Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 80 – Summer 2019

Anecdotes from the Home for the Relief of Suffering

On Inauguration day, May 5, 1956, Padre Pio celebrated Mass on the steps of the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

Francesco Lotti was just a teenager when he met Padre Pio for the first time. After Francesco’s father had passed away, he and his mother traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo from their home in the north of Italy. During the visit, Padre Pio said to Francesco, “I will now be your new father.”

On another visit, Francesco noticed that Padre Pio was looking out the monastery window and seemed to be deep in thought. Padre Pio then pointed to the mountain and said to Francesco, “Someday a large hospital will be built on that mountain. You will be one of the doctors who will work there.” But Francesco did not believe that would ever happen. He had already made a decision to pursue a career in the military. However, later he changed his mind and decided to study medicine. Eventually he became the head physician in Pediatrics at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

For a time, Francesco Lotti was Padre Pio’s doctor. Even so, Dr. Lotti never saw his stigmata. Padre Pio never mentioned it, nor the suffering it caused him. Nevertheless, Dr. Lotti was very much aware of the suffering that Padre Pio endured because of the stigmata. Sometimes he saw the painful expression on Padre Pio’s face when someone shook hands with him. The only time that Dr. Lotti ever caught a glimpse of the stigmata was when Padre Pio’s hands were exposed at Mass.

By living and working in San Giovanni Rotondo, Dr. Lotti learned many things about Padre Pio. For one, he became aware of Padre Pio’s unusual eating habits. He came to the conclusion that Padre Pio’s daily intake of food was insuf­ficient to sustain life. Padre Pio had his own theory about it. He likened the body to soil. Some soil needed a lot of fertilizer in order for crops to grow. There was other soil that was so rich, it needed no fertilizer at all. Padre Pio said that his body was like the latter. He remarked that on one occasion he was unable to eat for three days due to an intestinal problem. At the end of the three days, he had gained six pounds. “That is what I mean by fertile ground,” he remarked.

It was certainly true that Padre Pio’s physical constitution seemed to defy science. As impossible as it sounds, at times his heart rate would not be synchronized with his pulse. Padre Pio once told Dr. Lotti that he needed only half the dosage of medicine that is prescribed to a child. On one occa­sion, when Padre Pio was suffering from bronchitis, he had to be seen by a new doctor because Dr. Sanguinetti, his regular doctor at that time, was out of town. The medicine that Padre Pio was prescribed made him ill. When Dr. Sanguinetti returned and heard what had happened, he was upset. “That would never have happened if I had been here,” Dr. Sanguinetti said. He felt that he understood Padre Pio’s unique constitution and knew how to treat him for illness.


In 1950, during the time that Padre Pio’s hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering was being built in San Giovanni Rotondo, a small office was set up near the monastery. The purpose of the office was to collect donations for the hospital. People who visited the office could also subscribe to a small publica­tion that the Capuchins made available. The publication kept people informed about the progress and the development of the construction of the hospital. All of the money that was collected from the subscriptions was given to the hospital.

On one occasion, a woman visited the office and asked that her name be removed from the subscription list. She no longer wanted to receive the hospital publication. While she was talking to the office clerk about her sub­scription, she showed him a lovely religious article which she had recently pur­chased as a gift for Padre Pio. She was planning on going to the monastery that very day to give it to him. The obvious question in the office clerk’s mind was why the woman wanted to give a gift to Padre Pio if she felt so strongly about not receiving the publication about his hospital. It did not seem to make sense.

Not only had the woman decided to withdraw her support from the hospital, she went so far as to try to persuade others to do likewise. On one occasion, the woman had discouraged one of her friends from making any contributions to Padre Pio’s hospital. She told her friend that it would be much better for people to give their money to their home parishes rather than to the hospital fund.

A little later on in the day, the woman returned to the office. The clerk noticed that the woman had tears in her eyes. “Please put my name back on the subscription list for the hospital publication,” the woman said. She explained the reason. When she went to the monastery, she happened to see Padre Pio standing in the corridor. She went up to him to greet him but he would not acknowledge her presence. She presented the gift to him but he looked at it with an expression of great consternation. He refused to accept it. It then dawned on the woman that her prior actions had been wrong. She had no business discouraging people from helping such a worthy cause as the Home for the Relief of Suffering. She got the message loud and clear.


During the Holy Year of 1950, Dorothy Gaudiose and her two sisters, Helena and Carmelita were making preparations to travel to Rome. When Dorothy read an interesting article about Padre Pio in the newspaper, she decided to add San Giovanni Rotondo to the itinerary.

When the sisters arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, they saw many pilgrims both inside and outside the church. At that time, the wait to go to confession to Padre Pio was ten days. Dorothy told one of the Capuchins at the monas­tery that she and her sisters were hoping that they could have a word with Padre Pio. The Capuchin told her that Padre Pio would soon be passing from corridor of the church into the monastery. They could wait for him there but they would need a ticket in order to do so.

With their tickets in hand, Dorothy and her sisters waited in the corridor where a large crowd of women and children had already assembled. When Padre Pio appeared, the women became very excited. Many of them tried to press toward Padre Pio and to touch him. Padre Pio was patient and humble and did not show any annoyance.

When Padre Pio saw Dorothy and her two sisters standing with the oth­ers, he smiled and spoke to them briefly. He asked them where they were from and he was happy to learn that they were Americans. Dorothy imme­diately felt the strength of his character as well as his deep piety. Then he surprised Dorothy and her sisters by making a humorous remark. All of the other women who were in hearing distance began to laugh.

Dorothy and Helena began to visit San Giovanni Rotondo every sum­mer. Since they were both teachers who had extended summer vacations, it worked out well. In 1961, Dorothy and Helena took a sabbatical from their teaching positions and spent one full year in San Giovanni Rotondo. They were able to attend Mass each day and also felt blessed to be able to make their confession to Padre Pio. Once, Helena confessed that she had missed Mass on Sunday. To her great surprise, Padre Pio told her that she had already confessed that sin. It was true. While in Rome, she had gone to confession and mentioned it at that time.

During that year, Dorothy and Helena became good friends with Mary Pyle. They helped Mary sort the tremendous amount of mail that came into the monastery. It was usually an all day project. Mary shared many incidents from Padre Pio’s life with Dorothy and Helena. She told them that on occa­sion, when the doctors at the Home for the Relief of Suffering had a difficult surgery to perform, they would first go to the monastery to see Padre Pio and ask him to bless their hands.

Dorothy and Helena were both fluent in Italian as well as English. When Mary Pyle was occupied with other matters, she often sent them in her place to assist as Padre Pio’s language translators. When the English-speaking pil­grims were visiting with Padre Pio, Dorothy and Helena would translate for them.

Dorothy felt the graces of being in such close contact with Padre Pio. She told him that she was considering a permanent move to San Giovanni Rotondo. “No,” he answered. “That would not be a good idea. You will do many good works in the United States. You must return.”

One day Helena asked Padre Pio if there was any other way that she could help him in his important apostolate. “Yes, there is,” he answered. “Try to do something for the Home for the Relief of Suffering, even if you have to make sacrifices in order to do so.” Helena thought about his words and finally decided what she wanted to do. She told Padre Pio that she owned a home in the U.S. which she had decided to put up for sale. Once the house sold, she wanted to donate the money to the hospital. She was a widow and she had no children. She was also secure financially. Padre Pio asked her three times if there was anyone in her immediate family, like a brother or a sister, who might need her property. Helena assured him that none of her relatives needed it. Finally, he said that he would accept her gift and he expressed his gratitude to her for her generosity. He also predicted accurately the price that her house would sell for.

Dorothy too wanted to do something more to help Padre Pio. Unlike her sister, Dorothy did not have any property that she could donate. She won­dered what she could do to help. The thought occurred to her that she might be able to write a biography of Padre Pio’s life. She worked as an English teacher in a public school and through the years, she had taken many courses in creative writing. She knew that she had the ability to write.

Dorothy spoke to Padre Pio about her idea. She told him that when the book was completed, she wanted to donate half of all the royalties to the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Dorothy was certain that she would encounter many difficulties along the way. She believed that finding a publisher might be the greatest challenge of all. She asked Padre Pio to guide her and to help her find a publisher. Padre Pio replied with a single word, “Spera” (Have hope).

Altogether, it took six years before Dorothy’s book was made available to the public. During the very difficult time of trying to find a publisher, she remembered Padre Pio’s words. She waited in patience and never lost hope. Her interesting and well-researched book, Prophet of the People became very popular. Many people told Dorothy that the book proved to be a great help to them in their spiritual journey. At home in the United States, Dorothy did much to spread the message of Padre Pio. She gave talks on his life and spirituality at churches, on university campuses, and even at prisons and detention facilities. Everyone was inter­ested in what Dorothy had to say.

After Padre Pio’s death, Dorothy became one of the promoters of his cause for canonization. She circulated a petition and collected signatures, requesting that the formal proceedings begin. She asked a number of bishops if they would be willing to sign the petition and many of them agreed to do so. Other bishops said that they could not sign the petition because they did not know anything about Padre Pio. Dorothy then sent a gift copy of her book to 300 bishops. She also wrote fifty letters and sent them to bishops in each of the fifty states in the United States. Included with an offering was a written request that the bishop say a Mass for her special intention. Her special inten­tion was that Padre Pio’s cause for canonization would proceed smoothly and successfully.


Mr. Valentino, of Milan, Italy, used to take his wife to San Giovanni Rotondo so that she could attend Mass and make her confession to Padre Pio. His wife was a person of deep faith and piety. In many ways she was just the opposite of her husband. She had a reserved and gentle nature and was respectful and polite. Her husband, on the other hand, was an arrogant and proud man who had an open hostility toward religion. He especially felt a strong dislike for Padre Pio. Mrs. Valentino prayed continually for the conver­sion of her husband.

Whenever they made the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, Mr. Valentino refused to step inside the church of Our Lady of Grace. Instead, he waited for his wife in the square just outside where he drank coffee and smoked cigaret­tes. He was not afraid to tell people openly that Padre Pio was not the holy man they thought him to be.

One icy and windy winter’s day when Mr. Valentino was waiting for his wife in the square, the cold temperature made him so uncomfortable that he felt compelled to go inside the church in order to warm up. When he entered the church, he happened to catch a glimpse of Padre Pio. Their eyes met for just a moment. Mr. Valentino was so taken by the experience, that he had a sudden and dramatic change of heart. He knew then that he had been mista­ken in his estimation of Padre Pio.

From that day forward, Mr. Valentino attended the various prayer ser­vices at Our Lady of Grace while he waited for his wife to make her confes­sion. He never missed a single one. He was able to make his confession to Padre Pio as well. Feeling a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings he had received, he wanted to do something to help Padre Pio and wondered what he could do. At the time, Padre Pio’s hospital was still under construction. Mr. Valentino bought the first pine trees that were planted on the grounds of the Home for the Relief of Suffering.


In 1956, Dr. Vito Tricarico, an Orthopedic specialist, was hired to work at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One of the first people that Dr. Vito met after moving from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo was Carlo Campanini. One day, Carlo took Dr. Vito over to the monastery and introduced him to Padre Pio. During the conversation, Padre Pio asked Dr. Vito about his family. When he told Padre Pio that his parents were both farmers, Padre Pio seemed genuinely pleased. Padre Pio then told a joke that made everyone laugh. He embraced Dr. Vito and sent him off with his blessing. For the next eight years, Dr. Vito would see Padre Pio almost every evening. He and the other doctors met with Padre Pio in order to discuss important matters deal­ing with the new hospital. They also discussed various clinical cases with him.

In 1961, Dr. Vito’s wife was admitted to the labor and delivery ward of the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Because Dr. Vito was their colleague and because it was his wife’s first baby, the doctors on duty in labor and delivery felt somewhat nervous. Dr. Vito was nervous as well. His friend Carlo Campanini told him that they should go and have a word with Padre Pio. Perhaps it would calm Dr. Vito’s nerves. Dr. Vito agreed to go. When they arrived at the monastery, they found Padre Pio reading the Bible. Padre Pio was happy to learn that Dr. Vito was about to become a father. He said to Dr. Vito, “If you want to form a good Christian family, you must start with a daughter. Congratulations. Everything went well!” When Dr. Vito walked back over to the hospital, he learned that his wife had just given birth to a baby girl. He was informed that “everything had gone well.” They named their beautiful new daughter, Chiara Pia.


A procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the wards of the Home for the Relief of Suffering with many patients participating.

On many occasions, Padre Pio demonstrated that he was intuitively attuned to the needs of the Home for the Relief of Suffering. An incident involving his spiritual daughter, Amalia Pagani, is one case in point. One day when Amalia was in the church of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio looked directly in her eyes and said to her, “Go outside!” Amalia could not under­stand why Padre Pio would say such a thing. Three times he repeated the words to her. Feeling hurt and rejected by his strong command, Amalia was in tears as she left the church.

As soon as Amalia stepped outside, she saw one of the Capuchins who was walking toward her and appeared to be in a hurry. “Why are you crying?” he asked. Amalia repeated what Padre Pio had told her in the church. “Would you be willing to follow me quickly over to the hospital?” the Capuchin asked. “There is a little boy in the emergency room and he is fighting for his life. The doctors are working on him at this moment and he is in need of blood. We are searching for a blood donor who has his blood type,” the Capuchin explained. Amalia was happy to agree to the Capuchin’s request and quickly followed him over to the hospital. As it turned out, Amalia had the exact blood type that was needed. She was very glad that she had been able to help the young boy. She then understood why Padre Pio had insisted that she leave the church immediately.


Dr. Luigi Pancaro was one of the doctors who worked at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. He was also the designated doctor for many of the Capuchins who were in residence at Our Lady of Grace monastery, including Padre Pio. Dr. Pancaro usually went to the monastery each day at noon in order to join Padre Pio as he recited the Angelus in front of the church.

Living in San Giovanni Rotondo, Dr. Pancaro heard many amazing stories about Padre Pio. A number of people told Dr. Pancaro that they were miraculously healed by Padre Pio. Others spoke of his gifts of bilocation, reading of hearts, and perfume. Dr. Pancaro always had doubts about such stories, believing them to be pure fantasy. He would sometimes say to himself, “If these astonishing things that I hear about Padre Pio are actually true, why doesn’t he remove the strong doubts from my mind?” But the doubts held on and would not leave.

Dr. Pancaro had read a number of articles in newspapers and magazines about Padre Pio’s charismatic gifts. Much of what was written about Padre Pio seemed to be pure sensationalism and he remained skeptical about such stories. Nevertheless, Dr. Pancaro held Padre Pio in the highest esteem. He admired him for his great piety and for his compassion for the poor and the sick. In his estimation, those were the true marks of spirituality.

May 28, 1958, was to be an important day for the Pancaro family. Dr. Pancaro’s daughter, Caroline, was to be married on that day at Our Lady of Grace church and Padre Pio had agreed to perform the wedding ceremony. The morning of Caroline’s wedding, the Pancaro family attended Padre Pio’s 5:00 a.m. Mass. During the Mass, Dr. Pancaro’s mind was filled with doubts about the Catholic teachings on the Eucharist, especially the transubstantia­tion. To Dr. Pancaro, the theology of the transubstantiation seemed ridicu­lous. He simply did not believe it. He made an effort to banish his negative thoughts during the Mass but he did not succeed.

After Mass, Dr. Pancaro greeted Padre Pio and tried to kiss his hand but Padre Pio would not allow him to do so. Padre Pio whispered in his ear, so that no one else could hear, “My son, what bad thoughts you had at Mass this morning! When are you going to stop thinking like that?”

The next day, the doctor had an opportunity to speak to Padre Pio once again. “Now listen to me attentively,” Padre Pio said. “I am not at all offended by what you think of me. But to doubt the great mystery of the transubstantia­tion is the greatest offence you could commit against God!” Padre Pio looked deep into Dr. Pancaro’s eyes. “Now are you convinced?” Padre Pio asked. And yes, at last Dr. Pancaro was convinced.


On one occasion, Father Eusebio Notte, who lived in residence at Our Lady of Grace monastery, was invited by one of the doctors at the Home for the Relief of Suffering to be present during an operation, a simple appendec­tomy. Father Eusebio agreed to observe the surgery.

Everything seemed to be going along just fine with the surgery when sud­denly complications arose. It was obvious that the doctor in charge was very worried. Father Eusebio began to pray with great fervor to Padre Pio, beg­ging him to intercede. The patient’s condition did not improve. Father Eusebio continued to lift up his prayers to Padre Pio with even greater intensity. Finally, the doctor breathed a sigh of relief. From that point on, everything went well. The crisis had passed and the patient was out of danger.

Father Eusebio went quickly back to the monastery to tell Padre Pio the news. “Thank you so much, Padre Pio, for interceding and for answering my prayers,” Father Eusebio said. “I did not have much choice,” Padre Pio answered, “You deafened me!”


Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3. Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4.  They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. André Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 79 – Spring 2019

Padre Pio’s Hospital – The Home for the Relief of Suffering – Part II

Doctors from Padre Pio’s Hospital – The Home for the Relief of Suffering – carry a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in procession on the hospital grounds.

(Continued from Issue 78)  On one occasion, a very wealthy man sent a telegram to Our Lady of Grace monastery with a prayer request. He explained that his wife had a terminal illness. He wanted Padre Pio to pray for his wife’s healing. If his wife was cured, he intended to give a large sum of money to the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Upon hearing the man’s proposal, Padre Pio became upset. He would never accept a donation with strings attached. “One does not bargain with the Lord,” Padre Pio said.

A great effort was made to make the Home for the Relief of Suffering look cheerful and welcoming so that the patients would feel comfortable for the duration of their hospital stay. Fresh and fragrant flowers graced the rooms and care was taken to remove the unpleasant antiseptic and medicinal odors common to hospitals. It was never to be referred to as an institution or a clinic or a hospital. It was to be called a Home.

At the request of Padre Pio, the hospital furnishings were chosen with great care to counteract the typical hospital “look” which is often severe and depressing. “Make it beautiful,” Padre Pio said to the designers. There were to be no wards, but instead, rooms which had plenty of large, sunny windows. Soft pastel colors were chosen for the interior. The attractive mosaic floors were laid down by some of the local girls of San Giovanni Rotondo. The exterior of the hospital was faced with beautiful pale rose Trani stone. Green marble was chosen for the stairways and red Carso marble for the foyers. There was a large library as well as an auditorium which was equipped to show movies. Terraces and gardens contributed to the overall beauty of the Home.

Dr. Sanguinetti was instrumental in having a parcel of land near the hospital designated as a farm. It would provide the patients with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. He also had hundreds of tons of rich soil hauled up the slopes near the hospital on the backs of mules. He planted 10,000 trees, mostly pines and cypress, on the side of the mountains. Truly, in San Giovanni Rotondo, the desert had flowered. Through Padre Pio’s efforts, it flowered charitably, scientifically and also spiritually.

Dr. Carlo Kisvarday told Padre Pio on one occasion that too much money was being spent on nonessentials, in other words, items to enhance the Home’s outward beauty. Padre Pio responded, “No, that is not true. If it were possible, I would make the Home out of pure gold. Nothing is too good or too beautiful for the sick and suffering because in reality the sick person is Jesus.” And to a priest who made a critical remark because he thought that the Home looked too luxurious, Padre Pio responded, “Too luxurious? Not at all. A hospital is a tabernacle. Christ is in the sick.”

As the days drew closer to completion, Padre Pio could hardly contain his joy. Everything seemed to be falling into place. Twenty-four doctors had put in their applications to work at the Home. A man brought his paralyzed son to the monastery to see Padre Pio. Padre Pio greeted the man with great kindness and said to him, “Do not give up hope. The hospital will be opening in just a few months. You will be able to bring your son to the children’s clinic for medical treatment.” Padre Pio made it clear that no one who was in need of care was to be turned away due to lack of money.

People with serious illnesses came regularly to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace to ask Padre Pio to pray that their health would be restored. Many of the people who came to see him had cancer. As he formulated the plans for the Home, he expressed his desire for the establishment of a can­cer-research center.

The official inauguration ceremony for the opening of the Home for the Relief of Suffering took place on May 5, 1956, sixteen years after the first committee meeting. At the inauguration, Padre Pio offered Mass at an altar that was set up between the two pillars of the hospital entrance. An estimated crowd of 15,000 people was present. During the inauguration, the choir sang the beautiful hymn, Where There is Charity and Love, There is God.

Dozens of bishops and priests were in attendance as well as the Mini­ster General of the Capuchin Order, numerous prelates from the Vatican, the president of the Italian Senate, the Minister of State, and other dignitaries of the Italian government. In the crowd were nine hundred representatives from the Padre Pio prayer groups in Europe, South America, India, the United States and other countries. World famous doctors from many parts of Europe were also in the audience. Dr. White, the personal physician of the President of the United States, at that time President Eisenhower, was there to repre­sent the United States.

The new hospital looked magnificent. Three hundred flags of the nations were displayed across the front of the hospital. The American flag was in the center and flew beside the flag of Italy. Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, was the Pope’s official envoy for the occasion. He spoke to the huge gathering and said:

I have been reminded of the words of our sacred liturgy, Where char­ity and love dwell, God is there. It is equally true that where God is, there charity and love are found together … Have you not noticed it here in San Giovanni Rotondo? Yes. The whole world has noticed it!

A message from Pope Pius XII was read by the Minister General of the Capuchin Order. The Holy Father also sent his apostolic blessing. During the ceremonies, military airplanes from the nearby Amendola air field repeatedly flew over the hospital as a sign of support for the new hospital.

Padre Pio rarely spoke in public but he did so on the occasion of the inauguration. Deeply and visibly moved, he addressed the huge crowd at the conclusion of the Mass and said:

The Home for the Relief of Suffering is complete. I thank the bene­factors from every part of the world who have contributed to its con­struction. This is what Providence, also with your support, has created. I give it to you. Admire it and bless it together in the name of God.

A seed has been placed in the earth which He will warm with his rays of love. A new army formed through sacrifice and love is about to rise up to the glory of God, and to the comfort of sick souls and bodies. Do not deprive us of your help; collaborate with this apostolate for the relief of human suffering, and the Divine Charity which knows no bounds and which is the very light of God and the Eter­nal Life, will accumulate for each one of you, a treasure of graces, to which Jesus made us inheritors on the Cross . . . May this work become a center of the Franciscan spirit in action, a place of prayer and science where the human race can be united in Christ Crucified, as a single flock under one Shepherd . . .

May God bless those who have worked, are working, and will work for this Hospital. May he recompense you a thousand times in this life and with eternal joy in the next life. May the Blessed Virgin of all Graces and our Seraphic Father, St. Francis in heaven and the vicar of Christ on earth intercede for us so that our wishes may be granted.

Padre Pio, together with Cardinal Lercaro, then cut the traditional rib­bon leading into the hospital. Together, they went inside and blessed the vari­ous rooms and departments.

While the inauguration day was a day of tremendous joy and celebration, it was also bittersweet. Dr. Sanguinetti and Dr. Sanvico, who had labored tirelessly from the very beginning to help Padre Pio accomplish his dream, were not present. Both had passed away before the Home was completed. Dr. Kisvarday, who had worked closely with Dr. Sanguinetti and Dr. Sanvico for years, was overcome with emotion during the inaugural ceremonies. He sat close to Padre Pio and cried through most of the Mass. Angelo Lupi, whose skill and genius had created the magnificent structure, would die in the Home in 1969.

On May 6, 1956, the day after the inauguration, Padre Pio spoke briefly to the doctors who assembled at the hospital for the International Seminar of the European Society of Cardiology. He said:

You have come into the world as I have, with a mission to fulfill. Take note. I am speaking to you about duties, at a time when every­one speaks only of rights. I, as a religious and a priest, have a mis­sion to accomplish. As a religious and a Capuchin, I am bound to the perfect and strict observance of my Rule and vows. As a priest, mine is a mission of atonement, of propitiating God for the sins of mankind.

All this may come to pass if I am in God’s grace . . . You have a mission to cure the sick. But if you do not also bring love to the patient’s bedside, I do not think that your medicines will be of much use. I can prove this from my own experience. During my illness in 1916-1917, my doctor, while treating me, first expressed words of comfort to me. Love cannot do without words. And you your­selves, how can you, other than by words, bring spiritual comfort to a patient? . . . Bring God to your patients; that will help them more than any other cure.

The first sick person was admitted to the hospital on May 10, 1956. More were admitted during the month of May, but the numbers were much lower than expected. It was a deep concern to the administrators. On the feast of Cor­pus Christi, 1956, Padre Pio went to the hospital and carried the Blessed Sacra­ment in procession through all of the wards. Right after that, the hospital started to fill up. After only three years, the Home had to be enlarged and a new wing had to be added in order to accommodate the growing numbers of the sick.

Dr. Carlo Kisvarday gave more than twenty years of his life to serving the Home. His esteem for Padre Pio was so great and his dedication to the work was so total that he knew he would never leave San Giovanni Rotondo. His workday began at 5:00 a.m. and rarely ended before midnight. He felt a compelling force, always urging him forward in his efforts. His one fear was that old age and declining health might someday force him to cut back on his working hours.

One day Padre Pio said to Dr. Kisvarday, “Carletto, the Lord has estab­lished the date of everyone’s death. He alone knows the length of time each of us has on this earth. I am praying for you so that the Heavenly Father might give you one added year of life.” The doctor did not know quite what to make of the mysterious comment. Shortly after that, Dr. Kisvarday had a health crisis. He was unconscious when he was taken to the Home for the Relief of Suffering. He remained in a coma for three days.

When Dr. Kisvarday was out of danger and on the road to recuperation, he told his nurse that Padre Pio had come in bilocation to his bedside and had spoken to him. Almost a year later, Dr. Kisvarday passed away. He had been given one extra year of perfect health, thanks to the intercession of Padre Pio.

Padre Pio asked Father Innocenzo of Campobasso to assist as the full-time chaplain at the Home. Father Innocenzo said Mass in the hospital chapel, heard confessions, and visited the sick. He also gave spiritual direction to the nuns who worked at the hospital. He made a holy hour every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament on behalf of all the patients. He served as the chaplain at the Home for 40 years.

Through the years, Father Innocenzo had many beautiful experiences in his capacity as chaplain. He used to enjoy telling Padre Pio about his encoun­ters with the patients. Padre Pio always loved to listen to the stories that Father Innocenzo shared with him.

Once, a woman greeted Father Innocenzo and told him how much his spiritual counsel had helped her when she was a patient in the Home. Dur­ing her hospital stay, she became desperate when she was told by the doctors that she would never recover. “Father Innocenzo, I have never forgotten your words to me, words that changed my life,” the woman said. “And what did I say to you?” Father Innocenzo asked her. “You told me that Jesus continues to suffer in the sick,” the woman replied. “Since then, I have been able to accept my condition. Thanks to you Father, I now pray and meditate every day and I am content to suffer.”

The patients in the Home felt blessed that Father Innocenzo was there to pray with them and to administer the sacraments. On one occasion, there was a man who spent many months in the Home with a very serious illness. Finally, one day he asked for Father Innocenzo. He then made a sincere con­fession. The very next day he went into a coma and received the Last Rites. Later that day, the man regained consciousness. When he opened his eyes, he saw Father Innocenzo sitting beside his bed. “Father, what a beautiful thing you did for me!” the man said. “I am so grateful that you heard my confession.” Right after that, the man lost consciousness and he died within the hour.

There was another patient at the Home for the Relief of Suffering whom Father Innocenzo visited regularly. Day after day, the man put off making his confession. Finally, one day he decided that he was ready. After he made his confession, he felt such a sense of happiness that he began to cry. From that time forward, every time he saw Father Innocenzo, he expressed his gratitude to him. “I have found life again here at the Home for the Relief of Suffering,” the man said. “I must thank God and I must thank Padre Pio that I was able to come here.”

Father Innocenzo once told Padre Pio that he believed that those who were sick had an opportunity through their illness, to receive abundant graces from the Lord. “Many graces indeed come to the sick,” Padre Pio said. “In the Home for the Relief of Suffering, there flows a grace that sustains, comforts, and gives strength to the sick. It is a grace which flows silently, secretly. Of course, there are always a small number who resist the mercy of God, but even among those, I believe that grace usually triumphs in the end.”

Someone suggested to Padre Pio that it would be a blessing to invite an order of nuns to work at the hospital. Several different religious congregations were put forward to him as possibilities. Padre Pio said that the Lord had let him know many years before which nuns to invite. Padre Pio chose the Missi­onaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a nursing order of nuns.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had served in San Giovanni Rotondo from 1909 to 1920. They assisted in a training school, a school for girls, and a home for the elderly. In 1920, the nuns were called away from San Giovanni Rotondo to serve in another area. When they went to say goodbye to Padre Pio, they felt a sadness in their hearts. He had been their confessor since the time of his transfer to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace.

Padre Pio told the nuns that he was sorry to see them leave but he was certain that they would return someday. He pointed to a nearby mountain and said, “When you return, you will work in a big hospital that will be erected where that mountain now stands.” Padre Pio’s prophecy was fulfilled thirty-five years later, when the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus returned to San Giovanni Rotondo to work at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

Sister Miriam Brusa was one of the nuns of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart who worked at the hospital. She used to say that the Home was built on Padre Pio’s tears. Father Agostino also expressed the same sentiment. He wrote in his diary, “Padre Pio always suffers for the hospital.” Indeed, it was true. No one knew the difficulties and setbacks that occurred regarding the hospital better than Padre Pio.

Once, when Sister Miriam was taking care of the hospital bookkeeping, she noticed that there was a shortage of five million lire for the monthly expenses. She was worried that the employees might not be able to receive their paychecks on time. Sister Miriam decided not to tell Padre Pio about it. Knowing that he had many other difficulties to deal with, she tried to protect him from the day to day problems of the hospital. Sister Miriam determined not to tell anyone about the worrisome matter just yet. Padre Pio always called the Home a work of “Divine Providence.” Sister Miriam would place her trust in Divine Providence and petition God through prayer for a solution.

In just a matter of days, Sister Miriam received the exact amount of money that was needed for the monthly expenses. Angela Lazzarini, who played a part in the acquisition of the needed funds, explained to Sister Miriam the details of how the generous donation came about. “I was very surprised when Padre Pio told me that he needed money,” Angela said. “As you know, Padre Pio never asks for anything. But he explained to me that the hospital was in need, although he didn’t specify the amount. I did not have the money myself so I asked a friend to write a check. When my friend asked me the amount to write, for a reason that I cannot explain I felt urged to say, ‘five million lire.’ My friend wrote the check for that amount and I took it to Padre Pio. When Padre Pio looked at the check, he told me that it was the exact amount that the hospital needed.” It was then that Padre Pio had the money delivered to Sister Miriam. That month, the workers were paid on time, the bills were paid, and all was well.

John McCaffery, who enjoyed Padre Pio’s friendship for many years, was well aware that the Home was a work of God and a gift of Divine Providence. John said:

If one thinks just for a moment of what is implied by the set­ting up of a modern four hundred bed hospital, the immensity and complexity of the task is evident. Situate it then, in the middle of nowhere; make all its prodigious running costs dependent more or less on haphazard charitable donations; consider that it was so con­structed as to be capable of harmonious expansion to its present num­ber of a thousand beds. And then ask what force created it.

No amount of thought and planning or even of human blood, sweat, and tears, ever produced that vast and continuing phenom­enon. It took a vision not of this world to foresee it all, and a power­house of prayer and suffering to bring it to fruition.

Through the years, Padre Pio visited the Home for the Relief of Suffering to pray at the bedsides of the seriously ill and on special feast days, he would occasionally say Mass in the hospital chapel. He took part briefly in the Cath­olic Doctors Convention that was held at the Home in 1957.

Santa Claus never fails to keep his appointment at the Home for the Relief of Suffering on Christmas day.

At Christmas time, he loved to view the large and impressive Christmas Crib that was dis­played on the third floor of the hospital. At times, he attended special meet­ings of the Third Order of St. Francis at the Home. He also enjoyed attending the religious plays that were held in the hospital auditorium. He was there to bless the first stone which marked the work of enlargement and expansion of the hospital. On one occasion, when Padre Pio was ill, he was admitted as a patient to the Home.

On the 10th anniversary of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, May 5, 1966, Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, as distinguished guest of honor, celebrated Mass on the portico of the hospital. In his homily that day, he spoke beautiful and inspiring words about Padre Pio’s great work of charity. He said:

I was hungry, says the Lord, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was naked and you covered me: I was in prison and you came to me, sick and you visited me. Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, sick and we aided thee? As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Christ, therefore, is present in suffering. It is he who receives our attention, our generosity, our charity, who implores it. It will be he who will reward it one day, on the great day of his return in glory. It will be he who will reward it, and will reward it with a kingdom, not a human, fleeting one, but one prepared by God . . . From this presence of Christ in a brother who suffers is born for each of us, the duty to bring relief for suffering . . . The Home which rises here and which we inaugurated ten years ago has interpreted and interprets well, in the wealth of resources, scientific and technical, and in the decorum of the construction, this spirit of devout service to the suffering members of Our Lord.

We cannot offer Christ the crumbs which fall from the table of one who is satiated. The crumbs, in the words of the Gospel, are for the dogs. But when he who hungers is Christ, when the homeless one is Christ, what would we not do for him, and what can ever be wor­thy of him no matter what we do?

Padre Pio was present along side of Cardinal Lercaro for the 10th anni­versary celebration. He spoke briefly to the large crowd that day and said:

Infinite thanks to the Lord and to the Blessed Virgin, and blessed be those that in any way have cooperated with the Word. My mind and my paternal thoughts go in a special way to the Prayer Groups, now spread all over the world and here today for the celebration of  the 10th anniversary of the Home for the Relief of Suffering and for their second International Convention. Together with the Home for the Relief of Suffering, they are the advanced guards of this citadel of charity, alive with faith, centers of love, in which Christ himself is present every time they meet to pray and to celebrate the Eucharist under the auspices of their pastors and spiritual directors.

It is prayer, this united strength of all good people, which moves the world, which renews minds, which sustains the Home, which comforts the suffering, which heals the sick, which sanctifies work, which elevates medical assistance, which gives moral strength and Christian resignation to human suffering, and which spreads the smile and benediction of God on every languor and weakness.

Pray a lot my children. Pray always, without ever tiring, because it is to prayer that I entrust this work, which God has wanted and which will continue to progress and prosper thanks to the help of Divine Providence and the charitable and spiritual contribution of all those who pray. May the almighty and merciful God, who accepts for himself every good that is done to our suffering brethren, recom­pense you a thousand times over, in the fullest and most abundant measure.

Padre Pio’s plans to further help the people of San Giovanni Rotondo inclu­ded a number of other charitable works. He outlined his desires but did not live to see all of them realized. He wanted to build a home for the elderly, a home for retired priests, day care centers and nursery schools, a clinic for spastic and retarded children, a center for the prayer groups, a retreat house for the clergy, a retreat house for the laity, a Way of the Cross, a nursing school, and an international center of studies for doctors. He said, “We are building not only the Home for the Relief of Suffering, but also other facilities on the whole mountain . . . They are not only my works, but God’s, just as he shows me.”

When Padre Pio made out his last will, he donated the Home for the Relief of Suffering to the Holy See. He wanted to make sure that his great work of charity would be secure and would continue for future generations. The Vatican became the owner of the largest and finest hospital in Italy. Padre Pio said:

Notice that I made a will leaving everything to the Church, for I am a son of the Church. And when I no longer manage anything, my Mother will have to answer for all the offerings, even the coins, that souls from all over the world donate to the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

Padre Pio remained the administrator of the Home for the Relief of Suf­fering until his death. Some predicted that after Padre Pio’s passing, his hospi­tal would diminish and eventually close. How wrong they were. It has con­tinued to grow and expand through the many years since his death. Although Padre Pio has gone to his eternal reward, his spirit lives on in the Home for the Relief of Suffering. In the bright corridors, in the lovely gardens, and in the quiet chapels, one can pause and sense that Padre Pio is very near. He is still present, still working for the higher good.

Pope John Paul II visited the Home for the Relief of Suffering on May 23, 1987. He greeted the medical personnel, toured the various departments, and also visited the patients. He spoke to all who were gathered and said:

Padre Pio’s great insight was to unite science in the service of the sick, with faith and prayer: medical science in the always advancing fight against sickness; faith and prayer to transform and sublimate that suffering, which despite all the progress of medicine, will always, to a certain measure, remain an inheritance of life in this world.

Padre Pio, from the very beginning, put his Home under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He promised that Mary would always be present in his “hospital city” where countless lives would be helped and saved. Padre Pio said:

May Our Lady of Grace, who is the Queen to whom every day and many times in the day, we manifest our love, and of whom we ask her maternal assistance, reign always in the city that will rise here, and may she assist all of you. May the Madonna intensify the love of her children for the Vicar of Christ on earth, and one day may she show us Jesus in the splendor of his glory. Amen

To Be Continued:


Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3.  Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4.  They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. André Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey












Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 78 – Winter 2019

Padre Pio’s Hospital – The Home for the Relief of Suffering

Padre Pio greeting patients at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

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

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

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

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

Padre Paolino wrote a letter to Padre Agostino who was in residence at the Capuchin monastery in Foggia, giving him an update on Padre Pio’s visit. He wrote:

He is happy with us, with the air, the residence, the quiet, the solitude, and everything. And with the exception of the interior trials with which the Lord tries him, it can be said truly that he is happy . . . We ourselves are very happy with him.

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

When Padre Pio returned to Foggia, he asked for permission to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. He wrote to the Provincial and said:

I am going to ask a favor of you and I ask it because Jesus compels me to. He tells me that I must strengthen my body a bit in order to be ready for other trials to which he intends to subject me. The favor I want to ask is to let me spend some time in San Giovanni Rotondo, where Jesus assures me I will feel better. I ask you not to refuse me this charity. (Letters I)

Padre Pio received the permission from his superior and returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in September 1916. He would live with the Capuchins there for the next fifty-two years.

The people who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo were mostly poor farmers and manual laborers. It was hard for them to eke out a living in the impoverished area. San Giovanni Rotondo, which was considered to be one of the most backward regions of southern Italy, lacked even the most basic health care for its residents. If a person had a medical emergency, the only recourse was to go to the small hospital in Foggia, some twenty-five miles away. It was generally a twelve-hour journey by horse and cart on a dirt road that was very difficult to travel. Many sick people died on the way to the hospital.

Padre Pio heard many tragic stories regarding far too many people who lost their lives because of the inadequate health care in San Giovanni Rotondo. One man, who had a terrible accident, was taken to the hospital in Foggia for emergency treatment. Unfortunately, no beds were available at the time he was admitted. He was placed on a cot in the hall and had to wait more than a week before being treated for his injuries. Word got back to Padre Pio about the incident and he became very upset. Unfortunately, the man’s story was not unique. Padre Pio knew that something had to be done to remedy the situation. He continuously thought about the need for a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Along with the help of several collaborators, Padre Pio opened a small hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1925. He named it the St. Francis hospital in honor of his spiritual father, St. Francis of Assisi. With only two wards and twenty beds, the hospital was very inefficient according to modern standards. An earthquake in 1938 caused so much damage to the structure, that the little hospital finally had to close its doors for good.

The lack of adequate health care in San Giovanni Rotondo continued to be a serious problem. As more and more people learned of Padre Pio, they visited Our Lady of Grace monastery in increasing numbers. Many were suffering from serious and often life-threatening illnesses. It was obvious to Padre Pio that San Giovanni Rotondo needed a hospital that would be able to provide, not only for the medical needs of the residents, but also for the pilgrims who visited. Padre Pio felt strongly that the future hospital would have to be large and fully-equipped, with state-of-the-art technology that could handle medical emergencies of any kind.

When Padre Pio discussed his dream of building a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, many people scoffed at the idea and considered it to be absurd. A number of reasons were put forth as to why it would not work: Padre Pio’s religious community did not have the financial resources for such an undertaking; the population of San Giovanni Rotondo was too small to justify the building of a large hospital; people would not want to come to a hospital in such a remote and isolated location; the rocky and mountainous region, sometimes referred to as a “graveyard” was not suitable to build on; Italy was in the midst of an economic crisis; it was the wrong time and the wrong place to consider such a monumental undertaking. In the minds of many, the hospital project was doomed to failure.

The objections that Padre Pio heard regarding the hospital did not discourage him. If anything, the objections caused him to desire the hospital even more. He knew that if he waited until the “right moment” when everything was in good order, the hospital would never be built. “It is so pressing that we do something for the sick people here in San Giovanni Rotondo,” he said to a friend. The need for a hospital was constantly before his mind. “We will do it with the help of God,” he often repeated.

One day, Capuchin Father Alberto D’Apolito brought a man who was sick to see Padre Pio. Padre Pio’s heart was deeply touched when he met the man. He felt very sorry for him. He gave the man his priestly blessing and assured him of his prayers. After the man left, Father Alberto heard Padre Pio quietly pray, “Oh God, there is so much suffering, so much sickness. Please take away the sufferings of that poor man and give them to me.” Padre Pio became ill right after he prayed. Father Alberto learned later that the man had made a complete recovery.

In his own life, Padre Pio knew, not only physical suffering, but spiritual suffering as well. “I endure terrible hours of sadness,” he once wrote to his spiritual director. His own trials enabled him to have great compassion for those who were sick, especially children. Sometimes he seemed almost paralyzed by the suffering he saw all around him. He often cried unashamedly for those who were ill.

Pope John Paul II visits the patients in the men’s ward at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

Padre Pio continued to work out the step by step plans for the hospital. He carefully chose the men and women who would play key roles in the leadership and administration of the hospital. There is reason to believe that Padre Pio had certain people marked out for the tasks before they had even met him. To the casual observer, his selection of certain individuals seemed on occasion, to be impractical. But time and time again, his judgment proved to be correct.

Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti was one of the men who was hand-picked by Padre Pio to play a major role in the construction of the hospital. Dr. Sanguinetti’s introduction to Padre Pio came about in an unusual way. One day, Dr. Sanguinetti asked his wife, Emilia, what kind of a gift she would like for their wedding anniversary. Emilia told him that more than anything else, she would like to go to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio. Dr. Sanguinetti met the idea with great resistance. “Emilia, please don’t ask me to take you there,” Dr. Sanguinetti said. “Ask me for anything but that. You know how much I dislike religion!” As a fallen-away Catholic, he made a conscious effort to stay far away from churches and any type of religious gatherings. He especially made an effort to distance himself from priests. But he had asked his dear wife what she wanted for an anniversary gift and he felt that he had to honor her wishes. He finally agreed to take her to San Giovanni Rotondo.

Visiting the church of Our Lady of Grace and meeting Padre Pio turned out to be a far different experience than what Dr. Sanguinetti had expected. He attended Mass and the following day had the desire to make his confession to Padre Pio. He had not been to confession in twenty-five years.

Not long after, Dr. Sanguinetti made a second trip to visit Padre Pio. Padre Pio then told the doctor about his desire to have a hospital built in San Giovanni Rotondo. He urged the doctor to move to San Giovanni Rotondo and help him. “You will be the doctor who will help supervise the building project,” Padre Pio said to Dr. Sanguinetti. The doctor was dumbstruck. “But that would be impossible!” Dr. Sanguinetti replied. “I am neither an architect nor an engineer. I am a physician. My study has been the human body, not buildings. I know nothing about buildings.” “Don’t worry about that,” Padre Pio said. “That will all be taken care of.” “Still, it is unthinkable,” Dr. Sanguinetti answered. “I am a country doctor. I cannot afford to retire from my medical practice in Mugello. I do not have the financial means.”

Padre Pio then asked Dr. Sanguinetti to explain to him in detail, the particulars of his financial situation. Dr. Sanguinetti told Padre Pio that he earned a modest salary but had no investments and few assets. Padre Pio made light of his financial situation. “Don’t worry. All of those matters will be worked out,” Padre Pio replied. “You will soon be receiving a ticket. You will see.” Dr. Sanguinetti had no idea what Padre Pio was speaking of when he talked about a “ticket.” He gave the matter no further thought.

Dr. Sanguinetti and his wife continued to visit Padre Pio from time to time. Whenever they visited, Padre Pio always asked them when they would be moving to San Giovanni Rotondo permanently. “Never,” was the answer that was in Dr. Sanguinetti’s mind and heart. He had no intention of moving to San Giovanni Rotondo. The whole idea seemed absurd.

Padre Pio told Dr. Sanguinetti that he would one day practice medicine in San Giovanni Rotondo. He also told him that he would keep very busy with the actual building work of the hospital. He was specific in detail as well, even as to the type of truck the doctor would use while supervising at the construction site. He also told him that he would have a driver who would take him where he needed to go. To Dr. Sanguinetti, they were very strange statements, and he did not know what to make of them. Sometimes it seemed like Padre Pio was joking, and at other times, he seemed perfectly serious.

Even if Dr. and Mrs. Sanguinetti did not always understand Padre Pio, there was no denying that they felt the unmistakable spiritual blessings of being in his presence. They also felt his protection on numerous occasions, especially during the time of the Second World War. During the war, more than fifty bombs had exploded in their town. One day, Emilia Sanguinetti expressed her deep fears to Padre Pio. “You will be protected,” Padre Pio said to her. As the war continued, all of the surrounding houses in their neighborhood were either destroyed or badly damaged. Not one bomb ever touched their home.

One day, Dr. Sanguinetti was surprised to get a call from his bank. He was informed that one of his government bonds drew a very large sum of money in the state bond lottery. It happened on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. He remembered that Padre Pio had spoken of a “ticket” that would come to him. Dr. Sanguinetti saw the hand of God in the unexpected financial gain. After he gave up his medical practice, he and his wife moved to San Giovanni Rotondo. Right away he started working in earnest with Padre Pio on the plans for the hospital. Each one of the prophecies that Padre Pio had made to him would be realized in the years ahead.

Dr. Carlo Kisvarday, a chemist from Zara, Yugoslavia, also played a key role in the early development of the hospital. He first learned of Padre Pio when he and his wife Mary were making a trip to Germany to see the famed stigmatist and mystic, Therese Neumann. Therese had a reputation for holiness which drew thousands to travel to her home in the small farming town of Konnersreuth. Her life was dedicated totally to God. Many who met her described her as having a childlike purity and humility that was very uplifting to the spirit.

Therese was making plans to join the Missionary Sisters of St. Benedict when she was struck down by an accident on the family farm. After the accident, her health took a sharp decline and she soon became bedridden. Concerning the tragic turn of events in her life, she showed heroic acceptance of the will of God. Later, she had a vision of Christ kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane and she heard his prayers. When Christ turned and looked at her, she felt a very sharp pain in her heart. It was the first imprint of the stigmata. Later, she would receive the wounds of Christ in her hands and feet as well. Like Padre Pio, Therese Neumann was a victim soul who offered her sufferings in reparation to the Lord. After her death in 1962, Padre Pio told a friend, John Sienna, that Therese often assisted him from heaven.

Dr. Kisvarday and his wife were very close to Konnersreuth when they made a short detour. A stranger happened to strike up a conversation with them and told them a few facts about Padre Pio. Dr. Kisvarday became so intrigued that he decided to change course and to travel the eight hundred miles to San Giovanni Rotondo. Feeling a kind of urgency, he cut the conversation short and left immediately for his new destination.

When Padre Pio met the doctor, he hugged him and held him close to his heart. Dr. Kisvarday could not explain it but he had the strange feeling that Padre Pio had been expecting him. One month later, Dr. Kisvarday made a second visit to the monastery. “I want you to make your home here,” Padre Pio said to Dr. Kisvarday. “I want you here beside me.” Dr. Kisvarday ran out of the monastery to tell his wife the good news. “Mary, Padre Pio just told me that he wants us to move here!” Dr. Kisvarday said. “He wants us to live close to him and help him with the hospital!” Mary Kisvarday was just as happy as her husband was. Dr. Kisvarday and his wife were able to build a home very close to the monastery. As time passed, the doctor’s love for Padre Pio became so strong that he felt like he never wanted to be parted from him.

Many of those who were chosen by Padre Pio to be the organizers of his great work were willing to leave the security of a good job, a steady income, and a comfortable lifestyle. They were ready to work without a salary on a monumental project that would take years to complete and there was no guarantee that the project would be completed. Why were people willing to give up so much and work so hard? It was because of their esteem for Padre Pio. He had asked for their help and they wanted to help him. They felt honored to be called to the task.

Dr. Mario Sanvico, an industrialist from Perugia, Italy was another one of the pioneers of the hospital. Like Dr. Sanguinetti and Dr. Kisvarday, Dr. Sanvico was chosen by Padre Pio to have an important role in the first beginnings of the hospital. After much discussion with Padre Pio, Dr. Sanvico called a committee meeting on January 9, 1940 to formalize the plans. Padre Pio was named founder of the hospital. It was decided that Dr. Sanvico would act as secretary. Dr. Sanguinetti would be the Technical Medical Director. As time passed, Dr. Sanguinetti also worked as the building foreman, driver, adviser, and editor of a popular publication regarding the hospital. Dr. Carlo Kisvarday was designated to be the accountant and treasurer. The Director of Internal Affairs was Miss Ida Seitz. It was understood that Padre Pio would have to approve all decisions made by the committee before any action could be taken.

Later on in the day, Dr. Sanvico and Dr. Kisvardy visited Padre Pio in his cell and reported to him all that had transpired in the committee meeting. Padre Pio was very happy with the news and said, “This evening my earthly work has begun. I bless you and all those who will contribute to this work.” Dr. Sanvico and Dr. Kisvardy knelt as Padre Pio spoke to them. Padre Pio wanted to make the first offering for the hospital. He took a coin out of his pocket and handed it to the two doctors. Pietruccio Cugino, Padre Pio’s longtime friend, made the second humble donation. Padre Pio spoke to the men from his heart and said:

To God we owe all our love, which, to be adequate, ought to be infinite . . . We must at least give our whole being to love, to charity . . . To carry out this ideal of Our Lord, we must be quite forgetful of self. Rising above selfishness, we must bow down to the sufferings and the wounds of our fellow men. We must make them our own, knowing how to suffer with our brethren for the love of God. We must know how to instill hope into their hearts and bring back a smile to their lips, having restored a ray of light into their souls. Then we shall be offering God the most beautiful, the most noble of prayers, because our prayer will have sprung from sacrifice.

Shortly after the first committee meeting, Dr. Sanvico asked Padre Pio what name he planned to give the hospital. Padre Pio said that he would think about it. Three days later, he told Dr. Sanvico the name he had decided on -the Home for the Relief of Suffering. During the time of the Second World War, the plans for the construction of the hospital had to be put on hold. But Padre Pio never lost sight of his dream. He waited and continued to pray.

When the war finally came to a close, Padre Pio pressed for immediate action. He urged his good friend, Father Giuseppe (Peppino) Orlando to help him. Padre Pio had known Father Peppino from the early days, when they had both lived in Pietrelcina. Padre Pio used to frequently repeat to Father Peppino, “We must start the work on the hospital now, Father Peppino!” “But we’re not ready. We don’t even have a blueprint or a design drawn up. Everyone will laugh at us!” Father Peppino would reply. However, Padre Pio was persistent. He would frequently nudge Father Peppino with his elbow and say, “Peppino, when are we going to start the work? We must get started!” Although the amount of money that had been collected for the project was much smaller than hoped for, Padre Pio felt an urgency to begin.

On occasion, Father Peppino would try to avoid Padre Pio, knowing that the future hospital would always be the topic of his conversation. Finally, Padre Pio won out. One day Father Peppino said to him, “Ok, I will do what you have asked me to do. Tomorrow I will begin. I will start work on the road.” Father Peppino bought two skeins of string, and gathering twenty laborers together, he began to prepare the road. Each day, Padre Pio watched the workers from his monastery window and was elated to see the progress of the building of the road. In the evenings, when Father Peppino came in from the work site, he was covered in dust. Padre Pio, with great satisfaction, would always make it a point to brush off the dust from his cassock.

Angelo Lupi of Pescara, Italy was chosen to be the chief designer and builder of the hospital. He had been selected over many others who wanted the job. He was talented and hard-working and was considered by many to be a genius in his field. Although he was the principal designer, Angelo Lupi did not have a diploma or a degree in architecture. For that reason, he seemed to be a risky choice. He was frequently doubtful about his ability. He was also worried about the lack of proper equipment and materials for such a huge undertaking. For his drawing board, Angelo used an ordinary kitchen table. He knew that he would have to improvise on many occasions and use all of his creative abilities in order to see the work to its completion.

Angelo Lupi shared his anxieties about the project with Padre Pio who simply listened and smiled. “Padre Pio,” Lupi said, “I feel daunted by this huge undertaking. I don’t even have a degree in architecture and I am being criticized because of it.” Some people had reported Lupi to the authorities because he did not have the appropriate certification. “Do not worry about what people say,” Padre Pio told him. “The person who complained about you has received his degree from men. But you have received your degree from God.” Padre Pio was always there to encourage him and to dispel his fears. Later, Angelo Lupi was awarded an honorary degree.

One of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, Maria Basilio, donated the land that the hospital was to be built on. The location was right next to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Maria was a wealthy woman who lived in Turin. She met Padre Pio in the early days, shortly after he was transferred to San Giovanni Rotondo. When Maria decided that she wanted to live closer to Padre Pio, he advised her to buy the land that was next to the monastery. It seems certain that Padre Pio was guided, even then, to lay the plans for what was to come in the future. Step by step, he prepared for the “great work” of the hospital, down to the last detail.

Cleonice Morcaldi, another one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, once saw Padre Pio standing in front of the desolate mountainside on the spot where the future hospital would one day be built. With deep concentration, he gazed silently at the mountain, and then, touching his fingers to his lips, he blew a kiss to the area.

The designated place where the hospital was to be built posed many problems for Angelo Lupi. For one thing, the Mount Gargano region was greatly lacking in natural resources. The aqueduct of Apulia was tapped for a supply of water. To obtain even more water, Lupi built large cisterns to collect rain water. A homemade power plant was used to produce electricity. A lime kiln was built in order to extract the lime that was needed for the plaster. It was an exciting day for the people of San Giovanni Rotondo when Padre Pio came down to the work site in order to bless the lime kiln. Later a stone-crushing machine was acquired.

Tons of the mountainside had to be blasted with dynamite. For many months, explosions were set off twice each day. At times, as many as 350 men were at work on the mountain under the direction of Angelo Lupi. They shoveled, dug, and broke up the stony ground with their pick axes and sledgehammers. Farmers, shepherds, former servicemen, and even ex-convicts were hired for the labor-intensive work.

A carpentry area and a mechanical workshop were soon added to the building site. The simple farmers, shepherds, and others, were taught the skills of bricklayers, painters, blacksmiths, and woodworkers. While much of Italy suffered from unemployment, there was no unemployment problem in San Giovanni Rotondo. The poor people in the area were deeply grateful for the steady employment which enabled them to provide for their families. With great joy, Padre Pio continued to watch the progression of the work from his monastery window.

During the years that the hospital was being built, the spiritual development of the construction workers was always provided for. A special Mass was held on the first Friday of each month. At the end of the day, a large bell was sounded and summoned all who were involved with the work for the hospital to the church for Mass.

Difficulties were encountered in all stages of the construction work. But those difficulties paled in comparison to the problem of the lack of money. Dr. Kisvarday, who was in charge of the accounts, felt a growing anxiety. He meticulously recorded all donations in an ordinary school copy book. For the most part, the donations that were received were quite modest. The citizens of the town had little extra money to give, even to such a worthy cause.

Members of the hospital committee tried to think of creative ways to solve the money problem. Lotteries, raffles and other fund-raisers were held. Plays with spiritual themes were presented and the proceeds were given to the hospital. Almost every shop in San Giovanni Rotondo possessed a small donation box for the hospital.

Padre Pio made it clear that he would not consider taking out loans to finance the hospital. He advised that the work should be done gradually, as the money came in. When the donations slowed, so did the work. He always saw the work of the hospital as supported by prayer. “This is God’s work,” he would repeat. “It is not mine. God will see to the money.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Sanguinetti, Dr. Kisvarday, and Dr. Sanvico became deeply concerned about the lack of funds. After much analysis of the incoming donations and the outgoing expenses, they realized that there would not be enough money to build the hospital. It seemed that the whole project was doomed to failure. However, through the blessing of Divine Providence, things were about to change.

Barbara Ward, the British journalist and economist visited San Giovanni Rotondo in 1948. Some of Barbara’s friends in Rome had told her about Padre Pio and she had a great desire to meet him. With great interest, she viewed the construction work that was being done for the hospital.

During her visit to the monastery, Barbara was able to speak to Padre Pio briefly. She talked to him about her fiancé, Commander Robert Jackson. “I would like to ask for your prayers. I am engaged to be married,” Barbara said. “My fiancé, Robert, is a Protestant and I am a Catholic. I would like Robert to be converted to Catholicism.” “If it is the Lord’s will, he will be,” Padre Pio answered. “But when will it be?” Barbara asked. “If it is the Lord’s will, right now,” Padre Pio replied.

When Barbara returned to London, she was surprised to find that Robert had already been received into the Catholic Church. He explained to Barbara that he was walking past the Jesuit parish in the city of Mayfair one day when he suddenly felt a great longing to go inside. Once inside, he called for the parish priest and explained that he wished to take instructions in the Catholic faith. This occurred on the day that Barbara had spoken to Padre Pio about her desire for Robert to become Catholic.

Barbara told her fiancé about her visit to Padre Pio’s monastery and the important work of the Home for the Relief of Suffering. She asked him if he might be able to find a way to assist Padre Pio. Robert was the deputy director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). The goal of UNRRA was to give aide for purposes of redevelopment to countries that had suffered from the war. Italy had definitely suffered from the war.

Robert set about to present a summary of the hospital’s need for financial aid. The project was brought before the U.S. Congress and was approved. UNRRA designated 400 million lire to the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Of that sum, the Italian government took 150 million lire. Padre Pio was very upset by the government’s actions, considering it a great impropriety to take part of the funds that had been designated to the hospital. The hospital received 250 million lire which was still a huge sum of money in 1948. Barbara and Robert stepped in at the right time. With the grant, the work would be able to continue until the hospital was completed.

In consideration of the large gift that had been given, UNRRA requested that Padre Pio name the hospital, the Fiorello Henry La Guardia Hospital. Fiorello La Guardia, who had died a short time before, had been UNRRA’s Director General and was considered to be one of its most outstanding benefactors. Padre Pio had already decided on the name that he wanted for the hospital and he would not agree to change it. He did however, have a large plaque with an inscription of gratitude and a dedication to Fiorello LaGuardia erected in the Home.

In 1950, when Barbara visited San Giovanni Rotondo again, she was delighted to see how the work had progressed and how the grant funds had been used. A big surprise awaited her when she went into the hospital’s chapel. There, in one of the beautiful stained glass windows, the artist had etched Barbara’s face to portray the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Barbara’s lovely face, which revealed kindness and great compassion, was the perfect model for the chapel’s Madonna window. Because of her very important financial assistance, Barbara Ward was frequently referred to as the “godmother” of the hospital.

Not everyone who learned of Padre Pio’s great work had the exemplary qualities that Barbara Ward possessed. One family in San Giovanni Rotondo decided to raise funds for the future hospital. However, their intentions were far from honorable. Instead of turning the donations over to the hospital, they used the money to build a home for themselves. Soon Padre Pio was informed about the matter. The next day, their brand-new house collapsed on its foundations.

To Be Continued :

Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3.  Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4.  They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. André Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 77 – Autumn 2018

Padre Pio’s Holy Death

For many, death is a sorrowful event. For Padre Pio, it was like a release from prison or a long awaited journey home. His life was completely oriented toward attaining Heaven.
      – Father Federico de Macchia Valforte


Archbishop Andrea Cesarano stands beside the casket of Padre Pio. The two were very close friends in life. People used to call Archbishop Cesarano, “Padre Pio’s Bishop.”

Padre Pio’s health steadily declined during the last years of his life. In 1968, the year that Padre Pio died, Father Carmelo, the superior of the monastery, was keenly aware of Padre Pio’s deteriorating condition. He told Padre Pio that he did not want him to overtax himself and that he could dispense with hearing confessions if he wanted to. But Padre Pio would not even consider it. He never wanted to “retire” from his priestly ministry. He wanted to work right up until the end and that is exactly what he did. A few days before his death, although weak and extremely ill, he insisted on hearing confessions. “He desired to die on his feet, at his place of work, after a day spent with others in prayer and in his ministry for good,” Father Carmelo said.

The  Capuchins  who  lived  with  Padre  Pio  observed the decrease in his physical strength in his later years. On one occasion, Padre Rosario gave Padre Pio a Rosary as a gift. Shortly after, Padre Pio returned it to him. He explained that it was too heavy and he did not have the strength to hold it. Padre Rosario said, “He seemed always at the extreme limits of his strength and he was in constant expectation of death.” When saying goodnight, Padre Pio often asked his Capuchin brothers to recommend him to the Lord because he was not sure if he would be alive in the morning. “Padre Pio was not frightened of death, but he felt it looking over his shoulder, ready to snatch him away,” Padre Rosario said.

Several months before his death, Padre Pio asked that a picture of St. Joseph be hung near his cell. His confreres noticed that he would stop every day before the picture and gaze at it in silence. It was only later that they learned that Padre Pio had been praying each day to St. Joseph for a happy death.

Some of the Capuchins also stated that for a number of weeks before Padre Pio’s death, the monastery of Our Lady of Grace seemed to have an altogether different feeling about it. The corridors, the rooms and gathering areas, and the monastery itself seemed to be pervaded by what was described as a “mystical silence.” At that time, no one knew that Padre Pio would soon be passing away.

The painting of St. Joseph that Padre Pio prayed before during the last months of his life.

When Padre Pio knew that his end was approaching, he immersed himself in prayer. One of his spiritual sons said, “Padre Pio’s life was dedicated to prayer, from the solitary prayers he learned as a child in Pietrelcina, to the Our Father which he prayed in his cell during the last hours of his life, when he was perfectly conscious of his imminent departure. In his temptations he prayed, in his joys he prayed, in the many vicissitudes of life he prayed, in his illness he prayed. God imbued his whole existence and his every action with prayer.”

In a sense, Padre Pio had always looked forward to the end of his earthly pilgrimage. He longed to return to his true home, Heaven, where he could be united to God for eternity. He wrote a letter to Padre Agostino and said:

Living here below is wearisome to me, my dear Father. It is such a bitter torment to me to live in exile that I can hardly go on any longer. The thought that at any moment I could lose Jesus terrifies me in a way I cannot explain. (Letters I)

 Not long before Padre Pio passed away, he spoke to Brother Modestino Fucci and asked him to assist him with his prayers. “But Spiritual Father,” Brother Modestino said, “it is you who must pray for me.” Padre Pio answered him, “My son, I tell you that the justice of God is severe. Pray for me.” Brother Modestino understood then that Padre Pio was speaking of his death. Padre Pio also spoke about his death to his friend, Carlo Trabucco. He said to Carlo, “When my time comes to leave this life, if my heavenly Mother is not there to hold my hand, how will I have courage?” Carlo then began to contemplate the thought of his own death, knowing that he too, would have to render an account to God. As Carlo thought about it, he began to tremble.

There were many indications that Padre Pio had knowledge of the time and date of his death. To his niece, Pia Forgione Pennelli, he said in 1966, “I will not be alive in two years.” He would die in 1968. He told his friend Pietruccio Cugino that he would die in his eighty-first year, and indeed he did.

Padre Pio was very close to Father Onorato Marcucci, who assisted him in the last three years of his life. When Father Onorato had to travel to Montecatini a short time before Padre Pio’s passing, Padre Pio said to him, “Son, I beg you to return as soon as possible!” He wanted to have those he loved near him at the time of his death.

Padre Pio told his spiritual daughter, Josephine Bove, that he would die when the crypt in the church of Our Lady of Grace was built. He knew that the Capuchins were planning to build a crypt for his burial. Nevertheless, he indicated that it was not his desire to be buried in a specially made crypt. Rather, he wanted to be buried in a simple grave. The construction of the new church of Our Lady of Grace was finished in 1959. Josephine Bove was afraid that the completion of the new church might in some way be a signal of Padre Pio’s death. But the building of Padre Pio’s crypt was put on hold for a number of years. It was finally completed and was blessed on September 22, 1968. Padre Pio died sixteen hours later.

Shortly before his death, Padre Pio conveyed the message that he would soon be entering eternal life to a number of his spiritual children. One was a woman who lived in Catania, Sicily. She visited San Giovanni Rotondo on September 8, 1968 and made her confession to Father Alberto D’Apolito. She asked Father Alberto for a favor. She told him that she had a great desire to see Padre Pio, even if only for a moment and to kiss his hand. Father Alberto told her that it would be impossible. There were too many pilgrims in the church that day. However, he could arrange for her to see Padre Pio on the following day.

The woman explained to Father Alberto that she had made the long journey to San Giovanni Rotondo from Sicily. She was poor and had made great sacrifices to get to the monastery. She did not have enough money to stay overnight in a hotel but would have to return to Sicily that very day. All of her life, she had wanted to see Padre Pio but could never afford to make the trip. A few days before, she had a vivid dream. In her dream Padre Pio said to her, “If you want to see me, come to San Giovanni Rotondo immediately because in a few days I will die.” She had to borrow the money for the travel expenses.

Father Alberto was skeptical about the woman’s words. He believed that she was making up the story for her own purposes. He heard the same type of requests day in and day out and the more desperate the people were, the more they tended to exaggerate the truth. He had no indication that Padre Pio was going to die any time soon. When the woman began to cry, Father Alberto’s heart softened and he decided to help her. He led her through a corridor of the monastery to the elevator and told her to wait there. Padre Pio would be coming that way shortly. The woman knelt down and waited. When Padre Pio passed by the area where she was kneeling, he stopped. He looked at her with great tenderness and spoke to her. She was deeply moved when he placed his hands on her head, giving her a blessing. Before leaving the monastery, she returned to the confessional to speak to Father Alberto. With tears in her eyes, she thanked him with all her heart for arranging the meeting. It was just fifteen days later that Padre Pio passed away.

September 20, 1968 was the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s stigmata. For Padre Pio, it would be a day like any other day, a day devoted to Mass, prayer, and service to the Lord. But it was not a day like any other day for his spiritual children from around the world. Many had come great distances to be present for his anniversary. The Mass on September 20th was at the usual early morning hour of 5:00 a.m. and the church was filled to capacity. Many people had to stand outside during the Mass. In keeping with Padre Pio’s wishes, there were no speeches, no festivities, no celebration. There was only one exception to the rule and that was the hundreds of deep red roses that decorated the sanctuary of the church. The crucifix in the choir loft before which Padre Pio received the stigmata on September 20, 1918, was also adorned with beautiful red roses.

Father Armand Dasseville, OFM Capuchin, was one of the many pilgrims that day who attended the Mass that commemorated the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s stigmata. An active promoter of Padre Pio prayer groups in the United States, Father Dasseville had traveled from New York City to attend the Mass. Father Dasseville said:

It is hard to put my impressions of Padre Pio’s Mass into words. All I had heard and read about his masses were true. I was touched by the humility, the sincerity, and the great faith of this man of prayer. He seemed oblivious to the noises and exclamations, the pushing and shoving that was going on in the church as people edged closer to get a better look at him. He literally lived the Mass. He relived the Passion of Christ. From the expression on his face, he actually suffered with Christ. As far as I could judge, the sufferings of Padre Pio were greatest at the moment of the consecration of the Mass. His eyes sometimes would close, his face would contort in pain, and his lips would tremble. Frequently I saw him wipe tears from his eyes with his handkerchief. He was seated for the Mass and faced the people. In obedience to his superiors, the Mass lasted only a good half hour.

Like Father Armand, Dorothy Boes was another one of Padre Pio’s spiritual children who attended the Mass on September 20. Dorothy had always had a great desire to visit Padre Pio and when she heard that there would be a Mass at Our Lady of Grace monastery celebrating the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s stigmata, she immediately applied for a passport to travel to Italy. She received it just in time. Dorothy and her friend Mary arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo on September 19. Knowing how crowded the Mass would be the next morning, they decided to get to the church at 2:30 a.m. to wait for the doors to open. When the church finally opened, the two women were almost knocked down by the crowds who rushed in all at once. Nevertheless, Dorothy and Mary managed to find good seats in the front.

Afterwards, Mary and Dorothy along with some of the other pilgrims in attendance were taken to a room in the monastery where Padre Pio was brought in to greet them. Dorothy said, “Padre Pio looked directly at Mary and I and said, “I knew for a long time that all of you would be coming to see me.” Then he called us his children.” Shortly after, Dorothy and Mary left San Giovanni Rotondo to return home. Just a few days later they learned that Padre Pio had passed away.

Mr. Gino Pin and his family also came to attend the 50th anniversary Mass of Padre Pio’s stigmata. Gino had a great devotion to Padre Pio and was a tireless worker for the Padre Pio prayer groups in Biella, Italy. Father Alberto D’Apolito was very happy to greet Gino when he arrived. He felt sorry for Gino because he knew that he had experienced many difficulties in his family life. Padre Alberto went to Padre Pio with a request. He handed him a holy card and asked him to write a devotional message on the back. He did not tell him who he was going to give it to. He knew how much it would mean to Gino to have a prayer card that Padre Pio had inscribed. Padre Pio kissed the holy card and blessed it and wrote on the back, “May Jesus and Mary always sweeten your sorrows.” When Father Alberto read the message, he was disappointed. He did not want Gino to be reminded of his “sorrows” for he had experienced one trial after another in recent years. He decided not to give the holy card to Gino.

Instead, Father Alberto arranged for Gino to see Padre Pio personally. He took him to the veranda of the monastery so that he could greet Padre Pio. Padre Pio spoke to him with affection and said he would pray for his intentions. Before Gino left, Padre Pio gave him a blessing.

Afterward, Father Alberto decided to give Gino the holy card that Padre Pio had signed. Gino read the message on the back of the card and his eyes filled with tears. He said to Father Alberto, “Did you see the message that Padre Pio wrote to me?” indicating the reference to his “sorrows.” Father Alberto encouraged Gino by saying, “Be strong. Padre Pio is with you. He will help you.” Later that evening, Gino came back to the monastery to see Father Alberto. He was crying as he told Father Alberto that his daughter, Maria Pia, had just been admitted to the hospital and was in very serious condition. The doctors suspected that she had a tumor or possibly peritonitis.

The next morning, Maria Pia’s condition was even more desperate. Gino wondered if he should take her back home to Biella to receive medical treatment there. He asked Father Alberto to explain the situation to Padre Pio and ask for his advice. Father Alberto went at once to look for Padre Pio and found him on the veranda, praying the Rosary. Father Alberto spoke to him about Gino, but he did not reply. It did not seem as though he was even aware of Father Alberto’s presence, for he was deeply immersed in prayer.

Father Alberto finally tapped Padre Pio to get his attention and he then looked up in surprise. “Padre Pio,” Father Alberto said. “Gino’s daughter, Maria Pia, is in the hospital in very serious condition. She may need an operation. Gino needs your advice. He wonders if he should take her back home to Biella. What should he do?” “She should not be moved from the hospital,” Padre Pio replied. “If she needs an operation, she should be operated on here and not in Biella.” “Gino is a poor man,” Father Alberto said. “He cannot afford to have his daughter remain in the hospital and he cannot afford the cost of an operation. Can’t you invoke a cure from the Blessed Virgin for Maria Pia so that she doesn’t have to have an operation?” “Yes, I will pray about it,” Padre Pio answered.

Several hours later when Dr. Gusso, the head physician of the Home for the Relief of Suffering examined Maria Pia, he found that she was completely well. She was immediately discharged from the hospital. The miraculous recovery of Gino Pin’s daughter occurred on September 22, one day before Padre Pio’s death. It is considered to be possibly the last miracle, the last grace invoked by Padre Pio to the Blessed Virgin, before he died.

Marissa Liberati, a spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, used to travel from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo twice a month to make her confession to Padre Pio. She told him that she would like to bring her two nieces, Lucia and Anna to the monastery to receive their first Holy Communion from his hands. Padre Pio told her to have the girls receive their religious instruction in Rome and when it was completed he would be happy to give them their first Communion. Lucia and Anna attended catechism classes and completed their sacramental preparation but their parents kept delaying the date for the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Marissa frequently spoke to Padre Pio about the situation.

Toward the middle of September 1968, Marissa had a vivid dream. In her dream, Padre Pio told her to bring Anna and Lucia to San Giovanni Rotondo as soon as possible. There was an urgency in his words. When she woke up, she reflected on the dream and decided to cancel the pilgrimage that she was planning to make to Lourdes. Instead, she purchased the first Holy Communion clothing for her nieces and along with their mother, took the girls to San Giovanni Rotondo.

Padre Pio was extremely weak and ill on the day that Marissa arrived with her nieces and their mother. It was September 22 and the church was full to overflowing. The members of Padre Pio’s worldwide prayer groups were present at the Mass that morning. They had come to San Giovanni Rotondo to attend the International Prayer Group Congress. Padre Pio said Mass on that day in thanksgiving for the prayer groups and in special thanksgiving for the official approval and recognition they had recently received from the Holy Office in Rome. It was a great joy for Padre Pio to know that his prayer groups were established on a firm foundation and were flourishing worldwide.

At the Mass, Padre Pio gave Communion first to Lucia and then to Anna. Anna Fanoni was the last person to receive Holy Communion from Padre Pio’s hands for he died the very next day. As he left the altar, he almost collapsed. Several of the Capuchins who assisted at the Mass aided him and kept him from falling. Padre Pio looked out at the sea of people, and in a broken and shaky voice called out, “My children, my children.” Later, he went to a window of the monastery to greet and bless the prayer group members who were gathered in the piazza below. He was so weak that he had to be supported by two of his brother Capuchins.

That evening about 9:00 p.m. Padre Pio used the intercom to call Padre Pellegrino to come to his room. Padre Pellegrino, who took turns with Padre Onorato and Padre Mariano in assisting Padre Pio, was assigned to the evening duty that night. When Padre Pellegrino answered Padre Pio’s call and entered his room, he found him in bed and noticed that his eyes were red with tears. Padre Pio had called him because he wanted to know what time it was. Padre Pellegrino dried Padre Pio’s tears with a handkerchief and told him the time. After he checked to make sure that Padre Pio was all right, he went back to his room.

During the evening, Padre Pio called Padre Pellegrino to his room five or six times asking for small necessities. Every time he entered the room, he noticed tears in Padre Pio’s eyes. Nevertheless, Padre Pio joked with him by calling him Don Pellegrino rather than the usual, “my son” or “my brother.” He always called him Don Pellegrino whenever wanted to make him laugh.

Around midnight, Padre Pio asked Padre Pellegrino if he would stay on in his room with him, and he was happy to do so. Usually Padre Pellegrino sat in the armchair but on this night, Padre Pio wanted him to sit right beside his bed. He took Padre Pellegrino’s hand in his and held it tightly. Padre Pio began to tremble like a frightened child. Every few minutes he wanted to know the time. Padre Pellegrino did not know what to make of it. It almost seemed as though he had an appointment with someone. He continued to wipe the tears from Padre Pio’s eyes and to stay close beside him.

A little after midnight, Padre Pio asked Padre Pellegrino if he had celebrated Mass. “Spiritual Father, it is too early to say Mass,” Padre Pellegrino answered. “Today you will celebrate the Mass for me,” Padre Pio said. Padre Pellegrino did not understand Padre Pio’s words and replied, “But I say Mass every day for your intentions.” “Today you will say Mass for my soul,” Padre Pio said. The words sounded strange to Padre Pellegrino but he did not ask for an explanation.

He then asked Padre Pellegrino to hear his confession. Padre Pellegrino was not his regular confessor but he had heard his confession many times in the past and he heard it on this night. “If the Lord calls me today, ask the Brothers to forgive me for all the trouble I have been to them and ask them and all my spiritual children to pray for my soul,” Padre Pio said. Padre Pellegrino assured him that he had no need to worry for he still had a long time yet to live. Nevertheless, Padre Pellegrino added, “But if it is indeed near the time of your death, I ask you for a last blessing for the Brothers and for all of your spiritual children.” Padre Pio answered, “I bless them all and I ask you to have the superior give them this last blessing for me.”

Padre Pio then said that he wanted to renew his religious vows. At these words, Padre Pellegrino grew frightened because in the Capuchin tradition, the only time the vows of religious profession are renewed is when one is on his death bed. Padre Pio was putting everything in order, down to the last detail. Padre Pellegrino listened as Padre Pio renewed his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Padre Pio said:

I, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, vow and promise to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father, Saint Francis, to all the saints and to you, Father, to observe all the days of my life, the Rule of the Friars Minor, confirmed by Pope Honorius, and to live in obedience, without property, and in chastity.

Padre Pellegrino spoke the response, “If you abide by this, on behalf of God, I promise you eternal life.” Padre Pio said that he could not breathe well in bed and wanted to get up. “Are there any stars in the sky tonight?” Padre Pio asked. “Yes, indeed. The sky is studded with stars tonight,” Padre Pellegrino replied. “Let us go to the veranda then and see,” Padre Pio said. Padre Pio had severe arthritis and at eighty-one years of age, his posture was stooped and bent. Because it was very painful for him to walk, he used a wheelchair most of the time. But on this night for some reason, he was able to stand up straight and he walked briskly and with great ease, to the veranda, needing no assistance. To Padre Pellegrino, he suddenly looked twenty years younger.

When Padre Pio got to the veranda, he reached over and turned on the light. That was something he had not done in so long that Padre Pellegrino could not even remember. He knew from personal experience that unusual things often happened in Padre Pio’s presence and he reasoned that this night was no exception. Padre Pio then began to stare intently at a particular area on the veranda. Padre Pellegrino could not understand what he was looking at with such concentration, but soon he would understand. He was staring at the exact place where the Capuchins would carry his lifeless body in just a few short hours.

Suddenly Padre Pio began to feel very ill. He wanted to go back to his room but he was too weak to stand up. Padre Pellegrino quickly went to get a wheelchair. Meanwhile, all of the color had drained out of Padre Pio’s face and he was growing weaker by the minute. He began to repeat the words, Jesus . . . Mary . . . over and over. All the while, his voice was growing fainter.

Padre Pellegrino took him back to his room in the wheelchair but had great difficulty getting him into his armchair. Once he finally got him settled, Padre Pio began to stare intently at a picture that was hanging on the wall. He wanted to know who it was. Padre Pellegrino answered, “Those are photographs of your mother and father.”  “But I see two mothers,” Padre Pio said. “No, there is only one mother there,” Padre Pellegrino replied, pointing to Giuseppa Forgione. “Don’t worry,” Padre Pio said, “I can see very well but I can see two mothers.”

Padre Pellegrino had lived with Padre Pio for a long time. He knew that Jesus and the Virgin Mary often appeared to him. Padre Pio also had the rare gift of being able to see his guardian angel in form. Many times, when he was in prayer, he seemed to be having a conversation with someone, someone that he could see but that no one else could see. Padre Pellegrino was convinced that the Virgin Mary was present in his room at that moment and that Padre Pio could see her.

Right after Padre Pio spoke of seeing “two mothers” he seemed to grow weaker. He broke out into a cold sweat and his lips began to turn blue. Padre Pellegrino became alarmed and started to go to get assistance. “I do not want you to disturb anyone,” Padre Pio told him. “Do not waken anyone.” But Padre Pellegrino insisted on getting help and quickly left the room. He woke up Brother Bill Martin and told him to place a call to Dr. Giuseppe Sala immediately. After that, Padre Pellegrino woke up all the other Capuchins and told them to hurry to Padre Pio’s cell. Dr. Sala arrived in less than ten minutes and realized that Padre Pio was having a severe bronchial asthma attack. He gave him an injection as well as oxygen in an attempt to ease his breathing which had become difficult and labored.

By that time, Father Mariano, Brother Bill Martin, Father Carmelo and the other Capuchins had gathered in Padre Pio’s room. Dr. Giovanni Scarale and Dr. Giuseppe Gusso soon arrived as well as Mario Pennelli, Padre Pio’s nephew. While the doctors were doing their very best to help Padre Pio, the Capuchins knelt down beside him and prayed the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the prayer for a holy death, and the prayer to St. Joseph, patron of the dying. Together, the Capuchins repeated, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may my soul peacefully expire in You.”

The Holy Oils were prepared and Father Paolo gave Padre Pio the Last Rites. Padre Pio was fully conscious and was very much aware of all that was happening. His feet and hands were becoming very cold and he was perspiring heavily. When the doctors realized that he was having a heart attack, he was given an injection directly into his heart. With his eyes closed, he continued to repeat the words, Jesus . . . Mary . . . Toward the end, his lips formed the words but he could make no sound, not even a whisper. The Capuchins called out to him, “Padre, Padre!” He opened his eyes one last time and looked at his dear Brothers. At 2:30 a.m. with his Rosary clasped in his hands, Padre Pio gently bowed his head and died. Dr. Gusso, who had been present during Padre Pio’s final moments, stated that it was the most gentle and beautiful passing that he had ever witnessed. Padre Pio had lived a holy life and he had died a holy death.

During the months that preceded his death, Padre Pio’s stigmata had been slowly disappearing, beginning with the wounds on his feet. The Capuchins who attended him noticed that his wounds were bleeding less and less. The bandages that had to be changed regularly were significantly less bloodstained. On September 22, 1968, the day before Padre Pio’s death, his left palm still had a raised scab. During the Mass that morning, two scales fell from his hand.

When Dr. Sala and Father Carmelo examined Padre Pio’s body after his death, they discovered that the stigmata on his hands, feet, and side had disappeared completely. His skin was now smooth and regenerated in the places where the wounds had once been. There was no scarring whatsoever. The skin looked as fresh as that of a newborn baby. Dr. Sala noticed the beautiful fragrance of orange blossoms in the room. He had perceived the fragrance on many occasions when in the presence of Padre Pio. As the two stood together and looked at Padre Pio’s lifeless body, a scab detached and fell from his left hand. It was the very last sign of the wounds of Christ which he had carried on his body for fifty years.

The news of Padre Pio’s death spread quickly. No one had anticipated it or had any reason to expect that he would die on September 23. The world was shocked and in mourning. In his hometown of Pietrelcina, the bells of the parish church tolled every half-hour.

Many who had come to attend Padre Pio’s 50th Anniversary Mass as well as the International Prayer Group Congress, were present at his funeral. It was as if Divine Providence had arranged for Padre Pio’s spiritual children from all parts of the world to be nearby at the time of his passing.

Padre Pio looked beautiful and serene in death. A Rosary was placed in his hands as well as a crucifix and the Rule of Saint Francis. Around his shoulders was draped his priestly purple stole. Before the funeral began, the casket that contained Padre Pio’s body was placed in an open hearse. Slowly and solemnly it made its way through the narrow streets of San Giovanni Rotondo, stopping in front of the Home for the Relief of Suffering for a last salute. The funeral procession took more than three hours. Air force and police helicopters flew overhead, dropping flowers and prayer cards on the huge crowd below. It is estimated that one hundred thousand people attended Padre Pio’s funeral Mass. His body was placed in a granite crypt and buried directly below the main altar of the church.

Padre Pio assured his spiritual children that his death would not end their bond but that he would be ever ready to intercede and to help them from Heaven. On one occasion, Father Costantino Capobianco told Padre Pio that he hoped that he would die before Padre Pio did. “Why is that?” Padre Pio asked. “It is because I would like you to be with me to assist me at the time of my death,” Father Costantino replied. “But don’t you know that I can help you from Heaven?” Padre Pio replied.

Bishops gather in San Giovanni Rotondo to pray at the tomb of Padre Pio.

The  stories  that  attest  to  Padre’s  intercession  since his passing are too numerous to count. One impressive testimony concerns a woman named Constance Woloskiuk who turned on her television set on September 23, 1968. She learned the news that Padre Pio has passed away that very morning and saw the crowds of people in San Giovanni Rotondo, all gathered to pay their last respects. Constance had been suffering for a long time from a very painful lower back condition. As she listened to the report of Padre Pio’s death on her television set, she sent up a heartfelt prayer to him, asking for healing. Immediately, she noticed that all the pain in her lower back had vanished. Almost in disbelief, she kept getting up out of the chair and sitting back down again. That was something that previously, she could only do with great difficulty. It was a true miracle.

Another remarkable testimony concerns Mrs. Roversi who, along with her husband, owned a religious goods shop near the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. In addition to the rosaries and medals which were sold in their shop, literature about Padre Pio was also available, as well as his photographs and prayer cards.

When her husband passed away, Mrs. Roversi was put in a difficult situation. She needed an income to support her two children but had no knowledge of how to run the store. Her husband had always handled all aspects of the business. Mrs. Roversi went to Padre Pio’s tomb and prayed, “Padre Pio, I do not know how to manage the business. I need to support my children and I pray for your intercession. I need your help!” Immediately after the prayer, she felt a deep sense of peace and was greatly strengthened in spirit.

That night Mrs. Roversi had a dream in which she saw Padre Pio standing in front of her. He said, “Look, I can help you now much more than I could when I was on earth.” His hands were open and she saw that he no longer had the stigmata. In her dream, she said to him, “I know nothing about running the store and I am afraid that I will not be able to do it.” Padre Pio said to her, “Go forward with it. I will help you.” He showed her his hands and for the second time she saw that the wounds of the stigmata were gone. Then she woke up. Mrs. Roversi acted upon the advice that Padre Pio had given her in the dream. She learned how to manage the store and everything went smoothly from that time on. The business did well and she was able to provide for her two children.

Once, a sick man who knelt at the tomb of Padre Pio, prayed for healing. He rose from his knees to find that he had been miraculously cured. He noticed a tiny rose petal on the top of the tomb and took it home to a friend. She too was healed.

“I will be able to help you more from Heaven that I can on earth,” Padre Pio often said to those who sought his counsel. And it is from Heaven that he has been helping so many of his spiritual children from every part of the world.



For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
– Philippians 1:21


Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2. Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3. Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4. They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney, St. Damien of Molokai, St. André Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey


“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – Issue 76 – Summer 2018

Padre Pio’s Love for the Blessed Virgin Mary – Part 2

May Jesus always be the pilot of the little boat of your spirit. May Mary be the star which lights the path for you and shows you the surest way to reach the Heavenly Father.

      – St. Pio of Pietrelcina


Padre Pio’s love for prayer embraced his whole life. When someone inquired how he was able to pray so many rosaries each day, he answered, “The Lord asks this of me. He does not ask the same of you.” Once when he was ill, he confided to his superior, “What made me suffer the most was not being able to say even one Hail Mary.”

At the end of each day, Padre Pio and his fellow Capuchins gathered together in the church for evening prayers. After the Rosary, they would pray St. Alphonsus de Ligouri’s prayer, the “Visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament” and the “Visit to Our Blessed Lady.” Often Padre Pio’s voice was broken by sobs as he recited the beautiful prayers to Jesus and Mary. The Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus followed and was prayed for the intentions of all who had requested prayers. After the evening prayers, the members of the Capuchin community went to dinner in the refectory. Padre Pio, who had only one meal a day, at noontime, remained in the church to pray.

When Padre Pio finally retired to his cell at night, one or two of the Capuchins would usually stop by to bid him goodnight. They would always recite a Hail Mary together before parting. Padre Pio kept a Rosary on the table by his bed and one under his pillow, always close by and ready for use.

One evening Father Carmelo stopped to visit Padre Pio in his cell. Padre Pio told Father Carmelo that he was going to say several more rosaries and then go to bed. “How many rosaries have you said today?” Father Carmelo asked. Because Father Carmelo was his superior, Padre Pio felt obliged to answer. “I have prayed thirty-four rosaries today,” Padre Pio said.

Padre Pio’s favorite month was the month of May because it is the month that is traditionally dedicated to Mary. How fitting that Padre Pio was born on May 25, during the month when Mary is honored throughout the Church. He used to say that May was the most beautiful month of all because it brings to mind, “the tenderness and beauty of Mary.” In a letter to Padre Agostino, Padre Pio wrote:For me, the month of May is a month of graces . . . Poor dear Mother, how you love me! I observed it once more at the dawn of this beautiful month. What great care she took to accompany me to the altar this morning. It seemed to me that she had nothing else to think about but myself as she filled my whole heart with sentiments of holy love. (Letters I)

Padre Pio loved to say Mass at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Mass of the Immaculate Conception was the Mass that he celebrated most frequently. To a spiritual daughter who asked him for a thought on the Madonna, he said, “My daughter, it is enough for you to know that Mary is the Mother of Jesus . . . She loves us so much that she offered to God the Father, his only natural Son to save his adopted sons . . . She is a great and inestimable treasure who encloses in herself an infinite treasure, the Son of God.”

Padre Pio had a tender devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii and he prayed the novena to Our Lady of Pompeii throughout his life. A beautiful shrine that is dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii is located in southern Italy, near the ancient city of Pompeii. The shrine was founded by the great friend of God, Blessed Bartolo Longo. After a dramatic conversion back to his faith, Bartolo became a Third Order Dominican and took the religious name Fratel Rosario (Brother Rosary) in honor of the Rosary. He dedicated the rest of his life to spreading devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Blessed Bartolo Longo, often called the Apostle of the Rosary, dedicated his life to spreading devotion to the Virgin Mary. Padre Pio had the highest esteem for him and corresponded with him.

On one occasion, Bartolo was given a painting of the Madonna. The painting was in very poor condition for through the years it had become stained and torn in places. Bartolo decided to have the painting refurbished. He wanted to build an altar in the parish church and place the painting of the Madonna on it. He requested permission from the bishop. The bishop told Bartolo that what was needed much more than an altar was a larger church. He asked for Bartolo’s help and he agreed to do whatever he could to assist the bishop. After much hard work, Bartolo completed the building project. He had the painting of the Madonna restored to its original beauty. Jewels were embedded into the painting as well as a crown which was placed on the Madonna. The image was put on a special altar in the new church.

Bartolo realized that there was something altogether unique about the painting, something which, as he said, “impressed the soul.” And it was true. Visitors to the new shrine, upon seeing the image of Our Lady of the Rosary, knelt down and began to pray. The painting came to be known as the Madonna of Pompeii. Soon cures and favors were reported by those who prayed before the painting. One of the first reported miracles was the complete healing of Bartolo’s own mother, who had been on her deathbed. Bartolo decided to document the favors that were being received and it was not long before he had recorded more than 900 miracles. Bartolo also composed a novena to the Virgin of Pompeii which became widely circulated. As the word spread, more and more people had the desire to visit the shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Pompeii and it became the destination of thousands.

Bartolo Longo was beatified on October 26, 1980 by Pope John Paul II, who called Bartolo  the “Apostle of the Rosary.” Pope John Paul II had made a visit to the shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Pompeii one year before he declared Bartolo blessed. The Holy Father returned to the shrine in 2003 to pray for world peace. More than four million people visit the shrine each year.

Padre Pio made a number of pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Pompeii. When he was fourteen years old, he traveled there with seven of his classmates and his teacher, Angelo Caccavo. He also made several visits to the shrine after his ordination to the priesthood. He had a great admiration for Bartolo Longo and on one occasion he sent him a holy card on which he inscribed on the back, “For Bartolo Longo – May Mary always look down on you with a maternal eye and comfort you in your afflictions.” Bartolo once wrote a letter to Padre Pio asking for his advice on a personal matter and Padre Pio wrote back to him, offering his spiritual counsel.

Throughout his life, Padre Pio made countless novenas to Our Lady of Pompeii. When he needed a special grace for himself or for someone else, he would frequently ask people to pray to Our Lady of Pompeii for his intentions. He wrote to his spiritual daughter, Raffaelina Cerase, “I should like to ask you, if it is not inconvenient, to do me the kindness of making three consecutive novenas to the Virgin of Pompeii for a grace to be obtained for me from her Son, a grace which will mean a great deal for a certain soul.” (Letters II)

Padre Pio also wrote to Paolo Bavassano, thanking him for his prayers to Our Lady of Pompeii. He wrote, “I thank you for the novenas you made for me to Our Lady and I would ask you, if it is not inconvenient, to continue, because I am in great need.” (Letters IV)

It was the Virgin Mary who came to the aide of Padre Pio and assisted him in the many trials of his life, including the times when he was attacked and tormented by the devil. One night in 1964, the superior of the monastery was awakened by a terrible noise coming from Padre Pio’s cell. When he rushed to see what had happened, he found Padre Pio lying on the floor. He was bleeding from a gash on the right side of his face, above his eyebrow. His face was swollen and there were black circles under his eyes as though he had been punched. Bruises were observed on his shoulders. Underneath his head was a pillow. When the superior asked Padre Pio what had happened, he said that the devil had come in his cell and attacked him. The superior asked him who had put the pillow beneath his head and he replied, “The Madonna.” She had taken it from his armchair and placed it under his head.

Padre Pio was unable to celebrate Mass for one week while recuperating from his injuries. The superior decided not  to disclose the full facts of the story to the public. The people in San Giovanni Rotondo were told simply that Padre Pio was unable to say Mass because he had fallen out of bed and injured himself. Right before this assault, Padre Pio had been praying intently for a woman who was in great need. She was believed to have been a victim of diabolical possession.

Padre Pietro Tartaglia, who served as the Father Guardian of the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, left a beautiful reminiscence of Padre Pio. He wrote:

I can see him today as he appeared to me when I was a youngster. It was beautiful to see him there in the silence of his cell when we Capuchin aspirants went to him for confession. The dim light gave a mystical touch to his emaciated but radiant countenance. Near him was a photograph of his mother who had died a short time before, and a little statue of Our Lady. He spoke about her to us and taught us to love her. At a certain hour he used to walk in the friary garden, absorbed in his sufferings and his love while the beads slipped through the fingers of his wounded hands. And how full and ardent was his voice when he recited the Angelus with the others, in the garden, in the choir or at the window. Who could fail to be moved by the sight of him as he walked with painful steps toward the altar for evening devotions and in a voice breaking with emotion recited the Visit to Our Blessed Lady.

The Bishop of Foggia, Most  Reverend Msgr. Paolo Carta shared a close friendship with Padre Pio and visited him on a number of occasions. One day he invited the Auxiliary Bishop of Pisa, Italy, Most Reverend Msgr. Antonio Angioni, to accompany him to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio. He assured Msgr. Angioni that if he accepted the invitation, it would be an experience he would cherish for the rest of his life. Msgr. Angioni agreed to go.

When the two bishops arrived at the monastery, the evening devotions had already begun. The church was filled to capacity but they managed to find seats on the last bench, in the gallery of the church. Because they were sitting in the back, they were not able to see the Capuchin who was leading the evening prayers. However, they were able to hear him clearly. Bishop Paolo Carta said:

At the moment of our arrival, the priest was reciting the prayer to Our Blessed Lady. As I have said, we didn’t see him, but in the mystical silence of the little church, his voice reached us clearly and distinctly . . . That voice was so striking as he recited the prayer in vibrant and moving tones that it caused Msgr. Angioni to marvel. He turned to me and asked, “Who is reciting the prayer?” to which I replied, “Padre Pio.” How well Padre Pio prayed. One felt that he put his whole heart into it, his whole soul, his whole self . . . Msgr. Angioni, who is blessed with a delicate spiritual sensitivity, was at once aware of something exceptional, something extraordinary. It was the intense vibration of a soul filled with faith, the sweet outpouring of a heart full of love for Our Lady. Padre Pio pronounced each word very distinctly and in such tones as to touch the hearts of all present, even to the point of tears.

On another occasion, Bishop Carta visited Padre Pio’s monastery and brought a friend with him, an officer from the province of Cagliari, in Sardinia. Bishop Carta told Padre Pio that his friend wanted to “be assured of a ticket to Paradise.” He asked him for his thoughts on the matter. Padre Pio said simply, “Here we need Our Lady, we need Our Lady.”

In April 1959, the Pilgrim Virgin statue of the Madonna was taken from the shrine in Fatima, Portugal to visit a number of the provincial capitals in Italy. Foggia, not a great distance from San Giovanni Rotondo, was one of the cities where the statue of the Madonna was going to stop. Bishop Carta, was very happy that the Pilgrim Virgin would be making a visit to his diocese and was preparing the citizens of Foggia for the time of her arrival.

Padre Pio had become ill with a serious case of pleurisy about the same time that the Pilgrim Virgin statue left Fatima. Because he had a great desire to see the image of the Madonna, a change was made in the schedule and San Giovanni Rotondo was added to the itinerary. Due to his illness, Padre Pio was unable to say Mass or hear confessions and was growing weaker by the day. He had to endure a number of painful procedures whereby the fluid was drained from his lungs. The superior of the monastery, alarmed at his condition, called in a number of specialists to examine him. Four doctors diagnosed Padre Pio as having a cancerous tumor on his lung but Padre Pio was not convinced of it. More than once he was admitted to the hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering, but he was always anxious to return to his religious community. He said that he did not want to die in the hospital. He wanted to die in the monastery.

Although incapacitated by his illness, Padre Pio was looking forward to the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima with great anticipation. Every evening from his sick bed, he spoke through a microphone to the faithful who were gathered outside. His brief but inspirational messages were received joyfully by his spiritual children. On July 12, during his evening address, he spoke of Mary and said, “Let us love always more this Mother and let us be confident that she shall not deny us anything because to her nothing is lacking and she has the heart of a Mother and a Queen.”

Padre Pio waited with great longing for the day of the Pilgrim Virgin’s visit. He said:

Our hearts are trembling for the arrival of this Mother. Why is she coming? Because she wants to visit her children. Therefore, it is an act of love. Therefore, let us prepare to empty our hearts of all that is neither of God, nor connects with God, nor leads to God. And this is the best welcome we can give to this celestial Mother. To keep something back is not worthy of a child in front of a Mother that is offering all of herself. This visit should not be limited to simple enthusiasm, but must remain permanent, as our Mother’s eye is permanently on us. Let us renew often the resolutions which we have made on this day of our celestial Mother’s visit.

On July 27, Padre Pio announced that the novena was beginning in preparation for the visit that the “Heavenly Mother wants to make.” Each evening of the novena, Padre Pio spoke to the people of the “very special grace” that would be coming to all with the arrival of the Pilgrim Virgin statue. He encouraged everyone to give thanks to God and to increase their prayers and devotions. On August 5, he announced, “In a few minutes our Mother will be in our house . . . Open your hearts.”

When the Pilgrim Virgin statue arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio was in bed. He had been bedridden for more than three months. The statue was taken to the church of Our Lady of Grace. For this occasion, the church remained opened day and night. Padre Pio was brought to the sacristy in a wheelchair. He kissed the image and placed a gold Rosary in her hands. Because of his extreme weakness, he had to be taken immediately back to his bed.

Afterward, the Pilgrim Virgin image was taken through all of the wards of the Home for the Relief of Suffering. When the statue was leaving San Giovanni Rotondo, a huge crowd assembled in the square outside the church to bit her farewell. Padre Pio, too, wanted to view her departure so he was taken to the balcony of the church. As a farewell gesture to Padre Pio, the helicopter that was to carry the statue to Sicily, circled three times around the church before leaving.

As Padre Pio watched from the window, he was overcome with sadness and he began to cry. He prayed, “Dear Mother, when you came to Italy, I became sick. You have visited me here and I am in the same condition. Now you are leaving. Will you not give me your blessing and heal me?” At that moment a sensation of warmth and a kind of shudder ran through his entire body. All at once he felt completely well and  had the desire to walk and to exercise a bit. The next day he wanted to celebrate Mass but his superior did not think it was advisable. That evening a doctor examined him and declared that he was well and could celebrate Mass the following day and resume all of his normal activities.

After the Pilgrim Virgin statue left Italy, an article appeared in the newspaper voicing a complaint. Someone wrote that it would have been preferable if the Pilgrim Virgin had traveled to Monte Sant Angelo, to the well-known shrine dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, rather than to San Giovanni Rotondo. When the article was brought to Padre Pio’s attention, he said simply, “Our Lady came here because she wanted to cure Padre Pio.” He told many people about his miraculous healing through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima. His eyes always filled with tears whenever he talked about it.

The pilgrims who came to Our Lady of Grace monastery, continually sought Padre Pio out, asking for his prayers. He encouraged the sick to pray and to have faith. He would often say, “Let us pray to Our Lady that she snatch this grace for you from the Heart of Jesus.” Never strong physically, Padre Pio entrusted his own health concerns to the care of the Mother of God. He wrote that God had, “put the problem of my health and a victorious outcome into the hands of our heavenly Mother.” When people came to Padre Pio, thanking him for his prayers and in many cases for the healings that were a direct result of his prayers, he would respond, “Do not thank me. I did nothing. Thank our Blessed Lady. It was she who healed you.”

On the one year anniversary of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, Padre Pio made a rare public speech. On that occasion, before a gathering of several thousand people, he prayed in thanksgiving for the hospital. He also invoked Mary’s intercession and prayed:

May Our Lady of Grace who is the Queen to whom every day and many times in the day we manifest our love, and of whom we ask her maternal assistance, reign always in the city that will rise here and may she assist all of you. May the Madonna intensify the love of her children for the Vicar of Christ on earth, and one day may she show us Jesus in the splendor of his glory.

 William (Bill) Martin from Brooklyn, New York first met Padre Pio when he made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1959. Bill visited Padre Pio again in 1964 and when it was time to say goodbye, Bill found it very difficult to leave. As he was waiting for the bus to take him to Foggia, one of the members of the Capuchin community came running toward him and told him that Padre Pio wanted him to stay on at the monastery. Bill was overjoyed at the news. He became a Third Order Franciscan and was thereafter known to everyone as Brother Bill. After Padre Pio’s death, he was ordained to the priesthood and took the name Father Joseph Pius Martin.

Brother Bill Martin (Father Joseph Pius Martin) sitting on the veranda with Padre Pio sharing a quiet moment.

Brother Bill became Padre Pio’s personal assistant and worked close beside him on a daily basis. One afternoon, he and Padre Pio were sitting together on the veranda near Padre Pio’s cell. Enjoying the time of silence, each was occupied with his own thoughts. Brother Bill was thinking to himself what a great blessing it had been for him to have been able to have spent so much time close to Padre Pio. He knew how fortunate he was and he wondered who had obtained this wonderful grace for him. Was it Padre Pio or was it Our Lady who was responsible? Although Brother Bill had not shared his thoughts with Padre Pio, at the exact moment that he was thinking about it, Padre Pio turned to him and said, “It was Our Lady.”

On August 10, 1960, Padre Pio celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Between six and seven thousand people gathered in San Giovanni Rotondo to be present at his priestly Golden Jubilee. Included in that number were many of the doctors and administrators who served at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Three bishops as well as the provincial superior of the Capuchin order assisted at the Mass. On that occasion, Padre Pio expressed his deep gratitude for his vocation to the priesthood. He also paid honor to his heavenly Mother. He prayed, “O Mary, most sweet Mother of priests, Mediatrix of all graces, from the depth of my heart I pray to you. I beg you, I implore you, to thank Jesus today, tomorrow and always for the inestimable gift of my fiftieth anniversary to the priesthood.”

Toward the end of Padre Pio’s life, the burdens of old age and ill health weighed on him. He suffered not only from the pain of the stigmata but also from exhaustion, weakness, severe headaches and many other physical ailments. Subject to asthma attacks, it was often difficult for him to breathe. In the last three years of his life, his fellow Capuchins noticed that he became more and more silent. When he had company, if the conversation of his visitors turned to small talk or idle chatter, he would quickly put a halt to it. When people approached him seeking his counsel, often, rather than speaking, he would simply hold up his Rosary, encouraging prayer as a solution to the trials and difficulties of life. In his last years, his greatest consolation was the Rosary, which he prayed night and day.

Just four days before his death, Padre Pio expressed his devotion to Mary in one of his final gestures of love. A man brought Padre Pio a beautiful bouquet of red roses for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his stigmata. Padre Pio took one of the roses out of the bouquet and asked one of his spiritual sons who was going to Pompeii if he would take it to the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The man promised that he would take it there the very next day.

When the man arrived in Pompeii, he told a nun who served at the shrine that the rose had been sent by Padre Pio, who asked that it be placed before the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. Very pleased to receive the rose, the nun placed it in a vase with other roses. On September 23, the day that Padre Pio passed away, the nun noticed that all the other roses in the vase had withered but the one that Padre Pio had sent was still fresh and beautiful. The news of Padre Pio’s unfading rose reached the local bishop who decided to put it on display in a special glass container.

Padre Alberto D’Apolito, who had been very close to Padre Pio through the years, heard about the rose and wanted to see it. He took a number of Third Order Franciscans from San Giovanni Rotondo on pilgrimage to the shrine in Pompeii. They saw the rose that Padre Pio had sent to Our Lady of Pompeii and although the stem was slightly yellow in color, the rose remained fresh and intact. Their visit to see the rose occurred one year after Padre Pio’s death.

Cleonice Morcaldi, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, spoke to Padre Pio just a few days before his death. “Father, please give me at least one word,” Cleonice said to him. He answered, “Love the Madonna and make her loved. Always recite her Rosary. That is the armor against the evils of the world today.” “Is the Madonna close to you?” Cleonice asked. “A Mother,” Padre Pio replied. “All of Paradise is near her.”

Padre Pio’s love for Our Lady and for her Rosary supported and sustained him throughout his earthly pilgrimage. Father Domenico Mondrone spoke of Padre Pio’s love for Mary and said:

The Rosary was the most beautiful and longest sermon in honor of her, because it lasted the whole of his life. He spoke with the Rosary which he was seen to clutch always in his fingers, the Rosary he clutched in those last instants, almost as though it were the supreme link between the earth he was about to leave and the heavens which opened before him.

Padre Pio passed into eternal life very peacefully, very well prepared. He died with his Rosary in his hand. His last words were – Jesus, Mary.


Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3.  Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4.  They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. André Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey


Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 75 – Spring -2018

Download Newsletter Issue 75 – Spring 2018

Padre Pio’s Love for the Blessed Virgin Mary

Padre Pio prays before an image of Our Lady of Grace in
San Giovanni Rotondo

One of the outstanding characteristics of Padre Pio’s profound spirituality was his deep and abiding devotion to the Virgin Mary. His love for Mary was one which was present from the early years of his childhood. It was a love that grew steadily in fidelity and devotion, lasting throughout his entire life.

Francesco Forgione (Padre Pio) was born on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, in southern Italy. He was baptized the following day in the parish church of St. Anne. The church of St. Anne was dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels and from his young years, Francesco had a great love for Mary, Queen of the Angels. Throughout his life, he was assisted and protected by the continual presence of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and his guardian angel as well. When he was only five years old, Francesco consecrated his life to God. Padre Agostino Daniele of San Marco in Lamis wrote in his diary about young Francesco and said, “The ecstasies and the apparitions began at the age of five, when he first had the desire to consecrate himself to the Lord, and they were continuous.”

Pietrelcina, the small town where Francesco grew up, has a long history of devotion to the Virgin Mary. Our Lady Liberatrix (Our Lady of Liberty) was the special patroness of the area and was venerated in the parish church. Every year there was a festival in her honor with a procession through the streets.

Francesco’s parents, Grazio and Giuseppa Forgione, both deeply religious, raised their children to love God above all things and to be firmly rooted in their Catholic faith and in the teachings of the Church. As a family, the Forgiones went to church every day and prayer came before all other activities. Padre Pio’s mother, Giuseppa, by word and by example, taught her children to love the Virgin Mary and to pray the Rosary daily. Firm in her faith and in the love of God, Giuseppa had a special devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Virgin Mary, who was close to Francesco all through his childhood, assisted him in a special way when he was fifteen years old, on the eve of his departure for the Capuchin novitiate in Morcone. Francesco felt a strong attachment to his family and friends and the thought of leaving them and all that was familiar to him was extremely painful. As the day of his departure grew near, so too the sadness in his heart increased at the thought of saying goodbye. It caused him to feel as if his “very bones were being crushed.” The day before he left for Morcone, he had a vision of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Resplendent and beautiful in glory, they appeared to him and assured him that they were with him and would remain with him as he embarked on a new life. Jesus laid his hand on young Francesco’s head in a blessing. The experience strengthened him to such a degree that he was able to bid farewell to his family without shedding a single tear.

Francesco entered the Capuchin novitiate on January 6, 1903. On January 22, he was vested in the habit and given the name Brother Pio. Brother Pio excelled in the novitiate in Morcone. He embraced the rigorous monastic life, the austerity, the penance and self-sacrifice. He loved the study of Sacred Scripture, the silence of the cloister, the communal prayers, the solitude. The Capuchin monastery in Morcone was considered by many to be extreme in its strictness. A number of the novices did not fare well and left of their own accord. Brother Pio was deeply committed to his vocation from the very beginning. He persevered and did not complain or criticize his superiors like many of the others did.

At the top of the stairs in the novitiate, there was a painting of Our Lady of Sorrows with  words inscribed in Latin, “Remember to say a Hail Mary as you go by.” Brother Pio would always genuflect and say a prayer to the Virgin each time he passed. One of the novices, Brother Guglielmo said, “He (Brother Pio) was extremely pious in the fulfilment of his practices of devotion. He would be the first, with great fervor and faith, to make acts of adoration, to pay reverence and to make genuflections before the Blessed Sacrament and the image of Our Lady.”

As a young Capuchin preparing for the priesthood, Brother Pio’s great piety was observed by both his teachers and his fellow students alike. Padre Leone, who had been a classmate of his, recalled, “He (Brother Pio) was a person of ordinary talent, but he always knew the lesson, although we had the impression that he did not study a great deal. Using one excuse or another, I would go to his cell and almost always I would find him on his knees in prayer, his eyes red from weeping. I could say that he was a student in constant prayer.” Padre Ilario, another one of his classmates wrote, “As a student at Montefusco, I would be with Brother Pio in choir as he recited the Office of the Blessed Virgin and sometimes I saw him with tears in his eyes. He was sickly, of delicate health, frequently with a fever and suffering severe pains.”

Brother Pio was ordained to the priesthood on August 10, 1910 and thereafter became known to everyone as Padre Pio. He was sent to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916. Padre Pio loved the simplicity and solitude of the monastery and was very happy to be a part of the religious community there. Our Lady of Grace was the patroness, not only of the monastery, but also of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo.

A beautiful painting of Our Lady of Grace which dates back to the thirteenth century was venerated in the sanctuary of the church. Padre Pio spent countless hours in prayer, gazing at the beautiful image of Our Lady of Grace. For many years he lived in cell number five and the words of St. Bernard were inscribed on the door, “Mary is the foundation of my hope.” Mary was indeed, the foundation of Padre Pio’s hope. Due to the many years he lived at the monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, from 1916 until his death in 1968, Our Lady of Grace is the Marian image, which more than any other, is most closely associated with him.

Pope John Paul II spoke of Padre Pio’s love for Our Lady of Grace to a large gathering of pilgrims in Rome on June 17, 2002, the day following Padre Pio’s canonization. The Holy Father said, “May the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Padre Pio called by the beautiful name of Our Lady of Grace, help us to follow in the footsteps of this Religious who is so beloved by the people.”

Like a natural son would feel toward his own mother, Padre Pio wanted to protect and shield his Heavenly Mother from any hint of disrespect. He could not bear to hear her name dishonored. Once, a young man went to Padre Pio to make his confession and accused himself of cursing. When Padre Pio asked him whom he had cursed, he told him that he had cursed Jesus and Mary. The young man said that upon hearing this, Padre Pio looked “as though he had been stabbed in the heart.” “You really cursed Jesus and Our Lady?” Padre Pio asked him incredulously. Then Padre Pio seemed to collapse against the kneeler. He said to the young man, “What more could Jesus and Mary do for us than what they have already done.”

On one occasion, at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, some men were having a discussion regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. Different viewpoints were shared and a number of the ideas that were expressed were in opposition to the teachings of the Church. Padre Pio found the conversation very difficult to endure. He asked his superior for permission to leave the room. “This talk upsets me very much,” he said, “and I must leave at once.” His superior granted his request.

The Image of Our Lady of Grace which is venerated at the shrine at Sardhana, India. This picture was blessed by Padre Pio on Sept 28, 1955.

In 1955, the Archbishop of Agra, India, His Excellency, Most Reverend Msgr. Giuseppe Evangelisti visited Padre Pio. He brought a beautiful painting of Our Lady of Grace with him and asked Padre Pio to bless it. He explained that he intended to build a shrine in Sardhana, in northern India, where the painting of the Virgin would be venerated. Padre Pio was very happy about the Archbishop’s plan. He kissed the painting and blessed it and told the Archbishop that he would pray to Our Lady of Grace for her children in India.

In 1957, the shrine at Sardhana was completed and during the solemn inauguration, the painting was taken in procession and placed in the chapel of the shrine. On that day, a boy who was so ill that the doctors could offer no hope for his recovery, was instantly healed when he touched the painting. The healing of the young boy was the first in a long list of healings and special favors that many were to receive who visited the shrine.

Padre Pio venerated Mary according to her many titles. He was devoted to Our Lady of Loreto, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady Liberatrix, Our Lady of Grace, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Pompeii, Our Lady of the Assumption and more.

Several days prior to the feasts of Our Lady, Padre Pio prepared himself by giving up certain foods that he enjoyed. He asked his superior for permission to give up fruit every Wednesday in honor of the Blessed Virgin and he found many other ways to make sacrifices in her honor. He fasted completely on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and on all of the other feasts of the Virgin Mary. He also fasted on the feast days of Our Lord, Saint Francis of Assisi, and St. Michael the Archangel.

Dr. Mario De Giacomo had a great admiration for Padre Pio. On one occasion when he was visiting Padre Pio at the monastery, he asked him if he liked a certain Italian dish called spaghetti ala napoletana. Padre Pio said that he enjoyed it very much and that it had been a long time since he had eaten it. The doctor wanted to bring the dish to him for dinner and Padre Pio agreed to it. The next evening the doctor brought the specially prepared meal to Padre Pio’s cell. Padre Pio said the blessing over the food and then became quiet. He said to the doctor, “Mario, why don’t we offer this to Our Lady. Please take it to the poor. They will enjoy it so much and the Virgin Mary will bless you for your kindness.” The doctor did what Padre Pio requested.

On August 15, 1929, on the Feast of the Assumption, Mary made a visitation from Heaven to Padre Pio in order to console him. It was a time in his life when he was beset by a multitude of trials, both physical and spiritual. On that day, while Padre Pio was celebrating Mass, Mary appeared to him holding the Infant Jesus in her arms. Padre Pio wrote:

This morning, I went up to the holy altar, I know not how. Physical pain and interior grief competed as to which could most afflict all my poor being . . . A mortal sadness pervaded me through and through and I thought that all was finished for me . . . At the moment of consuming the Sacred Species of the Eucharist, a sudden light flooded through me and I clearly saw the Heavenly Mother with the Christ Child in her arms, who together, said to me, “Be at peace. We are with you. You belong to us and we are yours.”. . .I felt the whole day as if I was engulfed in a sea of  indescribable sweetness and love.(Letters IV)

Padre Pio felt at a loss to express in full, his gratitude to the Virgin for the many graces she had showered on him throughout his life. He used to say, “She treats me as if I were her only child on the face of the earth. Her loving care toward me cannot be described in words.” In a letter to Padre Benedetto, he wrote:

 My only regret, dear Father, is that I have no adequate means with which to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary, through whose intercession I have undoubtedly received so much strength from the Lord, to bear with sincere resignation the many humiliations to which I am subjected day after day . . . and I do not believe this strength comes to me from the world. (Letters I)

Our Lady of Sorrows was one of the titles of the Virgin that Padre Pio frequently contemplated. Padre Pio meditated on the Passion of Jesus and on Mary’s devotion to her Son as she stood at the foot of the Cross. He would say to his spiritual children, “Go and keep company with Jesus in his Passion, and with his Sorrowful Mother.”

Padre Pio recommended devotion to the Sorrowful Virgin to one of his spiritual daughters, Madame Katharina Tangari. Katharina first visited the Capuchin monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1950. The beauty of the Mass celebrated by Padre Pio made a profound impression on her and she was deeply edified. She returned to the monastery more than seventy times.

One Easter, Katharina received a beautiful Dominican edition missal as a gift. Her great desire was to have Padre Pio write an inscription in the front of her missal. She asked the superior of the monastery to give her missal to Padre Pio to sign. The superior told Katharina that he could not make any promises. There were too many people with too many requests. Katherina waited patiently for two months and when her missal was finally returned to her, Padre Pio had written on the first page, “If you want to assist at Holy Mass with devotion and fruitfully, keep company with the Sorrowful Virgin at the foot of the Cross on Calvary.”

Padre Pio encouraged people to approach the Virgin Mary with faith in her maternal and loving heart. On July 18, 1916, he wrote to his spiritual daughter, Giuseppina Morgera,

You must remember that you have in Heaven not only a Father, but also a Mother . . . And if our wretchedness saddens us, if our ingratitude to God terrorizes us, if the memory of our faults hinders us from presenting ourselves to God our Father, let us then have recourse to Mary, our Mother. She is all sweetness, mercy, goodness, and love for us, because she is our Mother.

When speaking about the Virgin Mary, Padre Pio used many endearing terms. He called her Queen of martyrs, Comforter, heavenly Mother, Mediatrix of all graces, most tender Mother of priests, Mother most pure, Morning Star, merciful Mother in Heaven. He saw the Virgin as the consoler of the afflicted, the advocate of sinners, the refuge of sinners, the most beloved. He frequently referred to her simply as “Mother.” An image of the Madonna was found to be weeping in one of the parish churches in Italy. The bishop of the diocese asked for an investigation into the matter and after much study the bishop declared that the phenomenon was of supernatural origin. When Padre Pio was told about the image of the Madonna he said, “When Our Lady is weeping, things are not going well.”

Father Mariano, one of the Capuchins at Our Lady of Grace monastery, went to Padre Pio’s cell one evening to visit him. When he greeted Padre Pio, he saw that several other Capuchins were visiting him as well. One had brought a statue of the Virgin for Padre Pio to bless. Padre Pio was asked if he liked the statue and he replied that it was indeed beautiful. Father Mariano exclaimed, “But Padre Pio sees more. He can see the Madonna in flesh and blood.” Padre Pio then said, “From the time her Son crucified me, she has never left this cell of mine.” And to Padre Tarcisio da Cervinara who once asked Padre Pio if it was true that he was assisted in the confessional by Saint Francis and the Virgin Mary, he replied, “My son, if it were not for those two with me, what would I be able to accomplish?”

When Padre Pio’s eyesight grew weak and it became difficult for him to read, his superiors allowed him to replace the Mass of the day with the Mass of Our Lady and also to replace the reading of the Divine Office with the prayers of the Rosary. He preferred the Rosary above all other prayers and insisted that his spiritual children carry a Rosary with them at all times and pray it every day. For Padre Pio, the Rosary was a profound meditation on the mysteries of the Christian faith.

Padre Pio defined the Rosary as, “The synthesis of our faith, the expression of our charity, and the foundation of our hope.” He referred to the Rosary as a “crown of graces.” On one occasion when Padre Pio had forgotten his Rosary, he said to Padre Onorato, “Please, go to my cell and get my weapon.” Padre Onorato did not understand and so he asked Padre Pio what he meant. “Please go and get my Rosary,” he answered. He called the Rosary a weapon against the evil in the world.

Padre Pio was aware that many people had abandoned the practice of the Rosary, considering it outdated and too repetitious. Nevertheless, he never stopped encouraging people to pray the Rosary daily. He said to one of the friars:

My son, if we do what we have always done, what our fathers did before us, we cannot go wrong. Satan wants to destroy this prayer, but in this he will never succeed. The Rosary is the prayer of those who triumph over everything and everyone. It was Our Lady who taught us this prayer, just as it was Jesus who taught us the Our Father.

Padre Pio once said, “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother.” By word and deed, Padre Pio taught those who were close to him to pray continually for Mary’s intercessory help. Padre Pellegrino Funicelli, who spent many years at Padre Pio’s side, knew how fortunate he was to be guided spiritually by Padre Pio. In an effort to encourage Padre Pellegrino in the daily recitation of the Rosary, Padre Pio once said to him, “If you will recite the Rosary daily, you will become an angel.”

One day when Padre Pellegrino and Padre Pio were sitting together in the monastery garden enjoying a moment of relaxation, Padre Pio noticed one of his fellow Capuchins, Brother Costantino, who was sitting a short distance away. The elderly Brother was praying his Rosary in the open air. Padre Pio recognized that Brother Costantino, in his great devotion to the Mother of God, was a great spiritual role model for all of the other Capuchins. Padre Pio said to Padre Pellegrino:

Do you see Brother Costantino? Old and sick as he is, he seems now to be worth nothing. And yet, as an obedient son of Holy Mother Church, who knows how to hold a Rosary in his hand and knows how to pray to the Madonna, he is worth more than you or me. Do you know why he has so much peace of soul? Because he has placed all his trust in the Most Holy Virgin, and because he interests himself as little as possible in the problems of the world. His spirit of prayer and his devotion to the Most Holy Virgin are virtues that wash away all defects and all human weaknesses. He draws on himself the gaze of the Madonna and his prayers have saved many souls.

You think that the penitents are attracted by the confessor, but instead they are spurred on to penance by these hidden prayers. The Madonna listens to these devout sons of the Holy Church. I would almost say that she gets her strength from the prayers of these men whom you consider useless. For me, these brothers in the faith always say something on behalf of the Most Holy Virgin, on behalf of the Church, and on behalf of God.

 Padre Pio’s love for Mary was evident as he prayed the Rosary whenever there was a free moment in his busy day. He carried a Rosary with him at all times and was either holding it in his hand or had it close by. One of the Capuchins who assisted Padre Pio in the morning when he washed his hands said that he would wash first one hand and then the other because he wanted to keep one hand free to hold his Rosary.

Danny Hickey, of St. Albans, New York, as an American G.I. stationed in Italy during World War II, visited Padre Pio’s monastery on a number of occasions. After he returned to the U.S. he felt a call to the priesthood, entered the seminary, and upon completion was ordained as a Capuchin priest. During his visits to the monastery, Danny had a chance to observe Padre Pio closely and he gradually became aware of his great fidelity to prayer. Danny said:

Padre Pio was usually seen standing with his right hand in the front fold pocket of his Capuchin habit. A few times when he withdrew his hand, he was seen to be fingering a small chaplet of beads. It seems it was Padre Pio’s habit not to waste a second but to fill each one with a prayer. Any lull in the conversation, no matter how short, his lips would be seen to move slightly as he prayed. But there was nothing ostentatious in all this; it was a long time before I was aware of what he was doing, though I had noticed his hand constantly in the breast pocket of his habit.

Padre Pio had the ability to impart his own love and enthusiasm for the Rosary to others. One of the members of the Capuchin community in San Giovanni Rotondo once saw a number of men standing together in a group near the church. They all had rosaries in their hands. Happily, and with a sense of pride, the men said to the Capuchin, “It is Padre Pio who taught us how to pray the Rosary.” Toward the end of his life, someone asked Padre Pio, “What inheritance do you wish to leave your spiritual children?” He answered simply, “The Rosary.”

Father Alessio Parente served as the personal assistant to Padre Pio from 1958 to 1961 and again from 1965 to1968. He wrote, “I was at Padre Pio’s side for six years, and in all that time I never saw him without the Rosary in his hands, night and day. Our Lady never refused him anything through the Rosary . . . The Rosary was Padre Pio’s constant link with Our Lady.”

Knowing Padre Pio’s great devotion to the Virgin Mary, Father Alessio once said to him, “You have such a great love for the Blessed Mother. Would you like to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes?” He answered, “I do not have to go to Lourdes. I go there every night. I see Our Lady of Lourdes every night.” On the wall of his cell, he had a picture of Our Lady of Lourdes as well as Our Lady Liberatrix, Our Lady of Purity and others.

Once a man traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. After the Mass, he was able to speak to Padre Pio briefly. He had brought a number of rosaries with him and he asked Padre Pio to bless them. When he returned to his home, he was going to give the blessed rosaries to a number of his friends who were sick. The man was impressed to observe that Padre Pio took the request seriously. Before blessing the rosaries, he prayed for a long time over them.

Padre Pio blessed thousands of rosaries in his lifetime and he also gave religious medals and holy cards to his visitors as a token of his affection. Often on the back of the holy cards, he would inscribe a short message. On one holy card he wrote, “May Mary always look upon you with maternal love, lighten the weight of your exile and one day reveal to you Jesus in the fullness of his glory, without the fear of ever losing him again.”

Padre Pio’s day began very early. He would rise every morning between 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Three hours of sleep proved to be sufficient for him. He always wanted to offer to God the “first fruits” of the day and so he devoted the early morning hours to prayer and meditation as a preparation for his 5:00 a.m. Mass. When he left his cell in the morning, he would stop on the stairs before a picture of Mary Immaculate and pray. Then he would make his way to the sacristy, praying the Rosary all the while.

Once Father Carmelo questioned Padre Pio about his habit of rising so early in the morning. “What time do you get up in the morning?” Father Carmelo asked him. He answered that he rose at 3:30 a.m. or earlier. “But why do you get up at such an hour? Don’t you think that is a bit too early to rise?” Father Carmelo asked. Padre Pio answered, “But Father, we cannot prepare ourselves too much for Holy Communion.”    – To Be Continued

Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.   Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.   Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3.  Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4.  They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. André Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey


“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – Issue 74 – Winter

Download Newsletter Issue 74 – Winter 2018

Padre Pio – True Friend and Guide

Padre Pio and some of his fellow Capuchins and friends enjoying
a visit in the monastery garden. In this photo, they appear
to be looking upward at something of interest.

I consider what writers say about the kingfishers, little birds who build their nests on the beach near the sea. They build it in a circular form and so tightly compressed that the sea water cannot penetrate it . . . Here these graceful little birds place their young ones, so that when the sea comes upon them by surprise, they can swim with confidence and float on the waves . . . I want your heart to be like this: well compact and closed on all sides, so that if the worries and storms of the world, the evil spirit, and the flesh come upon it, it will not be penetrated. Leave but one opening to your heart that is toward heaven . . . How I love and am enraptured by those little birds.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Some of the Capuchins who lived close to Padre Pio at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo remarked that his magnetism exerted a powerful influence, not only on people, but even at times on animals. It was observed that the monastery dog seemed to be particularly drawn to Padre Pio. If the door to the monks’ private quarters was left open, the dog would sometimes go to Padre Pio’s cell and wait at his door. It was also observed that when Padre Pio said Mass in the early days, the stray dogs from surrounding areas would come and sit in the square just in front of the church. When Mass was over, they would leave the area. We see by the following story that Padre Pio had a certain mysterious rapport not only with animals, but also with birds:

The monastery garden at Our Lady of Grace was a quiet and secluded place that was surrounded with fruit trees, a long row of cypress trees and one pine tree. Padre Pio and the other members of his religious community would usu­ally gather there each day. Sometimes, members of the laity were invited to join them. In the summer time, when the weather was hot, Padre Pio would often go to the garden in the early evening. It was a time of fellowship and conversa­tion, a welcome respite from the intensely busy days at the monastery.

Dr. Nicola Centra recalled an extraordinary event that happened on one occasion in the monastery garden. One day when Padre Pio was there with several companions, without warning, a flock of birds flew down and settled on the nearby trees. Sparrows, larks, warblers and more were there in great numbers. Suddenly, one of the birds began to sing loudly, followed by a great flapping of wings from the other birds. Then all of the feathered friends began to sing in unison. It was like a marvelous symphony of chirping, whistling, high-pitched rills and trills. It was indeed beautiful to listen to. However, on that particular day, the birds were so loud that Padre Pio was unable to carry on a conversation with his friends. He could not be heard above the chatter.

Suddenly, Padre Pio looked upward at all the birds in the trees and said with authority, “Quiet, that’s enough!” Immediately, the sound of the birds ceased altogether. A great silence descended on the monastery garden. Padre Pio then resumed his conversation as though nothing had happened. But something amazing indeed had happened. Those who were in the garden at the time and witnessed it, considered it to be miraculous.


For many years Padre Pio was assigned as spiritual director to the members of the Third Order of St. Francis in San Giovanni Rotondo. The meetings were usually held in the monastery but in the early days the meetings occasionally took place in the homes of the members.

On one occasion, Padre Pio presided at a meeting which was held at the home of his spiritual daughter, Vittoria Ventrella. When the meeting was called to order, Padre Pio began to speak. Before he could say more than a few words, Vittoria’s pet bird started to flutter about in its cage and to sing loudly. It soon became a distraction to the business at hand. Finally, Padre Pio looked over at the lively little bird and said in a commanding voice, “Be quiet now. Stop singing and listen!”

Much to the amazement of all who were present, at Padre Pio’s words, the bird immediately stopped singing. He still moved his head from side to side but he made not a sound. The members of the Third Order who were present could only conclude that in some mysterious way, and on some level, the little creature had understood Padre Pio’s wishes. At the conclusion of the meeting, when Padre Pio left Vittoria Ventrella’s home, the bird began its high volume singing once again, just as it had before being silenced.

The news spread quickly and it wasn’t long before everyone in San Giovanni Rotondo learned of the miraculous incident. Stories abounded, more than could be counted, which attested to Padre Pio’s unique charisms. Many had a desire to ask Padre Pio about his remarkable spiritual gifts, but few had the courage to bring up the subject. Even the Capuchins who were with him on a daily basis rarely spoke to him about such matters. Padre Pio was reserved and private by nature and did not welcome such inquiries.


Antonio Silvis was deported to Germany in 1943, after Italy joined with the Allied forces. Antonio was then placed in a Prisoner of War Camp. There, Antonio met another prisoner, Theodore Grossrubatcher from South Tyrol, Italy. Both men survived the terrible ordeal of the war and eventually made it out of the camp alive. Antonio returned to his home in Foggia, Italy and Theodore returned to South Tyrol.

Antonio was very surprised to get a call from Theodore in 1975. Theodore said that he was going to be passing through Foggia, and he wanted to stop and visit Antonio. Antonio was happy to hear from Theodore. He looked forward to his visit and asked his wife to cook a fine meal for the occasion.

Theodore Grossrubatcher

When Theodore arrived at Antonio’s home, the two men caught up on all the news. Theodore had a wife and seven children and worked as a garbage collector in South Tyrol. He did his best, but because of his low wages, he was barely able to provide for his family’s needs. Antonio noticed that Theodore’s clothing was in very bad condition. His pants were too small and literally bursting at the seams. His coat was old and tattered. Even his shoes were in pitiful condition. Antonio wondered how Theodore had ever managed to scrape up enough money to travel the long distance from South Tyrol to Foggia.

During dinner, Antonio noticed that Theodore was drinking heavily and consuming glass after glass of wine. He also drank numerous glasses of liqueur. He smoked cigarettes almost constantly throughout the evening. Even so, Antonio could sense that Theodore had a deep spirituality. With all of his excesses, he still manifested a goodness and a sincerity that was impressive.

Finally, Antonio asked Theodore the question that had been on his mind all evening. “With all of your financial problems, why have you made such a long and costly trip to Foggia?” Antonio asked. “It is because I am going to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray at Padre Pio’s tomb,” Theodore answered. “I want to pray for Padre Pio’s intercession so that I will be freed from my dependence on alcohol and tobacco.” Theodore knew that his life was out of control because of his addictions. It was also a hardship on his family because he spent a lot of money on alcohol and cigarettes, money that was greatly needed to put food on the table.

Theodore called Antonio from San Giovanni Rotondo to say that the visit to Padre Pio’s tomb had been a truly grace-filled experience. A short time after he had returned to his home, Theodore called Antonio again. He told him that he had received a healing by praying at Padre Pio’s tomb and he was completely free of his addictions. Not only that, he had more good news to share. He had secured a much better job with better wages and was now able to provide for all of his family’s needs.

Theodore shared the story of Padre Pio’s life and spirituality with many of the people in South Tyrol. He began to organize bus pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo so that others could experience the graces that he had experienced. He had to endure many difficulties in leading the pilgrimages. Some of the people who participated complained constantly about the smallest matters. Others joined the trip but failed to come forth with the necessary money to cover their expenses. Still others had eccentricities which tested Theodore to the limit. Nevertheless, he continued to offer the pilgrimages twice a year. Even when his health took a downturn and he became confined to a wheelchair, he still managed to organize the trips and accompany the pilgrims to San Giovanni Rotondo.

In South Tyrol, Theodore also established Padre Pio prayer groups in the towns of Ortisei, Selva Gardena and Santa Cristina and he made sure to be present at every meeting. During the last months of his life, even though he was weak and ill, he continued to attend the Padre Pio prayer group meetings. He wanted to keep the fires of enthusiasm burning in the hearts of everyone. Sadly, after Theodore’s death, the attendance waned at the Padre Pio prayer groups. Nevertheless, people would long remember the piety and devotion of Theodore Grossrubatcher and the good that he did for countless souls.


Anna Romanazzi’s husband passed away on November 18, 1954 at the relatively young age of fifty-four years. Anna’s grief was so great that it immobilized her.  She did not know how she would be able to carry on. In addition to the emotional pain of losing her husband, Anna also had many physical problems to contend with. She suffered from sacro-lumbar arthrosis as well as a herniated disk in her spine. She lived with chronic and severe pain. The doctor prescribed a plaster cast for her to wear and told her that an operation would probably be necessary sometime in the future. After her husband passed away, Anna no longer wore the plaster cast, the “instrument of torture,” as she called it.  She lost all interest in life. Her four adult children became very concerned about her.

Anna knew that she had some very important decisions to make. Before her husband’s death, he had expanded his business interests from Bari to Rome. Anna did not feel that she had either the ability or the strength to take on the responsibility of managing the business.

Seeing how depressed Anna was, her sister decided to take her to see Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.  She also made arrangements for Anna to make her confession to Padre Pio.  Anna was told that Padre Pio would hear her confession at a designated corridor in the church. When Anna saw Padre Pio sitting in a chair at the appointed place and realized that he was waiting for her, she was overcome with emotion. She walked to where he was sitting, fell to her knees and said to him, “Padre Pio, help me find resignation!” At that moment, the Rosary she held in her hand fell to the floor. Padre Pio bent down to pick up her Rosary and when he handed it back to her, he placed his wounded hand on her shoulder. “His eyes were beautiful and full of compassion,” Anna said. With great gentleness he said to her, “You are so devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Recommend yourself to Him. I absolve you. Go in peace, my daughter.” He then made an extensive sign of blessing over her.  There was no need for words. Anna knew that Padre Pio understood her soul.

Later, when a friend of Anna’s was making a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, Anna made a request of her. She wanted her to ask Padre Pio if she should have the back surgery that her physician had been discussing with her. Padre Pio said to Anna’s friend, “Tell Anna that it is her duty to take care of herself, because our life does not belong to us; we must give it back to God.”

After Anna heard Padre Pio’s message, she left her home in Bari and traveled to Rome for an appointment with the specialist.  The x-rays showed that there was no longer anything wrong with her spine. Anna never had any trouble with her back again.  She remembered that Padre Pio had placed his hand on her shoulder and prayed for her for an extended period of time. “Padre Pio obtained for me from the Lord, peace of mind, resignation, and bodily health to sustain me and to sustain my children,” Anna said. It was the beginning of a whole new life for her.


In 1955, Bishop Orestes Marengo, S.D.B. served as head of the Catholic diocese of Dibrugarh in northeastern India. When he first arrived in Dibrugarh, the residents of the town were still coping with the devastating effects of a terrible earthquake that had occurred some time before. The earthquake had caused dangerous landslides as well as flooding. A dyke was built to protect the area but it was eventually demolished by flood waters. As a result, some of the finest houses in Dibrugarh had been destroyed.

At the time, the Sisters who belonged to the religious congregation, Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix, were building their first school in Dibrugarh. Bishop Marengo agreed to fund the project even though his financial resources were very limited. One day, the Sisters spoke to Bishop Marengo about their concerns regarding the precarious future of Dibrugarh.  Due to the problems that resulted from the earthquake, the authorities were speaking of the possibility of an evacuation of all the residents of the city in favor of a permanent relocation to a safer region. If the city was going to be relocated, the Sisters felt that the construction on the school should stop at once. An enormous sum of money had already been spent in the building of the school. To continue to build would simply be throwing good money away.

Because everything was so uncertain, the Sisters urged Bishop Marengo to write a letter to Padre Pio and seek his advice in the matter. They explained that some of their Sisters in Thailand once sought out Padre Pio in a difficult situation. Through him, they received the help and guidance they needed and in turn, they were led to a successful resolution of their problem.

Bishop Marengo decided to act upon the Sisters’ advice. He wrote a letter to Padre Pio, giving him a detailed account of the entire situation in Dibrugarh. He explained that the authorities thought it might be best to build a new city forty-five kilometers to the north. Padre Pio’s reply came a little more than two months later. It was a short note written in English by his secretary, Father Dominic Meyer. Padre Pio’s message was this: “Your Excellency, tell the good Sisters to go on working zealously for the Lord and not to be afraid. The government will build a second defense against the river, and the city will be saved.”  Soon after the bishop received Padre Pio’s letter, engineers from Bombay arrived and were able to make steady progress in securing the city.

It was a joyous day when the Little Flower Catholic School in Dibrugarh was finally completed. It functioned in an excellent way from the first day that it opened its doors to the public. It was truly a blessing to the people of the community. The bishop treasured the letter that Padre Pio sent to him and decided to keep it on permanent display in the school for the benefit of all.

Bishop Marengo made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1960. He was able to greet Padre Pio in the sacristy both before and after Mass. Not only did he have the privilege of attending Padre Pio’s Mass, he was also invited to visit Padre Pio in his cell so that they could speak together privately. He was able to thank Padre Pio personally for his prophetic words, words which gave him courage during that fearful time when the future of the young Catholic diocese of Dibrugarh was so uncertain.


On one occasion, shortly before the Mass was about to begin, Padre Pio asked everyone in the church to kneel. Teresita DeVecci and her son happened to be present at the Mass that day. Teresita knelt down along with the other members of the congregation but her son, who was sitting in the very back row of the church, did not feel it was necessary to kneel and remained seated. Suddenly, he heard Padre Pio say, “Even those in the very back of the church. I want you to kneel too. There are no favorites here.”

After Mass, Teresita’s son put his name down to go to confession to Padre Pio and was told that he could make his confession at four o’clock that afternoon. Shortly before the designated time, he went to the sacristy where he was greeted by three other men who were also waiting to make their confession. “Where are you from?” one of the men asked him. “From Switzerland,” he replied.  “I believe that Padre Pio was looking for you,” the man said. “Earlier today I heard him asking, “Where is the young man from Switzerland who is going to make his confession?”  “But that is impossible,” Teresita’s son said to the man. “Padre Pio does not know me. He has never met me. I arrived here just last night.” “But Padre Pio knows everything,” the man replied.

Padre Pio officiates at a ceremony for members of the Third Order of St. Francis in San Giovanni Rotondo.

As Teresita’s son waited to make his confession, he prepared his heart and mind for the encounter. He knew that many people kissed Padre Pio’s hand upon leaving the confessional. It was a practice that was especially popular with women, but he did not approve of it. He referred to it as a custom from the “middle ages.” He had expressed his feelings to his mother and told her that under no circumstances would he ever kiss Padre Pio’s hand. “Besides, it isn’t sanitary,” he added. “Just imagine the germs that are on Padre Pio’s glove from all the kisses.”

That afternoon, Teresita waited in the church for her son to come out of the confessional. When he finally came out, he passed by her without even noticing that she was there. She followed him outside and observed that he was very pale. He told her that in the confessional, without realizing why, he suddenly had a great desire to kiss Padre Pio’s hand. When he did so, there was a tremendous heat coming from his hand. He felt a burning sensation, as if he had kissed “a red-hot iron.”


The following testimonies were submitted on our Padre Pio Devotions website:  Simply click on the “Testimonials” link on the website if you have a testimony to share.

I have a friend named Glenda who is a Protestant and belongs to the Presbyterian denomination. I shared the prayers of Padre Pio with her and told her about his life and his familiar saying, “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry.” I gave her a Padre Pio Rosary. I also gave her a pamphlet on how to pray the Rosary and suggested that she pray it each day. Glenda thought it was a good idea and began to pray the Rosary every morn­ing. She told me that whenever she had entered a Catholic Church in the past, she always had a special feeling. I told her that she was feeling the real pres­ence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Glenda had to go to the hospital for quadruple bypass heart surgery. Her sister called me to let me know that she came through the surgery just fine. However, her sister said that the doctor had come to her room the next day and he was perplexed. He told Glenda that she was repeating some initials during the operation, and he, as well as all of the doctors and nurses who were attending her, were curious as to what she was saying. He said that none of his patients had ever murmured even one word during open heart surgery. The anesthetic they are given is so strong, that they are not able to utter a sound in their unconscious state. But Glenda, for some reason, was different. “What was I saying?” Glenda asked him. “You were constantly repeating the initials, P. H. D. W.” the doctor answered. “We would like to know what it stands for.” Then Glenda understood and told him, “It stands for “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry.” The doctor has since shared the phrase with his patients who are preparing for surgery.

– Tom Thurston 


About three years ago my niece, Patricia Gail, was diagnosed with thymus cancer. She was told to get her affairs in order and to make provisions to have someone take care of her two children, for she did not have much time left. Gail is not a practicing Christian, but she does believe in Jesus as her Savior. I worked at a Catholic Book and Gift Shop and bought her a St. Padre Pio Rosary, had it blessed, and took it to her in the hospital. I told her about St. Pio and the many healings that occurred through him. She informed me that she was not Catholic and did not know how to pray the Rosary.

Her surgery was the next day and time was a factor so I told her just to touch each bead of the Rosary and say, “Jesus, I love You.” After the surgery, the doctor came to the waiting room and said that he removed all of the tumor. He said that it looked to be cancer and the blood work showed it to be cancer and that she would most likely need to have chemotherapy. At least ten days went by and Gail was so surprised when she learned the results of the lab work. The tumor was not cancerous and she was healed. Gail was told that she was a miracle. I even heard her state that she was a miracle. I thank God for the gift of believing and seeing with my soul His marvelous miracles and feeling His comforting love.

– Kathy Bee


Two years ago, I was offered a job which required a complete physical examination, including a hearing test. I passed the physical but I failed the hearing test twice. I was told to get another hearing test at my own expense. If I failed that test, I would lose my chance for the new job.

I felt very anxious about the situation. Three years before I had been diag­nosed with a form of degenerative hearing loss. It also produced symptoms such as vertigo and nausea. I was certain that I would fail the next hearing test.

On the day of my appointment with the specialist for my last attempt to pass the hearing test, I had taken my daughter to a Catholic bookstore in Hampton, New Hampshire. While there, I noticed a dvd about Padre Pio. I did not know very much about him. As I read the words on the cover of the dvd, I felt an itching sensation deep inside both of my ears. I also felt as though my ears were being tickled. I did not pay too much attention to it because I had become absorbed in reading the information about Padre Pio on the dvd cover.

Later that afternoon, I had my hearing test. I was tested twice. They also looked at the paperwork I gave them with the results of my two previous tests. “Mr. Warner,” the doctor said. “Your hearing is perfect. There is noth­ing wrong.” I was so happy that I shouted for joy and I was very surprised as I noticed that for the first time in years I could hear everything. Also, the pain in my ears was gone.

I told my parish priest the whole story and he told me that I had received a healing through Padre Pio’s intercession. I was hired for the job and my hear­ing has continued to be perfect.

– Bruce Warner


My Son’s Life was Out of Control My son Ken is an alcoholic. When I shared my worries about Ken with a friend, he said that he would write to Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo and ask for prayers on my son’s behalf. Ken would drink every single day and he drank throughout the day, consuming large quantities of beer and tequila. He had no appetite for food. His memory was short and he could not hold down a job. He was a chain smoker and was also addicted to TV. He had stopped going to church. His life was out of control.

About two weeks before Easter, Ken and I started praying together and we have continued to do so ever since. Each day we have been praying three Hail Mary’s. After each Hail Mary we pray, “By thy holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy,” and “O my Mother, preserve me this day from mortal sin.” We then pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, the Act of Contrition and finally the prayer for Padre Pio’s intercession.

Ken went to Mass with me on Holy Thursday. During the service, Ken was kneeling next to me. At that time, I prayed and asked Padre Pio to heal my son of his addictions. As I prayed, I felt a great sense of peace come over me. That night when Ken returned home, he happened to find ten patches to help him stop smoking.

Since Easter Sunday, all of Ken’s addictions have been lifted. He has not had a drink and has not smoked a cigarette. He has had only minor withdrawal symptoms. He has a good appetite now and is working most every day. He is making an effort to pay off his debts. He has decided that he does not want to indulge in frivolous things or buy anything until he can afford to do so. He has also canceled certain TV programs. He tries to keep busy so that he will not waste his time watching TV. He has decided to go back to church and is pre­paring to make a good confession. He calls me every day so that we can pray together over the telephone. He is trying to regain his health with exercise and healthy eating. I feel confident that Padre Pio was instrumental in lifting the chains of vice that Ken was bound to.
– Name withheld


“In the course of this our earthly pilgrimage, the Lord leads us in his ways; either he gives us his hand to have us walk with him or he carries us in the arms of his Divine Providence. He holds us by the hand when he enables us to walk by the exercise of virtue; if he did not, we would not be able to walk at all on this blessed way. There is plenty of evidence that those who let go of his fatherly hand cannot take one step without falling and hitting the ground. Without a doubt, the good God wants to lead us, wants to help us on our way, but he also wants us to do our part by taking small steps in cooperation with his grace.”

– St. Francis de Sales

Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1. Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2. Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3. Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4. They Walked with God:St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. Andre Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey

“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – Issue 73 – Autumn 2017

Padre Pio—Saint and Mystic — Part IV

Download Newsletter Issue 73 – Autumn 2017
“We should foster a social consciousness which will help us to meet the needs of our neighbors, and to discern and seek to remove the sources of injustice in society…No human anxiety or sorrow should leave the disciples of Jesus Christ indifferent. But the world needs more than just social reformers. It needs saints. Holiness is not the privilege of a few; it is a gift offered to all.”
– Saint John Paul II

Members of the Carabinieri (Italian State Police) get their
picture taken with Padre Pio.

Luigi Bellora was employed as a Carabinieri (police officer) for the State Police Department in Turin, Italy. When a friend gave him a biography on the life of Padre Pio, he found it to be enlightening. Reading the book caused him to pause and think about his own life and he realized that he had been neglecting his spiritual duties for a long time. The book was the wake-up call that he needed to get his priorities ordered rightly. Luigi was able to visit Padre Pio in 1953. From that time forward, he used his vacation from work to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo so that he could be near Padre Pio.

Luigi soon became a familiar face at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. He felt blessed to make the acquaintance of many of the Capuchin priests and brothers who served in San Giovanni Rotondo. He was awed by Padre Pio and he often felt nervous as he stood in line, waiting to make his confession. On one occasion in the confessional, Padre Pio noticed that Luigi was trembling. “Why are you shaking like that? Is it because you think I am too strict?” Padre Pio asked. Padre Pio then gave him a friendly nudge as if to calm him down.

On occasion, Padre Pio could be severe with Luigi in the confessional. Luigi realized that whenever this occurred, there was never a time when he did not deserve it. But even if he knew that he deserved it, it was by no means easy to endure. It had always been hard for Luigi to accept criticism gracefully and at times he reacted in an unreasonable and immature way.

Luigi once had an upsetting encounter with Padre Pio and decided to leave San Giovanni Rotondo immediately without so much as saying goodbye. He paid his bill at the guest house and went directly to the bus stop with his suitcase in hand. Although the bus made a regular stop there each and every day, for some reason on that particular day, it passed right by Luigi without even pausing. Luigi had no choice but to walk back to the guest house and get his room back.

Luigi could not seem to shake his feelings of hurt and resentment. He reasoned that even though he was still in San Giovanni Rotondo, under no circumstances would he attend Padre Pio’s Mass.  The next morning as he was lying in bed, he suddenly felt what he described as a “hard blow” to his shoulder. He quickly got up and turned on the light even though he knew that he was alone in the room. He recalled that Padre Pio sometimes worked in mysterious ways and the thought occurred to him that the punch to his shoulder might have come from Padre Pio. “Perhaps he is trying to knock some sense into me,” Luigi said to himself. Later a priest who was staying at the same guest house spoke to Luigi and convinced him to go to Mass. That very day, Luigi spoke to Padre Pio and apologized to him. “My son, that is all in the past,” Padre Pio said. Let us bury it and never think of it again.” Luigi was able to put the matter completely behind him.

Luigi counted himself very fortunate to be able to spend all of his holidays and vacation days in San Giovanni Rotondo. He had a great desire to be of service to Padre Pio and the other Capuchins during his visits. The superior, Father Carmelo de Sessano, noticed his helpful attitude. One day he asked Luigi if he would consider having a “working vacation.” He explained that he was trying to find a volunteer to stand guard near Padre Pio’s cell door in order to prevent people from disturbing him. Since Luigi was someone that Father Carmelo and the other Capuchins knew and trusted, and since he worked on the police force, he seemed to be the perfect choice.

At the time, Padre Pio was weak and ill and his fellow Capuchins were very concerned about him. In his fragile state of health, it was important for him to get his rest. Some people, often complete strangers, had the audacity to sneak into the monks’ private quarters and walk into Padre Pio’s cell unannounced. Padre Pio needed to be protected from such people. “There is nothing that I would like better than to assist Padre Pio in this way,” Luigi said to Father Carmelo.

Every day the routine was the same. Luigi entered the monastery through a hidden door that was semi-obstructed by builders’ planks. The arrangement worked out perfectly and no one in the church ever noticed what Luigi was doing. If they had, he would have been swamped with requests, messages, letters, and gifts to give Padre Pio.

Each morning when Luigi arrived on duty, he greeted Padre Pio in his cell. Padre Pio would respond in a feeble voice as his illness had debilitated him to a great extent. Luigi would then make his way to the wicker chair that was set up for him in the corridor. People managed to enter the private area from time to time but Luigi was always there to send them back.

Luigi loved his volunteer position as Padre Pio’s “special guardian” and realized that the job had more perks and benefits than he had ever imagined. Often when Father Giustino and Padre Pio were having their morning coffee together in Padre Pio’s cell, they would invite Luigi to join them. Luigi noticed that Padre Pio would never take more than a few sips. Luigi would always make sure he used the same cup that Padre Pio drank his coffee from. The doctors also had a boiled egg prepared for Padre Pio every morning, but he couldn’t manage to eat it. When he gave it to Luigi, Luigi was happy to finish it off for him.

Each day a doctor from the Home for the Relief of Suffering brought Padre Pio

Luigi Bellora with his wife at Trinita del Monti, Rome.

some jelly fortified with vitamins. “Luigi, would you please help me with this? I don’t feel like eating it,” Padre Pio would say and Luigi was glad to oblige. Almost every afternoon, Luigi brought Padre Pio an ice-cold bottle of beer. “But how can you do this?” Padre Pio asked. “How can you afford to get this for me?” “I do this with all my devotion to you,” Luigi replied.

Luigi also agreed to help with some of the overflow of correspondence that came into the monastery. On one occasion, Padre Pio spoke to Luigi about the particulars of a letter that had been received. “Luigi, tell the person in question that if he changes his lawyer, everything will turn out all right.” Luigi later learned that the person took Padre Pio’s advice and changed his lawyer, which resulted in a positive outcome.

From time to time throughout the day, Luigi opened the door of Padre Pio’s cell to see if he needed anything. Whenever he did so, he found that Padre Pio was praying. Sometimes Luigi saw him gazing at the beautiful painting of Our Lady of Purity that hung on his cell wall. Once when Luigi opened the door, Padre Pio was whispering to the beautiful image of the Madonna.

Luigi was able to serve for twenty-two days as Padre Pio’s special protector. They were days of grace, days of blessings, days of happiness. Luigi was very attached to Padre Pio and could hardly bear the thought of leaving him but he had used all his vacation days and had to return home. “Now that I have grown accustomed to living here in this Paradise near you, it is very hard for me to think about going back to Turin,” Luigi said to Padre Pio. Padre Pio kissed him on both cheeks according to the Italian custom and said, “Dear Luigi, may God repay you a thousand times for all the good you have done for me.”

Through the years, Luigi continued to visit Padre Pio, sometimes for longer, sometimes for shorter stays. Padre Pio called him affectionately, “Dear Luigi.” “But you are the one who is dear,” Luigi would reply. He also asked Padre Pio to assist him as well as his family at the time of death. “Yes, I will do so but you must be worthy of this,” he replied. One day Luigi spoke to Padre Pio and asked him for a spiritual thought, not only for himself, but for all the members of his family. “Always live under the watchful gaze of God,” Padre Pio said to him. Luigi handed Padre Pio a paper and asked him to write the words down and he was happy to do so. Luigi kept the written words of Padre Pio as one of his most treasured possessions.


In the spring of 1946, Maria Silvana Benedetti and her husband Almiro moved from Rome to Miramare di Rimini to the home of Maria’s father, Agusto. Maria and her husband followed the moving van full of furniture in an open car for a distance of 200 miles. The long drive in the open air evidently had serious consequences for Maria because shortly after, she came down with double pneumonia. She developed a very high fever and her body became as she described it, “a heavy, lifeless burden.” Twenty days passed and her condition did not improve. Two nuns from the local convent came to Maria’s bedside and prayed for her. Her two-year-old son Claudio stayed close by her side.

As the days passed, Maria drifted in and out of consciousness. Every so often she opened her eyes to see people gathered around her bed. Later, she learned that they were praying the novena to Padre Pio for her recovery. One afternoon she had a glimmer of clarity and pointed to a Rosary that was hanging from the chest of drawers. Her husband Almiro, shaken but happy, put it into her hand, and trying to make her understand, continued to repeat to her, “Maria, this is the little Rosary which Uncle Peppino took to Padre Pio and had him bless!” Maria slowly opened her hand to look at the Rosary and was invaded by a strong perfume of violets and vanilla. She felt her bodily strength returning.

The scent of vanilla persisted and everyone in the house noticed it. Maria asked her mother, Ernesta, if she was making cakes but she said she was not.  Maria did not know at the time that Padre Pio sometimes communicated his presence through a very pleasing fragrance.  She asked for something to drink and was given some broth. As the hours passed, she felt stronger and stronger. That evening she was able to sit up and speak to her visitors. In those days, Miramare was a very small town. “I can say that almost all of Miramare’s inhabitants were in my home to see the miracle that had occurred,” Maria said.  They all prayed and gave thanks together for the healing Maria had received through the intercession of Padre Pio.


Seventy-year-old Severino Naldi who lived in Forlimpopoli, Italy had been wheelchair bound for seven years. Even though he knew he would never walk again, he still had many things to be thankful for in his life. He felt especially grateful to have a wonderful wife who loved him dearly.

Severino had heard many impressive things about Padre Pio and decided to write a letter to him. He sent the letter on December 8, 1952 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the letter, he asked Padre Pio, not for a healing of his paralysis, but instead, for spiritual help. Two days after mailing the letter, Severino felt something deep within that he could neither describe nor fully understand.

On January 16th, Severino paid a visit to his young nephew. Severino greeted him lovingly and as he reached to kiss his nephew’s hand, for some reason, he thought of Padre Pio’s wounded hands. He remembered that Padre Pio always wore half-gloves in order to hide his stigmata. At that moment, he was able to rise from his wheelchair and walk. He never had to use a wheelchair again.


For a long time, Ida Giusti suffered from terrible pain which had immobilized her right arm. She could neither work nor sleep and the pain intensified whenever she tried to rest in bed. She lost her appetite and became weaker with each passing day. The remedies prescribed by her doctor were totally ineffective and she finally became desperate. She had a family to look after and was at the point where she could do almost nothing.

A friend gave Ida a picture of Padre Pio and advised her to visit him at his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. The year was 1948. Even though it was more than 560 miles from her home, Ida realized that the trip would be well worth it if she could somehow be helped. She invited two friends who were also burdened with many problems to go with her.

On the way to San Giovanni Rotondo, there was a mix up and because of it, the three women had to spend the night in San Marco in Lamis. That night, to Ida’s great surprise, she found that she was able to rest comfortably in bed. Her companions were also surprised at the improvement in her condition.

At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Ida was able to make her confession to Padre Pio. His presence had a calming effect on her and when she finished her confession he said to her, “Go, for from me you have no more need of anything.” She kissed his hand and left the confessional and the emotion of that brief encounter stayed with her for the entire day. On the trip back home, Ida found that she was able to carry her suitcase with no difficulty. When she arrived at her home, she was free of pain. Her arm was completely healed and she gained back all of her physical strength.


A Missionary Bishop (far right) visiting Padre Pio.

Father Gian Luigi Lazzaro first learned about Padre Pio in 1972. At that time, he had been serving as a missionary in Central America for five years. Father Lazzaro had a providential encounter with a priest, Reverend Nello Castello, and a physician, Dr. Bruno Pavone who told him many interesting facts about Padre Pio’s life and urged him to visit the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Father Lazzaro was able to make the trip in February 1973 as a guest of the Capuchins who lived there. As he described it, they were “five unforgettable days.”

When Father Lazzaro returned to Central America, he wanted to tell his friends and associates all he had learned about Padre Pio. He spoke about Padre Pio to the Franciscan seminarians who were studying in Planes de Renderos, San Salvador and it was there that many great graces came. When he was transferred to the parish of St. Francis in San Miguel, he made Padre Pio known there as well. He saw that on more than one occasion, Padre Pio’s intercession was asked for and received.  Later, he was transferred to the large parish of Momostenango in Central Guatemala. He was the only priest to serve fifty thousand Catholics in an area that encompassed two hundred and fifty square miles.

Just like he had done in the past, Father Lazzaro continued to spread the message of Padre Pio. One of the women in the area, Emilia, gave birth to her seventh child, who was to be named after his father. The baby was healthy but complications soon set in for Emilia. A nursing Sister was summoned since there were no doctors in the area. The Sister saw how grave Emilia’s condition was and called for Father Lazzaro to come quickly. Seeing that Emilia was at death’s door, Father Lazzaro gave her the Last Rites and told her to pray and to invoke Padre Pio.

Everything was in order to transport Emilia to the hospital which was a one hour’s journey by car over a very bad road. Father Lazzaro asked the nursing Sister to wait ten minutes more, the time he needed to go and get a picture of Padre Pio so that he could give it to Emilia. Realizing the importance of getting Emilia to the hospital as soon as possible, it was with great reluctance that the Sister agreed to give Father Lazzaro the extra ten minutes. He soon returned and put the picture of Padre Pio in Emilia’s hand and she held it tight. He learned that she held on to it until the doctors took it away from her when it was time for her surgery.

To the amazement of the physicians who attended her, Emilia recovered from her life-threatening illness. She returned to her family and to her regular duties, enjoying good health from that time forward. Divine Providence had been watching over Emilia from the beginning, she was certain of it. Her seventh child was not named after his father as intended, but was named Pio, in thanksgiving to Padre Pio.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.
– Psalm 32:7


A photo of some of the members of the Padre Pio Prayer Group in Rancho del Chamacuero, Mexico.

The following testimonies were submitted on our Padre Pio Devotions website:    Simply click on the “Testimonials” link on the website if you have a testimony to share.

Somewhere Inside his Mind, He was Still There    My daughter and I were praying for a young friend, Michael, who attempted to take his own life. After a few days in a coma, Michael had little brain function according to his doctor. We prayed for Michael in the IC Unit. He squeezed our hands when we prayed. He did things that showed us that somewhere inside his mind, he was still there. His grandfather is a Protestant pastor, and he prayed with us. Michael was then moved to a nursing care facility to die. I got the biography of Padre Pio and read it to him at each visit. We continued to pray for him. Instead of getting worse, he stayed the same for two weeks and then a terrible infection sent him to the hospital again. It was then that the doctor finally believed that Michael was truly there behind the facade of a “lost soul.” The days passed and Michael became more alert and then on to therapy and the rest is history–he drives and works today.  God is Good!
– Anne Holbrook


Joanna, Where are You Going? While assisting the homeless, I met a woman named Joanna. She had been living on the streets for seven years. Each day I would take Joanna food and money. Joanna was a Catholic. As the winter months became brutally cold, Joanna mentioned to me that she was unsure as to whether she could handle another cold winter sleeping on the sidewalk. I ask Joanna if she knew who Padre Pio was. She said she had heard of him, but knew very little about him. I told Joanna that I was going home to light a candle near my Padre Pio statue and that I would have a long talk with Padre Pio about her situation. Which I did. The next time I went to see Joanna, she was putting all her belongings in an old car. I said,  “Joanna, where are you going?” She said, “I am not going anywhere. A nice lady donated this old car to me and now I have a warm place to sleep.” I knew right then and there that Padre Pio had answered my prayers.
– Christopher Sales


I Had no Desire to Use Drugs Again I had a very bad drug problem and had no desire to stop using. My Aunt went to a Padre Pio Celebration and prayed to him for me. I woke up one morning and had no desire to use drugs again. That was 11 years ago. I pray to St. Pio and thank him every day for my miracle. I know I am his spiritual child.
– Name Withheld


How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the bridegroom will say, “I do not know you” (Mt. 25:1-13). What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent. . . These are the true drops of love that keep your religious life burning like a lively flame. Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there. He is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize him.

-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3. Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4. They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St John Vianney, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Andre Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey

“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – Issue 72 – Summer 2017

Padre Pio – Saint and Mystic – Part III

Download Newsletter Issue 72 – Summer 2017
Whenever things go wrong, the first casualty is always hope. It is fragile, like rare cut glass. We can lose it so easily. St. Paul tells us that, for those who follow Christ, there is someone who protects and saves our hope; the Father of Jesus. St. Paul tells us that our hope is safe with God. It is well beyond any damage that can be afflicted by human disaster or natural cataclysm. God truly holds our hope and guards it.
– Father Harry Cronin, C.S.C.

There was a man (name withheld) who grew to have a very cynical attitude toward religion. Whenever things went wrong in his life, he always blamed God. He continued to attend Mass but seldom went to confession or to Holy Communion. As time passed, his health began to fail and at the same time, the problems in his family life became almost overwhelming. One Sunday he walked into church and took his place in the very last pew. He decided on that day that he was finished with the Catholic Church forever. He prayed to God and said, “I don’t belong here. You hate me and you only help your favorite ones.” After that, he threw away all the holy pictures, religious medals and rosaries that were in his home. He would not allow any of his family members to mention the word “God.” This situation lasted for seven and a half years.

The man made the acquaintance of a woman who had a great devotion to Padre Pio. On one occasion, when he spoke to her about some of his problems, she told him that she believed that Padre Pio would be able to help him. “I am going to write a letter to Padre Pio and ask him to pray for you,” she said. She encouraged the man to write a letter to Padre Pio as well and he agreed to do so even though he was convinced that it would do no good. More than anything else, he wanted to prove to the woman that Padre Pio would not help him. He was certain that Padre Pio only helped his favorites.

In the letter, he asked Padre Pio to pray for an improvement in his financial situation and for an increase in faith for his family members who had fallen away from the Church just like he had. An answer came back in the mail which said that Padre Pio sent his blessing and was praying for him. The man threw the letter away.

The days passed one after another but nothing improved in the man’s life. He felt that his burdens were too big and too many to carry any longer. It appeared that he was headed for a complete nervous breakdown. The letter to Padre Pio was mailed out at the end of March 1968. In April, the man noticed something like the rich and pleasant scent of tobacco pervading the air. At that moment, he thought of Padre Pio and started to cry. But they were tears of joy, not sadness. The next Sunday he felt a desire to go to Mass. He called his family and told them what had happened. They thought he was finally having a breakdown. He attended Mass and shortly after, he made a sincere confession.

Wanting to learn more about Padre Pio, the man bought several biographies about his life and read them cover to cover. The information he learned from the books made such an impact on him that he returned to the practice of his Catholic faith. Padre Pio died five months later. As time passed, the man became aware of the blessings his family and extended family were receiving through the intercession of Padre Pio. One of his brothers who had struggled with alcohol addiction was finally able to stop drinking. In addition, two members of his family returned to the practice of their faith. “I am now at peace with God who was so good to me after I hurt Him so much” the man said.


There was a woman (name withheld) who was born and raised in Hong Kong. She always felt like an outsider, like the “black sheep” in the family. She never felt like she was accepted by the other members of her family. Her seven brothers and sisters had all been baptized into the Catholic Church. She was the only one of the siblings who had never been baptized. She attended a Catholic school because her father insisted that she do so but she was unhappy at the school. She was very much opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church. She did not believe in the theology of the cross. When she was fourteen years old, she decided to join the Jehovah Witnesses.

Years later, she moved to the United States and eventually got married. She still attended the Jehovah Witness church services but it became a source of tension in her marriage. Whenever she came home from church, she and her husband would get into an argument. Finally, she stopped going to the church meetings completely and eventually lost all interest in religion.

In 1973, she and her husband moved to Scotland due to his new work assignment. While in Scotland, she became very ill. Tests revealed that she had adhesions which required surgery. The surgery went smoothly and she was discharged after spending one week in the hospital. However, it wasn’t long before she became ill once again. A strange feeling of numbness came over her and she feared that she might be having a stroke. She was hospitalized once again and had to have another operation in which three feet of her intestines were remove.

In two weeks’ time, the woman had two surgeries. After the second surgery, the doctors discovered that a leakage in her intestines had occurred. Because she was too weak to have a third operation, the doctor hoped that the problem would be corrected without any intervention. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse.

One night, while in the hospital, the woman felt the sensation of heat on her stomach. It turned out to be blood. She discovered that her wound had reopened. She tried to push the call button to summon the nurse but she was not able to do so. Fortunately, a patient noticed the crisis and rushed to get help. Even though she was extremely weak, she had to have another surgery. The doctor felt certain that the problem was finally corrected. However, even after the third surgery, the leakage in her intestines continued and the doctor was at a loss to understand why.

The woman was in intense pain day and night. Even the strong pain killers that were given to her did not ease the pain. The doctor spoke to her husband and explained the grave nature of her condition. She needed to have a fourth surgery but if she did, there was only a 40 percent chance that she would survive it. If she did not have the surgery, she would die. The woman was so ill that she no longer cared if she lived or died. She didn’t want to suffer any more. All she wanted to do was to die in peace.

One day as she was lying in bed thinking about her hopeless situation, she began to cry. At that moment, she saw a man with a brown robe enter her hospital room. He spoke to her kindly and said, “Poor child, you have suffered too much. Can we pray?” She told the stranger that she no longer prayed. She was convinced that God would not listen to her prayers because she felt that she was unworthy. The man held her hand and prayed.

When she looked at his hands she noticed that there were scars on each hand. His hands reminded her of Jesus’ hands. After he finished praying, he put his hand on her forehead and said to her, “Poor child, you have suffered enough. No more suffering. You wandered away from God but he has found you again. Pray to God, talk to God. You can tell him everything. He is your Father and your dear friend.”

After the man left her room, the woman prayed with all the sincerity of her heart, “Please God, I don’t want to suffer anymore. Let me die tonight peacefully. Either that, or give me back my life. I promise I will be a good Christian.” When she finished the prayer, she asked the nurse to call her husband. She wanted him to buy her a cross.

The next morning when the nurse came into the room, she was surprised to see the change in the woman’s condition. The woman looked strong and healthy. The nurse checked her blood pressure and her temperature and they were both normal. She checked the incision from her previous surgery and it looked as though the healing process had finally begun. “I wonder why you are scheduled for surgery today,” the nurse said. “Everything looks so normal.” The nurse then called the doctor to come and examine her. Tests revealed that the leakage in her intestines had stopped. The doctor said he had heard countless miracle stories through the years, but this was the first one he had ever seen with his own eyes. “You must be a very special person,” the doctor said.

Not long after that, the woman and her husband returned to the United States. Because she was still very weak, she stayed at her mother’s home and her mother took care of her. She called one of the parishes in her area and said that she wanted to receive instructions in the Catholic faith. Several nuns from the parish visited her regularly, teaching her the catechism and after studying for six months, she was baptized.

Four years later, the woman returned to Scotland. She wanted to look for the priest who had saved her life and to thank him for what he had done. She visited many of the local parishes looking for him but to no avail. While in Scotland, she met a nun who was visiting from Ireland. The nun had heard the story of the woman’s healing and asked for a description of the priest who had prayed for her. The woman told her that he had large eyes and a beard and wore a brown robe.

Several weeks later, the nun sent her a photograph of Padre Pio. She recognized him immediately as the priest who visited her in the hospital. She wanted to get his address so that she could write to him and thank him but when she looked at the back of the photograph, it said that he had died in 1968. She couldn’t believe it. He had visited her in 1977. She learned that Padre Pio often visited the sick and dying in order to pray with them. She knew that it was because of his prayers that she had been healed. She would always remember the touch of his hand on her forehead and his beautiful words, “Pray to God. God is your friend and your dear friend. God is alive.”


Farley Clinton was in Rome in 1964 when he made the acquaintance of an Italian nobleman, a Marchese, who spoke to him about Padre Pio. At the time, Farley had a very limited knowledge of Padre Pio. He had heard about some of the miracles and other extraordinary phenomena associated with Padre Pio but it left his heart cold and unmoved. He did not feel that such things were of importance in the spiritual life. The Marchese agreed with him completely.

For as long as Farley could remember, he had a desire to see and speak with a saint. But he wanted to meet a saint who was steeped in holiness rather than one who worked miracles. His idea of a true saint was St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. “Padre Pio in many ways is like St. John Vianney,” the Marchese explained. “He lives in deep union with God and prays many hours each day. He too is steeped in holiness. Why don’t you accompany me to San Giovanni Rotondo? I think you would find it an interesting experience,” the Marchese said. Farley accepted the invitation and looked forward to the trip.

Farley and the Marchese took a train from Rome and arrived in Foggia at six-thirty in the evening. They then took a taxi to San Giovanni Rotondo. As they drove up into the mountains on a road with many twists and turns, Farley observed that the silence and the isolation of the area was profound. The stark landscape looked almost surreal in the moonlight and somewhere far below them was the Adriatic Sea. As they continued on their journey, Farley asked the Marchese more questions about Padre Pio. “I cannot really explain Padre Pio to you,” the Marchese said. “Everyone finds something different in him. You will see for yourself when you meet him.”

The next day Farley and the Marchese attended Padre Pio’s Mass and Farley was able to observe Padre Pio closely. He later spoke of the experience and said, “Padre Pio’s eyes were full of suffering, of keen sensibility to everything. He was very beautiful. That might be a strange thing to say about a man who was seventy-eight years old, but it was true. His face had a radiance, a luminous quality.” That afternoon, Farley experienced what thousands of others had experienced before him – the intense fragrance of perfume that surrounded Padre Pio. Farley had been tormented for more than a year by a number of perplexing problems. He had consulted theologians, priests, and even experts in psychology, but none of them had been able to help him. During his visit to Padre Pio’s monastery, those problems simply vanished, never to return.

After he and the Marchese returned to Rome, Farley had time to think about all he had experienced in San Giovanni Rotondo. He realized that his preconceived ideas about Padre Pio had been totally wrong. The trip had been more meaningful that he had ever imagined. Farley said, “It was possible to communicate with Padre Pio very intimately without words. He gave clear signs of knowing one’s secret thoughts, sins, and prayers. If he prayed for you and assured you that all would be well, however impossible your situation might seem, you could trust that everything would work out for the best.” Farley felt convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that he had truly met a saint.


On February 16, 1960 Dr. Frank Ceravolo was admitted to the Jersey City Medical Center. After many tests were run, a nephrologist (specialist in kidney diseases) spoke to Dr. Ceravolo and told him that the tests revealed that he had a progressive kidney disease called Glomerulonephritis. The doctor was forthright about the very serious nature of his illness. Tears filled Dr. Ceravolo’s eyes as he listened to the doctor explain the diagnosis, and he prayed silently asking God to give him strength.

Dr. Ceravolo was only twenty-eight years old with a wife and small daughter. The United States was a relatively new environment for him, having arrived not so many years before from his native Italy. He had been working long hours at the hospital and had been experiencing continual exhaustion but he did not think that was so unusual. He had made extreme sacrifices in order to be in the place where he was. His future looked bright and his whole life was in front of him, or so he thought. With everything going so well, how ironic it was for him to suddenly learn that he had contracted a life-threatening disease.

Our Lady of Grace monastery church in San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio was transferred to this monastery in 1916 and remained there until his death in 1968.

After months of illness, Dr. Ceravolo decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. He wanted to speak to Padre Pio personally and to ask him for his prayers. Because he was so sick, the trip to Italy proved to be sheer agony for him. On the third day of his visit, he finally had a face-to-face encounter with Padre Pio. Padre Pio paused momentarily in front of Dr. Ceravolo in the church and pressed his hand to the doctor’s lips. The doctor was instantly enveloped by a beautiful fragrance of roses, lilies, and “flowers not from this earth,” as he described it. Afterward, Padre Pio continued walking down the hall. Oddly enough, the farther away he walked, the stronger the perfume became.

The next day, Dr. Ceravolo was standing in the confessional line, waiting for his turn to make his confession. There was no doubt about it, he felt scared to lay his soul bare before Padre Pio. The man who had been in front of him in the line was almost running as he came out of the confessional. By the look on his face, it was obvious that things had not gone well. Dr. Ceravolo became even more nervous and he began to tremble. “Look what just happened to that poor fellow. Perhaps I should not go through with this,” he said to himself. Padre Pio then spoke to him and said, “Come, my son.” He hesitated but Padre Pio was calling him and he felt that he had to respond.

Padre Pio had a beautiful smile on his face as he greeted Dr. Ceravolo. His friendliness calmed the doctor who was then able to regain his composure. When the doctor finished his confession, he noticed that Padre Pio was staring at him intently. He seemed to be looking just above his head, his eyes fixed on some unspecified point. He had a very sad expression on his face. “Poor son,” Padre Pio said to him. “He is probably seeing all the misfortunes of my life and he feels sorry for me,” Dr. Ceravolo said to himself.

Dr. Ceravolo returned to the United States and to the surprise of everyone, he recovered from what doctors told him was a fatal illness. His trip to San Giovanni Rotondo marked a turning point in his life. Many years later he spoke of his great esteem for Padre Pio and said, “During all these years, Padre Pio has been my advocate and my guide. His words have sustained me in my trials.”


The following testimony was written by a man in England (name withheld) who learned a valuable lesson regarding the sanctity of life. When he discovered that his wife was expecting their fifth child, he reacted in a spiteful way. But he eventually came to realize that each child is a gift from God and a true blessing. It seems clear that Padre Pio helped to open his eyes and his understanding.

I am married to a wonderful and devout Catholic woman. We have four children and my wife has always made sure that our children have received a good religious education. I stopped going to Mass more than ten years ago. I was shocked when my wife told me she was expecting our fifth child. I did not want the baby and I was angry.

When my wife gave birth to a baby boy, Stephen, I shrugged it off. As far as I was concerned, it was just another mouth to feed. But it was soon apparent that something was seriously wrong. Tests revealed that our son’s kidneys were completely useless. One was not even a kidney at all but “mush” as the doctor called it.

My heart went out to our little boy. All day long, his body jerked in pain. The doctors operated and took the “mush” away and then discovered that his other kidney was badly damaged and the tissues were dead. They told us there was no hope.

Stephen’s eyes were sunken and he looked like a skeleton. The ward sister and the doctors told us it was just a matter of time. They advised us to take him home from the hospital so that he could die at home surrounded by his family. I broke down when the doctor was talking to us and I suddenly had a desire to go to church and make my confession. In the confessional, I was very repentant. Around that time, I saw a book in a Catholic book shop on Padre Pio and purchased it. I read it from cover to cover.

When Stephen came home from the hospital, he ate nothing, drank nothing and grew weaker by the day. His eyes stared listlessly. After two weeks at home, we saw that the end was imminent. We couldn’t watch our baby die. We hurried to the hospital with him. The hospital staff said that he would probably not live through the night.

I prayed and prayed to Padre Pio and to our Blessed Mother. I swore that I would never leave my faith again if my son’s life was spared. I cut out a picture of Padre Pio from the book I had read and slipped it under Stephen’s pillow in the hospital. He did not die that night. Each day he lingered and I continued to pray, day after day.

One night I woke up. It was dark outside. Our bedroom was saturated with the perfume of roses. The aroma was over powering. The next day the doctor informed us that there was an improvement in Stephen’s blood. His kidneys were working. Days turned into weeks. The doctors were amazed. They are still amazed. Stephen is now six years old.

Stephen has brought so much happiness into our lives. He is my pride and joy. I have not faltered in my faith and I attend Mass each Sunday. I still say my novena to Padre Pio every day. So really there were two miracles, a miracle for Stephen and a miracle for me. My heart was once hard but it is no longer hard.


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 detail 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

Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2.  Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3. Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4. They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirus, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. Andre Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey














“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – Issue 71 – Spring 2017

Padre Pio – Saint and Mystic – Part II

Download Newsletter Issue 71 – Spring 2017

 Padre Pio had a human aspect. He appears like others in the civilian registers. He is a fellow countryman and a contemporary of our own, born into a certain family, into a certain society, which gives him an identity card like any other citizen. But on the other hand, he appears as one destined to serve a divine purpose, sent as it were, to be a lightning conductor to protect us, as one who is merely lent to us here below to attend to the matter of our salvation. – Ferdinando Gambardella

Annunziata Camorani visited the church of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time in 1955. She had just been discharged after a long stay in a hospital in Bologna where the doctors suspected that she had an incurable disease. For a long time she had felt ill, exhausted and depressed. She spent only one day in San Giovanni Rotondo because she did not have the financial means to stay longer. For Annunziata, it was an “unforgettable day.” As she sat in the church, she was able to see Padre Pio as he heard confessions. His presence gave her joy and comfort. She also received communion from his hands. After that, Annunziata followed the other pilgrims to a field that was beside the monastery. Padre Pio stood at his cell window and waved to all who were gathered as they sang hymns. As Annunziata later recalled, “It was the best day of my life.”

Annunziata was able to see Padre Pio one last time before leaving San Giovanni Rotondo. At the time, he was in a deep state of prayer. After she returned to her home, she continued to think about all that had transpired on her visit to Padre Pio and the blessings she had received. She was now able to bear her burdens with greater serenity and equanimity. She returned once again to San Giovanni Rotondo many years later. She saw the beautiful church that had been built next to the monastery and was able to visit Padre Pio’s tomb and his hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering. “San Giovanni Rotondo has truly become a citadel, a miracle of Padre Pio.”


1955 – Padre Pio is blessing newly wedded couples in the church. Alberto and Graziella Correggioli are on the left

As a child, Alberto Correggioli was blessed to be raised in a loving Christian home. He went to Mass every Sunday, attended Catechism classes and served as an altar boy. He felt an enthusiasm for everything that had to do with his Catholic faith. Then in 1943, Alberto lost his dear mother. It left a great void in his heart.  His father now had the responsibility of raising three children all by himself. He did the best he could, but it was difficult for him to try to fill the role of both father and mother.

Without his mother’s guidance and support, Alberto soon stopped going to Mass. As the years passed, he began to feel that he was lost and beyond saving. However, everything in his life began to change for the better when, as a young man, he became acquainted with a girl named Graziella. Graziella encouraged him to attend Mass each Sunday and to cultivate a spiritual life once again. One day she spoke to him about Padre Pio. She referred to Padre Pio as “a great friar, a living saint.”

In July 1951, when Alberto was twenty years old, he made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo with Graziella and her mother. By that time, he and Graziella were engaged to be married. In San Giovanni Rotondo, Alberto felt a calmness and tranquility that was healing to his soul. As he described it, “every corner of the little town was filled with peace and serenity.” Great was his joy when he found himself standing in front of Padre Pio. He made his confession to Padre Pio and received his paternal blessing and absolution. He asked Padre Pio to accept him as his spiritual child and he agreed to do so.

Alberto spent seven days in San Giovanni Rotondo and for seven days he was, as he described it, “enraptured.” He found his faith once again as well as a desire to go forward with his good resolutions. It reminded him of the way his life had been when he was a child, when his dear mother was there to guide him and hold him by the hand. After his confession to Padre Pio, he walked outside and stood for a while in front of the church. He was surrounded by an intense fragrance of flowers. He felt that he had been reborn.


In July 1949, twelve-year-old Vincenzo Di Lello suffered a life-threatening illness. One very hot day, when he was near the beach, he was overcome by thirst. Even though his brother warned him not to do so, he drank from a nearby well. As it turned out, the well was contaminated, and Vincenzo became sick with typhoid fever. The disease was spreading like an epidemic and many people died that summer. The doctor prescribed penicillin and perfusion treatments but Vincenzo’s condition grew worse. He had a dangerously high fever and was literally wasting away. Seeing his rapid decline, his doctor told the family that there was very little hope of recovery. It was then that his father decided to go to San Giovanni Rotondo to ask Padre Pio for his prayers.

On August 14th while Vincenzo’s father was in San Giovanni Rotondo, his family ordered his coffin and bought the white fabric to make his burial gown. The next day, his relatives were all gathered at his bedside. He had already been unconscious for a number of days when his family heard him call out to Padre Pio in a loud voice. Suddenly, a strange perfume invaded the hospital room. On that same day, his father had been received by Padre Pio who said to him, “You may go now. Your son is going to get better.” From that day forward, Vincenzo’s health improved and at the end of August, after two months in bed, he was able to get up. Thanks to Padre Pio, he was able to resume all of his normal activities.


In 1956, Giuseppe Del Ton’s health was deteriorating rapidly.  None of his doctors were able to help him and finally he became desperate.  He decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, hoping that Padre Pio could assist him. At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Giuseppe was able to greet Padre Pio and was surprised that Padre Pio called him “youngster.”  “How long will you be staying in San Giovanni Rotondo?” Padre Pio asked Giuseppe. “Just overnight,” Giuseppe replied. “I am going back to Rome tomorrow.” “I would like you to stay longer. Would you be willing to?” Padre Pio asked. Giuseppe agreed to do so. “I will tell you when it is time for you to leave,” Padre Pio said. He then turned to his friend Angelo Battisti and said, “I will look out for Giuseppe.”

Padre Pio told Giuseppe that during his stay, he wanted him to attend Mass each day at the monastery church. Giuseppe was happy to do so. Finally, after twenty days, Padre Pio told him that he could return to his home. “During the twenty days that I was in San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio spoke perhaps only thirty words to me,” Giuseppe said. “His words were clear, concise and filled with wisdom. They contained a complete spiritual program for me to follow for the rest of my life. I cherish his every word in my heart like a treasure.” When Giuseppe returned to Rome, he was renewed in body, mind, and soul.


Maria Mazziga traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo in July, 1947. Her intent was to ask Padre Pio to pray for a member of her family who was seriously ill. Maria had been told that many people who asked Padre Pio for his prayers were helped. She was skeptical about a positive outcome but she felt she had no place else to turn.

From the time Maria left for her destination, everything seemed to go wrong. The only lodging that she was able to find proved to be a great disappointment. For one thing, there were no private rooms available. Everyone had to double up with complete strangers. It was the practice of the manager to carry pails of water to the rooms for the needs of the guests. Unfortunately, even the most ordinary comforts were unavailable.

Early the next morning, Maria waited in front of the church of Our Lady of Grace for the doors to open.  She was disheartened by the boisterous and irreverent conduct of some of the pilgrims. “Why must I endure all this misery,” Maria said to herself. Later in the day, Maria decided to get in the confessional line. As she waited, she felt so weak and exhausted that she was afraid that she might faint. All of a sudden, she was surrounded by an indefinable wave of perfume. The scent seemed to revive her. Maria had heard about the perfume that was associated with Padre Pio but considered it nonsense. Nevertheless, she could not deny the fact that her bodily strength had suddenly returned. As the perfume lingered in the air, she continued to feel stronger and stronger.

In the confessional, Maria told Padre Pio that one of her relatives was very ill. “I will pray for that poor girl,” Padre Pio said. Before Maria received absolution, Padre Pio told her to pray the Rosary for her penance. She did not own a Rosary but was able to acquire one in town. When she took it to Padre Pio and asked him to bless it, the same wonderful fragrance wafted from it that she had experienced while waiting in line for confession. “This is a fragrance from Heaven,” Maria said to herself. “Padre Pio is a favored soul who has been sent to us by God.” From that moment forward, she felt close to him.

Through contact with Padre Pio, Maria’s faith was reawakened along with a renewed desire to pray and to attend Mass daily. She experienced, as she described, “a whole new world.” Her life was no longer empty. Shortly after, her relative who was ill made a complete recovery.


In 1939, Angela Morano traveled from her home in Calabria to San Giovanni Rotondo. Even though she was young, she was thinking seriously about her future and she wanted to consult with Padre Pio about several marriage proposals she had recently received. At that time, there was only one boarding house in the area that was near the Capuchin monastery and Angela was happy that a room was available for her. Angela told the landlady of the boarding house that she planned to ask Padre Pio advice regarding the difficult choice of a marriage partner. “Padre Pio is able to help people because he is in communion with God,” the landlady responded. “Trust whatever he tells you because he is enlightened,” she added.

The next day Angela was able to make her confession to Padre Pio and at the end she said, “Several men have asked me for my hand in marriage but I am afraid to make the choice.  I would like you to advise me as to which one might be the most suitable partner.” “I am not a fortune teller,” Padre Pio replied. “Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance,” he added. With that, he closed the little shutter in the confessional making any further dialogue impossible.

Angela was hurt by Padre Pio’s words and was not able to hold back her tears. She left the confessional quickly and returned to the boarding house. When she told the landlady what had happened, she heard encouraging words. “Sometimes Padre Pio is brusque. Think nothing of it. Just be persistent and you will get your answer,” the landlady said.

The next day, Angela approached Padre Pio once again, and once again things did not go well. Angela was disappointed since she had only one more day to spend in San Giovanni Rotondo before returning to Calabria. Nevertheless, she was determined not to give up. On the following day, when Angela stood before Padre Pio, he greeted her with a smile and said, “What do you want my daughter?” She then took out a sheet of paper with the names of her suitors on it. Before she could read even one name on the list, Padre Pio said to her, “Mr. Rispoli is the best one for you but you must be sure to let me meet him.”

Angela returned to Calabria and after a number of months passed, Padre Pio’s words began to materialize. The family of Giovanni Rispoli contacted Angela’s mother and asked permission for Giovanni to meet Angela. Giovanni was an attorney who had been working in Asmara, Africa and had recently returned to Italy. Angela and Giovanni were formally introduced and got along well from the very beginning.

Angela told Giovanni about Padre Pio and all that had transpired on her visit to him. She wanted Giovanni to meet Padre Pio and invited him to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo with her. In order to please Angela, Giovanni was willing to make the trip, but he was not looking forward to it. He was very skeptical about Padre Pio. He had once been a practicing Catholic but after his father died, his faith diminished to a great extent. The grief he felt at the loss of his father overshadowed everything else in his life. He finally became completely indifferent to religion.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, Giovanni attended Padre Pio’s Mass with Angela but he was unimpressed.  After the Mass, he followed Padre Pio into the sacristy.  Padre Pio greeted him and said, “Giovanni, I see that you have landed here.” Giovanni was shocked that Padre Pio knew his name. He was also shocked that Padre Pio seemed to know that he had been away from his native soil of Italy. He felt confused and remained silent, not knowing how to respond. “But, isn’t your name Giovanni?” Padre Pio asked. “Yes, that is my name,” Giovanni replied.  He told Padre Pio that he had been in Africa when he learned that his father had passed away. “I cannot resign myself to losing him. I cannot get over the grief,” Giovanni said.  “Continue on the straight road and you will find your father again,” Padre Pio replied. The words restored peace to Giovanni’s heart.

Giovanni then told Padre Pio that his mother had introduced him to Angela and hoped that he would ask her for her hand in marriage. “You two are made for each other,” Padre Pio replied. “I think you should marry her,” he added.  “But war is about to break out and I could be called up for military duty at any moment,” Giovanni answered. “The war will not touch you,” Padre Pio said.

1940—A photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Giovanni Rispoli with Padre Pio’s father, Grazio Forgione.

Angela and Giovanni were married in 1940 and soon after, Giovanni received notification that he was to report for military service. When he presented himself at the recruiting office, he was told that another man had been substituted in his place. He would not be required to serve in any capacity. He remembered that Padre Pio had said, “The war will not touch you.” As Giovanni thought about all the accurate statements Padre Pio had made to him about his life, his attitude changed and he began to have great faith in him and in his prophetic gifts.

Several years later, Angela was able to visit Padre Pio again. She told him that she and Giovanni were very sad because their marriage had not been blessed with children. “Do not worry,” Padre Pio said. “The children will come. As a matter of fact, you can begin to prepare the baby clothing now. The first will be boys and the last will be girls.”

Some time later, Angela was struck with a terrible pain. The doctor told her that an operation might be necessary. “But why is there talk of an operation?” Padre Pio said to Angela. “You are expecting a baby!” Angela and Giovanni were elated. “What shall we name our baby,” Giovanni asked. “Name the first ones whatever you want. You can name the last one after me.”  Angela and Giovanni became the proud parents of a baby boy. Two more boys followed and were welcomed with love. Six years later, Angela became sick and asked a friend who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo to tell Padre Pio that she was unwell. “I am aware of Mrs. Rispoli’s illness and I will take care of it,” Padre Pio said. It seemed as though Padre Pio was Giovanni and Angela’s good guardian angel, always watching over every aspect of their lives. In 1956, Angela and Giovanni’s first daughter was born and six years later their last child was born, a beautiful baby girl whom they named Pia.


Father Antonio Cannavacciuolo of Latium, Italy, was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 1919. Shortly after his ordination, he traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time. He was received affectionately by the members of the religious community who resided at Our Lady of Grace monastery and was invited to share a meal with them in the refectory. When asked if he would like to stay overnight, he readily agreed and was assigned a little cell not far from Padre Pio’s. That evening, he met with Padre Pio, made his confession to him, and felt blessed to be able to kiss his hand.

Father Antonio returned to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1946. After that, he visited Padre Pio two or three times each year. He remembered the affection with which Padre Pio always received him and he recalled with great joy, Padre Pio’s paternal embraces and kisses on his cheeks, according to the Italian custom. In 1955, Father Antonio came down with a very bad case of laryngitis and could barely speak above a whisper. He tried a variety of medicines, but nothing helped. He remained in that state for six months. To make matters worse, he had no one to assist him at his parish. He had to preside at the Mass, hear confessions, ring the bells, play the organ, sing, and preach all by himself. With his many responsibilities, he felt a growing anxiety about the loss of his voice.

Finally, Father Antonio decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to ask Padre Pio to pray for his recovery. At the monastery, he greeted Padre Pio, kissed his hand and then explained that he had been suffering from chronic laryngitis. Padre Pio gazed at him a few moments in silence. He then slapped Father Antonio’s throat with the palm of his hand. Father Antonio’s voice suddenly returned, as though nothing had ever been wrong. He never had trouble with laryngitis again.

In the early days, the pilgrims traveled to Padre Pio’s monastery in horse-drawn carriages and then later in automobiles.

Deeply moved by his encounters with Padre Pio, Father Antonio decided to organize a Padre Pio Prayer Group at his parish. It was one of the first to be formed in Italy. Padre Pio’s close friend, Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti appreciated the many efforts Father Antonio made to promote Padre Pio’s good works. On one of Father Antonio’s visits to the monastery, Dr. Sanguinetti gave him a large quantity of candy and jams. “These candies were gifts that were given to Padre Pio but he would like you to have them,” Dr. Sanguinetti said. “He sends them to the children in your Prayer Group.”

When Father Antonio returned home, he told his parishioners about the sweets that Padre Pio had sent. Father Antonio decided to distribute the candy on the last day of May, the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He expected that possibly fifty children would be present but was surprised to discover that well over one hundred children arrived on the designated day. The mothers of the children spoke to Father Antonio and said, “We too want the blessing of receiving a gift from Padre Pio. We would like to have a piece of candy too. Would that be possible?” “Of course it would!” Father Antonio replied. “There is enough for everyone.”

Through the years, Father Antonio remained a dedicated and fervent parish priest. He observed that many of his fellow priests looked much older than their years. He often wondered why so many priests seemed to age prematurely. Father Antonio felt strong and energetic and prided himself on his good health. When he traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1964, Padre Pio said to him, “Do not brag about your youthful appearance or your health. You too will feel the approach of old age.” In less than a year, Father Antonio began to feel ill. Finally, he was admitted to Padre Pio’s hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering and spent fourteen days there where he was treated for a heart condition.

For many years, Father Antonio organized and led pilgrimages to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. He offered a Mass every week for the intentions of Padre Pio and he prayed to him continuously. When Father Antonio grew old and infirm, he said that the only reason he was able to continue to perform his priestly duties was because of Padre Pio’s prayerful intercession. Father Antonio made his last pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1978. He died suddenly, several months later, just after celebrating Mass. He was 88 years old.


The best preparation I can make for death is to live the reality of the Paschal mystery as fully and as deeply as possible in union with Christ, because Christ will re-live that mystery in me at the hour of my death. If I am following the spirituality of the Paschal mystery, I expect to die and rise again many times in the course of my monastic life, in my daily tasks and duties, in unexpected events and circumstances, and in my life of interior prayer. . . I expect to have to let go and give up again and again, discovering a new richness of life each time. . . I will learn to trust more and more this Father into whose hands I shall one day, freely and gladly, hand over my life. On that day my final act of dying will be inserted irrevocably into the saving death and resurrection of Christ my Lord.

– Father Charles Cummings, O.C.S.O.

Padre Pio Devotions Publications:
1. Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1
2. Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
3. Daily Reflection: 365 Reflections from the Saints and Other Holy Men and Women of God
4. They Walked with God: St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney,
St. Damien of Molokai, St. Andre Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey