Talks/Retreats/Cures by Padre Pio:
Dedication Back to Contents
Padre Pio the Man and the Talks and Retreats.
Without Jack’s assistance and enthusiasm
this booklet could not have been written.
Thanks are due to Jack’s daughter
Jane Grant who proofread the script
making necessary corrections and
offering useful suggestions
for rearranging the text.
In October 2001 I wrote a booklet on ‘The Life of Jesus’.
The inspiration for that booklet came from my three pilgrimages to the
Now we come to a strange turn of events. The reason that I read the book ‘The Mystical City of God’ and had written the synopsis is that I had been mistakenly told that it was the book that Our Lady had recommended to The Medjugorje visionaries. That information was wrong. The book that Our Lady had recommended was ‘The Poem of The Man-God’. To write a synopsis of that massive five volume book would have been well nigh impossible.
So it was due to mistaken information that I had written the synopsis without which I would have not attempted to write ‘The Life of Our Lady’. Can we see the work of some hidden intermediary at work? After that, as far as I was concerned, my booklet writing days were over until in August 2004 another inner voice whispered “Why not write a booklet on St Pio of Pietrelcina”?
But before proceeding there was another question to be answered. How can a mere booklet by Michael Blackburn make any difference? Now another turn of events. Due to illness, Cecil Humphery-Smith (Humph) was unable to attend the Walsingham 2004 retreat. Stella Lilley had asked me to stand in and give a talk to cover Humph’s absence. Humph had also encouraged me and indicated the material I might use. In preparing for the talk I had considered using some of the ideas of a wonderful retreat given by Fr Joseph Pius at Pantasaph in November 1995, but I found sufficient material without using that retreat. However when considering writing ‘Padre Pio the Man the Talks and Retreats’ the plan of the 1995 retreat gave me the confidence to say “Yes”!
I hope I have not misjudged my capacity to write about a man who contains so many ‘Gifts of the Holy Spirit’ that one is left in complete awe!
What was it in November 1995 that had made such an impression on me? It was that Fr Joseph Pius had based the retreat on Padre Pio’s Letters (Volume 1) ‘Correspondence With His Spiritual Directors’. That retreat contained a vast amount of information that might help us to have a slightly better understanding of this amazing man; this incredible Saint.
But there is an even more compelling reason for writing. Many of the people who knew Padre Pio have gone to their eternal reward. Fr Allesio Parente, Fr Peter Villani, Fr Joseph Pius Martin are no longer with us. We only have access to a few people who actually knew Padre Pio and who can give us first hand information about him. We must cling on to what we have before it is lost. During retreats at Walsingham, Maryvale and Pantasaph tape recordings were made which include Humph and Fr Joseph. The talks given on those occasions were very special. They need saving and sharing.
Before continuing, for new readers on Padre Pio, it will help to give the names of some who will be mentioned in the text and to explain their involvement.
He was one of Padre Pio’s two Spiritual Directors. He was a learned priest and was conversant with both French and Greek. From the Letters it appears that he was an excellent preacher and in that capacity was in demand particularly on anniversary days and feast days. His attitude to Padre Pio was one of understanding and gentleness.
Due to the stigmata in his feet Padre Pio required assistance with walking and over the years many of the friars were designated to assist him. One of these was Padre Alessio. He also leant to speak English and was in charge of the Friary’s English Office.
Another of Padre Pio’s designated helpers.
Father Joseph was an American who, as a young man, visited San Giovanni Rotundo and at Padre Pio’s insistence stayed and eventually joined the Friary. He also became one of Padre Pio’s helpers.
Father Peter Villani
As a young boy he served Mass for Padre Pio. He became a
missionary priest. In his latter days he spent time in the
This is not going to be a “life story of Padre Pio”. There are
already many such works written and researched by people much more erudite than
I. After building up a picture of Padre Pio’s personality the booklet will
continue with Cecil Humphery-Smith’s amazing story, copies of talks given at Walsingham,
Maryvale and Pantasaph and a talk which I gave to the Carmelite Sisters at Kirk
Padre Pio was born in Pietrelcina, in the
His childhood, spent quietly in a modest Christian family environment, was not marked by any noteworthy events. But when he was only five years old he began to cherish the idea of consecrating himself to God for ever. At this time there occurred the devil’s first violent attacks along with “Ecstasies and Apparitions”. When questioned as to why he had hidden them for so long (until 1915) he frankly replied that he had not made them known because he thought that such things happened to everyone.
It was when Francesco was five years old that his mother found him sleeping on the floor. Due to his delicate health she worried about him but he persisted in mortifying himself.
As was the custom in those days he was probably eleven when he received his first Holy Communion. He was confirmed on the 27th September 1899.
He would play with other village boys but was known for preferring his own company. His conduct was exemplary as was his attendance morning and evening at the parish church
Religious Vocation. When he was fifteen he received an inner warning of the struggles he would have to endure with the devil. Twenty years later he recalled the deep interior combat through which he had passed:
“Dear God! who can describe the martyrdom I went through
in my inmost being? Even the memory of that internal combat
makes the blood freeze in my veins, although almost twenty
years have passed since then. I heard the voice of duty telling
me to obey you, O true and good God! But your enemies and
mine tyrannised over me, they dislocated my bones, they
mocked me and caused me to writhe in agony.”
Letters 1.Page 16
Francesco Forgione was clothed in the Capuchin habit on the 22nd January 1903 when he was four months short of his sixteenth birthday. He changed his baptismal name to Fra Pio of Pietrelcina. Four years later on the 27th January 1907 he signed the pact of the consecration which he had foreseen at the age of five.
Priestly Studies. His studies towards ordination commenced immediately after his profession. Nothing unusual was noted at that time but as he himself says later, divine charisms were not lacking. On the 10th October 1915 he wrote to Padre Agostino “Your first question is that you want to know when Jesus began to favour his poor creature with heavenly visions. If I am not mistaken, these must have begun not long after the novitiate”.
Holy Orders. On the 19 December 1908 Fra Pio received minor orders and on the 21st December 1908 the subdiaconate. He was ordained on the 10th August 1910 and celebrated his first High Mass in Pietrelcina on the 14th August 1910. He was twenty two years old.
Residence in Pietrelcina. Ill-health obliged Fra Pio to interrupt the regular course of his studies. In May 1909, in the hope that the change of air would help to restore his health, the doctors and his superiors sent him to his native village. Here, with the exception of a few brief intervals (e.g, for his ordination) he remained until 17th February 1916 struggling continually and vainly against the mysterious illnesses which racked his frail body. This was a time of intense interior life and persevering ascent by the arduous paths of the spiritual journey. This is abundantly illustrated and will be dealt with in the first part of the letters. (The ‘letters’ comprise the correspondence between Padre Pio and his spiritual directors. They refer to the first twelve years of his priestly life immediately following his ordination.)
In October 1911, after a medical examination Fra Pio was taken to the friary of Venafro with the intention that he should remain there. But his illness took an alarming turn for the worse and in order to avert imminent disaster he was immediately returned to Pietrelcina. The next day, to everyone’s astonishment he offered Mass “as if he had not been ill at all”.
The above words were pronounced by Padre Agostino who was to become one of Padre Pio’s Spiritual Directors. Padre Agostino continued: “In November 1911 at Venafro I became aware of the first supernatural phenomena. I assisted at several ecstasies and many diabolical molestations. While he was at Venafro Padre Pio lived on the Eucharist alone, both when he celebrated Mass himself and when he received Holy Communion when he was too ill to offer Mass”.
The other Spiritual Director was Padre Benedetto who was also the Provincial. He viewed with disfavour the prolonged stay in Pietrelcina and for Padre Pio this gave rise to unpleasantness and severe suffering. In March 1915 Padre Benedetto obtained permission from the Holy See which authorised Padre Pio to remain “outside the friary in order to take care of his heath, as this was the only means that afforded hope of his recovery”. He was allowed to wear the Capuchin habit and remain under obedience to the Provincial Superior.
The First World War. In 1914 the outbreak of war threw the
Capuchins Friars into great confusion and eventually, on the 6th
November 1915, Padre Pio had to report to a recruiting office. On the 6th
November 1915 he was assigned to a Medical Corps in
Padre Pio leaves Pietrelicna. Meanwhile his superiors were
bringing increasing pressure to bear on him to return to the community life. A
devout lady in
Padre Pio goes to San Giovanni Rotondo. But the city air of
As far as is known he only left San Giovanni Rotondo twice.
In 1917 he went to
The Mystical Phenomena. When we think of Padre Pio’s mystical phenomena we think only of the Stigmata but there were many more. There were ‘strokes of love’ and ‘wounds of love’ and ‘transverberation of the heart’ which, along with the stigmata, will be dealt with in a later chapter. It is enough now to say that they marked a decisive turn in his life.
For all that the Friars tried to remain silent about the Stigmata the news gradually became public knowledge. From then on crowds began to flock to the remote Capuchin friary. All wanted to see for themselves this ‘miracle’: a man bleeding as Jesus had bled.
This led to many examinations by eminent doctors all trying to determine whether the bleeding was truly mystical or whether there was some other cause. These examinations would not only have been painful but would have caused Padre Pio great embarrassment. In 1919 he was photographed showing the wounds in his hands. It was due to ‘obedience’ that the photograph was taken. Padre Pio could not disobey. At that time he was thirty-two years old.
The next ten years were traumatic.
Limitation of Priestly Ministry. Finally on the 23rd May 1931, the Holy Office decreed that Padre Pio was to be deprived of all his priestly faculties with the exception of Mass which he was only allowed to offer privately in an internal chapel in the friary. During this painful period, which, lasted for two years, Padre Pio persevered in solitude, prayer and suffering, submitting at all times and with great confidence to the will of his superiors although this was for him a source of deep suffering.
Resumption of Priestly Ministry. On the 16th July 1933 the Holy Office relented and Padre Pio was again allowed to celebrate Mass in public. From 1934 onwards he was again allowed to hear confessions. After the turmoil of the past two years his life resumed its normal course.
The Need for a Larger Church. After the end of World War II large crowds started to flock to the man of the stigmata. The tiny chapel which had served the friary was too small for the numbers who came. Initially plans were made to enlarge the chapel but they were abandoned in favour of building a new church alongside and attached to the chapel and friary. This was consecrated on the 1st July 1959. But forty years later even that proved to be too small.
Joyful Celebrations. Padre Pio was able to celebrate many anniversaries: the 25th and 50th anniversary of his ordination; the 50th and 60th anniversary of his religious clothing; the 50th anniversary of residence in San Giovanni Rotundo and the 50th anniversary of his stigmata though the latter was celebrated by his followers, his spiritual children, and not by himself. Three days after that celebration he died.
Less Joyful Occasions. Alongside the joyful times came less joyful events. As the numbers coming to San Giovanni Rotundo increased so did the problems they caused. The crowds were at times noisy and disorderly. This could give rise to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of Padre Pio’s sufferings. This produced unpleasant repercussions and were the cause of increased suffering and sorrow for the man who had already suffered too much.
Some books about Padre Pio had been written without necessary revision or ecclesiastical authority. On August 3rd 1952 Osservatore Romana carried a decree from the Holy Office condemning several books. This condemnation of those books tended to irritate people and to create an atmosphere of mistrust.
On the 21st December 1954 a rumour began to circulate to the effect that Padre Pio’s superiors intended to move him from San Giovanni Rotundo. This stirred up the people of the town.
Padre Pio would be aware of all these difficult occasions but was helpless to control them. They would have caused him great suffering.
Two Fine Projects. Padre Pio conceived and carried out two projects which were expressions of love. One was the building of a hospital known as ‘Home for the Relief of Suffering’ and the other was ‘Prayer Groups’.
The movement for prayer arose as an answer to the repeated appeals of Pope Pius XII while World War II was raging. After pondering on the matter for a long time, Padre Pio himself outlined the character of this movement in an address delivered on the 5th May 1966: it was to create everywhere ‘nurseries of faith, furnaces of love, in which Christ himself is present each time the members meet’. This was a small evangelical seed which soon grew into a leafy tree laden with fruit. By the 20th September 1968, 726 groups and been organised and were active in twenty different countries, with a total membership of 68,000.
Steady Decline in Health. The last ten years of Padre Pio’s life were marked by frequent relapses that increasingly weakened his system undermined by physical and moral sufferings. The faithful were alarmed when he failed to appear to offer Mass in the mornings.
From 25th April to August 1959 he usually offered Mass in an internal chapel. However each day he delivered a brief spiritual exhortation through a microphone. On the afternoon of the 7th August 1959, by a grace attributed to Our Lady of Fatima, he regained his health.
In March 1965 disturbing rumours began to circulate once more concerning his condition. In the three months September, October, November 1966, despite the assistance of the best specialists, the progress of the maladies gave rise to grave anxiety. The situation grew worse in January 1968 and he began to use a wheel chair to move from place to place. On the 7th July he had a serious collapse and preferred to remain alone in continual prayer.
His Peaceful Passing. In September 1968 thousands of Padre Pio’s devotees and admirers came together for a meeting in San Giovanni Rotundo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his stigmatisation and for the fourth international meeting of the prayer Groups.
He felt really ill and very weak. On the 21st he was unable to offer Mass. However, on the 22nd he celebrated Mass at the usual time of 5.00a.m. but was reduced to extreme weakness and collapsed once more. Very regretfully he was obliged to stop hearing confessions. At 6.00p.m. he was able to come out and bless the crowd. That was his last public blessing. At 2.30a.m.on 23rd September 1968 he passed peacefully away. His holy death made headlines all over the world.
Padre Pio’s Personality Back to Contents
To try and understand the incredible man who Padre Pio was we must examine his personality. Only by looking at every facet of this holy man may we be able to get a better knowledge of his immense spirituality and suffering. (Quotes from the letters will have the dates so those with the books may read them in full. References will come from Volume 1 unless otherwise stated).
“I am fully convinced, after my own assurance to this effect, that since
my illness is due to a special permission of God, I do not need any
“What am I to say to you about my physical state? I prefer not to
speak of it, as to me it is something negligible and all I long for is that
God may come to deal me his last blow”. (15-8-1916)
Perhaps at that time he did not foresee that the “last blow” was not to be dealt until fifty years later!
His symptoms are variously described in the letters, even though not in technical terms. They present a very complex clinical picture of the ailments which afflicted his frail body: extremely high and frequent fevers, lung trouble, agonising chest pains, crippling rheumatism, violent headaches:
“My cough is so severe and continual, especially during the night,
that it almost splits my chest and I am frequently so afraid that I say
an act of contrition. (29-11-1910)
“For several days I have been afflicted by severe headache,
which makes it impossible for me to concentrate on anything”.
Science was sceptical, powerless and in fact vanquished in the face of these baffling symptoms and in view of the futility of treatment according to the latest findings of medicine:
“The doctor has told me ‘I can do nothing for you’.” (2-6-1911)
“The medicines I have taken might as well have been thrown
down a well. I tell you frankly that I am enduring great suffering
and if things go on like this I do not know how it will end”.
“At present, due to the many medicines I have taken and
continue to take, especially the hypodermic injections which have
been so many that I have hardly a spot left in which to receive the
When he was called for military service further specialists had an opportunity
to observe the deplorable and inexplicable state of his feeble and wasted body:
the clinic. My whole body is affected by disease: widespread
bronchial catarrh, the appearance of a skeleton inadequately
nourished and so on” (4-9-1917)
He had an insatiable longing to be united for ever to his Beloved in his heavenly home. In the life of exile he feared he would lose God’s friendship and hence fall short of his destiny, namely, perfect union with God in the beatific vision:
“It is a bitter torment to me to live in exile that I can hardly go
on any longer. The thought that at any moment I may lose Jesus
distresses me in a way that I cannot explain; only a soul that loves
Jesus sincerely can understand what this means”. (29-12-1912)
“I long for death for no other reason than to be united by
indissoluble bonds to the heavenly bridegroom”. (6-5-1913)
To Padre Benedetto he writes:
“Alas, my dear Father, there will be no more comfort for me
until; the divine Master calls me to himself.”
“Pray for my speedy departure, for I can go on no longer. I feel
the blood continually coursing up to my brain and I am very much
afraid of a catastrophe that is, that I’ll go mad.” (24-1-1915)
The situation becomes even more serious when we consider what it means to a be a traveller on earth deprived of full possession of God:
Who can fail to recognise in these words the echo of the Prophet’s cry: “I rejoiced when I heard him say: let us go to the God’s house”.
Friendship: Padre Pio was deeply affected by friendship. His correspondence with Padre Agostino is full of affectionate terms:
“Goodbye now, my dear good Father and who knows if I shall
be granted the grace to see you again. I won’t send you a kiss,
because this is too little for all you have done for me, but I send
you all that I have in my heart for you, which is an infinite
tenderness.” (January 1912. Letter 60).
During Padre Agostino’s military service, Padre Pio lived in continual affectionate trepidation in case anything should happen to him. He asked him to write ‘every day’, at least a picture postcard with no more than the words “I am well”. “If you do this I hope to be a little more ease in my mind”. (21-7-1916). For several days he remained without news of Padre Agostino. The days of separation were days of extreme trepidation.
“For several days now I have been without your news and I
leave you to imagine how this silence is weighing on my poor
This cordial friendship is also revealed in the manner in which he sent greetings to his spiritual directors and other friars on their respective name-days and for Christmas and Easter:
“With the approach of your name-day my breast seems
inadequate to contain my heart, so great is the joy I feel, a
happiness which I can hardly be imagined and never be
described. I leave it to you to imagine what my wishes are for
“With the approach of the Infant Jesus’ feast, I feel it my duty
to send you my sincere good wishes, and may they be full of
heavenly joy………….…I promise myself to pour out my entire
soul for you before the divine Child during these holy feasts”.
As a true friend he suffered and rejoiced with those he loved and shared intensely in their sad and joyful moments:
“I am sharing in the sufferings you are undergoing at
present and I go before you with my prayers, so that the
Lord may restore serenity to your soul and the souls of all
our brethren in the community there”. (23-4-1920)
“I give most fervent thanks to Jesus for the graces he is
showering on you. You cannot imagine the satisfaction it gives
me to hear your good news”. (19-11-1920)
He was profoundly affected by indifference on the part of others, by their failure to respond to his kindness or, worse still, by real or apparent antipathy. It is not possible to exclude, as the remote cause of this increased sensitivity, a spiritual trial permitted by God or promoted by Satan, but this does not lessen by any means the affective suffering of the person concerned.
At a time when Padre Benedetto was showing a certain indifference towards him, and in fact disapproved of his remaining in his own home, Padre Pio poured out his feelings to Padre Agostino:
“Speak to me about this, Father, and do not be silent. You are
perhaps the only one left to me among men. Jesus will redouble
your merits for heaven”. (16-2-1915)
Towards the middle of the year 1921 a new trial, never before experienced, was added to the many to which his soul was subjected not merely by God and the devil but also by men. Here is how he describes it to Padre Benedetto:
“To the former trials of which you are already aware, there
has been added a different kind of trial, the fear of being a
burden to everyone, especially to my brethren. There is hardly
any foundation for this fear, yet it distresses and torments me
and prevents me from enjoying spiritual peace even for an instant”.
In his sufferings and desolation he also seeks human comfort and relief, undoubtedly, but he invariably accepts freely and willingly whatever is God’s will:
“In comparison with my bodily sufferings, the spiritual
struggles are much greater. although my physical sufferings
are also increasing continually”.
“I wish, dear Father, that I could have, I do not say a long
respite, but at least an hour each day. But let the most holy and
most loveable will of God be done in me and all around me, at
all times and in all things! This is what has enabled me to carry on”.
Similarly, while recognising the divine origin of his unspeakable sufferings, he seeks the warmth of human consolation and he does so in words which implicitly contain a gentle reproof towards the one who fails to realise the depth of his interior suffering:
“My heart is pierced through, it is reduced to shreds by this
extreme and cruel torment. Ah, Father, if you were here you
would not be so cruel, lifting up the knife coldbloodedly like a
new Abraham to sacrifice his Isaac. No, you would weep with
me and have compassion on me”. (16-11-1919)
Padre Pio’s Compassion for Others. In the presence of the poor and the afflicted Padre Pio was deeply moved and would willingly forego everything to be able to help and console them:
else blot me out of the book of life”. (20-11-1921)
His sensitivity caused him deep pain when he realised his incapacity to fulfil this human and divine ideal to the full, as was also the case when he did not see how he could achieve what he so ardently desired:
over me and consuming me?” (6-11-1919)
“I have received your kind and much-desired letter and at the
same time the expression of your charity, and I only regret that I
have no adequate words to thank you as you deserve. But what
hurts me most of all is not being able to show my gratitude in a
practical way, as I would wish”.(14-3-1910)
He is grieved when he is unable to send pleasant news to his directors to make their difficult task of direction easier:
“I would be glad, Father, if my writings might bring you gladness
and joy at least once. But this is not within my power, much less so
at the present time. Peace has been banished completely from my
heart and I have become utterly blind. I am enveloped in a deeper night
than ever and no matter how I toss and turn I cannot find the light”.
Padre Pio’s Sincerity. He reveals his frank and sincere character not only in defending his own opinions but at times even by disapproving of his director’s attitude towards him.
He had suspected that his superiors did not trust him with regard to expenses for medicines paid by the Provincial. In the following excerpt he writes to Padre Agostino, using an unusual tone which is not found anywhere else in his letters:
“I am more than a little distressed by the fact that I have written
several times to the Provincial, not without sacrifice on my part,
and sent also the cost of my medicines, but have received no reply.
Pardon me if I am lacking in respect on this point, but for the future
I do not intend to send him the account for the medicines. Let the
Provincial use me as he thinks fit and as he pleases, but let him leave
in peace my family who are bleeding themselves for me continually and
without complaining. Please keep this completely to yourself, as it is
just a son’s outburst to his good father to relieve his feelings”.
“For pity’s sake don’t judge me too severely. Jesus is ever so
good, he doesn’t show the severity and the demanding attitude which
astonishes me in you. Be indulgent with all, especially with the one
who has dedicated himself without reserve for Jesus’ sake and for
Possible misunderstandings and unjustified suspicions especially on the part of his directors and superiors, caused him to shed bitter tears:
“I received your last letter and don’t know whether I should
hide my astonishment from you, or rather my grief at certain
questions you put to me. To tell the truth I wept a lot. May the
divine will be done, if God wishes to try me in this way. Poor Job, by
God’s permission, was also treated harshly instead of receiving
consolation from his friends”. (Letter 315 January 1916)
With all his veneration, respect and submission towards his superiors, he did not accept passively and with closed eyes their reproofs, their insinuations and interpretations of personal matters or events in the Community if he considered they did not correspond to the truth; for love of the same truth and in justice and charity he ventured to disagree and state things more exactly.
In June 1919 some inexact news and unfounded rumours were spread with regard to what was happening in San Giovanni Rotondo, and Padre Pio stepped in to clear up misunderstandings and false interpretations:
“As regards the report about myself which Father Provincial
requested Padre Raffaele to send him under a precept of obedience,
I must tell you that the matter was published to the four winds quite
unnecessarily by people who were brought here by the superiors”.
“This is in order to make things clear and not allow the blame to
fall on those who are undeserving of it, because this is lack of charity
and rank injustice”. (14-6-1919)
He replies frankly to a reproof received from Padre Benedtto who blames him for not intervening to correct or prevent certain abuses among his confreres in San Giovanni Rotondo:
“You speak of the waste which has taken place here without
my having ever raised my voice. All very well, but when did I
ever have a say in matters concerning our confreres?”
“All use prudence with regard to our brethren, except Padre Pio,
and to him alone they lay down the law. I have imposed perpetual
silence on myself with regard to our brethren. I made known to Padre
Agostino the reason for this. I don’t want and don’t intend to make
enemies for myself unnecessarily”. (16-11-1919)
He admits and recognises from experience the importance of gentleness for successful dealing with people’s souls and is very regretful each time he fails to control himself in spite of constant effort:
“My only regret is that, involuntarily and unwittingly, I
sometimes raise my voice when correcting people. I realise
that this is a shameful weakness. But how can I prevent it if
it happens without my being aware of it? Although I pray,
groan and complain to Our Lord about it, he has not heard
me fully. Moreover, in spite of all my watchfulness, I sometimes
do what I really detest and want to avoid”. (14-6-1920)
A Vocation to Co-redemption. Beyond all doubt Padre Pio had a mission of his own, a specific spiritual gift which in a certain way conditioned his entire life, both from the individual point of view and with respect to his social activity. He was not always aware of the practical achievements and decisive goals of this mission entrusted to him by Divine Providence. But moment by moment he pursued it generously and fearlessly and never did he doubt the reality of this mission nor shirk the responsibilities which it entailed.
Padre Benedetto hit the mark when he defined this mission and the charisma of which we are speaking by the concise and forceful expression , “a vocation to co-redemption”. On the 27th August 1918, in the reply to Padre Pio’s letter of the 21st of that month, in which he told him of the mystical phenomenon of transverberation and the consequent painful anxiety Padre Benedetto writes as follows:-
“All that is happening to you is the effect of love. It is a
trial, it is a vocation to co-redemption and hence a source of
glory……….The Lord is with you. He is with you: patient,
suffering, eager love, crushed and trampled upon, heartbroken;
in the shadows of the night and even more so in the desolation
associates you with his own”.
“This is the whole fact of the matter, this is the truth and
the only truth. Yours is not a purgation but a painful union”.
“The fact of the wound completes your passion as it
completed the Passion of the Beloved on the Cross”,
On more than one occasion, reflecting on his state, on his past and his future, Padre Pio has frankly admitted that he finds something mysterious in the course of events, in his relations with God and in God’s behaviour towards him. The first reason for this atmosphere of mystery which at times enveloped his life sprang from the contrast – only too evident to him, - between his infidelity to grace and the ever greater benevolence of God towards his soul. Evidently the phenomenon must have had a precise purpose, but this escaped him and hence in great distress he asked for clarification:
“I see something mysterious in myself: I am constantly
sorry for the sins I have committed, I resolve continually
never to commit them again, yet, I must admit with bitter
tears, that in spite of all this I am still very imperfect and it
seems to me that I very often offend the Lord. At times I am
really in despair because it seems to me almost impossible
that Jesus should forgive so many sins; again, more often
than not it seems impossible that Jesus should let me go
astray. Oh, what on earth is all this? Explain it to me a little.
However, all this happens to me without my perceiving it,
for I have by no means the will to offend God even to the
slightest extent”. (2-9-1911)
In a state of bewilderment he declares that he fails to understand how and why he is placed in this baffling situation:
“How great is my misfortune, my dear Father! Who can
understand it? I am well aware that I am a mystery to myself.
I cannot understand myself”. (17-10-1915)
However, the mystery did not exactly consist of being unaware of God’s fundamental designs, but of not knowing in what manner these designs were to be fulfilled in him.
In November 1922, when Padre Pio was thirty-five, in a letter which is not part of the collection, Padre Pio wrote:
We are all called to assist Jesus in His mission, but for most of that means making some small sacrifice during Lent. For Padre Pio it was a vocation of suffering which led to him joining Our Lady in a lifetime of co-redemption.
A Collaborator of Christ the Redeemer. Padre Pio was aware that he had been chosen by God as a collaborator in Christ’s redemptive work and that this collaboration would not be achieved unless by the Cross. The Cross was the beacon which shed light on each step of his painful journey. It was the inexhaustible source of the strength, generosity, fidelity and perseverance demanded by his vocation. He was convinced that his entire life, like that of the Master, would be “a martyrdom”.
“On other occasions, although I am not thinking of such
a thing at all, my soul goes on fire with the most keen desire
to possess Jesus entirely. Then, with an indescribable vividness
communicated to my soul by the Lord, I am shown as in a mirror
my whole future life as nothing but a martyrdom”.
(Letter 131 June 1913)
However this clear vision of the uncertain and acutely painful future neither troubled nor discouraged him. Indeed, in the depths of his soul he rejoiced exceedingly that he had been called to co-operate in the salvation of souls by suffering, which draws its value and efficacy from real participation in Jesus’ Cross:
“I am suffering, and suffering very much, but thanks to
our good Jesus I still feel a little strength, and when aided by
Jesus what is the creature not capable of doing? I don’t desire
by any means to have my cross lightened, since I am happy to
suffer with Jesus. In contemplating the Cross on his shoulders
I feel more fortified and I exult with a holy joy.
However, I feel within me the great need to cry out louder
and louder to Jesus with the doctor of grace: ‘Give me what you
command, and command what you will’ (
chooses souls and despite my unworthiness, he has chosen
mine also to help him in the tremendous task of men’s salvation.
The more these souls suffer without the slightest consolation,
the more sufferings of our good Jesus are alleviated.
This is the whole reason why I desire to suffer more and
more, without the slightest consolation. In this consists all my
Viewed in this light, all sufferings of body and soul are willingly and joyfully accepted since they are a sign of great dignity and of a most noble destiny. Hence Padre Pio is deeply moved and bows down in great humility before the evidence that the Lord has need of his co-operation to complete the redemption of mankind:
“The Lord then consoles me and causes me to exult in my weakness”.
“Believe me, dear Father, I find happiness in my afflictions.
Jesus himself wants these sufferings from me, as he needs
them for souls. But I ask myself what relief can I give him by
my sufferings! What a destiny! Oh, to what heights has our most
sweet Jesus raised my soul”. (14-10-1912)
In Padre Pio’s heart the voice of God calling him to sacrifice and immolation for others becomes increasingly insistent. His soul ardently desires to sacrifice itself for God’s glory and in reparation for men’s ingratitude. These desires are pleasing to God and, although indistinctly for the moment, he announces in advance that the end will be achieved by means of mysterious afflictions of soul and body. The agonising participation in the Passion which is to culminate in stigmatisation can already be foreseen.
“Completely penetrated by Jesus’ condescension towards
me, I address my usual prayer to him with greater confidence:
Oh Jesus, if I could only love you, if I could only suffer as much
as I should like in order to make some kind of reparation for
men’s ingratitude towards you!
But Jesus made his voice more clearly audible in my heart:
“My son, love is recognised in suffering; you will feel acutely in
your soul and even more acutely in your body”.
My dear Father, to me these words remain very obscure”.
Called then to collaborate with Jesus for the salvation of
souls, Padre Pio is convinced that the end of his painful journey can only be
“How many times”, said Jesus to me a little while ago
“would you not have abandoned me if I had not crucified you?”
“Beneath the Cross one learns to love and I do not grant
this to everyone, but only to those souls who are dearest to
Three years later he writes again to his director. Padre Agostino.
“I feel crushed beneath the weight of the long exile which still
remains before me. It is true that just one more step…. and the
cross will be
set up on
step to be taken to set up the cross will require further time and
then to agonise there with Jesus will take time”. (14-1-1916)
The light which shines forth from his agonising life and reaches the souls for whom he suffers in Christ and with Christ, is his love for his fellow men:
“I remind you that I belong with great ardour to everyone
and for this reason I am suffering immensely for all”. (6-11-1919)
“I am ready for anything as long as Jesus is happy and will
save the souls of my brothers, especially those he has entrusted
to my care”. (18-12-1920)
Fulfilment of the Programme of Co-Redemption. From his very early years Padre Pio was deeply conscious of the need to offer himself as a victim for souls and later on he tasted lavishly the painful consequences of such an offering made and freely renewed.
to the Lord for the same intention which the Holy Father had when he
recommended to the whole Church to offer prayers and sacrifices. I
had hardly finished doing so when I felt myself falling into this most
harsh prison and heard the loud clang of the prison door as it closed
behind me. Cruel shackles seemed to close on me and bind me
tightly and I felt I was about to die. Since that moment I have felt
myself in hell without even an instant’s respite”. (27-7-1918)
The Stigmatization. On the 19th October 1918 Padre Benedetto wrote to Padre Pio “My dear son tell me everything quite frankly, not just by allusions. From where is this blood flowing and how many times a day or week? What has happened to your hands and feet and how did it happen. I want to know everything in detail, under holy obedience”. Padre Pio replied:
“On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had
celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All
the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul;
were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded
and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with a great peace and abandonment.
All this happened in a flash”.
“While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person
similar to the one I had seen on the evening of the 5th August. The only
difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This
sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought
I should died and really should have died if the Lord had not I intervened
and strengthened my heart which as about to burst out of my chest”.
“The vision disappeared and became aware that my hands, feet and
side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced an continue
to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually,
especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am
dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment.
Ecstasies & Apparitions Back to Contents
During his stay in Venafro, Padre Pio was almost always ill in bed. Padre Agostino informs us that he, after fearful temptations, enjoyed “many ecstasies, in which there appeared to him to him usually…. Jesus, Our Lady and his Guardian Angel”. Padre Agostino refers to the conversations…...when Padre Pio repeats several times the names: “Little Mother, my Mother, that Lady, Your Mother, beloved Mother”.
In one ecstasy he said: “Listen little Mother…., I love you more that all the creatures of heaven and earth… after Jesus of course… but I love you”.
In another ecstasy he said: “You are beautiful, my Mother… I glory in having a little Mother so splendid”.
During another ecstasy he said: “Yes, you are beautiful… If it was not for faith, men would say you were a goddess… your eyes are more resplendent than the sun… you are beautiful, little Mother, I glory in you, I love you… assist me!”.
Extract from November/December 2004 The Voice of Padre Pio.
Reaction to his Directors Back to Contents
In his early letters, when he was only twenty-three years old, he indicates that his Director’s letters are helpful:
I realise that I am trying your patience sorely, but bear with
me still and Jesus will reward you eternally for it.” (4-8-1915)
With what is both an apology for his lengthy letters and a gentle reproof for the brevity of the letters he receives he wrote:
“Forgive me, my dear Father, I wanted to imitate the painful
brevity of several of your letters; I resolved to do this, but – do
not be angry with me – I just couldn’t do it”. (18-9-1915)
Although he wanted long letters from his directors, he himself was sometimes rather brief in giving an account of his conscience unless he received an express request to the contrary. For this reason, in order the stimulate him and in response to his desire for long letters, Padre Benedetto used what is almost a threat:
“…….I will only cease to be brief when you write to me
Padre Benedetto’s request becomes more distressed and urgent when he feels the need of light and consolation in his own spiritual battles. On such occasions he does not easily resign himself to silence and finds it hard to endure delay on Padre Pio’s part in replying to him:
“…..but remember too that I never left you without an
answer even when the mass of my commitments did not
allow me time to blow my nose. You must reply, even if it
is only a few words”. (29-6 1919)
“I understand and sympathise with your illness, but
silence must not take on the appearance of abandonment.
Were these demands of his directors justified and was there some foundation for their complaints? The answer will be found in the letters but in order for us to understand things from Padre Pio’s point of view here are three factors which explain and justify his behaviour with regard to the frequency and length of his letters to his directors:
1. His constant ill-health made it difficult for him to keep his correspondence up date and the first to suffer from this was himself. Phrases such as the following recur continually:
“I feel in my heart a great desire to tell you many things,
all of them with regard to Jesus, but […..] my sight does not
help me”. (21-3-1912)
“I imagine that you are not satisfied to hear merely a general
account of my interior state, but, dear Father, my sight prevents
me from doing otherwise, that is, from telling you in detail about
my inner life. God knows how shattered I am after having written
for a little while”. (31-3-1912)
Not infrequently the blots in his writing reveal the agitation of his pulse and unsteadiness of his hand, especially when he writes in the throes of a very high fever or an excruciating headache.
2. Add to this the interventions of the devil who from time to time attacks him furiously to prevent regular correspondence with his directors:
“Do you know what the devil has resorted to? He didn’t want
me to inform you in my last letter about the war he is waging on
me. And since, as usual, I did not want to listen to him [ ], they
did not accept this as a reply (I say “they” because they were
several of them although only one spoke), for they hurled
themselves upon me, cursing me and beating me severely,
while the they threatened to destroy me if I did not change
my mind as regards our relations”. (14-10-1912)
“The other night the devil appeared to me in the likeness
of one of our Fathers and gave me a very strict order from
Father Provincial not to write to you any more as it is against
poverty and a serious obstacle to perfection”. (13-12-1912)
3. The frequency and length of the letters was also determined by the pressing obligations of his ministry, especially from 1919 onwards, when crowds began to flock to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio excuses himself to his directors even though Padre Benedetto was not inclined to believe in this impediment. In two letters to Padre Benedetto he wrote:
“The work which is pressing on me and oppressing me
continually, without a break either by day or by night, added to
my physical ailments which have increased during the last few
days [ ]. I am in pain all the time as I work. The amount of work
is so great that I have no time to think of myself and it is a real
miracle that I do not go out of my mind”. (14-3-1921)
“I didn’t reply, first of all because I hadn’t a free moment,
though as usual you won’t believe this”. (24-12-1921)
Letters in French and Greek.. We do not know why Padre Agostino started to send his letters in French and Greek. He must have had a belief that Padre Pio would find a way of interpreting them. Also we don’t know why but the letters in French were an anathema to the devil. The very first of these were made unreadable by being completely stained with ink. At that time Padre Pio was in Pietrelcina and the Parish Priest attests to this diabolical intervention when a letter was opened in his presence.
“But when we opened it we found it completely covered
with ink-stains. Was this also a vendetta on the part of the
ogre? I cannot believe that you would have sent it to me like
that aware as you are of my weakness of sight”. (18-11-1912)
When the letter had been placed on a crucifix, sprinkled with holy water, and the holy exorcism had been pronounced over it, it was possible to read it. (See note Letters 1 Page 354.)
The intervention of the ‘wretch’, i.e., the devil, in Padre Pio’s spiritual journey is something which disconcerts at first sight. It is a question of a deadly duel in which there is no respite, no sparing of blows between the soul and its relentless enemy. Manifold are the snares, continual the attacks, atrocious the temptations. The attacks aim at the faculties (intellect and will) with the specific intention of preventing the exercise of the theological virtues and progress in divine life.
Here is a list of epithets which Padre Pio used to describe his opponent. They contain facetious irony and also a touch of humour. They commenced in correspondence of January 1911 and continued through till September 1915 when they stopped and never reappeared: big whiskers, the ogre, scoundrel, miserable, evil spirit, wretch, filthy wretch, foul Beast, woeful wretch, hideous faces, impure spirits, those scoundrels, wicked spirits, horrible beast, infamous apostate, impure apostates, gallows-bird, howling wild beasts, malignant deceiver, prince of darkness.
“Jesus, our dear Mother, my little Angel, St Joseph and our
father St Francis are almost always with me”. (18-1-1912)
“In the end the Infant Jesus came to me, to whom I said that
I only wanted to do his will. Dear God! How my heart throbbed,
how my cheeks burned while this heavenly Child was close to
In a letter to Padre Benedetto of the 22nd October 1910 he asks him “Even from far away do not fail to invoke maledictions on this common enemy of ours so that he may leave me in peace.”
In that same letter he states; “Even during my hours of rest the devil does not cease to torment my soul in various ways.”
In another letter to Padre Benedetto of the 29 March 1911 he writes: “It seems to me that the wretch is more annoyed with you than with me, for he wants to deprive me of your direction. In point of fact, I have to make a great effort to tell you about my affairs. Intense pains in the head almost prevent me from seeing where to place my pen.”
The physical beatings continued. A letter of the 23 February 1913 to Padre Agostino states: “My body, dear Father, is bruised all over, from all the blows it has received at the hands of our enemies. More than once they even went so far as to pull off my nightshirt and beat me in that state.”
Padre Pio was always able to recognise and expose these devilish tormentors. On one occasion a devil came to the confessional. As Padre raised his hand to give a blessing the devil fled!
The Charisms of Padre Pio Back to Contents
Xenogloss:; The ability to understand speak and write foreign languages.
Padre Agostino of San Marco in Lamis wrote on the 21st January
1945, in his Diary: ‘In 1940 or 1941 a German speaking priest from
his language he spoke to him in Latin. Before leaving, the priest
recommended a sick woman to him. And the Padre replied to him
in German: Ich werde sie an die gottliche Barmherzigkeit – I will
remember her to divine Mercy’.
Scrutiny of Hearts: A gift whereby through supernatural means the secrets of others are known.
A woman during a religious pilgrimage went to confession
in one of the shrines along the route. When she arrived in San
Giovanni Rotundo, she did not want to miss the chance of going
to confession to Padre Pio and to the friar of the Gargano she
repeated the same sins that had already been forgiven her. The
Saint of Pietrelcina suddenly interrupted, to the surprise of the
penitent, and said: “Why are you confessing to me sins that you
already confessed in
The Gift of Light: Where the body and soul are penetrated by divine light.
Dr Giorgio Festa, on the 5th October 1925, operated, on Padre
Pio for a hernia. Before he began to stitch the wound, he noticed
that the Padre had lost consciousness. He took advantage of this
to look at his side wound. Her saw then, on his left side, that the
wound was “fresh and of a vermilion red and in the shape of a cross”.
The scab that covered it had fallen away. “From the edges of the
wound emitted small but unmistakable rays of light”. Then he
finished the operation, put on the bandage and the Padre regained
Bilocation: The ability to be in two places at once.
On the 11th December 1918, Padre Pio wrote to Rosinella Gisolfli
who was ill in bed: “This God of love wants to put to the test his elect
(…) Place you trust, my daughter, in this divine predilection. It is out
of love that (God) is making you undergo this trial; it is out of love
that He allowed his unworthy minister to be present at your side
the other night. And it was allowed by Him so as to console you,
bring relief and courage in this very hard trial. (Letters III).
Invisibility: The ability to make oneself invisible to others.
A group of ‘women’ in scanty dress, part of a theatre company,
wished to meet Padre Pio out of mere curiosity. Fra Gerardo,
hoping for their conversion, went to look for Padre Pio in the
friary but could not find him anywhere. The women, tired of
waiting, went away in their car. Immediately afterwards, Fra
Gerardo saw Padre Pio in front of the church. To Fra Gerardo,
who asked him where he had been, he answered “I was walking
back and forth in front of you but you did not notice”..
Gift of Perfume: A sign of unusual virtue smelt by privileged people.
Padre Agostino of San Marco in Lamis, who could smell only
strong odours because of a malfunction of his olfactory glands, in his
Diary testifies: “I smelt a number of times the perfume that many
people smell. Even when I was distant from San Giovanni Rotundo
I smelt it”. The phenomenon of this mysterious “perfume of Padre
Pio” continued also after he died. And many smell the perfume not
just in the places connected with his life
but also in
other distant parts of the world.
Ecstasy: A mystical experience which permits a state of communion with the Divine.
Dr Nicola Lombardi declared: ”I saw Padre Pio in the Capuchin
Friary of Dan Nicando, in Venafro, stretched out on his bed and
staring with his open eyes at something that seemed to be present
above him. He was speaking and addressing his words to Jesus, to
Our Lady and to his Guardian Angel. He was red in the face. I found
his heart and pulse to be normal. Everything appeared to be
physiological. Then I lit a candle and held it in front of the Padre’s
eyes. He did not notice a thing, and there was no reaction in the
pupil of his eyes.
Visions: Supernatural perceptions of heavenly personages.
One reads in the Diary of Father Agostino: “Padre Pio’s apparitions
began from the age of five, when he made up his mind and heart to
consecrate himself for ever to the Lord and these visions were
continuous”. One morning the young boy Francesco was alone in
the church and praying before the Blessed Sacrament when all of a
sudden Jesus appeared to him and He beckoned to him to approach
Him and He placed his hand on the young man’s head.
Healings: The gift of healing the sick.
Antonio D’Onofrio, who had rickets and was crippled, after Padre Pio
touched him with his wounded hand, rose up from the kneeler cured
of his deformity. The little girl Di Chiara, At the command of the Saint
of Pietrelcina, removed the orthopaedic supports that covered he legs
that had been crippled by polio as a child and she began to walk. The
famous Dr Valdoni said of these amazing happenings that took place
in San Giovanni Rotundo: “Our science is incapable of giving an
explanation for the things that are taking place on that mountain”.
Spirit of Prophecy: The gift to speak under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
During Benediction, while Padre Pio was reciting prayers before
the Blessed Sacrament with his back to the faithful, a woman hidden
in the crowds kneeling at the back of the church, in order to be more
comfortable folded her scarf in four and placed it under her knees. A
few days later she went to confession to the Padre who, as soon as he
saw her said to her “I’ll teach you to put rags under your knees when
you are in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament”.
Clairvoyance: The gift to know future events.
Fr Eusebio da Castelpetroso recounts: “Pope John XXIII had died
recently and the Cardinals had met in the conclave for the election
of his successor. I was anxious to know beforehand who would be
elected and I was tormenting Padre Pio continuously. One day, as
he was coming out of the refectory, I asked him again, in the
presence of another friar, the same question. And the Padre, with
absolute certainty, exclaimed: “It will be Montini!” Then added:
“Well I have let it out now”.
The Power over His Likeness: Padre Pio had the power to copy his image or to erase it from photographs.
Mr. Remigio Maccari of Visna di Vazzola (Trevioso), a spiritual
son of Padre Pio and benefactor of the friary, desired very much to
have something that belonged to the Padre as a souvenir. So a friar
gave him a white handkerchief used by the Saint, which Remigio
placed with care in a drawer. When after a while he took it out again,
the handkerchief had a likeness of Padre Pio’s face impressed on it.
Proof of this are the photographs that Mr. Maccari made of this
singular exhibit. Also Padre Pio had the ability to interfere with
cameras. When photographs were taken of him they would come
out blank. No one was able to photograph the Padre until the
The above Charisms are taken from Padre Pio’s Calendar for
the year of Our Lord. 2006.
STORIES OF PADRE PIO
Humph’s story of his Miraculous Cure by Padre Pio Back to Contents
Prologue: Cecil Humphery-Smith, who had become a Catholic in 1953, joined the Heinz corporation as a quality-control chemist in 1954. One of his colleagues, and ultimately a friend, was Bernardo Patrizi, who since his father’s recent death had become the Marchese Patrizi, a member of the Papal Nobility. He was a commercial consultant and adviser to H.J.Heinz II. In 1955, Cecil found himself working for Heinz in the tomato fields of the Italian Po Valley. This is his story.
Introduction: I suppose I have to tell the
story why I was in
In the November of the year after our Susan was
born, the nuns at St James’s
After our second daughter, Margaret was born, the
funds were running low, and I left Professor Harry Raistrick crying when I left
the research work to join the H.J Heinz Co. to work in the food industry. They
sent me on a crash course to learn Italian with which I found no great
difficulty. Then, sent to
Mariucia, a peasant lady worked in the kitchens of
the De Rica factory, at Valconasso di Pontenuri. This is a village in the
Parma-Piacenza area, just South of the ancient Via Emilia. We laughed a lot
about my accent and lack of understanding of the local dialect. Mariucia was
friendly with the local parish priest, Don Lucio Bonvicini, whom I served at
Mass every morning in the little mediaeval
Remember that this was only ten years after the end
of the Second World War and, even in the countryside food was scarce. She and
her family were always barefooted, even when being driven on the back of a
Vespa on those treacherous unmade roads. She lived in a one roomed brick-built
single storied shed about 12 feet by 10 feet with a curtain over a doorway,
cooking, washing and eating being on the concrete below a canvas awning. I
cannot remember there being any windows. She and her husband who worked as a
mechanic and was the only one wearing old shoes, invited me to stay with them.
I had many a happy evening with them after work sitting under the awning lit by
oil or candlelight standing upon their only table. There I learnt Piacentai the
dialect of the contadini. I slept on a straw palliasse in one corner of the
room. The two children were in another corner with mother and father near the
“door”. The fourth corner was ostensibly held by the pig, two goats, a goose
and a number of noisy chicken who seemed to be pecking at me most of the night.
Every few days I returned to my room at the Croce Bianca hotel in
After my crash, and meeting Padre Pio, I left Heinz
to pursue my hobbies and interest in family matters, which has been my life’s
work since. I became a consultant to De Rica, and returned to the factory, Don
Lucio, Mariucia and family for a few weeks each year between 1960 and 1978. I
have met them several times since. The “house” is the same but it has a television
mast and the “Miraculo italiano” has altered so much of the way of life. Last
time we visited, we found the
In 1955, wax for candles was scarce and expensive. What was left from the Mass candles was used in the sanctuary lamp. With the help of an electrician, Alf, from the Heinz support team, I invented and installed a gadget and one in front of each of the two beautiful murals at the West end of the church, the one of Our Lady of Consolation and the other of the Crucifixion. They were made so that by putting a coin in the slot in front of a bank of a couple of dozen uncoloured Christmas tree candle-like bulbs, a bulb would light up and stay lit for ten minutes at a time. The two stands were still there in place with two or three lights burning when we last visited Valconasso. The caretaker who let me in, and told me that she remembered me when she was a little girl as “il chimico inglese”, gave me the sad news that Don Lucio had died the previous year. The church is kept locked and only opened for Mass from time to time. We lit another two or three candles each side, exchanging euros for the old 25 lire coins with the caretaker lady who had a bag of old currency available for the purpose. I knelt down and wept. At least Our Blessed Lord was still there in the Tabernacle on the altar and the church had not been “re-ordered”.
Humph’s Story Commences
“It had been a bad summer, very hot periods with much rain and hailstones, which meant there were lots of problems with the tomato crop. As a result, whenever word arrived from a farmer in the region that his crop was ready, we had to go to his farm immediately to inspect it and make a decision on its acceptability or otherwise.
“My colleagues were all away and I was having to cover the whole region myself, with 40 or 50 factories to control. On 24th September 1955, I returned to my hotel extremely tired after a hard day. With long days and being called out at all hours I hadn’t had a proper sleep for two nights running. I was longing just to eat in the rain. I said I was too tired and would call in the morning. But the farmer had insisted that I should go immediately. I got in the car and drove to Montesanto. This was still just ten years after the end of the Second World War and the country roads were still on virtually unlaid tracks.
“Unfortunately for the poor farmer, by the time I
arrived it was already too late. It was raining hard. The tomatoes had got wet;
there were cracks appearing in them and so fungus would soon follow. He had
invested too much in this one crop and pleaded with me to accept it. But I had
no choice. I just couldn’t go against Heinz quality standards – the fruit would
only be rejected when it, or the concentrate reached
“At about 10.40p.m. I left Mario Cantarelli at the Montesanto factory. His wife had gone back to the farmhouse, crying. I was very sorry but I was driving back to the hotel, desperate for sleep. Then I had the accident. I can only conclude I must have dozed off momentarily. The previous few days I had been getting cramp in my calf muscles; a sign of tiredness. When I jolted from sleep to consciousness, I had a cramp spasm in my leg and instinctively stretched it out. The accelerator, of course, hit the floor. The car shot forward. I saw a light coming towards me and think it must have been a motorbike. As I woke up, the car speeding forward, and this light approaching, I ‘thought English’. That is, in my attempt to avoid the approaching vehicle, I swerved to the wrong side of the road and ended up passing the motorcycle on its inside. I smashed into a bridge. The car was split in two.
“At that moment I had what is now termed an ‘out-of body experience’. I was outside my body looking down on the scene. My body was lying alongside the petrol tank, about fifteen feet away from the wreckage. It was night-time. It was a country road, and in those days not many people in the region had cars. One car came and passed by. Then, some time later, another. A third one stopped. It seemed I was up in the air looking down on the scene. I had what is now known to have been the classic near-death experience of going down a long tunnel and being drawn towards the most heavenly light. I knew everything would be all right when I reached that light.
“Perhaps because this third car passed, stopped and came back, I seemed to find myself momentarily back in my body – at least in my head. I could see through what seemed like mountains – but were in fact chips and stones on the road lit by the car lights – three people approached me. I could see their feet and their legs and up almost to their shoulders.
“At the same time I was aware of the petrol flowing out of the tank and onto the road all around me. They were two men and a woman. The first thing one of the men did was to light up a cigarette. I remember being aware of the petrol all around me and of the attendant danger but I couldn’t speak.
“They discussed what they should do. One said they should move me, another said no, they should send for the police. They discussed the improbability of another car arriving which could go and inform the police, there being no telephones around. Then the women said they couldn’t just leave me there. They debated again whether to move me or not, before deciding to move me in their car to the nearest hospital.
“I drifted back out of my body again and was once more looking down on the scene as they picked me up and put me in the back of their car, my head was on a newspaper on the woman’s lap. I followed the car all the way to the hospital. It was as if I were travelling just behind, and way above it, all the way, going faster and faster.
“I was taken to the Municipal Hospital of Piacenza, arriving around 11p.m., according to hospital records. I was aware of myself in my body on a trolley in a corridor.
“I have to confess that I believe that I lifted my broken arm and took off my silver chain and Crucifix, as well as my Scapular from around my neck. In fact, did I? If so, why? When, eventually, I regained consciousness, they were on the bedside table and the sisters had put a new scapular on its cord around my neck and a Miraculous Medal on a blue thread around my wrist. I still have both.
“I felt a doctor putting his hands on me, checking my head and body. Then he pulled the sheet up over my head and the trolley was pushed through some doors into a room.
“I don’t not know what the time-scale of what follows may have been, when I was discovered to be alive and transferred from the trolley, but the next thing I remember was being in a bed. The door opened and a bearded Franciscan friar walked in. He put a bag down on the table at the end of my bed and then sat down beside me.
“All I can say of our conversation is that he forced me into making a good confession. He was pretty brutal at times. When I was lagging and couldn’t remember something, he would tell me, remind me of such and such a sin in my life. He went on and on and would force me to admit what he seemed to know better than I could remember. The physical shock of the accident must have been wearing off because I was starting to become aware of pain in my body. I think subconsciously I was getting a bit cheesed off at the insistence of this priest confessing me.
“No stone was left unturned in my life. He scoured me thoroughly, and then gave me what I recognized as what we then called ‘the last rites’; absolution, Holy Oils and Holy Communion. What I remember most of that encounter was his most beautiful smile. Then he left. I do not know how. My eyes were closed, in peace.
“The next morning my friend and colleague the Marchese Bernardo Patrizi came in with a local parish priest, Don Lucio Bonvicini, whom I knew well because I used to go to Mass in his church at Valconasso di Pontenuri. In fact, most mornings when mass was 7.30 or 8 a.m. I was able to serve his Mass in Tridentine Latin (as it still was), and still get to the factory in time for quality control work. He had come to bring me Holy Communion and I told him that I had received only that night, that one of the Franciscans had been to see me. Perhaps he thought I was delirious but he just said that was all right, I could receive Holy Communion again.
“Eventually, Bernardo took me from there to his
palace on his estate at Gerneto, in the North of Italy near
“For one reason or another which I still don’t know, it turned out that nobody had informed my wife. I was then flown home, both arms in slings and heavily bandaged. I should not really have been flown home so soon because in those days the airline cabins didn’t have proper pressurization and I was suffering from cranial contusions and post-concussion problems.
“Much later I saw a letter that Professor Venucci
had addressed to my physician, Dr Graham, in
“After about a month I was back at work and was soon
promoted to Consumer Service Manager of the Heinz Corporation and so had
my own office. But then I found that I began to fall asleep at strange times.
One evening going home, I arrived at Richmond Underground station and felt dizzy and fell forward. The train doors closed on
my neck. From then on I started blacking out. I fell downstairs, on the
pavement, into the road. I also began to suffer excruciating pains in my head
and had brainstorms. At one time in desperation, I drove into the River Thames
“After many months of anxiety and agony for Alice
and myself, I was taken into
“Nothing really changed and I was released again. But I was now suffering the most violent spasms. The pain centred on the right hand side of my skull was excruciating; a pain like a thousand dentist’s drills hitting the nerves. Having some kind of brainstorm, I would be literally banging my head against the wall, willing the pain to disappear. I even began to smash up furniture in the process, so I’m told.
“I was soon sent back into
“A few days later he came into my ward and said,
”You’ll have to help us with the translation”. He brought me a tape recording
of what I had said during such a session, and asked me to translate it. I had been talking in Italian, describing the
experiences. Under hypnosis, I had apparently told much of the story in the
accent and dialect of that region of
“In 1961, I moved with my wife and children to
“Bernardo took me first to the hospital at Fidenza
where I had been in 1955. From there I was recommended to a clinic in
“As they decided what to do next, Bernardo put me
into a little flat in
“What with my pain and the harrowing journey in the dark up the mountain, I was in a terrible state when we finally arrived as a small hotel called Santa Maria della Grazie. I had a drink of hot chocolate and went straight to bed.
“In the early hours of the morning, Bernardo called to my room to waken me ‘Come on. Be quick. Get up. We’re going to Mass. Don’t waste time, come now.’ It was snowing and there was about a two-inch coating already lying on the ground. It was bitterly cold as we trudged up the hill to go to Mass at a convent. I assure you, Bernardo told me nothing. I felt that he almost thought that I ought to know. To know what, I did not know.
“I remember an incredible crowd all huddling around
the church doors that dark winter morning – which to me was still the middle of
the night. They were all praying the Rosary aloud. I was in a rather a daze, I
think, and it all seemed somewhat unreal. After all, only two years before the
accident I had been an Anglican, and the day before we arrived in San Giovanni
I had been in the north of Italy where in the 1950’s I had known members of
Opus Dei. Now, after a harrowing journey, still in much pain, here I was up the
Gargano mountain in the middle of the night with all these people waiting to go
“In my English reserve, I stood back to let people pass me. I saw Bernardo was gone. As we had been waiting, people had been coming up and greeting him. He seemed to be known there. I sat alone near the back of the church, still only half awake. The church went silent as an old priest came out to say Mass.
“From then on, all I can say is that I witnessed and
experienced a complete sharing in the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of
Christ. I was transported to the foot of
“He passed by us and I said to Bernardo, ‘So, that’s
why you brought me here. That’s the priest who brought me Communion in
We were being pushed against the sacristy door with
other men at one end. We entered the sacristy. It was a long room with
cupboards and chests for the sacred vestments on one side and small windows on
the other. At the other end was a kneeler on which the old priest knelt
and made his thanksgiving after
“The priest came along greeting each one in turn. As he embraced Bernardo, Bernardo turned to me and told me to kneel down. I knelt. Then Bernardo told the priest, in Italian, “Padre, this is the Englishman I told you about”. The bearded Franciscan priest, in his somewhat gruff voice with which I was to become familiar, said ‘Eh Be. Be’ and he tapped me three times on the right of the head. The pain left me immediately. He passed on down the line to the others without looking back. When he turned to bless us and wish us all a good day’s work, his eyes transfixed me. I rose to my feet with tears in my eyes and great joy.
“Bernardo and I walked back down the hill to our hotel for breakfast, intending to come back to the friary later for confession. Bernardo began to tell me something of his association with the priest and how he had been appointed treasurer of Padre Pio’s charitable works. As we sat at table, one of the friars, Padre Eusebio, came running in and told us Padre Pio wanted to see us. We went back up the hill to Padre Pio’s room and chatted with him. In the evening we were with him again in the ‘upper room’ where he would regularly meet with his closest collaborators who had helped in the building and some of the doctors, and those who ran his hospital.
“We would do this for the next four of five days that we stayed in San Giovanni Rotondo. On that first evening, as people arrived they would kneel to greet Padre Pio, kissing his hand. I, inexplicably in the face of my usual English reserve, bent over and kissed the Padre on the forehead. He remined me much of my old grandfather. Padre Pio took my face in his hands and said ‘Bravo, Inglese, Bravo’ and patted my cheeks. Henceforward he would always call me ‘L’Inglese,’ The Englishman.
“Of course I had told Bernardo that my pain had gone at that first meeting with Padre Pio in the sacristy. I was taken to the still-new hospital opposite the friary and they prudently told me to keep taking the treatment I had been prescribed.
“In all the years I had known Bernardo, he had never once mentioned Padre Pio to me or that he was a spiritual child and close friend of his. In fact it was he who had introduced Barbara Ward to Padre Pio. He had also taken Graham Greene and Catherine Walston to San Giovanni Rotondo, but as Greene later wrote, he turned down the opportunity to meet the Padre because, ‘I didn’t want my life to be changed by a saint’. (Graham Greene, Yours etc., Letters to the Press 1945-1989, selected and edited by Christopher Hawtree, Penguin.) Years later, though, in an interview with The Tablet. he said he always carried a picture of Padre in his wallet.
“We left San Giovanni for
“As she was afraid to believe I was indeed healed, Bernardo asked Padre Pio to send her a telegram. By now we were coming up to Christmastime – a feast Padre Pio particularly loved because of the tenderness and childlike simplicity around it. The words he addressed to my wife were: ‘I present to you the Christ child and may all the crosses of your life become as a bouquet of roses.’
“I left Bernardo’s palace for home. The airport at
“Home again, and now almost-unbelievably well, I had
to rebuild a life. I had resigned from Heinz two years previously. I set up my
own business in
“Padre Pio didn’t permit himself to hear my confession again. When I met him in San Giovanni it would have been unfair to slip in and be specially privileged. Some would make an appointment in advance by telephone but the thousands who came might have to take a ticket and wait days or weeks. Padre Pio told me that Padre Eusebio would hear my confession and that he himself would also be there. Eusebio took me to Padre Pio’s confessional box in the old church. It was just like being with Pio that first time, after the crash. I was stripped. Did we speak in Italian or English? I have no idea. During his absolution he gave me several messages. They caused me some distress. I asked Eusebio if Padre Pio really meant them and he promised to ask Pio again. Later in the day I met them together in St Francis’ room and called over to Father Eusebio, ‘Have you asked him?’ Pio flashed his reproving eyes at me and replied loudly, in Italian, of course, … or was it in English? ‘No, he has not! You of little faith.’ Eusebio said nothing and smiled at me as if to say. ‘There, I told you so,’ and I knew I must suffer throughout the future.
“Those evening meetings when people reported progress in the charitable works, events in the hospital, progress of their patients and so on, are engraved in my memory. There was a real atmosphere of warmth and it seemed Padre Pio, besieged by people wanting from him all day, could relax among friends and close collaborators. But he still never stopped praying. So much would be reported and discussed that you would think the meeting must have lasted two or three hours. In reality they only lasted 20 to 25 minutes. This man seemed to have the ability to make time stand still! He prayed continuously, his hands turning the rosary beads all time. And I believe he genuinely had the ability to do several things, and conduct several conversations at once. As everyone came in, settled down and started to chat, he would look around and talk with one and/or another. ‘Dove L’Inglese?’, ‘Where’s the Englishman?’ he would ask, and once he’d seen me, he’d say, ‘Oh there you are, Be. Be.’ Then, whether in one language or another I do not know, he would converse with me as though no one else was there.
“Once he asked me, ‘Englishman, do you love your mother?’ I thought it was a strange question. Of course I loved my dear old mother. But he persisted until finally I realized he was referring not to my earthly mother but to Mary, Mother of Christ, and Mother of the Church.
“Another time he asked us, “How many rosaries have you said today?” Some said two, three even four.
He asked; “four full rosaries? The full fifteen decades each time?”
“Pah, You’re not trying,” retorted Padre Pio with a laugh.
“He was always joking. A joke, yes, but he seemed to live in a different time, almost outside time. When his superiors would ask him, how many rosaries he said that day, he had to reply truthfully. It would be sixteen, seventeen even eighteen. How could this be possible when, apart from a couple of hours alone in his cell a night, he was constantly surrounded by people, hearing confessions, listening to other’s requests for prayers, at recreation with his brethren? I truly believe he had extraordinary abilities, could do many things at one time, and already lived partly outside time.
“After this evening meeting, Padre Pio would take part in night prayers with his community in their internal chapel in the friary. He always led them in a novena prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the intentions of his spiritual children and those who had written asking for prayers. The traditional ending of the Church’s night prayer is an anthem to the Blessed Mother, in ordinary times of the year the ;Salve Regina’. Padre Pio could never get through this prayer to Mary without shedding tears. And so tenderly and copiously did he weep that he invariably moved the rest of the community to tears as well.
“Likewise, since his days as a novice at Morcone when a picture of the Blessed Virgin in the novitiate had a notice under it reminding the novices never to pass without saying a prayer to Mary, Padre Pio, throughout his life, never did pass such an image without pausing to offer a greeting to his ‘Heavenly Mother’. There, too tears would fill his eyes. There is a beautiful snapshot still in existences which captures just such a moment as he looked up at a picture of the Madonna in the friary corridor at San Giovanni Rotondo.
“In the late evening he would also spend time in spiritual direction of the members of the community who came to see him. I remember an occasion when Padre Pio asked me, in the evening meeting, when there was discussion of the latest medical report on cancer, ‘Englishman, do you smoke?’ I did smoked a packet or two a week in those days and said so. He tutted and said with a grin ‘Bad. Very bad. It’s not good for you.’ Then he turned and asked where his snuff was! In fact, I had always thought he took snuff just because he suffered from catarrh, but much later, when I was in his cell once, I saw bronchial dilatory inhalers and realised he was asthmatic.
“I learned so much from Padre Pio. He taught me how to love God and to suffer for others. At that first meeting he told me the date of the birth of a daughter we were not even expecting at the time, and the course her life would take. He taught me about my Guardian Angel.
“Once as I as leaving him – and leave-taking always appeared so painful to him, he would be sorrowful and say ‘What? You’re leaving already? Can’t you stay a bit longer? – I said I would write to him. ‘Son,’ he said. ‘What do I want with more letters? I get so many already. Send me your Guardian Angel instead.’
From then on, whenever I needed his prayers for something or for family or friends who were in trouble, I sent him a message by my Guardian Angel. Once, we were in a particular financial difficulty and I had just picked up a ‘final letter’ from the Bank. I thought, ‘Pio, please help me!’ In the very next envelope was a cheque from someone I had never heard of before for the exact amount, down to the penny of the amount we had to settle.
“Much later, Bernardo Patrizi told me that he had
sent his Guardian Angel to Padre Pio when he was told about my car crash and
that I was lying, possibly dead, in the hospital at
“When he returned to the hospital the receptionist asked him if he was going up to see Lady Jackson. Would he take up these flowers and a telegram that had just arrived? The telegram was from Padre Pio: ‘Sorry to hear of your illness. Be assured of my prayers.’ Next time he was in San Giovanni Rotondo, Bernardo told Pio Barbara had recovered and thanked him for his prayers. Pio Replied, ‘Huh!! Telegrams! Guardian Angles are quicker – and cheaper!’
“At those evening gatherings, Padre Pio seemed to have the ability to speak to several people at once – in that rough, guttural accent of his, made stronger by his chesty catarrhal speech.. He would leave the vowel sounds unfinished so that instead of saying, for example, ‘Dove L’Inglese?’ he would say ‘Dove L’Ingle…? In the second half of his life, Padre Pio was never known to speak more than a short sentence at a time, and yet it summed up everything. He never read a newspaper or listened to the radio yet he knew what was going on.
“In the 1960’s when the Vatican Council had just begun, some thought it would finish quickly. Someone asked, ‘How long will the Council last?’ Pio replied, ‘His Holiness had the choice to buy or hire the scaffolding for the seating of the bishops. He will make the lender into a multi-millionaire!’
“Another example of his short, sometimes brusque speech which I remember occurred while the Council was in session. Someone asked, ‘Padre, do you think we will see women priests by the end of the century?’
“Quick as a flash, ‘Pio turned on the person, with fire in his eyes. ‘Would you insult the Mother of God?’
“That was his short answer but in it was contained a whole wealth of theology. His message was clear.
1965, I had a business meeting in
“In the early hours, I woke and drove up the mountain roads to San Giovanni Rotondo. In the Sacristy after Mass and thanksgiving, Padre Pio rose from his prie dieu and came over to the two rows of men. One held out a parcel to be blessed. He assured father that it only contained religious objects. Padre Pio demanded insistently that it should be opened. With the help of one of the friars, the package was opened. Yes, there were religious books and rosaries there, but then Padre Pio found the lottery tickets, and shouted angrily, ‘Vi via, vi via!’ - ‘Get out. Get out.’ The disgraced man left us. After greeting a few others, Padre Pio came to me. His arms were outstretched. ‘Inglese, Inglese, bienvento!’ He gave me a great hug and whispered in my ear, ‘Have you learnt patience?’ He smiled with a broad grin and went on to give his mittened hand to the next to kiss. The car never failed me after that!
“In the afternoon, I took my friends to San Giovanni and to Monte Sant’ Angelo.
“1966 brought me to San Giovanni once more with Bernardo. We were with Padre Pio several time in the morning and then again in the early afternoon when we were called to see him in his cell. He was not at all well and was suffering greatly. Bernardo knelt one side and I on the left of his chair under the window. After a while Bernardo suggested that we should leave. Father Allesio came in. Bernardo left with him. Padre Pio held on to me, indicating by pressure on my hands that I should stay. I heard the voices disappear along the corridor. Then I looked up into Padre Pio’s lovely eyes. They pierced me. I buried my head in his lap and cried violently. He held on to my hand with the other on my head. Then I looked up and gazed into his eyes again. I told him that what he was bearing was far too great for one man. ‘Please’, I asked him, ‘I bore these pains in my head for so long, Padre, surely I can share something with you.’ Tears were in his eyes and he shook his heard. ‘You couldn’t bear this,’ he said. ‘Please let me help,’ I asked again. Still in tears he smiled and shook his head. After I know not how long, I rose and kissed Padre Pio on the forehead. At the door, I turned and saw his smile once more, waved to him, blew a kiss and walked out. The corridor was alive with exquisite perfumes. Even Bernado and Padre Eusebio smelt them when I came out from the old church door and they lasted all the way down the hill to the hotel. I looked at my fingers on the hand that had held Padre Pio’s. It had blood on them.
then on, wherever I would be in
“There are so many other stories of our long association that I could tell, but it is not an easy task, it is impossible and unnecessary. The Saint of our times will be your help to bear the pains and anguish and suffering in this life facing a world of evil and rejection of the Love of God. You have the remedy in Faith and prayer.
“In light if all this, those people who quoted at length apparent ‘prophecies’ of Padre Pio concerning this or that, or who reproduced supposed statements of approval by him of their particular visions or apparitions, were very far off the mark. Those who knew Padre Pio also knew very well that he had written few letters since 1922 and that his speech was always in the concise style just described.
“His letters to the Holy Father written at the end of his life have been published. They greatly inspired the present Pope Benedict XVI who, as Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, conveyed his message to Pope John Paul II, ‘It is not power that redeems but Love! ….. The World will be saved by the Crucifix and not by the crucifiers. ….. “May Saint Padre Pio always help his confreres and all pilgrims in their love of the suffering Lord and in the quest for that sanctity which flows from God’s open heart!’
“God bless you all, Cecil”
Talk on Padre Pio given
by Michael Blackburn to the Carmelite Nuns at their Monastery at Kirk Edge
Padre Pio was born in 1887 in a small village in
From being a small boy he was drawn to devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a deep love for Our Lady. He would play with the other village boys but if any one of them used a swear word Francesco would run away and would usually be found praying in the church.
From five years old he talked about becoming a monk, but not just any monk but one like St Francis. In his early days he commenced his praying and mortification which were to lead him to Sainthood. His mother would find him sleeping on the floor and I believe that in his youth he scourged himself. Heaven knows what other sacrifices he made.
As a young boy he was often poorly and bouts of bad health stayed with him all his life. But they were always illnesses which the medical profession could not cure. One day he would be ill the next day he would be well. There was no apparent medical reason for his illness. They were part of his whole life of sacrifice. As an adult he often didn’t eat enough for a small baby to survive on. He was constantly fasting. Padre Pio had made a conscious decision to turn his back on the world but he had not found it easy to make that supreme sacrifice.
He was accepted as a Franciscan Capuchin and in 1910 ordained to the priesthood. In that same year he received the invisible stigmata. So he had the pain of the nails in his hands and feet and the pain of the lance in his side. He never mentioned the agony of the Crown of Thorns that he also wore. Very early in his Franciscan life he was sent to San Giovanni Rotundo, which is in the mountains in South Eastern Italy, where he stayed for the rest of his life. It was there on the 20th September 1918 when he was praying in the choir loft of the church that he suddenly realised that blood was dripping from his hands feet and side. So the invisible Stigmata became visible and was to stay with him for fifty years. The Stigmata was a great embarrassment to him. He prayed for it to be taken from him. Why weren’t his prayers answered? Probably because the good Lord knew that the Stigmata would act as a spiritual magnet which would draw people to go to Padre Pio to confess their sins and thereby save their souls. In order to hide the stigmata Padre Pio wore mittens but he did not wear them when he was offering the Holy Mass. So whenever he raised his hands, for instance at the final blessing, the stigmata could be clearly seen. In the history of the church there are only about 60 accepted instances of stigmatism. The first well know stigmatist was St Francis but Padre Pio was the first Priest.
When Padre Pio went to San Giovanni the friary and church were very small so a new church which was built to house the large numbers which Padre Pio, his stigmata, and his many gifts and attracted. Yet when Padre Pio saw the new church he said. “It is not big enough.” He knew the incredible numbers who would come especially after his death. That is why a large basilica is now being built. It is being built to hold several thousand pilgrims and have full facilities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and every facility for the disabled.
About the same time as the first new church was being built
so was Padre Pio’s dream of a Hospital coming into being. The good Padre was
always meeting people with medical problems and his compassion and love for the
sick was all that was necessary for the need for a hospital. As soon as he put
forward the idea money started to pour in. As the money was directed at himself
he had to be temporarily released from his vow of poverty, though, of course
none of it was spent on himself, a Trust was set up. The hospital which is
built on a hillside very close to the friary, it is a huge building, has
several thousand beds, the very latest equipment, and is the envy of every
other hospital in
Let us study Padre Pio by the gifts which he possessed, and
he possessed them in abundance.
Regarding the Gift of Communicating with his Guardian Angel his Spiritual Director, Father Agostino, realising that Padre Pio had amazing powers started to write to him in French and Greek, though it was well know that Padre Pio could only speak Italian. The replies to Father Agostino’s letters came in perfect French and Greek. When asked how he had written the letters Padre Pio replied: “My Guardian Angel acted as my interpreter.” And he would say that in all modesty with no show of pride. A lady once asked him if he could pass a message to St Francis. “Yes I can do that for you” he said as if it were the most simple thing in the world; which for him it was.
Confessing to Padre Pio could mean a wait of up to two weeks. The friars had to set up a system of tickets. You got your numbered ticket and then waited patiently till your number was next.
There are many stories of his gift of discernment. Where they include stories of occurrences in the confessional then the stories come from the penitents and never from Padre Pio. Father Joseph Pius was a young American who came to visit Padre Pio and finished up staying and becoming a Franciscan. He had the great privilege of helping to look after Padre Pio in the last years before his death. He tells the story of going to confession to Padre Pio because he had called a man a fraud. Then he had got scruples about it and went to confess. He told Padre Pio what he had done and there was a silence broken by Padre Pio saying “tell me your sins”.
Father Joseph said “But I have just told you Father.”
“Go away, stop wasting my time” said Padre Pio who, due to his gift of discernment, knew the man who Father Joseph was referring to and also knew that the man was a fraud – so there was nothing to confess.
A very large Italian Lady confessed to Padre Pio “I sometimes miss my morning prayers.”
To which the good Padre replied “Do you ever miss your breakfast?”
Then there is the story of the lady walking away from the friary in tears. Some friends sitting in a nearby café went to comfort her and she came and joined them at the table. She told them that Padre Pio had turned her away without absolution. She had confessed her sins and was waiting for absolution when Padre Pio said “There is something else.”
“No father” she said I have confessed all my sins.”
Padre Pio repeated “There is something else. I hear a baby crying.” Years earlier she had had an abortion.
“But Father “ she said “I confessed that years ago”. Padre Pio repeated
“I still hear a baby crying.” It seems that although she had previously confessed the abortion she had not been truly sorry. Perhaps at the time she confessed it she was still satisfied with what she had done as it had made her life more convenient. Confessing means ‘total sorrow and I will not do that again.’ So Padre Pio sent her away without absolution. She would have to seriously think about her sin and go back later when the good Padre would welcome her and give her a beautiful smile as he absolved her. Padre Pio loved penitent sinners.
The young American, Father Joseph, was once sitting alongside Padre Pio and thinking to himself “I wonder who brought me into the Friary? Was it Our Lady or Padre Pio?”
Not a word had been spoken. Padre Pio turned to him and said “It was Our Lady”.
A lady came to Padre Pio asking for a cure. She was in terrible pain. He said to her “If you wait eighteen more months and offer up your pain then all your family will be out of purgatory.”
“Say no more” she said. She came back in eighteen months and was cured.
A blind young man came for a cure. Padre Pio said; “Do you want to have your sight restored or save your soul?”
The man said; “If it is a strict choice I should like to save my soul.”
“It is a strict choice” said Padre Pio and the young man went away, saddened by his continued blindness, but with the happy assurance of the joy of everlasting life. He attended daily Mass with Padre Pio throughout the saint’s life and he is still serving the friary telling his story.
Padre Pio was often on an entirely different plane from ourselves. Two examples: there was an occasion when the friars noticed Padre Pio talking to someone but there was no-one there. When he had finished they asked Padre Pio what was happening. “Oh, there were some souls on their way from purgatory to heaven and they stopped by to thank me because I remembered them during my Mass this morning.”
In another instance Padre Pio was sitting upstairs one evening when he suddenly said “I must go to the confessional.”
“No Father you don’t go now.”
“Yes, yes I must go” and he was like a mad man going down the hall into the lift and into his confessional. There was no-one there but he was confessing someone. It was like a fight that was going on – he was twisting and turning – then it was all over. Who had he dragged out of hell’s door that day?
You may have heard that Padre Pio could be brusque and angry. Yes he certainly could. A story from Fr Joseph illustrates this. Padre Pio was about to enter the small lift which took him to his cell when a man came to him probably asking for his blessing. Padre Pio started to shout and rebuke the man. I recall Father Joseph saying “It was so embarrassing I just wished the floor would have opened and swallow me up to take me away from the situation.” On another occasion Father Eusebio who was Pio’s guardian at the time said “Padre you shouldn’t talk to people like that”. Padre Pio who a moment earlier had been acting like a mad man said quietly “
“Jesus wants me to speak to him like that.”
“But you were very angry.”
“That’s what I hope he thought.” We must understand that Padre Pio could see the state of that man’s soul and knew that he was heading for hell. He had to shock the man out of his apathy.
On another occasion a man came with a parcel asking Padre Pio to bless it. “What’s in it? “ asked Padre Pio.
“Oh, just some prayer books and rosary beads for the children” the man said “Open it up” Padre Pio said
“No, that’s not necessary” said the man. “I’ve told you it is only some things for the children.”
“Father Eusebio open it up” insisted Padre Pio. So the package was opened. After the prayer books and rosaries had been discarded there, at the bottom of the package, were the man’s Italian Lottery tickets. Can we blame Padre Pio that he shouted at the man and sent him scurrying out of the Sacristy of the friary?
A bishop, who probably had problems of his own, told lies
about Padre Pio. Whether it was due to jealousy or some other reason is not
known. Among other things he said that the wounds were self-inflicted.
“Send him the money” said Padre Pio. No resentment. Perfect charity. Perfect peace.
Very few saints have been granted the gift of bi-location. I
believe that St Anthony of
Someone who I know personally, Cecil Humphery-Smith, was in hospital in the North of Italy following a very serious car accident. In fact the local newspaper announced the death. As he lay in bed in the hospital the door opened and a Franciscan Friar came into his room. The friar forced Cecil to make a good confession. Cecil tells that the friar made no allowance for the fact that he was badly injured but insisted on Cecil delving more and more into his conscience and confess his sins. To put in into Cecil’s words “The friar was brutal but seemed to tell me what I had hoped to have forgotten”. Eventually the friar was satisfied and Cecil says that he will always remember the smile which came across the friar’s face as he gave absolution. Then he was given Extreme Unction and Holy Communion, and the friar left. The next morning he was visited by a priest to perform the last rites. Cecil had never heard of Padre Pio and it was seven years later before he was taken to San Giovanni by a friend. As Padre Pio came away from the altar at the end his Mass Cecil said “That’s the man. He’s the one who heard my confession when I was in hospital”
“Impossible” he was told by his friend, “Padre Pio has never left this friary and I was outside the room where your body was, praying for you.” But nothing was impossible to Padre Pio. For seven years following the accident Cecil had had terrible pains in his head which made him almost demented. The Medical profession failed to treat the problem. After the Mass he was introduced to Padre Pio who tapped him on the head and told him be more careful in future with his driving. But that tap on the head was all that was needed to effect an immediate, permanent, cure. Cecil became a personal friend of Padre Pio and some of the stories I am telling you have come directly from him.
There are so many similar stories of bi-location that it is
difficult to know which to tell and which to leave out. A lady in
A young farmer had a double embolism, one on each lung. He was confined to bed and was certain that he was soon to die. He was young and strong and didn’t want to die yet. So he prayed to God in a special way – he asked God, with all the supplication he could muster, to let someone more worthy than him intercede for him. Soon afterwards he had an apparition. A bearded monk was by his bedside. He bent forward and laid his hands on the young man’s chest, then he disappeared. To the amazement of the doctors he was cured. But who was the bearded monk? Some time later when visiting a friends’ house he saw a picture of the monk, it was Padre Pio and he discovered that he was at San Giovanni. The young man was on the next train. As it was winter he was able to get to confession without having to join a long queue. There had been no mention of the miraculous cure but at the end of the confession Padre Pio said ”And tell me about the lungs now? How are they?” Padre Pio knew everything.
Padre Pio’s father was very industrious and because there
was more money to be earned in the
During World War 1 an Italian General who was being blamed the loss of 250,000 men decided to commit suicide. He was about to shoot himself in the head when a voice said “such an act is foolish”. He turned round and saw a young monk who took the revolver from him, put it aside and then vanished. Later he realised that it had been Padre Pio who had saved his life.
Padre Pio died in 1968 but he is still coming to earth to help those in need. Ten years ago a mother was nursing her sick ten year old daughter, whose heart valves were all mixed up. One night she put her daughter to bed but, from downstairs, could hear her chatting to someone. When she asked her who she had been talking to the daughter told her “A man in a brown skirt had come to talk to her.” The next day the girl saw a picture of Pare Pio and said “That’s the man who came to see me.” The next time they went to visit the specialist he was amazed. “I can see this is the same girl” he said “but her heart is perfectly normal. I won’t need to see her again.” That girl is now twenty years old and I was talking to someone recently who had met her. A lovely, lively girl, with her life on this earth ahead of her – thanks to Padre Pio. I wonder what the good Padre thought of the young girl’s description ‘A man in a brown skirt!?’
A most bizarre story is of the Second World War. An American
Bomber was flying to a target in
The devil was continually attacking Padre Pio and not only mentally, with temptations, but also physically. On one occasion he was so badly injured that for three days he was unable to offer Holy Mass. There was a period when Padre Pio’s cell was over one of the rooms used by the friars. They would hear the most appalling devilish crashes and yelling coming from his room. They got to the point where they couldn’t take it any more. Eventually the Father Guardian said “Look the friars have had enough of this.”
“Alright” said Padre Pio “It won’t happen again.” and the noises stopped immediately. All Padre Pio had to do was to say to Our Lord. “I don’t want to disturb the friars. Please stop it.” There was never a sound again. But note that he wasn’t prepared to stop it for himself. If putting up with the devil and his noise would help to redeem souls then Padre Pio would put up with it for ever.
There was an occasion when he had been attacked by the devil and was found on the floor of his cell. But he had a pillow under his head. He was asked “How did that get there?”
“Our Lady put it there” was the reply. He seemed to live half way between heaven and earth.
From the lives of the saints we learn that some of them had the gift of perfume, that is to say, a fragrant odour of perfume came from their bodies. Padre Pio has this gift. But in his case you don’t have to be anywhere near the good Padre. His perfumes have been experienced all over the world during his life and since his death. Different perfumes are meant to represent different signs. For instance Incense is for ‘Prayer’. Roses is for ‘he is there with you’. Flowers is for ‘greetings’ and Tobacco is for ‘warning’. In a group of people the perfume might be experienced by only one of them or by them all. I know several people who have experienced these perfumes but I have never experienced them myself.
Padre Pio called the Rosary “His weapon.” He said that after the Holy Mass the Rosary was the most powerful weapon. He was also very devoted to the Stations of the Cross. I suspect that Padre Pio had somehow trained himself to pray the Rosary non-stop even when he was hearing confessions and chatting to his fellow friars and friends. One evening the Father Guardian asked him “Padre Pio, how many Rosaries have you prayed today.” Out of obedience Padre Pio had to reply. His reply was “Thirty Eight.” So you understand how I can only imagine that he was able to pray the Rosary all the time.
He only slept for two hours a night. He would arise at
2.00a.m. and commence the preparation for his Holy Mass. At about 4.30a.m. he
would go to the sacristy and vest for his 5.00a.m Mass. Sometimes, as he
approached the altar, he would be seen to tremble. When asked about this he
said that he was fearful of what the good Lord would ask of him. During the
Mass he would frequently go into ecstasies. For him the Mass was
Padre Pio knew the timelessness of everlasting life. He was often found praying for events which had already taken place. He used to pray for the happy deaths of his parents long after they had died.
He was once found in tears and the Friars asked him what was wrong. “I have just realised” he said “that I never thanked God for my baptism.”
Worn out by his constant fasting, his long hours in the confessional, his lack of sleep, his many illnesses, his physical and mental battles with the devil, his constant loss of blood through the stigmata Padre Pio died in the first hour of the morning of the 23rd September 1968 fifty years and three days from when he received his visible stigmata. He was eighty-one years old. I want to share with you the words of a mystic. I realise that when we talk about mystics we are on the very edge of reality but I heard this from the American, Father Joseph Pius, who was with Padre Pio when he died. The mystic saw Padre Pio enter heaven. He did so with such humility that the angels and saints were amazed. When Christ indicated his place to him he didn’t move. So, according to the mystic, Our Lady left her place, took Padre Pio’s hand and brought him to ‘his throne’. Those are the words which were used ‘his throne’.
The degree of sanctity of a saint corresponds to the measure in which they resemble Christ Himself. Padre Pio came very close to that Christ-like quality. Padre Pio offered himself as if he were a co-redemptorist. His suffering helped to buy back souls. That was his life’s work and, if we will allow him, he will continue it with us.
From what I have told you, you might think of me as a devotee of the good Padre. Yes it is true I am. But he can be a hard master. I don’t want to let him down. So I proceed with caution.
Padre Pio was Beatified in the 1999 and will probably be Canonised in 2002. (Padre Pio’s Canonisation took place on the 16th June 2002.)
After Padre Pio’s death, outdoor Stations of The Cross were built between the Friary and the Hospital. They climb up the mountainside but in such a way that it is made easy for the elderly or disabled. The Fifth Station; ‘Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross’ depicts Padre Pio carrying the cross. At the top of the mountain where the Stations finish there is an outside altar and on the two occasions I have been there the weather has been fine. A Mass offered on that mountain top in full view of the Friary and hospital is very special.
Finally there is a story which Padre Pio liked to tell. It is probably one which you already know. But the fact that it was told by Padre Pio, who certainly knows what goes on in heaven, makes it the more poignant for us here on earth. The story goes that Jesus is walking around heaven when he sees a gang of unlikely, even villainous, looking people. So he goes to St Peter and says “Peter what are those people doing in here.”
“It’s no good complaining to me” says Peter “You must ask your Mother. Every time she finds my back turned, she opens the gates and lets everybody in!”
9th August 1993
TALK BY FATHER JOSEPH PIUS
‘HIS LIFE WITH PADRE PIO’
I am in a predicament because, like many of you, years and
years ago in
When I first went there I heard that reputation he had about been gruff and answering people in a rude way and so-forth and I saw it happening but when I went into the monastery and lived with him every day for those three years I understood that that public figure of Padre Pio was not the real Padre Pio. The real man was very simple, extremely humble – when you lived with him in the friary on a day to day basis there were no airs; he was just one of the friars – he wouldn’t have it any other way - never asked for anything special – never wanted to be treated in a special way so that living day to day with this saint became a very ordinary experience – you wouldn’t think that would you? After the beginning when my timidity died down he became an ordinary thing and I realise that the man I thought was Padre Pio wasn’t Padre Pio at all. He was an entirely different man. He was a beautiful, simple, humble man with a great sense of humour even in those last years when he was suffering terribly, physically and even spiritually. In the last days of his life they would say to him “How are you?” and he would reply “The only thing I need is the casket!” He still had a beautiful sense of humour a very warm, warm humanity. But then that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? Because a man could not spend more than half a century dripping out his blood without giving love. Sometime he would take the cord which was around waist hit people with it –and so forth. It wasn’t easy watching him doing these things. In the very last months of his life, one of the friars, who has since died got into the little lift by the sacristy with Padre Pio after he had let go at a man - I tell you I really I just wanted to leave him there and walk away. It was painful to see it. We got in the lift and as soon as the doors closed in front of us the friar said “but you shouldn’t treat people like that.” Padre Pio, very calmly said “But I want to treat him like that.” He was working on a whole other wavelength that we didn’t even know existed, we couldn’t tell. There is a funny story, but it is a true story. There was a woman who wanted to come to see Padre Pio, her name was Rose. She wanted to ask Padre Pio to find her a husband. Don’t laugh because a lot of ladies did that then, they wanted to make sure that they were getting a good Catholic man. Rose couldn’t come to San Giovanni but her friend could. So Rose wrote a little note to hand to Padre Pio as he went through the crowds blessing after the morning confessions. The friend did that and two or three days went by and this friend had to leave and there was no answer. So finally she said to Padre Pio – she stopped him one morning and said “What shall I tell Rose?” and Padre Pio said “Tell Rose she will become a Carnation.” You hear a thing like that and you think “the old gent is getting really old!” Instead, the next year, at Rose’s wedding, she married a man whose name means ‘Carnation’! Padre Pio was living in a realm that we didn’t know!
My introduction to this man was strange. Because I would
bring him his food in the last part of his life and I could not believe what I
was seeing every day taking away that tray. The
He was sleeping only two hours a night – in the last part of
his life not even that. So my introduction to the man – the human being – was
all wrong. The real Padre Pio was entirely different from the public figure
that had come across in books and hearsay of people. His confessor, Father
Clementi, who was a saint himself, he was a beautiful Franciscan Friar, he was
Padre Pio’s next to last confessor. He had, I don’t know how many years of
martyrdom with terrible illnesses, he said to me one day “Padre Pio is starved
for affection.” Like human beings, inside this big public figure - well known
public figure – letters came from places and I didn’t even know where they were
– do you know where the
One day he was passing me in the hallway and his face in
front of me was in profile and on his forehead I saw another pair of eyes
looking at me. Now there is the truth of the real Padre Pio because Padre Pio
the man hardly existed any more. He had become an empty vase and was filled
with Christ. When you went to San Giovanni years ago – now it has become
terribly built up – it has to happen I know but you used to be able to hear the
birds singing now you hear the car horns. Anyway, years and years ago when you
went there you had the same feeling as if you are going to the
He was an extraordinary disciple of Christ. This man, who
with Christ’s priesthood, had embraced his victim-hood in this extraordinary
way, was to take on a figure which was for me is one of the great figures of
Christianity. I remember a priest who spoke at our ordination
So we really don’t know who Padre Pio is. We know something
about the man – we know how he lived – how he lived his life – but the
implication behind that we really don’t know. We don’t see the forest for the
trees as yet. His life is too simple and it sort of blocks an understanding of
this extraordinary figure because the farm lad who grows up in extreme poverty
– I mean they were so poor that for instance when Padre Pio was living at home
in that period of hermitage for seven years, just like St Paul, seven years
away in a hermitage in preparation for this great mission, when his confessor
would come to see them, Father Agostino, the mother would have to go around to
her friends on the street and say “Could you loan me a sausage because Padre
Pio’s confessor has come.” That extreme poverty. Still Padre Pio in his letters
says that Our Lord said to him “if I didn’t crucify you who knows what would
have happened to you.” Can you imagine? So we really don’t know who this man
is. We really don’t know. We know where he was born; we know how old he was
when he died, which was eighty-one years, we know a lot of facts about him but
they are still talking about the facts and they are not talking about what that
implies. We can say very simply that Padre Pio was a living crucifix for
fifty-eight years. Does anyone know what that means? There’s never been a saint
like him. I remember in San Giovanni I met a woman who had the great privilege
of seeing the Mystical Wedding Ring and Padre Pio’s hand. This is a very rare
thing that at times the mystics actually have a ring on their finger and at
times it becomes visible. This is from a mystical marriage with Christ. So we
made her write it down, then we went to a Nun whose superior, the foundress,
had seen the same thing and she wrote it down. When we consigned it to the
cause for canonisation the priest in charge said to me “This is the last one of
all the mystical phenomena known in Christian spirituality to be lacking as a
document in his life. Thank you for bringing it in.” Who is this person that
every single phenomena in Christian spirituality was in his life? The stigmata
is only one. We get trapped with the stigmata because it is the outward sign
but behind that there is so much else. He had gone to an elevation with Christ
– I was shocked the first time I heard this, but one woman who had lost her mother
the year before said to Padre Pio, because she had found out that Padre Pio
actually spoke with St Francis, they were actually very close, because he said
that St Francis used to take him down from the Cross at the end of every Mass –
they were very close literally like two people living together at times –
anyway this woman said to Padre Pio “Father could you ever ask St Francis to
say hello to my mother heaven?” and
Padre Pio very nonchalantly not intending to give himself any airs he
said “I can do that for you.” Not for
pride but to help this spiritual child of his who really has a need “I can do
that for you.” Like
In the beginning I wanted the cause for canonisation to go
very quickly “I want to see him a saint – I want to see him a saint!” Now I
don’t care any more. Because I realise that Our Lord was doing it to give us
time to really get to see this man, to understand him. He had to come out in belief
that Padre Pio was the saint sent to the twentieth century church to save
humanity as the Cure of Ars was the priest sent to
His charity – there are some things about the life of Padre
Pio that you don’t yet know. When he went to San Giovanni in the early years
there was a Bishop, Lord have mercy on him, he was not the man of God he should
have been - I think he had a lot of problems – he was eventually dethroned by
Padre Pio said “Send him the money.” Perfect Christian Charity and if you start digging under the monk of the wounds, forget the wounds, start looking inside the man, what comes out – perfection in every virtue. Perfection to such a point that you can’t measure it any more you can’t talk about it because people think you’re making it up.
Just look at him from the point of view of a confessor. That
man would not take a vacation because he didn’t want to, in fifty-one years.
The only vacation Padre Pio ever knew was when he was sick in bed – why? –
because he wouldn’t leave the confessional. He was in that confessional box
morning afternoon and evening. When he was in good health and been confessing
all day long; “Oh Padre a coach has just arrived with fifty people.” He would
say “Bring them in!” The very last year of his life when he was so sick and was
eighty-one years old and weak, and so forth, the Father Superior came down and
knelt down beside him and said “Padre you know you can leave off the
confessions if you want to now.” Padre Pio was so shocked he didn’t know what
to do. To answer the
So we are dealing with this man who was a wonder worker and in his life there are beautiful stories to tell and entertaining things – do we understand what is behind it - I don’t – I really don’t know who Padre Pio is. It’s like looking into a kaleidoscope, that it keeps changing and getting bigger and brighter and you just don’t know who we are dealing with. He is elusive in his simplicity because he was so simple. We are used to people making a lot of noise and being very powerful and being out in the front row. Padre Pio was very silent and in the back row and you wouldn’t know him. The first time I met him – I was taken into the friary by an English Capuchin – he put me in the hallway upstairs and I was waiting for the entrance of ‘the saint.’ There was a row of men and I was in the middle of them – suddenly a door opened at the end of the hallway – two friars came in, arm in arm, came up the few steps that were there and started walking towards us. If Padre Pio hadn’t had the gloves on I would not have known who this Padre Pio was – that is how humble he was. You wouldn’t know at all – there was no “Stand up I’m coming.” The humility of this man – the humility to take on the load he took on – why? - who was paying him? The humility building this hospital in which he could have built a penthouse on the top of it and had servants and have had a lovely lush life and a car with a driver and you name it he could have had it. He remained in that two by four cell. Wouldn’t dare leave it. So when you start analysing what is behind you have to realise “Who is this Padre Pio?” I still don’t know and I’ve lived there for thirty years. I don’t think I will ever know. He once said “Some of the mysteries in my life you will only understand in heaven.” So even when we get to heaven we are going to say “Who was Padre Pio?”
A man who comes from the top of a bare topped mountain – has no money – and builds one of the best hospitals in all of Italy – they have machinery in that place which other hospitals just dream about – one thousand two hundred beds – how can you explain something like that. I once heard Padre Pio described by a Canon Law Theologian; he said “In the gospel of the good Samaritan we talk about one person who was sick – look at that hospital – one thousand two hundred beds – that is what Padre Pio has done.”
There are implications in his life but, my God, what is his story? Who is this man? We were living with a great saint a fantastic saint. I’ll tell you another story, someone else said – when St Francis died the friars who lived with him saw him taking the place of Lucifer in heaven. Lucifer – the word means giver of light – the angel was responsible for bringing light - that was the empty space. We are all to take the spaces of the angels that fell. You know what space Padre Pio took, according to someone who I think is very reliable? The space right next to St Francis.
Padre Pio is – on a ‘throne’ – imagine that – a ‘throne’. So all these pieces are coming out – still coming out – still coming out – still coming out – the mosaic is still not finished – we really do not know who this man is. I don’t think anyone does. Think what Padre Pio went through – can you imagine offering your whole life to the Church and wanting nothing to be but a priest of God and then being slapped into a little cell for two years like a dog in quarantine, that you couldn’t even go out in front of the church and take a walk. That’s what happened to Padre Pio. Then later Padre Pio said “Kneel down and venerate the Church which is your Mother.” That same Church which had stopped him going out. The extraordinary virtue of this man who, in life, gave everything to Christ.
When I read the story of Padre Pio the story of the gifts,
the charisma which he had –
“No you don’t go to confess at this time of day to confess.”
“I must go down now.” He was like a crazy man going down the hallway. We got in
the lift we went downstairs, he went into the confessional – there was no-one there
- but he was confessing someone. It was like a fight that was going on – he was
turning and twisting – and then it was all over. Who had he had dragged out of
hell’s door that day? We saw these extraordinary things happening sometimes and
he was living in an entirely different realm, but who is it that lives in that
realm? Hidden in the simplicity was this extraordinary figure – so I have come
to tell you that I don’t know who Padre Pio is. What else can I say? Because it
is a constant revelation of a greatness of which I have no conception and of
which I have very little understanding. He is not yet known so we still have to
go on saying “Who is this Padre Pio.” I
have a cousin in
During question time Father Joseph was asked:
Question:- Would it be true to say that If the kaleidoscope, which you talked about, were to come together one would see an image of Christ.
Answer:- Definitely, very definitely. Those eyes I saw were of Christ. There is one of our friars who is now very critically ill, one day he looked at Padre Pio and he actually saw Our Lord. In his letters even Padre Pio said “This morning Christ changed His heart with mine.” He was living on a spiritual level which has very seldom been attained. I would almost say ‘had never been attained’ – the spiritual greatness that man was living in. Isn’t that what every Christian is to be – to be another Christ.
Question:- To do with God sending saints when the world needs them.
Answer:- When you read church history you are instructed
that God sends the church the saints it needs at the times it needs them. But
he doesn’t send them like a copying machine in various copies, just one. There
was one Cure of Ars in
Question:- To do with Padre Pio’s fights with the devil. Part way through the answer someone mentions ‘exorcism’ and Father Joseph also answers that.
Answer:- The fights with the devil were frequent in his
life. You must remember that this man’s ‘raison d’etre’ was particularly to
fight evil, the evil spirits. There were times in the beginning when, for
instance, he was just a young priest and had just ended that seven period of
hermitage and was in Foggia at St Anne’s Friary on his way up to the Gorgano at
San Giovanni never to leave it ever again, and in St Anne’s Friary Padre Pio
would never take an evening meal. He’d be upstairs and suddenly the friars down
in the friary would these bangs and crashes and yelling and so forth. They got
to the point where they just couldn’t take it any more. A bishop came to the
evening meal, hung up his hat and coat in the hallway, went into the dining
room with the friars, and suddenly these bangs and crashes and yells started.
The bishop just got up and ran out of the place and they had to send his hat
and coat after him the next day. Then the friars said to Padre Pio “Look we’ve
had enough of this.” So he said “Alright it won’t happen again.” How did he do
that? He just told Our Lord “I don’t want to disturb the friars any more.
Please stop it.” There was never a sound again. But he was physically beaten by
evil spirits even in July of 1964 and he died in 1968. He couldn’t say Mass for
three days when that happened the last time. Even in the very last hours of his
life – Satan knew when he was to be called and they were constantly sending
spirits against him. But he was a warrior. We shouldn’t be afraid of the devil
as he wasn’t. He didn’t like it but he wasn’t afraid - there is no power like
Christ. I was at his Mass one day – still a layman - and there were two
Anglicans came, they were seminarians and they were thinking about entering the
Roman Church and one of them, I’m convinced, had an exorcism during Padre Pio’s
Question:- To do with the stigmata.
Answer:- The stigmata disappeared with his death. They were disappearing for a short time before his death and they completely closed with his death so that when we dressed the body for burial the wounds were completely closed and left no scar which is an impossibility because when he held up his hands and the crust would fall from the stigmata you could see light coming through the hand. I cut my hand five years ago and I still have a tiny little scar. His flesh was like baby flesh. From Padre you could get as much information from about his interior spiritual life as if you were talking to the wall, never would he tell you a thing, never would he show you a thing. But the stigmatists always have a little doubt about the stigmata so the fact that in the last months of his life the stigmata began to close and dry up and then disappeared completely in the last days for him would have been a burden I should think. Just another trial. You can only understand something about Padre Pio if you read the diary of Father Agostino, which is a big bore, to tell you the truth, as a book. Because this priest would go to see Padre Pio from another monastery far away and he would arrive for an hour and he would just put down in a tiny little diary ‘I found Father Pio tired’, ‘I found Farther Pio struggling’, ‘I found Father Pio suffering’ it just repeats itself, it is not a book to read. But in that diary he quotes a demon speaking through a person in 1923 who said “I can no longer work directly at you Padre Pio but I will get at you through other people.” That is the only way you can understand Padre Pio’s life. Part of the victim-hood he had to suffer. This extraordinary victim-hood. He knew how to say only “Yes.” The crucifix that he was praying in front of when he received the permanent visible stigmata has four nails in it. Now nails in spiritual language are the vows that a religious takes to hold them to the cross. Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Padre Pio had a fourth vow – a fourth nail – and that crucifix, which was made three hundred years before he was born, has a fourth nail – the feet are separated – he had a vow to God to never say “No.” Who was Padre Pio?
Question:- Do you agree that the second book of letters to his spiritual children enables those of us who are not on that exalted plane to really come to know Padre Pio much better, to understand him more?
Answer:- To understand him much better – to me they are
extraordinary – that book. These are
letters which Padre Pio wrote in 1914/15. He was only ordained in 1910. They
are full of such exalted spirituality that to me it is unbelievable that such a
young man could write like that. They are to a woman – a holy woman, of
Question:- During the days you were in the presence of Padre Pio all those years when you were in San Giovanni when you realised, as you’ve been explaining to us, the wonderful man, has it affected you personally to know that you were in the presence of such a man.
Answer:- In the beginning – also because I always have a little timidity as a character element – as quiet and shy. That wore off very quickly and after about six months in the friary I can remember saying “The friars are like other people.” It was a shock! Living day to day with Padre Pio it just became a daily thing you didn’t think about it any more. But I always, even before going into the friary I always accepted him as a saint. But it was after his death now that a lot of this stuff is coming out and it is making us say “Who is the Padre Pio hidden inside of that simple friar? Simple, humble man.
Question:- Father Joseph – why did you go to see him and how did he help Our Lady.
Answer: The lady behind me! (Behind Father Joseph was a
statue of Our Lady). My family in
I got into my first cell in the friary - over every friary
door there is a little biblical quote – what was written on mine “The name of
The Lord is a strong tower. Who takes refuge in it will find……….” I was
invested in the habit and Padre Pio would very often be alone in the afternoon
on the veranda. He’d always be there. The real miracle in Padre Pio’s life, and
I’m not kidding you, is that those beads did not take root in his fingers. He
was never without them. He’d be talking to you and under the pectoral piece the
Rosary would be going. He was sitting there and I got to thinking, because
Padre Pio’s confessor had said to me “Look, the greatest gift God can give a
person after Baptism is a religious vocation.” So I was thinking “To whom must
I thank; Our Lady, because I realised the consecration to her certainly meant
something, or Padre Pio?” I didn’t say a word. He looked at me – he looked at
me and he said “Our Lady.” The answer to your question is ‘Our Lady’ who
brought me there. She did, because if I had gone back to
Question:- To do with Prayer Groups.
Answer:- His advice to the Prayer Groups would be first of all to use prayer as a weapon, as Padre Pio did, in the fight that he was living through in the apocalyptic age, always connected with the Blessed Mother. His Mass was a fight – his Rosaries were fights – this great warier of God was carrying on the fights. His word to you for prayer would be “Keep it going, don’t let it drop, don’t stop. The Church needs it terribly, and the world needs it terribly.” That’s why he started them. He first started talking about Prayer Groups not after the second world war, which they have in all those booklets, but in 1916.
PADRE PIO RETREAT Back to Contents
FRANCISCAN RETREAT CENTRE
PANTASAPH, HOLYWELL, WALES
24TH TO 26TH NOVEMBER 1995
FATHER JOSEPH PIUS OFM Cap
Prologue: - Father Joseph’s purpose was to show how Padre Pio’s life reflects our own. Therefore Father wanted the Retreat to emphasise the spiritual nature of Padre Pio as shown by his letters. Nevertheless other relevant comments and anecdotes were frequently told. In order to show the spiritual content separately it is printed in capitals.
At the end of the Report is a Summary of the main points.
Father Joseph’s Introduction
Father Joseph commenced by asking everyone to pray that a good Padre Pio video may be produced. This was needed to get through to young people. At prayer meetings it is sad to notice that there are few young people. The way to get to them and to the work is through videos and books.
Father told us that “God talks in silence” and recommended that we observe silence until Sunday morning. (In truthfulness it has to be said that we were not very good at this! Father kept having to remind us!)
We moved from the Conference Room to the Chapel where the rest of the retreat took place. Father suggested that, in order to concentrate on the Retreat, we should leave all our worries at the foot of The Cross. We spent some time in silence carrying out Father’s advice. Then Father anointed each of us.
We were then given a brief resume of Padre Pio’s life emphasizing the extreme poverty of his whole life and especially during his early years in Pietrelcina. Padre Pio hadn’t found it easy to reject material things. He said that he had found it difficult to turn his back on the world.
Father spoke of Padre Pio as a co-redemptorist. His suffering helped to buy back souls. He was once approached by a lady who had a rare painful disease. “Please let me be cured” she asked. Padre Pio replied “If you accept this pain for eighteen more months all your family will be released from purgatory.” “Say no more” the lady said. Eighteen months later she returned and her request for a cure was granted.
We were told that only the briefest of prayers were necessary. Father’s cousin in the USA got married but the couple had no children. Eventually they adopted two children and, following the Vietnam War, they adopted a Vietnamese child. Father recalls making a brief prayer to Padre Pio. “Padre Pio, please let them have a child of their own.” The following year, on one of Padre Pio’s feast days, he received a letter telling of “the child they never expected to have “. The following year they had another child!
Father Joseph told us that the retreat would not be a talk on Padre Pio but how his life reflects on ours. Records kept at the Friary showed that Padre Pio confessed one million people during his lifetime. Padre Pio said that “There is nothing more important than saving souls.” Every evening he spent five hours at prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He slept only two hours at night.
IT IS UP TO US TO SAVE OUR SOULS. IT WILL BE ‘LOVE’ OF GOD AND OUR NEIGHBOUR WHICH WILL GET US INTO HEAVEN. OBEYING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (THREE FOR GOD AND SEVEN FOR OUR NEIGHBOUR) IS OUR WAY TO HEAVEN.
IT IS EASY ………………….. WE MAKE IT DIFFICULT
Padre Pio had special gifts from God. One was ‘Word of knowledge’. He knew things which were going to happen. We were told of a lady called Rose who wanted to know whether she would get married. She asked Padre Pio but go no answer. A friend of hers was visiting the friary and was asked to get the information. Eventually Padre Pio said “Tell Rose that she will become a Carnation!” Everyone thought it was some sort of joke or that perhaps Padre Pio was becoming mentally geriatric! Within a year Rose had married a man whose name meant ‘Carnation’.
GOD DESTROYS SIN IN THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION. HE SETS US FREE. GOD’S TOTAL FORGIVENESS IS DEMONSTRATED BY HIS TREATMENT OF KING DAVID WHO HAD SINNED BY ADULTERY WITH BATHSEBA AND BY HAVING HER HUSBAND KILLED (2 KINGS 11 : 1 – 27). BUT DAVID WAS SORRY FOR HIS SINS AND GOD FORGAVE HIM. IT IS DAVID AND BATHSEBA’S SON SOLOMON WHO WAS TO BECOME THE NEXT KING AND TO BUILD THE TEMPLE.
WE SHOULD RECEIVE THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION ONCE A MONTH.
When Padre Pio rejected a sinner it was because he knew they were not repentant. We were told of a Nun who kept confessing the same sin. Jesus appeared to her and said “Why do you keep mentioning that sin? I have forgotten it.”
Father told us that Padre Pio could be very cross with those who deserved it. He told of one particular incident when Padre Pio had scolded a man extremely harshly. It was very embarrassing. The Friar accompanying him said “Padre you shouldn’t talk to people like that”’
Padre Pio answered “But I want to talk like that.” Padre Pio’s ability to see people’s souls meant that he knew when such remonstrations were very necessary.
Padre Pio lived a life of victimhood. He was always ill…colds/fever/pleurisy he never had good health. As if that wasn’t enough he had constant battles with satan who was allowed to attack him physically.
“YOU MUST BE PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT”. TO AID US WE MUST GIVE OUR SINS, ESPECIALLY HABITUAL SINS, TO GOD.
PADRE PIO’S LETTERS WILL LEAD US TO HIS SPIRTUALITY. “SATAN HAS NO POWER OVER THOSE WHO GIVE THEMSELVES TO GOD.”
WHEN WE STOP SINNING THE DEVIL WILL SET TRAPS TO MAKE US LOSE HEART. IDEAS OF A LACK OF HUMILITY OR TOO MUCH PRIDE ETC. MAY BE SUCH TRAPS.
WE MUST NOT BE BOUND BY FEAR, SIN OR SATAN. SMALL TEMPTATIONS MAKE US BACK-OFF FROM GOD. WE LOSE CONFIDENCE. WE MUST BREAK-AWAY FROM THESE TRICKS OF THE DEVIL.
“NEVER FALL BACK ON YOURSELVES ALONE”. WHEN TEMPTED SAY “JESUS” IN YOUR MIND AND HEART. THE TEMPTATION AND SATAN’S TRAPS WILL DISAPPEAR.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WITH US FROM THE MOMENT OF OUR BAPTISM AND IS STRENGTHENED BY EVERY SACRAMENT WE RECEIVE.
IT IS SAD TO MEET PEOPLE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND SUFFERING. GOD IS ACTING IN US NOW. WE MUST ACCEPT THAT ‘NOW’ OR WE WILL LOSE IT FOREVER. EVEN IF THAT ‘NOW’ MEANS SUFFERING.
Report writer’s comments:- Father Joseph’s talk answered a personal problem. I know that God forgives me all my sins but I have immense difficulty forgiving myself. I now realise that this is the work of Satan who allows my mind to dwell on past sins thereby not only causing me mental distress but also side-tracking me from my main purpose of praising and loving God and my neighbour.
You cannot be a Christian unless you have a devotion to the Mother of God. In history there is no-one who has a title such as Mary. Her name for early Christians was ‘Mother’. Padre Pio’s devotion for Our Lady was immense. At the time of his death he saw two mothers coming to greet him …. Our Lady and his earthly and his earthly Mother. Padre Pio was very special to Our Lady.
Padre Pio called the Rosary his “weapon”.
THIS RETREAT MUST LEAVE US WITH AN INCREASED LOVE FOR OUR LADY AND THIS LOVE MUST SHOW IN OUR LIVES. WE MUST NOT BE ASHAMED AT SHOWING IT TO THE WORLD.
The Gospel reading for the day was the Marriage Feast at Cana in Galilee. Father told us that Jesus, in calling His Mother ‘woman’, was making the most polite method of address. Our Lady didn’t doubt that Jesus would carry out her wishes. We must continually remember Our Lady’s request and Jesus’ response. Jesus, in accepting Our Lady’s request, made this her first Mediatrix. Christ wants us to approach His Mother.
Father Joseph recommended the book ‘True Devotion To Mary’ by St Louis de Montford. Reading this book is the best thing to do after Baptism. (This is an American Publication. If not available at your Catholic Bookshop then it can be obtained by contacting:- Tan Books & Publishers Inc., P.O. Box 424, Rockford, Illinois 61105, USA.)
Father Joseph told us that as a young man he was Catholic in name alone. He would attend Sunday Mass but usually arrived late due to being out the previous night. He visited San Giovanni and Padre Pio told him to stay. He made a visit to the Holy Land and while he was there he felt drawn to a religious life. Back in San Giovanni he packed his bags and went to the Friary to say farewell to padre Pio. He was intending to return to the USA to commence his vocation. Once again Padre Pio told him to remain in San Giovanni. Later, after he had joined the Friary, he was sitting by Padre Pio who was saying his Rosary. Father Joseph thought to himself “I wonder who was responsible for my vocation. Was it Padre Pio or Our Lady?” Padre Pio ceased his Rosary turned to Father Joseph and said “It was Our Lady of course!” He even kew what people were thinking!
REFERRING TO PADRE PIO’S LETTERS FATHER JOSEPH TOLD US THE WAYS BY WHICH WE CAN IMPROVE OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES:-
1. NEVER QUARREL
2. VAIN GLORY. (LOW OPINION OF SELF. EVERYONE IS BETTER THAN YOU.)
3. NEVER GIVE ADVANTAGE TO SELF RATHER THAN TO OTHERS.
CHARITY IS LIKE A STRING OF BEADS. BREAK IT AND ALL IS LOST.
THERE IS THE SPIRITUAL DISEASE OF ‘NOT FORGIVING’. FATHER TOLD ABOUT PEOPLE WHO CAN REMEMBER WHAT WAS SAID, WHEN IT HAPPENED, WHAT EVERYONE WAS WEARING, THE STATE OF THE WEATHER ETC., ETC. AND YET CLAIM THAT THEY HAVE FORGIVEN. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT NO FORGIVENESS HAS TAKEN PLACE.
We took time to quietly think of those we should forgive.
OUR QUARRELS MAY HAVE BEEN WITH A PRIEST OR A NUN. WE MAY THINK THAT OUR QUARREL WAS WITH OUR MOTHER WHEREAS IT WAS WITH OUR FATHER (THESE SOMETIMES GET ACROSS).
GOD LOVES EVERYONE EQUALLY. IF WE WANT TO START FORGIVING SOMEONE THEN IMAGINE JESUS EMBRACING THEM THEN EMBRACE THEM OURSELVES.
PADRE PIO SAID THAT THE BEST WAY TO FORGIVE IS TO FORGET.
A SIGN THAT YOU HAVE FORGIVEN SOMEONE IS TO PRAY FOR THEM.
Padre Pio was constantly mortifying himself by eating small amounts. This is on top of his constant pain through the stigmata which included the Crown and Thorns which ‘he never took off’.
WORSHIPPING IDOLS: - THE HOUSE, THE CAR, THE COMPUTER, GREED IS IDOL WORSHIP. WE LIVE IN AN EXTREMELY MATERIALISTIC CULTURE. ASK JESUS TO TAKE THESE IDOLS FROM US.
VICES WHICH OFFEND OTHERS.
1. ANGER, UNJUSTIFIED ANGER. ALSO RESENTMENT WHICH IS AN OFF-SHOOT OF ANGER.
4. BLASPHEMY AGAINST GOD OR OUR NEIGHBOUR.
5. LIES. (PADRE PIO WOULDN’T EVEN ACCEPT WHITE LIES.)
WE MUST LIVE A LIFE OF PEACE. NO ANGER. NO RESENTMENT.
We were told the story of a Bishop who told lies about Padre Pio saying that the stigmata was self-inflicted. Rome removed the Bishop and he retired to live with his sisters. But they were very poor. So the Bishop wrote to Padre Pio’s Friary asking for a monthly allowance. The Superior took the letter to Padre Pio and asked what should be done. “Send him the money” said Padre Pio. (No Resentment. Perfect Peace.)
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Adoration means to love profoundly.
Father told us of someone sitting in front of the tabernacle who said that he was ‘son-bathing’.
We were told the story of a lady who told a priest “Don’t come with Holy Communion I have Padre Pio with me.” Padre Pio would have been furious at such a statement.
On one occasion Padre Pio existed for twenty days on the Eucharist and no other form of sustenance.
Padre Pio’s early life was used in his writings, learning his spirituality, which in his later life he would be conveying to others.
Padre Pio’s Perfumes . Incense = Prayer
Roses He is there with you
Flowers = Greetings
Tobacco = Warning
The Altar was Padre Pio Battle Ground. He was always anxious to get to the Altar to commence his battle. He sometimes trembled on approaching the Altar. When asked about this he said that he was fearful of what God was going to ask of him.
Due to his perfect love of God and the total sacrifice of his whole life Padre Pio was granted gifts beyond belief.
PADRE PIO AND PRAYER. PADRE PIO CONSTANTLY PRAYED. PRAYER IS THE OXYGEN OF THE SOUL. OUR PRAYER IS CONTROLLED BY TIME. WE SHOULD LEARN TO PRAY EVERYWHERE. GET INTO THE HABIT OF SAYING INVOCATIONS CONSTANTLY …..JESUS….MARY ETC. CREATE A HOLE DURING THE DAY FOR PRAYER. WE SHOULD ALL HAVE A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR.
PADRE PIO’S ADVICE INVOLVED THE SACRAMENTS, PRAYER, MEDITATION AND HAVING A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR.
PADRE PIO INSISTED ON MEDITATION. TAKE SOME SPIRITUAL BOOK AND READ UNTIL SOME PARTICULAR PHRASE CATCHES YOUR ATTENTION. THEN CONCENTRATE ON THAT PHRASE AND SILENTLY AND PEACEFULLY MEDITATE ON IT. AFTERWARDS EXAMINE YOUR MEDITATION TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER YOU HAVE DONE WELL.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS LIVING IN US. SPIRITUAL READING WILL BE USED BY THE SPIRIT TO IMPROVE OUR SOULS.
During two of the years when padre Pio was not allowed to say Public Mass or hear confessions he moved his bed into the library so that, at that difficult time, he could be near his readings which were a major part of his life.
Padre Pio suffered from a lack of affection. Pilgrims would even cut pieces off his robe etc. They were always taking from him not giving to him.
PRAYER AND PRAISE ARE VERY IMPORTANT. PRAISE BRINGS US INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD. WE DON’T NECESSARILY NEED PRAYER TO PAISE GOD. INVOCATIONS AT ANY TIME CAN OFFER OUR PRAISE.
WE MUST MAKE ETERNITY THE MAIN PURPOSE IN OUR LIVES. GOD WILL LISTEN TO OUR PRAYERS IN HIS TIME NOT IN OURS. EMBRACE THE CROSS IT GIVES US LIFE. WE RECEIVE PART OF CHRIST IN BAPTISM. ALL CHRIST WANTS IS OUR CO-OPERATION.
One day the friars found Padre Pio crying. When asked the reason for his tears he told them “I have never thanked God for my Baptism.”
EACH ONE OF US IS AN EXTRAORDINARY CREATION OF GOD. WE ARE SPECIAL.
TO AIM FOR CHRISTIAN PERFECTION
4. LOVE OF GOD.
5. PATIENCE WITH ONESELF.
3. PATIENCE WITH OTHERS.
6. TO BE HELPFUL TO OTHERS.
7. DISCERNEMENT OF ADVICE GIVEN.
Father Joseph told us about his first meeting with Padre Pio. Two friars approached him. If it were not for the mittens he wouldn’t have known which was Padre Pio. Padre Pio never expected any special treatment. He always showed perfect humility.
Padre Pio did not favour the fashion of ladies wearing short skirts. Any lady coming to him with a skirt above the knees was told “Out you go”!
WE NEED SACRIFICE/MORTIFICATION SO THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY DWELL IN OUR SOULS. WE KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH US, HE HAS BEEN THERE SINCE OUR BAPTISM. GOD WANTS OUR LOVE. WE MUST PUT OUR TRUST IN GOD WHATEVER DIFFICULTIES WE MAY MEET. OUR REWARD IN HEAVEN WIL BE WONDERFUL.
WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR IF WE TRUST IN GOD. THE ENEMY ATTACKS THE PRESUMPTUOUS BUT IS REPLULSED BY THE HUMBLE .
Blessing and Sharing.
Everyone was blessed by a blood scab from one of Padre Pio’s hands and all received Padre Pio medals. Then it was time for questions and answers.
Father Joseph was questioned regarding the recent critical comments regarding Padre Pio in the Catholic Herald. Father told us that the newspaper had printed the ‘sensational article’, and even given it front page coverage, without making contact with anyone who could have advised them of the truth. It was an example of newspaper sensationalism and not what one expects from a responsible Catholic paper.
A question was asked about the cause for Padre Pio’s Canonisation. This is proceeding but the amount of evidence is so vast that it is having to be drastically reduced before it can be considered. The Holy Father is very pro-Padre Pio and has said that he hopes to officiate at the Canonisation.
THE MAIN POINTS OF SPIRITUALITY IN THE RETREAT.
IT IS UP TO US TO SAVE OUR SOULS. IT WILL BE LOVE OF GOD AND OUR NEIGHBOUR WHICH WILL GET US INTO HEAVEN.
GOD DESTROYS SIN IN THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION. HE SETS US FREE. WE SHOULD RECEIVE THIS SACRAMENT ONCE A MONTH.
“YOU MUST BE PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.” SATAN HAS NO POWER OVER THOSE WHO GIVE THEMSELVES TO GOD. WHEN WE STOP SINNING THE DEVIL SETS TRAPS TO MAKE US LOSE HEART. IDEAS OF A LACK OF HUMILITY, TOO MUCH PRIDE ETC. WE MUST BREAK AWAY FROM THESE TRICKS OF THE DEVIL.
“NEVER FALL BACK ON YOURSELF ALONE.” WHEN TEMPTED SAY “JESUS” IN YOUR MIND AND HEART. THE TEMPTATION WILL DISAPPEAR. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WITH US FROM THE MOMENT OF OUR BAPTISM AND IS STRENGTHENED BY EVERY SACRAMENT WE RECEIVE.
IT IS SAD TO MEET PEOPLE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND SUFFERING. GOD IS ACTING IN US NOW EVEN IF THE ‘NOW’ CONTAINS SUFFERING AND WE MUST ACCEPT THE ‘NOW’ OR WE WILL LOSE IT FOREVER.
THE RETREAT MUST LEAVE US WITH AN INCREASED LOVE FOR OUR LADY AND SHOW IT IN OUR LIVES AND TO THE WORLD.
HOW TO IMPROVE OUR SIRITUAL LIVES:-
1. NEVER QUARREL.
2. VAIN GLORY. (LOW OPINION OF SELF – EVERYONE IS BETTER THAN YOU).
3. NEVER GIVE ADVANTAGE TO YOURSELF RATHER THAN TO OTHERS.
FORGIVENESS IF WE WANT TO START FORGIVING SOMEONE THEM INAGINE JESUS IS EMBRACING THEM THEN EMBRACE THEM YOURSELF. PADRE PIO SAID THE BEST WAY TO FORGIVE IS TO FORGET. A SIGN THAT YOU HAVE FORGIVEN SOMEONE IS TO PRAY FOR THEM.
IDOLS WE WORSHIP – HOUSE, CAR, COMPUTER, GREED IS IDOL WORSHIP.
VICES WHICH OFFEND OTHERS:-
1. ANGER. UNJUSTRIFIED ANGER. ALSO RESENTMENT WHICH IS AN OFF-SHOOT OF ANGER
4. BLASPHEMY AGAINST GOD OR NEIGHBOUR
5. LIES (PADRE PIO WOULDN’T EVEN ACCEPT WHITE LIED)
WE MUST LIVE A LIFE OF PEACE, NO ANGER, NO RESENTMENT
PRAYER IS THE OXYGEN OF THE SOUL PRACTICE CONSTANT INVOCATIONS; “JESUS”…..”MARY” ETC. CREATE A HOLE IN THE DAY FOR PRAYER AND MEDITATION. GET A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR.
TO AIM FOR CHRISTIAN PERFECTION:
4. LOVE OF GOD
5. PATIENCE WITH ONESELF
4. PATIENCE WITH OTHERS
6. TO BE HELPFUL TO OTHERS
7. DISCERNMENT OF ADVICE GIVEN
WE NEED TO SACRIFICE/MORTIFICATION SO THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY DWELL IN OUR SOULS. WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR IF WE TRUST IN GOD. THE ENEMY ATTACKS THE PRESUMPTUOUS BUT IS REPULSED BY THE HUMBLE.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING ATTRIBUTED TO PADRE PIO. Back to Contents
Translated from the Italian by Cecil Humphery-Smith
Arranged to music by Stella Lilley.
Stay with me Lord for without Thy presence I forget Thee,
Thou knowest how easily I abandon Thee.
Stay with me Lord for without Thy strength I fall,
Thou knowest how weak I am.
Stay with me Lord for without Thee my fervour fails,
Thou art my life.
Stay with me Lord for without Thee I am in darkness,
Thou are my light.
Stay with me Lord and show me Thy Will.
Stay with me Lord and let me hear Thy Voice.
Stay with me Lord that I may follow Thee.
Stay with me Lord that I may love Thee more.
Stay with me Lord that I may stay with Thee,
If Thou woulds’t have me to be faithful,
stay with me Lord.
Stay with me Jesus for thou my soul is poor,
it desires to be in the fold of love for Thee,
a place of consolation.
Stay with me Jesus for it is getting late,
the day is ending, life is passing;
death, judgement, eternity are coming soon.
Now I must muster all my forces,
so that I do not faint on the road.
I have such great need for Thee on this journey.
It‘s getting late and death is approaching.
darkness, temptations, dryness, crosses
and all sorts of troubles beset me
and Oh how much I need Thee my good Jesus
in this night of exile.
Stay with me Jesus because this night of life
is so full of dangers and I have such need of Thee.
Grant that like Thy disciples I may recognise Thee
in the breaking of Bread.
Grant that the Eucharistic Union may be the light
which casts out the darkness; the force that
sustains me and the one means to sanctify my soul.
Stay with me Lord because when death arrives
if I cannot really be with Thee in Holy Communion
then I shall wish to remain united to Thee at least
through Grace and Love.
Stay with me Jesus. I do not ask Thee for Divine
Consolation because I deserve it.
But I beg of Thee with all my strength
for the gift of Thy most Holy Presence.
Stay with me Lord. Thee alone I seek.
Thy Love, Thy Grace, Thy Will, Thy Heart,
Thy Spirit, for I love Thee. Thee alone I love.
Let me seek no other reward but the increase
of that love. That my love may be real and firm
I ask no more than to love Thee with all my heart
on earth and to follow Thee with all with all perfected
love for all eternity.
Excerpts from Humph’s Talks Back to Contents
Humph Obtains Padre Pio’s Permission for a Documentary.
The BBC had wanted to make a film about Padre Pio, this is a
couple of years before he died, and the head of the cause in
The Documentary of Padre Pio.
That wonderful journalist Patrick O’Donavan made a
magnificent documentary which quite remarkably began with Padre Pio’s funeral
because they had got back to
Some years after that when Padre Pio Prayer Groups had begun Stella Lilley came to a little group that I had started with the nuns at Whitstable and said “Is there anything I can do for you? I would love to help, because my mother was devoted to Padre Pio.” I met Stella’s Mother and her Father – wonderful – people.
Silence in the Presence of The Blessed Sacrament.
We are in contact with Almighty God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. What do we do - WE START CHATTING! No respect. No awe. No silence. Please try and get a message – if I say nothing else in these few days from Padre Pio it is to revere that presence. Let us be perfectly clear that Jesus is present really and truly the one who loves us so much gave his only begotten Son and that only begotten Son loved us so much that he could actually hung on the gallows to redeem us and that, if one wants an answer to who is Padre Pio, he is the man that Padre Pio earnestly wanted to emulate throughout his life; earnestly wanted to be Jesus because he realises that ultimately at the end of our days each one of us had to be a perfect reflection of the face of Christ. We still will have our personality, that
individuality but we will be perfected. That is why there is a Hell; that is why there is a Purgatory that is why there is all the suffering that we go through in order to make us perfect images of He who died for us on the Cross yet left Himself with us eternally
If you ever get the chance to read his letters study them. He’s only saying all the things that we have had in Jeremiah and Matthew and Mark and, if you can go through John about twenty times, in succession studying sentence by sentence you may get somewhere to understanding that Gospel. It is the most beautiful one of them all to my liking. The pity is it is not related to us as it used to be at least that first chapter at the end of Mass any more, and I have no idea why it was ever cut out. Somebody here may be able to tell me why it was. But what I’m saying to you is that if you can’t take it from Pio take it from Jesus himself. The Gospels are there to teach us. Each one of them reflects upon the rest of the Bible. I’m not suggesting you will end up as Bible Christians. You need the scriptures to tell you what Jesus’ message is and it’s as plain as a pikestaff as interpreted in our own lifetime by the person of Padre Pio.
The Priesthood of the Laity
Padre Pio spent many, many hours each day in the confessional and he took upon himself the sins of those he forgave. That is the measure of a true confessor. That is the measure of a true counsellor of a good, humble spiritual adviser. To take the spiritual worries of the one he is advising on himself. That is your responsibility, and yours, and yours, and yours, and yours, and mine when we are counselling others because we too have this divine commission of the priesthood of the laity. The priesthood which Christ gave us as His disciples to give the message of the Gospel to others. That message of love, mercy, forgiveness, understanding in His name. Only the ordained may absolve but we have a duty to be instruments of Christ in counselling if we have prepared ourselves adequately. Therefore we need the counsel of a good priest, confessor and spiritual adviser and I think every lay person should find a spiritual adviser. Padre Pio used to say “find the best.”
Over the past forty five years since I enjoyed a close friendship with Padre Pio for the first time I have learned what it is to take up the cross. Suffering is, in a divine sense, a joy. How could I appreciate that without knowing what Pio was going through? Why was he joyful? Again you have to forgive me if I repeat myself but do read the Psalm from beginning to end ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (22–21) and get to the end – read it. People forget that Jesus Christ was a Rabbi who knew his Old Testament – probably forwards, backwards, sideways, inside out, after all in another sense he had given the word to those who had written it. But certainly as a Jewish Rabbi he had learnt the Psalms and he just about had the gasp of breath – I don’t think many people appreciate the physical impossibility of hanging on the cross and still being able to breath let alone to articulate. So he could only gasp out those first lines but then in the next period of time, in his heart and mind, he came to the end of it which is praise and glory of God – perfect joy which is what is demanded of us. So without the darkness you cannot see the light - without the suffering and pain you cannot appreciate the joy. That is what the love of God is all about for us being formed in his likeness on earth. Then he turns again with an enormous effort of his lungs to say to the good thief “this day you will be joining me, in effect, in Paradise” with a smile - and that is the prayer which we always forget the prayer of the smile.
A MIRACULOUS CURE Back to Contents
The story of a cure at the intervention of Padre Pio.
Told by Sean Mulrine at Maryvale 3Oth October 1994
Sean had come to Maryvale
As well as his prayer-life changing he also became devoted to Our Lady and daily took red roses and put them in front of her statue at his local church.
Sean’s prayers continued and he became certain that they would be heard. On one occasion while he was sitting by his wife’s bed and holding her hand he asked Padre Pio to send him a sign. At that moment he felt his wife squeeze his hand. When he told the doctors they just didn’t believe him and told him not to build up his hopes. On the basis of her condition it was impossible that she could have squeezed his hand. He was kidding himself. Nevertheless he felt her hand squeeze again and knew that Padre Pio was at work.
The doctors decided to move his wife to a larger hospital. When they got her there Sean found them cutting off all her hair. He asked them why and was told that they were going to take her to the theatre for a thorough examination. (Sean told us that he made a promise to bury her hair at Padre Pio’s grave. Which, as he told us, showed how little he knew about Padre Pio’s tomb! Later he buried the hair behind the Fifth Station of the Cross at San Giovanni.) After the examination the doctors spoke to Sean again. His wife had seven ruptured blood vessels in her head. The centre of her brain was clotted with blood which it was impossible to remove. There was no hope.
Sean continued with his prayers and realized that the time was coming nearer when the baby would be born and the life-support machine would be turned off. One particular night he paced up and down the corridor outside his wife’s room continually asking Padre Pio for help. At that same time a local man who was a devotee of Padre Pio and had one of the Padre’s mittens was woken by a telephone call from a lady asking him to go the hospital and ask for Sean and Annie Mulrine. It was 2.00a.m. in the middle of the night when he received the call and initially he supposed it was a hoax and got back into bed. But then he had second thoughts and made his way to the hospital.
Sean remembers seeing a man walking towards him and saying ‘You are looking for me’. He didn’t know how he knew that or why he said it. But it was right. Sean told the Padre Pio devotee about his wife and together they went to her bedside. The mitten was placed on her forehead at which she raised her right arm and made the sign of the cross. The mitten was then put on her tummy, over the unborn child, and once again Annie made the sign of the cross. Apart from the squeezing of Sean’s hand this was the first movement she had made and it was witnessed by nurses who immediately called the doctors. They were stunned. What was happening was impossible. Shortly afterwards Annie sat up and then started to speak. The impossible became more and more impossible.
Due to Annie’s return to health she was transferred back to the original hospital. News of the miracle had spread and as she was wheeled in all the doctors and nurses came out into the corridors and gave her a standing ovation. Shortly afterwards she gave birth to twin boys.
At the end of his talk Sean introduced us to his wife Annie. She is lovely, with beautiful red hair and looking the picture of health. I can assure all who read this that there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Alleluia and thank you Padre
Pio. (But who made the telephone call to the Padre Pio Devotee? Could it have
been Our Lady? We are unlikely to know the answer to that this side of the grave.)
Efficacious Novena To The Sacred Heart. Back to Contents
Given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened
to you”. Behold. I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of……..
Our Father…..Hail Mary…..Glory be to the Father…….Sacred
Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
II. O my Jesus, you have said: Truly I say to you, if I ask
Anything of he Father in my name, He will give it to you”.
Behold,. In your name, I ask the Father for the grace of….
Our Father…..Hail Mary…..Glory be to the Father…….Sacred
Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
III. O my , you have said: “Truly say to you, heaven and earth will
pass away. But my words will not pass away”. Encouraged by your
words I now ask for the grace of…….
Our Father…….Hail Mary…….Glory be to the Father…..Sacred
Heart of Jesus. I place all my trust in you.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have
Compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and
Grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful
and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender mother and ours.
Say the Hail,
Holy Queen and add:
of Jesus, pray for us.
N.B. This novena prayer was recited every day by Padre Pip
for all those who asked his prayers. The faithful are invited to
recite it daily. So as to be spiritually united with the prayer of
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.
Acknowledgements & Recommended
A Saint on my Back
By Cecil R Humphery-Smith
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Tel 01227 274050
Fax 01227 276136
On The Road With Padre Pio
By Stella Maris Lilley
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Piertelcina
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
By Padre Aklbderto D’Apolito.
The Friary of San Giovanni
Tales of Padre Pio
By John McCaffery
Jack of all Trades.
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio The Pierced Priest
By John Gallagher
The Apparitions of the
Child Jesus. To Padre Pio.
By Padre Gerardo Di Flumeri
Padre Pio’s Prayer Life
By Padre Gerardo Di Flumeri
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Homage to the Blessed Padre Pio
By Padre Gerardo Di Flumeri
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio’s Rosary
Meditations by Cecil R. Humphery-Smth.
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Saint On My Back
By Cecil Humphery-Smith
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Letters Volume 1
Correspondence with His Spiritual Directors.
By Padre Gerardo Flumeri
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Letters Volume II
By Padre Gerardo Flumeri
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Letter Volume III
Correspondence with His Spiritual Daughters.
By Padre Gerardo Di Flumeri
Available as above from
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
The Apparitions of the Child Jesus to Padre Pio
By Padre Gerardo Di Flumeri.