The Catholic Defender: St. Padre Pio and his story
St. Padre Pio is one of the more influential Saints that had a particular influence for me because of all the signs related to his life. He is also someone who I can identify with as he lived during my growing up years. Padre Pio touches the hearts of people world wide many times will recognize a fragrance of flowers. I remember working at a warehouse pulling a hand jack picking up pallets all day long. My Mother introduced me to Padre Pio through a book she had and that book captivated me.
At times, especially when I was thinking about a mystery of the Rosary, or I was thinking about the Catholic faith, I would get a strong scent of roses and I would be looking around for any possible reason for such a fragrance. Then I would remember that many times Padre Pio would be recognized with such occurrences. Working at this warehouse, I most of the time had time to offer my thoughts to God in meditation.
The following is taken from Saint Pio of Pietrelcina that offers a wealth of information about St. Padre Pio.
Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born to Mamma Peppa and Grazio Forgione in the little town called Pietrelcina, in Southern Italy, during the month of flowers, May 25th 1887. He was fifth of eight children. His Mamma Peppa confided he was different from other boys: “he was never impolite or misbehaved”. He had celestial visions and diabolical oppression from the age of five years and he saw and spoke with Jesus and Our Lady and with his Guardian Angel, but unfortunately this heavenly life was interwoven with hell and with the devil.
In 1903, Discipline and ill health had been woven together to crown the youth of Pio. Doctors diagnosed him as consumptive and were sure he would die. Strong in spirit Pio received the Capuchin Franciscan garb initialling religious life and therefore; Noviciate with its intense study, prayer, austerity, penance and finally vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.
In 1909, we find him at Pietrelcina because of his illness, at his mother’s side. Now another intense chapter of extraordinary life opens with mystical afflictions an invisible stigmata and terrible battles with devils that wanted to destroy him began. Yet, “It all happened here”, he said, his whole future was prepared here. On August 10, 1910, he was ordained a Priest in the Cathedral of Benevento.
In 1916, we find him in the church of San Giovanni Rotondo, soon to become his Jerusalem, with the padrepio2.jpg (5839 byte) mystical and historical calvary of Gargano, where he was soon recognised as the “saintly friar” by the locals. Here he became a “victim of love”, by the reparation for sin, propitiator and regenerator of the many crowds who flocked to him, to venerate his bleeding wounds of his hands and feet. This very important event occurred in Father Pio’s life on September 20, 1918, while he was praying in front of a Crucifix located in the choir in the little old church, when a strange personage like an angel, gave him the stigmata. Those stigmata have been remained opened and bleeding for fifty years. This was one of the reasons for which doctors, scientists, journalists and common people have gone to San Giovanni Rotondo for years, in order to meet the “Saintly friar “.
In a letter dated October 22, 1918, Padre Pio told his experience of crucifixion: “… What I can tell you about my crucifixion? My God! What a confusion and what humiliation I feel when I try to show somebody else what you have done in me your scanty creature! It was the morning of the 20th. (September) and I was in choir, after the celebration of the Holy Mass, when a rest, similar to a sweet sleep surprised me. All the inside and external senses, as well as the same faculties of the soul were in an indescribable quiet. There was a depth silence around me and inside me; a peace overcame me and then it all happened in a flash I felt abandonment with the complete deprivation of everything. While all this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious appearance, similar to the one I had seen on August 5th, differing only because His hands, feet and side were dripping blood. The sight of Him frightened me: what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I would die, and would have died if the Lord hadn’t intervened and strengthened my heart, which was about to burst out of my chest! The appearance disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were pierced and were dripping with blood”. You can imagine the torment that I experienced then and that I am almost experiencing every day. The wound of the heart assiduously bleeds, particularly from the evening of Thursday until Saturday. My God, I die of pain, torment and confusion that I feel in the intimate of the soul. I am afraid I’ll bleed to death! I hope that God listens to my moans and withdrawals this operation from me… “
He usually woke up in the early morning (we could say at night) in order to get himself ready for the Holy Mass. In fact, every morning, at 4 a.m. there were always hundreds and sometimes even a thousand people waiting for the door of the church to open. After the Mass he used to spend most time of his day in prayer and confessions. After fifty years of stigmata he died September 23, 1968, thus he closed his mission of the Heart’s desire, with the real cross and the real crucifixion of his body.
Then, for years, from every part of the world, the believers went to this stigmatised priest, to get his powerful intercession from God. Fifty years lived in the prayer, in the humility, in the suffering and in the sacrifice, whether to effect his love, Padre Pio had two initiatives in two directions: the vertical one toward God, with the constitution of the “Groups of prayer”, the horizontal one toward his suffering community, with the construction of a modern hospital: “House Relief of the Suffering.”
In September 1968, thousands of devotees and Padre Pio’s spiritual children were assembled in conference at St. Giovanni Rotondo to commemorate together the 50 anniversary of the stigmata and to celebrate the fourth international conference of the Prayer Groups. Nobody would have imagined that at 2:30 a.m., September 23, 1968 we the earthly life of Father Pio of Pietrelcina would end.
Examples of bio-location:
An Italian General of the Army, called Cadorna, felt in such condition of depression after the defeat of Caporetto, that he was contemplating suicide. One evening he went to his room and he commanded his orderly not to allow anybody to come in. He took his gun from a drawer and pointed the gun at his head, but suddenly he heard a voice: “Oh General, why do you want to do such stupid thing?” The voice and the presence of the Friar helped the general change his mind. He wondered how it was possible that a Friar had entered his room. He asked for explanations from his orderly but he answered he had seen nobody going into his room. Some years later, the General read in a newspaper of a Friar that worked miracles in the Gargano area. He secretly went there but he was astonished when father Pio said to him: “Hello General, you ran a great risk that evening, didn’t you?”
The last bilocation of Padre Pio occurred the afternoon before the day of his death. Padre Pio has gone to greet in Genova (Italy) the brother Umile who was wounded.
Around 16.30, in September 22nd , in 1968 Sister Ludovica goes to father Umile to bring him a cup of tea. The religious feels a strong perfume of flowers that floods the whole environment. Since she doesn’t know the origin of the perfume she looks at the monk for an explanation.
Father Umile with naturalness and spontaneity says: “Padre Pio has come to greet me and he has given to me his last goodbye.”
The following day the news of the death of Padre Pio spreads around the World.
A spiritual daughter of Padre Pio was reading a letter from him on the side of a road. The wind blew the letter away, blowing it downhill to a meadow. The letter flew far, far away from the woman, and then suddenly it stopped flying and settled on a stone. In this way the woman got her letter back. The day after, she met Padre Pio who told her: “You have to pay attention to the wind next time. If I hadn’t put my foot on the letter it would have flown far away into the valley”.
Mrs. Cleonice, who was a spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, said: “During the Second World War my nephew was a prisoner. We had not received news for a year, and everybody believed he was dead. His parents were very worried about his life. His mother went one day to Padre Pio and knelt down in front of the friar who was in the confessional: “Please, tell me if my son is alive. I won’t go away if you don’t tell me!”Padre Pio sympathized with her, and some tears were on his face when he said: “Stand up and go in peace.” Some days later, I couldn’t resist the thought of pain that the parents were enduring, so I decided to ask Padre Pio for a miracle. I faithfully said: “Father I’m going to write a letter to my nephew Giovannino. I will write his name only on the envelope because we do not know where he is. You and your Guardian Angel will take the letter to him where he is.” – Padre Pio didn’t answer, so I wrote the letter. In the evening I put it on my bedside table before getting into bed. The morning after, to my great surprise, astonishment and fear, I found that the letter was not there anymore. I went in thanksgiving to Padre Pio and he told me: “Give your thanks to Our Lady.” Almost fifteen days later our nephew sent us a response to the letter. Then everybody in our family was happy and giving thanks both to God and Padre Pio.”
A good woman’s husband was very sick. The woman ran to the convent, but she asked herself, “How do I reach father Pio?” She had to wait for at least three days if she wanted to meet him for a confession. So during the Mass she stood-up and walked from one side of the Church to the other. Finally, she decided to tell Our Lady what her problem was and asked at the same moment for Padre Pio’s help. After the Mass, she started to move into the Church again, in order to reach Father Pio. Finally, she managed to reach the famous corridor where Father Pio had to pass. As soon as father Pio watched her, he said: “Woman with a little faith, when will you finally ask for my help? Do you think I am deaf? You have already told me it five times when you were in front of me, at my back, on my right and on my left. I understood! I understood! …Go home! Everything is OK.” She went home and found her husband was healed.
Grazia was a peasant who was twenty-nine years old. She had been blind from birth. She used to go to the little Church of the convent in order to meet padre Pio. Once Father Pio asked her “if she wanted to see”, “Of course, I would!”answered the girl, “but I want to see, only if this is not due to me, not to any pity”, “Well, you will recover said padre Pio and he sent her to Bari, Italy where there was a very good doctor who was the husband of one of padre Pio’s friends. But the doctor, after checking the patient’s eyes, told his wife: “There’s no hope for this girl! Padre Pio can heal her only by a miracle but I must send her back home without operating on her.” His wife insisted and told her husband: “But if padre Pio has sent her to you…you could at least try to operate on her, at least on one of her eyes.” The doctor agreed and operated on both of her eyes. Grazia’s eyes were healed! She could see now. When she was back in San Giovanni Rotondo, she ran to the convent and she knelt down at padre Pio’s feet. The friar ordered her to stand up. She told him “Bless me, Father…bless me! So he marked the sign of the Cross on her but she was still waiting to be blessed. In fact, when she was a blind woman, padre Pio used to bless her by making the sign of the Cross on her head with his hand. So at that point padre Pio said: “How do you want to be blessed? With a bucket of water poured on your head?
A gentleman said in 1950, my mother-in-law was taken to a hospital for an operation. She had cancer in the left breast. In fact, it was necessary to operate on the right side some months later, but due to the dissemination of the cancer cells in her body, the doctors said she could not live more than four months. In Milan somebody told us about Padre Pio and his miracles to us. I immediately went to San Giovanni Rotondo and I awaited my turn for confession. I asked Padre Pio to help my wife’s mother and heal her. Padre Pio sighed long twice and said: “We have to pray, everybody has to pray. She will recover! It happened! In fact my mother-in-law recovered after her operation and she went by herself to San Giovanni Rotondo to thank Padre Pio who smiling told her: “Go in peace, my daughter! Go in peace!” – Instead of four months my mother-in-law lived for nineteen years! We all have thanked father Pio for years.
One day, a famous Doctor had removed a bandage from a sore on padre Pio’s chest. The gauze was saturated with the blood and the doctor had enclosed it in a container in order to bring the gauze to his laboratory. During the trip to Rome to analyze the gauze, an Officer and other people that were traveling with the doctor said “they smelled the perfume that usually emanated from Padre Pio”. Not one of those persons knew that the doctor had the gauze soaked with the blood of St. Padre Pio in the container. The doctor saved that gauze in his laboratory, and the strange perfume had stayed in the room for long time, so that when the patients went to him for the medical visits, they asked him for an explanation.
A lady said: “My husband was in an automobile accident and was critically injured. He was transported to the hospital in Taranto, Italy. The doctors had no hope of his survival. On the hospital grounds there was a shrine dedicated to Padre Pio. Before visiting my husband I would stop and pray to Padre Pio for my husband’s recovery. One day, as I stood there praying, the “Saintly” Pio smells, a marvellous perfume of lilies engulfed me. I took it as a sign that my prayer request had been heard. From that moment on, the condition of my husband improved and he healed from the injuries he sustained.”
In Bari (Italy) during the Second World War there was the headquarters of the American Air Forces General Command. Many Officers were said to have been saved by Padre Pio during the war. Even the General Commander had been a witness to one amazing episode. The American Commanding Officer wanted to lead a squadron of bombardiers to destroy a depot of German war material that had been located in St. Giovanni Rotondo. The General said, “When the airplanes were near the target, his men and himself, saw in the sky, a monk with the uplifted hands. The bombs had dropped away by themselves and fell into the woods. The airplanes had reversed course without being maneuvered by the pilots or by the other Officers. All wondered who that monk was which the airplanes had obeyed. Someone told the General, “At San Giovanni Rotondo was a monk who worked miracles”, and he decided that, as soon as the country had been freed, he would have go to seek if he was the same monk they had seen in the sky. After the war, the General went to the Capuchin monastery with some pilots. Just entering the sacristy, the General found himself in front of various monks, among whom he immediately recognized the monk that had stopped his airplanes: he was Padre Pio. Padre Pio walked toward him and as he approached him, he said: “Are you the one who wanted to kill all of us?” Relieved by the look and by the words of the Padre, the General knelt in front of him. As usual Padre Pio spoken to him in dialect, but the General was convinced that the monk had spoken in English. This was another father Pio’s gifts. The two became friends and the General, who was Protestant, became Catholic.
Here is Padre Ascanio’s story: - “We were waiting for Padre Pio who was coming to hear confessions of the penitents. The church was crowded and everybody watched the door through which Padre Pio would enter. The door stayed closed but suddenly I saw father Pio walking above the heads of the people, he reached the confessional, and then disappeared. After some minutes he started to receive the penitents. I didn’t say anything, and I thought I was dreaming, but when I met him I asked him: “Father Pio, How did you manage to walk above the heads of the people?”.He jokingly responded: “I can assure you, my child, it’s just like walking on the floor… “.
Padre Pio started to have apparitions when he was a child. The little Francesco didn’t speak of it because he believed that the apparitions normally happened to all people. The apparitions were of Angels, of Saints, of Jesus, and of Our Lady, but sometimes, also of devils. In the last days of December, 1902, while he was meditating on his vocation, Francesco had a vision. Here is the description that he gave several years later to his confessor. “Francis saw on his side a stately man of rare beauty, shining as the sun, that picked him up by the hand and encouraged him with the precise invitation: ‘It is convenient for you to come with me and fight like a good warrior.’ He was conducted to a spacious country, among a crowd of men divided into two groups: on one side were men with very beautiful faces and dressed in white dresses, candid as the snow. On the other side there were men with horrid faces and dressed in black dresses; they looked like dark shades. Francesco was situated in the middle of these two groups of spectators and he saw that a tall man, so tall that he could touch the clouds with his forehead and with an ugly face, came toward him. The character that shined exhorted Francesco to fight against this monstrous character. Francesco prayed in order to avoid the fury of the strange character but the bright character didn’t disappear: ‘Your resistance is useless. It isFOTO1.jpg (3604 byte) worthwhile to fight against this bad character. Please, be faithful and enter confidently in the struggle. I will be nearby you; I will help you and I won’t allow him to defeat you.’ Francesco agreed and the fight was terrible. With the help of the bright character that always was nearby him, Francesco won the fight. The monstrous character was forced to run away and he dragged with him the big crowd of men with horrid faces, among howls, curses and cries. The other crowd of men with beautiful faces roared with applause and praises for him who had assisted the poor Francesco in that great battle. The splendid and bright character, more bright than the sun, put down on the head of victorious Francesco a wonderful crown that is not possible to describe. But then the crown was removed from Francesco’s head and the good character said: ‘Another crown, more beautiful than this one, I have preserved for you if you will fight with that character with which you have now fought. He will always return to the assault; you will fight without having any doubt of my help. Do not worry about his strength; I will be nearby you, I always will help you, and you will succeed in winning.’” Such visions were followed by real clashes with the Devil. Padre Pio had several clashes against the “enemy hostile to souls” during his life. In fact, one of Padre Pio’s first goals was to tear souls from the clutches of the Devil.
Padre Pio told this story to padre Anastasio. “One evening, while I was alone in choir to pray, I heard the rustle of a suit and I saw a young monk that stirred next to the High altar. It seemed that the young monk was dusting the candelabra and straightening the flower vases. I thought he was Padre Leone rearranging the altar, and, since it was supper time, I went to him and I told him: “Padre Leone, go to dine, this is not the time to dust and to straighten the altar”. But a voice, that was not Father Leone’s answered me”: “I am not Padre Leone”, “and who are you? “, I asked him. “I am a brother of yours that made the noviciate here. I was ordered to clean the altar during the year of the noviciate. Unfortunately many times I didn’t reverence Jesus while passing in front of the altar, thus causing the Holy Sacrament that was preserved in the tabernacle to be disrespected. For this serious carelessness, I am still in Purgatory. Now, God, with his endless goodness, sent me here so that you may quicken the time I will enjoy Paradise. Take care of me.” I believed to be generous to that suffering soul, so I exclaimed: “you will be in Paradise tomorrow morning, when I will celebrate Holy Mass”. That soul cried: “Cruel!” Then he wept and disappeared. That complaint produced in me a wound to the heart that I have felt and I will feel my whole life. In fact I would have been able to immediately send that soul to Heaven but I condemned him to remain another night in the flames of Purgatory.”
An Italian-American, who lived in California, sometimes entrusted his Guardian Angel to report some messages to Padre Pio. Once, after the confession, he asked Padre Pio “if he really had received his messages from his Guardian Angel?” Father Pio asked him: “What do you think? Do you think I am hard of hearing?” After that Padre Pio repeated the messages that were sent him some days before by his Guardian Angel.
An Italian lawyer was driving coming back home from Bologna. In his FIAT 1100 were also his wife and their two children. At one point, he wanted to be replaced in driving the car because he was very tired. He asked his son Guido to drive instead of him but he didn’t answer because his son was sleeping. Some kilometres later, next to the gate of St. Lazzaro, the lawyer fell asleep too. When he woke-up he realised he was not far from Eternity. That meant that while he was sleeping he had run on the railway for several kilometres. He was very frightened so he cried: “who was guiding the car? And what has happened?” but nobody could answer him. His son, who was on his right side, woke up and told him he had slept deeply. His wife and the smaller child were incredulous and marveled. They said he had driven differently than usual. They said, “At one time the car was going to crash into another car but at the last moment it avoided the crash with a perfect manoeuvres. The way it took the curves was also different. But above all – his wife said: “you have been immovable for a lot of time and you have not answered our questions.” The lawyer said, “I could not answer because I was asleep. I have slept for fifteen kilometres. I haven’t felt anything because I slept…but who was driving the car? Who has prevented the catastrophe? After a couple of months the mystery was disclosed, the lawyer went to St. Giovanni Rotondo. As soon as Padre Pio saw him, he said him, “You slept and the Guardian Angel drove your car.”
The Devil attacked Padre Pio with numerous types of temptations. Padre Augustine also confirmed that the Devil appeared to him under many different forms. “The Devil appeared as young girls that danced naked, as a crucifix, as a young friend of the monks, as the Spiritual Father or as the Provincial Father; as Pope Pius X, a Guardian Angel, as St. Francis and as Our Lady.” The Devil has also appeared in his horrible forms with an army of infernal spirits. There were other times when Padre Pio was approached by the Devil but without any apparition. He was troubled with deafening noises and covered with spittle, etc. Padre Pio succeeded in freeing himself from these attacks of the Devil by invoking the name of Jesus.
Satan went beyond all the limits of deception when he went to Father Pio pretending to be a penitent. This is the Father Pio’s testimony: “One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was. He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious! I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints. But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness. He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation. He kept this up even with with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man. The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face. At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was. With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.”
Because of the great crowds that went to see Padre Pio, two policemen were assigned to the convent to protect him. One day in the sacristy after the celebration of Mass, while Padre Pio was disrobing the sacred vestments, he turned smiling to one of the policemen and said: “As soon I have given thanksgiving for the Mass and you are finished here, come to my room because I have to speak to you.” The policeman was very happy for this invitation so, when he ended his service, he went to Padre Pio’s cell. Padre Pio told him: “Listen to me! In not more than eight days you will die at your father’s home, my son.” The policeman answered him: “But Padre, I am feeling very well.” But Padre Pio added: “Don’t worry about it! You will be better in eight days. What is this life? A pilgrimage. We are on a train, my son! Ask your boss to go on leave to enjoy your family…you are going to die…and your relatives??? They do not know anything about this…” The policeman, stunned by these words, asked: “Father, can I tell what you have told me?” “Not for now,” the Father answered, “you can tell it only when you will be at home.” The young man went to the town of St. Giovanni Rotondo and he asked for permission to go home. His boss did not want to grant him the permission because there was no suitable motivation. However, on Padre Pio’s intercession, the policeman received the permission to go home. When the policeman reached his house, he told his parents: “I’ve come to greet you and Padre Pio has told me that I will die.” After eight days the policeman died.
One day at sunset, Padre Pio was in the garden of the monastery. He was chatting pleasantly with some of his spiritual children and others of the faithful, when he realized his handkerchief was missing. He said to one of those present, “Here is the key to my cell. Please go there and get me a handkerchief.” The man went to the cell but besides the handkerchief, he took one of Padre Pio’s half gloves and put it in his pocket. He could not pass up the opportunity to obtain a relic! But when he went back to the garden and gave Padre Pio the handkerchief, Padre Pio said to him: “Thanks, but now go back to the cell and put back in the drawer the half glove that you put in your pocket”.
Abortion: One day, Padre Pellegrino asked Padre Pio:“Father, this morning you denied absolution to a lady who confessed to an abortion. Why have you been so rigorous with this poor unfortunate? “.
Padre Pio said: “The day, in which people, frightened by the economic boom, from physical damages or from economic sacrifices, will lose the horror of the abortion, it will be the most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only homicide but also suicide. And with these people we see on the point of committing two crimes…do we want to show our faith? Do we want to save them? “
“Why suicide?” Padre Pellegrino asked.
“You would understand this suicide of the human race, if with the eye of reason, you could see the Heart populated by old men and depopulated by children: burnt as a desert.”
Divorce: In the united and holy family, Padre Pio saw the place where the faith can grow and develop. He said: “Divorce is the passport to hell”.
A young lady finished the confession of her sins. She received her penance from Padre Pio who said: “You have to immerse yourself in the silence of prayer and you will save your marriage.”
The lady was amazed since her marriage didn’t have any problems. After a long time, her marriage began to experience trouble. However she was ready to face the problems and overcame them and so avoided the destruction of the family because she had been following the suggestion that Padre Pio gave her.
These examples are but just a few, at one time St. Padre Pio was the most photographed man in the world. He took all the attention with humility, much of it was under obedience. He received the stigmata had for 5 decades baffled the scientific world. With God nothing is impossible.