An insatiable thirst caused her to drink countless gallons of water day and night.
For seven long years, beginning when she was only a teenager in 1945, Lucia Bellodi suffered from a severe case of diabetes insipidus, complicated by an earlier attack of encephalitis. She was a farm girl from Modena, in northern Italy, and had been admitted over the years to several hospitals and a sanatorium. The doctors did all they could with the knowledge then available, but instead of improving she only worsened. Suffering from a pituitary imbalance, she was declared incurable, and was ultimately admitted to a nursing home in Modena. At the nursing facility, a “home for the aged,” the sisters did all they could to provide her relief from her most unusual illness, characterized by an insatiable thirst. Her body was unable to maintain adequate control over its water content, and as a result she had to constantly consume large amounts of water to offset her frequent urination. We are talking about drinking gallons and gallons of water per day, causing her abdomen to swell out of proportion. Incredible as it may seem, one source mentions 105 quarts of water, and by her own testimony, it had increased in the days before her cure to over 170 quarts in 24 hours.
She was enabled to sustain this affliction by drinking constantly through a rubber hose attached to a large container holding many gallons of water. Even at night when sleeping, she had to suck water out of the hose. If she did not keep drinking, her tongue would swell and her mouth would start to bleed. The nursing sisters looked after her continually, and due to urination complications, they were forced to change her bed linens many times a day. In addition, there was another extremely serious concern – about every two weeks there would be a crisis consisting of extremely painful headaches and high fevers, to the point of delirium.
Lucia held Padre Pio in great esteem, after learning about him from her hospital caregivers and the nursing sisters. Although she prayed to him often, it was not for the grace of a cure. Instead she asked him to intercede with the Lord so that she would be able to resign herself to accepting her malady, or to be freed from it by her death.
The day of Corpus Christi in 1952, she manifested to the sisters that she had a desire to attend Mass for the feast day. They agreed to this, but when she returned from making her confession, she was unable to stand. She was rushed to her bed, since this appeared to be the onset of one of her crises. The fever and headache lasted all that morning until the early afternoon, as she drank more and more water. At a certain point during that morning, she saw a friar, who looked at her fixedly with dark eyes, as if reproving her, but he said nothing. During her delirium, the nursing sister heard her say “Padre Pio, I can go on no longer; please come to take me!” Seeing how much Lucia was suffering, this sister too prayed that God would liberate her from such a pitiful existence.
At about two in the afternoon, at the culmination of the crisis, her caregivers thought that this was the end for her, as they felt her body getting cold. Lucia could smell all around her the sweet fragrance of the perfume of violets. As she wondered at this, she fell asleep. While she was sleeping, she heard these words: “Arise Lucia, since you are cured. This evening or tomorrow come to see me at San Giovanni Rotondo.” As she slept, her mouth was firmly shut and the sisters could not insert the rubber hose so that she could continue to drink water. They were fearful that her tongue would swell and she would hemorrhage. Thus after an hour and a half of letting her rest, the sisters had to slap her into wakefulness. She awoke suddenly and got up from her bed, announcing to all that she was cured. At first they thought she was talking crazy, but after she explained what Padre Pio had said, they told her she should go into the chapel to thank the Lord.
She proceeded up the stairs on her own, feeling confident and secure, and even took part in the Corpus Christi procession. She felt completely well, as if she had never suffered at all for the past seven years. The doctors were summoned, and they could only conclude that a miracle had occurred. She expressed her wish to travel to Padre Pio's monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, but they felt that she was not yet ready to sustain such a long trip, from the north of Italy to the south, and she was constrained to remain at the nursing home in Modena for three more days.
When she arrived at San Giovanni accompanied by two of the sisters, she was extremely happy to be able to see and to speak to Padre Pio, whom she thanked profusely. He smiled and said, “I was waiting for you,” and he told her that it was the Lord who deserved the thanks. Upon her return to Modena, she moved in with her parents, and went to work on their farm. The doctors subjected her to a final battery of tests, which indicated that she was completely healthy. But they told her that because of her severe case of diabetes insipidus, she would never be able to have children of her own. However, confiding in Padre Pio, she chose to marry in 1961, and was blessed with a child.
This article is based on Lucia Bellodi's personal testimony, published in Padre Pio Storia D'una Vittima, by F. Chiocci and L. Cirri, pp. 670-672. Some additional information was provided by Rev. Bernard Ruffin in Padre Pio the True Story, pp. 336-337; and Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty, Padre Pio the Stigmatist, pp. 171-172. Where some of the details given in the latter two sources differ from the Chiocci-Cirri version, I have relied on Chiocci-Cirri since that source presented her own words.
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