Sunday, October 27, 2019

Pope Francis and Christ's Miracles

Is the Pope denying that Christ worked miracles?  The atheist Engenio Scalfari reported [Link] that the pope had told him that once he has become incarnate, Jesus ceases to be a God and becomes a man up until his death on the cross.  He quotes Pope Francis as saying: ". . . Jesus of Nazareth, once he became man, was simply a man of exceptional virtue, he was not quite a God."  Of course the Vatican denies that these were accurate recollections of what the pope "actually" said.  Personally, I tend to believe Scalfari's report. Francis' off-the-cuff interviews reveal what he really thinks, as opposed to the official speeches he gives, which are most likely written by others.

If, and I emphasize the “if,” the pope thinks that Jesus did not operate as God in his earthly life, then he is implicitly denying that Jesus wrought true miracles, since miracles are of God.  Does he think that the multiplication of the loaves was that silly canard of people sharing their fish sandwiches, does he think that he did not walk on the water because the lake was beginning to ice up, or that those raised from the dead were simply recalled from near-death experiences they were undergoing? 

Yet Our Lord himself said that if you do not believe in him, believe in the works that he does. By this he affirms that his works are miraculous.  "Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.  Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  Otherwise believe for the very works' sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do."  [John, 14:10-12, Douay-Rheims. ]

Regardless of how "progressive," preposterous, or outrageous this pope is, it is important to still accept his presence as pope, since the Church can only be rebuilt from within. All that is not Catholic of the Vatican II cult must be rejected. And that includes the veneration of pagan statuary.  

View my Catholic books Here. 

(Credit: CNS.)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Amazing Miracles of Padre Pio

Amazing Miracles of Padre Pio - and the stories behind them.  That's the title of my newest book, which contains thirty documented stories of miracles and wonders performed through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.  They include examples of his bilocations, healings, reading of souls, and conversions, as well as more esoteric tales of people seeing him crowned with thorns, seeing Jesus when they looked at Padre Pio, and his visits from the souls in Purgatory.  Many of his miraculous gifts do not fit into any known categories. 

The book is available in both print and e-book format, click Here.

See all of my Catholic books Here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

He saw Jesus in Padre Pio, and Padre Pio in Jesus

Padre Pio had personally asked Brother Daniele Natale to be his spiritual child, and perhaps this was the source of Daniele's great confidence in him. As his spiritual father, Padre Pio was always close to Daniele, who would feel the saint's loving presence even after the death of the Padre. Because of his great love and confidence in him, Daniele would sometimes approach him with intimate and unusual requests, that others would not dare to ask for. One day he showed a friend a photo, taken by another Brother, of him kissing Padre Pio's Franciscan habit on the chest, near his heart. As they looked at the picture, Fra Daniele told his friend of the time Padre Pio had desired to give him a certain, wonderful gift.

One night, it was about three in the morning, Padre Pio came unexpectedly to see Daniele in his room in the monastery where he slept. Out of the blue, Padre Pio suddenly said to him, “So! Ask me whatever you want, whatever is most dear to your heart.” Daniele began to ponder what he should ask for, since he really did not need anything. Then he told Padre Pio that what he wants is to be united with him in everything. Padre Pio replied, “But I have already told you this: where you are, there I will be; where you go, there I will go. Ask me for something else.” Daniele answered that this is enough for him. If Padre Pio is with him, he has everything.

However, the Padre insisted, “Ask me something else.” Then, as if he had gathered his courage, Daniele said, “Father, I have a great desire to kiss your heart.” Padre Pio, after leaning his chest towards him, said, “And so, kiss me!” Fra Daniele replied, “Father, I have kissed you that way hundreds and hundreds of times, what I want is to actually kiss you on your heart itself!” And Padre Pio said, “Oh I understand – you are Daniele, the man of desires.” 

Then Padre Pio unbuttoned his habit, lifted his undershirt, and lowered the band that kept in place the cloth that covered his heart wound. He had received this wound decades earlier, on August 5, 1918, when he was granted the mystical gift of the transverberation by means of an angel. With two fingers in the shape of scissors, the Padre laid bare the lesion. Seeing the wound on his heart, which was open and about the length of a finger, Daniele could not bring himself to kiss it. He thought to himself, “Who could have the courage to kiss it now?”

But Padre Pio, with his free hand, took Brother Daniele's head and guided it to his wounded heart, and Daniele began to kiss it. He kissed while feeling both anxiety and love, and did not want to separate himself from the Padre. “I felt within the depths of my soul something marvelous that I do not know how to describe. I was in a state of grace and breathed a most intense perfume. I felt his heart bubbling – a gurgle of blood that sounded like a small fountain from which a little stream of water rippled. I felt all this and meanwhile I continued to kiss.”

After a short time Daniele stopped kissing the wound, and he looked up at Padre Pio in order to thank him. But a remarkable and beautiful sight kept him entranced. “Padre Pio was not alone. I saw Jesus in Padre Pio, and Padre Pio in Jesus, who formed one thing. I looked at the appearance of the one and the other: Padre Pio more transparent and wonderful, and the face of Jesus with the Nazarene hair, which was a marvel, and I remained enchanted looking at them!”

Daniele now did not think he was worthy to kiss that heart. But Padre Pio, instead, took the Brother's head once more and placed it over the wound. “And I kiss and kiss, but I do it with more ardor, with more love, thinking that I kissed at the same time the side of Jesus and the side of Padre Pio.” Then very slowly he pulled himself away. He no longer felt the anxiety he had felt before, but also the double presence had gone. “Perhaps because my heart was by now full, and looking at the Padre, I saw only his person.” Padre Pio looked at him and asked if he was content now. Daniele replied: “Padre, only Jesus whom I saw in you, could repay you for that great and wonderful grace which you have granted me this night.”

Whenever extraordinary events happened, Daniele would tell them to Padre Agostino, to seek his advice on how to discern them and behave. Padre Agostino was the confessor and spiritual director of Padre Pio. On this occasion, he importuned Daniele: “I beg you son, ask Padre Pio for confirmation of what has happened to you, because sometimes the enemy (the devil) can put his tail on it.” Therefore, Daniele decided to seek a definite confirmation from Padre Pio, in order to be certain that what had occurred that night was true and real.

He sought this confirmation on several occasions, but Padre Pio was evasive in answering. One evening, when the rest of the friars were at dinner, he was keeping the Padre company on the little terrace near his cell. Following a moment of silence, Daniele said to him, “Father, what happened the other night, was it true or was . . .” But before he could finish, Padre Pio interrupted him, while gazing out towards the countryside below the Gargano mountain, and he began to talk about the beauty of the evening. “Look at that moon as it is reflected in the Gulf of Manfredonia, it seems we are so close by. It is like a mirror in which we can reflect ourselves. These are the works of God!” And he proceeded to praise the wonders of the Lord. Daniele listened respectfully, but his mind was bent on having that confirmation. He thought to himself that as soon as Padre Pio stops talking, he will ask him again, but that evening nothing more could be done.

The very next night they were sitting on the terrace again, and Daniele said to him, “Father, I would like the confirmation of the other night . . .” But once more Padre Pio did not acknowledge the request, and instead began to describe the distant city of Foggia in the plains below, which that evening was well illuminated and could be clearly seen.

A few days later everyone was in choir to recite the vespers prayers. But Daniele, instead of concentrating on praying, continued to think about the need for confirmation, to be sure that what had happened was not a trick of the devil. In his thoughts, he mentally asked Padre Pio if the events of that evening were true, and Padre Pio, ever so slightly, nodded his head in the affirmative. But Daniele still was not satisfied. He sought a clearer, more secure confirmation, and once again mentally repeated the same request. This time Padre Pio slowly turned towards him, and in the midst of the praying friars, said in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “Oh, now is this enough?” Daniele was full of joy and began laughing, finally satisfied with this confirmation, while the Father Superior rushed over to ask Padre Pio what had happened.
The cause for the canonization of the Servant of God, Brother Daniele Natale, has begun. His mortal remains have been transferred to a place near the altar of Padre Pio's church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo.

This article is based on Brother Natale's own account of his experience, found at the website of the Friends of Fra Natale Here.

View my Catholic books on Padre Pio and others Here.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Power of Padre Pio's Relic

The Honorable Giovanni Tamponi was a district magistrate in the prefecture of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. He became one of Padre Pio's most devoted spiritual children, thanks to the saint's miraculous cure of his five-year-old son, whom he snatched from almost certain death in 1970.  

The first time Giovanni had ever heard of Padre Pio was in 1958, in an article in the Catholic magazine Famiglia Christiana. In it he learned that this priest bore the wounds of Christ, and lived in a monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo on the Italian mainland. One thing struck him in particular in the article: when Padre Pio distributed Communion to the faithful, who would kneel before the altar to receive it from his hands, there were times when he refused to give someone the Host. Giovanni thought to himself: “How can a priest give the Sacred Host to some and not to others? What would he know? How can he behave this way and take on this responsibility in public?”

Desiring to learn more about this man of the cloth, within a month Signore Tamponi was on his way to San Giovanni, arriving on a cold November afternoon. By “chance,” the first person he encountered in the piazza of Padre Pio's church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, was an attorney from Milan who offered to share his rented accommodations. Giovanni took this as a sign from Providence, to encourage him on his quest to know more about the Padre.
The two men rose at 4:00 am in order to arrive at the church before 5:00 when the doors would open. Giovanni, unfamiliar with the rush of the “holy women,” was swept away by the crowd, which actually pushed him close to the altar. There was a sudden hush when Padre Pio appeared and the Mass began, and the silence that followed allowed him to participate in the Eucharist “in a way that is not easy to describe.” Giovanni had a personal question he wanted to ask the saint, so when Mass ended he waited for him in the corridor that he traversed in order to enter the Convento. But all at once a crowd of devotees invaded the area, and he was almost swept away again. However, he was able to reach out and touch Padre Pio. He asked him the question that he had prepared beforehand, but Padre Pio brusquely said, “What do you want?” (“Che vuoi?”) and just continued walking. Giovanni tried to follow but it was useless because of all the people.

St. Pio Foundation Relic Tour

His new friend, the lawyer from Milan, saw what had occurred and encouraged him to try once more later in the afternoon. So he waited at the corridor and again asked Padre Pio his question, but the saint one more time said “Che vuoi?” However, by this time Giovanni had learned how to make his way through the crowd, and was able to follow him right to the entrance door to the Convento. Padre Pio was about to disappear behind the door, when he suddenly stopped and turned towards Giovanni. Looking him right in the eye, he repeated a third time “Che vuoi?” Now the two of them were face to face, alone. Giovanni attempted to repeat his question, but was not able to utter a thing.

Then a good-natured and paternal smile opened on the Padre's seraphic face. It was a prelude to the reply that Giovanni had so much longed to hear, and this personal advice was immediately and precisely given to him. Giovanni was overcome, and realized at that instant that he was standing before no ordinary person. Padre Pio's answer was a turning point in his life, marking a fundamental milestone. He left the church overflowing with profound emotion and joy, and encountered his friend from Milan, who shared in the happiness that he had finally spoken with Padre Pio. However, after less than two full days in San Giovanni Rotondo, he had to hasten to return to his home. There his relatives and friends were preparing a celebration for his successful triumph in the exam to enter the magistracy in Italy. 

All during his trip back, from Puglia to the Roman port of Civitavecchia, overnight on the boat to Sardinia, and then another hour to his home town, thoughts of Padre Pio occupied his mind. The joy of passing the exam took a back seat to his enthusiasm for having met the priest that everyone was talking about, the stigmatized friar who had clearly pointed out the direction his life should take. “Already, from this first short encounter with Padre Pio, I had the definite sensation of finding myself before something truly great, of an elevated spirituality in direct contact with the Divine, of a true faith with a supernatural aura, through which I felt already protected and attracted.”

The next year Giovanni Tamponi returned to San Giovanni Rotondo, and this time he was able to stay longer. Reservations were needed to confess to Padre Pio, and his turn did not come up until the fourth day of his stay. He had been going to the 5:00 am Mass, and afterwards talked to people who had confessed to the Padre. Many told him that Padre Pio recounted sins committed during their lives that they had totally forgotten about. These seemed to be mature and honest people, and Giovanni had no reason to doubt what they were saying. Having no experience with such a confessor, he was shaken and anxious as he awaited his first confession with the saint, although he felt prepared for it.
Padre Pio confessed the men in a corner of the sacristy of the old church, behind a curtain, and furnished only with a chair and a kneeler. As his turn approached, all of his preparations became completely useless. Events and episodes of his life came to mind that he had not even considered. “ I felt my mind burning and inside my soul a tumult of different feelings, of anxieties, of tensions, of agitation, of fears. I had the impression and sensation of having to be present not at a normal confession – which I was used to – but rather at a 'divine judgment'. It seemed that Padre Pio was already scrutinizing and analyzing me.” He began to sweat and could not calm down, and had to loosen his tie because he felt suffocated.

Finally it was his turn, and he quickly drew the curtain and knelt before Padre Pio. They were face to face, eye to eye. “I looked at him but could not sustain his gaze; his large, black eyes penetrated into the depths of my soul.” Giovanni started to mention a certain sin, but Padre Pio interrupted him, “You have already confessed that! Continue on,” he urged. He conducted what was essentially an interrogation, punctuated by an occasional comment. “I experienced a fear and emotion that I cannot to this day describe.” When the confession ended, he asked to be accepted as his spiritual child, and Padre Pio consented but set a certain condition. 

Giovanni went into the church to pray, feeling like a different person. As a young magistrate he had sustained examinations of all types, but never had he suffered and at the same time rejoiced in any to this measure. But how did Padre Pio know that he had confessed that sin? Evidently he could read souls and saw that there was no corresponding stain on it. Giovanni stayed in town for another week, and returned to Sardinia with a much clearer picture of Padre Pio and also of his own spiritual path. 

Many years passed during which he continued to visit San Giovanni Rotondo. Then in 1966, during his confession to the saint, he asked him for a special blessing for his son Mario, who had just had his first birthday. Padre Pio condescended, “but perhaps in that same moment he understood that in four years time it would take a lot more than a benediction to save the boy's life.” The child was affected with a chronic urinary tract infection. He was often hospitalized but unfortunately a cause could not be determined; yet his blood nitrogen counts continued to rise. He began to visibly waste away. Finally in 1970 a prominent urologist determined that Mario suffered from a congenital malformation. His kidney function was impaired because of swollen and twisted ureters that caused urine stagnation and reflex. The only solution was a risky procedure which entailed life-threatening surgery. The boy was operated on, the malformed ureters were removed, and were substituted by a complex intestinal loop between the renal pelvis and bladder.

“The following days were terrible – the fear about the good outcome of of such a difficult and complex intervention, on his little body already so debilitated, made us suffer profoundly.” Soon it became evident that there was a serious complication: there was a blockage, an occlusion somewhere, and nothing could flow through the intestine. Therefore, no food or water could be given to little Mario. Hour by hour the situation grew graver and more critical. “On the boy there was a sad and deep expression, an indescribable thinness, an almost total absence of energy, that framed his cadaverous pallor.” There was nothing that could be done except wait for the sorrowful outcome.

The family had been praying all the while, and continued to pray, but without success. Medical science was powerless to do anything, and the end seemed inevitable. Around midnight, after over a week had passed since the operation, Giovanni's wife suggested applying a Padre Pio relic of the first-class (pertaining to the physical remains of a saint) to her son. They had a clipping of linen stained with his blood. With it, Giovanni lightly and gently touched Mario' stomach, while saying the words: “Padre Pio, if you don't put your hands here, who else can do it?” As soon as he finished pronouncing these words, the boy let out a shout, “Enough!” At that same instant, a strong, rapid noise, sounding like water and compressed air together, could be heard coming from Mario's intestines, at the spot where the relic had been placed. The sound seem to go the from center of his stomach in the direction of his bladder. Giovanni's immediate reaction was to remark: “Is this Heaven's answer?” 

Mario was given a glass of water, which he was able to drink without consequences. During the entire night, the sounds of the movement of water and air persisted, as if to indicate that the intestines were resuming their normal function. At one point, Giovanni asked his son why he had shouted “Enough!” Mario replied “Papa, as soon as you touched me I felt force so strong that I could not take it any more, and I said “enough” so that you would not touch me again.” And yet, Giovanni had only lightly applied the relic to the boy's stomach. “Simply from the mere contact with the relic, a mysterious power was evidently unleashed which the boy could not abide, and an internal surge breached the blockage.” Only a few days later, Mario was dismissed from the hospital.

The next year, his family took Mario to the tomb of Padre Pio at the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie), to offer their thanksgivings to the saint. Then in 1974 he made his First Holy Communion in the crypt of the same church. His father, the magistrate Giovanni Tamponi, reflecting on the miracle, noted that as soon as he had invoked the name of Padre Pio, the grace was conceded instantaneously and definitively. “Padre Pio was and is my point of reference, and after this event, how can I have doubts about his paternal care, especially now that he is so close to that Christ that he loved, served and honored so much during his life. He certainly was right when he asked one of his spiritual children to pray that the Lord would call him to heaven, because he would be able to do much more from there than he can do on earth.”

This story is based on a chapter from I Miracoli che Hanno Fatto Santo Padre Pio, by Enrico Malatesta, pp. 374-383.

Please view my Catholic books on Padre Pio and others Here.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Marian meditations for her month of May

Follow the entire life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from her Immaculate Conception up to her bodily Assumption into Heaven, in this series of daily readings and prayers.  This book has received Imprimaturs from three Bishops. According to the introduction written by Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, the Virgin Mary often appeared to Luisa Piccarreta in afternoons during the late 1920's.  During these appearances she revealed to Luisa the events of her entire life, and include instructions on how to live in the Divine Will.  While intended for the month of May, they may be used at any time during the year.  

The book begins with a short "Maternal Appeal of the Queen of Heaven," inviting the Soul to accept this book as a gift. Mary states: "This book is of gold, my child.  It will form your spiritual fortune and your earthly happiness . . . in this book you will see wonders."  Towards the end she says, ". . . I will give you sublime and heavenly lessons; and finally, I will teach you special and new prayers by means of which you will engage the heavens, the sun, creation, my own life and that of my Son, and all the acts of the saints."  And, ". . . with me you will obtain that the Divine Will be done on earth as it is in heaven, according to the desire of the divine Master."

Each day one begins the meditations with the same daily prayer to Mary.  Then the usual three or four page meditation starts with the Soul speaking to the Queen of Heaven, followed by a lesson from the Queen concerning a particular part of her life, then the Soul speaks again, a daily sacrifice, and a short exclamatory prayer.   

The book is available online in numerous places, such as Here and Here, and is included in Fr. Iannuzzi's pdf Divine Will Prayer Book.  It can be purchased from book sellers such as

View my Catholic books on Luisa and others Here.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Padre Pio's Great Easter Miracle

Paolina was gravely ill, with relatives and friends preparing for her death, but Padre Pio promised that during his Easter Mass she would rise with Christ.

In the early months of 1925, Paolina Preziosi, a holy woman and a good mother to her five children, fell ill with bronchitis. She was a Third Order Franciscan and well-liked by the people of San Giovanni Rotondo, where she lived. It was said of her that “she had a delicacy of conscience as rare and precious as her surname.”

As Holy Week approached, her condition became grave, and developed into pneumonia, but there was little the attending doctor could do. Difficult days lie ahead for Paolina. Her husband Lorenzo and the children became more and more upset as she grew visibly worse. Some of her friends approached Padre Pio to ask his help. But he replied: “What can I do, I am just a poor sinner”. He added that they must pray and keep on praying, so that the Lord does not take her. Her family, relatives, friends and neighbors did pray, but it seemed that their pleas were not reaching heaven. As her condition became increasingly desperate, the doctor began to fear for her life. Medicines had no effect, and she had almost stopped eating.

On Palm Sunday, her friends once more entreated Padre Pio. They recounted their fears for the fate of her five children if she were taken away from them. But he appeared preoccupied, as if he were not sure that Divine Providence would intervene. It seemed he felt that her destiny was already decided and could not be changed. The friends continued to persist: “Padre, the doctor says there is no hope.” Finally he came back to himself, and looked at them serenely, almost as if he had found a solution. Then he said to them decisively, “Paolina will rise with Jesus. She is such good person that the Lord wants her with Him in heaven, but her children need her. She must keep on praying and not be afraid. Tell her that she will rise again with the Lord.”

The words of Padre Pio assumed a prophetic significance, since he was announcing a miracle to occur at a specific time. “Padre Pio said Paolina will rise with the Lord,” the people repeated all during Holy Week. The news circulated throughout San Giovanni and even to neighboring towns in the province of Puglia, igniting disputes and discussions. The enemies of Padre Pio laughed, and awaited the day when the stupidity of those who believed in him would be confirmed. But others were certain that she would be cured; however, they wondered if the cure would occur at the Mass on Holy Saturday, or on Sunday.

The evening of Good Friday, the hapless woman continued to beg God to permit her to live for the sake of her children. Then Padre Pio, who was aware of her intense appeals, and was deeply moved, appeared to her in bilocation. “Do not fear,” he told her. “Do not fear, child of God, have faith and hope; at Mass tomorrow, when the church bells sound for Christ's Resurrection, you will be cured.”

The poor woman prayed all night, along with her friends, neighbors and relatives. They had already prepared the coffin, as was the custom in the area, since only a miracle could save her life. There was nothing doctors could do for her, because science was powerless to restore health to someone who was more dead than alive. Padre Pio, however, insisted they must continue praying to the Lord for her cure. But later that night she became comatose, and the Third Order members readied their Franciscan burial shroud, to clad her as soon as she passed.

Early in the morning on Holy Saturday, one of her relatives, with two of Paolina's children, went to the monastery in order to once again plead with Padre Pio, who was their last hope. In the face of their unbridled tears, especially of the little ones, he could not resist their request and he redoubled his prayers. “Heavenly Father, please grant that the Sacrifice of the Mass will renew the life and health of your worthy daughter. In her goodness she is ready to be with You, but permit her to remain here upon the earth for the sake of her five young children.” He embraced the two children who were present, pressing them close to himself. He was heartbroken by their innocent suffering.

In the meantime a note was passed to him, indicating that the parish priest had arrived at the Preziosi home to administer the last rites of the Church. As the morning progressed, he received further updates: she doesn't recognize anybody; she is practically dead.

After hearing confessions, Padre Pio donned his priestly vestments. He approached the altar and began the Easter Mass for Saturday in the monastery church of Our Lady of Grace. All eyes were on him. “He is sorrowful,” some said. “He has been crying,” said others. “I have never seen him so downcast.” But at the Gloria, everyone saw him transfigured, as large tears fell from his eyes. At the same time, the church bells, which had been silent all week, announced the Resurrection of Christ, ringing out their hosannas to the Lord!  Glory to God who has risen!

At the sound of the bells, Paolina Preziosi, as if impelled by a superhuman force, rose up from her bed. She lifted up to God and to Padre Pio prayers of praise and thanksgiving and gratitude. Her fever had disappeared, and her body had returned to life, with a vitality that neither medicine nor science were capable of returning to her. To the astonishment of everyone she was completely well.

People ran outside, shouting “Miracle! Paolina is cured!” The news reverberated everywhere, even reaching those who were at Mass. “The miracle has happened,” they whispered one to another, while tears streamed down their faces. At the termination of the ceremony, so many people pushed into the sacristy to see Padre Pio that the carabinieri had to intervene to curb the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Afterwards, someone remarked to him that perhaps God had wanted this woman to be with Him, but now she has come back to earth. Padre Pio replied: “It is also beautiful to be exiled from Paradise because of love!”

This mother of many children had obtained grace from the Mother of God. Padre Pio had prayed to Jesus and Saint Joseph, but in a special way to the Blessed Virgin. Certainly the phrase written over the entrance to one of the cells of his monastery must have come to his mind: “Mary is the entire reason for my hope.” (Maria e' tutta la ragione della mia speranza.)

This article is based on the original account researched by Alberto Del Fante for his book Per La Storia, with additional information from Padre Pio Il Santo dei Miracoli by Renzo Allegri.

Read about my Catholic books on Padre Pio and others Here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Padre Pio at the Threshold of Paradise

Maria Castro of Santiago, Chile is a graphic designer who volunteers and collaborates in the work of evangelizing. She had prayed to the Heavenly Father and to the Blessed Virgin to be permitted to work exclusively for the Church. It was 2004, and at this time Maria was very happy with her life, so much so that she thought that her joy might be too good to be true. When she prayed to the Blessed Virgin, she would say, “It is not possible I could be so happy. You must be preparing something, you have something in store for me.”

Maria and her collaborators decided to seek for testimonies of miracles, and interviewed people who had received such favors through the intercession of the Blessed and Saints of Chile. She also wished to collect testimonies from any who had knowledge of miracles from Padre Pio, but in Chile she was only able to find one such case. However, the person did not wish to be interviewed about it. After she was denied an interview about the Padre Pio miracle, she prayed to him, saying she was sorry that she could not find any testimonies, therefore he would have to be excluded from the collection of miracle stories.

The very next day, she began to feel quite cold. She was not too concerned, thinking that it was just a passing sickness. But soon there were days when she had trouble even getting out of bed. She began to take various medicines, and was easily fatigued by the simplest tasks. She became tormented by a constant headache and shivering, and started to lose her voice.

After she developed a low grade fever, and had difficulty swallowing, her husband drove her to the hospital. The doctors were unsure of a diagnosis, but she was admitted as a precaution, and was provided with an oxygen mask. Her husband went home, and then returned with some of her personal items, including a bible and a book about Padre Pio that she had intended to read. He also affixed a picture of Padre Pio with a novena prayer over the headboard of Maria's hospital bed. After further tests and x-rays, the doctors concluded that she had severe pneumonia with acute respiratory insufficiency. Lesions had formed inside of her mouth, making it very difficult for her to speak; she could only eat jelly-like food, and had to be given water intravenously. 

That night she had to remain almost in a sitting position in bed, with her mask on, and had been injected with antibiotics. She prayed to Padre Pio, and offered her sickness and suffering to God in reparation for attacks against the Church, for the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, and for the bishops. But she began to think that perhaps the Lord might not be content with her modest offering, and therefore she requested of Padre Pio: “If it is necessary that I suffer more, please tell the Lord that I am ready.” She recalled that he had asked people to send him their guardian angel, and she did so. She sent her angel with a message confirming her offer to suffer. It would not be long before she became aware that Padre Pio had received the message.

Because of the discomfort of the oxygen mask, she could not get to sleep. The clock showed that it was two thirty in the morning. Suddenly she had a great desire to confess her most serious sins. She prayed that Padre Pio would find her a confessor as soon as she left the hospital, a priest whom she could confess to as if he were Padre Pio himself.

Almost immediately she saw next to her bed an apparition of a confessional made of wood. She was still completely awake, and was not delirious or feverish. A middle-aged slightly overweight priest with blondish hair entered the confessional, and asked her to begin recounting her sins. She confessed everything she could remember, saving the worst for last. At that point there was a loud noise, and the priest pointed out to Maria something to her left.

She looked where he was pointing and saw with her own eyes Padre Pio himself next to her bed. “He looked at me with an expression of indescribable tenderness, while giving me absolution with his right hand. This was no apparition or phantasm: he had a solid human body, which even projected a shadow!” She was still wearing the mask, and could barely speak, so she kept whispering, “Padre Pio, Padre Pio, Padre Pio, I love you, I do not wish to disturb you.” Smiling sweetly, he nodded his head twice.

Maria wanted to reach out and touch him, but she resisted the impulse. She did not want him to think that she doubted his presence, as the Apostle Thomas. She wanted to embrace him, but did not feel she was worthy. She could not take her eyes off him: he wore a coffee-colored Capuchin habit, had the bearing and beauty of a celestial figure, strong and imposing, and seemed to be about sixty. His hands were uncovered, and there was no trace of the stigmata on them. (This is not surprising, since at the time of his death, about 35 years prior to this incident, the stigmata had completely disappeared from his body.) Padre Pio bent down and kissed her forehead with great tenderness. Within her soul she heard these words: “I have come because you have wished it. I have loved you all of your life, my daughter.”

Suddenly Padre Pio removed her oxygen mask, and Maria was able to smell an intense perfume of flowers. “Then he put his left hand on my abdomen, and his right on my shoulder, and raised my body vertically up to the ceiling with incredible speed. I remained suspended in the air for three or four seconds with my arms crossed.” When she came back down, he said to her, “I am very satisfied because you have not asked anything for yourself; I accept your offer. You will suffer a little more, but it will be a momentary thing, and this disease will never affect you again.” Padre Pio continued looking at her. Then Maria heard a choir of angels singing praises to the Lord. She immediately sensed within her heart this message: “For you the time of man is over, and the time of God begins.”

That evening her husband Roberto and her father visited her at the hospital. She was anxious to tell them of her experience and asked for a pencil. On a sheet of paper she wrote: “At about three in the morning Padre Pio came to see me.” The two men exchanged a look of amazement, because they knew she was not capable of fabricating a story like that.

On the next day, her condition worsened. Another chest x-ray confirmed the prior diagnosis, “severe pneumonia with acute respiratory insufficiency.” Then it was determined that one of her lungs had collapsed. She was moved to the intensive care unit, and a breathing tube was inserted in her mouth. Her husband was extremely anxious, but he was only permitted to see her for five minutes. Crying, he implored her to her not to leave him alone with two small children to care for. “Roberto believed that Padre Pio had actually visited me, but feared that he had come in order to take me away with him forever.” In the meantime the doctors had become pessimistic, thinking that she might need to be hospitalized for a month. It was May 25, Padre Pio's birthday. “Surely he desired, as a birthday gift, that I offer my sufferings to the Lord.”

The following morning, the x-rays revealed that her other lung had collapsed. However, towards noon she inexplicably began to respond to her therapy. She was even able to sit in an armchair. In the evening Roberto told her that her friends had offered a Mass for her healing, and her name was included in the recitation of the Rosary on Radio Maria.

On the morning of May 27, the examining Pulmonologist was surprised at her clear improvement. When he returned at midday, he exclaimed that her progress was incredible. And by evening, he was stunned, and told her that yesterday she had been in grave condition. “Do you know what I mean when I say grave?” She nodded her head, thinking of Padre Pio.

A few days later, on June 1, she was dismissed from the hospital. Her lungs were completely healthy and the pneumonia had totally gone away. The doctor avowed that no one would believe that her before and after x-rays were from the same person! Later she learned that in her medical records at the hospital there were various questions regarding her healing, which was inexplicable for science.

From Maria's own testimony: “Today, in a time in which almost no one listens to the voice of the Church, and they point their fingers at the priests because of the grave errors of some of them, I believe that Padre Pio has manifested himself to aid us. Faithful to Jesus and the Church, he constantly suffered for everyone. He prayed without ceasing, offering himself as a victim for all of humanity. Now that he is at the threshold of Paradise, he is awaiting the arrival of his spiritual children to the very last one.”

Based on an account in Padre Pio, Miracoli Sconosciuti del Santo con le Stigmate, by José Zavala, pp. 108-115.

View my Catholic books on Padre Pio and others Here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Church, in Herself, is always Holy

Before the Church can be reborn, all of the dislocated and wicked members must be purged and destroyed, and innocent members, who want to be holy like her, must take their place.

Luisa Piccarreta, while in her usual state of ecstasy, found herself outside of her body, and came across a woman lying on the ground in the middle of a road. She was covered with wounds, and all of her bones were dislocated. Although this woman was in a sad state and in great pain, Luisa could see that she was beautiful, and had an air of nobility and majesty about her. 
Moved to compassion, Luisa looked around for someone to help lift the woman out of the street to a safer place. Then a young man appeared who seemed to be Jesus, and He helped Luisa lift and carry the woman, who writhed in horrible pain with every movement. They took her to a splendid residence and laid her upon a bed. It seemed that Jesus loved her so much that He would give His own life to bring her back to health. They took the woman’s dislocated members in their hands and at the touch of the Lord, the bones would be restored to their proper place. The woman was soon transformed into a little child full of grace and beauty. 
Luisa was surprised by this transformation. Then Jesus explained that the woman is the image of His Church. Since her origin is from the Son of the heavenly Father, she is always majestic, holy and noble in herself. But the members who are incorporated into the Church caused the sorry state in which she was found. Rather than becoming holy like their Church, they have steeped themselves in every vice. They brought her into the middle of the road, exposed to the cold, mockeries and blows. Her own children, like dislocated members, follow a life of dissolution and evil in the streets. Their own self-interest makes them blind, and they live near her only to wound her, and to continuously rant to her that she should be crucified! 
Such is the sorrowful state of Jesus’ Church. Her cruelest executioners are her ministers, the very ones who should be defending her. Before the Church can be reborn, all of these dislocated and wicked members must be purged and destroyed, and innocent members, who want to be holy like her, must take their place. Then she will return to being lovely and graceful as she was when Jesus had constituted her. She will be more than a simple child, and continue to grow strong and holy. This is why it is necessary to wage battle, so that her infected members may be purged. As for Luisa, she must pray and suffer so that everything would be for His Glory. After this, she found herself back inside herself.

From pp. 158-159, Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta, the Middle Years Part-A.  Overview of revelations of 09/06/1924. 

View my Catholic books on the Divine Will and others Here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Praying to Our Father in Secret

"And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee."  Thus says Our Lord, as passed down to us in Matthew 6:5,6 (Douay Rheims). 

In her popular Catholic blog, "The Path Less Taken," Mary O'Regan offers a meditation on these words, and the difficulties and obstacles to praying in secret in today's busy world.  She writes: Taking a very literal approach, my mind came up with scenarios which prevent one from fulfilling Our Lord's call, and I fixed upon Our Lord's fatherly directive, "go to your room," which would be peculiar sounding to many millennials I've known who move out of home, congregate in big cities, and cannot find or afford a room of their own." 

To Mary, the idea of praying the Rosary in secret seemed "far-fetched."  That is, until she read the book How to Pray the Secret Rosary, which I recently published.  She explains clearly, probably more clearly that I do in my book, how one can pray the Rosary without using the beads, and without counting the Hail Mary's. In fact, I think I should have titled the book How to Pray the Rosary Secretly

Click Here to check out her excellent article. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

He Wanted to Give Padre Pio a Good Kick!

Alfredo was a practicing Catholic, but he did not give any special credence to the saintliness of Padre Pio. And he felt it was not a sin to feel that way since for him a saint was someone that the church had proclaimed as such, and that could not happen for a very long time. After all, it was 1950 and Padre Pio was still alive and well. But Alfredo did want to make a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo to find out more about this friar, if for no other reason than to satisfy his curiosity.

He carefully planned his trip to occur at a time when he thought there would be few visitors to the friary, so that he would have more time to observe the priest that everyone was talking about. Unfortunately for him, he reasoned that a good time to visit would be on November 2, All Souls Day, in Italian il Giorno dei Morti, the Day of the Dead. Alfredo had no idea that Padre Pio was already famous for his intercession for the souls in Purgatory, and that crowds of visitors and petitioners would converge on the tiny friary that day.

He took the train from his home in Potenza to Foggia, and the bus from there to San Giovanni was so packed that he was forced to stand in the aisle for the entire trip up the Gargano mountain. Then after he finally reached the church, he learned that he needed to make a reservation to confess to Padre Pio, and had to wait a week for his turn to arrive. In the meantime Alfredo, being resourceful, decided to at least be present in the sacristy when Padre Pio confessed the men, and also when the priest returned to the sacristy in the early evening to prepare for Vespers – evening prayer.

An hour after confessions were over, Padre Pio descended from his cell to enter the sacristy prior to the Vespers service. By that time, only a few men were present and Alfredo had a good opportunity to get close to the friar and observe him clearly. Yet, even after he came to know Padre Pio well in the years to come, he still does not really know how to describe him. “He was a figure, I would dare say, who was indefinable. One could attribute to him all possible adjectives: he was paternal, he was austere; he was frowning, he was cheerful; he was sarcastic, he was ironic. His eyes scrutinized a person as if he were piercing into their flesh, and forced you to look down.”

St. Mary of the Graces - the original church
After he entered the sacristy, Padre Pio cordially greeted and spoke with a certain gentleman who was standing near Alfredo. This man, as soon he saw the priest approach, went down on his knees and proceeded to kiss the friar's hand. Then Padre Pio, as part of his preparation for leading the Vespers ceremony, made use of a little water basin that was nearby, and washed his fingers which extended from the half-gloves of wool he wore over his stigmatized hands. As he finished, that same gentleman hastily retrieved a white handkerchief from his pocket and gave it to Padre Pio so he could dry his hands. Padre Pio returned it to him, and he put it back in his pocket. But as the priest was exiting the sacristy to enter the church, the gentleman again took out the handkerchief, carefully folded it, and placed it in his attaché case.

Alfredo was watching all this happen, and the man, seeing his curiosity, told him that he would explain everything when Vespers was over. They introduced themselves, and went into the church for the ceremony. Afterwards, they went out into the piazza in front of the church, and the mysterious gentleman said to Alfredo, “Now, I will satisfy your curiosity about the handkerchief, by telling you my story.”

It turns out that the man was a medical doctor, whose name Alfredo can not recall. He had been coming to San Giovanni every week for the past six months. He intended to keep returning until Padre Pio's hospital was finished, and then he would remain at San Giovanni to dedicate his life to the sick and suffering. His home was at Rome, where he practiced his medical profession. He was a confirmed atheist, as was his late father before him, who also had been a doctor. But his father, although an unbeliever, was a person of great humanity. “The first thing that he taught me as soon as I had reached the age of reason, was that I must always and unconditionally help and assist those who suffered in any way, materially or morally.”

He was single, and lived in the same apartment complex where his older sister lived with her husband and son. His sister and brother-in-law were both practicing Catholics, but he admired their discretion in never trying to involve him in a discussion of religion. In point of fact, he did not even know what the inside of a church looked like! Their 21 year old son, Massimo, was a third year medical student, following in the footsteps of the family tradition.

About eight months ago Massimo began complaining about severe headaches. As a doctor, the gentleman attributed his nephew's headaches to exhaustion due to his intensive studies in order to excel in his tests and exams. He prescribed analgesic painkillers for him, but the headaches continued. Then he had Massimo undergo a series of blood tests, which proved to be normal, except for anemia, which was attributed to the fact that his appetite was poor, causing him to eat little. Since there was still no improvement in his condition, recourse was had to an electroencephalogram. The EEG revealed, to the terror of the family, that Massimo was suffering from a brain tumor!

It was hard for them to accept this frightening conclusion, and he personally took his nephew to a famous clinic in Switzerland, which unfortunately confirmed the diagnosis. Not convinced, his uncle took him to an illustrious medical doctor based in London, who subjected Massimo to a barrage of tests and radiographs. After careful analysis of the results, this doctor determined that Massimo only had three or four months to live. What was worse, there was no hope for a surgical intervention, since the location of the tumor in his brain was such that an operation to remove it would result in total paralysis of the patient, or even death. 

Padre Pio's Hospital - Home for the Relief of Suffering

When he returned to Rome from England with Massimo, the gentleman told his brother-in-law the full truth of the situation, but to his sister, Massimo's mother, he told the “pitiful lie” that with time and the proper treatment, her son would improve. The London doctor had prescribed extra-strong painkillers, since with the passage of time the sufferings would become atrocious. With these analgesics, it almost seemed as if Massimo were improving for a time, but the destructive force of the cancer was inexorable. He was forced to abandon all of his studies, and then his general physical wasting and malnutrition confined him to bed. The tumor attacked his optic nerves, and little by little he became blind.

Massimo's mother was altogether desperate, and turned her prayers to all the saints of Paradise! His uncle visited the bedside daily, trying to inspire hope and courage in the young man. Then he was constrained to leave his patient behind for a few days in order to attend an important medical conference in Milan. While he was gone, Massimo began to experience shooting pains that were so bad that he could not stand them, and his mother was forced to have recourse to another doctor, who was highly qualified, and also very religious. This new doctor, after seeing Massimo and the results of the x-rays and tests, realized the situation had become grave. He told his mother that the medicines prescribed by the London physician were the best available, but that in Massimo's situation, science was impotent. “A miracle was the only hope, and they still happen even today, although most people are unaware of it.” She must pray, continued the doctor, because Massimo has need of prayers more than of medicine. Massimo's mother had a special devotion to St. Gemma Galgani, and taking a little statue of the saint, she placed it under the pillow of her son, who had now become a mere specter.

When the uncle returned from the conference in Milan the next morning, he was rather upset that another doctor had been called in to see Massimo, but he refrained from saying anything to his sister. However, when he discovered the figurine of St. Gemma under the pillow of his patient, the confirmed atheist behaved like a beast and raged against his sister for believing in such things, and left the house infuriated.

When he returned to see his patient that afternoon, he witnessed what he considered to be an incident of alarming fanaticism. At his sister's home a group of about ten family members and friends, people that he personally respected, even though they were all fervent Catholics, had made a circle in the bedroom of Massimo. They had placed him him the center of the group, having him kneel on a cushion and leaning him on a chair for support, while they all recited the Rosary for his healing. Among them, perhaps the most fanatical but also the man the doctor most revered, was an elderly, retired ex-colonel, who was a spiritual child of Padre Pio.

At the sight of this dreadful gathering, the doctor left the room, complaining loudly about his sister and brother-in-law. Because of their religious fantasies, they could not even allow their son Massimo the joy of dying in peace in his bed! He continued to vilify the group, who could hear his imprecations, but they continued to faithfully pray the Rosary. At its conclusion, the retired military man said to them, “Now let us offer a particular prayer to Padre Pio, asking him to intercede with the Lord and to assist me in what I am about to do. I have a handkerchief that the saintly friar had used some time ago to wipe his stigmatized hands. With this cloth, I will cover the head of Massimo, and God will do the rest.”

Upon hearing these words, the doctor stormed back into the room like a madman. Seeing the ex-colonel place the handkerchief upon Massimo's head, the doctor turned towards the retired soldier, angrily shouting that although he had the utmost respect for him, he would like give both him and his Padre Pio a good kick!

He had barely finished pronouncing this threat when Massimo suddenly yelled out, “Mama, Papa, I can see you!” Staggering, he tried to get to his feet. His uncle grasped him under the armpits so that he would not fall, and placed him on his bed. Then the bewildered doctor, feeling pale and drained like an old rag, and stripped of his anger, cast himself down on a chair. Minutes later, Massimo, who was being fed intravenously, asked his mother for something to eat. Crying tears of joy, she hurried to prepare him a bit of pastina, which he eagerly consumed, without bringing it back up as usually occurred.

Padre Pio Heals a Possessed Woman - by Antonio Ciccone

As the days passed, Massimo grew better before their very eyes. After about three weeks, he was given all the x-rays and tests as before, but this time the result was different. The tumor in his brain had completely disappeared! Another disappearance was the atheism of his uncle, the doctor. “My transition to Christianity was so rapid that I did not even notice it. It seemed to me that I had always been Catholic.”

Soon after, he was awakened one evening by someone calling out his name. Startled, he thought it was the voice of Massimo's father. Now wide awake, he again heard that same voice. But this time it said, “Don't forget that I am waiting for you, because you promised to give me a good kick!” Immediately aware of who it was, he got dressed and packed a suitcase, even though it was only 2:00 am. Taking a taxi, he was rushed to the Termini station in Rome, where he boarded the 3:30 am train for Foggia. He arrived at San Giovanni Rotondo around noon and went to the friary church of St. Mary of the Graces.

In the afternoon, Padre Pio came down from his cell to hear the confessions of the men. As he walked past Massimo's uncle, even though he had never seen him before, Padre Pio grabbed the doctor by the arm and took him to confession. The man went down on his knees, and Padre Pio said to him, “Here I am, I am all yours!” He cried for a long time, as Padre Pio talked to him: “Do not torment yourself because you have time ahead of you to make amends. Be calm because you are neither the worst nor the last. You were confounded because you were not meant to be as you were. Now that you are here I can tell you some beautiful news: your father, who was an atheist as you were, is saved and is with your mother. So now you can see that the mercy of God is great, and he abandons no one.”

Padre Pio continued, “At this place we are in the process of constructing a hospital for the relief of the suffering of so many poor people, and since you are a medical doctor, I would like you to come to work in this hospital.” The doctor replied, “Padre, there is nothing in the world that will make me leave this place. I will stay here until and I die, and you can do with me as you will.”

And that is the story that the gentleman with the handkerchief related to Alfredo.

“And God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the wicked spirits went out of them.” [Acts 19: 11, 12.]

Based on a two-part article from the “Voce di Padre Pio” magazine issued by the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, February 1995 (pp. 23-25) and March 1995 (pp. 27-29).

View all my Catholic books on Padre Pio, St. Francis, and many others Here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Part Two - The Artist and Padre PIo

Earlier in the month of February, 2019, I posted an article about Padre Pio's friendship with world-renowned artist Antonio Ciccone. I had tried in vain tried to find images of Ciccone's fresco of the “Resurrection”, which graces a wall on the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo, and that Padre Pio saw him working on. Also I was unable to find on the Internet a photo of Ciccone's painting of the possessed woman who was cured by an image of Padre Pio on a prayer card – “Padre Pio and the Posseduta”, also known as “The Healing.” 

Now, however, thanks to the generosity of Antonio's daughter Tiana, who by the way is mentioned in the original article, these photos have now been made available to this blog, along with three others that are appropriate to the story of The Artist and Padre Pio.

Following are excerpts from the original article, with the photos inserted in their appropriate places. 

One day he was at work high upon the scaffolding in order to paint one of these great frescoes in the church, working about fifty feet above the ground. In order to see from a distance the result of his labors, he started to descend on a ladder from the platform – but he made a misstep. Losing his balance, he found himself beginning to plunge below. Then all at once, an unexpected force pushed him and turned him around suddenly, so that he was able to grasp a rung of the ladder and hold himself firmly in place. Once he felt secure, he looked down below and saw Padre Pio, who was there and had seen everything. Immediately he understood that he was saved through the providential help of the Friar. “It is true, such help is always from God, but Padre Pio was his direct instrument.”

In the evenings, Antonio along with others including Brother Daniele Natale and Padre Pellegrino, who were very close to Padre Pio, often accompanied him to the friary garden. There they sat down around the saint and listened with great attention as he recounted little stories and anecdotes. At the same time, Antonio would closely observe him to insure that his portraits and sketches would accurately resemble him. Often however, Padre Pio would seem annoyed at such intense scrutiny. “I did not look at him as the others did, but scrutinized him in order to impress his spirit in me. And he, in fact, every once in a while, stopped what he was talking about and looked right at me, saying, 'What are you looking at? Why are you looking at me that way?' I justified myself by admitting I was studying him, and he would respond with an engaging smile.”

When he was commissioned to paint the Resurrection fresco in the Baptistery of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni, he approached Padre Pio to ask him for advice on how he could adequately represent such a magnificent event. But Padre Pio told him, “Do not be afraid, you will see that the right sentiments will unfold within yourself.” Padre Pio passed by the fresco every morning to see its progress as Antonio worked on it. When it was completed, Padre Pio happily expressed his approval, joyful with the spirit of a child. “I realized how much the Padre, before art works or the so many things that happened to him, reacted like an innocent child. He was pleased just to look and appreciate, rather than analyze the techniques of how the painting was made.” 

While Antonio was working on the Resurrection fresco, he witnessed a dramatic event. A possessed woman began shouting and throwing herself down, striking her head on the marble floor, a prey to indescribable sufferings. Many people gathered around attempting to calm her, or at least keep her from hitting her head against the floor. Antonio had never seen anything like this, and was so petrified and shaken that he was unable to take any action. At a certain point, however, one of the bystanders, who had a prayer card with a picture of Padre Pio on it, laid it upon the woman. At the initial contact, she shrieked and cursed, slamming every part of her body on the floor. But shortly thereafter, she completely settled down, and an interior calm pervaded her. It was then that Antonio conceived the idea of painting the event, and a year later executed a work inspired by the woman cured by the prayer card with the image of Padre Pio: “Padre Pio e la Posseduta.”

You can read the original article, The Artist and Padre Pio, Here. 

See my Catholic books on Padre Pio and others Here.