Can you imagine seeing an image of a Monk in the sky directing traffic? Impossible you say? Actually, there are many stories of pilots during World War II who saw the Franciscan monk, Padre Pio, in the sky over San Giovanni Rotondo in Italy. He was keeping his promise to the town’s people that their town would not be bombed.
Here is just one of those stories from the book, Padre Pio The Stigmatist. (also in the book Padre Pio, Glimpse into the Miraculous).
“During the war the Americans had an airbase at Bari, about 75 miles from San Giovani. There were still Germans in the neighborhood and the American officer in charge heard they had a munitions dump in or near San Giovanni Rotondo. So he called his officers, planned a raid and said he would lead in the first plane. When they neared San Giovanni Rotondo, he saw high in the air, ahead of his plane, a monk with arms outstretched as if to ward off his coming. The General was stupefied. He ordered the formation to return to base and drop the bombs in an open field where they would do no harm to their landing planes.”
“When he returned to the base and was asked how things had gone, he related what he had seen. An Italian officer told him there was a monk at San Giovanni Rotondo, whom the people consider a saint. Probably he was the one the officer saw in the heavens. The officer was determined to find out. He and another officer went to San Giovanni and together they went to the sacristy with other laymen to watch as the fathers came down for Mass. He immediately recognized Padre Pio as the one he had seen high in the air in front of his plane.”
There are also many other war stories about how Padre Pio protected the soldiers. He would appear to them and warn them about a bomb about to explode, or lead them to safety, or protect them in some other way both physically and spiritually, as is portrayed in the following two examples.
This example indicates his spiritual intervention when death was inevitable. In his book, The Life of Padre Pio: Between the Altar and the Confessional, Gennaro Preziuso writes about mysterious voices in the evening shouting, “Viva Padre Pio.” When his superior, after hearing the voices yet seeing no one around, asked Padre Pio for an explanation, he simply said that the voices were those of soldiers who had died in the war thanking him for his prayers.
The duchess of St. Albans, in her book, Magic of A Mystic, writes about an Italian general, Luigi Cadorna, who after losing an important battle at Caporetto in1917, was about to take his life. Padre Pio showed up just as he had pointed the gun to his head and was about to pull the trigger. After talking with him for a while Padre Pio was able to successfully convince him that taking his life was a bad idea. When the general asked the guard why he had let the monk into his quarters the guard told him that no one had entered his tent.
Several years later, the general, having come to San Giovanni, recognized Padre Pio as the friar who had come to his tent. As Padre Pio walked past the general he glanced at him and remarked, “That was a rough night we had, wasn’t it?”
So who is Padre Pio, or St. Pio as he is known today? Padre Pio had the stigmata of Christ for 50 years. Even though living with the marks of Christ’s crucifixion were very painful, Padre Pio was joyful and had a great sense of humor. He was able to see and communicate with Jesus, Mary and his guardian angel, and many miracles occurred through the intersession of this Holy man. He loved people and was able to intuitively know what they needed to deepen their spiritual lives.*
One such example can be found in the book Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry II by Diane Allen. “A man entered Padre Pio’s confessional & found it to be very disheartening. Padre Pio didn’t even permit the man to kneel down, but instead told him to leave. He went to another priest and told him what happened and how upset he was. The priest told the man Padre Pio treated you that way because he cares about you and wants you to change your life and save your soul. The priest counseled him and encouraged him to get his spiritual life back on track.”
“One day the man gathered the courage to return to Padre Pio’s confessional. This time he spoke from his heart and told Padre Pio that he had been trying to overcome the sins in his life but had not been able to completely free himself of them. ‘But isn’t that repentance?’ Padre Pio lovingly said to him. After making a good confession the man felt truly blessed and filled with hope to receive encouragement and absolution from Padre Pio.”
Padre Pio was able to see the spiritual condition of not only individuals but of nations. In the book, Padre Pio and America, by Frank M. Rega, I came across a paragraph that I found interesting, and significant, considering some of the disheartening events, and the political unrest here in the United States today.
Perhaps some of you remember that when Our Blessed Mother appeared to the children of Fatima in Portugal, in 1917 she had revealed to them several prophecies. One of these was that, through much prayer and fasting Russia can be converted.
During one of his visits to see Padre Pio, Father Leo Fanning asked him about Mary’s message at Fatima regarding the conversion of Russia. Padre Pio replied that Russia would be converted, and that Russia will teach the United States a lesson in conversion. To another he said, “Russian people would be converted, and it would happen quickly. However, the conversion of the United States will be slow, but sure.”
Padre Pio was also known for the extraordinary events and the cures that occurred when people would ask for his prayers. One of the most amazing miracles that happened was when a mother took her dying baby to Padre Pio in hopes for a cure. Here is the story from the book, Padre Pio: Glimpse into the Miraculous, by Pascal Cataneo.
“A six-month-old baby was very sick. His mother, in hopes of saving her baby, took him to Padre Pio hoping for a cure. It was a long distance by train and on the way the baby died. The desolate mother wrapped the body in some clothes and put him in her suitcase and continued her journey.”
“When she came to Padre Pio weeping and sobbing showing him her dead son, ‘Padre Pio paled and was gripped by emotion’. Dr. Sanguinetti, a close friend of Padre Pio’s, was present at the time and realized that, even if the baby hadn’t died of the illness, he would have died from suffocation, being closed in the suitcase for so long. Padre Pio prayed for the baby and then turned to the mother and said, ‘Why are you crying? Can’t you see that your son is sleeping?’ ”
In San Giovanni Rotondo Padre Pio had built a thousand-bed, state of the arc hospital in order to accommodate the poor of the area. After his death on September 23, 1968 a Basilica was built in his honor. Here his body is laid out as though he is sleeping, and thousands of people from all over the world come to visit his tomb. The peace that surrounds his tomb is palatable.
There are over 100 books written on the life of Padre Pio and several movies made about his life. One such movie that I enjoyed is the DVD Padre Pio: Between Heaven and Earth.
Padre Pio is still intervening in people’s lives. I know that Padre Pio has intervened in my life many times through the years. When I occasionally forget about him he reminds me that he is nearby watching over us. A couple of days ago I had the following dream:
“I am watching Padre Pio out of a window on the second floor of our home. I see him entering a shed on the side of the house to pray, and I realize how fortunate we are to have him live with us, and yet how seldom I turn to him for help and inspiration. As he comes up the elevator I resolve to spend more time with him so that I might benefit from his presence.”
Marge Spada, the woman who started the Padre Pio Foundation of America says, “Among Padre Pio’s gifts were perfume, bilocation, prophecy, conversion, reading of souls, and miraculous cures. People are still being cured through his intercession in ways that cannot be explained by medicine or science. More important, if less spectacular, are the spiritual healings that take place in all parts of the world. Saint Pio is a powerful intercessor.”
Her husband, Joe, was one of those who benefited from Padre Pio’s spiritual healings. In 1975, six years after Padre Pio died, when Joe was dying of cancer he was given a book about Padre Pio. He was so impressed after reading St. Pio’s life story that he started praying to the saint. As a result Joe was able to see and talk with Padre Pio in those final days of his life. Many people saw evidence of Padre Pio’s presence in the hospital room where Joe had stayed.
You can read more of this story and many other’s of people who have been helped through the intercession of Padre Pio since his death, and also purchase books regarding Padre Pio’s life on Marge Spada’s website at www.padrepio.com. Much of the profits from the sales of the books are used for the poor, and to support the hospital Padre Pio had built many years ago in Italy.
Hope you too can benefit from knowing him and enjoying his loving presence.
Love and Peace,
*Taken from the blog Shrines of Italy Blog 6-17
Picture taken from the book Padre Pio and America by Frank M. Rega
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,