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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