Monday, September 10, 2018

The Cure that Should Not Be

After a terrible accident, he was unable to bend his left knee, until he knelt in Padre Pio's confessional. But after the miraculous cure, the medical impediment to bending his knee still existed!

This is an example of a cure which should not be. Giuseppe Canaponi suffered from fibrous ankylosis, the stiffening of the knee due to the presence of fibrous bands around the bones forming the joint, and his left leg was completely rigid. The clinical examinations and tests after the cure showed that the physical condition which caused the infirmity continued to persist. There are many reports of the miraculous cure of Mr. Canaponi in the Padre Pio literature, and they differ in some of the particulars. Therefore, I have written the following from the earliest account I have been able to discover.

It is from an interview with journalist Carlo Trabucco, published May 17, 1951 in a Catholic newspaper of Bologna. He interviewed the railroad worker Giuseppe Canaponi at San Giovanni Rotondo, near Padre Pio's friary. He describes Giuseppe as 38 years old, of average height, with a smiling and pleasing face. At first he was a little embarrassed to tell his story, and did not know how to begin.

Canaponi: “You see how I am walking?”
Trabucco: “I see it.”
Canaponi: “Do you know where I am from?”
Trabucco: “Tuscany, no doubt.”
Canaponi: “Have you heard about it?”
Trabucco: “A little.”
Trabucco writes: This was just small talk, while he sought to gather his thoughts and present them in a certain order.

Canaponi: “I want to tell you about my adventure. You see this left leg? Three years ago it was a rigid stump, and now it is like a new leg. I received it anew back there, in the sacristy. How it happened I don't know. It is necessary that I explain to you how I recovered this left leg, but first let me tell you how I lost it. At Sarteano, my home town that is near Chiusi, a truck on June 26, 1946, broke the femur of my left leg.”

Trabucco writes: Saying this, he rolled up his trousers and showed me scars that provoked horror.

Canaponi: “I made the rounds of the hospitals in the area, Sarteano, Chiusi, Montepulciano, Siena and then Rizzoli in Bologna. It was useless. The conclusion you can read here in this original declaration of a hospital release in April, 1951. Here is what it says: 'This is to certify that Mr. Giuseppe Canaponi was hospitalized in this clinic in 1948 for anchilosi rifrosa [stiffness, rigidity] of his left knee due to a fracture of the femur. All the therapies, medical and physical, that were tried in order to force articulation under general anesthesia, did not work. Instead, these maneuvers succeeded in re-fracturing the femur. He was dismissed with his knee as rigid as it was upon his admittance.' Signed by the Director, Giuntini. “Have you read this? Did you understand?”

Trabucco: “I believe so. Knee is rigid, that is, it cannot be bent. And now I see that you can walk.”

Canaponi: “Walk? I run, I jump . . . you are looking at a person reborn. Before, I could not take it anymore. I blasphemed, cursed
my wife did not know what to do. I had some scary crises, during which I became like a beast. Then I would calm down and repent, until the next time. The leg caused me tremendous torture. Enduring great pain, I could take only a few steps using two crutches. My wife wanted me to go see Padre Pio. But I rebelled, and inveighed against him, but not knowing what else to do I relented. I went to see him accompanied by my wife and my son. In my condition it was not a pleasant journey.

“On the afternoon of December 28, 1948 I was in the sacristy for my confession to Padre Pio. He said to me: “You blaspheme much, you curse everyone, you are restless.” I replied, “Yes Padre, it is true. It was the sufferings, the long illness, the injections that had changed me.” The Padre went on: “However, afterwards you repented, went into your room and prayed.” I said to myself, “This is strange, he knows everything, he is telling me my confession. I said, “Padre, pray that the Lord removes from me this brutal defect.” He replied, “You must be a strong person, otherwise it would be useless for the Lord to give you the grace.”

“Only in that moment did I realize that I was kneeling down, and I said to myself that I have already received the grace because I have bent my knee that for three years has been immobile! I rose up, taking my crutches, and instead of using them to support me, I carried them in my arms. With my son I went into the church where my wife looked at me with amazement upon seeing me walk. “Yes, it is true,” I said. “It seems to me that in the sacristy I had even knelt.” My wife did not want to believe this, and my son said, “Yes, Papa, I saw it, you were on your knees.”

As if dreaming we returned to the hotel, and in the room I took a pillow, laid it on the floor, and went down on my knees. It was true. It was true. The next morning I went to Padre Pio to thank him for the grace, but he told me: “It was not I who gave you the grace. Thank the Lord, only the Lord.”

Trabucco writes: And that was the “adventure” of Giuseppe Canaponi. Then I asked him “And the doctors?”

Canaponi: “When I returned to Sarteano everyone was astonished, friends and enemies. The curious thing is that this grace caused enmity among some who were my friends. Meanwhile the railroad was going on with the process to have me discharged and sent home. In order to stop the proceedings, I asked for a visit at Florence from the Railroad Inspector. It was granted and I made known to professor Prosperi what had happened. He read and re-read what was in the hospital records and exclaimed that according to these documents, I would never be able to bend my knee. I told him that for me it is otherwise. He said that he sees it, and I am correct and not the records, because I can walk. Therefore, I remained working at the railroad and returned to my usual post at the station in Chiusi. Now, every time that I can, I travel to San Giovanni Rotondo, because here is where I recovered my health and my peace of soul.”

In a further interview, years later, conducted by Renzo Allegri, Canaponi said that when he and his family arrived back home in Sarteano, it was New Years Eve. There was a celebration and dance at a local venue, and he and his wife decided to attend. When he entered, walking normally, the room became quiet as a tomb. Everyone had known about his condition, and that he could not take a step on his own, and they also knew that he had been to see Padre Pio. The people from that area were almost all communists, thus they were not open to believing in miracles. Seeing that he was cured, they were embarrassed. But he embraced his wife, and they began to dance. Everyone stepped aside, but then after a few minutes the people began to applaud. They danced for over two hours.

In the following days, he returned to the clinic at Siena, and the doctors were astonished. First of all, just in seeing him walk. And then, because the x-rays of his knee showed that nothing had changed. The anchilosi rifrosa was still present, and they said that it is not possible that he could be walking. Later, Professor Giuntini presented his case in Rome at a medical congress. There Canaponi was examined by various specialists, who marveled at his case.

Ultimately, Giuntini released a formal document, stamped and signed “University of Siena, Orthopedic Clinic, Director Leopoldo Giuntini.” The last sentence reads “We therefore have reason to believe that the sudden recovery of the articular movement, in the case of Mr. Canaponi, constitutes an extraordinary event that can not find, within the limits of current scientific knowledge, a logical explanation.”

Before seeing Padre Pio, Giuseppe had been declared a permanent invalid. Since the physical cause of his disability was still present even after the miracle, the doctors continue to confirm his status as an invalid. “Even today, for science and for the state, I am an invalid: I cannot walk; and yet, as you see, I walk in a perfect manner.”

Trabucco interview taken from F. Chiocci and L. Cirri, Padre Pio Storia D'una Vittima, pp. 667-669.  Also, Renzo Allegri, Padre Pio Il Santo de Miracoli, pp. 344-349.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

He shuffled there on his stigmatized feet.

The night Padre Pio left his monastery and walked to the home of a dying man.

Dr. Francesco Ricciardi, a practicing physician for many years at San Giovanni Rotondo, had always manifested a certain aversion towards Padre Pio. The doctor was a man with a very frank and sincere character, honest to the point of being scrupulous. A tireless scholar, he thought his studies could not admit of the supernatural. God was a utopia. Padre Pio was a conventionalism created only for the ignorant; science, only it, was an infallible dogma, and only in that did he believe.

He supported the attacks that Padre Pio's own archbishop, Mons. Pasquale Gagliardi, launched against him. He freely took part in the petty meetings that were organized in the town in order to express disapproval of the work of the priests, and to defame the very person of the humble friar, often also to launch insults and blasphemies in his direction. And the good priest of God, although knowing all about it, never spoke one word of blame against the wickedness that so cruelly offended him in the most noble of his prerogatives – the priesthood.

Ricciardi had not approached the confessional in thirty years, and had never desired to bow down his white-haired pate before an image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. But the “Dies irae” would arrive even for him. Padre Pio would be there at the gate, not in order to punish, nor to reprimand, but to bestow instead the holiest and unexpected of conversions.

In the fall of 1928, the doctor fell sick. A terrible disease had undermined his very existence, and it was so serious that it seemed to be carrying him to the tomb. It was stomach cancer, causing his strong constitution to wither from day to day. His doctor, Francesco Giuva, assisted by colleagues Dr. Angelo Maria Merla, Dr. Tomasso Morcaldi, Dr. Capuano Matteo, Dr. Antonio Mauricelli, were all of the opinion that he would die.

I am dying, Giuva,” murmured the patient, “It is finished.”

From Foggia, Naples and many parts, the doctors arrived at San Giovanni Rotondo, and each could do nothing but confirm the diagnosis of their colleagues; only Dr. Merla thought that instead of stomach cancer it might be acute gastritis [gastrite flemmonosa.] All treatments were attempted, including radiation, but nothing availed to stop the disease. Dr. Ricciardi was dying little by little.

Numerous priests alternately approached him, all presenting to him thoughts of peace, of love, of repentance. But he refused them all, affirming that he intended to die as he had lived. A friend of the family thought of Padre Pio. “Only he, only he,” she said, “can work a miracle.”

In December, Don Giuseppe Principe, parish priest of the town, who was the doctor's personal friend, was called to administer the last rites, while the patient was still conscious. But as soon as he saw the priest he chased him away with unheard-of fury, saying, “I do not want a priest, I don't want anyone.” He even threw a slipper at him from his bedside. In a moment of exasperation he shouted at the unfortunate man, “No one can hear my confession, only Padre Pio, whom I have so much offended, could I confess to today. But he can not come over here, and so I prefer to die as I am.”

Outside the wind howled frightfully, a heavy sleet penetrated the clothing, chilling even the hearts of the good countrymen who were gathering near his home. They were already crying over the respected doctor, who so lovingly for many years had taken care of them. He was very popular, he often tended the sick for nothing, and was generous-hearted.

The end was near. The death rattle was already fading, and the body was beginning to give out the odor characteristic of death, when the doctor who rebelled against the laws of God, saw appear in the doorway the humble Franciscan friar – Padre Pio had been alerted and asked to hasten to the bed of the dying man, with pleas that he alone could give a new soul to God.

That evening a pious person had made his way to the monastery of the friar who bore the wounds of Christ, and told him what was occurring. Padre Pio wished to leave immediately, but he had to obtain permission from the Guardian, Padre Raffaele. He was at first reluctant, but he relented and even accompanied Padre Pio to the sick man's home. It had been ten years since the Padre had left the confines of the friary of St. Mary of the Graces. The superior ecclesiastical authorities, in order to avoid fanaticism, had imposed upon him certain determinate restrictions, which only had the effect of greatly increasing the flames of love for him. 

No authors give the actual location of Dr. Ricciardi's home. Maria Winowska writes it was only a “few yards” from the convent, and that Padre Pio “shuffled on his martyred feet to see the doctor.” It must have been a short distance from the monastery, perhaps down the main road from the friary, the Viale Cappuccini. Alberto Del Fante, who was the first to write about the incident, informs us that the person who went to fetch the Padre, over the resistance of Dr. Ricciardi, was Dr. Angelo Maria Merla, who at one time was also an atheist. “He told me himself in February of 1931 that instead he believes in God and is a good Catholic and spiritual son of Padre Pio.”

Notwithstanding the late hour, the bad weather, and the distance to be covered, Padre Pio “shuffled” down the road, desiring only to reach the bedside of the poor sick man. He took with him from the little Chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a consecrated Host and holy oils, and along with these two precious helps from heaven, was Padre Raffaele. As he approached the house, he was recognized by passers-by, who gathered around him and accompanied him to the place where Dr. Ricciardi lived, joining those that were already in front of the home praying for his conversion and healing.

While Padre Pio continued towards the bedside of the sick man, the growing crowd of people who had heard of what was happening began kneeling along the roadway by the house, now lovingly visited by Lord present in the Host. They were crying and praying prayers of peace, consolation, and love. All the while, large flakes of snow were falling, as some manna from heaven coming to bless the auspicious event that was to take place in the humble room of the dying man.

Padre Pio reached the bedside of Ricciardi, and embraced him with a smile, as proof of his forgiveness. As soon as the doctor saw the priest, he seemed to experience an infinite wellbeing. The atheist was conquered. The atheist bowed that head which he had never bowed, the atheist joined his hands, made the sign of the cross, and after confessing, received the Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction from the stigmatized hands of the Padre of Pietrelcina. God entered into him, God, who can not abandon and does not abandon. The smell of death was overcome by the perfume that emanated from Padre Pio, the impure soul became pure, and the lips that for thirty years only spoke empty words, were now thanking God.

Rev. Bernard Ruffin reports that he whispered to Padre Pio saying, “Father bless me one more time. There is no more hope for me, and in a little while I will be dead, and so I want to leave the world with your pardon and another blessing from you.” But the good Padre responded: “Your soul is healed, and soon your body will be healed as well. You will go to the friary and repay the visit that I have made this evening.”

After having once again kissed and blessed him, the Padre left the house in order to walk back to his friary.

Outside of the home of the doctor, the people, defying the wind and snow, waited for the miracle. And the miracle arrived! Padre Pio once again chased away death and gave to the Divine Lord a new soul. Dr. Ricciardi survived, happy to have found the light, the spiritual light, that illuminated his white hairs. All signs of the cancer were gone in three days, and Dr. Ricciardi did in fact come to the friary church to thank God and Padre Pio.

The renowned doctor, in that unforgettable day, after his close contact with the humble herald of heaven, was cured of a very serious double infirmity: that of his soul, because from that moment onward he continued to live devoted and thankful to the one who was so good to him – and that of his body, because he was cured of his physical malady. He was able live for almost another four years, doing good works and most importantly thanking the Lord, who had forgotten the affronts He had received, and had given him back both spiritual and material life. He died in June of 1932 at the age of 71.

This was perhaps, according to Dr. Giorgio Festa, the one and only time Padre Pio, driven by love and the desire to do good, left his sanctuary of peace and prayer. [Other than to vote.] Dr. Festa reported that those who had been present at the event, in remembering what had occurred as they told him about it, had tears in their eyes from the intense emotion that had reawakened in their hearts.

Comment of Alberto Del Fante: “Almost all of these doctors mentioned are still alive. I do not cite facts from Mr. X or Mr. Y, but facts verifiable by all who desire to touch with their hands or see with their eyes, or hear with their own ears.” He quotes the Gospel of St. John (3: 20-21). “For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.”

Translated freely from two historical sources for Padre Pio: Alberto Del Fante, Per La Storia VI Edition, 1948 pp. 312-314; and Dr. Giorgio Festa, Misteri di Scienza e Luci di Fede, 1949 pp. 244-246; Also C. Bernard Ruffin Padre Pio the True Story, 1991 pp. 224-226, 340; and Maria Winowska, The True Face of Padre Pio, 1955, pp. 140-141. 

View my books on Padre Pio and others Here.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Israel will be Converted by the Divine Will Teachings.

In the writings of Luisa Piccarreta, dictated by Jesus, and known as the Book of Heaven, intriguing statements are made in two of the 36 volumes of the opus. Essentially, there will be an exchange between Rome and Jerusalem. Just as the the Christian Faith was established in Rome due to the work of the Apostles who came forth from the Holy Land, the teachings on the Kingdom of the Divine Will be made known to Israel by the Roman Pontiff. Then Israel will be converted to the true Christian Faith. 
Below are two key lines from the Book of Heaven, and the paragraphs in which they are contained are presented further on.

. . . Rome, in which resides my representative on earth, the Roman Pontiff, from whom come my divine laws; and just as he makes it his duty to make my Redemption known to the peoples, so will he make it his duty to make known the Kingdom of my Divine Will.”

Then will Jerusalem repent of her ingratitude, and will embrace the life of the religion which she gave to Rome; and, grateful, she will receive from Rome the life and the great gift of the Kingdom of my Divine Will.”

This prophecy is a multi-fold blessing. It teaches us, in this time of crisis in the Catholic Church, that it will carry on, one must not lose faith in the Church or give up on the Papacy (sede-vacantism is a dead-end). Not only will the Church recover and triumph, but the teachings given by Our Lord and Our Lady to Luisa Piccarreta, made known to the world by the Church, will establish the Kingdom of the Divine Will, even in Israel. 

From the Book of Heaven, volume 24, October 3, 1928:

“The first criers of the Gospel, those who established Catholicism in Rome, were my Apostles, all from Jerusalem – that is, from this homeland. Now there will be an exchange: if Jerusalem gave to Rome the life of religion and therefore of Redemption, Rome will give to Jerusalem the Kingdom of the Divine Will. This is so true, that just as I chose a Virgin from the little town of Nazareth for the Redemption, so I have chosen another virgin in a little town of Italy belonging to Rome, to whom the mission of the Kingdom of the Divine Fiat has been entrusted. And since this must be known in Rome just as my coming upon earth was known in Jerusalem, Rome will have the great honor of requiting Jerusalem for the great gift received from her, which is Redemption, by making known to her the Kingdom of my Will. Then will Jerusalem repent of her ingratitude, and will embrace the life of the religion which she gave to Rome; and, grateful, she will receive from Rome the life and the great gift of the Kingdom of my Divine Will. And not only Jerusalem, but all of the other nations will receive from Rome the great gift of the Kingdom of my Fiat, the first criers of It, Its gospel - all full of peace, of happiness and of restoration of the creation of man. And not only will my manifestations bring sanctity, joys, peace and happiness, but the whole of Creation, competing with them, will unleash from each created thing each of the happinesses It contains, and will pour them upon the creatures.” [V24; 10/03/1928.]
Luisa Piccarreta funeral (1865 - 1947)

From the Book of Heaven, volume 27, January 30, 1930:

“My daughter, there is much analogy between the way in which Redemption unfolded and the way in which the Kingdom of my Divine Will will unfold. See, in my Redemption I chose a Virgin; in appearance She had no importance according to the world, either of riches, or of height of dignity or positions which would indicate Her; the very city of Nazareth was not important – a tiny little house was Her whole abode. But even though I chose Her from Nazareth, I wanted for it to belong to the capital city, Jerusalem, in which there was the body of the pontiffs and priests who then represented Me and announced my laws. For the Kingdom of my Divine Will I have chosen another virgin who, in appearance, has no importance, either of great riches or of height of dignity; the very city of Corato is not an important city, but it belongs to Rome, in which resides my representative on earth, the Roman Pontiff, from whom come my divine laws; and just as he makes it his duty to make my Redemption known to the peoples, so will he make it his duty to make known the Kingdom of my Divine Will. It can be said that one and the other will proceed in the same way and manner, as the Kingdom of my Supreme Fiat must unfold.” [V27; 01/30/1930.]

As the gift of Living in the Divine Will restores the Church, Rome will spread the gift to all nations of the earth.

View my books on the Divine Will, Padre Pio, and others Here.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The "Shroud of Padre Pio"

The saint wiped his face with a handkerchief, and later a mysterious image appeared on it.  Shroud of Turin expert says the image is acheropita – not made by human hands.

The story begins in February 1968, and concerns Francesco Cavicchi of Conegliano, Italy, who was one of the spiritual sons of Padre Pio. Francesco with his wife Carla and some friends drove to San Govanni Rotondo from their home in northern Italy, because he wished to personally ask the friar for some advice on a certain matter. But upon their arrival they learned that the Padre was not feeling well, and had to remain in his cell in the monastery. They decided to stay in San Giovanni for a few days before returning home.
The day they were to depart, Francesco went to the Superior of the friary to find out if, through him, he could get a message to Padre Pio and receive an answer. “Why don't you ask him yourself,” was the reply. “In a short while he will be coming down and will confess the men.” Then the Superior pointed to an elevator and told Francesco to wait there. Francesco nervously waited alone before the elevator door, worried about how to approach Padre Pio with his question, since he know the monk had no time to waste in idle chatter. In his agitation, his hands started sweating, so he took a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it tightly to absorb the moisture. In the meantime, the elevator descended, and as he saw the door start to open, he knelt down in front of it. There was Padre Pio, right before him, offering his mittened hand to be kissed. Then he said with a smile, “Son, if you don't get up, how am I going to get past you?”

Francesco stood up, and as he did so, Padre Pio saw the handkerchief that he was holding in his hands; reaching out he took it. “How wonderful, “ Francesco thought. “Then when he returns it I will have a precious relic!” Walking alongside the friar, he told him all about his problem, and as usual, he immediately received a precise answer. They arrived at the entrance to the room where the men were waiting to be confessed. The crowd pressed around the saint trying to kiss his hand or touch him, and Francesco was swallowed up in the rush, forgetting all about the handkerchief. But Padre Pio had not forgotten it. He turned towards Francesco, showing him the cloth. Then he unfolded it and wiped his face with it, as if he had been sweating, although it was winter. Staring into Francesco's eyes, he handed it back to him with a gesture of tenderness. Deeply moved, Francesco understood that he had just been given a great gift.    

On the right eye a cut, as if from a lash, similar to what is on the Holy Shroud

Francesco is certain that at that time there were no unusual markings on it, it was just a wrinkled handkerchief. But since it was held by Padre Pio and had touched his face, it was an exceptional relic. When he returned to their hotel, he told his wife, and she too was overjoyed about it. After the Cavicchi's made the journey back to their home in Conegliano, they continued to regard it with devotion. Francesco always carried it with him, like a good luck charm. He kept it folded in his jacket pocket when he wasn't showing it to friends and telling them the story about it. With the passage of time, it became darkened and looked dirty.

The 23rd of September, 1969 was the first anniversary of the passing of Padre Pio, and the Cavicchi's with some friends embarked on a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo. They traveled overnight by bus, and after their arrival early the next morning, Francesco was unusually tired. After praying at the saint's tomb, he went upstairs into the church and sat alone in a pew to get some rest. In a short time he fell asleep, and began to dream about Padre Pio. The friar was at the altar, and then left it and came towards Francesco. He was smiling, and when he reached Francesco, he opened his habit and showed him the wound on his chest. “Touch it,” said Padre Pio. Francesco was afraid he would hurt him, but Padre Pio insisted. He put his fingers in the wound, and after he withdrew them he saw that they were covered with a white sticky film. A kind of handkerchief appeared out of nowhere, and he cleaned his fingers of the white substance, which left black marks on the cloth. Then on his fingertips he noticed an image of Padre Pio. He looked for the friar, but he was gone. At that very moment his wife woke him up, telling him that he looked very tired. He told her he had gotten some rest, and that he was going outside to refresh himself.

In the courtyard in front of the friary stood a small fountain, which has since been moved elsewhere. People went there to quench their thirst because it was “the water of Padre Pio.” Francesco rinsed his hands and face, and took out a handkerchief to dry himself. Inadvertently, instead of taking a clean cloth, he took out the handkerchief that Padre Pio had given him. A woman nearby noticed how dirty it was, and asked him if he would like her to wash it. Seeing how stained it was, he said “yes, let's wash it.” As soon as he spoke those words he marveled, because every time his wife wanted to wash it he had prevented her. The woman began to pour water on it from a bottle, and he rinsed it in his hands. Suddenly the woman began screaming, “Padre Pio, Padre Pio!” “Where?” he asked. “There, in the handkerchief!” she continued, shouting.

People started to rush over, and Francesco became frightened. He recalled that the day before, a lady had shouted in the church that she could see Padre Pio by the altar. She was abruptly taken off to the police station by the carabinieri. He quickly put the handkerchief in his pocket, and walked away saying “There is nothing to see.” He took refuge in the church for awhile, and then went back to his hotel. But in reality there was something to see. He saw dark marks similar to those he had seen in his dream. They could be taken to resemble a face, but they were not clear. " I understood that something mysterious was occurring with that handkerchief." Not wanting to be deceived, he said nothing to anyone, not even his wife. He spread it out on the dressing table so it could dry out. During Mass the next morning, he prayed to Padre Pio, asking help in understanding what the signs on the handkerchief meant, and whether he should tell his wife Carla. Suddenly he could smell the aroma of a strong perfume, and he interpreted it as permission to talk with his wife. 

Francesco Cavicchi at his home

Returning to their hotel from Mass, he told her everything that had happened. In their room, he picked up the cloth and held it up before their eyes. “What do you see?” he asked her. “The face of Jesus,” she answered. “What Jesus? It's Padre Pio,” he retorted. “No, for me it is the face of Jesus,” she insisted. Then he realized that his wife was looking at the opposite side of the same handkerchief. On one side was the face of Padre Pio, composed of those same lines he had noticed the night before, but now the face appeared clearer and more detailed. Seen from the other side, the image appeared to be that of Jesus.

Confused and frightened, Francesco was uncertain about what he should do. He consulted with some religious and even his bishop, who were amazed at seeing it, but advised him to keep it hidden. The Cause for Padre Pio's beatification was just getting off the ground, and they worried that this might lead to fanaticism, harming the Cause. He obeyed, and kept silent for many years, until the date of the 1999 beatification of Padre Pio was announced. He and his wife established a small shrine in their home at Conegliano, and every year hundreds of the faithful came to venerate the cloth. The walls are decorated by many ex-votos in honor of graces received. He passed away in 2005, and his widow Carla in 2009. At that time, the handkerchief was consigned to an undisclosed friary. 

Prof. Giulio Fanti holds replicas of the two sides of the handkerchief (

The community of friars decided to have the image examined by an expert, Professor Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Shroud of Turin, and on other images of a mysterious origin, termed “acheropite,” not made by human hands. According to Professor Fanti, the images on the handkerchief are similar to those on the Shroud. They have not been painted or drawn, and no trace of pigment or color can be found. There is an image on one side of the cloth that resembles Padre Pio, and on the other side it resembles Jesus. The image of Jesus is fainter, but one can discern on the right eye a cut, as if from a lash, similar to what is on the Shroud. “The conclusion is irrefutable, it is impossible that these images be of human work.”

Many thanks to Renzo Allegri's Padre Pio, Il Santo dei Miracoli, and to various Internet articles on the Sindone di Conegliano. 

View my books on Padre Pio and others Here.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Padre Pio's First Public Miracle.

One of the very first newspaper articles about Padre Pio was written by Renato Trevisani for the “Mattino” of Naples, and appeared in the editions of June 20 and 21, 1919. Trevisani had been assigned as the paper's special correspondent to investigate and report on the stigmatized mystic of San Giovanni Rotondo. Initially skeptical, thinking Padre Pio might be a “Rasputin,” he was won over by the friar's demeanor, and was an eyewitness to a miraculous cure.

The recipient of the cure, Pasquale Di Chiara (1881 – 1946), was a functionary of the Ministry of Justice, as chancellor of the prefecture of San Giovanni Rotondo. He was 36 years old at the time, residing at Lucera, about 25 miles from San Giovanni. He had been chancellor at Messina, Sicily, during the great earthquake of 1908 which killed tens of thousands of citizens. For his brave and selfless actions in aiding the wounded and homeless, he merited the official praise of the King's Procurator of the Tribunal of Messina.

In 1918 he received the injury which was subsequently healed by Padre Pio. Pasquale was in Lucera to attend a formal celebration to mark the end of the war between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was concluded by the Armistice of November 3. Civil, military, and religious authorities were present. While descending the stairs of the hotel where the ceremony was held, he took a very serious fall. For three months he was immobilized, and when he finally was permitted leave his bed, he could only limp along by dragging his leg, painstakingly supported by a cane. When he finally decided to visit Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo, it was not, however, to seek his own cure, as one might think. Instead he sought healing for his three-year old daughter Italia, stricken with infantile paralysis.

The journalist Renato Trevisani obtained the following account from Di Chiara himself of the miraculous occurrence, and included it in his article for the “Mattino.” He writes that he was an eye-witness to the prodigy, along with other distinguished personages present at the time who can authenticate it, including the King's Procurator of the Tribunal of Lucera, Dr. Mione; Prefecture Advisor of Sanseverino, Dr. Russo; Dr. Giura; and Vice Magistrate N. Siena.


The headline for the story ran across top of the entire page: “Padre Pio, the 'Saint' of San Giovanni Rotondo.” Underneath it ran the sub-heading “works a miracle on the person of the chancellor of the town.” The story was in three sections: the Phenomona, Padre Pio, and the Miracles. The images show only a small part of the complete piece. Pasquale Di Chiara's testimony, as reported in the newspaper, is presented here for the first time in English.

“On November 11, 1918, on the occasion of the conclusion of the Armistice, a small celebration was held at the Hotel Sicilia. Coming down from the hotel, I fell head over heels. After spending three months in bed, under the care of Doctors Merla and Giuva, I was constrained to walk with a cane, dragging my leg, and unable to sustain long walks. At Foggia, I underwent an x-ray examination under Doctor Bucci, which revealed a dislocation.

“I went to the Friary for the first time, together with my wife, to ask Padre Pio for a grace for my little girl of three, Italia, suffering from infantile paralysis. Padre Pio told us to throw away the orthopedic apparatus used on the leg of the child; but my wife, a little wary, did not want to follow the advice. The next day the apparatus broke. My wife told Padre Pio that the child still was not cured, and the friar responded: “It was your fault! Hope, but in God.”

“I arrived [another time] at the friary, accompanied by my superiors, who were guests of the city of San Giovanni Rotondo. Seeing me, Padre Pio made a gesture of gentle reproof with his hand, which, however, I did not understand. I remained in the corridor, and in about an hour Padre Pio returned. He stopped before me and said, with his eyes turned upward, a phrase in which I could only make out the word “cane.” My friends, Michele Campanile and Benedetto Ventrella, explained to me that Padre Pio had said, “Throw away the cane!”

“He said it a second time, and I let go of the cane, but I remained leaning against a wall. “Man of little faith, go ahead and walk,” commanded the Padre. I then experienced a feeling of great warmth in my foot, which in a short time spread throughout my whole body.  I now walk normally, without any need of help.”

Further details were made known many years later in author Enrico Malatesta's interview with Pasquale Di Chiara's son Umberto, the brother of Italia, who was affected by polio. Following the unexplained breakage of her orthopedic equipment, and the rebuke by Padre Pio to her mother, Italia soon began to walk without requiring any assistance, although with a slight limp. As for Pasquale, he would recall Padre Pio's words: “Man of little faith, go ahead and walk” for the rest of his life. They were spoken with irritation, but in a tone of voice that was at the same time both gentle and gruff. At his command, Pasquale took one step, then two, three and four, and began to cry from joy and emotion. He started to walk faster, and found himself at the feet of Padre Pio, who blessed him with a bright smile.

Sources: Padre Pio Storia d'Una Vittima, 1967, by Francobaldo Chiocci and Luciano Cirri; and I Miracoli che Hanno Fatto Santo Padre Pio, 1998, Enrico Malatesta.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Padre Pio's Masterpiece

Giacomo Gaglione, the spiritual child of Padre Pio that most resembled him.

Giacomo Gaglione first met Padre Pio not long after the friar had received the gift of the stigmata in the choir loft of the little church of St. Mary of the Graces, at San Giovanni Rotondo. He had read about him in 1919 in one of very first newspaper articles about Padre Pio, that related the wonders of this new miracle worker from an obscure town in the poverty-stricken south of Italy. The article caught the attention of Giacomo because it spoke glowingly of prodigies and cures reportedly as a result of the prayers of this monk, and Giacomo desperately needed a cure. For the past seven years he had been almost completely paralyzed by a rare form of polyarthritis. He was in constant pain, and could only find some relief by lying in a specially constructed iron wheelchair that had to be set at a 45 degree angle. He was not able to speak, but since his fingers and hands could move, he was capable of writing.

He contracted this illness suddenly and unexpectedly when he was a young teenager about to finish his secondary education. He came from a prominent family with a long line of lawyers on his father's side, going back to the 1600's, and his mother was from the wealthy nobility. Born in 1896 in Marcianise, in south-central Italy, he was the first of many children, and had all the advantages, materially and socially, that would presage a brilliant career. He had been extremely active in sports, especially cycling which was gaining popularity at that time, even entering and winning some races. Athletic, intelligent and handsome, it is not surprising that he was especially popular with the young ladies. 

All this changed practically overnight when he was only sixteen years old. It began with a sharp pain in the heel of his right foot, and in a few days his feet and legs began to swell. The pain was atrocious, and soon he was unable to move any of his limbs. In a very short time, he became an invalid who had to be spoon-fed by his mother. His affluent family used every possible means to determine what was wrong and how to cure him, but medical science was at a loss. The very best specialists were consulted, and everything from massages to visits to a geothermal spring were tried. Even surgery proved useless.

However, Giacomo continued to believe that some day he would be healed, and he actually made plans to marry a girl who lived in an apartment in the same palazzo. This dream fueled his hope and gave him a reason for living. Apparently they were in love, and their friendship was accepted by both families for a time. But eventually the girl's mother realized that she did not want her daughter to spend her life caring for an invalid, no matter how illustrious or wealthy his family was. She persuaded Giacomo's mother to put an end to the relationship. But his mother knew that this would be a great blow to Giacomo, and she could not deliver it herself. Instead she asked the family priest to gently break the news to her son. As the priest approached the subject with him in a round-about way, Giacomo quickly understood what he meant, and that his hopes were destroyed. Screaming, he tried to grab a scissor that was nearby, in a vain attempt to end his life. From then on he had to be watched constantly. He became rebellious, rancorous, blasphemous, and had lost the will to live.

It was in this state of mind and soul that he first heard of Padre Pio. The article he saw in the paper was not just a short notice, but rather an extensive report made by journalist Renato Trevisani, who had been specifically assigned by his employer, a major Neapolitan newspaper, to throughly investigate and report on the phenomena associated with the mysterious Franciscan friar. Initially skeptical, he became sold on the saint after spending a week at San Giovanni. He wrote without reserve about how the blood of the stigmata allowed Padre Pio to intercede before God to perform miracles, and Trevisani spoke directly with people who had been healed.

As Giacomo read through this article, which consumed six columns of the newspaper, hope began to return to him. He announced to the family his intention to go and see Padre Pio, and was quite enthusiastic about making the journey. He became convinced that he would return from San Giovanni Rotondo completely cured. He even began to re-kindle his relationship with the girl he wanted to marry some day. But all this frightened his family, who were concerned that if a cure were not obtained, it would certainly be devastating – the end of everything for Giacomo. Consequently, they did their best to dissuade him from making such a fatiguing trip. Giacomo would not hear of it and wanted to go whatever the difficulties. 

Finally, a group pilgrimage was organized, comprised of his parents, some aunts and uncles, various friends, and the family doctor. The trip was grueling. First, they spent six hours in a crowded train compartment. Next they had to wait five hours in Bari in search of a vehicle capable of transporting Giacomo and his customized wheelchair. Then he was forced to spend the next five hours stretched out on a car seat with his head protruding out a window, during a raging storm, before reaching San Giovanni Rotondo.

Finally Giacomo found himself before Padre Pio. He had been waiting for this encounter for months, in order to ask for a cure of the painful malady that had immobilized him for the past seven years. First he made his confession. But then, as he later wrote: “Padre Pio looked at me with his eyes so deep and so beautiful and smiled at me, with the smile of an innocent child. To see Padre Pio and to forget the reason for my journey was one and the same event.” He had found a treasure greater than the cure he had sought. He understood that his destiny was not to be cured, but to accept his sufferings as Padre Pio did; as a sharing and collaboration in the redemptive sufferings of Christ for the salvation of others. The veil that hides the mystery of the value of suffering was lifted; he saw that enduring the immobilization of his entire body on his cross of iron was similar to Padre Pio's carrying the wounds of Christ on his hands, feet and chest. Giacomo was healed when he ceased to desire a healing.

He now comprehended the true value of his own life, and knew that this call to carry his own cross was the will of God. This calling, that was communicated to him while gazing at the expressive eyes and smile of Padre Pio, was strong and clear. He stated later, “During this encounter with Padre Pio he performed a surgical operation; he removed my head and gave me another one in its place. [Mi ha tolto una testa e me ne ha messa un'altra.] If it is a miracle to make a paralyzed young man walk again, it is even more of a miracle to make him welcome with joy, for his entire life, the will of God.” Padre Pio could have asked the Lord for his healing, but instead he saw that this man had the makings of a hero, with a strong soul, daring heart, and tenacious will, that could brave this Calvary. 

When he returned home he began a new existence. His family and friends realized that he had become a different person. Now he was cheerful and happy, he laughed and joked, his visage reflecting an inner joy. From then on, Giacomo was a man “crucified with a smile.” He would dedicate his entire life to caring for the sick and infirm, teaching them the immense value of suffering.

Giacomo was the spiritual child of Padre Pio that was the most similar to him. Just as Padre Pio bore the stigmata for fifty years, so did Giacomo remain crucified on his cross of iron for fifty years. Just as Padre Pio founded his hospital, The House for the Relief of Suffering, so did Giacomo found the movement of The Apostolate of Suffering. He represented one of the most electrifying miracles wrought by God through the intercession of the Padre. The two men continued to remain in touch with each other, and the “perfume” of Padre Pio often filled his house, as he appeared to Giacomo in bilocation.

Many people sought him out for advice and counsel. He could move his hands, and with these he wrote some 3,500 letters a year to the infirm who sought a word of consolation. He founded a periodical, published articles and books, and organized pilgrimages to Lourdes, Loreto, and of course San Giovanni Rotondo. In one book he wrote: “The sick person is the most sensitive person on earth: one smile can exalt him or a certain look can plunge him into a deep and fearsome moral isolation. The infirm person has the mission to glorify the Lord and help sustain creatures in His grace.”

In May of 1962 he approached his final Calvary, his body covered with painful blisters. Visited by one of the friars, Giacomo asked him to write Padre Pio to obtain the grace that he could die in the month dedicated to Mary. Padre Pio assured him that the grace was obtained. When he passed away on May 28, 1962, his funeral in Marcianise was a triumph; the police barely managed to hold back the crowds. Padre Pio sent a telegram to his family: “With Jesus on the cross, with Jesus in holy Paradise.” When asked if he was a saint, Padre replied, “A saint? Giacomo is a great saint!”

His cause for canonization has been initiated, and in April 2009 Pope Benedict XVI declared him to be Venerable Giacomo Gaglione, in recognition of his heroic virtues.

The information for this article came primarily from Renzo Allegri's Padre Pio, Il Santo dei Miracoli, also from an article by Stefano Campanella in Voce di Padre Pio magazine, December 2007, and from other sources.

View my writings on Padre Pio and others Here

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Labyrinth – a Baffling Encounter with Padre Pio

Was it bilocation, or did he operate outside of time and space?

In the 1950's Gino Lattila was an extremely popular singer in Italy, who had triumphed at the famous Sanremo Music Festival in 1954 with the song "Tutte le mamme." It was not until 1962 that he made his first trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, in order to attend the wedding of his good friend Luciano Rispoli. Luciano's whole family was very devoted to Padre Pio, and his uncle was even a confidant of the saint. Not only were he and his fiancée privileged to be married at the friary, but the celebrant was to be Padre Pio himself.

As for Gino, he was a skeptic and had little sympathy for the stories about the mysterious phenomena associated with him. In fact, he would often laugh at the tales of bilocation, reading of souls, or aromas of perfume. He had attended Jesuit schools, where he received a religious education that was not open to medieval mysticism. Thus, he was not enthusiastic about visiting San Giovanni, even though he would be using his own car to drive the bridegroom there.

The morning after their arrival in the town, Gino, pushed by curiosity, decided to attend Padre Pio's 5:00 am Mass. He was surprised to find that at that early hour the church was packed with the faithful. He listened to the Mass, which was rather long, and was celebrated intently by Padre Pio. Immediately afterwards Gino entered the sacristy along with some of the wedding party, where it was possible to see the Padre close-up and receive his blessing.

Padre Pio was on a kneeler, making his customary thanksgiving after Mass. He was deeply absorbed in prayer; his elbows were resting on a support, and his face was hidden by his hands. Complete silence reigned in the sacristy. There were about fifteen men present, and one of them held a little child by the hand. A long time seemed to pass, and Gino became a little impatient. He knew that Padre Pio's prayer was important, but what about all the people waiting to meet him? Gino started thinking that God would be more pleased if Padre Pio devoted some time to greeting the people. 

Suddenly, the little child broke free from his father, and with childhood innocence approached the priest. Perhaps he touched his garments, or maybe he was making some noise. Whatever the reason, Padre Pio turned abruptly and said with a loud voice, “Leave me in peace!” Gino was shocked and scandalized. He had heard that Padre Pio could be gruff, but never imagined he would be that way with children. He thought of the Gospel passage where Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. But this priest instead chases them away! Gino was so angry and upset that, without saying anything to his friends, he trooped out of the sacristy. 

For the rest of the day he did nothing but argue about Padre Pio with those of the wedding party. He criticized him for spending so many hours in prayer, while pilgrims were forced to sometimes wait for days and days before seeing him. The relatives of his friend, the groom, who were devotees of the saint, tried to defend him. “The purpose of his mission is the salvation of souls,” calmly explained the uncle who was Padre Pio's confidant. “The Padre knows when it is expedient to receive persons or when to make them wait, while they reflect upon their lives. Nothing that happens with Padre Pio is by chance. If he wishes it, he can even arrange to meet you tomorrow.”

Those last words struck Gino. The thought, “If he wishes it, he can arrange to meet you tomorrow,” constantly turned around in his mind. The words seemed to be menacing, and he was almost fearful. He told himself that he has no desire to meet Padre Pio, and that he has nothing to say to him. But he spent that night in a state of agitation.

The next morning he arose early to prepare for the wedding of his friend Luciano, who had been given a movie camera as a gift. Knowing that Gino was an expert at using one, the groom asked him to film the ceremony. Gino told him he would be very happy to do so. Armed with the camera, Gino drove Luciano from their hotel to the church and parked the car, prepared to film the entire event. As he entered the church, he pondered which was the best place from which to film the entrance of the wedding party. That would be the organ loft at the back of the church.

He looked around for the staircase to reach it. There were two small doors just under the balcony, and he chose to enter the one on the left. Climbing the stairs, he found himself in a corridor, and proceeding further he came to another door. Upon opening it, he was amazed to find himself looking right at Padre Pio! Instantly he recalled that ominous phrase: “If he wishes it, he can arrange to meet you tomorrow.” The friar was seated in an old armchair. In the room he could smell the strong odor of fenic acid. [Phenol, a sweet tarry odor that resembles a hospital smell; in Padre Pio lore, it is the aroma that signifies physical and moral sufferings.]

Gino Latilla 1924 - 2011

As soon as Padre Pio saw him at the doorway, he glared at him sternly. It was not a look of reproach or rebuke, but it was hard and severe, and penetrated even into the marrow of Gino's bones. He was fearful, but at the same time he felt captivated. He was suffering, yet simultaneously he was happy. He does not know how long the friar fixed on him with his gaze, without saying a word. Perhaps it was a second, perhaps an hour. Finally, with a resounding voice, he asked Gino, “Well, what are you doing here?” Gino responded that he was looking for the organ. The Padre exclaimed, “And here is where you come to look for it?” Then in an imperious tone he commanded, “Get out, get out!”.

Gino left the room, closed the door, and rushed away. His face felt all aflame, as if he had been in front of a fire for a long time. He continued on, climbing stairs, going down others, trying to find where the organ was. He began to worry because he was afraid that the spouses-to-be would enter the church before he could film them. At a certain moment he opened another door, and once again, found himself face to face with Padre Pio. “You again?” he said. “But what do you want of me?” However, this time his visage was quite serene, he was almost smiling. Gino excused himself, and withdrew. But this new encounter with Padre Pio had a calming influence. He reflected that if Padre Pio is to celebrate the Mass, and he is still in that room, that means the ceremony has not yet begun. And he resumed his search for the organ.

Since he still could not find it, he descended the stairs in order to go back into the church, but he ended up in another hallway. He opened a door, and for the third time was face to face with Padre Pio. This time he was in the company of a group of children, and was smiling. The children recognized Gino, “It's Gino Latilla the singer on the radio!” The Padre, continuing to smile, said “Oh yes, the Rai, the Rai.” [The Rai is Italy's public broadcaster.] He approached Gino, looking him straight in the eye as in their first encounter in his cell, and this time too under his perplexing stare, the singer experienced indescribable sensations. It seemed like his mind was spinning as if someone were stirring it up. 

Next Padre Pio raised his hand that was covered by the half-gloves, and struck Gino three times on the head. They were not caresses, but blows, decisive blows, almost punches, as if trying to get him to remember who knows what. He experienced a shudder throughout his entire body. Then with great tenderness Padre Pio said, “Go, and don't ever do anything bad and never be afraid of anyone.” With his head clearing, Gino thought of the wedding that he must film, and told the Padre that he had to leave. He walked out, entered another corridor, and finally he found himself in the church.

But no one was there. He looked all around as if lost and he realized that the wedding ceremony must have concluded. It could not be possible. From the time he had begun to look for the organ only five or six minutes had elapsed, while a nuptial Mass has to last at least an hour. Gino felt certain that he had been awake, alert, and in possession of his faculties. Besides, Padre Pio was right here in the friary, he had seen him three times, and there is no way he could have performed the marriage.

Gino walked outside and came upon a relative of his friend Luciano. “But where did you go off to, we were looking everywhere for you,” the man said in rebuke. “Weren't you to meet the spouses in their hotel?” Gino replied in the affirmative and asked where they were. The relative answered that the couple were waiting for him until a short while ago, when they left in someone else's car to attend the reception. “What about the wedding?” Gino asked. “Its been over for some time.” Gino asked who the celebrant was. “Padre Pio,” was the answer.

Thanks to author Renzo Allegri's interviews with Gino Latilla, as reported in his books I Miracoli di Padre Pio, and Padre Pio, Il Santo dei Miracoli.

Update: I have learned from another source, an Italian magazine, that Gino became a devotee of Padre Pio, who appeared to him many years later when he was partially paralyzed by a stroke and despairing of his future and of his life itself.  In this vision he heard Padre Pio tell him he would recover and sing again.  After he did recover, Gino would only sing for charity, to fulfill a vow he made after Padre Pio had spoken to him.  
View my writings on Padre Pio and others Here