Thursday, October 4, 2018

Under the Protection of Padre Pio.

A vein in her brain had burst in four places, her eye was severely damaged, she was comatose, went through a near death experience, and then recovered completely without any consequences as Padre Pio had promised.

Teresa Sorrentino lives in a small town nestled in the hills of southern Italy called Cava de' Tirreni, holds three degrees, and is a university teacher. She grew up in a family that was serious about their Catholic faith and of their devotion to St. Francis of Assisi. She is married with two children. In 1972 when she was about 12 years old, she went on a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo, and developed a great admiration for Padre Pio. Gazing at photos of him, she was struck by the gentle and paternal expression on the face the humble friar. Although she knew little about him at the time, Teresa felt she could understand and empathize with him. From then on, she has always considered him to be her protector. When she learned that he was born on May 25, which was her birthday too, she took this as a special sign that united the two of them.

On a Friday in May of 1998, she was particularly happy, even euphoric. She had learned that she was pregnant with her third child. That morning she began to smell a very sweet perfume. Wondering where it could be coming from, she went from room to room and could sense it wherever she went; but her husband and her mother said they did not notice it. She could even smell it when she was in the car with her husband. The aroma persisted until 2 AM. Teresa did not know at the time that the phenomenon of the perfume often indicated the presence of Padre Pio.

Two days later, she experienced the first signs of a possible spontaneous abortion. She called her doctor, who ordered her to come in for some tests. She was worried, and her thoughts turned to Padre Pio. Another day passed. Then while on the phone with her doctor, she began to feel weak. Her last words to him before she collapsed unconscious onto the floor were “I feel ill.” She fell in a dead weight, slamming her head against the telephone receiver – it penetrated her right eye causing a large hematoma and a seriously damaged eyeball.

Teresa was rushed to a nearby hospital, where the gravity of the situation was ascertained – a vein in her brain had burst. But that hospital was not equipped to handle such a case, and she had to be transported to a different one. By the time she arrived there, she was close to death. They did everything possible to save her. She underwent a cerebral drainage, which only aggravated her condition. She lay in a coma in the intensive care ward, hooked up to IV's, tubes and wires, under the care of the best specialists available. The CT scan revealed an aneurysm, caused by a blood clot from the spontaneous abortion.

Between the aneurysm and the head trauma from her fall, her brain was filling with blood. Her condition was desperate. The coma was considered irreversible, and there was no hope. Even if she did awaken she would be paralyzed, blind in one eye, with disturbances in her speech and thinking; in other words a vegetable.

Yet, while her body was incapacitated, her mind and spirit took flight. She went through that extraordinary experience which many in a coma or near death have reported – a visit to heaven. She felt that she had broken free from her body and had abandoned it. She found herself in that famous dark tunnel, but the darkness was so thick that she became fearful as she traveled through it. Then, at the end of it she found herself immersed in a vibrant, bright light. It was impossible for her to describe the joy and happiness that filled her soul. She comprehended that in that light there were beings, persons, but she could not see anyone. Then, suddenly, she is not sure how, but she recognized her father. She saw him as a very beautiful figure of light, and was able to precisely communicate with him, but not with words. 

Her dad had died from throat cancer thirteen years previously. An operation had resulted in a hole in his throat, but here, on the other side, he looked perfect. She asked him why there was no opening in his throat, and he replied that where he is now, there are no physical anomalies of any sort. Then Teresa noticed that near him was another person, a young boy that she knew, who had died at age 18, and was the son of her friend. She marveled at the fact that she was seeing him there; her father said that the boy wanted to give her an urgent and important message to bring back to his family. The boy spoke to her about many things that were later verified.

He told her personal and private details, and explained to her where a certain letter was kept in his house. He described the exact piece of antique furniture and the drawer in which was to be found a maroon colored notebook, within whose pages lay the letter. Upon her return and recovery, Teresa verified that everything he had told her was true. She believes that the encounter with him, since he was not part of her usual circle of friends, had purposely occurred so that she could believe her experience was real. If her father was accompanied by a dead relative, she might have thought that her journey to the afterlife had not actually happened – that it may have been a fantasy or a dream.

Since she considered that the encounter with the boy was real, she also believed that what her father said about her illness was true. He told her that during her horrible misfortune she was protected by Padre Pio. He explained that the perfume she had smelled a few days before entering her coma was that of the saint. Finally, he said that Padre Pio would heal her without any consequences. Then her father told her that she must return to her earthly life. But she replied that should would never want to depart from this place of such peace and immense happiness. However, he insisted, stating that Padre Pio wanted her to return to her family and to give testimony of all she has received. The mention of her family brought back the memory of her two little children, and she realized she must return. Guided by her father and the boy, she reentered the dark tunnel, but this time without any fear.

There is one more incident to relate. Teresa was in a coma for seven days before awakening. When she did, it was in the presence of her mother and a host of doctors and nurses. Shortly before she awoke, her mother had begun to smell the aroma of a very strong perfume. She knew that it signified the presence of Padre Pio. She asked the people in the room if anyone else smelled it, but all they could smell were medicines and carbolic acid. Her mother realized it must be a sign from heaven, since she was the only one that sensed it. So she shouted out with joy that it was the perfume of Padre Pio, and it meant that her daughter would soon come out of her coma! But the doctors thought she was hysterical, and tried to calm her.

In general, when someone awakens from a coma, they are confused and possibly raving. But about half an hour after her mother first noticed the perfume, Teresa awoke, and she was completely lucid. The doctors were astonished. It was an extraordinary case, one that they had never witnessed. She recognized her mother and cried out in a clear voice “Mamma!” And the date of her return just happened to be “coincidentally” May 25, Padre Pio's birthday.

Teresa was transported to a hospital in Rome, where she underwent two long and difficult operations to repair a vein that had split open in four places. But as Padre Pio had promised, all went well and there have been no consequences. As for her damaged right eye, it has mysteriously recovered completely, although the oculists had told her she would lose half of her vision in it. Shortly after her discharge, she resumed her university studies. According to the doctors, her recovery is a “miracle of nature,” but she knows she owes everything to Padre Pio. She is a member of a Padre Pio prayer group, and dedicates every moment of her free time to him, traveling everywhere to give her testimony.

Based on an article by Renzo Allegri, in Padre Pio Il Santo de Miracoli, pp. 41-45.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

When Photos of Padre Pio Came up Blank

In some of the classic biographies of Padre Pio an unusual phenomenon is reported when visitors, pilgrims, or souvenir hunters tried to take his photo: they came up blank. Not always, but there are specific incidents when this was true. John McCaffery recounts one such story in his book, The Friar of San Giovanni. During the hot summer months, Padre Pio would occasionally offer Mass outdoors under a portico near the old church. McCaffery was slated to be a server at one of these ceremonies, and his friend Gino was determined to capture the event for posterity. He commissioned a local professional photographer to record the rite, this in spite of the fact that it was well known that Padre Pio was not amenable to being photographed or filmed, especially during his Mass.

As Padre Pio was approaching the outdoor altar, he noticed the photographer and his camera, and told him that he was to take only one or two photos at the Mass – and the man agreed. The photos were to be ready that afternoon, and McCaffery and Gino eagerly went over to see what the photographer had captured. He was not there, but his sister was, and she informed them that there was nothing to see. Her brother, she said, had tried to be too smart. He had agreed to Padre Pio's conditions, but during the Mass he could not restrain himself, and ended up shooting two complete rolls of film. “They all came out blank.” She looked at the two disappointed and irate men as if to say “What else could you expect?”

Later that evening McCaffery told the story to Padre Pio's good friend Dr. Sanguinetti, who was instrumental in the founding of Padre Pio's hospital. The Doctor replied that the exact same thing had happened to him – two rolls of film with nothing on them!

Mary Pyle was an American heiress who renounced the material life in order to live near Padre Pio, as a Third Order Franciscan. Interviewed in the 1950's for Maria Winowska's The True Face of Padre Pio, Pyle discussed the strange anomaly of the blank photos. She said that for years photographers had been frustrated in their efforts to photograph the saint, sometimes even creeping up on him to take him by surprise, but the negatives always came up blank. On the same roll, there could be magnificent views of landscapes, but on the photos of Padre Pio, there was nothing. Sometimes the shutter refused to move. But pilgrims had such great desire to have a picture of Padre Pio as a souvenir, that “his superiors ordered him to abandon his feud with the cameras.” Pyle commented that as a result, “the pictures you will see have been taken quite recently.” She added that many years of his life have been irreparably lost to photographers. If it had not been for the ecclesiastical authorities, we should not even have these!

A more recent book, L'Ultimo Segreto di Padre Pio, by journalist Enrico Malatesta, uncovers an intriguing new dimension to this phenomenon.

Mario De Renzis was a photo-journalist for Il Tempo, one of the major daily newspapers of Rome. It was 1960, and at that time the national press was focusing on the stigmatized friar from San Giovanni Rotondo. In an era becoming saturated with materialism, the example given by the humble servant of God constituted a ray of hope for the darkness of modern society. Consequently Mario's editors at Il Tempo gave him the assignment to report on and photograph the friary, the crowds, and the beloved friar himself. 

The little town of San Giovanni had been portrayed in the media as mecca for those on summer holiday, with tourists regarded as a great source of income. When he arrived at San Giovanni for the first time, he made a quick tour of the area, admiring the church of St. Mary of the Graces, the new hospital “Home for the Relief of Suffering,” and noting the many shops and the movements of the people. But when he proceeded to enter the church he was stopped by the ushers, and told that photographers could not be admitted – this would mean the failure of his entire assignment. Fortunately just at that time a number of buses pulled up, and as the pilgrims disembarked and made their way into the church, De Renzis fell in with them, and in this way he slipped inside. Padre Pio was on the altar, and the photographer discretely and with dexterity began to snap his pictures. But he was soon spotted, and the ushers clamored like it was the end of the world. In the ensuring confusion, he made straight for an an exit, and found himself in the garden of the convent.

Noticing a staircase, he clambered up it, entering a little corridor, which led to an open door. It was the entrance to the cell of Padre Pio. In spite of the fact that he had photographed him only a few minutes ago in the church, there he was in flesh and blood, in his room. How was this possible? A healthy person would need at least 15 minutes to get there, and Padre Pio with his painful wounds could only shuffle along slowly. At the time, De Renzis thought no more about it, now that he was in the presence of the saint. He and the Padre “exchanged what is now called in the liturgy the sign of peace,” and they shook hands. With his permission, he took a number of pictures of Padre Pio in his cell. The emotions and surprise of this encounter were so strong at the time that the photographer did not fully comprehend what had actually occurred. Padre Pio, the stigmatized priest, had clasped his hand in his own, without any hesitation and minimal discomfort – how could this greeting be possible with a painful and bloody wound in his palm?

As he left the friar's cell, he thought of the marvel that everyone was talking about – bilocation. In view of Padre Pio's extraordinary capabilities, he concluded that he had not been in the presence of the body of Padre Pio, but of his soul, his essence. And physical, bodily pain does not pertain to the soul, which is why Padre Pio was able to “tranquilly shake his hand.” His photography assignment accomplished, De Renzis visited the local shops to obtain some souvenirs, before returning to Rome.

At the offices of his newspaper, he developed his photos, and they turned out beautiful: Padre Pio celebrating Mass, the moment of Communion, the great crowds. As for the pictures taken with Padre Pio in his cell, they showed the room clearly, except for one strange thing – there was no Padre Pio visible in the photos! But his assignment at San Giovanni Rotondo was a great overall success, and the newspaper Il Tempo sold out at the newsstands. 

He never told anyone about what had happened – this particular event was something for him alone, a personal experience of his soul. Even now [around 30 years later] he is filled with nostalgia in thinking about his encounter with the holy friar. Padre Pio, with his extraordinary capabilities, helped him to obtain great satisfaction in his professional field, but much more so in the spiritual. “Now I can say it with greater clarity, my soul is filled with strong emotions that, at the mere memory of the encounter, still make my heart throb.”

Thanks to John McCaffery, The Friar of San Giovanni, p. 39; Maria Winowska, The True Face of Padre Pio, p. 50, Enrico Malatesta, L'Ultimo Segreto di Padre Pio, pp. 248-251.

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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. 

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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.

View my books on Padre Pio and others Here.