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.