Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 54 – January-March 2013

Download Newsletter 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

Padre Pio presiding at a wedding

Giuseppe Di Sessa’s 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 wife’s 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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The beautiful antique painting titled Our Lady of Purity hung on the wall in Padre Pio’s cell for many years

Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) was admired by many for his profound and lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was ordained as a bishop on May 13, 1917, the day of the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to 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, Maria’s 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 Maria’s 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. Maria’s 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. Don’t 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. Peter’s 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 Pio’s 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 Pio’s 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 Pio’s confessional. She had to wait ten days before her number was called. She was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass every day while she waited. Spending time in prayer in the church of Our Lady of Grace and attending Padre Pio’s 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. Bertolotti’s 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 Pio’s 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 Pio’s 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 won’t 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 wasn’t 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 family’s 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, Aurilio’s brother had a desire to see Padre Pio’s 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 Aurilio’s 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. Nancy’s mother had recently learned about Padre Pio. She decided to write a letter to him, asking him for his prayers for her daughter’s recovery. The year was 1967. One day when Mrs. Sinisi was telling her family some of the details of Padre Pio’s life, the room became filled with a beautiful perfume.

It wasn’t 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, Nancy’s 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, Michael’s 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 Pio’s 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 Pio’s 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 Don’t Worry – Issue 52 – July-September 2012

Download Newsletter 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

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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.

One 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

Download Newsletter 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

Download Newsletter 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 48 – July-September 2011

Download Newsletter 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

Download Newsletter 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Download Newsletter 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

Download Newsletter 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.

 

As for me, I will always have hope, and I will praise You more and more.  – Psalm 71:14