Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 56 – July – Sept 2013

Dreams of Padre Pio – Part III

 Download Newsletter Issue 56, July-September  2013

 

There was once a Capuchin Brother at Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo who was assigned to help Padre Pio with many of his daily tasks. The Brother had a great devotion to Padre Pio and performed his work in an exemplary way. Every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. he would go to Padre Pio’s cell to assist him. The routine was always the same. Padre Pio would be sitting in his chair either reading his breviary or praying the Rosary. The Brother would then kiss his hand and proceed to straighten the covers on his bed and do other simple tasks 57-1webin his cell.

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 He was withdrawn and hardly able to move or speak, and it seemed as though he was about to die.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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

– Name Withheld

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

– Elizabeth Reid

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

– G. W. Collins

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

– Michael Feierabend

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

-Brenda Zizzo

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t long afterward that I had a vivid dream about my son. In my dream, Frankie looked well and he was breathing easily. I thought that he was alive again. He let me know that he was in Heaven and only back to speak to me for a moment. He told me that he was in a place that was so beautiful that it was impossible to describe. He also told me he was with other children. I asked him if Padre Pio was there. Frankie looked at me and said, “Padre Pio was there to meet me when I arrived.”

– Camille Loccisano

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

– Pat Yanics

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

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

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

– Nicholas Beattie

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

– Mrs. Feeney

 

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

– St. John Baptiste de la Salle

 

 

Books from Padre Pio Devotions
bookcoverPray, Hope, and Don’t Worry:True Stories of Padre Pio Book I  – written by Diane Allen, published by Padre Pio Press, and available at amazon.com  Click on the “Books” link at padrepiodevotions.org for more information.

 

Book2dpi300BwebPray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
written by Diane Allen, published by Padre Pio Press,and available at amazon.com  Click on the “Books” link at padrepiodevotions.org for more information.

 

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 53 – October-December 2012

Download Newsletter Issue 53, October-December 2012

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

– Piero Bargellini 

Elide Bellomo

Elide Bellomo holds out her hand to greet Padre Pio

Elide Bellomo holds out her hand to Padre Pio

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

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

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

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

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

Padre Pio visiting patients in the Home for the Relief of Suffering

Padre Pio visiting patients in the Home for the Relief of Suffering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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A Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

– Donato di Ge

 

 

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

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 55 – April-June 2013

Download Newsletter Issue 55, April-June  2013

Dreams of Padre Pio –  Part II

Lina Fiorellini receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio

Lina Fiorellini receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the Redemptorist House, the man asked to see a priest. Soon the resident priest came out and greeted him kindly. He showed him the chapel and the various relics of St. Alphonsus. He also showed him the room that St. Alphonsus had lived in. As the man stood in St. Alphonsus’ room, he suddenly felt a strong desire to go to confession. Almost as if reading the man’s mind, the priest said to him, “Would you like to go to confession?” “I would like very much to do so,” the man replied. At that moment, he remembered the words that Padre Pio had spoken to him, “What you want from me, I can’t give you. You must go to another who will give it to you.” The man was convinced that the priest who was standing before him was the one whom Padre Pio was referring to when he said, “You must go to another.”

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

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

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Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis

Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis

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

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

______________________________

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

______________________________

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

______________________________

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

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

______________________________

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

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

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

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

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

______________________________

A Testimonial

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

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

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

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

– Margaret Gigante

 

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

– St. Augustine

 

Books by Padre Pio Devotions

bookcoverPray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press is available at amazon.com.

Book2dpi300Bweb

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 11 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press is available at amazon.com

 

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.