His purpose for the visit was to thank Padre Pio for Arlettes healing. Nonce was happy that Mr. and Mrs. Bossi were able to accompany them on the trip. After they found lodging near the monastery, Nonce learned that Padre Pio celebrated Mass each morning at the early hour of 5:00 a.m. He informed his family that he would not be attending Padre Pios Mass the next morning. It was just too early and he knew it would be too hard to get up. He would wait till later in the day to go to the monastery. Oddly enough, very early the next morning, someone knocked loudly on Nonces door and woke him up. He never discovered who it was. Since he could not get back to sleep, he decided to attend Padre Pios Mass with his family.

That morning, the monastery church of Our Lady of Grace was full to overflowing. Nonce and his family were not able to find a seat and had to stand for the duration of the Mass. Nonce had not been inside a church in many years. He tried to recall how long it had been. He estimated that it had been fifty years since he had received Holy Communion. However, watching the way Padre Pio celebrated Mass made a deep impression on him. Afterward, he asked a man in the church if he knew how he might be able to speak to Padre Pio. The man told Nonce to go up to the first floor of the monastery and wait in the St. Francis room. Padre Pio would soon be going there to greet the visitors.

Nonce and his three sons followed the mans instructions. When they entered the St. Francis room, it was already crowded with men who were hoping to see Padre Pio. As Nonce waited, he silently repeated the only two prayers that he knew by heart – the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Nonce grew more and more nervous as the time passed. He began to tremble. He had totally neglected the practice of his faith for all of his adult life and suddenly began to feel very guilty about his actions. He had heard that Padre Pio could be severe with people who were not practicing their faith.

Before long, Padre Pio came out of the elevator with two Capuchins at his side. When Padre Pio walked into the St. Francis room, Nonce instinctively knelt down. As Padre Pio passed through the crowded hall, his eyes came to rest on Nonce. He paused in front of him and looked at him straight in the eyes. Padre Pios gaze was so penetrating that Nonce felt overwhelmed. He could not find his words. All he could do was whisper, Padre Pio. Padre Pio then put his hand on Nonces head and gave him a blessing. That blessing and touch from Padre Pio changed everything for Nonce. He was never the same again.

When Nonce and his family returned to Marseilles, it was not back to business as usual. They began to attend Mass together every Sunday as a family. In addition, they never missed a Holy Day of Obligation. It was like a completely new beginning. From that time forward, they visited San Giovanni Rotondo every year. They also found great inspiration in going on pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in Lourdes, France. Padre Pio too, was very devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes and encouraged people to visit the holy sanctuary.  A painting of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes, hung on the wall of his cell.

In 1968, Nonce began to experience many difficulties with his furniture business. His store was impacted in a negative way due to competition from other similar stores which were springing up in the surrounding areas. Nonce decided to take his wife to San Giovanni Rotondo and seek the help of Padre Pio.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, Nonce spoke to Brother Modestino and told him that he and his wife had come from Marseilles, seeking Padre Pios prayerful intercession. Brother Modestino was very familiar with Padre Pios schedule and was happy to help Nonce and his wife. He led them to a corridor in the monastery and told them that Padre Pio would be passing through the area in a short time. All along the corridor, women were kneeling. Nonces wife knelt down with the other women and waited for Padre Pio.

 Nonce soon saw Padre Pio as he came down the corridor. He prayed with great intensity, Padre Pio, please give my wife a blessing! Before he had even finished his prayer, Padre Pio walked straight over to his wife and blessed her. Nonce was amazed. When they returned to Marseilles, they both felt that they had received the necessary strength to face up to all their difficulties. Their prayers had been answered.

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There was a woman who used to go frequently to confession to Padre Pio. She was one of his faithful spiritual daughters. She had a strong, decisive personality and also a hot temper. She was well aware of her impulsive nature and her character weaknesses. She sincerely tried to make progress in overcoming her faults, but it seemed to be an uphill battle.

On one occasion, the woman attended a religious play that was held in the church hall at Our Lady of Grace monastery. Padre Pio was there with all the other Capuchins to watch the performance. The hall was filled to capacity that evening.

When the performance was over, Padre Pio followed the other Capuchins back into the church. The woman happened to be walking right in front of Padre Pio as he was making his way toward the church. Suddenly one of the Capuchins yelled at her in a rude manner, Get out of the way! Make way for Padre Pio! The disrespectful way that the Capuchin spoke to her was more than she could bear. The woman felt so insulted that she yelled right back at the Capuchin, No, I will not do what you say. I am not in the way. You are a bad priest. You are full of bitterness! The Capuchin became so angry at the womans words that his face turned bright red. Padre Pio was standing close by but he seemed to be wrapped in his own thoughts and did not appear to notice the incident.

A few days later, the woman went to confession to Padre Pio. She confessed that she had lost her temper with the Capuchin priest when he spoke harshly to her. She said words to him that she now regretted and she was truly sorry for her behavior.

Padre Pio listened carefully but remained silent. The woman waited for him to respond, but he did not. Padre Pio, did you hear what I just confessed? I offended a priest. I yelled back at him and told him that he was a bad priest. I have committed a grave offense. I know that you were there when the incident happened but you seemed to be preoccupied with something else. Again there was silence.

Finally, Padre Pio said to her, When you lost your temper and said those disrespectful words to the priest, did he answer you back? No, he did not, the woman replied. Did he say even one word? Padre Pio asked. No, he said nothing, the woman answered. With those few words, Padre Pio wanted the woman to realize that the priest restrained himself even though he was very angry and even though he could have easily kept the argument going. With very few words, Padre Pio made his point.

On another occasion, Padre Pio taught the woman an important lesson by once again using a few well-chosen words. He shocked her one day by asking her if she would give him a cigarette. She was so taken aback by the request that she could not even find words to answer him.  You know that smoking a cigarette is not a sin, Padre Pio said. That is true, the woman replied. It is not a sin, but it is a weakness. I do not want to give you a cigarette because I do not want to see that weakness in you.  Exactly, Padre Pio replied. And I do not want to see that weakness in you either! The woman got the message loud and clear. She gave up smoking cigarettes.

I have worked and I want to work. I have prayed and I want to pray. I have kept watch and I want to keep watch. I have cried and I want to cry always for all of my brothers who are in exile. I know and understand that this is very little but this is what I know how to do; this is what I am able to do; and this is all that I can do.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 57 – Oct – Dec 2013

Stories from the Early Years

 

Padre Pio with Father Michael Nardone, Minister General of the Trinitarian Order. Karl Klugkist (feature story) was also a Trinitarian priest.

In July 1916, Father Paolino of Cascalenda, the superior of Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, traveled to the Capuchin monastery of St. Anne in Foggia in order to preach for the feast of St. Anne. Padre Pio lived at St. Annes monastery at that time. During his visit, Father Paolino noticed the poor state of Padre Pios health. He was extremely weak and frail and was unable to keep any food on his stomach. He was also suffering from the intense summer heat in Foggia.

Father Paolino invited Padre Pio to visit the Capuchin community in San Giovanni Rotondo, thinking that the change of climate might do him good and Padre Pio accepted the invitation with gratitude. At the time, Padre Pio was twenty-nine years old.

Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo was one of the poorest and oldest monasteries that the Capuchins possessed. It was also one of the most isolated foundations in the province. A profound silence surrounded the old whitewashed monastery and the small church that was attached to it. In the distance, the clang of sheep bells could be heard as shepherds took their flocks to graze on the mountain just behind the monastery. People from the town rarely walked up the long dirt path to the top of the hill in order to attend Mass at Our Lady of Grace.

Padre Pio loved the solitude and peace that the monastery provided, saying to one of his confreres, The silence here is beautiful. He also enjoyed the Capuchin community of priests and brothers who lived at Our Lady of Grace and they in turn enjoyed his company.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio felt the beneficial effects of breathing the fresh mountain air. The higher altitude seemed to agree with him and the cooler climate was a welcome break from the hot weather in Foggia. In the eight days that Padre Pio spent there, his health showed a marked improvement.

When Padre Pio returned to Foggia, he asked for permission to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. He received the permission from his superior and returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in September 1916. He would live with the Capuchins there for the next fifty-two years, until his death in 1968.

The testimonies that follow are from two of Padre Pios spiritual sons, Karl Klugkist and Nicola Pazienza. They met Padre Pio in the early years, not long after he was sent to Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo:

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The Russian prince, Karl Klugkist, was born in Kiev on March 25, 1871. After being exiled at the beginning of World War I, he moved to Italy. Karl, who was intelligent and well educated, was also a deeply spiritual man who was seeking a closer walk with the Lord.

In 1919, Karl learned of Padre Pio for the first time. A priest that Karl met in Foggia, Italy told him a few details of Padre Pio’s life. The priest had known Padre Pio when Padre Pio was a fifteen-year-old student in the Capuchin novitiate in Morcone. The priest told Karl that all of the young aspirants in the novitiate loved Padre Pio. The priests and instructors at Morcone felt the same way. They admired him for his goodness and for his humility. According to the priest who spoke to Karl, “There was not a trace of evil in Brother Pio.” Karl then read some articles in the newspaper about Padre Pio which further sparked his interest. He had a number of spiritual problems at the time and decided that it would be beneficial to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and speak to Padre Pio, asking for his counsel.

Karl had to wait two days to get a seat on the bus that traveled from Foggia to San Giovanni Rotondo. San Giovanni Rotondo was a popular destination at the time as many people wanted to make their confession to Padre Pio and to attend his Mass. Karl was finally able to board the bus but it was anything but a comfortable journey. It took two hours for the rickety old bus to maneuver along the worst kind of roads enroute to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. On the journey, Karl enjoyed looking out the window at the wide expanse of sky. He also enjoyed breathing the fresh mountain air which he found to be invigorating. However, the closer that he got to San Giovanni Rotondo, the more oppressive the landscape became. Scrub trees and rocks dotted the barren hills and the bleakness of the area made Karl feel depressed.

Karl was happy that he had been able to obtain a letter of introduction from the archbishop of Gaeta. The letter included a request that Karl be allowed to speak to Padre Pio. When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he handed his letter to the first Capuchin he saw. The Capuchin instructed Karl to go through the monastery courtyard and then enter the church through the small door that was just beyond.

When Karl walked into the church, the first thing he noticed was a Capuchin priest who was hearing a man’s confession in an open confessional. The penitent who knelt beside the priest appeared to be a local farmer. Slowly, the priest who was hearing the man’s confession raised his head and looked up at Karl. Karl recognized the priest immediately. It was Padre Pio. For some reason, he had not expected to see him so soon after arriving at the monastery. Karl felt both surprised and afraid at the same time.

The corridor was packed with men waiting in line to make their confession to Padre Pio. At the other end of the corridor, there was another door. There were a number of men trying to force their way through the door so that they too could get in the confessional line. They were dressed in work clothes and they all appeared to be farmers from the local area. The noise and commotion that the men were making struck Karl as very irreverent. He quickly summed up the situation and realized that in order to talk to Padre Pio about what was on his mind, he would need to get in the confessional line.

Karl took his place in the line and began to prepare himself for his encounter with Padre Pio. From where he was standing in line, he could easily observe Padre Pio. Karl noticed that he remained immobile, with his arms either crossed or resting on the chair in front of him while he heard confessions. He kept his head lowered. As Karl looked at Padre Pio, he was awed by the beauty of his face. It was the most beautiful face that he had ever seen. Karl got caught up in gazing at Padre Pio, and forgot all about making his preparation for confession.

Karl continued to stare at Padre Pio. Just before he gave absolution to the man who was in the confessional, Padre Pio recited a prayer in a low voice. Karl was close enough to hear the prayer. It sounded as though Padre Pio was speaking in another language, possibly an Asian language. Karl, who was fluent in a number of languages, could not identify the words.

Karl was still trying to focus his mind and prepare himself for confession. He let six men go in front of him in the line. All of a sudden, a man, thinking to do Karl favor, pushed him forward. Karl could postpone the encounter no longer. As he knelt before Padre Pio, he realized how truly unprepared he was to speak to him.

Padre Pio asked Karl when he had made his last confession. Karl told him that it had been the day before. “What sins have you committed since yesterday morning?” Padre Pio asked. Karl could not think of a single sin to confess. “I did not realize that I was going to have the opportunity to make my confession to you today,” Karl explained. “I am not really prepared to do so. I came here hoping that I might be able to have a chat with you.” The moment the words were out of his mouth, Karl regretted them. “That is impossible,” Padre Pio answered. “There are too many people waiting in line. I cannot allow people to have a chat with me. If you have something to tell me, you must tell it to me during confession.”

Karl had written out the items that he wanted to discuss with Padre Pio on a piece of paper. He wished that he had the paper with him but unfortunately he had left it in his suitcase. He knew that he had to speak quickly. There was not a minute to waste. Karl then began to talk about himself, jumping from one period of his life to another in no particular order.

As Karl spoke, he continued to study Padre Pio. He felt the full impact of his holiness. He was convinced that he was in the presence of a true saint. Padre Pio was different from anyone that Karl had ever met. Spiritually, he seemed to be in a class all by himself. To Karl, he appeared like a bright light, shining in the midst of the worlds darkness. He was direct and confident and there was no trace of false sweetness or sentimentality in his manner. At one point, Padre Pio blew on his hands several times, as if they were burning. He showed absolutely no self-consciousness in doing so.

Padre Pio listened with the greatest attention as Karl spoke, but he did not make eye contact with him. Because of it, Karl felt as though there was no personal relationship or personal connection between he and Padre Pio. Although Karl could have talked much longer, he finally stopped himself after about ten minutes, knowing that many others were waiting in line for the same opportunity.

When Karl finished speaking, Padre Pio said to him, “You are seeking the way but you have already found the way.” He did not admonish or scold Karl. He did not tell him what course to take in his life. He did not try to influence his will. He left him completely free to make his own decision. Then he spoke in the mysterious language that Karl had heard before but could not identify. Before leaving the confessional, Karl kissed Padre Pio’s hand. To his great surprise, he noticed a beautiful perfume coming from his hand.

During his visit to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Karl felt blessed to be able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. When Padre Pio came out of the sacristy, a great silence fell upon the congregation. At the Mass, Karl was seated close enough to the altar to see Padre Pio’s hands very clearly. Padre Pio had removed his gloves and Karl saw a red circular mark about the size of a small coin in the middle of each of his hands. Karl noticed blood trickling from the wounds in his hands during the Consecration. Karl could not contain his emotions and upon receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio, he began to weep.

After the Mass, two men approached Padre Pio and wanted to make their confession. Karl was standing nearby and noticed that Padre Pio would not agree to it. “Those men did not come here to make their confession,” Padre Pio said.

During the days of his visit to Our Lady of Grace monastery, Karl occasionally walked to town. Whenever he did so, it always felt as though he had stepped back in time. Life at the monastery seemed to be far removed from the secular concerns and realities of the modern world. Padre Pio reminded him more of a prophet from the Middle Ages than a man of the twentieth century.

On one of his visits to town, Karl met the local state commissioner. The commissioner told Karl that he had first-hand knowledge regarding Padre Pio’s gifts of reading hearts. One day, the commissioner went to the monastery to say goodbye to Padre Pio. He was going to be leaving his job in San Giovanni Rotondo in just a few days and another individual would soon be taking his place. Padre Pio smiled at the commissioner and said, “You are mistaken. You will not be leaving. You will stay in San Giovanni Rotondo for many months.” The commissioner was surprised at Padre Pio’s words. He did not want to disagree with him openly but he knew that Padre Pio was wrong. He had already received his transfer orders. However, a change was made at the last minute and the commissioner was asked to continue on with his job in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Karl enjoyed talking to the local citizens of San Giovanni Rotondo and he especially enjoyed the interesting stories they told him about Padre Pio. Karl learned that a blind woman had come to San Giovanni Rotondo from a long distance, hoping that her sight might be restored through contact with Padre Pio. When she finally had the opportunity to speak to Padre Pio, he said to her, “I cannot obtain the grace that you are asking for. But do not become discouraged, because you will soon be able to see.” The woman went away in great distress. She told the priest who had accompanied her on her journey that she had given up all hope of ever being able to see again. She kept thinking of Padre Pio’s words, “I cannot obtain the grace you are asking for.” She believed that Padre Pio had simply tried to pacify her when he told her that she would soon be able to see. But less than two hours later, while on the trip home, the woman suddenly regained her vision.

When Karl returned to his home in Rome, he spent many hours in church, praying to the Lord for enlightenment. He was trying to discern the path that God might be calling him to follow. He was very happy that he had been able to speak to Padre Pio one last time before leaving San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio told him that he would remember him in his prayers.

One day, when Karl was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, he saw two hands coming out of the tabernacle. The hands were holding a white habit with a red and blue cross on it. To his great surprise, the habit was coming toward him. He thought that his mind might be playing tricks on him. He closed his eyes and then opened them again. He rubbed his eyes to make sure that he was actually seeing what he thought he was seeing. It was true. It was not his imagination. He saw the white habit clearly and then finally, it disappeared.

Karl shared the unusual experience with his confessor. His confessor told him that there was a religious congregation called the Trinitarians who wore a white habit with a red and blue cross. His confessor then introduced him to the superior of the Trinitarians. Karl noticed that the habit the superior was wearing was identical to the one he had seen in the vision.

Karl realized that God had answered his prayers and had given him a clear sign of the vocation that he was to follow. He asked for admittance and was accepted into the Trinitarian Religious Order in Rome. He made simple vows and took the name, Brother Pio. He was sent to Canada where he made his solemn vows in 1924. Upon his ordination to the priesthood, he took the name Father Pio of the Most Holy Trinity. He felt Padre Pio’s loving presence helping him and guiding him in his priestly ministry. He always attributed the good that he was able to accomplish to Padre Pio’s intercession. Karl Klugkist (Father Pio of the Most Holy Trinity) died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1948 after a long and fruitful ministry in the Lord’s service.

I urge you to unite with me and draw near to Jesus with me, to receive his embrace and a kiss that sanctifies and saves us. . .Let us not cease then to kiss this divine Son in this way, for if these are the kisses we give him now, he himself will come to take us in his arms and give us the kiss of peace in the last sacraments at the hour of death. – St. Pio of Pietrelcina

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  Nicola Pazienza was a deeply religious man who was admired for his strong faith and outstanding moral character. He loved to pray the Rosary and took care to have his Rosary with him at all times. His friend, Antonio Di Maggio, was very much aware of Nicolas deep piety. One day he suggested to Nicola that he make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. There is a holy priest who has recently been transferred to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Antonio said. His name is Padre Pio. Many people believe that he is a saint. Since you are so religious, I think you should go and see him.

Although Nicola had not heard of Padre Pio, he was familiar with Our Lady of Grace monastery. Regularly, the lay brothers from the monastery made their rounds in the small surrounding towns and villages, seeking any offerings of food or supplies that could be donated to the Capuchin community. They often knocked on Nicola’s door. The lay brothers from St. Matthew of the Crucifix monastery did the same. Nicola always welcomed the lay brothers and did what he could to help them.

Nicola told his wife Theresa what Antonio had shared with him about Padre Pio. With all her heart, Theresa wanted her husband to visit San Giovanni Rotondo in order to meet Padre Pio. Nicola too, was very impressed by what Antonio had told him. He wanted to visit the saintly priest but at the time he could not make any plans to do so. He had his wheat harvest to tend to and it happened to be the time when the wheat needed to be winnowed.

Through years of experience, Nicola became very proficient in farm work. After the wheat was harvested, he would winnow it by throwing it upward into the breeze. The heavy wheat would fall back to the ground and the chaff would then be blown away by the wind. For many days he had waited, but unfortunately there had been no wind.

Just as Nicola finished speaking to his wife about Padre Pio, a gentle breeze began to blow. He was then able to winnow the wheat and afterward, he stored it in his loft. When the task was completed, he mounted his mule, and with his Rosary in his hand, he headed for San Giovanni Rotondo.

When Nicola arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, he learned that in order to see Padre Pio, he would have to present either a letter of introduction or a special permit issued by the

 

local police. Nicola had no idea that such paperwork was necessary. He had neither a letter of introduction nor a permit. He didnt think that he would have time to go to the police station and request a permit. His visit to Padre Pios monastery had to be a short one because his family was waiting for him to return home that very day. He decided to take a chance and try to enter the monastery without a permit.

Nicola noticed that a guard was standing watch in front of Our Lady of Grace monastery, monitoring all of the visitors who approached. When the guard saw that Nicola did not have a permit or a letter, he told him that he would not be able to see Padre Pio. Nicola was very disappointed. He had been looking forward with great anticipation to meeting him. As Nicola was speaking to the guard, one of the Capuchins came out of the church and motioned to Nicola. Padre Pio would like to see you, the Capuchin said to Nicola. Nicola was truly surprised. How could Padre Pio have possibly known that Nicola was standing outside, hoping to enter the monastery? They had never even met.

Nicola followed the Capuchin into the monastery and was soon standing in front of Padre Pio. Oh, I see that you have arrived, Padre Pio said. Who did you come with and how long did it take you to get here? Padre Pio asked. Once again, Nicola was caught by surprise. It certainly seemed as though Padre Pio had been expecting him. It took me three hours to get here on my mule, Nicola replied. I came by myself. You got here in half the time it would take an ordinary person to make the trip, Padre Pio said. The reason why you made such good time is because you were accompanied by Jesus and Mary. Nicola was becoming more astonished by the minute. Finally, he asked Padre Pio if he would give him a blessing and he was happy to do so. Nicola then kissed Padre Pios hand.

When Nicola returned to his home in the countryside, he told his wife Theresa all that had transpired. She was so amazed by her husbands words that she began to cry. For Nicola, the graces from the short visit to Padre Pio would long endure.

As time went by, Nicola became concerned about the attitude of several of his neighbors. For a reason that Nicola did not know, they seemed to harbor feelings of jealousy and resentment toward him and his family. One day, when Brother Bernardino, a Capuchin lay brother from Our Lady of Grace, visited his home, Nicola told him about his concerns. He asked Brother Bernardino to take a message to Padre Pio for him. Please tell Padre Pio that I am very worried because of the hostility of some of my neighbors. I am afraid that they might try to harm my family. Brother Bernardino agreed to relay the message to Padre Pio.

The next time Brother Bernardino visited Nicola, he told him that he had spoken to Padre Pio about the situation. After he explained Nicolas problem to Padre Pio, Padre Pio replied, Tell Nicola to carry on just as he always has and not to worry. The neighbors will do him no harm because the Virgin Mary and the Guardian Angel are always with him.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. – Psalm 34:7

, Hope, and Dont Worry Issue 56 July Sept 2013

Dreams of Padre Pio – Part III

 

There was once a Capuchin Brother at Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo who was assigned to help Padre Pio with many of his daily tasks. The Brother had a great devotion to Padre Pio and performed his work in an exemplary way. Every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. he would go to Padre Pios cell to assist him. The routine was always the same. Padre Pio would be sitting in his chair either reading his breviary or praying the Rosary. The Brother would then kiss his hand and proceed to straighten the covers on his bed and do other simple tasks in his cell.

One night, the Brother had a terrible dream. In truth, it was a nightmare. In his dream, Padre Pio was elderly and very ill. He was withdrawn and hardly able to move or speak, and it seemed as though he was about to die. In the dream, there was also another Padre Pio. He was floating in the air high above and was smiling, suffused with a beautiful light. But the Padre Pio that was predominant was the suffering one. When the Brother woke up, he was so upset that he burst into tears. He thought that the dream might have been a premonition of the future. Perhaps as Padre Pio grew older, his sufferings would increase more and more.

The Brothers dream occurred in 1957. Padre Pios hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering had just recently opened. Padre Pio was busy, not only with the many concerns of the hospital but also with the expansion of the Prayer Groups that he had founded. In addition, there was a steady flow of pilgrims who constantly poured into San Giovanni Rotondo in order to attend Padre Pios Mass and make their confession to him. While his heath was not the best, he was still able to accomplish a great deal of work each day. He seemed to have the necessary energy to do so.

The Brother could not get the disturbing dream out of his mind. He went to the little monastery chapel of Our Lady of Grace and with tears in his eyes, he prayed before the tabernacle. Jesus, I beg you, the Brother prayed. Please do not let anything bad happen to our Padre Pio. He has already suffered so much. I know that he belongs to you but he belongs to us too and we love him. Do not let his sufferings increase. Give them to me instead. I dont want Padre Pio to have to endure any more suffering. After praying at length in the chapel, the Brother made a great effort to put the dream out of his mind. He decided not to tell anyone about it.

The next morning, the Brother was at Padre Pios door at the usual time of 4:30 a.m. Like always, he found Padre Pio sitting in his chair, reading his breviary and preparing for the early morning Mass. The brother greeted him and kissed his hand. Much to his great surprise, Padre Pio slowly rose for his chair to a standing position. Padre Pio then embraced him and said, I want to thank you my son, for what you did for me last night! Padre Pio had felt the prayers that the good Brother had offered up for him and he was very grateful.

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When Susanna Berghis son slipped into a coma, the doctor could not offer her any hope of his recovery. One day while at his bedside, Susanna fell asleep and dreamed of Padre Pio. The dream was very beautiful. There was one detail which particularly struck Susanna. Padre Pio blessed her son three times and said, Bring him to me. She awoke and saw that her son was conscious and that he no longer had a fever. He made a complete recovery.

 

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Tony Cavaliere was searching for truth and enlightenment through the comparative study of world religions. At the same time, he decided to add a number of spiritual disciplines to his daily routine. Instead of finding inner peace and fulfillment through such practices, he began to experience a growing sense of anxiety. Fear and apprehension became his constant companions. He went to various doctors, trying to find help but to no avail.

Tony experienced frequent anxiety attacks as well as dizzy spells. As time passed, his symptoms grew worse and finally became debilitating. He was no longer able to work and he wondered if he would ever be able to live a normal life again. When he learned about Padre Pio, his interest was sparked. He told his wife that he would like to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo so that he could pray at Padre Pios tomb. Although he was a fallen away Catholic, he was familiar with the Churchs teaching regarding the intercessory power of the saints.

Tony and his wife were finally able to make the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. They visited the monastic cell where Padre Pio had lived for many years. They were able to see the church where he had celebrated Mass and to pray at his tomb. Everywhere Tony looked, he saw familiar signs of faith and the tranquil surroundings gave him a feeling of great peace.

After Tony and his wife returned home, his sister-in-law told him that she had an unusual dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was hearing her confession. She spoke to him and said, “Why don’t you give Tony back his health?” Padre Pio smiled at her and said, “Tell Tony that he will be fine.” In the dream, Padre Pio was holding a blue pillow with a Rosary on it. Give this Rosary to Tony, Padre Pio said.

The dream gave Tony the assurance that he would recover from his debilitating illness. One year later, he was in good health and good spirits, free from all of the symptoms that had previously made him ill. He returned to the practice of his Catholic faith and also became very devoted to the Rosary. I am dedicated to spreading the message of Padre Pio, the Rosary and the Catholic Church that brought me the peace of Christ, Tony said.

 

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Settimo Manelli once had a dream in which she saw Padre Pio in the glory of heaven. His face was transfigured with a great beauty. Everything around Padre Pio shone with a marvelous light. Especially beautiful was the intense and vivid color of the blue sky.

The next morning Settimo went to Padre Pios Mass and afterward she told him about the dream. Your face had such splendor in my dream, Settimo said. I dont want to hurt your feelings, but as I look at you now, you do not look attractive. Your face has no signs of that glory which I saw in my dream. Padre Pio smiled and said to her, I do not look attractive? About a year later, Settimo saw Padre Pio again. She was standing in the corridor of the monastery when he greeted her. He looked at her and said, It certainly was beautiful, wasnt it!

 

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In order to provide a better life for his family, Andre Mandato decided to move with his wife and children from Bologna, Italy to the United States. He sent in his application and all of the necessary paperwork, requesting a permanent visa to the United States. One night, Andre dreamed that Padre Pio spoke to him and said that his application had been rejected. Andre, if you turn in another application and choose a new sponsor, you will be accepted, Padre Pio said in the dream. When Andre woke up, he could not stop thinking about Padre Pios words. Could it be true? That very afternoon, he learned that his application had been rejected. He followed Padre Pios advice by selecting a new sponsor. He also submitted another application and soon received a permanent visa for the entire family.

 

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One of Padre Pios spiritual daughters was hired to work in the sewing room at Padre Pios hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Among many other projects that she worked on, she made the very first curtains for the hospital. She was able to have the curtains ready well before the hospitals inauguration day on May 6, 1956. She also made the nurses uniforms as well as the operating room gowns for the doctors.

The woman had a great devotion to Padre Pio. She made several of his brown habits and whenever any of his habits needed alteration, she was called upon to do the work. She always counted it a great privilege. She also used to make the small cushions that Padre Pio rested his wounded hands on when he prayed for extended periods of time in the choir loft of the church. She chose green velvet for the material because it was a color that was restful to the eyes.

Once, when she was making her confession to Padre Pio, she told him about a dream she had. In her dream, Padre Pio was a newborn baby. He was a beautiful baby but already the marks of the stigmata were on his body. Especially vivid in the dream were the wounds on his hands. The woman asked Padre Pio what the dream might mean. Padre Pios face became sad and he said to her, It means that Our Lord, Christ Crucified, has allowed you to see his wounds.

 

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Little Raffaele Mazzone receives a blessing from Padre Pio while his father Vincenzo looks on.

Vincenzo Mazzones six-month-old son, Raffaele, became seriously ill in 1967. He suffered from a continuous high fever. He was seen by a number of doctors but they were not able to come to an agreement regarding a diagnosis. He was given varying treatments and medicines but his health did not improve. On the contrary, he was becoming weaker with each passing day.

During this time of uncertainty and anxiety regarding little Raffaele, Vincenzos wife had a dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at a window, opening the curtains. He told her that little Raffaele should be in a place where the air was fresh. Then the dream was over. After she told her husband about the dream, they decided to make a trip from their home in Cerignola to San Giovanni Rotondo. Although it was difficult, they managed to get an immediate appointment with the pediatrician at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

When the pediatrician examined Raffaele, he could find nothing wrong with him. His temperature was normal and he appeared to be in perfect health. Vincenzo and his wife were elated. The next evening, Vincenzo went to the sacristy of the church in order to thank Padre Pio for his intercession. As Padre Pio passed by, Vincenzo knelt down. He had little Raffaele in his arms and he held him up to Padre Pio. With a slight smile, Padre Pio stopped and gave little Raffaele a blessing.

 

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Some time ago, I had a very vivid dream whereby I saw a man with a dark robe on and a beard. In my dream, the man said to me, I was wondering if you would like to become a nun, after your children are raised. I told him that I did not think so. But I said that I did have some things that I wanted to do for God once my children were raised. He said to me, But what are you planning to do for God right now? Shortly after that dream, I went to confession to Father Solcia at Our Lady of the Rosary. At the end of the confession, Father Solcia handed me a prayer card and said, Padre Pio is praying for you. On the prayer card was a picture of the same man I had seen in my dream. Below the picture were the words, Padre Pio.

– Name Withheld

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My thirteen year old sister Bernadette was paralyzed from birth. She was very bright and very pretty. In the last year of her life she suffered great sickness and severe pain with very little sleep or rest. She always wore a relic of Padre Pio pinned to her vest. One morning, Bernadette told us that she had slept all night and that a lovely man appeared at her bedside during the night. She said he wore a long dress with a rope tied around the waist and he had a beard. He told her he was taking her away to a land where she would have no pain or sickness ever again. Upon hearing this, my mother became very upset. The man held her hand and she said she was not afraid because he was a holy man. Bernadette asked him to leave her here a little bit longer. She talked about the holy man all the time. As the days went by we all knew she had seen somebody because she seemed so peaceful. Six weeks later, on June 1, 1978 Bernadette died with no pain. Padre Pio appeared to my little sister and took away her fear of death and guided her gently from this world to the next.

– Elizabeth Reid

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After suffering for ten years, in December, 1983, I started the novena to Padre Pio. In February, my condition grew worse. My ankles became swollen and the pain was unbearable. On February 10th, I was healed in a dream. I was in a beautiful chapel and Padre Pio came to me. He told me to sit and then he touched my swollen ankles. He touched my back and then he said, Get up and walk. You are healed. I awoke immediately from my bed and I walked without a single pain in my body. That morning I attended Mass to thank our Lord. The pain came back, but only for a moment because soon what felt like a warm hand touched my back and took my pain away. I have never known that pain again.

– G. W. Collins

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Not long ago I had a dream in which I was driving in a car with my father. As we were driving, I told my father to stop in front of Our Lady of Sorrows parish because I wanted to go inside. Our Lady of Sorrows is a parish in my hometown of Kansas City but it is not the parish I attend. In my dream, as I entered the church, I saw a statue of a man with a brown robe and a beard. At the base of the statue were dozens of beautiful red roses. There was a kneeler in front of the statue and so I knelt down. The statue then spoke to me, teaching me how to pray. It was the most beautiful dream I have ever had in my life. I often though about the statue and wondered who it was. At Christmas, I received a book about Padre Pio and when I saw a picture of a statue of Padre Pio it was exactly like the one in my dream. Knowing that Padre Pio is helping me in my journey through life is a great consolation

– Michael Feierabend

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Once, while on a job-hunting trip, I checked into a motel for the night. Several people who were at the motel made me feel uneasy. I began to feel a concern for the safety of my car and I hoped that it would not be vandalized in the night. Before I went to bed, I prayed and asked Padre Pio to watch over me and protect me and also my car. That night, I had a dream. In the dream, I was laying on my right side, and Padre Pio came and shook me awake saying, Brenda, I think youd better get up now. When I woke up, I was laying on my right side, just like in my dream. I looked at the clock and saw that it was 3:00 a.m. I was so groggy, that I fell asleep again. I then had a second dream in which Padre Pio shook me once again, saying with greater emphasis, Brenda! You had better get up now! At that, I got up and looked out the window. Sure enough, the two fellows who had concerned me after I checked in to the motel were at my car. One of them was under it! They left hastily when that saw me at the window. I am convinced that Padre Pio heard my prayer that night and came to my rescue.

-Brenda Zizzo

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My son Frankie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in July of 2005. He fought a long and hard battle against this illness for twenty seven months. He had four lung surgeries, amputation of his leg, radiation, and countless rounds of chemotherapy. He also developed a secondary cancer, leukemia. During his ordeal, Frankie kept hopeful and prayerful. He kept Jesus as the center of his life, and prayed to his patron saint, Padre Pio, whose picture he always kept with him. Frankie died on Sept. 14, 2007. He was 17 years old.

The morning of Frankies Mass of Christian Burial, my family and I were at the funeral home where there had been a public viewing of Frankie for two days. When it was almost time to say goodbye to my son and go to St. Ephrems in Brooklyn for the funeral Mass, I felt my strength failing me. I dreaded this final time, knowing I would never see my son again. At that moment I prayed to Padre Pio, begging him to help me.

The moment I finished my prayer, into the funeral home walked Ray Ewen. Ray had met Padre Pio in 1945 when he served in the U.S. military and was sent overseas to Italy. Ray has been a great promoter of Padre Pio ever since. Ray prayed for my son and he prayed for me. As he prayed, I felt a great sense of peace come over me and I received the strength I needed so badly. I know that Rays presence was an answer to my prayer. Ray does not live close by but he told me that when he woke up that morning he felt a very strong urge to get to the funeral home and see Frankie. It was not easy for him but he managed to find a ride with a close friend who was also very devoted to Padre Pio.

The celebrant of Frankies funeral Mass was Father Gerard Sauer. He was joined by four others priests and over 1000 people attended. Two beautiful eulogies were said, one by Frankies best friend, Gennaro Anzalone and the other by Dr. Joseph Marino, the Principal of Frankies school, Xaverian High School in Brooklyn. Dr. Marino told all present about Frankies faith in God and his devotion to Padre Pio.

It wasnt long afterward that I had a vivid dream about my son. In my dream, Frankie looked well and he was breathing easily. I thought that he was alive again. He let me know that he was in Heaven and only back to speak to me for a moment. He told me that he was in a place that was so beautiful that it was impossible to describe. He also told me he was with other children. I asked him if Padre Pio was there. Frankie looked at me and said, Padre Pio was there to meet me when I arrived.

– Camille Loccisano

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In July of 1992, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. I went through 6 months of chemotherapy. One night my son asked me if I had ever heard of Padre Pio and he told me a little bit about him from a program he had seen on television. My son is not very religious but was quite taken with this man at the time. Sometime shortly after this I had a dream. In my dream I was out walking alone and saw a group of people. I made my way toward them. As I approached, the others seemed to vanish and the back of this man, whom I thought was Jesus, drew me closer. As I went to speak, the man turned around. At first I saw his gentle face and then his eyes. Rays shot from his eyes and went through me. I woke up. My friend gave me a prayer card of Padre Pio. Imagine my surprise when I looked and saw that it was the man in my dream. I told my friend of my dream and she saw it as a sign of healing from my cancer. Ive thought of that ever since. I just finished my first year of tests and the cancer shows no signs of recurrence.

– Pat Yanics

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I recently had a very vivid dream in which I was walking with a man who was carrying a lantern. He was limping slightly as he walked and his posture was somewhat bent. He had a serious demeanor and I noticed that he seemed to be in a hurry. He spoke to me in Italian and said that a very important day was coming soon. I understood the Italian words in my dream even though I do not speak the language. Then the dream ended.

I told my good friend Tony Fajardo about the dream and he then showed me a picture of Padre Pio. There was no doubt about it. He was the man I had seen in my dream. I knew practically nothing about Padre Pio. Tony had told me on a previous occasion that he had the stigmata. That was the extent of my knowledge. I had never seen a photo of Padre Pio before. I did not even know that he was from Italy.

In my dream, I felt that Padre Pio was proud of me for finally realizing that the Catholic faith was destined to be a part of my life. This month I am going to begin to take classes so that I can be confirmed. In the dream, when Padre Pio said that an important date was coming up, I thought that he might be talking about his birthday. But since then, I have learned that he received the Stigmata on Sept 20 and that his feast day is September 23. I had the dream on September 6.

– Nicholas Beattie

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I lost my only son very tragically last year. I was very troubled as to whether my son was happy in his new dwelling. I prayed faithfully and daily to Padre Pio for some sign from my son. One night my son came to me in a dream and told me that God was very just and that he, my son, was happier than he had ever been on earth. I feel that this was more than a dream.

– Mrs. Feeney

 

Your sole concern should be the establishment of Gods reign in your heart, in this life and in the next. In this life, your study should be to bring about this reign of God, in your heart by his grace and through the plentitude of his love. You should live for God alone, and the life of your soul should be the life of God himself. You ought likewise to nourish yourself with God by thinking of his holy presence as often as you possibly can. That which constitutes the life of the saints is precisely their continual attention to God and this also should form the life of those who . . . seek only to accomplish his holy will, to love him and so make others love him.

– St. John Baptiste de la Salle

 

 

Books from Padre Pio Devotions
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry:True Stories of Padre Pio Book I  – written by Diane Allen, published by Padre Pio Press, and available at

 

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
 

Pray, Hope and Dont Worry Issue 55 April-June 2013

Dreams of Padre Pio – Part II

 

Lina Fiorellini receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio

Lina Fiorellini met Padre Pio in 1919. At that time, Lina was employed by the Pontremoli family. Lina thought very highly of the family and felt blessed that she could work for them. She spoke to Padre Pio and asked him to always keep the Pontremoli family in his prayers. They are good people, Padre Pio replied. I will remember them before the Lord and pray to Jesus for their salvation. Lina often shared her Catholic faith with Lucia Pontremoli and her son, Aldo. Although they were not Christians, they listened to Lina with great interest and respect. Lina also told them many stories about Padre Pio.

Aldo, who was a professor at the University of Milan, was preparing to go on an expedition to the North Pole. The whole world was following the upcoming expedition with great anticipation. It was scheduled for the spring of 1928. Shortly before Aldo and the crew left for the North Pole, they were granted an audience with Pope Pius XI. Aldo was so inspired by meeting the Pope that he sought out a Catholic priest and asked for baptism. Several days later, he left on the expedition. Tragically, Aldo lost his life, as did the other crew members, when the airship they were traveling in collided into ice.

A few months after Aldos death, Lina had a vivid dream. In her dream, Aldo spoke to her and said, I owe my salvation to you and to Padre Pio. He then kissed her on the forehead. The next time Lina went to San Giovanni Rotondo, she told Padre Pio about the dream. Was Aldo speaking the truth to me in my dream? Lina asked. Yes, your dream was true, Padre Pio replied. Aldo went from the North Pole to Paradise!

Lina continued to pray for Aldos mother, Lucia Pontremoli. Padre Pio encouraged Lina to offer up all of her sufferings for the conversion of souls, including Lucias. On Holy Thursday 1946, Lucia asked for baptism. Padre Pio was filled with joy when Lina told him the good news. Lina and Padre Pio had both been praying for Lucia for more than twenty-five years.

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There was a woman (name withheld) who was married to a very successful businessman. Soon after their marriage, her husband became cold and indifferent. When he got home from work in the evenings, he hardly spoke to her. Whenever he could find the chance to get away, he would leave the house and not return until very late in the evening. Feeling neglected and alone, the woman became very depressed. She prayed for a solution to the problem.

The woman possessed a holy card of Padre Pio. On one particular day, feeling the painful reality of her situation, she took the holy card in her hand and prayed, Padre Pio, I am very sad about the state of my marriage. Please wake my husband up and help him to change. Come to him in a dream or do whatever is necessary, in order to shake him out of his indifference toward me. Show him the error of his ways. Please save our marriage! Even though the woman knew practically nothing about Padre Pio, she was glad that she had prayed to him and asked for his help.

That evening her husband returned home very late as usual and during the night he had a strange dream. In his dream, he was in a beautiful building. It looked like a brand-new hospital and it had a lovely marble staircase. As he walked down the staircase, he saw five monks who were coming up the staircase toward him. Each one was wearing a brown habit. Following behind them was a sixth monk. The five monks walked past him but the sixth one stopped in front of him. The monk looked at him sternly and then raised his hand in a warning gesture. At once, the man thought of his wife and how badly he had been treating her. He recognized the monk who had looked at him in such a severe manner. It was Padre Pio.

The man felt shaken by the dream. He suddenly felt remorseful for his conduct toward his wife. The dream had seemed so real that it woke him up out of a sound sleep. He could hardly wait to tell his wife about it.

The next morning, the man knelt down at his wifes bedside. He gently touched her hair in a caress in order to waken her. He spoke to her with great tenderness and asked for forgiveness for his coldness and for his neglect. She could hardly believe it. He had not spoken to her with such affection since they were first married. Moreover, she had never known her husband to apologize for anything. To see him kneeling at her bedside was perhaps the greatest surprise of all. Because of his pride, he was definitely not the kind of man to get down on his knees for any reason whatsoever.

Later, the woman made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo and was able to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering. The hospital was beautiful in every way. She noticed the wide and attractive marble staircase near the entrance. She remembered her husband had told her that in his dream, he had been in a beautiful hospital that had a marble staircase. Because of the dream of Padre Pio, her husband made a great effort to change. Their marriage was blessed with happiness from that time forward.

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Antonio Ciannamea traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio on many occasions. He always felt it a privilege when he could visit Padre Pio in his cell. On one occasion, Antonio had an unusual dream. In his dream, Padre Pio was sitting in his customary chair in his cell and Antonio was kneeing beside him. Through Antonios parted lips, Padre Pio placed a tube and breathed into it three times. Padre Pios cheeks swelled as he blew the air into the tube. When Antonio felt Padre Pios breath, he experienced a great sense of well-being. Padre Pio then said to him, Go with Gods grace. With that, Antonio woke up.

For the most part, Antonio did not believe in the symbolism of dreams. But because the dream of Padre Pio had seemed so real, Antonio felt that it held a message. Exactly what that message was, he did not know. When he told his wife about the dream, she became worried. She told him to be careful when he was at work because to her, the dream seemed to be a kind of warning.

That day, Antonio visited a number of the different departments in the factory where he worked. About six tons of molten lead were about to be turned into the framework for the batteries of electricity accumulators. Some of the employees were busy cleaning extra filaments from the frameworks. At the same time, the conveyer belt was bringing lead bars forward for collection and loading.

The head factory technician had a piece of tube that he was placing into the lead. Suddenly, a shower of boiling lead flashed through the air. It reminded Antonio of a burst of violent machine gun fire. The solidified lead landed on Antonios hair, clothing and shoes. Antonio was filled with terror, but to his great relief not a drop had touched his skin. He was unhurt. The employees who were nearby and had witnessed the near fatal accident, told Antonio how lucky he was to have escaped injury.

That night, Antonio had another dream about Padre Pio. In his dream, Padre Pio was standing at the altar in his priestly vestments as Antonio knelt before him. Padre Pio turned to Antonio, blessed him and said, Let us give thanks to God!

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There was a man from Italy (name withheld) who was brought up in a good Catholic family, but when he grew older he left his faith far behind him. When asked what he believed in, he said simply, nothing. He became a self-declared atheist. The man married and had a family but secretly he was living a double life. He was unfaithful to his wife and had no desire to change.

One night, when the man was at a hotel with his girlfriend, he surprised himself and those around him by suddenly stating that he was leaving. He told his friends that he was going to drive to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio. All of the people who were with him thought that he was joking. Everyone knew that he was not the kind of person who would be interested in visiting a priest. The odd thing was, the man knew almost nothing about Padre Pio. Perhaps he had heard a few facts about Padre Pios life somewhere along the way, but there was nothing concrete that he could remember. Why he would suddenly have the overpowering urge to visit Padre Pio was a complete mystery.

It was about 2:30 a.m. when the man left the hotel. As he walked through the lobby toward the exit door, the hotel doorman asked him where he was going at such an hour. I am driving to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, the man exclaimed.  The doorman was well aware of the worldly life that the man led. But why would you want to go to a monastery in the middle of the night? What is the attraction? the doorman asked. The man could offer no explanation. He did not understand it himself.

The man arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace before sunrise and waited patiently in the darkness for the church to open. When Padre Pio began his Mass, the man became completely absorbed in it. All through the Mass, he experienced a wonderful feeling, something that he could not explain because he had never experienced it before. After the Mass, one of the Capuchins came up to him and asked him if he wanted to go to confession to Padre Pio. The thought had not even entered his mind, but since the Capuchin had suggested it to him, he decided that it was a good idea.

In the confessional, Padre Pio said to him, It has been a long time since your last confession, hasnt it. How long has it been? It has been fourteen or fifteen years, the man replied. Oh no, it has been a lot longer than that! Padre Pio said. What you want from me, I cannot give you. You must go to another who will give it to you. The man had no idea what Padre Pio was talking about.

The man left without making his confession. He had not even received a blessing from Padre Pio and yet, he felt very happy and very satisfied. He was grateful that he had been able to speak to Padre Pio for those few moments in the confessional and attending the Mass had been a beautiful experience, more than he ever imagined. He left San Giovanni Rotondo greatly uplifted and knew that he wanted to return again.

Shortly after that, the man had a dream. In his dream, he saw Padre Pio walking down a staircase toward him. He was accompanied by another person who was dressed in white. Padre Pio took a folded paper from the pocket of his habit and handed it to the man. The words, St. Alphonsus Liguori were written on the paper. Then the man woke up. The man frequently thought about the dream and wondered about its meaning.

A short time later, a nun who lived in the same town as the man, asked him for a favor. She needed a ride to Foggia and wondered if he might be able to take her there. He was happy to assist her. On the way to Foggia, he told her about his dream and asked her what she thought it meant. Perhaps it means that Padre Pio would like you to carry a picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori with you, the nun said.  Not long after, the nun brought him a picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori. The man was astonished to find that the picture was inside of a folded paper that was identical to the size and shape of the paper that Padre Pio had given to him in his dream. He carried the little picture with him at all times.

The nun told the man that St. Alphonsus had lived in the town of Pagani at the Redemptorist House. Many of his relics were still preserved and venerated there. She thought it would be meaningful for the man to visit the Redemptorist House and encouraged him to do so. He decided to follow the nuns advice and shortly after that he made a trip to Pagani.

At the Redemptorist House, the man asked to see a priest. Soon the resident priest came out and greeted him kindly. He showed him the chapel and the various relics of St. Alphonsus. He also showed him the room that St. Alphonsus had lived in. As the man stood in St. Alphonsus room, he suddenly felt a strong desire to go to confession. Almost as if reading the mans mind, the priest said to him, Would you like to go to confession? I would like very much to do so, the man replied. At that moment, he remembered the words that Padre Pio had spoken to him, What you want from me, I cant give you. You must go to another who will give it to you. The man was convinced that the priest who was standing before him was the one whom Padre Pio was referring to when he said, You must go to another.

The man knelt down and made a sincere confession. Unashamedly, he cried throughout the lengthy confession. The priest was so moved by the mans confession that he cried along with him. After the confession, the priest took him to the chapel where he gave him Holy Communion.

The man realized that Padre Pio had been leading him back to God, one step at a time. On his first visit to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he had been totally unprepared to approach the sacraments. But now, he was a completely changed person. He had a great desire to see Padre Pio again. When the man returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him with love and called him his son. They were words to treasure. He made his confession to Padre Pio and received absolution. He returned on many more occasions to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace.

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Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis

Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis and Padre Pio were fellow students and close companions in the Capuchin novitiate and their friendship became even deeper with the passage of time. Padre Pio was like a brother to Father Placido. After Padre Pios death on September 23, 1968, Father Placido wondered if perhaps his own time on earth might be drawing to a close. He spoke about it to Father Alberto DApolito. Father Alberto assured Father Placido that he was indeed healthy and would surely live for many more years. But Father Placido could not be convinced.

Not long after that, Father Placido told Father Alberto that he had a dream of Padre Pio. In the dream,Padre Pio said, Father Placido, you must prepare yourself. You will be joining me very soon. Will I be joining you in a few more years? Father Placido asked. No, Padre Pio replied. You will be joining me in just a little while. You will not see the end of this year. Father Placido died on December 25, 1968. He did not see the end of the year.

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There was once a woman (name withheld) who, due to deeply-rooted psychological problems, had not been out of her house for twenty-five years. In all of those years, she had not seen her brother. Finally, her brother contacted one of the relatives and found his sisters address. It was then that he learned the particulars of her problems. One night the woman had a dream about a saintly looking priest who smiled at her. Also, one afternoon she noticed the fragrance of roses in her home. One day, the homebound woman summoned up the necessary courage and was able to leave the house and go to Mass. Afterward, she found a magazine about Padre Pio and purchased it. She recognized him as the priest she had seen in her dream. Finally, her dear brother visited her. He told her that he had been praying to Padre Pio so that she would regain her confidence.

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Tom Dunne had a motorcycle accident and his left hand was damaged as a result. From that time forward, he always had pain in his hand. Tom began to pray the novena to Padre Pio every day. One night before Tom went to bed, he was reading a book on Padre Pio. The book told a story of a woman who asked Padre Pio if she could suffer some of the pain that he was suffering. Padre Pio said to her, If you had even a part of the pain that I have, you would die. Tom then said a prayer to Padre Pio with all the sincerity of his heart. Padre Pio, Tom prayed, I have chronic pain in my hand. My hands are important to me, but nevertheless, I would never ask you to suffer my pain. At that time, Tom had been enduring the pain in his hand for ten years. Not long after, Tom had a dream in which he saw Jesus and Padre Pio smiling at him. When he woke up, the pain in his left hand was gone, never to return.

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There was a woman (name withheld) whose financial problems became so serious that bankruptcy seemed inevitable. She had worked diligently to make a success of the family business but no matter what she did, it failed to turn a profit. Her brother Louis ran the ice cream manufacturing side of the business. He put in very long hours and was accustomed to working seven days a week. When Louis passed away, some of the other family members took over his part of the work. Unfortunately, the business went from bad to worse. Finally, the woman decided to sell it and pay off the bank loan and the debts that had accumulated. It was the only way she could avoid bankruptcy. About that time, the woman had a beautiful dream. In her dream, she saw Padre Pio who looked very happy. Padre Pio and her brother Louis were together. Everything is all right now, Padre Pio said to her in the dream.

From that day forward, the business prospered. There was a steady increase in customers to the extent that the woman had to buy more equipment and additional refrigerators. More employees had to be hired as well. Truly, Padre Pio had been watching over his spiritual children.

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Lilia Glorioso was the leader of a prayer group in Castelbuono, Italy. In 1972, she and her husband were preparing to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They were happy that all five of their children could be present for the joyful occasion. The anniversary celebration turned out to be a wonderful success. One of their daughters, Marianna, was returning to her home in Palermo right after the celebration. Mariannas fiancé and two other friends were traveling with her. On the trip home, Mariannas fiancé fell asleep at the wheel and their car crashed into a wall. Tragically, Marianna died in the accident. The other three passengers were not hurt.

Concetta De Garbo was a friend and a neighbor of Lilia Glorioso. On the very night that Marianna died, Concetta had a dream. She dreamed that she was walking on the main street of Castelbuono when a car stopped in front of her. The driver spoke to Concetta and told her that Padre Pio was inside the car. Padre Pio then spoke to Concetta and asked her where she was going. She told him that she was going to visit her sister who was very ill. I will go with you, Padre Pio said to Concetta and he invited her to get in the car.

In Concettas dream, she and Padre Pio soon arrived at her sisters house. Padre Pio prayed for Concettas sister and blessed her by placing his wounded hand on her. He then went over to the window which looked out onto the house of the Glorioso family. Be sure to tell her to hurry because I will not be able to wait for her! Padre Pio said to Concetta. She did not understand what he was talking about.

In her dream, Concetta then went over to the window and stood next to Padre Pio. As she looked out the window, she saw a woman across the street who seemed to be in great distress. She was dressed in black and her eyes were red from crying. Oh, it is Lilia, the mother, Padre Pio said. I feel so sorry for her. She is suffering so much! With that, Concetta woke up. Upon waking, Concetta heard loud voices as well as crying that seemed to be coming from the street. She went to the window and discovered that the noise was coming from the home of the Glorioso family. She got dressed and hurried over to their house. She then learned that Marianna had passed away.

That same day, Concetta visited her sister who had been gravely ill. She was surprised to see that her sister looked well. Her sister told her that all of her pain was gone and that she had never slept so well or so peacefully as she had on the previous night. Concetta remembered that in her dream, Padre Pio had prayed for her sister and had blessed her. Her sister made steady progress and was soon able to go back to work. When Concetta took her for a medical examination, the doctor gave her a clean bill of health.

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A Testimonial

My mother Angela had always been very devoted to Padre Pio and also to the Madonna Paradiso (the Madonna of Paradise) the patroness of the town where she grew up in Sicily.

When my brother Joseph was diagnosed with cancer, my mother prayed constantly to Padre Pio and to the Madonna, asking for a miracle. But a cure was not to be. My brother died in 2009 after suffering for one and a half years. My mother became so distraught and so heartbroken at my brothers death that she told the family she no longer believed in God or in the power of the saints. She said that she was going to take all the statues, sacred paintings, and religious articles out of her house and that she would never pray again. She was finished with religion forever.

Several weeks later, my mother told me that something amazing had happened. In the middle of the night she saw Padre Pio who said to her, I prayed as hard as I could for your son, but it was not meant to be. As he raised his hand and pointed upward he said, Everything depends on God.

The experience was so vivid that it woke my mother up from a sound sleep. She began to wonder, Was it a dream or did Padre Pio actually pay me a visit? She finally got back to sleep only to have the very same dream, exact in all the details. She again awakened and this time she stayed up for the rest of the night. The dream brought closure and peace to my mother. She never again spoke against the Church. She took up her practice of prayer and her devotions, just as she had in the past and remained faithful until her death.

– Margaret Gigante

 

St. Paul teaches that this life of ours is like traveling abroad from our home country. He says, As long as we are in the body, we are traveling away from the Lord (Corinthians 2: 5-6). Since we are still traveling in a foreign land, we ought to keep in mind what our home country is that country to which we must hasten by turning our backs on the attractions and delights of this life. This homeland toward which we travel is the only place where we can find true rest because God does not wish us to find rest anywhere else. The reason is simple: if God gave us perfect rest while we were still abroad, we would find no pleasure in returning home. 

– St. Augustine

 

Books by Padre Pio Devotions

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press. Available at

 

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 11 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press. Click on the “Books”

Pray, Hope and Dont Worry – Issue 54 – January-March 2013

Never let us put aside the thought of our ultimate aim. And what is this ultimate aim? To know God, principally, is why he conceived our days, our years. Therefore, let us try never to forget this ultimate aim, for everything depends on it. And for what reason? To serve him with faith, with love, and with constancy. Let us try to excel in all of this, then. Since God created us for love, he takes care of us for love, and for love he has promised us the prize.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina 

 

Dreams of Padre Pio

 

Giuseppe Di Sessas dear wife, Anna Maria, died in October1940. Giuseppe knew that he never wanted to remarry. Two months later, Giuseppe went to see Padre Pio. Giuseppe told him about his wifes death. He explained to Padre Pio that he prayed for his wife every day and offered many sacrifices on behalf of her soul. Padre Pio told Giuseppe that for the sake of his family, he should consider remarrying. Giuseppe explained to Padre Pio that he had decided not to marry again. For a second time, Padre Pio made the suggestion to him that he should remarry. As Giuseppe was leaving, Padre Pio said to him, I hope that you come back to San Giovanni Rotondo again. As far as the question of a remarriage is concerned, you will see that I am right.

Six years later, Giuseppe met a woman named Maria Grazia. Maria told Giuseppe about a dream she once had about Padre Pio. In her dream, Padre Pio told her that she should marry. She explained to Padre Pio that she had decided not to marry and told him that she felt called to another mission. Marriage too is a mission, Padre Pio said to her. If marriage is a mission, then make it work out for me, Maria replied. Then she woke up.

Giuseppe and Maria fell in love and when Giuseppe proposed marriage to her, Maria happily accepted. After the wedding, Giuseppe and his new bride made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio and to tell him the good news.

 

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T

 Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, the three shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal. When Eugenio was elected pope in 1939, and took the name Pope Pius XII, he placed his pontificate under the special protection of the Virgin Mary.

Pope Pius XII has often been spoken of as the most Marian pope in all of Church history. He consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942. In 1954, he introduced a new Marian feast to the Church, the Queenship of Mary. He was the first pope to call for a Marian year, a practice which was continued by Pope John Paul II in 1998. Many of the saints canonized by Pius XII had great devotion to the Virgin Mary such as Louis de Montfort, Pope Pius X, Catherine Labouré, Anthony Mary Claret, and Gemma Galgani.

Maria Guerriero of Rome, among others, was involved in a very extensive writing and research project which, when finished, would be given over to Pope Pius XII. The information that was being compiled was in reference to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In August 1940, Marias two sisters, Laura and Antonietta, were preparing to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Maria asked her sisters to tell Padre Pio about the material on the Assumption which she was preparing for Pope Pius XII. When Marias sisters relayed the message to Padre Pio, he was very pleased. He told Laura and Antoinetta that if the Blessed Virgin had chosen Maria for such an important task, she must persevere in it, even if it was tedious at times and even if the results were not immediate. He assured them that he would keep Maria in his prayers.

Maria devoted herself to the project in all of her free time. She often worked late into the night, after her daily duties were done. She had never been strong physically and after a time she began to suffer from exhaustion. Finally, her health broke. She was tormented by severe and prolonged headaches. The headaches were so painful that they proved to be debilitating. Eventually, she had to spend her days in a darkened room with her eyes closed. Marias family was very worried about her health. They wrote to Padre Pio and asked him for his continued prayers.

One night, during the time of her illness, Maria had a dream. She dreamed that she was knocking at the door of the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. In her dream, Brother Gerardo, who, in reality, was the doorkeeper of the monastery, answered the door. She told Brother Gerardo that she was in great need and that it was urgent that she speak to Padre Pio. It is impossible, Father Gerardo said. Women cannot enter the monastic enclosure. You can only speak to Padre Pio if you make your confession to him.  With tears in her eyes, Maria asked Brother Gerardo to tell Padre Pio that she was ill. Brother Gerardo did what Maria asked him to do. After a short time, Brother Gerardo returned. He led Maria into a small room in the monastery. In the dream, Padre Pio then came into the room. Two trickles of blood were flowing from his left temple down his cheek. How selfish I am, Maria thought to herself. Here I am complaining about my headaches and now before my very eyes, I see what Padre Pio suffers day in and day out. Maria felt like apologizing to Padre Pio. He tapped her on the head three times and then said to her, Maria, you are cured now.

When Maria woke up, she was completely free of pain. She felt strong enough to get out of bed and she was able to set about her work as though she had never been ill. That very day she wrote Padre Pio a letter, thanking him for her healing. A reply soon came back to her which said, Let us thank God and Our Lady that you are well now. You must go on with your work. Maria took up her research and writing again regarding the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and on January 31,1941, her work was finally completed and put on the desk of Pope Pius XII.

During the summer of 1941, Maria traveled with her sisters to San Giovanni Rotondo. While there, Maria made her confession to Padre Pio. In the confessional, Padre Pio smiled at Maria and to her great surprise, he tapped her on her head three times, exactly like he had done in her dream.  Am I still your spiritual daughter? Maria asked. Yes, you are, Padre Pio answered. Remember that a father is always a father. Children can stray, but you will never stray. Let us thank the Blessed Virgin who has protected you. You have been working for her for a long time. Dont be discouraged if your work does not have immediate results. Satan has always tried to attack Our Lady but he will never succeed. She will always be able to overcome him.

On November 1, 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII passed away on October 9, 1958.  Just as in his life, after his death, signs of his love for the Virgin Mary were still evident. He was buried in Rome in the crypt of St. Peters Basilica on the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, October 13, 1958. The Congregation for the Cause of Saints at the Vatican issued a decree which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. The decree gave its stamp of approval to the heroic virtues in the life of Pope Pius XII and the title of Venerable was then added to his name.

 

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Mrs. Bertolotti first learned about Padre Pio in 1946. She longed to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo but the years passed and she was never able to do so. One night, she dreamed that she was at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. She saw a man who walked toward the booking office where tickets could be obtained for Padre Pios confessional. The man had a letter in his hand that was addressed to Mrs. Bertolotti. He handed her the letter and with that she woke up.

Mrs. Bertolotti thought about the meaning of the dream. It almost seemed to her that she was being called to visit Padre Pio. The dream made such an impression on her that she decided to travel to Padre Pios monastery. It was a cold and rainy afternoon when she got ready to board the train. Due to the many difficulties in her life, there was a sadness in her heart that day. The dismal weather did nothing to lift her spirits. As soon as she got to the monastery, she went to the booking office and got a ticket for Padre Pios confessional. She had to wait ten days before her number was called. She was able to attend Padre Pios Mass every day while she waited. Spending time in prayer in the church of Our Lady of Grace and attending Padre Pios Mass each day made her feel like she was in heaven. The days passed quickly and her heart was filled with a wonderful peace.

Finally, Mrs. Bertolottis number was called. In the confessional, as she knelt before Padre Pio, she could not seem to find her words. Finally, she asked Padre Pio to accept her as his spiritual daughter and he agreed to do so. Before she left the confessional, she kissed his hand. When she returned to her home, she felt as though she had been completely transformed. The years ahead brought their share of problems, but Mrs. Bertolotti was no longer overwhelmed by them as she had been in the past. Her visit to Padre Pio had supplied her with the strength she needed to face all of the trials in her life.

 

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Aure Caviggioli was an antique dealer who lived in Monte Carlo, Italy. Absorbed in his work and in other interests, he had long neglected his spiritual life. On one occasion, he visited San Giovanni Rotondo and attended Padre Pios Mass. He felt uplifted by the experience. He returned to the monastery several more times. Because he felt a certain uneasiness when he was in Padre Pios presence, he was hesitant to make his confession to him.

Aure possessed a beautiful antique painting of the Virgin and Child that dated back to the 16th century.  When an acquaintance asked Aure about the value of the artwork, Aure told him that it was worth millions. That very night, Aure had a dream. In his dream, Padre Pio was looking directly at him. He had a very severe expression on his face.  You paid 25,000 lira for that painting, Padre Pio said. It is not worth millions and you know it!

When Aure woke up the next morning, he reflected on the dream. What Padre Pio had said to him in the dream was indeed true. The painting had cost him exactly 25,000 lira. After much thought, Aure decided to give the painting to Padre Pio. He traveled to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and presented it to him. Padre Pio smiled at Aure and accepted the painting. He seemed to be genuinely happy to receive the gift.

 

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Professor G. Felice Checcacci, a native of Genoa, had spent many years living in Asia. He had long abandoned his Christian faith, believing it to be a break off from several other world religions. When Felice returned to Italy, he read a book about Padre Pio which made a great impression on him. It caused him to reexamine all of his beliefs. One night he had a dream of Padre Pio. In his dream, Padre Pio spoke to him and said, Come and see me. Felice did not pay too much attention to the dream. About three months later, he had another dream. In his dream, Padre Pio said, I waited for you but you have not come.  And finally, he had a third experience in which Padre Pio said to him, If you wont come to see me, at least write to me!

The very next day, Felice wrote a letter to Padre Pio, recommending himself to his prayers. In the letter, he told Padre Pio that he was searching for peace of mind and peace of heart. In the late afternoon, just two days after sending the letter, Felice had a very strong desire to go to church. He had not done so in more than thirty years. As he sat alone in the quiet church, he was startled to hear a voice within his heart saying, Faith is not up for discussion; you either believe it or you do not believe it. You either accept it or you reject it; there is no middle ground. You must choose one way or the other. Felice was certain that it was Padre Pio who was speaking to him.

Felice knew that for a long time, he had been drawing his own conclusions about Christianity. He was using his reason and his intellect to try to understand transcendental truths. It wasnt possible. From that moment on, his life underwent a complete change. He felt a great sense of peace in his heart and he returned to the practice of his Christian faith.

 

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Aurilio Montalto of Bolzano, Italy visited San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio and to attend his Mass. He returned a number of times and felt so inspired that he decided to move there permanently with his wife and four children.  He bought a hotel close to the monastery and from the income, he was able to provide for his familys needs.

Aurilio had a brother who was a non-believer. His brother visited San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time right after Padre Pio passed away. Before the funeral, Aurilios brother had a desire to see Padre Pios body while it was lying in state. However, it was so crowded in the church that he was never able to do so.

One day Aurilio and his brother had a talk about Padre Pio. His brother explained that he had no feeling for Padre Pio. He certainly did not believe that he was a saint. All the talk about Padre Pio left him cold and completely indifferent.

Not long after, he walked over to the church of Our Lady of Grace and sat alone on one of the back benches. Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a stern voice. He turned to see who it was but there was no one there. He became frightened and immediately got up and moved to another bench the church. A second time, he heard an authoritative voice and felt someone touch his shoulder. He looked closely but there was no one there. Feeling a mounting fear, he broke out in a cold sweat. He could not understand what was happening.

The next time Aurilio saw his brother, he heard every detail of his unusual story. How does someone go about making their confession? his brother asked. Aurilio was happy to explain everything about the sacrament in great detail. How does one prepare himself to make his first Holy Communion? his brother asked. Again, Aurilio was delighted to explain it to him.

That night Aurilios brother had a dream. Padre Pio was standing beside him with a Rosary in his hand. In the dream, Padre Pio taught him how to pray. The dream marked the beginning of his conversion. Right after that, he asked to be received into the Catholic Church. From that time forward, he lived a very devout life.

 

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After Bernadette Palo had long-discarded her Catholic faith, she became interested in spiritualism and in the occult. One night she dreamed that she saw Padre Pio standing in front of a church. She told Padre Pio that something was bothering her.  Padre Pio smiled at her and said, Give it up! Give it up!  Bernadette understood that Padre Pio meant that she should give up her study of the occult.  But if I do that, how can I make progress on the spiritual path? How can I be good? Bernadette asked. God thinks you are good enough already, Padre Pio replied. After the dream, Bernadette had a desire to go to confession. She prayed for the courage to do so. She finally made her confession and returned to the sacraments after an absence of twelve years.

 

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When Nancy Sinisi developed a kidney disease, the doctor explained to the family that her condition was life-threatening. She was placed on dialysis three times a week and became a candidate for a kidney transplant. Nancys mother had recently learned about Padre Pio. She decided to write a letter to him, asking him for his prayers for her daughters recovery. The year was 1967. One day when Mrs. Sinisi was telling her family some of the details of Padre Pios life, the room became filled with a beautiful perfume.

It wasnt long before Mrs. Sinisi received a letter in reply from San Giovanni Rotondo. The letter said that Padre Pio was praying for Nancy. The letter also stated that prayer must always be made according to the will of God.

When the doctor confirmed that Nancy would definitely need a kidney transplant, Mary Ann, Nancys sister, became so concerned that she sent Padre Pio a telegram and requested his prayers. That night Mrs. Sinisi had a dream of Padre Pio. In the dream, Padre Pio said to her, It was not necessary for a telegram to be sent to me. I was already praying for Nancy! Later, Nancy received a kidney transplant. The operation went very well and the Sinisi family was confident that Padre Pio had assisted Nancy with his intercessory prayers.

 

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Michael Gervais and his parents once attended a series of inspirational talks given by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Augusta, Maine. One evening, one of the priests, Father Valliere, spoke about Padre Pio during his presentation. The Gervais family had never heard of Padre Pio. Mr. Gervais was so interested in what Father Valliere had said that he went to the Bangor public library and put in a request for several books on Padre Pio. They were evidently popular books because it took more than a month for them to arrive. The books had obviously been rebound because the covers were plain and devoid of pictures. Mr. Gervais placed them on the washing machine across from the kitchen window in his home and looked forward to reading them.

The next morning, Michaels mother told the family that she had a very unusual dream the night before. The dream made such an impact that it woke her up out of a sound sleep. She dreamed that she was awakened by a loud noise coming from the kitchen. When she went to investigate, she saw a bearded man with piercing dark eyes who was rattling the kitchen window, trying to get in the house. He looked like he was about thirty-five years old. Her husband let the man in the house. Mrs. Gervais then noticed a car parked in front of the house. As she stared at the car, some words appeared in a scroll-like manner on the side of the car. The words said, You and me and the Divinity and your children. The dream then ended.

The next evening, Mrs. Gervais finally got a chance to look at the library books that were still sitting on the washing machine near the kitchen window. Inside one of the books was a picture of Padre Pio. She recognized him instantly as the man she had seen in her dream. He appeared to be about the same age and had the same dark and piercing eyes. In the photograph, he was celebrating Mass. Underneath the picture were the words, Oh God, grant that through the mystery of this water and wine, we may be partakers of his Divinity, who had deigned to become partakers of our humanity, Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord.

 

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One of Padre Pios spiritual daughters met Padre Pio when she was just eighteen years old. She was suffering from poor health at the time. Padre Pio put his hand on her head and said to her, Do not worry about anything. His hand felt like a very heavy weight pressing on her head. She was healed at his touch. Later, when she married and had a family, there were many trials to face. She found out that her husband was unfaithful to her. To add to her heartache, one of her children became addicted to drugs. During this difficult time in her life, she had a vivid dream of Padre Pio. In her dream, she was in a country setting and in the distance she saw Padre Pio. He was running toward her.

As she pondered the meaning of the dream, she was convinced that it meant that Padre Pio knew all about her problems and was interceding for her. She recalled that the first time she made her confession to him, he told her not to worry about anything. She placed herself under Padre Pios protection and had faith that all would be well.

 

 

Grant me your grace, O most merciful Jesus that your grace may be with me, and work with me, and remain with me to the very end. Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to you. Let your will be mine. . . Grant that I may die to all things in the world, and for your sake, love to be despised and unknown in this life. Give me above all desires, the desire to rest in you and in you let my heart have peace. You are true peace of heart. You alone are its rest. Without you all things are difficult and troubled. In this peace, the selfsame that is in you, the Most High, the everlasting Good, I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.

– Thomas à Kempis

Pray, Hope and Dont Worry October-December 2012

Today we live in an activist society. We do many things, but we pray little. Padre Pios watchword was this: prayer and suffering. On these two foundations, Padre Pio built everything. And not only did he build materially, as in the Home for the Relief of Suffering, but also, he built in the souls of his followers. He truly built that which St. Augustine called the city of God.

– Piero Bargellini 

Elide Bellomo

 

Elide Bellomo was a dressmaker by trade and lived in Sestri Levante, a resort town not far from Genoa, Italy. When Elide’s aunt became terminally ill, Elide tried to show her as much love and support as she could. Elide’s aunt wanted to be well prepared spiritually when her final moment came. She had always had a fear of death. She showed Elide a holy card of Padre Pio and spoke to her often of him. “Please pray to Padre Pio so that I might have a happy death,” she would frequently say. Because her aunt spoke so much about Padre Pio, Elide decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would ask Padre Pio in person to pray for her aunt. Elide knew how pleased her aunt would be to hear of her plan.

In February 1947, Elide set out for San Giovanni Rotondo. She took a train from Sestri Levante to Foggia and did not arrive in Foggia until the following evening. When the train pulled into the station, she learned that she had just missed the last bus that was going to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would have to wait until the following day for the next bus. She was so disappointed at the news that she began to cry. Elide was exhausted from the thirty-hour journey. The train had been so crowded that she had to stand for most of the trip. In addition, not anticipating the winter weather, she had not dressed properly. She had been cold and uncomfortable since the time she had left her home.

The station master noticed Elide’s tears and asked her why she was crying. When she explained her frustrations to him, he took pity on her and led her to a small private room in the station. “You can sleep in here for the night,” the station master said. “The chair will be more comfortable to sleep in that the bench in the lobby. The stove will keep you warm. I will close the door so that no one will bother you. We will be sure to wake you up early in the morning so that you can catch the bus for San Giovanni Rotondo.”

The next morning, Elide was in better spirits. She boarded the bus and was happy to be on her way. The weather grew colder as the bus approached San Giovanni Rotondo. When the bus dropped her off, it was a two-mile walk through the snow in order to reach the monastery. Elide regretted that she had brought only a light jacket to wear. She also regretted that she was wearing sandals and had no other change of shoes.

The following day, Elide went to Padre Pio’s Mass. After Mass, she waited in line to make her confession. When she heard Padre Pio’s stern voice speaking to a penitent in the confessional, she lost her courage and decided to leave the line. Just as she was preparing to leave, the woman behind her gave her a strong push forward. Soon she was kneeling before Padre Pio. Fear clutched at her heart. Padre Pio’s voice was very gentle as he talked to her. It reminded her exactly of the way her own dear father used to talk to her when she was a little girl. As a matter of fact, Padre Pio used many of the same phrases that her father had used in days gone by.

 

 

Elide told Padre Pio that she had traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo from Sestri Levanti in order to ask for prayers for her aunt. “First make your confession, and then tell me about your aunt,” Padre Pio said. Elide started to make her confession but she could not find her words. Padre Pio helped her through the confession by asking her questions.

After the confession, Elide asked Padre Pio if he would accept her as his spiritual daughter. It was not something that she had planned to say. “Yes, I will accept you,” he answered. Then he asked Elide to tell him about her aunt. Elide told him of her aunt’s fear of death and of her desire to be well prepared when that moment came. Padre Pio listened carefully to all that Elide had to say. When she was finished talking, Padre Pio paused for a few moments of silence. “All will go well for your aunt,” Padre Pio said. He told Elide that she could be assured of his prayers.

Elide left the confessional greatly uplifted. All the inconveniences and hardships of the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo now seemed like trifles. The next day she left to go back to her home in Sestri Levante. A short time later, her aunt passed away. She had just received Holy Communion and was making her thanksgiving when she slipped peacefully into eternal life. It was truly a beautiful death. Elide knew that Padre Pio’s prayers had assisted her aunt.

Meeting Padre Pio had made a great impression on Elide and she looked forward with great anticipation to the time when she could make a return visit. Several months later she was able to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. “You are going to move here permanently,” Padre Pio said to Elide. “When the Home for the Relief of Suffering is completed, you will work there.” “Oh no,” Elide replied emphatically, “It would be impossible. I am a dressmaker by profession. I have no skills that would enable me to work in a hospital. Besides, my mother needs me. I would never be able to leave her.” Very gently Padre Pio said to her, “I will take care of your mother myself.” “But if my mother was to get sick, she would want me nearby.” “I will take care of that too,” Padre Pio replied. “You do not have to worry about anything. The hospital is now being built. You will come here and work. It is God’s will for you,” Padre Pio said firmly.

Elide knew that she would never move to San Giovanni Rotondo. It was a small backwater town that had nothing to offer her. Sestri Levante, on the other hand, where Elide made her home, was a lovely seaside resort city on the Mediterranean coast. The weather was mild and agreeable and the coastline was beautiful. Surrounded by her family and friends, Elide was very happy there. She had no intention of moving to San Giovanni Rotondo. She was convinced that only an act of God would cause her to leave her home town.

When Elide returned to Sestri Levante, she began organizing pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo. She wanted others to experience the same blessings that she had experienced while visiting Padre Pio’s monastery. Elide’s pilgrimages became very popular. She took small groups as well as large groups and had no trouble filling the seats.

On one occasion, when Elide was in San Giovanni Rotondo, she got word that her mother was ill. She returned to Sestri Levanti immediately. Fortunately, her mother’s condition had improved by the time she arrived home. Her mother had always said that she wanted Elide to be with her at the time of her death. She said to Elide, “I am at peace now. Even if I were to die soon, I feel prepared. I think Padre Pio is calling you to live near him. He needs you to help him with his work. I want you to move to San Giovanni Rotondo and assist him.” Not long after that, Elide’s mother had a beautiful dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at the foot of her bed and he gave her a blessing. She died the very next day.

Elide was deeply saddened by the loss of her mother. She returned to San Giovanni Rotondo and wept as she told Padre Pio about her mother’s death. “What am I going to do now?” Elide said to Padre Pio. “My mother, whom I loved so much, is gone. How will I continue?” “I am now your entire family – mother, father, and brother,” Padre Pio replied. “Your mother is in heaven. We must do our very best so that we too can arrive there someday. Let us concentrate on that.” His words brought her great comfort and great peace.

Elide moved to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1954. Two years later, the Home for the Relief of Suffering opened its doors. Padre Pio told Elide for the second time that she was going to work in the new hospital. “But I can’t,” Elide said. “I don’t have the experience.” Very quietly Padre Pio said to Elide, “Just do what you are told.”

The first day that Elide reported for work at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, she was greeted by a doctor and was given a white coat to put on, just like the one that he had on. The doctor gave her instructions on how to admit the patients and how to fill out the necessary forms and paperwork. Elide was able to learn the job quite easily. After about an hour of instruction, the doctor left her on her own. She found the work very enjoyable.

At the time, Elide was renting a single room, which was located very close to the hospital. A very nice little house became available for rent and Padre Pio told Elide that she should take it. Elide explained to Padre Pio that her salary at the hospital was not enough to cover the monthly rent. “Take the house,” Padre Pio said. “You will always have enough money for your needs with extra left over.” Elide rented the house. As it turned out, Padre Pio had been right. Elide was able to pay the rent each month with money left over.

Elide loved her job as admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. She was happy to be serving Padre Pio’s work. When she was asked to do the washing and ironing for the Capuchins who were in residence at Our Lady of Grace monastery, she gladly accepted the task.

One day, as Elide was doing the laundry for the Capuchins, she had the idea to keep one of Padre Pio’s undershirts. She knew that there were very strict rules in place regarding Padre Pio’s personal items. He was not allowed to give any of his possessions away. Elide knew that she could get into a lot of trouble for disobeying the rules. But the temptation to keep an article of Padre Pio’s clothing was so great that Elide gave in to her strong desire. One day, she sent the freshly laundered clothing and habits back to the monastery minus one of Padre Pio’s shirts.

The next time Elide went to confession to Padre Pio, she was very nervous. She hoped that he would not guess what she had done and at the same time she knew that it was practically impossible to keep a secret from him. In the confessional, Padre Pio’s first words to Elide were the words that she did not want to hear. “Have you stolen something that belonged to someone else?” he asked. “It is true,” Elide answered. “What is it that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “I stole a shirt,” Elide replied. “You stole a shirt? Well, who did it belong to?” Padre Pio inquired. “It belonged to you.” At that point, Elide could not contain her emotions any longer and she began to cry. “Well, did you need this shirt that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “Oh yes, I did need it. I truly needed it,” Elide answered. “Very well then,” Padre Pio said and then he changed the subject. “Now tell me what else you have been doing,” he exclaimed. He never mentioned the “stolen property” to her again. Elide was elated. She was able to keep the prized relic and all thanks were due to Padre Pio.

One morning, Elide was standing outside the church waiting for the doors to open for Mass. Two women who were standing nearby were having a lively discussion and Elide could not help but overhear what they were talking about. “I am going to send my guardian angel to Padre Pio,” one of the women said. “I will ask my angel to take a special message to him.” Elide thought that the talk about guardian angels was ridiculous. The women were obviously superstitious. When the Mass was concluded, Elide made her confession to Padre Pio. “Will you always assist me?” Elide asked him. “Yes, I will,” Padre Pio replied. “I will always be near you and I will send you my guardian angel to help you.” Elide realized that Padre Pio was trying to show her the error in her thinking. She was sorry she had judged the women in such a harsh way.

Padre Pio’s spiritual children who resided in San Giovanni Rotondo were fortunate to be able to receive Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Often before doing the simplest tasks, like going to an appointment or making a trip to town, they would ask Padre Pio for his blessing. In the late afternoons when Padre Pio took his recreation in the monastery garden, Elide would sometimes stand outside the garden wall and call to him, “Padre Pio, I am right outside the garden gate here. May I have your blessing?” Padre Pio would then open the gate, make the sign of the cross in blessing over Elide and then close the gate. Very satisfied, Elide would take her leave, usually to go back to her job at the hospital.

Receiving an individual blessing from Padre Pio was curtailed in 1960 with the visitation of Monsignor Carlo Maccari. Monsignor Maccari was sent to San Giovanni Rotondo from the Holy Office in Rome to investigate complaints that had been made against Padre Pio. There had been accusations in reference to possible financial irregularities at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. There were complaints regarding the unruly behavior in the church on the part of some of the pilgrims. There were complaints about Padre Pio himself. Numerous rumors about him had been circulating for years. Elide was working at the Home for the Relief of Suffering when Monsignor Maccari made his visitation.

Monsignor Maccari stayed at the Home for the Relief of Suffering during the time of his visit. Much to the dismay of the Capuchin superior at Our Lady of Grace monastery, he took it upon himself to intercept Padre Pio’s personal mail and read it. Even confidential letters were opened and scrutinized. It seemed as though Monsignor Maccari had brought with him certain preconceived ideas and even prejudices against Padre Pio. Before he returned to Rome, he set forth a number of directives that were to be strictly enforced. People would no longer be allowed to speak to Padre Pio as he was entering or exiting the confessional. The sacristy and the monastery garden became off limits to all members of the laity. A railing was to be built around the women’s confessional to make it more difficult for people to see and to speak to Padre Pio.

Padre Pio never contested the decisions of high church officials in reference to his ministry. He was very much aware that there was open hostility toward him. He would not speak to anyone about Monsignor Maccari’s visit and just as he had done in the past, he followed all of the directives to the letter.

Elide felt very sad about the restrictions that had been put in place as a consequence of the visit of Monsignor Maccari. Like many others, Elide depended on Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Now it seemed as though it would be practically impossible to greet Padre Pio each day and to receive his blessing. Elide came up with a solution to the problem and she spoke to Padre Pio about it. She told him that when he went to the garden in the afternoon for his recreation period, she would be standing on the other side of the wall. Of course, he would not be able to see her but she would be able to look through the keyhole of the gate and see him. “I would like you to pause as you pass by the garden gate and give me a blessing,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I will be waiting there.” Padre Pio was happy to agree to Elide’s request. Elide continued to receive his daily blessing, “through the garden wall” and Padre Pio did not break a single rule in doing so.

On January 30, 1964, Pope Paul VI announced that Padre Pio was restored to full freedom in his priestly ministry. Like many times in the past, it had been a waiting game. The accusations and complaints against him were eventually all shown to be false.

Padre Pio continued to direct his spiritual children step by step on the path toward holiness. Once, Elide’s brother surprised her by giving her a television set as a gift. She was delighted to receive it. When she told Padre Pio the good news about her new gift, he was not at all pleased. “I am sorry that you have invited the devil into your home!” Padre Pio said adamantly. Elide was shocked at his words. However, she could see that he meant what he said. Elide got the message loud and clear and decided to return the television to her brother.

Elide became very proficient as the hospital receptionist and admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One day without warning, Padre Pio told her that her job was going to be changed. She would become the hospital’s switchboard operator. The hospital had grown and expanded so much that a central switchboard had to be installed. Elide panicked at the thought of being in charge of a busy switchboard. “But I can’t do that,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I have no experience. I don’t think I would be up to the task. I am afraid that it would be too difficult.” “I want you to do what I am asking of you,” Padre Pio said. Elide complied with Padre Pio’s wishes and a technician trained her in the work. The ease with which she learned the job convinced her that Padre Pio was assisting her.

After Padre Pio’s death in 1968, Elide continued to live on in the little house in San Giovanni Rotondo, the one that Padre Pio had urged her to rent. The house had a lovely garden in the back which she enjoyed very much. She was very contented there. She eventually retired from her job at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Padre Pio had assured Elide that her needs would always be supplied. Time proved the truth of his words. Elide never lacked for anything. She felt blessed that she was able to give the extra money that she had at the end of each month to those who were less fortunate. She truly believed that Padre Pio was watching over her from heaven.

 

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A Testimony

I visited San Giovanni Rotodo on January 20, 1960. It was a Sunday and I was spurred on by the usual irresistible desire to be near Padre Pio again for a few days. In the sacristy of the new church, I noticed for the first time, posters everywhere, asking for blood donors for the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Those who were sick in Padre Pios hospital were in need of blood transfusions.

My desire to donate blood was so great that my first impulse was to go to the Home for the Relief of Suffering at once. But then I remembered how I had recently had an operation for a perforated ulcer and had nearly died. I also had very low blood pressure as well as pain in my gall bladder. I decided to talk it over with Padre Pio.

That morning and I told Padre Pio that I wanted to be a blood donor for his hospital. He searched me with his penetrating eyes and then kindly with that strong voice of his, and almost a demanding tone, said to me, Well, what are you waiting for?

At the hospital, the doctor examined me and asked a number of questions. When he measured my blood pressure and saw how low it was, he explained that I would not be able to be a donor. Doctor, I said to him, I asked Padre Pio about it a few moments ago and he sent me over here. I had great belief in Padre Pio and the doctor did as well. He allowed me to give my blood.

As I continued to donate my blood to the Home for the Relief of Suffering, my blood pressure improved and the pain in my gall bladder began to disappear. In other words, the more blood I gave, the better my health became. I was able to make fifty-two blood donations for the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

– Donato di Ge

 

 

“It is in time that I am able to do good to my neighbor, that I am able to love and help him… It is only along the path of my passing days that I am able to meet the suffering soul and to give a word of comfort and hope. Time is valuable, because it offers me the possibility to do good. Certainly upright Christian sentiment, knowledge, love and praise of God will continue in eternity, but they will be proportional to our knowledge, love and praise in time… Time is valuable because it offers me the possibility to prepare myself for eternity.”
 Father Gerardo di Flumeri

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 52 – July-September 2012

I attended Padre Pio’s Mass shortly after my ordination to the priesthood. It was a great school. It was of more benefit to me than all that I had studied in my years of theology. – Father Luigi Pasani

Father William Lauriola

From the editors: We visited Father William Lauriola at the rectory office of his parish, the Immaculate Conception chapel in San Francisco, CA. His testimony follows:

Father William (Guglielmo) Lauriola grew up in the small town of Monte Sant’ Angelo, just 16 miles east of San Giovanni Rotondo. His parents owned a store which sold agricultural supplies and many other items. From time to time, one of the Brothers from Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo would visit their store, asking for a donation for the needs of the Capuchin community. William’s parents were happy to help and they always asked for news about Padre Pio. As a young boy, William felt a great admiration for the Capuchin who visited their store. William decided that when he came of age, he too would like to enter a Religious Order so that he could dedicate his life to the Lord.

The citizens of Monte Sant’ Angelo were aware that Padre Pio often sent people to their town, advising them to pray at the holy sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel. They felt a sense of pride, knowing that Padre Pio held their town in the highest esteem. The angelic world was very real to Padre Pio, very present. His strong faith in angels was backed up by personal experience. He had been able to see and converse with his guardian angel since childhood. He always encouraged people to cultivate a devotion to the celestial beings, the angels.

When William was a child, his parents used to take him by bus to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Young William became so comfortable with Padre Pio that he would walk right up to him while he was hearing confessions and pull the white cord on his habit to let him know that he was waiting to greet him.

After William graduated from high school, he sought admittance to the Friars Minor branch of the Franciscan Order and was accepted. Through the long years of study at the monastery of St. Matthew in San Marco in Lamis, he continued to make trips to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to see Padre Pio.

William noticed that on Fridays, Padre Pio’s wounds were more painful than on any other day. A number of the people who attended his Mass felt such sympathy for him that they could not contain their tears. Many were elderly and walked to the church of Our Lady of Grace every day from their homes in San Marco in Lamis. It took two and a half hours to make the trip. They attended his Mass year round and experienced the intense heat, rain, wind, heavy fog, snow, and ice of the various seasons. On the long walk back home to San Marco in Lamis, they would talk about all that had transpired that morning at the Mass. “Did you notice how devoutly Padre Pio said the prayers for the living and the deceased today?” “Did you see the way he stared intently at the tabernacle?” “Did you hear how solemn his voice sounded as he repeated the sacred invocations?” “Did you notice how long Padre Pio held the host in his hands?”

Once, William invited two fellow seminarians to go with him to visit Padre Pio and they were happy to accept his invitation. William was worried about his two companions because they were both wavering in their vocation. He felt that the contact with Padre Pio might encourage them to persevere in their priestly studies. William knew that Padre Pio had the ability to help people on a deep spiritual level. One recalls the words of Charles Mandina of Los Angeles, who assisted Padre Pio as his language translator. Charles said, “Curiosity might initially bring people to Padre Pio, but once you had seen him, you couldn’t explain it, but you were changed.”

It was a cold winter day when William and his two companions met with Padre Pio in the monastery garden. Padre Pio motioned to the three young men to sit down on a nearby stone bench. No sooner had they sat down than they all jumped up in unison. Padre Pio was surprised. “But why did you all jump up so quickly?” Padre Pio asked. They explained that the bench was just too cold to sit on. Padre Pio then went into the monastery to get them some refreshments and soon came out with a basket of walnuts and some water. As it turned out, the two seminarians persevered in their priestly studies and were both ordained.

Father William was ordained to the priesthood at the Franciscan monastery in Biccari, Italy in 1953. He continued to visit Padre Pio whenever he could. He was invited to have lunch at Our Lady of Grace monastery on a number of occasions. Pasta and vegetable soup was often the main meal of the day. Father William noticed that Padre Pio was the only Capuchin that never appeared to be hungry when the food was served.

Father William was present once in the dining room when Padre Pio attempted to cut a large block of cheese with a very dull knife. He struggled with the task for a long time and could not seem to make any headway. Father William had the distinct impression that Padre Pio was simply trying to stall for time so that he would not have to eat his meal. To Padre Pio’s friends, his avoidance of food was always a mystery.

Padre Pio’s life, in many ways, would always have elements of mystery. Once, in the sacristy of the church, Padre Pio was greeted by one of his spiritual sons, Dr. Pietro Melillo. When Padre Pio left the sacristy to go back to his cell, Pietro offered his arm in support, and walked with him down the hall. When they got to the door that led to the monks’ cells, they found that it was locked. “Did you bring a key for the door?” Padre Pio asked. Pietro replied that he did not have a key with him. Padre Pio then pressed his index finger against the door, and it opened instantly. At the time, it did not occur to Pietro that anything unusual had happened. However, a short time later, as he reflected on the events of the day, he realized with amazement, that Padre Pio had accomplished the impossible. He had opened a locked door with the simple touch of his finger.

Father William remembers the first time the statue of Our Lady of Fatima came to San Giovanni Rotondo. The statue arrived in the back of a pick-up truck that was beautifully decorated with myriads of colorful flowers. Father William happened to be in San Giovanni Rotondo when the statue was leaving for its next destination, Monte Sant’ Angelo. Padre Pio’s eyes filled with tears as he bid his Heavenly Mother goodbye. Many years later, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima would arrive by helicopter and be greeted by even larger crowds throughout Italy.

Padre Pio continually spoke of the graces that were freely given by the Virgin Mary. When six-year-old Lucietta Pennelli of San Giovanni Rotondo contracted meningitis, her life was hanging in the balance. When she slipped into a coma, the doctor knew that her end was near. He told the family that there was nothing more that could be done to help her. Padre Pio’s prayers were sought and soon the little girl regained consciousness and made a complete recovery. When Lucietta’s father, Alfonso, went to the monastery to express his gratitude, Padre Pio took him up to the choir loft and pointed to the painting of Our Lady of Grace. “Do not thank me. Thank the Virgin Mary,” he said to Alfonso. Later, when Lucietta came to visit Padre Pio, he said to her, “Do you know why you are alive, Lucietta? It is because the “reaper,” by that I mean death, did not make it in time. Our Blessed Mother arrived before he did.”

As the years passed, Padre Pio’s spiritual family grew steadily in number. He was known to many as Padre Spiritual. People could feel his tender love and concern for their welfare. Indeed, at times, some of his spiritual children called him “Mama.” To one of his spiritual daughters who had lost her parents through death, he said, “You must always remember that I am now your father and your mother. I am your whole family.”

Father William recalled that Padre Pio often communicated more with gestures than words. Sometimes when he was alone with Padre Pio in the sacristy, Padre Pio would place both of his hands on William’s shoulders or on his head and pray for him. On other occasions, he would hold his hand and say a few simple words to him like, “be good.” Padre Pio had a penetrating gaze and William often had the impression that he knew exactly what was in his mind and heart. There were many others who also experienced Padre Pio’s gift of “reading hearts.”

On one occasion, Padre Pio leaned momentarily out of the confessional and spoke to a woman who was standing nearby. “You must go outside at once!” he said. The woman obeyed him immediately. It happened to be snowing heavily on that particular day. In the distance, she heard someone crying for help. It was a poor woman who was struggling up the hill toward the church and was in great need of assistance. She quickly rushed to help the poor woman.

As time passed, people descended on the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo in record numbers. Because of the crowds, the church was often filled with noise and confusion. Capuchin Father Innocenzo of Campobasso would frequently become upset about the noise. On more than one occasion, he shouted out to the congregation: “People of little faith! People of little faith!” He complained to Padre Pio about the problem. “It is true what you say,” Padre Pio replied. “Some of the people who come here do not have faith, yet nevertheless they receive blessings.” Margherita Cassano, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, once voiced her objection, “Why do so many curiosity seekers come here? They do not pray. They do not even believe!” Padre Pio said to her, “It is enough that they climb this mountain.”

On one occasion, Father William invited his niece, Immaculata (Ima), to take a trip with him to Pietrelcina, the town where Padre Pio was born and raised. In Pietrelcina, one could see many important landmarks of Padre Pio’s early life including the parish church of St. Anne’s where he was baptized, the small stone house at 32 Vico Storte Valle Street where he lived with his parents and four siblings, and La Torretta (the little tower), the small and secluded dwelling where he studied and prayed during his prolonged illnesses.

Ima accepted her uncle’s invitation to visit Pietrelcina but she was somewhat aloof and distant regarding Padre Pio. Father William tried to reason with her. “Ima,” he said, “Padre Pio is truly the saint of our times. Do not doubt it.” As he spoke the words, the air suddenly became filled with a beautiful perfume. Ima was so struck by the experience that her attitude changed completely and she became very devoted to Padre Pio. Ima, who was a physician, began to pray to Padre Pio regularly for his intercession regarding the patients who were under her care at the hospital.

Through the years, Father William has felt privileged to meet many people, both clergy and laity, who have inspired him by their great fidelity to God. One such person was his friend and fellow priest, Father Peter. Father Peter had to walk many miles to Father William’s parish in order to make his confession and he did so regularly. He continued to do so well past his 90th birthday.

Once after hearing Father Peter’s confession, Father William said to him, “I want you to let me drive you home in the jeep today. It is such a long distance for you to walk. I know you may not like the idea but I insist on doing so.” “But Father,” Father Peter protested, “I do not mind the walk. Besides, penance is so good for us. It is so necessary for our souls!” One is also reminded that Padre Pio continually stressed the value of self-denial and penance. “Remember, we did not come into this world for a holiday,” Padre Pio said.

Once, when Father William drove to Father Peter’s parish in order to pay him a visit, he was surprised to find that the doors to the church were wide open. The lights were on and the altar candles were lit. Everything was ready for the Mass to begin. However, Father Peter was nowhere to be found. As it turned out, Father Peter had felt ill on that particular day and realized that he would not be able to celebrate Mass. After making all the necessary preparations, he sat down in a chair and gently gave his soul back to God.

When Father William learned that he was going to be sent to serve in the missions in Korea, he looked forward to the new assignment with great anticipation. Before he left Italy, Padre Pio gave him some words of advice. “If you are able to accomplish any good works in Korea, always remember to give the credit to God,” Padre Pio said. “It is the grace of God that brings success to all of our efforts. Never attribute anything to yourself.” The missionary vocation had always been close to Padre Pio’s heart. As a young priest, he had volunteered to serve in the foreign missions but his request was denied. His health was considered to be too fragile to stand up to the demands of missionary life.

In Korea, Father William and three other Franciscans from his religious community founded the Sacred Heart Leper Colony. In time, it became home to 400 lepers. When Father William looked around at all the good that was being accomplished at the leper colony, he would sometimes find himself becoming filled with pride. Then he would remember Padre Pio’s words of wisdom: “Be sure to give all the credit to God. Do not attribute anything to yourself.”

Father William was inspired by the strong faith of the lepers at the Sacred Heart leper colony. One of the teenage girls who was afflicted by the disease said to him, “I know that my face and body are disfigured by this illness, but it is a comfort to know that when I am in heaven, my body will no longer show the ravages of leprosy. I will be in the presence of God where everything will reflect his light and his glory.” One is reminded of Padre Pio’s words, “Jesus does not ask you to carry the heavy cross with him, only a small piece of his cross, a piece that consists in human suffering.”

Father William was studying for a doctorate degree in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome when he got word that Padre Pio was very ill. The year was 1968. At the time, Father William was preparing for an important examination at the University. He told his professor that he had to leave at once for San Giovanni Rotondo. He explained that Padre Pio’s condition was grave, and he felt an urgency to visit him. He was aware that missing the test could set him back six months or more in completing his course of studies, but it could not be helped. He needed to be with his spiritual father.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque said, “We must make our life a continual preparation for the moment of our death and do all the good we can while there is still time.” Padre Pio had prayed often to St. Joseph for the grace of a happy death. He died peacefully and very well prepared in the early morning hours on September 23, 1968. In the church of Our Lady of Grace, Father William stood beside his coffin and gazed for the last time at his beloved friend. He was present at Padre Pio’s funeral, by far the largest in San Giovanni Rotondo’s history. It was estimated that 150,000 people attended the solemn funeral Mass.

Today, 2012, Father William is pastor emeritus at the Immaculate Conception chapel in San Francisco, where he has served for the last 43 years. At eighty-five years of age, he remains remarkably active. His ministry includes pastoral counseling, baptisms, weddings, Rosary vigils, funerals, house blessings, visits to the sick of his parish, and much more. He has two secretaries who assist him and he rarely takes a day off. He is the spiritual director for the Our Lady of Fatima devotions, the Padre Pio prayer group, the Divine Mercy prayer group and the Holy Family prayer group. After Mass on the first Sunday of each month, Father William leads special prayers for the God the Father prayer community. On the second Sunday, prayers are said with the St. Peregrine prayer community, and on the third Sunday, prayers are said with the Rosa Mystica prayer community. Father William still loves to teach Scripture and Catechism and for many years he has served as one of the exorcists for the archdiocese of San Francisco.

It was a blessing for us to meet Father William Lauriola and to visit his beautiful Immaculate Conception chapel. We were inspired by his kindness and his deep humility. Truly, we were blessed to meet him.

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 “It’s true Lord that you are always thinking of us. From the beginning of time, before we existed, even before the world existed, you have been dreaming of me, thinking of me, loving me. And it is true that your love created me. It’s true Lord, that you have conceived for my life a unique destiny. It’s true that you have an eternal plan for me, a wonderful plan that you have always cherished in your heart, as a father thinks over the smallest of the life of his little one, still unborn. It’s true that, always bending over me, you guide me to bring your plan about, light on my path and strength for my soul. . .You the divine Attentive One, you, the divine Patient One, you the divine Present One, see that at no time I forget your presence. I don’t ask you to bless what I myself have decided to do, but give me the grace to discover and to live what you have dreamed for me.”
– Father Michel Quoist

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While making a retreat at St. Joseph’s abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, we met Father Peter Pagano and Father James Mortimer. They were both visiting the abbey at the time of our retreat. Their testimonies follow:

Fr. James Mortimer:

“In 1958 I was able to make a trip to Rome to visit the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII. Three other priests from my diocese in Philadelphia accompanied me on the trip. We felt very blessed because, along with about fifteen other people, we were able to have a private audience with the Holy Father.

I felt a great sense of the Holy Spirit when we were in the presence of Pope Pius XII. He had such a profound and tangible spirituality. The priests who were with me, said that they felt the same way. We were convinced that we were truly in the presence of a saint. I brought him a gift, a zucchetta, which is the small hat the pope traditionally wears. I was delighted that he gave me his own zucchetta when I presented him with the gift. I treasured it as a relic.

After that, we went to Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. I did not know quite what to expect because at that time, I did not know that much about Padre Pio. I will say that if there were any doubts in my mind about Padre Pio, those doubts disappeared when I attended his Mass.

The church was very crowded that day. When Padre Pio came in to the church, a hush fell over the congregation. It was so quiet during Mass that you could have heard a pin drop. His Mass was awe-inspiring. I was very close to the altar and I could see the blood from the wounds in his hands. It was glistening.

After the Mass, I, along with the three priests I was with, had the privilege to each receive an individual blessing from Padre Pio. I was the first to receive the blessing. He put his hand on my head and prayed for me. I will say that I felt that I did not want to wash my hair, feeling that the blood from his wounded hand had touched it.”
– Father James Mortimer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Father Peter Pagano:

“I was ordained to the priesthood in 1952 in the diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. When I learned about Padre Pio and that he had the wounds of Christ, I was very moved. Each morning at Lauds, as I recited my morning prayers on my knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I offered my prayers for Padre Pio. I prayed that God would help him in his sufferings. I visited San Giovanni Rotondo in 1958 and I was able to make my confession to Padre Pio. He told me that he accepted me as his spiritual child and he called me, “child of my heart.”

I have always had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, our Mother and our Queen. I got in the habit of pinning a Miraculous Medal to my shirt. When people looked at me or spoke to me, they couldn’t miss the medal on my shirt. I asked Padre Pio to pray for my special intention, which was to spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He answered me and said, “Tutto cuore” (With all my heart).

In 1963, I went to visit Padre Pio once again, this time with Joe Peterson. Joe was a postman who worked in the Bronx in New York. He made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo every year on his vacation in order to see Padre Pio. Joe eventually moved to Cromwell, Connecticut where he had an apartment at the Holy Apostles Seminary. He often gave lectures on Padre Pio which were very well received.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, I told Padre Pio that I wanted to commission an artist to paint a picture of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Queen of the Universe for me. He recommended a woman named Olga who was actually a sculptor. When the painting was done, I asked Padre Pio to bless it and he was happy to do so. He liked the painting so much that he kidded with me and said, “If I was not a priest, I would take that painting from you and keep it for myself.”

Later, a person came up to me and told me that Padre Pio had pointed me out to several people and said, “I heard the confession of a good American priest today.” My devotion to Padre Pio has remained constant for these many years. I was able to order a life size bronze statue of Padre Pio from Rome which I placed in front of my house. This year, 2011, I turned 93 years old. I truly feel that Padre Pio has been with me for all these years.”

– Father Peter Pagano, North Adams, Massachusetts

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 51 – April-June 2012

Clarice Bruno

Clarice Bruno, was born in Chicago, Illinois into a devout Italian Catholic family. She attended Catholic schools throughout her youth and graduated from the fine Catholic institution, Rosemont College, in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Clarice, for the most part, took her Catholic faith for granted. She doubted many of the teachings of the Church. There was an indifference, an apathy in her heart regarding matters of religion. Although she attended Mass on Sundays, she did not consider herself to be a good Catholic.

Clarice made preparations for a trip to Chiavari, Italy in order to visit her friends and relatives. It was supposed to be a brief visit but it stretched out to be much longer. She enjoyed her trip to Chiavari so much that she decided to move there permanently.

After moving to Chiavari, Clarice felt a new lease on life. She enjoyed being reunited with her relatives and was happy to be making new friends. One night she had a vivid dream. In her dream, she was on her way to the church of Our Lady of Grace in Chiavari when the road suddenly became covered with large rocks. She tried to climb over them, but it proved to be impossible. Suddenly a large hand came from behind the rocks and helped her. At once, she found herself standing in front of the church. The large obstacle had been surmounted.

In front of the church, Clarice saw a Calvary composed of three wooden crosses. She was never able to lift her eyes from the base of the crosses because of the scene just beyond on the horizon. There, she saw a sea that was shimmering with an unearthly beauty. Sunlight danced upon the water and sparkled like diamonds. Clarice could not take her eyes from the beatific scene. Her heart felt an intense joy. When she woke up, she pondered the meaning of the dream. The beauty of the dream was beyond anything in her experience. She wondered if it could be a sign of something important that was soon to come into her life. She did not know.

At that time, Clarice was struggling with a heavy cross, a sorrow in her life. Her cross was waiting for her when she awoke in the morning and stayed with her until she fell asleep at night. She became very discouraged. Finally, she confided some of her anguish to a kind woman she had met a short time before. The woman advised her to seek the intercession of Padre Pio. She shared some of the facts surrounding Padre Pio’s life with Clarice.

Clarice felt skeptical about the woman’s words regarding Padre Pio. However, when the woman told her of some of the graces she had received through the intercession of Padre Pio, Clarice became more interested. “I think you should write a letter to Padre Pio,” the woman said. “In the letter, you can explain all that is troubling you. You can ask Padre Pio to pray for you.” Clarice became convinced that it was a good idea and quickly penned a letter and sent it. Clarice assumed that Padre Pio would soon write back to her. She imagined that it would be a long letter filled with spiritual insights and wise counsel. What she did not know was that all of Padre Pio’s correspondence was handled by his secretaries.

One night as Clarice was getting ready for bed, she noticed a very strong scent of roses in her room. She could find no explanation for the beautiful fragrance. She knew that there were no flowers in the house. There were certainly no flowers in her bedroom. She looked under her bed just to make sure that no one had hidden roses there, but just as she had suspected, she found nothing.

The next morning, Clarice greeted her uncle, her father, and several other friends who were sitting around the dining table downstairs. Clarice’s uncle, who lived at the house with her and her family, told her that he had a very strange experience the night before. As he was getting ready for bed, his room became filled with the fragrance of sweet-smelling flowers. It was a fresh and delightful fragrance and it lingered in the room for a long time. The fragrance of gardenias, then carnations, and finally violets followed. It happened between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. He thought that it might be a premonition of the death of a friend or relative. Clarice told her uncle that she too had the same experience the night before, when the beautiful scent of roses filled her room at about 12:30 a.m.

The next time Clarice saw the woman who had shared the story of Padre Pio’s life with her, she told her what she and her uncle had experienced in their home. The woman then explained to Clarice that Padre Pio often let people know that he was interceding for them by allowing them to experience a wonderful fragrance. Clarice had never heard of such a gift. She thought about the letter that she had written to Padre Pio. She had sent it to him just three days before. She was convinced that he had received her letter and was letting her know by the scent of roses that his spirit was with her. Clarice felt a great hope rise up in her heart. She had faith that Padre Pio was going to help her in her difficulties.

Clarice wrote a second letter to Padre Pio. She thanked him for the fragrance of roses that she had experienced. She included a donation in the letter. She told him that she had faith in him and that she was waiting for a reply. A few days after she wrote the second letter, she noticed the fragrance of lilies all around her. The wonderful fragrance came suddenly and with great intensity and then vanished just as suddenly as it had come.

Clarice decided to write a third letter to Padre Pio. Again she thanked him for the fragrances of roses and lilies. She wrote that she was waiting to hear his words of wisdom and again she enclosed a donation in the letter. After she sent the letter, the delightful perfumes ceased altogether. There were no more tangible signs of Padre Pio’s nearness.

Every day, Clarice went to the post office to see if a letter from Padre Pio was waiting for her, but no letter ever came. She often thought about her dream and the hand that lifted her over the barrier of rocks and placed her right at the entrance to Our Lady of Grace church. There was a barrier in her own life, a cross that she carried daily. More than anything else, she wanted to be freed from it. She clung to the hope that Padre Pio would be able to help her.

One night, Clarice’s darkened bedroom became illuminated with a soft light, similar to moonlight. As unbelievable as it was, she saw Padre Pio standing at the foot of her bed. He was wearing a brown Capuchin robe. Around his waist was his Capuchin cord and he rested one of his hands on it. He was wearing gloves that only covered part of his hands. There was fear in Clarice’s heart and at the same time there was no fear. Padre Pio said three words to her but she did not understand the meaning of the words. She tried to turn on the light next to her bed, but for some reason the light would not turn on.

A second time, Padre Pio repeated the three words, the words that she did not understand. Again she pushed the switch to turn on the light, but it would not turn on. For a third time, Padre Pio said the mysterious words. Then he vanished. The soft glow that reminded her of moonlight vanished right along with him. Clarice touched the light switch and this time it turned on easily. Just as the light came on, she saw her bedroom door swing open as if somebody was leaving the room.

Seeing Padre Pio at her bedside was something that Clarice would never have believed possible. She had waited a long time for a letter from him but she had never received one. She was not concerned about that anymore. She had received something much greater than a letter. Padre Pio had come to her in person. Clarice was certain now that Padre Pio was aware of her needs and that he would lead her on the right path.

Several months later, Clarice traveled to Rome to visit her good friend, Margherita Hamilton. Clarice shared with Margherita what she had recently learned about Padre Pio. Margherita told Clarice that she ought to consider visiting Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. After discussing all the particulars, they decided to make the trip together. From Rome, they boarded a train to Foggia and then took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo.

When Clarice and Margherita arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, they felt as though they had stepped back in time. San Giovanni Rotondo in the post World War II years was a primitive village. Both men and women rode mules and horse-drawn carts through the town. Electricity and running water seemed to be in short supply and in some parts of the town, nonexistent. The local women carried urns as they walked through the main street of town to the public well. Clarice described San Giovanni Rotondo as a “semi-wilderness.”

There were two hotels in the little town and neither were in good condition. Clarice and Margherita felt fortunate to find lodging in the cleaner of the two. In order to get to Padre Pio’s early morning Mass, they had to get up in the middle of the night and walk two miles in the darkness. There was not a single light on the road to guide them to the church.

During their first full day in San Giovanni Rotondo, Clarice and Margherita met Mary Pyle. Mary lived in a spacious house that was situated very close to the monastery. Nestled in an almond grove, Mary’s pink house was a haven for countless pilgrims who came to see Padre Pio. Clarice and Margherita felt fortunate to be able to rent two rooms in Mary’s home for the duration of their visit.

Mary Pyle was well aware that there was a shortage of accommodations in San Giovanni Rotondo and she did what she could to help the situation. She put three cots in the basement of her home in order to offer hospitality to the pilgrims who needed lodging. To provide for more people, Mary added another story to her house.

Although Clarice was very grateful for the hospitality, the room that Mary Pyle offered to her left much to be desired. The room was damp and cold and Clarice could find no way to take the chill off. There was a wood-burning stove in the corner of the room but unfortunately it was broken. The night stand consisted of a piece of wood on top of a stack of bricks. Clarice’s bed was very short and very narrow. The mattress was stuffed with dried leaves and corn husks. It was very uncomfortable to say the least. Nevertheless, she preferred the room she had been given to the room in the basement.

One had to admire Mary for her true Franciscan spirit and her detachment from worldly comforts and possessions. Her own bed was even more uncomfortable than the one given to Clarice. It was more like a wooden chest than a bed. No one could understand how Mary was able to sleep on such a hard bed. People often teased her about her bed but she could never be persuaded to exchange it for a more comfortable one.

Mary, who was born into a wealthy family in New York City, visited Padre Pio’s monastery for the first time in 1923. She was so impressed by attending his Mass and receiving his priestly blessing that she decided to move to San Giovanni Rotondo permanently. Mary had truly left her wealthy New York City lifestyle far behind her.

Mary was in the process of moving to a very small and modest room near the basement of her house when Clarice and Margherita made her acquaintance. The bedroom that Mary had been occupying was large and comfortable and included a sunny balcony. She decided to move to the lower floor of the house in order to offer her warm and pleasant room to the pilgrims.

During their visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, Clarice and Margherita were impressed by Mary’s many works of charity. A number of the people in the town were illiterate. They often knocked on Mary’s door, asking her to write letters for them. They would dictate the letters to Mary as she wrote. She was always very glad to be of assistance.

Mary, along with some of her companions, baked the hosts that were used for Holy Communion at the monastery and sewed the priestly vestments of the Capuchins. Her workload was always heavy and she hardly had a moment to spare. Padre Pio was very much aware of Mary’s generous heart. He often sent people to her house who had needs of one kind or another, knowing that Mary would help them to the best of her ability.

The children in San Giovanni Rotondo loved to visit Mary in her home. She often played games with them and made sure to keep little prizes on hand for such occasions. One favorite game was “Lotto.” Mary always included a Catechism lesson whenever the local children visited her. Due to Mary’s continual and dedicated efforts, the children in the area possessed an impressive understanding of their Catholic faith. When the local children were ready to make their first Holy Communion, Mary purchased suits for the boys and white dresses for the girls if their parents could not afford to do so.

Clarice felt very fortunate to be able to spend time with Mary Pyle as well as other devout souls who served Padre Pio’s work. Since the time she had arrived, Clarice had been looking forward to going to confession to Padre Pio. Finally, her opportunity came. When Clarice walked into the confessional and knelt down, she was struck by the fact that Padre Pio’s hand was resting on the cord of his Capuchin habit. She remembered that his hand was in the exact same position when he visited her in bilocation at her home in Chiavari. Clarice was also struck by Padre Pio’s eyes. They seemed to look right inside her soul. There was also a severity in his gaze.

In the confessional, Padre Pio told Clarice that he would do all the talking. He then began to name her sins one by one, and each time he did so, she confirmed that what he said was true. He counseled her regarding the burden that she had been carrying in her heart for such a long time. He told her that she was enduring a “true calvary.” “Even if you are not able to feel joy in carrying your cross, at least try to practice resignation and patience,” he said to her.

The confession to Padre Pio was over in less than three minutes. Clarice felt a great sense of peace in her heart. There had been no need for her to explain anything to Padre Pio. It was obvious that he was aware of everything in her life. In a few short words, he was able to counsel her and give her new hope.

Because it was so chilly in Mary Pyle’s home, Clarice used to walk briskly up and down the road that fronted her house, in an effort to warm up. One day, as Clarice walked past the church of Our Lady of Grace, she looked inside and noticed that several of the local women were cleaning it. She learned that they followed a regular weekly cleaning schedule. Clarice began to join the women in their work and counted it a great privilege.

The monastery church of Our Lady of Grace had a Franciscan simplicity and beauty that were uplifting to the spirit. Beautiful statues had been placed in the niches and alcoves. A lovely painting of Our Lady of Grace had a permanent place in the sanctuary. Over the altar railing was an arch on which delicate roses and lilies had been painted. It reminded Clarice of her experience in Chiavari when the beautiful fragrance of roses and lilies filled her room.

In the afternoons, the Capuchin priests and brothers would gather in the choir loft of the church for the recitation of their community prayers. At those times, Clarice and the other women who cleaned the church, observed a strict silence, taking care not to disturb the Capuchins in any way. Clarice was able to distinguish Padre Pio’s voice from the others during the time of vocal prayers. He never hurried through his prayers but pronounced each word slowly and with great deliberation. Clarice always noticed a sadness in Padre Pio’s voice as he prayed with his fellow Capuchins.

Clarice and Margherita were able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass each morning and they counted it a great and inestimable gift. At the time of Holy Communion, the people in the congregation walked up to the top of the stairs in the sanctuary. There they knelt before Padre Pio to receive Holy Communion. This saved him from having to walk down to the altar rail to distribute Holy Communion. The painful wounds of the stigmata that pierced his feet, made it very difficult for him to walk.

After Padre Pio’s early morning Mass, confessions were heard in the church until 10:00 a.m. When the confessions were over, all activity in the church stopped and did not resume again until the following morning. Each day during their visit, Clarice and Margherita had ample time to explore the town. On occasion, they would walk to the cemetery where Padre Pio’s parents were buried and pray at their graveside.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Clarice and Margherita made the acquaintance of a kind man named Mario who, along with his wife, owned a restaurant in town. The restaurant had a dirt floor, and oddly enough, there was a well right inside the restaurant. The restaurant looked more like a small cabin than an eating establishment. During the cold weather, the wind would whistle through the cracks in the walls. It was a primitive place, to be sure.

Mario’s wife had a great devotion to Padre Pio. On one occasion, when she made her confession to Padre Pio, she told him that she was concerned about her four-year-old son. “I feel worried,” she said to Padre Pio. “I have to work in the restaurant all the time with Mario, and I am not able to give my son the time or the attention that he needs.” Padre Pio told her not to worry. He told her that he would always watch over her son and that he would protect him from harm. The woman left the confessional greatly consoled.

A few days later, the woman heard the sound of screaming coming from the street. When she rushed out of the restaurant to find out what had happened, she saw her son being pulled out from underneath a large truck. The next time she went to confession to Padre Pio, she told him about the frightening incident. “My son was almost killed by a large truck,” the woman said. “Well, did he get hurt?” Padre Pio asked. “No, he did not,” the woman answered. “Did he get even a scratch?” Padre Pio asked. “No, not even that,” the woman replied. “That’s right,” Padre Pio said. “I told you that I would protect him.”

The days that Clarice and Margherita spent in San Giovanni Rotondo passed quickly. When it was time for them to return to their homes, they knew they had been truly blessed, far beyond their expectations. They made many subsequent trips to San Giovanni Rotondo through the years.

ne summer when Clarice was visiting the monastery, she became very ill with a painful intestinal problem. None of the remedies she tried proved to be of any help. She then remembered the blessed water of Padre Pio. There was a well in the courtyard of the monastery and both the well and the water in it had been blessed by Padre Pio. Many of the residents of the town had great faith in its healing powers and took the water home in bottles. Clarice drank some of the blessed water and was immediately healed of her intestinal problem.

Clarice often invited her friends and relatives to join her on her trips to San Giovanni Rotondo. She began organizing pilgrimages as well. She was instrumental in starting a number of Padre Pio prayer groups in her area and she remained dedicated to promoting Padre Pio for the rest of her life. “Try to remain under God’s gaze and God will always bear you witness,” Padre Pio said to her on one occasion.

When Clarice was diagnosed with an incurable illness, her faith remained strong. She hoped that she would recover but she was completely resigned to the will of God. She said that Divine Providence had always arranged the events in her life for her good. “If it happens that I should die soon, I know that this would be the best possible thing for me,” she said to her dear friend Margherita Hamilton. Clarice Bruno died peacefully on August 5, 1970.

 

I urge you to unite with me and draw near to Jesus with me, to receive his embrace and a kiss that sanctifies and saves us . . . Let us not cease then, to kiss this divine Son in this way, for if these are the kisses we give him now, he himself will come to take us in his arms and give us the kiss of peace in the last sacraments at the hour of death.
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 50 – January-March 2012

Diana Graves was an actress by profession who lived and worked in London, England. She suffered from emphysema and bronchiectasis. Both diseases were progressive and incurable, and as time passed, Diana was spending more and more time in the hospital, being treated for her chronic condition. When her health took a turn for the worse, her doctors strongly advised her to move to a milder climate. The damp and cold of London weakened her lungs and aggravated her breathing problems. For the sake of her health, she needed to relocate to a place that had a warm and dry climate.

Diana, who was thirty-five years old, decided to move to Rome where the climate would be more conducive to her health. Diana’s cousin, Jenny, lived in Rome, which was an added bonus. Rome also had the Cinecittà, a large film studio that hosted international movie productions as well as television productions. It was considered to be the hub of Italian cinema. With all of her acting experience, Diana hoped to be able to work there.

Life was not easy for Diana after she moved to Rome. She had some serious financial setbacks which were a cause of great anxiety to her. She also became so ill that she had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions. Her cousin, Jenny, suggested that they make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Hopefully, they would be able to ask Padre Pio to pray for Diana’s recovery. Diana thought it was an excellent idea.

After Diana had regained some of her strength, she and Jenny took a night train to Foggia and then a taxi to San Giovanni Rotondo. They arrived at the church of Our Lady of Grace just as the Mass was concluding. Diana was so weak and exhausted from the journey that she feared she might faint. She needed to get off of her feet but there wasn’t a single empty seat available in the church for her to sit in.

As Padre Pio made his way toward the confessional, a large group of people crowded around him. He looked ill and he appeared to be fighting for breath in the stifling atmosphere. Diana knew that Padre Pio suffered from the same general health problems that she did. He had chronic bronchitis and asthma which often made it difficult for him to breathe.

Diana was able to speak to one of the Capuchins, Father Dominic Meyer. She explained to him that she was very sick and wondered if it could be arranged for her to receive a blessing from Padre Pio. Father Dominic told Diana that there were people in the church who had been waiting weeks for the same opportunity. However, he said he would try to help.

An hour later, Father Dominic motioned for Diana and Jenny to follow him. Amidst a huge crowd of people who were pushing and shoving, they were able to enter the sacristy. With great effort, Father Dominic managed to close the door. There were about twelve people in the sacristy, and many looked as though they were very ill. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Father Dominic whispered in his ear, pointing certain people out to him. Padre Pio would then go to the person that Father Dominic had spoken to him about, and give that person an individual blessing. When Father Dominic pointed to Diana, Padre Pio smiled at her. He put his hand on her head and spoke words which she did not understand.

On the last day of their visit, Diana and Jenny went back to the monastery and spent time in the church of Our Lady of Grace. At one point, a woman who was standing directly behind Diana, let out a piercing scream. There was an atmosphere of sheer pandemonium in the church that day. Padre Pio was very upset by the noise. “Silence!” he exclaimed. “This is a holy place. No one should be making noise!”

After Diana left San Giovanni Rotondo, she realized what a great impact the visit to Padre Pio had made on her. “It was the only time in my life that I have come in contact with a man of almost perfect goodness and spiritual strength,” she said of Padre Pio. After returning to Rome, she felt a great sense of detachment from all earthly concerns. She no longer felt like she must desperately cling to life and she was now prepared to accept death, whenever it came. Seeing Padre Pio face to face gave her the strength to do so. Nothing else seemed to matter. Diana Graves died peacefully shortly after her visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

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I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside
Into the shadows where we could confide;
Away from the hustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

I needed the quiet, though at first I rebelled,
But gently, so gently my cross He upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things,
Though weakened in body my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when
strength filled my days
He loved me so gently, he drew me away.

I needed the quiet, no prison my bed
But a beautiful valley of blessing instead;
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide
I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside.

– Alice Hansche Mortenson

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Antonio Paladino of Foggia, Italy, earned his living as a day laborer. He had a serious accident on one occasion when he was hit by a car. Due to the accident, he lost most of the movement in his left foot. It became almost completely useless. He also incurred other serious injuries. Finally, he was declared totally disabled and was forced to retire from his job. Due to his disability, he received a small monthly pension.

Eventually, Antonio married and had a large family. As time passed, his health began to decline. He suffered from a heart condition as well as a lung disease. He was hospitalized on many occasions. Instead of improving, he grew steadily worse. The small pension he received was not enough to support his wife and twelve children. Antonio felt a growing sense of anger and frustration regarding the many trials in his life. As a result, he lost his faith in God. His moral life deteriorated as well. He had a deep sense of guilt regarding some of his actions but he did not have the motivation to change.

A number of people urged Antonio to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was considered to be one of the finest hospitals in Italy. It boasted of an impressive staff of doctors as well as state of the art medical technology. Antonio’s failing health caused him to feel desperate. He finally agreed to seek medical help in San Giovanni Rotondo. Antonio was taken to the Home for the Relief of Suffering on a stretcher on December 6, 1968. He hoped for improved health but was not confident that the doctors would be able to help him.

Day after day, Antonio lay in bed, immobilized and in great pain. A cane was beside his bed but it was of no use to him. His legs were completely paralyzed. Antonio’s anger and depression over his condition was apparent to all who entered his hospital room. He used bad language while speaking to the doctors, the nurses, and even to the nuns who worked at the hospital. He did not care that his profanities offended the hospital staff. It almost seemed as if he enjoyed offending people. Padre Pio, who had passed away several months before, was also on the receiving end of Antonio’s anger. What did Antonio think of Padre Pio? He believed him to be a deceiver and a charlatan. And Padre Pio’s hospital? It had not improved Antonio’s condition in any way. As far as he was concerned, the Home for the Relief of Suffering was just another failure. He was convinced that when he was finally discharged, he would be no better off than when he had entered. One of the nuns who worked at the hospital began to pray each day to Padre Pio for Antonio’s healing.

On the evening of December 12, Antonio was sleeping soundly in his hospital bed when he suddenly felt someone tapping him on the shoulder. Five times he was tapped on his shoulder. Antonio opened his eyes to find a monk standing beside his bed. “Get up and come with me,” the monk said. “But I cannot walk,” Antonio replied. “You must get up and follow me,” the monk insisted. Antonio looked over at the cane that was in his room, even though he knew it was useless to him. “You will not need that cane,” the monk said. Antonio was amazed to find that he could move his legs. He was able to get out of bed without assistance.

Antonio followed behind the monk who walked up and down the hospital corridor. Antonio had been immobile for so long that he was exhausted by the brief exercise. His entire body was sweating profusely. Nevertheless, he followed the monk obediently, like a puppy dog would follow its master. Finally, they returned to Antonio’s room. The monk smiled at Antonio and said, “You have done well. Are you convinced now that you can walk just like anyone else? Tomorrow you will feel even better than you do right now. Antonio, I want you to come and visit my tomb.” Right after that, the monk vanished. Antonio then understood that his visitor had been Padre Pio.

The next morning, Antonio felt a great happiness in his heart. He was simply bursting with joy. He felt renewed within and without. He realized that the constant pain that had wracked his body for many years was gone. His breathing too felt completely normal. He was certain that he no longer needed to depend on the oxygen tank that was at his bedside. When he got out of bed and walked down the hall, the hospital staff looked at him in disbelief. Antonio explained that Padre Pio had come to him in the night and had healed him. He told the details of his remarkable experience to the doctors, the nurses, and the patients. Everyone listened with great interest. For several days, Antonio did nothing but repeat his story over and over again to the many people who asked him for an explanation.

Dr. Federico Ficola, who worked in the orthopedic and trauma departments at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, listened with great interest to Antonio’s story. Dr. Ficola saw the amazing change in Antonio’s condition and marveled at it. Dr. Giuseppe Gusso, the chief of staff and medical director of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, also saw the transformation in Antonio’s physical condition. Dr. Gusso noted that Antonio’s personality seemed to have undergone a complete transformation as well.

Before his remarkable experience, Antonio had been openly hostile to those he came in contact with. His arrogance and sarcasm made him very unpleasant to be with. However, his anger and negativity seemed to have vanished overnight. He now interacted with people in a loving and friendly way. He had previously been a nonbeliever. He now acknowledged God sincerely, with his words and with his actions. It was obvious to everyone who spoke to him that he was a man of deep faith. He began to pray diligently for all of the patients at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Antonio had truly been healed in body, mind, and spirit.

Soon, Antonio was discharged from the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Upon leaving the hospital, he went to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. He had an important appointment to keep. When Padre Pio had appeared to him in the hospital, he had asked him to visit his tomb. Antonio walked down to the tomb unaided. He no longer needed to use a wheelchair. He knew that he had Padre Pio to thank for that.

A number of people were gathered at Padre Pio’s tomb when Antonio arrived. He knelt down and prayed aloud without any shame. In a strong voice, he named the serious sins in his life, one by one. He asked God to forgive him. He was truly sorry for the many wrongs of his past. All who were at the tomb heard Antonio’s public confession and were deeply moved. Many were crying when he finished his prayer. Antonio’s family and friends had hoped that he might receive some improvement in his health at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. No one had ever imagined that he would receive so much.

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In 1945, thirty-four-year-old Giuseppe Canaponi, a railway worker from Sarteano, Italy was riding to work on his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck. He was hospitalized with a fractured skull as well as numerous broken bones. For a while it was touch and go, and the doctors did not know if Giuseppe would live or die. Gradually, he recovered from all of his injuries except one. His left leg, which had been broken in five places, remained completely rigid and caused him constant pain.

Giuseppe had numerous surgeries on his leg as well as physical therapy, but to no avail. He had to use crutches in order to walk. His left knee too, was a problem. He was not able to bend his knee and was finally diagnosed with “fibrous ankylosis” of the knee. To add to his problems, the incisions made in his leg for the corrective surgeries, did not heal. The open and painful wounds added to his distress.

Giuseppe became very depressed. It had been more than two years since the accident but his condition had not improved. He was declared permanently disabled and forced to retire from his job at the railroad. His health in general was going in a downward spiral and he feared that death was approaching. His wife’s strong faith made up for his own lack of faith. She wrote several letters to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for Giuseppe’s healing. She told Giuseppe that they should make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, but he was not interested. He did not think it would be beneficial. Giuseppe’s wife continued to talk to him about Padre Pio and he finally agreed to make the trip.

Giuseppe and his wife took a train to Rome and then to Foggia. Giuseppe was in intense pain on the train trip. After they arrived in Foggia, Giuseppe lost his footing and took a very bad fall. He and his wife spent the night in the train station. The next morning, they took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Trying to get situated in a comfortable position on the bus was next to impossible. The bus driver dropped them off almost two miles from the monastery. A single dirt road lay in front of them. They had no choice but to walk the distance.

Giuseppe breathed a sigh of relief when he and his wife finally arrived at the little monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. The trip to San Giovanni Rotondo had been much more difficult that he had ever imagined. He was so exhausted from the journey that he slipped into one of the back pews and laid down. Taking a short rest in the church seemed to revive him.

Inside the church of Our Lady of Grace, there were several Capuchin priests. Giuseppe wondered if one of them might be Padre Pio. One of the Capuchins was hearing confessions in a nearby confessional. The curtain of the confessional was parted slightly and when the priest raised his hand to give the penitent absolution, Giuseppe noticed that he was wearing half-gloves. “That must certainly be Padre Pio!” Giuseppe said to himself. At that very moment, Padre Pio lifted his eyes and looked straight at him. When their eyes met, Giuseppe felt as though he had been hit by a bolt of electricity. His entire body began to tremble.

Giuseppe decided to wait in line to make his confession to Padre Pio. In the confessional, he did not have to worry about remembering all of the sins of his past. Padre Pio remembered them for him, down to the letter. He named them one by one, as Giuseppe listened and affirmed that what he said was true. Padre Pio was very kind and very compassionate. Giuseppe was suddenly able to see his sins for what they were – offenses against God. When Padre Pio gave him absolution, Giuseppe’s whole body began to tremble, just like it had when their eyes met for the first time.

When Giuseppe left the confessional, he felt like a new person. His wife saw him walking toward her and noticed that he looked very peaceful. She suddenly realized that Giuseppe was walking without his crutches. “Giuseppe, look. You are not using your crutches and you are walking just fine!” she said. Giuseppe had not noticed it until his wife mentioned it to him. He was just as astonished as she was. Not only was he walking unaided, he was also free of pain. But there was more. His knee had lost its rigidity. He then reflected that he had been able to kneel with ease while making his confession to Padre Pio, something that had previously been impossible for him to do. At the time he was making his confession, it had not occurred to him that he was doing anything unusual.

When Giuseppe returned to his hotel room, he examined his leg closely. He repeatedly knelt down on his “once immobile knee” and had no trouble doing so. In addition, the open and painful sores on his leg, which had bothered him for months, had all healed over. It was true. Giuseppe had received a miraculous healing.

The next day, Giuseppe went to the monastery to thank Padre Pio. “You do not need to thank me because I did not heal you,” Padre Pio said. “It was God who healed you. All I did was pray.” When Giuseppe went back to the doctor’s office for a check-up, he was greeted with amazement by his doctor. His doctor was shocked to see the change in his condition. Giuseppe’s case was eventually studied in Rome in a special Orthopedic Congress and presented to eight hundred doctors. His instantaneous recovery defied scientific explanation.

As time went by, Giuseppe made many more trips to see Padre Pio. The two became close friends. Giuseppe tried to think of different ways in which he could help the Capuchin community at Our Lady of Grace monastery. Because he had worked as an electrician for the railroad before his accident, he put his skills to good use. He thoroughly examined the wiring system at the monastery and did much repair work to the electrical outlets. Padre Pio was very happy to see the improvements he was making at the monastery.

As time passed, Giuseppe became a part of the inner circle of Padre Pio’s closest friends. On one occasion, Giuseppe went to see Padre Pio on a very cold and rainy evening. Even though he was not feeling well, he decided to visit Padre Pio anyway. Due to a sore throat and laryngitis, he was not able to speak above a whisper. He was soaking wet when he walked into Padre Pio’s cell. Father Carmelo was visiting with Padre Pio at the time.

Padre Pio noticed at once that Giuseppe looked ill. He asked Father Carmelo to see if he could find some warm clothes for Giuseppe to put on. Father Carmelo tried his best but could not find any. Padre Pio began to look around the room and finally found one of his large scarves. He put it around Giuseppe’s neck. At once, Giuseppe felt a wonderful warmth coursing through his entire body. “I feel better already!” he said to Padre Pio. As he spoke the words, he suddenly realized that his laryngitis was gone. Giuseppe felt such a sense of well-being that he did not want to take the scarf off. He wore it home that night and then kept it on for many days. Finally, Padre Pio told him that he could keep it. Giuseppe was very happy to be in possession of a relic of Padre Pio. Many of Padre Pio’s spiritual children had a desire for such a relic, but very few were able to obtain one.

One day, Padre Pio lost his handkerchief and was looking everywhere for it. Giuseppe had a handkerchief with him and offered it to Padre Pio. Padre Pio took it and put it inside his habit, over his heart wound. He always kept a cloth over the wound to absorb the blood. Later, Padre Pio returned Giuseppe’s handkerchief to him. Even though it had been washed and ironed, there were still blood stains visible on it.

On one occasion, Giuseppe felt a strong desire to pray for Padre Pio’s deceased parents, Grazio and Giuseppa Forgione. He began to pray for them faithfully every day. Later, he became busy with many other concerns, and eventually forgot to include them in his prayers. One day at the monastery, Padre Pio’s words surprised Giuseppe. “I want to thank you, Giuseppe,” Padre Pio said. “What do you want to thank me for?” Giuseppe asked. “I want to thank you for the prayers you said for my dear parents,” Padre Pio replied. Giuseppe had never mentioned to anyone that he had been praying for Grazio and Giuseppa.

From his very first meeting with Padre Pio in the confessional, Giuseppe felt Padre Pio’s paternal love and care. He was like a father to Giuseppe. It was true that Padre Pio had a reputation for being stern. That was not Giuseppe’s experience. In the years that followed, Giuseppe felt continually supported by Padre Pio’s prayers. He once stated that the only time he felt truly happy was when he was with Padre Pio.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 49 – October-December 2011

The word angel is derived from the ancient Greek word aggelos which means messenger. The angels are God’s instruments or messengers whom he uses to communicate his will. References to the celestial or non-corporal beings better known as angels, are mentioned more than 100 times in the Old Testament and more than 150 times in the New Testament. From the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation, scriptures speak of the existence of angels.

In the book of Genesis, the three men who appear to Abraham are angels who have taken human form (Genesis 18:2). An angel of the Lord appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) in order to lead the Israelites from captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land. The birth of Jesus was foretold by angels (Luke 2:14). An angel ministered to Jesus when he was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:11) and an angel comforted him in his Agony in the Garden (Luke 22:43). An angel rolled back the stone at the empty tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:5) and the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead was announced by an angel. In the book of Acts, God sent an angel to free the Apostle Peter after he was jailed by King Herod (Acts 12:7).

Among the angels that are mentioned in Holy Scripture, St. Michael the Archangel is described as “one of the chief princes” and the leader of the heavenly hosts. His name means, “Who is like God?” St. Michael has been honored and invoked as patron and protector of the Church since the time of the Apostles. The Greek Fathers of the Church placed St. Michael over all the other angels as “prince of the Seraphim.”

In an address to American pilgrims on October 3, 1958, Pope Pius XII spoke eloquently of the holy angels and said, “The angels are glorious, pure and splendid. They have been given to us as companions along the way of life. They have the task of watching over you all, so that you do not stray away from Christ, your Lord.”

Pope John Paul II emphasized the important role of angels when he gave six General Audiences in Rome from July 9 to August 20, 1986 entitled “Angels Participate in the History of Salvation.” In his catechesis on the holy angels, Pope John Paul II expressed the hope that all people would come to the realization of the reality of angels. In January of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “In the face of the challenges of our times and the tribulations which every individual experiences in his life, it is salutary to recall the powerful help and solicitous guidance of the holy angels who work together for the benefit of us all.”

Among the angelic beings, the role of the guardian angel is one of great importance. The Church teaches that the special work of the guardian angel is to guide an individual on his journey toward God and to protect him from harm during his earthly pilgrimage. The Church celebrates the feast of the Guardian Angels each year on October 2.

Padre Pio had an especially tender love and devotion for his guardian angel. From the time that he was five years old, he was able to see and converse with his guardian angel. In his childlike simplicity, he assumed that everyone had the same experience. Enjoying an intimate friendship with his angel, Padre Pio referred to him as the “companion of my childhood.” The loving relationship continued throughout Padre Pio’s life. For Padre Pio, his angel was his support, his protector, his teacher, his brother, and his friend. At times, Padre Pio’s guardian angel acted as his secretary as well as his heavenly “postman” carrying messages to his spiritual children.

Padre Pio’s guardian angel awakened him in the morning, and together they would join in prayer and praise to God. Padre Pio wrote to Father Agostino:

“Again at night when I close my eyes, the veil is lifted and I see Paradise open up before me; and gladdened by this vision I sleep with a smile of sweet beatitude on my lips and a perfectly tranquil countenance, waiting for the little companion of my childhood to come to waken me, so that we may sing together the morning praises to the Beloved of our hearts.” (Letters 1)

When Padre Pio was a newly ordained priest, Father Agostino visited him periodically in Pietrelcina and also corresponded with him through letters. Padre Pio benefitted greatly from Father Agostino’s wise counsel. It became obvious that the demons, who often tormented Padre Pio, were not pleased with the spiritual help that he was receiving from Father Agostino. They made many efforts to interfere. Often, Padre Pio would develop a violent headache when he started to answer one of Father Agostino’s letters. The headache would be accompanied by a severe pain in his right arm which would make it impossible for him to hold a pen in his hand and write. In addition, some of the letters exchanged between Father Agostino and Padre Pio were obviously tampered with. Some were mysteriously marred with ink stains.

Padre Pio told Father Agostino about the trouble the demons were causing. He also explained the situation to the parish priest of Pietrelcina, Father Salvatore Pannullo. Father Pannullo asked Padre Pio to summon him the next time he received a letter from Father Agostino as he wanted to be present when the letter was opened. Padre Pio did as instructed.

The next time Padre Pio received a letter from Father Agostino, Father Pannullo was standing right beside him. Upon opening the letter, Padre Pio and Father Pannullo discovered that it was completely covered with ink. Father Pannullo then placed a crucifix on the letter which made it a little easier to read. Father Pannullo left a written testimony regarding the letter and said:

“I, the undersigned, archpriest of Pietrelina, under holy oath, attest that the present letter, opened in my presence, arrived blotted out as it is, and was completely illegible. I put a crucifix on it, blessed it with holy water and recited holy exorcisms; I was able to read it as it is now. In fact, I called my niece, Grace Pannullo, a teacher. She read it in the presence of Padre Pio and myself, ignorant of what had happened before I called her.”

On another occasion, a letter arrived for Padre Pio from Father Agostino which consisted of nothing more than a blank sheet of paper. Padre Pio did not need to ask Father Agostino if he had forgotten to compose a letter. He was perfectly aware that the devil had tampered with it.

In order to confound the devil, Father Agostino got in the habit of writing to Padre Pio in French. Padre Pio had never studied French but he was able to read the letters with ease. From time to time he would reply to Father Agostino in French. Father Agostino also wrote to him in Greek and once again, he had no difficulty understanding.

Father Pannullo was perplexed about the letters that Padre Pio was receiving from Father Agostino. He knew that Padre Pio had studied neither Greek nor French and asked him how it was possible for him to read the letters. “You know, my guardian angel explains everything to me,” Padre Pio replied. On rare occasions, Padre Pio was also heard conversing in languages he had never studied.

On September 20, 1912, Padre Pio wrote to Father Agostino and said:

“The heavenly beings continue to visit me and to give me a foretaste of the rapture of the blessed. And while the mission of our guardian angels is a great one, my own angel’s mission is certainly greater, since he has the additional task of teaching me other languages.” (Letters I)

On one occasion, Father Agostino asked Padre Pio if Jesus often appeared to him. Padre Pio replied that Jesus frequently appeared to him and spoke to him. Sometimes he appeared with the visible marks of the crucifixion on his body. Padre Pio told Father Agostino that the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as his guardian angel also appeared to him.

In 1911, Padre Pio was sent to the Capuchin monastery of Venafro in the province of Isernia. Father Agostino was present in Venafro when Padre Pio went into a state of ecstasy. It was the first time that Father Agostino had ever seen him in a state of ecstatic prayer. He listened closely to the words Padre Pio spoke and realized that he was conversing with his guardian angel. While Father Agostino could see nothing, it was obvious to him that Padre Pio was able to see and communicate with angelic beings.

Padre Pio encouraged his spiritual daughter, Annita Rodote of Foggia, to have great devotion to her guardian angel. He wrote to her from Pietrelcina on July 15, 1915 and said:

“May your good guardian angel always watch over you; may he be your guide on the rugged path of life. May he always keep you in the grace of Jesus and sustain you with his hands so that you may not stumble on a stone. May he protect you under his wings from all the snares of the world, the devil and the flesh.

Have great devotion, Annita, to this good angel; how consoling it is to know that near us is a spirit who, from the cradle to the tomb, does not leave us even for an instant, not even when we dare to sin. And this heavenly spirit guides and protects us like a friend, a brother.” (Letters III)

On one occasion, when a man was making his confession to Padre Pio, it became apparent to him that Padre Pio was aware of his needs, even before he had a chance to verbalize them. “The angel told me about your problems,” Padre Pio explained. “I suffered greatly to hear of them. I understand your moments of sadness and moral suffering. Always remember that you are in my heart just as I am in yours.”

Padre Pio had a lifelong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel. He prayed to the Archangel daily. He had experienced the protection of St. Michael many times throughout his life. Every year, he would fast in order to prepare himself for St. Michael’s feast day on September 29. When hearing confessions, Padre Pio frequently asked individuals to recite prayers in honor of St. Michael as their penance. He often urged people to visit Monte Sant’ Angelo, the ancient shrine dedicated to St. Michael. It is one of the few sanctuaries in the world that is dedicated to an angel.

Among the many pilgrims that have traveled to the shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, there have been eight popes as well as many canonized saints including St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gerard Majella, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Thomas Aquinas and more. Emperors, kings, and princes through the centuries have also knelt in prayer at the holy grotto. It is indeed providential that the shrine of St. Michael is located on Mount Gargano, just a short distance from San Giovanni Rotondo.

In the summer of 1917, as a young priest, Padre Pio went on pilgrimage to St. Michael’s shrine accompanied by a number of Capuchin students. A cart and horse were provided by the father of one of the students. Padre Pio walked for part of the journey and also rode in the cart. The Capuchins prayed the Rosary and sang hymns to the Blessed Mother on the way. Upon arriving at the shrine, Padre Pio remained for a long time in prayer, kneeling at the foot of St. Michael’s altar.

Raffaelina Cerase, a spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, once learned an important lesson regarding Padre Pio’s trust in the holy angels. Raffaelina was a Third Order Franciscan who lived in the town of Foggia. When she wrote to Padre Pio, she sometimes included Mass offerings. Because she wanted to make sure that the letters arrived safely, she sent them by registered mail. Padre Pio felt that sending the letters in such a fashion showed a lack of trust and a lack of faith. He said to Raffaelina, “I think it best that you do not send your letters by registered mail. They have been put in very good hands.” The “hands” he was speaking of were the hands of his guardian angel.

Father Alessio Parente was assigned to be the sacristan at Our Lady of Grace monastery from 1959 -1961. From 1965 -1968, he served as Padre Pio’s personal assistant. Padre Pio was very appreciative of all that Father Alessio did to help him. He told one of his spiritual children that Father Alessio took care of him with great solicitude, like a “faithful puppy dog.” Father Alessio was filled with joy when he learned what Padre Pio had said about him and treasured the words for the rest of his life.

One morning at the conclusion of the Mass, Father Alessio had a very unusual experience. He had just distributed Holy Communion at the altar rail and had taken the empty ciborium back to the altar to purify it. Father Alessio poured water in the ciborium to wash it and then dried it with a purificator. He was just about to put the lid on the ciborium when, out of the corner of his eye, he became aware of something moving. From his right side, he saw a host float down from mid-air into the ciborium. He instinctively looked around to see if someone was there beside him, but no one was. He was shocked by what he had witnessed and told Padre Pio about the incident. Padre Pio advised him to be more attentive and not to rush when he was distributing Holy Communion. Padre Pio added that an angel had put the consecrated host in Father Alessio’s ciborium so as to keep it from falling on the floor.

Father Alessio used to assist Padre Pio when it was time for him to get into bed for the night. Afterward, he would wait in Padre Pio’s cell for Father Pellegrino to come in for the night duty. Lying in bed, Padre Pio would always recite the Rosary. Frequently, Father Alessio heard Padre Pio interrupt the Rosary by saying such things as, “Tell her that I will ask Jesus.” “Tell her that I will pray deeply about it.” “Tell him that I will remember him at my Mass.” It was only later that Father Alessio realized that Padre Pio was carrying on a conversation with the guardian angels of some of his spiritual children.

One afternoon, Padre Pio was sitting alone on the veranda, just outside his cell. He was praying the Rosary. Father Alessio felt it would be a good opportunity to go over some of the mail with Padre Pio. Many people wrote to Father Alessio and asked him to relay their individual messages to Padre Pio, seeking his counsel and advice. Father Alessio would always discuss the items with Padre Pio and then write back with Padre Pio’s recommendations.

Father Alessio told Padre Pio about a woman who had just written with a question about her job. She had an opportunity to make a job change and she was hoping that Padre Pio might be able to advise her about it. When Father Alessio put the question to Padre Pio, he was surprised at his response. “I am very busy right now,” Padre Pio replied. “I cannot answer your question at this time.”

Father Alessio was confused. It was obvious to him that Padre Pio was not busy. He was sitting alone with his Rosary in his hand. He always had his Rosary in hand. Father Alessio remained silent but he continued to think about the irony of Padre Pio’s remark. “There have been many guardian angels here today,” Padre Pio explained to Father Alessio. “They were bringing me messages from my spiritual children. Did you see them?” Father Alessio told Padre Pio that he had never seen a guardian angel in his life. He finally understood why Padre Pio had said that he was busy. He was busy communicating with that celestial world which very few mortals were privileged to glimpse.

Father Alessio knew that he was truly blessed to be able to assist Padre Pio on a daily basis. He was also on call through the night, because Padre Pio was often sick and needed help in the night hours. Father Alessio was not able to get sufficient sleep and frequently felt the physical and mental strain of the exhausting schedule.

Each morning, Father Alessio helped Padre Pio get ready for Mass. He would also help him up the altar steps and then remove his gloves before the Mass began. Afterward, he would rush to his room in order to catch a short nap. He was always so tired that he would usually fall asleep instantly. He had his alarm set so that he would be back in the church by the end of the Mass in order to help Padre Pio down the stairs of the altar. He would lead Padre Pio through the sacristy and then take him back to his cell.

Many times, Father Alessio was sleeping so deeply that he would not hear his alarm go off. At that point, he would hear someone knocking loudly at his door. When he answered the door, there was no one there. Mysteriously, the entire corridor would be empty. He would then realize that he had overslept and rush down to the church. Padre Pio would be invariably giving the final blessing. Father Alessio would be just in time to assist Padre Pio down the altar steps. This same scenario happened every time that Father Alessio’s alarm clock failed to wake him up.

Every day, when it was time for Padre Pio to hear confessions, Father Alessio would take Padre Pio’s arm and walk with him to the confessional. Once Padre Pio was situated in the confessional, Father Alessio would rush back to his cell to take a quick nap. Each time his alarm clock failed to wake him up, he would have a most unusual experience. He would hear a distinct voice saying to him, “Alessio, it is time to go to the church!” He would instantly wake up and hurry down to help Padre Pio out of the confessional. Sometimes he was a little late, but Padre Pio would always be there waiting for him. He would never attempt to walk through the crowded corridors by himself. Father Alessio was always there to protect him and to fend off the overly zealous devotees. Some carried scissors with them, and would like nothing more than to cut off a piece of Padre Pio’s habit or cut a bit of his hair for a relic.

One day, Father Alessio was sitting by Padre Pio’s side, thinking about his problem with oversleeping. He felt ashamed of himself for being so unreliable. He told Padre Pio that he could not understand why his alarm clock failed to wake him up. “You must buy yourself another alarm clock,” Padre Pio said. “I am not going to continue to send my guardian angel to you each day to wake you up!” It was then that Father Alessio realized for the first time who had been knocking on his door and calling to him in his sleep.

On one occasion, Father Alessio heard heavenly music in the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. It sounded like a choir of beautiful voices singing together in perfect harmony. Some of the other Capuchins also heard it. They couldn’t understand where the music was coming from and when they asked Padre Pio for an explanation, he told them that it was the voices of angels, taking souls from purgatory to Paradise. Evidently the Capuchins must have looked incredulous when they heard Padre Pio’s explanation, for he then added, “Why should the music of angels surprise you?” When asked on another occasion if angels were present at the Mass, Padre Pio answered that the whole celestial court was present at every Mass.

Once, at the end of a very busy day, Padre Pio was assisted by Father Gabriel and Father Giambattista, who lent their arm to him and escorted him out of the chapel. Father Gabriel told Padre Pio that he should get more rest as he looked exhausted. “When you go to bed for the night, you should ask your guardian angel to minister to you,” Father Gabriel said. “But I cannot ask that of him,” Padre Pio replied. “As you may know, he has to travel.” Father Gabriel, thinking that he had a good suggestion, then said, “Since your guardian angel has to travel about so much, could Father Giambattista and I lend you our guardian angels?” “No, never!” Padre Pio replied. “It does not work that way. A person can only be assisted by his own angel, not another’s.”

Father Dominic Meyer was serving at St. Felix Friary in Indiana when he was summoned to San Giovanni Rotondo. He served at Our Lady of Grace monastery from 1947 to 1953. He translated for the German and English visitors when they were speaking to Padre Pio. He also helped with the large volume of mail that came into the monastery and answered many of the letters of the German and English pilgrims.

One day, Father Dominic opened a letter from a woman who lived in the United States. She wanted to know if Padre Pio was able to see her guardian angel when she sent him with a message or was he only able to hear his voice. Father Dominic thought the woman’s question was ridiculous. His voice was dripping with sarcasm when he read the letter regarding the guardian angel to Padre Pio. Padre Pio made Father Dominic understand in no uncertain terms that he was not pleased with his attitude. “Father Domenico,” Padre Pio said firmly, “When that woman sends her guardian angel to me, I see the angel just like I see you!”

Although Father Dominic was initially skeptical about guardian angels, little by little Padre Pio taught him about the reality of the angelic realm. On one occasion, Father Dominic noticed that Padre Pio looked extremely tired. Padre Pio had an explanation for his fatigue. He told Father Dominic that the guardian angels had kept him up almost all night. Through contact with Padre Pio, Father Dominic eventually grew to have a strong belief in angels.

When Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968, several pilgrims who were in San Giovanni Rotondo reported to the Capuchins that they saw angels in the night sky. At the time of the sun’s rising, the angels disappeared just as mysteriously as they had come. Knowing Padre Pio’s lifelong devotion to the angels, one can hardly be surprised.

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Father Agostino made a trip to Naples during the summer of 1912. On the return trip home, he reached the town of Benevento just after midnight. He continued on to Pietrelcina and arrived there about three o’clock in the morning. He decided to stop at Padre Pio’s house. Upon arriving, he was surprised to find that the door was open. When he walked inside, he discovered that Padre Pio was in bed but he was not asleep. Father Agostino asked him why he had not locked the door for the night. “Aren’t you afraid to leave the door unlocked?” he said. “No, not at all,” Padre Pio replied. “I have the guardian angels of the house keeping watch through the night. There is no reason to fear.”

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Rosina Pannullo was a relative of the parish priest of Pietrelcina, Father Salvatore Pannullo.
Rosina had heard that Padre Pio possessed remarkable powers of intuition and she wanted to see for herself if it was true. She told Padre Pio that she was going to go to his room and take one of his personal possessions. Understandably, Padre Pio was not at all pleased with Rosina’s remark. “You will not be able to take anything from me,” Padre Pio said. “There is an angel who stands guard at the door of my home. He will not let you pass.”

Padre Pio told Father Pannullo about the incident with Rosina. “Rosina did not tell me what she planned to take from my room,” Padre Pio said. “However, I know that she was going to try to take my breviary.” When Father Pannullo questioned Rosina about it, she admitted that it was true. After speaking to Padre Pio, she decided not to carry out her plan.

Rosina’s father, Alfonso, also hoped to verify for himself whether Padre Pio truly had the remarkable intuition that people often spoke about. He decided to test Padre Pio’s abilities. On one occasion, Alfonso, had the audacity to say to Padre Pio, “I am going to enter your home and take something out of it.” “That would not be a good idea!” Padre Pio replied. “Perhaps something would happen to you and you would not be able to carry out your plan.” Alfonso paid no attention to the warning.

One day, Alfonso started to walk up the steps to Padre Pio’s house, when he suddenly began to feel very strange. He was not able to walk any farther than the first step. His legs became completely immobile. He feared that he might be having a stroke. When he turned to go down the stairs, he had no trouble walking. The next time he saw Padre Pio, he told him about the sudden paralysis and asked him for an explanation. “Well, I have a very good guardian angel on watch at my door,” Padre Pio said. “I am well protected!”

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Margharita Cassano, who lived in the town of Bari, visited San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time in 1948. She was very depressed because of the recent death of her father. Attending Padre Pio’s Mass and making her confession to him lifted her out of her sadness. She decided to move to San Giovanni Rotondo permanently. She told Padre Pio about her decision but he made no reply.

Margharita had a very difficult time finding a place to live and finally had to settle for a tiny one room hut in the countryside. It was an isolated dwelling and had neither electricity nor running water. There was not a single neighbor nearby. Even though it was a far cry from what she had hoped for, she was grateful at least to have a roof over her head.

To Margharita’s way of thinking, most of the people who moved to San Giovanni Rotondo seemed to have a much easier time than she did of finding accommodations and making ends meet. It hardly seemed fair. One day, without warning, Padre Pio suddenly said to her, “Well, did you come here for the good of your soul or to set yourself up in a comfortable life?” Margharita knew then that she needed to correct her attitude.

Margharita rose at 4:00 a.m. each morning in order to walk to the church of Our Lady of Grace to attend the morning Mass. In the winter time, the harsh winds and cold temperatures made the walking very difficult. In addition, making her way alone in the pitch darkness filled her with fear.

One morning on her way to Mass, Margharita heard a distinct voice which said, “One, two, one, two.” The voice almost seemed to be measuring her footsteps. When she stopped, the voice would stop. When she walked, the voice would resume. In the confessional she spoke to Padre Pio about the unusual experience. “I am afraid for my sanity,” Margharita said. “All the way to Mass I heard a voice which said – One, two, one, two. It makes no sense.” “It is nothing to be worried about,” Padre Pio replied. “It was the voice of your guardian angel. He was counting your footsteps to keep you company. He is letting you know that he is watching over you so that you will not be afraid anymore.”

Margharita still had many challenges to face. Due to her uneasiness at living in such an isolated place, it was usually hard for her to get to sleep at night. One night she prayed to Padre Pio to take away her fear. The next morning when she woke up, she found a beautiful German Shepherd dog sitting on her front porch. When she started out for Mass that morning, the dog walked on the path just in front of her, as if leading the way. To her great surprise, when Mass was over, he walked home with her. That night he slept on her doorstep. He seemed to have made himself perfectly at home and his presence took away Margharita’s anxieties. She could sleep soundly from then on, with no fear at all.

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Assunta Lops grew up in San Giovanni Rotondo. When she was fifteen years old she joined several other ladies who had a small store in town and with them, she began to sew the woolen half-gloves that Padre Pio wore to cover his stigmata.

On a number of occasions, Assunta went in person to deliver the gloves to Padre Pio. Sometimes she kissed the stigmata on his hands when his hands were uncovered. Once, when she took some new pairs of gloves to Padre Pio, he said to her, “Don’t touch my wounds. They are very painful today.”

One day, Assunta went to the church and found Padre Pio there by himself. She heard talking but no one was there. She asked Padre Pio about it. “Who was talking to you, Padre Pio?” Assunta asked. “It was the angels,” Padre Pio replied. “They keep me company and they sing.”

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In 1955, Cecil Humphrey-Smith of England, who was working as a chemist for the Heinz Company, was sent to the Po Valley in northern Italy where he did quality control work with the tomato crops in the area. Because Cecil had to work very long hours, he did not get sufficient sleep. One night, on the way home from work, he fell asleep at the wheel and had a terrible car accident. He was taken to the Municipal Hospital in Piacenza with a fractured skull, a broken vertebrae in his neck, and other broken bones.

The next day, Cecil’s good friend, the Marquis Bernardo Patrizi, came to visit him in the hospital. Bernardo, who was a good friend of Padre Pio, sent his guardian angel to Padre Pio to tell him that Cecil was involved in a very serious car accident and needed prayer. Evidently, Bernardo did the right thing because the next time Bernardo went to San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio confirmed that he had received the message.

Cecil soon returned to his wife and family in England but his health steadily declined. He had several bad falls which caused him further problems. He suffered from dizziness, fainting spells, and debilitating and agonizing headaches which made him ill and barely able to function. The headaches were like “red hot claws of steel” that moved from the top of his spine to his head with a terrible intensity. In order to bring Cecil relief, the doctor prescribed heavy pain killers which he soon became dependant on.

Seven years after Cecil’s car accident, Bernardo traveled to Canterbury, England to pay him a visit. When he saw the pitiful condition Cecil was in, Bernardo invited him to accompany him to Italy so that he could be examined by several doctors there. Cecil accepted Bernardo’s invitation. He saw several excellent doctors in Italy but to no avail.

While in Italy, Bernardo took Cecil to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio. On the day they arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, Cecil was weak and ill. In the sacristy of the church of Our Lady of Grace, along with a number of other men, they waited for Padre Pio. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Bernardo told Cecil to kneel down and to kiss Padre Pio’s hand. Bernardo introduced Padre Pio to Cecil by saying, “This is my good friend, Cecil. He is an Englishman. He was just ignorant enough to crash his car into a wall!” Padre Pio looked at Cecil and then tapped him on his head three times. He struck his head forcefully, right on the spot where the agonizing pain was localized. At Padre Pio’s touch, the pain vanished. From that moment onward, Cecil never suffered from another pain in his head. Seven years of intense suffering, was gone in an instant.

When Bernardo telephoned Cecil’s wife Alice in Canterbury and explained to her that Cecil had been healed, she was incredulous. She could hardly believe it. Bernardo spoke to Padre Pio and said, “From the time you touched Cecil on the head and blessed him, he has been relieved of his terrible headaches. Cecil’s wife Alice cannot really grasp the fact that he has been healed. If you would be willing to send her a telegram, I think she would believe that Cecil is fine now.” Padre Pio agreed to send a telegram.

Bernardo was one of the trustees of the funds for the Home for the Relief of Suffering. It was Bernardo who brought Barbara Ward to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio. Through Barbara’s efforts, the hospital received the financial help it needed so that the construction work could be completed.

Bernardo and other collaborators of the hospital often gathered together with Padre Pio in the evenings to discuss important matters regarding the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Bernardo started taking Cecil with him to the informal gatherings. Cecil noticed that during the discussions regarding the hospital, while Padre Pio listened with attention to whatever was being said, he also prayed. It was the same when he was having a conversation with someone. Cecil became aware of the fact that Padre Pio prayed constantly. No matter what else he might be doing, he was able to keep his mind recollected in prayer.

Cecil began to travel once or twice a year to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Once, when Cecil and Bernardo were talking to Padre Pio in his cell, Padre Pio took Cecil’s hand in his own and held it all through the conversation. Padre Pio seemed to love their visits.

On one occasion, Padre Pio asked Cecil if he loved his mother. “Of course I love my dear mother,” Cecil answered. “Doesn’t everybody?” Cecil thought it was an odd question to be asked. Padre Pio asked him the same question on many occasions. Finally, it dawned on Cecil that Padre Pio was speaking, not of his earthly mother, but of his heavenly mother, the Madonna.

Through his friendship with Padre Pio, Cecil learned a lot about the angels. Once when Cecil was getting ready to leave the monastery, as he said goodbye to Padre Pio, he told him that he would write to him soon. “Son,” Padre Pio said, “I have more letters than I can read. I am not able to keep up with my mail. Send your guardian angel to me instead.” From that time forward, whenever Cecil needed Padre Pio’s counsel, he sent his guardian angel to him with the message.

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Once, a married couple had a young daughter who was very ill. She had a persistent high fever, and although measures were taken to reduce it, the fever would not break. The mother decided to send her guardian angel to Padre Pio, asking for his prayerful intercession. Almost immediately, there was a reduction in the fever. Right after that, the girl drifted off into a deep and peaceful sleep. When the woman told her husband what had happened, he told her that he too had been praying to his guardian angel, asking his angel to deliver a message to Padre Pio requesting prayer for their daughter.

The father decided to go to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and thank Padre Pio personally for the recovery of their child. “Did you know that I sent my guardian angel to you?” the man asked Padre Pio. “Yes,” Padre Pio answered. “I received the message. First, your guardian angel came to me and about three minutes later, your wife’s angel came.”

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One evening, Capuchin Brother Bill Martin was standing with Padre Pio at his cell window. Many people had gathered below Padre Pio’s window and were waving goodnight to him. Padre Pio gave his priestly blessing to the crowd just like he did every evening. After the blessing, Brother Bill noticed that Padre Pio became very still. He seemed to be staring intently at something in his cell. Brother Bill looked in the direction that Padre Pio was staring, but there was nothing there. Padre Pio also appeared to be listening with attention to something that was being said to him. Brother Bill could hear nothing. Finally, Padre Pio said to Brother Bill, “Where is Martha Gemsch tonight?” Martha Gemsch was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters who always joined the other pilgrims each evening in bidding Padre Pio goodnight. Bill did not know the whereabouts of Martha.

The next time Brother Bill saw Martha, he told her that Padre Pio had asked about her. Martha explained to Bill that she had taken a trip to Rome. While in Rome, she thought about Padre Pio and the blessing that he gave each night at his window. Since she could not be there, she sent her guardian angel in her place. Martha confirmed what Brother Bill had suspected all along. Padre Pio had been talking to Martha’s guardian angel.

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Carmela Marocchino, who was Mary Pyle’s housekeeper, spent many years living happily in Mary’s large home which was just down the hill from the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Carmela was very close to Padre Pio. Sometimes when the weather was bad, Carmela would hesitate to walk to the monastery church. “Do not be afraid,” Padre Pio would say to Carmela, “The angel of the Lord will be at your side.”

On one occasion, Carmela felt deeply concerned about a particular problem in her life. She wanted to send her guardian angel to Padre Pio with a request for assistance but it was quite late at night. She didn’t want to disturb Padre Pio at such a late hour so she decided against it. The next time she saw Padre Pio she explained why she had not sent her angel. He told her that she could indeed send her angel to him at any time of the day or night. He was always happy to receive the message.

That God whom we desire to see and hold before us, is always ready to come to our assistance. Always faithful to his promises and seeing us fighting valiantly, he will send us his angels to sustain us in the trial.
– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 50 – January-March 2012

Diana Graves was an actress by profession who lived and worked in London, England. She suffered from emphysema and bronchiectasis. Both diseases were progressive and incurable, and as time passed, Diana was spending more and more time in the hospital, being treated for her chronic condition. When her health took a turn for the worse, her doctors strongly advised her to move to a milder climate. The damp and cold of London weakened her lungs and aggravated her breathing problems. For the sake of her health, she needed to relocate to a place that had a warm and dry climate.

Diana, who was thirty-five years old, decided to move to Rome where the climate would be more conducive to her health. Diana’s cousin, Jenny, lived in Rome, which was an added bonus. Rome also had the Cinecittà, a large film studio that hosted international movie productions as well as television productions. It was considered to be the hub of Italian cinema. With all of her acting experience, Diana hoped to be able to work there.

Life was not easy for Diana after she moved to Rome. She had some serious financial setbacks which were a cause of great anxiety to her. She also became so ill that she had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions. Her cousin, Jenny, suggested that they make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Hopefully, they would be able to ask Padre Pio to pray for Diana’s recovery. Diana thought it was an excellent idea.

After Diana had regained some of her strength, she and Jenny took a night train to Foggia and then a taxi to San Giovanni Rotondo. They arrived at the church of Our Lady of Grace just as the Mass was concluding. Diana was so weak and exhausted from the journey that she feared she might faint. She needed to get off of her feet but there wasn’t a single empty seat available in the church for her to sit in.

As Padre Pio made his way toward the confessional, a large group of people crowded around him. He looked ill and he appeared to be fighting for breath in the stifling atmosphere. Diana knew that Padre Pio suffered from the same general health problems that she did. He had chronic bronchitis and asthma which often made it difficult for him to breathe.

Diana was able to speak to one of the Capuchins, Father Dominic Meyer. She explained to him that she was very sick and wondered if it could be arranged for her to receive a blessing from Padre Pio. Father Dominic told Diana that there were people in the church who had been waiting weeks for the same opportunity. However, he said he would try to help.

An hour later, Father Dominic motioned for Diana and Jenny to follow him. Amidst a huge crowd of people who were pushing and shoving, they were able to enter the sacristy. With great effort, Father Dominic managed to close the door. There were about twelve people in the sacristy, and many looked as though they were very ill. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Father Dominic whispered in his ear, pointing certain people out to him. Padre Pio would then go to the person that Father Dominic had spoken to him about, and give that person an individual blessing. When Father Dominic pointed to Diana, Padre Pio smiled at her. He put his hand on her head and spoke words which she did not understand.

On the last day of their visit, Diana and Jenny went back to the monastery and spent time in the church of Our Lady of Grace. At one point, a woman who was standing directly behind Diana, let out a piercing scream. There was an atmosphere of sheer pandemonium in the church that day. Padre Pio was very upset by the noise. “Silence!” he exclaimed. “This is a holy place. No one should be making noise!”

After Diana left San Giovanni Rotondo, she realized what a great impact the visit to Padre Pio had made on her. “It was the only time in my life that I have come in contact with a man of almost perfect goodness and spiritual strength,” she said of Padre Pio. After returning to Rome, she felt a great sense of detachment from all earthly concerns. She no longer felt like she must desperately cling to life and she was now prepared to accept death, whenever it came. Seeing Padre Pio face to face gave her the strength to do so. Nothing else seemed to matter. Diana Graves died peacefully shortly after her visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

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I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside
Into the shadows where we could confide;
Away from the hustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

I needed the quiet, though at first I rebelled,
But gently, so gently my cross He upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things,
Though weakened in body my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when
strength filled my days
He loved me so gently, he drew me away.

I needed the quiet, no prison my bed
But a beautiful valley of blessing instead;
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide
I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside.

– Alice Hansche Mortenson

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Antonio Paladino of Foggia, Italy, earned his living as a day laborer. He had a serious accident on one occasion when he was hit by a car. Due to the accident, he lost most of the movement in his left foot. It became almost completely useless. He also incurred other serious injuries. Finally, he was declared totally disabled and was forced to retire from his job. Due to his disability, he received a small monthly pension.

Eventually, Antonio married and had a large family. As time passed, his health began to decline. He suffered from a heart condition as well as a lung disease. He was hospitalized on many occasions. Instead of improving, he grew steadily worse. The small pension he received was not enough to support his wife and twelve children. Antonio felt a growing sense of anger and frustration regarding the many trials in his life. As a result, he lost his faith in God. His moral life deteriorated as well. He had a deep sense of guilt regarding some of his actions but he did not have the motivation to change.

A number of people urged Antonio to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was considered to be one of the finest hospitals in Italy. It boasted of an impressive staff of doctors as well as state of the art medical technology. Antonio’s failing health caused him to feel desperate. He finally agreed to seek medical help in San Giovanni Rotondo. Antonio was taken to the Home for the Relief of Suffering on a stretcher on December 6, 1968. He hoped for improved health but was not confident that the doctors would be able to help him.

Day after day, Antonio lay in bed, immobilized and in great pain. A cane was beside his bed but it was of no use to him. His legs were completely paralyzed. Antonio’s anger and depression over his condition was apparent to all who entered his hospital room. He used bad language while speaking to the doctors, the nurses, and even to the nuns who worked at the hospital. He did not care that his profanities offended the hospital staff. It almost seemed as if he enjoyed offending people. Padre Pio, who had passed away several months before, was also on the receiving end of Antonio’s anger. What did Antonio think of Padre Pio? He believed him to be a deceiver and a charlatan. And Padre Pio’s hospital? It had not improved Antonio’s condition in any way. As far as he was concerned, the Home for the Relief of Suffering was just another failure. He was convinced that when he was finally discharged, he would be no better off than when he had entered. One of the nuns who worked at the hospital began to pray each day to Padre Pio for Antonio’s healing.

On the evening of December 12, Antonio was sleeping soundly in his hospital bed when he suddenly felt someone tapping him on the shoulder. Five times he was tapped on his shoulder. Antonio opened his eyes to find a monk standing beside his bed. “Get up and come with me,” the monk said. “But I cannot walk,” Antonio replied. “You must get up and follow me,” the monk insisted. Antonio looked over at the cane that was in his room, even though he knew it was useless to him. “You will not need that cane,” the monk said. Antonio was amazed to find that he could move his legs. He was able to get out of bed without assistance.

Antonio followed behind the monk who walked up and down the hospital corridor. Antonio had been immobile for so long that he was exhausted by the brief exercise. His entire body was sweating profusely. Nevertheless, he followed the monk obediently, like a puppy dog would follow its master. Finally, they returned to Antonio’s room. The monk smiled at Antonio and said, “You have done well. Are you convinced now that you can walk just like anyone else? Tomorrow you will feel even better than you do right now. Antonio, I want you to come and visit my tomb.” Right after that, the monk vanished. Antonio then understood that his visitor had been Padre Pio.

The next morning, Antonio felt a great happiness in his heart. He was simply bursting with joy. He felt renewed within and without. He realized that the constant pain that had wracked his body for many years was gone. His breathing too felt completely normal. He was certain that he no longer needed to depend on the oxygen tank that was at his bedside. When he got out of bed and walked down the hall, the hospital staff looked at him in disbelief. Antonio explained that Padre Pio had come to him in the night and had healed him. He told the details of his remarkable experience to the doctors, the nurses, and the patients. Everyone listened with great interest. For several days, Antonio did nothing but repeat his story over and over again to the many people who asked him for an explanation.

Dr. Federico Ficola, who worked in the orthopedic and trauma departments at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, listened with great interest to Antonio’s story. Dr. Ficola saw the amazing change in Antonio’s condition and marveled at it. Dr. Giuseppe Gusso, the chief of staff and medical director of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, also saw the transformation in Antonio’s physical condition. Dr. Gusso noted that Antonio’s personality seemed to have undergone a complete transformation as well.

Before his remarkable experience, Antonio had been openly hostile to those he came in contact with. His arrogance and sarcasm made him very unpleasant to be with. However, his anger and negativity seemed to have vanished overnight. He now interacted with people in a loving and friendly way. He had previously been a nonbeliever. He now acknowledged God sincerely, with his words and with his actions. It was obvious to everyone who spoke to him that he was a man of deep faith. He began to pray diligently for all of the patients at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Antonio had truly been healed in body, mind, and spirit.

Soon, Antonio was discharged from the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Upon leaving the hospital, he went to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. He had an important appointment to keep. When Padre Pio had appeared to him in the hospital, he had asked him to visit his tomb. Antonio walked down to the tomb unaided. He no longer needed to use a wheelchair. He knew that he had Padre Pio to thank for that.

A number of people were gathered at Padre Pio’s tomb when Antonio arrived. He knelt down and prayed aloud without any shame. In a strong voice, he named the serious sins in his life, one by one. He asked God to forgive him. He was truly sorry for the many wrongs of his past. All who were at the tomb heard Antonio’s public confession and were deeply moved. Many were crying when he finished his prayer. Antonio’s family and friends had hoped that he might receive some improvement in his health at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. No one had ever imagined that he would receive so much.

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In 1945, thirty-four-year-old Giuseppe Canaponi, a railway worker from Sarteano, Italy was riding to work on his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck. He was hospitalized with a fractured skull as well as numerous broken bones. For a while it was touch and go, and the doctors did not know if Giuseppe would live or die. Gradually, he recovered from all of his injuries except one. His left leg, which had been broken in five places, remained completely rigid and caused him constant pain.

Giuseppe had numerous surgeries on his leg as well as physical therapy, but to no avail. He had to use crutches in order to walk. His left knee too, was a problem. He was not able to bend his knee and was finally diagnosed with “fibrous ankylosis” of the knee. To add to his problems, the incisions made in his leg for the corrective surgeries, did not heal. The open and painful wounds added to his distress.

Giuseppe became very depressed. It had been more than two years since the accident but his condition had not improved. He was declared permanently disabled and forced to retire from his job at the railroad. His health in general was going in a downward spiral and he feared that death was approaching. His wife’s strong faith made up for his own lack of faith. She wrote several letters to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for Giuseppe’s healing. She told Giuseppe that they should make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, but he was not interested. He did not think it would be beneficial. Giuseppe’s wife continued to talk to him about Padre Pio and he finally agreed to make the trip.

Giuseppe and his wife took a train to Rome and then to Foggia. Giuseppe was in intense pain on the train trip. After they arrived in Foggia, Giuseppe lost his footing and took a very bad fall. He and his wife spent the night in the train station. The next morning, they took a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Trying to get situated in a comfortable position on the bus was next to impossible. The bus driver dropped them off almost two miles from the monastery. A single dirt road lay in front of them. They had no choice but to walk the distance.

Giuseppe breathed a sigh of relief when he and his wife finally arrived at the little monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. The trip to San Giovanni Rotondo had been much more difficult that he had ever imagined. He was so exhausted from the journey that he slipped into one of the back pews and laid down. Taking a short rest in the church seemed to revive him.

Inside the church of Our Lady of Grace, there were several Capuchin priests. Giuseppe wondered if one of them might be Padre Pio. One of the Capuchins was hearing confessions in a nearby confessional. The curtain of the confessional was parted slightly and when the priest raised his hand to give the penitent absolution, Giuseppe noticed that he was wearing half-gloves. “That must certainly be Padre Pio!” Giuseppe said to himself. At that very moment, Padre Pio lifted his eyes and looked straight at him. When their eyes met, Giuseppe felt as though he had been hit by a bolt of electricity. His entire body began to tremble.

Giuseppe decided to wait in line to make his confession to Padre Pio. In the confessional, he did not have to worry about remembering all of the sins of his past. Padre Pio remembered them for him, down to the letter. He named them one by one, as Giuseppe listened and affirmed that what he said was true. Padre Pio was very kind and very compassionate. Giuseppe was suddenly able to see his sins for what they were – offenses against God. When Padre Pio gave him absolution, Giuseppe’s whole body began to tremble, just like it had when their eyes met for the first time.

When Giuseppe left the confessional, he felt like a new person. His wife saw him walking toward her and noticed that he looked very peaceful. She suddenly realized that Giuseppe was walking without his crutches. “Giuseppe, look. You are not using your crutches and you are walking just fine!” she said. Giuseppe had not noticed it until his wife mentioned it to him. He was just as astonished as she was. Not only was he walking unaided, he was also free of pain. But there was more. His knee had lost its rigidity. He then reflected that he had been able to kneel with ease while making his confession to Padre Pio, something that had previously been impossible for him to do. At the time he was making his confession, it had not occurred to him that he was doing anything unusual.

When Giuseppe returned to his hotel room, he examined his leg closely. He repeatedly knelt down on his “once immobile knee” and had no trouble doing so. In addition, the open and painful sores on his leg, which had bothered him for months, had all healed over. It was true. Giuseppe had received a miraculous healing.

The next day, Giuseppe went to the monastery to thank Padre Pio. “You do not need to thank me because I did not heal you,” Padre Pio said. “It was God who healed you. All I did was pray.” When Giuseppe went back to the doctor’s office for a check-up, he was greeted with amazement by his doctor. His doctor was shocked to see the change in his condition. Giuseppe’s case was eventually studied in Rome in a special Orthopedic Congress and presented to eight hundred doctors. His instantaneous recovery defied scientific explanation.

As time went by, Giuseppe made many more trips to see Padre Pio. The two became close friends. Giuseppe tried to think of different ways in which he could help the Capuchin community at Our Lady of Grace monastery. Because he had worked as an electrician for the railroad before his accident, he put his skills to good use. He thoroughly examined the wiring system at the monastery and did much repair work to the electrical outlets. Padre Pio was very happy to see the improvements he was making at the monastery.

As time passed, Giuseppe became a part of the inner circle of Padre Pio’s closest friends. On one occasion, Giuseppe went to see Padre Pio on a very cold and rainy evening. Even though he was not feeling well, he decided to visit Padre Pio anyway. Due to a sore throat and laryngitis, he was not able to speak above a whisper. He was soaking wet when he walked into Padre Pio’s cell. Father Carmelo was visiting with Padre Pio at the time.

Padre Pio noticed at once that Giuseppe looked ill. He asked Father Carmelo to see if he could find some warm clothes for Giuseppe to put on. Father Carmelo tried his best but could not find any. Padre Pio began to look around the room and finally found one of his large scarves. He put it around Giuseppe’s neck. At once, Giuseppe felt a wonderful warmth coursing through his entire body. “I feel better already!” he said to Padre Pio. As he spoke the words, he suddenly realized that his laryngitis was gone. Giuseppe felt such a sense of well-being that he did not want to take the scarf off. He wore it home that night and then kept it on for many days. Finally, Padre Pio told him that he could keep it. Giuseppe was very happy to be in possession of a relic of Padre Pio. Many of Padre Pio’s spiritual children had a desire for such a relic, but very few were able to obtain one.

One day, Padre Pio lost his handkerchief and was looking everywhere for it. Giuseppe had a handkerchief with him and offered it to Padre Pio. Padre Pio took it and put it inside his habit, over his heart wound. He always kept a cloth over the wound to absorb the blood. Later, Padre Pio returned Giuseppe’s handkerchief to him. Even though it had been washed and ironed, there were still blood stains visible on it.

On one occasion, Giuseppe felt a strong desire to pray for Padre Pio’s deceased parents, Grazio and Giuseppa Forgione. He began to pray for them faithfully every day. Later, he became busy with many other concerns, and eventually forgot to include them in his prayers. One day at the monastery, Padre Pio’s words surprised Giuseppe. “I want to thank you, Giuseppe,” Padre Pio said. “What do you want to thank me for?” Giuseppe asked. “I want to thank you for the prayers you said for my dear parents,” Padre Pio replied. Giuseppe had never mentioned to anyone that he had been praying for Grazio and Giuseppa.

From his very first meeting with Padre Pio in the confessional, Giuseppe felt Padre Pio’s paternal love and care. He was like a father to Giuseppe. It was true that Padre Pio had a reputation for being stern. That was not Giuseppe’s experience. In the years that followed, Giuseppe felt continually supported by Padre Pio’s prayers. He once stated that the only time he felt truly happy was when he was with Padre Pio.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 48 – July-September 2011

Padre Pio’s Prophetic Spirit

Giovanna Boschi, had attended Padre Pio’s Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo for more than forty years. She also felt blessed that in those many years, she had been able to go to confession to Padre Pio on a regular basis. On one occasion, Giovanna decided to visit her good friend Margherita Hamilton in Rome. During the visit, she noticed a magnificent red rose on the terrace of Margherita’s house. She picked it and put it in a vase. Setting it on a table next to a little framed picture of Padre Pio, Giovanna said to Margherita, “This rose is so beautiful that I am going to take it to Padre Pio.”

Soon another friend came over to Margherita’s house to visit. The three ladies admired the rose sitting next to Padre Pio’s photograph. That afternoon they had a wonderful time conversing together. After a time, Margherita happened to glance at the little table beside them. “Look,” Margherita said to her companions, “The rose is not in the vase. It has disappeared!” The women lifted up the table and looked on the floor. They looked to the left, to the right, in front and behind. They looked everywhere in the general area, but the rose was nowhere to be seen. “This is impossible,” Margherita said. “The three of us never left the house. We have been sitting here all afternoon. The rose was here and now it is gone. Things cannot just vanish into thin air!” There was absolutely no explanation for the occurrence.

About three weeks later, Margherita and Giovanna decided to go to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace to visit Padre Pio. When they arrived at the monastery, they found Padre Pio in a small sitting room. To their great surprise, he was holding a beautiful rose in his hand. It was the rose that Giovanna had intended to give him, the one that had vanished into thin air. “Thank you very much for the rose, Giovanna,” Padre Pio said. “I appreciate your kindness.”

Needless to say, Giovanna and Margherita were shocked. Right before their eyes, they saw the miraculous rose. Giovanna said to Padre Pio, “Father, do you think I might be able to have that rose back?” “Of course you can,” Padre Pio replied. She took it home and put it in a frame. The rose would always remain one of Giovanna’s most treasured possessions.

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On January 20, 1936, Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti and several other men were visiting Padre Pio in his cell. As they were talking, Padre Pio suddenly interrupted the conversation and asked the men to kneel down with him and to pray. “We must pray for a soul who will soon appear before the judgment seat of God,” Padre Pio said. When they were finished praying, Padre Pio asked his friends if they knew who they had been praying for. They replied that they did not know. Padre Pio told them that they had been praying for George V, the King of England. Dr. Sanguinetti told Padre Pio that he had just read in the paper that the King’s health was not a cause for alarm. He had a head cold and no more. He was not in any danger. “What I am telling you is the truth,” Padre Pio answered.

About midnight, Father Aurelio heard a knock at his cell door. When he opened the door, there stood Padre Pio. “Let us pray for a soul who at this very moment has passed away and is now appearing before the tribunal of God. I am talking about the King of England,” Padre Pio said. The two priests prayed together for a while. The next day, the newspapers announced that the King had died. His death occurred at the same time that Padre Pio and Father Aurelio were praying together for him.

It was generally not Padre Pio’s habit to make statements about political or world leaders. However, at the time of King George V’s death, Padre Pio spoke of him and asked his friends to pray for his soul. It is not known whether Padre Pio had spoken of him at any other time. And what do we know of the King? We know that he was a man of faith and that he made it his practice to read from the Holy Scriptures every day. As a Protestant, he treated the Catholic Church with admirable respect. When George V became the King of England, he made a decision in favor of the Catholic Church. He refused to abide by the tradition in his country that called the Catholic Mass “superstitious and idolatrous.” History tells us that as the King of England, George was diligent and committed, and he influenced his country for good.

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Once a young woman was preparing to make a trip to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to make her confession to Padre Pio. She also wanted to discuss some very important personal matters with him. Before leaving for the monastery, the girl’s mother, spoke at length to her about Padre Pio. Her mother then kissed the palm of her hand three times and made a request. “Just as I have kissed the palm of your hand, I ask you to kiss Padre Pio’s hand for me,” her mother said.

The young woman was irritated by her mother’s words, which did not seem to be of much importance. She explained to her mother that her time would be very limited in the confessional. She was certain that it would be impossible for her to kiss Padre Pio’s hand three times. She would be lucky if she had the chance to kiss Padre Pio’s hand even once. But to kiss the palm of his hand? That did not seem likely. Most people kissed the back of his hand, if they had the opportunity to do so at all. “I have some very important things to discuss with Padre Pio,” the young woman said to her mother. “In my mind, I am reviewing everything I want to say to him so that I will not forget. I cannot promise you that I can do any thing other than that.”

As the girl was making her confession to Padre Pio, he gently brought the palm of his hand to her lips. The girl kissed his hand and then continued her confession. Two more times, he put the palm of his hand against her lips. She had no idea why he did so. After the confession was over, she walked out into the courtyard in front of the church. She told several people who were standing nearby about her confession to Padre Pio. She explained how he had pressed his hand to her lips. She asked them if they knew why he might have done so. None of the people had an answer to her question. It was not until the next day that the girl finally realized what had happened. Padre Pio was granting her mother’s wish.

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There was a woman who had received a great grace through the intercession of Padre Pio. She wanted to visit Padre Pio at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and she asked her husband to take her there. Her husband was a devout Catholic, but he was skeptical about Padre Pio. He doubted all the claims he had heard about his sanctity. He finally told his wife that he was willing to take her to San Giovanni Rotondo but he did not care to speak to Padre Pio.

During their days at the monastery, his wife tried to reason with him. “You have the opportunity to receive a blessing from Padre Pio and to have our son receive a blessing too. I am hoping and praying that you will take advantage of that opportunity,” his wife said. Finally, he gave in to his wife’s pleadings. The last day of the trip, he took his son to the place where the men waited for Padre Pio each day to receive his blessing. He stood off in the distance and hid himself in the shadows. After a time, Padre Pio came in. To some, he gave his blessing, to others he spoke a word of encouragement, and to others, he reached out and took the letters they handed him. When Padre Pio saw the man and his son, he turned to the son and said, “I know your name. Your name is Francesco Pio, just like mine.” Then he looked at the father and exclaimed, “I said that to your son in order that you would believe.” From that day forward, he believed.

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Luciano Livellara, who lived in Venice, Italy, was very concerned about his mother’s health. He traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to speak to Padre Pio about his mother. After he made his confession to Padre Pio, he asked him to remember his dear mother in his prayers. As Luciano started to rise from the kneeler to leave, Padre Pio stopped him. “Now, about that other matter,” Padre Pio said. “Break it off immediately! Do you understand?” Luciano understood at once what Padre Pio was talking about.

Luciano was deeply in love with a girl that he had been dating for a year. She had just recently told him that she was married. He had tried to end the relationship, but because of his love for her, he had not been able to do so. “I want to break up with her,” Luciano said to Padre Pio. “I have prayed about it and I have tried to end the relationship, but I have not been successful.” “Break it off immediately. Do it now!” Padre Pio repeated. Luciano got the message loud and clear. He went home to Venice, determined to do what Padre Pio had asked him to do. He never saw the girl again.

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Dr. Sciubba was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons. One day, he spoke to Padre Pio about one of his relatives who had decided to divorce her husband. The husband had mistreated her and was the cause of much unhappiness in the family. The marriage had become an “absolute disaster.” Dr. Sciubba believed that his relative was doing the right thing by seeking a divorce. Padre Pio did not agree with him. Each case was different, but in regard to this couple, Padre Pio did not feel that a divorce was the right solution. He told Dr. Sciubba quite frankly that the marriage should not be dissolved.

Dr. Sciubba went back to his relative and told her that Padre Pio was not in favor of her divorcing her husband. She thought deeply about it and decided to change her course of action. She wrote Padre Pio a long letter, sharing some of her heartaches regarding her marriage. The next morning, she decided to go to the post office and mail the letter. Before she left the house for the post office, there was a knock on her door. To her great amazement, her husband was standing at the door.

As it turned out, her husband had been to see Padre Pio to seek his counsel. He told Padre Pio that after many years of separation, he now wanted to reconcile with his wife. “Go to your wife and make up with her,” Padre Pio advised. “But I do not have the courage to do so,” the man replied. “I treated her badly and I am ashamed of my behavior. I do not feel like I can face her.” “Then tell her that I have sent you to reconcile with her,” Padre Pio said. “I am sure she would not believe me if I told her that,” the man answered. “Then tell her that I have already read the letter that she wrote to me,” Padre Pio said. Padre Pio then told the man some of the particulars in the letter, the letter that had not been sent yet.

As the man stood on the front porch and faced his wife, he was able to ask her for forgiveness. “I want our marriage to work out,” he said. “I have been to see Padre Pio because I wanted to speak to him about our relationship and our future. He too wants our marriage to work out. He told me that you wrote him a letter in which you poured out your heart to him.” His wife listened to her husband’s words with amazement. She was the only person who knew anything about the letter. And yet, Padre Pio obviously knew the contents. He had told her husband about it. The woman could feel her husband’s sincerity as he asked for forgiveness. She was able to let go of the painful events of the past. The couple reconciled with each other and felt the happiness once again of a loving marriage.

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A mother of five children traveled from Bologna to San Giovanni Rotondo on one occasion to see Padre Pio. She asked Padre Pio to accept her as one of his spiritual children and he agreed to do so. When she returned to Bologna she invoked Padre Pio’s presence every day and prayed, “Padre Pio, please watch over my five children; protect them and bless them.”

Being a busy mother of five children and living a long distance from San Giovanni Rotondo, more than five years passed before she was able to return to see Padre Pio. When she finally saw Padre Pio again, she made her confession to him. At the conclusion she said, “Padre Pio, watch over my five children; protect and bless them.” Padre Pio said, “How many times are you going to ask me that?” “What do you mean?” the woman asked. “This is the first time I have mentioned it.” “No, you have asked me that every day for the last five years!”

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Father Agostino of Campolieto was visiting Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo on one occasion and mentioned to him that he would soon be going back to Algeria. Padre Pio told him that there was danger awaiting him there and advised him not to go. Father Agostino thought about Padre Pio’s warning but did not feel that he could cancel his trip.

When Father Agostino returned to Algeria there was a conflict that arose between the French people who lived in the country and some of the other ethnic groups. Because Father Agostino spoke French, he was considered a suspect. One night, at 11:30 p.m. the police came to his door and arrested him. At that moment, Father Agostino remembered Padre Pio’s words. He was taken to the police station and questioned. He was finally released at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. The Capuchins in San Giovanni Rotondo noted that Padre Pio became suddenly ill at 11:00 p.m. the same night that Father Agostino was arrested. He remained ill until five o’clock the next morning.

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Mario Amendola was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons. Mario had a cousin who had fallen upon hard times. He was out of work and penniless. He spoke to Padre Pio about his desperate situation. Padre Pio advised him to move to the city of Falconara. “I do not think that is a good idea,” the man said. “I have friends in Rome who can help me but I do not know anyone in Falconara.” Padre Pio advised him once again to go to Falconara.

The man decided to follow Padre Pio’s advice. He moved to Falconara with his wife and children. One morning, a stranger approached him and said, “I work for the manager of a union. He told me that he would like to see you at his office.” The man went to the manager’s office and was offered an excellent job. The wages were more than he had ever hoped for. It was like a dream come true. How happy he was to have followed Padre Pio’s advice!

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Monsignor Gannon had an unusual experience on one of his visits to Padre Pio. After attending the afternoon holy hour at the monastery, he happened to see Father Pierino Galeone. For some strange reason, he had the irresistible urge to give Father Galeone some of his possessions. He took off his watch and gave it to Father Galeone. He also handed him his fountain pen as well as all of the money he had in his wallet. He could not explain his actions. He only knew that he had to do it.

Father Galeone had his hands cupped to receive the items and he was laughing all the while. Monsignor Gannon asked him why he was laughing. “This morning when I saw Padre Pio, he told me that I would be receiving a number of gifts today,” explained Father Galeone. “But it is neither Christmas nor Easter. Why would I be receiving gifts?” Father Galeone asked. Padre Pio simply repeated again, “You will be receiving many gifts today.” Although the incident was indeed mysterious, Monsignor Gannon was happy that Padre Pio had used him to play a part in it.

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Angelo Tomasini was the father of eight children. When one of his sons became ill, Angelo prayed to Padre Pio and asked for his intercession. To Angelo’s great joy, his son was healed of his illness. Angelo was convinced that Padre Pio had answered his prayers. He decided to make a trip to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to thank Padre Pio personally for his son’s recovery. He was able to take two of his sons with him on the trip.

After taking a train to Foggia, Angelo and his two sons boarded a bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. Once they arrived in the little town, Angelo observed that there were only a few rooming houses available for visitors to the area. Unfortunately, they were all in very poor condition. Nevertheless, Angelo felt grateful that he was able to find lodging.

The next morning, Angelo and his sons went the short distance to the monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. Angelo then stood in line to make his confession to Padre Pio. When Angelo’s turn came, as he began his confession, he noticed the unpleasant odor of sulphur in the air. He wondered if it had something to do with the sins that he was confessing at that very moment. He did not know. He had heard that people often perceived the heavenly fragrance of roses or lilies when they were near Padre Pio. But he was not so fortunate.

As Angelo made his confession, Padre Pio stared intently at a spot on the wall, directly above Angelo’s head. He then started flicking at the invisible object with his forefinger and thumb. He seemed to be trying to drive away something that he saw there. Was it a spirit? Was it a demon? Angelo wondered but he did not know the answer. However, the unpleasant odor of sulphur still pervaded the air. Angelo knew that it was not a positive sign by any stretch of the imagination.

In the confessional, Angelo told Padre Pio about his son’s remarkable healing. “I traveled the long distance to San Giovanni Rotondo because I wanted to thank you for your prayers. It is because of your intercession that my son has been healed,” Angelo said. “But it is not me you should thank,” Padre Pio replied. “It is the Lord you must thank because it is he who healed your son. I did nothing. Also, I would advise you to lead a better life if you claim to be a Christian.”

After Angelo made his confession, he asked Padre Pio if he would accept him and his two sons as his spiritual children. Padre Pio replied that he would accept them. Angelo explained to Padre Pio that he had a wife and six other children who were not able to make the trip with him. He wanted Padre Pio to accept them also as his spiritual children. “Yes, I will accept them too,” Padre Pio replied. “I hope that you can come back to San Giovanni Rotondo again sometime. You can then bring all the members of your family with you,” Padre Pio added. Angelo thought of his family at home and was very happy to know that they would all be under Padre Pio’s protection.

That afternoon, Angelo and his two sons attended the Benediction service in the monastery church. The next morning, they got up very early in order to attend Mass. During the Mass, Angelo knelt on the altar steps, right next to Padre Pio. Angelo noticed that while Padre Pio was saying Mass, his face, which was normally rather pale, was flushed with a red glow. Angelo began to doubt what he was seeing. His mind became flooded with negative thoughts. “This cannot be real,” Angelo said to himself. “My eyes are deceiving me. Padre Pio is a counterfeit.” Angelo knew that he was being tested. He had proof of Padre Pio’s holiness. There was no reason for him to doubt it. He had already experienced Padre Pio’s gift of reading of hearts, of miraculous healing, and more. Angelo talked back to the dark thoughts in his mind and before long they subsided.

Before Angelo left San Giovanni Rotondo to return to his home, he spoke to Padre Pio about his anxieties regarding a legal matter. There was a trial that was coming up in the near future and Angelo was very concerned about it. He explained to Padre Pio that he had committed no wrong. Padre Pio told him that he did not need to worry about the trial. “Be calm,” Padre Pio said. “Everything has been filed away.”

Shortly after Angelo returned home, he received notice from his employer that his job assignment was changing and that he was being transferred to a town not far from Rome. Angelo did not want to relocate to Rome. He was very happy where he was and he was afraid that the change would not be good for his family. However, Angelo had no choice in the matter.

The first day on his new job, Angelo spoke to the authorities regarding the upcoming trial. He was told that he did not need to concern himself about it because everything has been filed away. Angelo couldn’t believe it. The very same words that Padre Pio had used were now repeated. The next time Angelo went to San Giovanni Rotondo, he told Padre Pio that he had been transferred and was now living and working near Rome. Padre Pio assured him that the move was going to be beneficial to every member of his family.

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Nino Salveneschi made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio. He also wanted to ask him for his counsel. In the confessional, Nino said to Padre Pio, “I came here to make my confession to you more than thirty years ago. I cannot remember whether it was 1923 or 1924.” “It was 1924,” Padre Pio replied. “It was in the summertime.” Nino was shocked that Padre Pio remembered him as well as the time of his visit. It seemed impossible. Later, Nino had confirmation from his wife of the exact year and the season of the year. It had actually been thirty-one years previously, in the summer of 1924. Even though San Giovanni Rotondo was just a small village then, Nino had to wait two days to make his confession. Nino remembered clearly that he stood in line behind Prince Radziwill of Poland. Everyone had to wait their turn in line and no one was given special privileges, no matter what their status or social rank.

In the confessional thirty-one years later, Padre Pio advised Nino, who was a writer by profession, to always take great care to write books that would be uplifting and beneficial for people. Nino told Padre Pio of the cross he was bearing. He had lost his eyesight while living in Belgium, and wanted to know how he could best cope with the loss. Padre Pio advised him to try to accept the trial without bitterness or complaint. Nino thought of the words of Job in the Old Testament, The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). At the conclusion of Nino’s confession, Padre Pio told him to go in peace and that he would remember him in his prayers.

Even though his encounter with Padre Pio was short, Nino felt a great sense of peace. That peace remained with him in the difficult years that were to follow. In his many trials, he was able to feel Padre Pio’s presence. He later said that he felt that he owed his faith in God to Padre Pio.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 47 – April-June 2011

You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials;
but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor
of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears.

– 1 Peter 1:6-7

Anecdotes of Padre Pio – Part II

Pietruccio Cugino with Padre Pio

Pietruccio Cugino with Padre Pio

Pietro (Pietruccio) Cugino, of San Giovanni Rotondo was just six years old when his father took him to see Padre Pio for the first time. As time passed, Padre Pio grew to love Pietruccio with a fatherly affection. He gave Pietruccio instructions in the Catholic faith and prepared him to receive his first Holy Communion.

In the early days, farmers brought their sheep, horses, and donkeys to the monastery to be blessed by Padre Pio. Pietruccio often helped herd the animals onto the square just outside the church. When Pietruccio was twelve years old, he contracted an incurable eye disease and lost his sight. Even though he was blind, he still found many ways to assist Padre Pio. He liked picking the special wild herbs that Padre Pio enjoyed in his salad. Twice a day he went to the post office to collect the mail for the Capuchins. He did the shopping for the Capuchins as well. He became so familiar with the monastery and the surrounding area that he did not need a cane to get about. He knew every stone, every turn, every step and incline by heart. He became almost a permanent fixture at the monastery.

Padre Pio once said to some of his friends, “Consider the fact that Pietruccio is indeed fortunate. Because of his blindness, he is not able to see the sinful and evil things in this world.” As a matter of fact, Pietruccio used to thank God that he was blind because through it, he felt that he received many extra graces from Padre Pio, graces that were not give to others. He was allowed to go to Padre Pio’s cell whenever he wanted to. He would often visit Padre Pio in his cell in the evening and stay until Padre Pio got in bed. Then he would kneel at his bedside to receive his blessing.

Through the many years of their friendship, Padre Pio kept Pietruccio at his side. When he was weak and unsteady on his feet, he used to say to Pietruccio, “You lend me your arm and I will lend you my eyes.” He would lean upon Pietruccio’s strong arm when he walked from the monastery to the church. When Padre Pio became advanced in years, due to his many ailments, he sometimes had difficulty changing his clothing. Pietruccio counted it a privilege to assist him.

Each morning, Pietruccio was given a great honor. He preceded Padre Pio out of the sacristy when it was time for the Mass to begin and was allowed to stand very close to the altar for the duration of the Mass.

For Pietruccio, just to be near Padre Pio was a great, inestimable gift. It filled him with a deep joy, a joy that sustained him in all the ups and downs of his life. Every morning when Pietruccio woke up, he would reflect on the previous day. In his mind, he would go over everything that Padre Pio had said and done. Because he loved Padre Pio so much, he wanted to savor every memory.

Once, Pietruccio told Padre Pio that he had a great fear. “Padre Pio,” Pietruccio said. “I feel that as long as you are alive, you will always be near to help me. But because of my blindness, I worry about my future. What will happen to me after your death? Who will take care of me?” “The God who helped us yesterday, helps us today, and will help us tomorrow,” Padre Pio replied. “He wants us to abandon ourselves completely into his care.”

A few days before Padre Pio died, he said to Pietruccio, “I am sorry but I have to leave you.” “What do you mean?” Pietruccio asked. “Let us pray about it,” Padre Pio replied. Padre Pio died a few days later.

Pietruccio felt shattered by Padre Pio’s death. The thought of never seeing Padre Pio again was almost too much for him to bear. He began to feel, for the first time in his life, the full weight of his blindness. As he reflected on it, he became convinced that when Padre Pio was alive, he had carried the cross of his blindness for him. At that time, it did not seem to Pietruccio that it was a burden to be blind. But after Padre Pio passed away, he truly felt that it was a heavy cross.


There was a woman named Michelina who counted herself as one of Padre Pio’s loyal spiritual daughters. She had met Padre Pio for the first time when she was twelve years old. Every year she traveled from her home in Pescara to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio. After Padre Pio passed away, she continued to pray to him and ask for his intercession.

Michelina had experienced many trials in her life. Her husband passed away leaving her a widow at a relatively young age. Her son Alfredo became deeply involved in the dark world of drugs. His life was going from bad to worse. Michelina prayed to Padre Pio every day to intercede for Alfredo and to cure him of his addiction. In her prayers, she told Padre Pio that if he would help her son, she would walk the distance from Pescara to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray at his tomb and offer her thanksgiving.

For six years, Michelina prayed daily to Padre Pio for Alfredo. Finally, one day there was a breakthrough. Alfredo had a fight with one of the drug dealers. He decided to break away from the world of drugs forever. His life underwent a complete transformation and he vowed that he would never to go back to his former lifestyle.

Michelina was overjoyed. She had not forgotten the promise she had made to Padre Pio. She set off from Pescara to San Giovanni Rotondo with her walking stick and Rosary in hand. She was fifty-six years old. When she arrived in the town of Francavilla al Mare, one of her relatives decided to join her on the walk. He made a good effort but he was not able to continue for very long. Michelina passed through the towns of Termoli, Poggio Imperiale, and San Marco in Lamis enroute to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. By the time she reached San Giovanni Rotondo, she had walked 120 miles. Her knee was swollen and her exhaustion was great, but other than that, she was in good condition. She felt great happiness when she finally knelt at Padre Pio’s tomb. She prayed in thanksgiving for Alfredo’s deliverance from drugs and for his new beginning in life.

Michelina’s relatives, knowing the long and difficult journey she had made, met her in San Giovanni Rotondo. When she finished her prayers and devotions at Padre Pio’s tomb, they offered her a ride back home and she happily accepted.


On one occasion, Domenico Savino traveled on business from his home in Velletri to the northern part of Italy. On the return train trip home, he struck up a conversation with one of the passengers, a young man named Victor. Victor’s sincerity and goodness were so apparent that Domenico liked him at once.

As the two men talked together, Victor shared some of the burdens that were in his heart. He had used the last of the money in his family’s savings in order to travel to Milan in search of work. Unfortunately, he was not able to find a job there. His aged parents were in need of care and Victor was deeply concerned for them. He loved them both very much. Domenico’s heart went out to Victor. It seemed that he had more than his share of difficulties.

Not long after, Domenico was making preparations to visit Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. On the way to the monastery, Domenico passed through the town of Campania, where Victor lived. He stopped at Victor’s home and invited him to accompany him on the trip. “I assure you that you will feel the wonderful spiritual benefits of visiting the monastery,” Domenico said to Victor. “You can talk to Padre Pio about your many difficulties and ask him to pray for you,” he added. Victor was very happy to accept the invitation.

The trip to Padre Pio’s monastery had a transforming effect on Victor. While there, he made many visits to the little church of Our Lady of Grace and spent much of his time in prayer. He felt renewed in body, mind, and soul.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, Victor bought two photographs of Padre Pio. He was going to put one of the photos in his home. He decided that he was going to keep the other photograph with him at all times.

The days passed far too quickly and soon it was time for the two friends to return to their homes. A month later, Domenico received a letter from Victor. He wrote that he had found work in a mine in Belgium and was doing well. He was very happy because he was now able to send money home to his parents. He told Domenico that he made sure that he had Padre Pio’s photograph with him at all times. It was a spiritual connection to Padre Pio and it filled his heart with a great sense of peace.

Some time later, Domenico received another letter from Victor. Victor wrote that a terrible disaster had struck the mine where he worked. He and some of the other miners had been trapped underground for many hours when the mine shaft that they were working in collapsed.

During that terrible time of waiting, suspended between life and death, Victor talked to the other miners about Padre Pio. He also had Padre Pio’s photograph with him. It took many hours of exhausting work before the rescue crew was able to bring all of the miners to safety. The words that Victor spoke about Padre Pio, and the photograph which he shared, proved to be a great consolation to all the miners.


Padre Pio with Archbishop Tortolo

Padre Pio with Archbishop Tortolo

In November 1965, Archbishop Adolfo Tortolo of Parana, Argentina was able to spend several days at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. The Archbishop attended Padre Pio’s Mass and during the celebration of the Mass, he noticed a thin line of fresh red blood on Padre Pio’s left hand. After the Mass had ended, he had the opportunity to hold Padre Pio’s hands in his own. Padre Pio’s hands were so hot that the Archbishop described them as “burning like two lighted coals.”

Later on in the day, the Archbishop knelt before Padre Pio in order to make his confession. Padre Pio’s face was serene and his dark eyes were deep and very beautiful. “You are a bishop,” Padre Pio said. “You must give me your blessing.” Padre Pio then took the Archbishop’s hand and kissed it.

Padre Pio once confided to a friend that the wounds of the stigmata were especially painful to him in the night hours. He said, “One thing carries me to the next, and so the day passes. It is the nights that are hard to bear. If I ever allow myself to sleep, the pain of these wounds is multiplied beyond measure.”

Archbishop Tortola learned by experience the truth of Padre Pio’s statement. One night, while staying at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, the Archbishop heard moaning sounds coming from Padre Pio’s cell. The next day, he asked the Father Guardian if he knew what the sound could have been. The Father Guardian told him that even when Padre Pio was asleep, he continued to suffer through the night. He never slept more than a few hours, but even then, he was not able to have any relief from his pain.


Giuseppe Bassi, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons, used to attend Padre Pio’s Mass when it was held in the small and rustic 16th century church of Our Lady of Grace. At that time, it was Padre Pio’s practice to say his Mass at the side altar of St. Francis.

On one occasion, Giuseppe arrived at the church at 4:30 a.m. and waited in the darkness along with many others for the church to open. While they waited, some of the people who were standing in line near Giuseppe, began to converse together. Giuseppe listened with interest to the stories of Padre Pio that the devotees were sharing. One man explained how he had been healed of a very serious back condition through the intercession of Padre Pio. As soon as he finished his story, another man spoke up and said, “That is a lie! I am certain that you were not healed by Padre Pio or by anyone else!” Giuseppe and the others who were present were shocked at the man’s unkind remarks.

The man who made the unkind remark looked to be about twenty-five years old. His skin had an unhealthy, sallow color to it. From time to time, vulgar words would escape from his lips. He did not seem to feel the slightest sense of shame using profanities in such a sacred place. Giuseppe heard the man say that he was from the town of Romagna. That was as much as Giuseppe wanted to know about him. His sarcasm and his anger caused the others who were nearby to feel the same way as Giuseppe did. The man moved about in a nervous way and his body seemed to jerk when he shifted his weight from one side to the other. Among the devout and prayerful people who were gathered in front of the monastery church, the man seemed very much out of place.

Before long, one of the Capuchins came out and unlocked the doors to the church. Once inside, Giuseppe quickly made his way to the sacristy. Already, about fifty men were gathered there. Because of his previous visits to the monastery, Giuseppe knew the routine well. A few minutes before 5:00 a.m. the sacristy door would open and Padre Pio would appear. He would then make his way to the side altar of St. Francis where he said his Mass.

On this particular morning, as Padre Pio opened the sacristy door, his face was marked by an expression of deep suffering. All of the men, who had been waiting to see him, knelt down. Padre Pio dragged his feet as he made his way through the crowd. To some, he would offer his hand, to others, he would not. He had his own reasons for doing so.

When Padre Pio saw the man from Romagna kneeling in the sacristy, he paused momentarily and placed his hand on the man’s head. He then gave the man his blessing. From what Giuseppe had already witnessed, the young man certainly needed that blessing. At Padre Pio’s touch, the man’s entire body started shaking. He began to cry. Everyone present could hear his heartbreaking sobs. “Get up, young man,” Padre Pio said to him in an encouraging way. “It is good for you to cry. I know that you are sorry. You must have courage.” When the man finally rose to his feet, he seemed to be at peace.

Later on that morning, Giuseppe returned to his hotel. There in the lobby stood the man from Romagna. He had evidently booked a room in the same hotel. He was talking to several people who were standing in the hotel lobby with him. Giuseppe decided to join the conversation. The man from Romagna explained that he had come to San Giovanni Rotondo mainly out of curiosity. One of his co-workers had told him about Padre Pio and he found the information interesting. “As soon as Padre Pio touched me and looked at me with those eyes of universal judgment, I felt terrified. I felt an overwhelming urge to cry,” he explained.

Giuseppe noticed that the man’s physical appearance looked different. Before, he looked unattractive and unwell. Not anymore. He now had a glow of serenity and happiness on his face. Those few moments with Padre Pio were enough to bring about a remarkable transformation.


There was a woman (name withheld) who worked in Italy for an international Catholic organization. Her job responsibilities required her to spend much of her time in Rome, where she was in close communication with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In addition, her job required her to travel to many different parts of Italy. It seemed like whatever city she happened to be in, people wanted to talk to her about Padre Pio. They often encouraged her to visit Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo but she had no desire to do so. San Giovanni Rotondo was an impoverished village in the southern part of the country. Looking at a map, it was found on the “spur” of the Italian boot. It was not one of the towns that her organization required her to visit and she saw no good reason to make a special trip there. She began to feel irritated by the constant talk she heard about Padre Pio. She grew to dislike even the sound of his name.

The woman observed that most of the people who spoke to her about Padre Pio seemed to be overly zealous and even fanatical in their devotion to him. In her estimation, they were on the wrong track. She thought it was a shame that so many people had put Padre Pio on such a high pedestal.

In 1956, troubling developments occurred in the Catholic organization that the woman worked for. Once again, she heard the common refrain, “You should go to San Giovanni Rotondo and ask Padre Pio for advice. He will be able to help you.” To her, the suggestion seemed absurd. Padre Pio was a priest who practically never left the seclusion of his monastery. In all probability, he knew nothing about the Catholic organization that she worked for. He would be the least likely person to know how to advise her.

The woman sought the counsel of two priests whom she held in great esteem. They both were very familiar with her organization, having implemented it in their own diocese. Both priests listened with attention as she explained the problems within the organization. They advised her to the best of their abilities. However, her immediate supervisor had a completely different idea as to the solution. The woman, after much thought, finally made her own decision on the best course to take. Nevertheless, she was continually tormented by doubts about the decision she had made.

That year, several of the woman’s friends, including one nun as well as a dear friend who was a priest, invited her to spend Christmas in Naples with them. They knew that she was under a lot of pressure from the many responsibilities at her job. She accepted their invitation with gratitude.

One day, during the Christmas vacation, her friends announced that they were making a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. They wanted to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and they also wanted to deliver a number of Mass offerings which they had received from their friends who were not able to make the trip.

Although the woman had no desire personally to visit the monastery of Our Lady of Grace or to meet Padre Pio, simply to please her friends, she agreed to go. Even though she had previously thought that it would be futile to talk to Padre Pio about her work concerns, she reconsidered. As long as she was going to be visiting his monastery, if the opportunity presented itself, she would try to speak to him about the matter.

At 4:15 a.m. the woman and her little group stood outside of the church of Our Lady of Grace, waiting in the darkness for the doors to open. It was the middle of winter and bitterly cold. When the church doors opened at 5:00 a.m. everyone rushed inside, hoping to find a good seat close to the altar. What the woman and her companions had not bargained for, was the conduct of some of the local women of the area. Without regard for anyone, they pushed, pulled, and elbowed their way to the best seats in the church. The kind nun, who was one of the woman’s companions on the trip, had managed to find an excellent seat on the very front bench. Hard to believe but entirely true, the nun was unceremoniously removed from her seat and knocked to the ground.

The rude conduct in the church of some of the “locals” had been a disgraceful scene to witness. It was almost unbelievable. The woman not only blamed the locals for their outrageous behavior, she also blamed Padre Pio. After all, he was the cause of all the frenzy.

After a time, Padre Pio came out of the sacristy. Silence then descended upon the little church. From his first steps up the altar until the end of the Mass, he remained completely absorbed in prayer. The woman suddenly found herself carried into what she described as “another world.” Attending Padre Pio’s Mass was nothing like she had ever expected. She found it to be a “supernatural experience,” and was deeply edified.

The priest who had come from Naples with the woman and her other companions had been to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace several times before. He had even visited Padre Pio in his cell. Arrangements were made so that the woman and her party would be able to greet Padre Pio before they returned to Naples. They waited in the appointed hallway so that they could speak to him when he passed from the sacristy to the door that led to the Capuchins’ cells.

As it turned out, some of the local women, who had caused so much havoc in the church that morning, had come to wait for Padre Pio in the very same spot. Finally, the door of the sacristy opened and Padre Pio appeared. Assisted by two Capuchins on either side, he moved slowly down the corridor. The woman was close enough to get a good look at him. Padre Pio’s face was beautiful. It seemed to her to be the most beautiful face she had ever seen. His large, dark eyes, which registered both love and pain, reminded her of the suffering Christ.

As Padre Pio drew closer, the locals began to press upon him and crowd him. Not wanting to cause him any more discomfort than what he was experiencing at that moment, the woman drew back. She now stood behind the first row of women in the corridor.

Padre Pio then paused and finally stopped in front of the woman’s two companions and spoke to them. The woman realized that she was no longer in a good proximity to speak to Padre Pio. If only she had stayed in the front row with her friends, she too would have had a chance to speak to him. The many problems she faced at her place of employment suddenly flooded her mind. For a long time, her work situation had been a source of mental agony for her. She thought of the important decision that she had to make soon. She regretted that she would not be able to speak to Padre Pio about it.

Much to the woman’s great surprise, Padre Pio then looked straight in her direction. He smiled at her with great love and held out his hand to her. She had the distinct feeling that he was aware of all the thoughts that were in her mind at that very moment. As she looked in his eyes, she suddenly knew the right course to take regarding her work. Exactly how this could happen, she did not know. The doubts that had plagued her for such a long time, vanished. Without saying one word, Padre Pio had answered her urgent need. A peace, like nothing she had ever experienced before, swept over her. She was assured beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all would be well.

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 46 – January-March 2011

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord . . . I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in thy words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate upon thy promise. Hear my voice in thy steadfast love; O Lord, in thy justice preserve my life.

– Psalm 119:145-149


Anecdotes of Padre Pio

Padre Pio and his life-long friend, Dr. Andrea Cardone at the time of their last visit.

Padre Pio and his life-long friend, Dr. Andrea Cardone at the time of their last visit.

In 1910, Padre Pio received the first signs of the stigmata on his hands. He told the parish priest of Pietrelcina, Father Salvatore Pannullo that he became aware of the painful wounds on his hands at the moment when Jesus and Mary had appeared to him. At that time, it was referred to as the “invisible stigmata,” because the marks would alternately appear and then disappear. Dr. Cardone was one of the few people who saw the red, puncture-like wounds of
the stigmata on Padre Pio’s hands before they became permanent. In 1918, when Padre Pio was thirty-one years old, the wounds became permanent. Dr. Cardone also examined Padre Pio’s stigmata after it became permanent and left a written statement regarding it. He wrote that the wounds “pierced the palms of his hands completely through, so much so that one could see light through them.” Shortly after obtaining his license to practice medicine, Dr. Andrea Cardone of Pietrelcina became the family doctor for Francesco Forgione (Padre Pio) as well as the entire Forgione family. In the early days, Dr. Cardone had no idea of the worldwide fame that Francesco would one day receive.

Dr. Cardone remembered that as a boy, Francesco would go to the parish church in Pietrelcina every day. Dr. Cardone sometimes watched young Francesco as he climbed the stairs that led to the church. Even before entering the church, Francesco was already recollected in prayer. He always kept his eyes lowered when he walked through the streets of Pietrelcina on his way to school. Some of the local children were without parental supervision and frequently used bad language. Dr. Cardone remembered that little Francesco would cry whenever he heard their profanities and would run away.

When Padre Pio was a young Capuchin monk in Pietrelcina, Dr. Cardone treated him for his many ailments. Often, Dr. Cardone was at a loss as to how to help him. Padre Pio had a chronic cough and was extremely thin. Many people in the town believed that he had tuberculosis. For this reason, some people avoided him, thinking that his condition was contagious. Dr. Cardone tested him on numerous occasions and was relieved to find out that he did not have tuberculosis. He accompanied Padre Pio to Naples in order to consult with Dr. Castellino, the leading physician of that time. But no matter what remedies were given, Francesco’s health did not improve. His frequent fevers too, were mysterious. Dr. Cardone confided to a friend that he believed that his fevers were of a supernatural origin.

Dr. Cardone remembered that just before Easter, Padre Pio used to gather the youth of Pietrelcina together at his home. He instructed them in the Mass readings of Good Friday and taught them the songs to be sung at intervals between the Passion prayers.

On one occasion, Dr. Cardone was very ill and burning with a high fever. Padre Pio appeared in bilocation at his bedside. He took Dr. Cardone’s wrist in his hand, as though checking his pulse. Dr. Cardone was instantly healed. After that, Dr. Cardone often said, “Padre Pio is a patient who heals the doctor.”

Through the years, Dr. Cardone always felt the beautiful impression of Padre Pio’s goodness, his sweetness, his superhuman modesty, and his many other virtues. Like a number of the other citizens of Pietrelcina, Dr. Cardone said that he felt honored to have Padre Pio as a personal friend. He also felt it a great privilege to be his doctor. “We of Pietrelcina are proud of the divine grace which works through Padre Pio and spreads so much good throughout the world,” Dr. Cardone said.


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Due to Padre Pio’s fragile health, after his ordination to the priesthood, he remained in his hometown of Pietrelcina for more than six years. It was a great disappointment for him to have to be separated from his religious community, but he did his best to accept it. During his years in Pietrelcina, his reputation for sanctity grew. The citizens of Pietrelcina nicknamed him, “our saint.”

Padre Pio found many ways to improve the lives of his fellow townsmen in Pietrelcina. A large number of the citizens who lived there had never had an opportunity to get an education. It was not unusual to see Padre Pio out in the fields with the local farmers and day laborers, instructing them in basic reading and writing. He also taught mathematics to the local people. He organized wholesome games for the citizens to participate in and directed a boys’ choir at the parish.

Padre Pio had only been a priest for several years when a local farmer of Pietrelcina summoned him one day. Lice had infested the farmer’s crops and fruit trees and all seemed doomed for destruction. The farmer asked Padre Pio if he would be willing to go with him to his fields and bless them. Padre Pio agreed to do so. He made the sign of the cross over the man’s land and prayed fervently. Shortly after Padre Pio has blessed the crops, the farmer was amazed to see that the lice had all fallen to the ground. The word spread rapidly among the townspeople. The other farmers decided to ask Padre Pio to bless their land as well. That year the harvest in Pietrelcina proved to be excellent.


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In the early days of Padre Pio’s ministry, a person once asked Padre Pio to come and bless their family home. Padre Pio agreed to do so. He got as far as the kitchen before he stopped. “I cannot go any farther,” he said, and he turned around and walked back out of the house. “The family who lives there spreads rumors,” he explained to his companion. “We can have no dealings with them.”

Padre Pio knew of a priest who used to visit the family. He warned the priest and said, “I would advise you not to go to that home any more. The people who live there spread lies and rumors about others.” On another occasion Padre Pio said, “When you spread rumors about someone, it means you have removed that person from your heart. When you take someone from your heart, Jesus also leaves with them.”


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When Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was a child growing up in Pietrelcina, he and his family lived in a very small house, number 32 on Vico Storte Valle (Crooked Valley Lane). It was a stone house with a reed ceiling, very much like all the other houses in the neighborhood. It was the house of poor people, who often struggled in order to survive.

The well at Piana Romana is still standing today.

The well at Piana Romana is still standing today.

The Forgiones also had a small landholding in the countryside of nearby Piana Romana. It included a vineyard and several fields. One day, Francesco’s father, Grazio Forgione, decided to dig a well on his land in Piana Romana. He dug three meters down but was not successful in finding water. Grazio became more and more frustrated in his attempts. Francesco, who was just a boy at the time, watched his father’s futile efforts. Finally Francesco said, “Father, you are not going to find water there.” He pointed to an area a short distance away and said, “But if you dig in this spot, you will find water.”

Grazio was doubtful that Francesco’s words were true. “Son, why should I believe what you are telling me? How do I know that I will find water there?” “You will see,” Francesco replied. Grazio realized that he had nothing to lose, so he decided to follow his son’s advice. Soon water started gushing from the exact spot that Francesco had pointed to. “Son, how did you know that water was there?” Grazio asked. “Jesus told me,” Francesco said simply. As time passed, the well continued to produce a steady and abundant supply of water, more than enough for the needs of the Forgione family.


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Countless people were inspired by the reverence and the intense devotion that Padre Pio exhibited whenever he celebrated Mass. He meditated deeply on every word of the Mass. He often shifted on his painful feet, and paused many times to pray in silence. At the Memento – the prayers for the living and the deceased – his voice sounded weary and strained. At times he trembled and wiped the tears from his eyes with a handkerchief. He once said that during the Mass the Lord allowed him to mystically see all of his spiritual children – those who were living as well as those who had already passed away.

During the Mass, Padre Pio’s eyes remained half-closed. If he opened his eyes at all, it was only to look at the altar. He appeared not to notice the people in the congregation, the lights, or the priests who assisted him. On one occasion, he spoke about the Mass he had just celebrated and said, “I almost forgot being in this world.”

The mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, Francesco Morcaldi, once asked Padre Pio to celebrate Mass in front of the town hall. When the local citizens as well as people from the surrounding areas heard that Padre Pio had accepted the mayor’s invitation, they were filled with enthusiasm. On the day of the Mass, huge numbers of people descended on the town. The square in front of the town hall as well as the adjacent streets were completely full.

After the Mass, the mayor accompanied Padre Pio back to the monastery. “It was such a wonderful turnout,” the mayor said to Padre Pio. “Did you see the crowds who came to attend your Mass? Did you notice that the streets were full to overflowing?” “No, I did not notice the people,” Padre Pio replied. “As a matter of fact, I was not aware that I was celebrating Mass in the open air. I became so absorbed in the prayers that I did not notice anything.”


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There was once a man from Turin, Italy who had a great desire to speak to Padre Pio. He wanted to seek Padre Pio’s advice on a personal matter that was of great importance to him. Every time he tried to plan a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, his way was blocked.

The man was finally able to visit Padre Pio but unfortunately the trip had come too late. “I am so happy that I could discuss my situation with you and receive your advice,” the man said to Padre Pio. “But I am sorry to say that time is against me. The information that I discussed with you needs to be received in Turin almost at this very moment. Even if I were to send a telegram, it would not make a difference now. The deadline has come,” the man said.

“Don’t worry about the deadline,” Padre Pio replied. “Write a letter immediately and take it to the post office as fast as you can.” The man did what Padre Pio suggested even though he was convinced that it would do no good. Miraculously, the letter was received in Turin in a half-hour’s time. The postmark was clearly visible on the envelope. The letter had traveled a distance of more than six hundred and fifty miles in thirty minutes. The man was incredulous and also greatly relieved; the information had reached its destination on time.


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On one occasion, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters wanted to give him a gift. After thinking about it for some time, she decided to give him two canaries. One day, with her bird cage in hand, she boarded a train to San Giovanni Rotondo so that she could present him with the unusual gift.

When the woman arrived at the monastery door, she was greeted by the porter. The woman told him that the canaries were a gift for Padre Pio. “We are not allowed to keep anything for ourselves unless we have the permission of our superior,” the porter explained. “There is a strict rule in place regarding gifts of any kind.” “But couldn’t you please try to do something to help? I traveled a long distance by train in order to come here and I have a great desire to give Padre Pio these birds.” The porter then took the birdcage from the woman. He told her that he would let Padre Pio know about her gift.

The porter then took the birds to his own cell temporarily. Soon he heard a knock at the door. To his great surprise, Padre Pio was standing there. “These birds just arrived,” the porter said. “A woman brought them for you and has a great desire that you receive them.” Padre Pio went over to the birds and for a few moments began to play with them. “Please do me a favor,” Padre Pio said to the porter. “Take the cage over to my cell. I would like to keep the birds for an hour or so.” The next day, the porter told the woman that Padre Pio had enjoyed the birds, even though he could not keep them. She was very happy to hear the news and very satisfied.


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Alfonso De Rosa was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons. One day, he had the overwhelming urge to see Padre Pio. He could not stop thinking about it. Alfonso decided to make the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo. He felt blessed that he was able to attend Padre Pio’s early morning Mass. After the Mass, he asked the Father Guardian if he could visit Padre Pio in his cell but he was denied permission. Alfonso went back into the church to pray. Sometime later that day, he spoke to the Father Guardian again. For a second time, he asked if it would be possible for him to speak to Padre Pio and for a second time the Father Guardian said no.

Alfonso was very disappointed. He returned to the church once again to pray. He tried to resign himself to the fact that he would not be able to speak to Padre Pio that day. He had done all he could but he had not been able to change the Father Guardian’s mind. While he was sitting quietly in the church, a stranger approached him. “Are you the man who has a great desire to see Padre Pio today?” the stranger asked. Alfonso replied that indeed he was. “Follow me then,” the man said.

The man led Alfonso to the sacristy of the church. Alfonso was very surprised to see that the gate near the sacristy was unlocked. He proceeded to follow the man through the gate. The door which led to the monks’ private quarters was also unlocked. The man opened the door nonchalantly and motioned for Alfonso to follow him. They then entered the corridor that led to the Capuchins’ cells. At that point, the stranger disappeared from Alfonso’s view. Alfonso simply could not figure out where he had gone. He was there one moment and gone the next.

Two Capuchins who were standing in the corridor looked surprised when they noticed Alfonso’s presence. Alfonso knew that they would probably demand that he leave the ar