By Roger Zielke
Pio is now Saint Padre Pio. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June
16, 2002. For many years in the past, thousands of people have climbed
up the mountain path in San Giovani Rotondo, Italy, to visit, or at least
see Padre Pio, the famous stigmatized Capuchin monk. He was the firt priest
in the history of the Catholic Church to bear the holy wounds of Christ.
Pio was born in the village of Pietrelcina, Italy, on May 25, 1887. His
parents gave him the name of Francesco Forgione. There were eight children
in total, three of whom died in infancy. His parents were simple hard
working farmers. They were so poor, that his father Orazio went to the
United States twice, in order to be able to provide for his family and
earn enough money to educate Francesco for the priesthood.
child, Francesco avoided the company of other children, and did not take
part in their games. He had a great horror of sin and cried when he heard
anyone blaspheming, or taking God’s name in vain. Even when he was seven
years old, he could tell if somebody was in the state of sin. >From the
time he was a child, Francesco would often think about the things of God
and keep himself recollected.
when Francesco was 15 years old, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin
Friars. He had poor health, but a strong will, and with God’s help, he
completed the required studies and was ordained a Franciscan priest in
20, 1918, Padre Pio received the wounds of Our Lord, in his hands, feet
and later on, his side. His long life was filled with hours and hours
of suffering, penance, the hearing of confessions and prayer – especially
the Rosary. Padre Pio said thousands and thousands of Rosaries.
Pio had a very deep union with God and a tremendous love for the Mass,
the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady. He also had great devotion to his
guardian angel and to St. Michael.
For over 50 years, Padre
Pio suffered greatly, but he was not one to complain. He still kept his
great sense of humour and practised great charity towards all, forgetting
about himself. He worked many miracles through his prayers, both during
his life and after his death.
must come to an end, and Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. Almost
100,000 people came to his funeral. Later his body was entombed in the
crypt of Our Lady of Grace Church. Now thousands and thousands of people
go to visit and pray at Padre Pio’s tomb. San Giovanni Rotondo has become
in a sense another Lourdes, and one of the most popular shrines in the
world, visited by thousands and thousands of people.
Pio was like another St. Francis of Assisi. He was looked upon as a saint
even while he was living. People would take every means possible to obtain
a seat in the church where he said Mass. The people would line up near
the church door by 4:00 in the morning, or even earlier. It was worth
your life to get in the way of those women who wanted to be the first
into the church, to see their beloved Padre. They would listen for the
sound of rattling keys, then pandemonium ... As the doors of the church
opened, a tidal wave of people poured into the church. If you didn’t stand
your ground, you would be literally jostlet, trampled, thumped and pushed
aside. Amidst all this thumping and bumping the women would roar and scream
and shout at each other. They would abuse each other, using every means
to be the first inside. The poor sacristan had a bad time of it, trying
to make himself heard above the tumult, “Pagans! Rogues! Scoundrels! ...
Can’t you wait? For the love of God, are you Christians or beasts?” But
his words fell on deaf ears.
La Casa di
Sollievo della Sofferenza, the hospital founded by Padre Pio
this pack of people on film, which was taken at the actual scene. Believe
me, it was worth your life to be amongst these women, at this time. Possibly,
one would be safer with a truck load of watermelons rolling into the church
than all these women.
settled in the church, the men and women were changed from wolves to lambs.
They had attained their goal and now they knelt in prayer, looking more
like angels, even though they were packed in like sardines.
did all these people use such violence to see Padre Pio? He was their
“saint”. They loved him with a passion. To them, Padre Pio was everything,
and their greatest joy next to God and His saints.
Padre Pio said Mass it was different. True there were other priests who
said Mass very devoutly, but Padre Pio’s Mass was special. His Mass took
from 1½ to 1¾ hours. He had much to pray for and many to pray for.
Pio said many beautiful words about the Mass, thus revealing the very
depths of his soul.
“It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun, than
without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”.
“The Holy Mass is a sacred union of Jesus and myself. I
suffer unworthily all that was suffered by Jesus who deigned to allow
me to share in His great enterprise of human Redemption”.
“When attending Holy Mass, renew your faith and meditate
on that Victim who is being immolated for you in order to appease Divine
Justice. Do not leave the altar without shedding tears of pain and of
love for Jesus who was crucified for your eternal well-being”.
holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects,
abundant spiritual and material graces which we ourselves, do not know.”
Pio suffered when he said Mass. It was hard for him to walk with his pierced
feet. During Mass, when he looked upon the Crucifix, he was transformed.
If you were able to observe the good Pardre, you would see that his face
was filled with emotion, now fear, then joy, now sorrow, then agony. He
would speak with Our Lord. Tears would roll down his cheeks... And what
did he beg of Our Lord? He would plead with God, and beg grace from Him
for himself and others. But most of all he would love God. How often did
he repeat these beautiful words to God, “My Jesus, save everyone; I offer
myself as a victim for everyone; strengthen me, take my heart, fill it
with Your love, then command of me what You will.”
Pio was always full of charity. He wanted all souls to go to Heaven. He
had thousands of spiritual children. He said, “I belong to everyone. Everyone
can say, ‘Padre Pio is mine’. I love my exiled brothers very much. I love
my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more. I have restored
them to Jesus with pain and with love. I can forget myself, but not my
spiritual children, and I assure you that, when the Lord calls me, I will
say to Him: ‘Lord, I shall remain at the gates of Paradise; I shall enter
only when I have seen the last of my children enter’.”
said also, “I suffer so much because I can not lead all of my brothers
to God. At times I am on the verge of heartbreak when I see so many suffering
souls whom I am unable to help, and so many brothers who are allied to
people, even today, are being accepted as Padre Pio’s spiritual children.
This can be done, because before dying, Padre Pio told his Franciscan
brothers, that they could accept spiritual children on his behalf, after
he was dead.
great mercy of God. Can we ever be grateful enough? God gives us Himself
in the Holy Eucharist. He sends us the Holy Ghost to strengthen us. He
gives us Mary and Joseph, and all the angels and saints to help us. He
gives us First Friday and First Saturday devotions to help save our souls.
top it all off, God gives to a doubting world another St. Francis of Assisi,
but this time a priest, who bears the wounds of Christ and has all the
spiritual gifts of the saints. Then this great man, this Padre Pio, accepts
thousands as his spiritual children and promises to wait at the gates
of Heaven until each and every one of them has entered! And people say
God is not merciful! Retract your words, oh hard of heart! There is a
God, and He is full of Mercy and Goodness.
people Padre Pio brought back to God! When the world has ended, and all
is said and done, will Padre Pio be responsible for saving millions of
souls? For sure thousands, and what a blessing it will be to see, not
a picture or statue, but our beloved Padre Pio in person. For some, it
will not be the first time, but for many it will be the first time.
Pio was full of the wisdom of God. Inside the confessional and out, he
gave much spiritual advice to his penitents and spiritual children. Some
of his counsels were:
that you do, always be humble, guarding jealously the purity of your heart
and the purity of your body; these are the two wings which shall raise
us to God and make us almost Divine.”
to serve the Lord with all your heart and with all your will. He will
always bless you more than you deserve.”
and hope; do not get upset. Anxiety serves no purpose. God is merciful
and will hear your prayer.”
every pain and inconvenience that comes from Heaven. Thus you will attain
perfection and sanctification.”
“Bear in mind that the more
pleasing a soul is to God, the more it must be tried. Therefore, courage,
and go forward, always.”
keep close to Our Heavenly Mother, because She is the sea that must be
crossed, in order to reach the shores of eternal splendor, in the Kingdom
is the Queen of virtues, Charity holds the virtues together like a string
of pearls. Just as the pearls fall when the string is broken, so too,
are the virtues lost when charity is lacking.”
never to become discouraged when you are spiritually ill. If God permits
you to be weak and fall, it is not for the purpose of abandoning you,
but rather, to make you humble, and more careful in the future.”
in regards to your spirit, and always confide completely in Jesus. Make
an effort to always conform to the Divine will in everything, in pleasure,
and in adversity. Don’t worry about tomorrow!”
Christian use of your money and savings, then so much misery will disappear;
so many aching bodies and afflicted beings, will find help and comfort.”
Saint Padre Pio, pray for us!