My brother Bill was drafted into the U.S. Air Force and served as a tail gunner during World War II. He flew 50 missions over Germany. During that time he was stationed in Foggia, Italy where the Americans had an air base. On one occasion, Bill traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo with one of his Air Force buddies in order to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. During the Mass, Bill witnessed the stigmata, the wounds Padre Pio suffered. On another occasion, the pilot that Bill crewed with, asked him to accompany him on a visit to see Padre Pio. They hitchhiked part of the way and then walked the rest of the way up the hill to the monastery.
Bill felt very fortunate to be able to have a private audience with Pare Pio. An interpreter was there to help them with the language barrier. Bill introduced the pilot to Padre Pio. “You have been here before,” Padre Pio said to him. “No, this is my first time coming here,” the pilot replied. Padre Pio then said that on a certain date, shortly after midnight, he had flown his plane directly over the monastery. The pilot had no distinct recollection of that particular date and gave Bill a puzzled look. However, Padre Pio had made quite an impression on him. When they got back to the base, the pilot immediately went to his log book and looked up the date that Padre Pio had spoken of. Indeed, he realized to his amazement, that he would have been flying over the monastery at the very time that Padre Pio had mentioned.
On Christmas Eve of 1945, my family was gathered at my parent’s house in West Lynn, Massachusetts. My mother looked out the window and there was Bill walking up the street toward our house. We had no idea that he was coming home and we were overjoyed at his safe return. On that very night, he told us the story of meeting Padre Pio, a story I have never forgotten.
– Marguerite Manning Shea