Tag: Saint Padre Pio

Remarkable Testimonies: Padre Pio’s Intercessions In The War Years. 

Remarkable Testimonies: Padre Pio’s Intercessions In The War Years. 

The incorruptible mortal remains of St Padre Pio

Padre Pio’s intercession in the War Years: Remarkable Testimonies.The efficacy of Padre Pio’s prayers for the deceased was revealed on one occasion in a startling way. 

During the first World War, the main door of the monastery of Our Lady of Grace was locked every evening after the ringing of the Angelus bell. An iron bar secured the door and kept the monastery safe from intruders.

One evening, the superior of the monastery, Father Raffaele, heard voices shouting, “Viva Padre Pio! Viva Padre Pio!” (Long live Padre Pio!) He immediately notified the porter, Brother Gerardo.

“Strangers have somehow managed to enter the monastery, even though the door is locked,” Father Raffaele said. “They are downstairs in the hallway shouting in unison. You must go down there immediately and make them leave!”

Brother Gerardo left at once to take care of the matter. He returned a short time later and said to Father Raffaele, “The door is locked and secured and there are no intruders downstairs.” Father Raffaele was perplexed. He knew what he had heard and he could not doubt it. He was also well aware that unusual incidents happened from time to time at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Those unusual events almost always involved Padre Pio. Father Raffaele had lived with Padre Pio long enough to know that he was living in a supernatural reality. As one of the Capuchins described it, “Padre Pio was living with one foot on earth and one foot in heaven.”

Father Raffaele decided to ask Padre Pio about the mysterious voices he had heard in the hallway. The next morning he said to Padre Pio, 

“Something very strange happened last night. Even though the doors were locked, I was certain that intruders had broken into the monastery. I distinctly heard them shouting your name in the corridor and saying, “Viva Padre Pio!” I have no doubt about what I heard.

When Brother Gerardo went downstairs to escort the people out, there was no one there. Do you know anything about this?”

“Those were the souls of deceased soldiers who had walked up the hill to thank me for my prayers,” Padre Pio replied. “There are more souls of the dead than of the living who climb the hill to the monastery to request my prayers.”✙

One morning after the Mass at Our Lady of Grace monastery, a number of people gathered around Padre Pio in order to greet him. Maria Pompilio, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, was in the church that day. The year was 1919. Maria noticed a man in the crowd who was staring intently at Padre Pio. She was close enough to hear the man exclaim, “Dear Lord, it is him. Truly, it is him. I am not mistaken!” Upon saying that, the man knelt down and began to cry. “Padre Pio, thank you for saving me from death! Thank you!” the man said. Padre Pio put his hands on the man’s head in a blessing and said, “You must not thank me, my son. Thank our Lord and the Virgin of Graces.” Padre Pio and the man spoke together for a few moments but they were speaking so softly that no one nearby could hear the conversation. Then Padre Pio went to the choir loft in the church to pray.

Some of the people who had been present when the man and Padre Pio were speaking together became curious. They asked the man what Padre Pio had said to him. The man explained that he had been a captain in the infantry. On one occasion, when he was on the battlefield engaged in combat, he noticed a friar standing a short distance away. The friar had a very distinct look about him. He was delicate and fair-skinned and had beautiful and expressive eyes. The captain could tell by looking at him that he was not a military chaplain for he wore the clothing of a simple friar. 
The friar spoke to the captain and said, “Captain, come here quickly. Move away from where you are standing immediately!” The captain followed the friar’s instructions. No sooner had he run toward the friar, than a grenade exploded right in the spot where he had been standing.

The force of the explosion left a large hole in the ground. If he had not followed the command of the friar, he would have been killed instantly. The captain had the greatest desire to thank the friar for saving his life but when he looked in his direction once again, the friar was no longer there. He was nowhere to be seen.

When the captain recounted his story to his fellow-soldiers, one of the soldiers told him that he too had been rescued from death by a “beautiful monk.” At the Italian military base, others reported that they too had seen a friar on the battlefield who raised his eyes toward Heaven and prayed.

One of the soldiers said that the friar’s name was Padre Pio who lived in a monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. The captain had made a trip to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in order to see if Padre Pio was the priest who he had seen on the battlefield. How happy he was to be able to confirm that it was indeed Padre Pio who had rescued him and how glad he was to be able to thank him personally for saving his life.✙

Padre Pio often reminded people of the importance of praying for the souls of the departed. He used to say, “We must empty purgatory with our prayers.”

When Padre Pio celebrated Mass, during the time of the prayers for the living and the deceased, he would pause for an extended period of silence. At times, the Lord enlightened him regarding the state of those who had already passed away. He once said to Father Alessio Parente, “You are going to be amazed to find souls in heaven who you would never have expected to find there.”

In the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, there was a wooden box mounted to the wall with a notice above it reminding the Capuchins to pray for the deceased. A categorical list was posted, which included souls of deceased priests, souls close to heaven, forgotten souls, etc. Small disks were inside the wooden box with numbers on them referring to the category of souls to pray for. Regularly, Padre Pio would take a disk from the box and pause in silence as he devoutly recited the prayer for the deceased – Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.✙

As an American soldier, Joe Peluso was stationed in southern Italy during World War II. One day at the base, he received a letter from his mother who told him that there was a holy priest named Padre Pio living in Italy. She did not know what part of Italy he lived in but she wanted Joe to find out and to visit him. Joe asked the military chaplain on the base if he knew anything about Padre Pio.

The military chaplain started laughing and pointed to the mountain that was directly in front of them. “Padre Pio lives right on that mountain,” he said to Joe. One day, curiosity got the better of Joe and he decided to make the short trip to see Padre Pio. It was October 6, 1944.

Padre Pio loved the visits of the American soldiers and always greeted them cordially. His counsel to the soldiers was unique. He often used simple and childlike words when talking to them and giving them advice. Sometimes he would pat them on the head in a paternal way and simply say, “Be a good boy.”

Joe was able to visit Padre Pio many times and the two became very close. Often, he was invited to eat with the Capuchins at the monastery. While everyone else enjoyed their food, Joe noticed that Padre Pio simply pushed his food around on the plate. Padre Pio once said, “I need very little of this world’s goods. I need just a little bit of food, a little sleep and few possessions.”

It was Padre Pio’s habit to give a religious medal to the pilgrims who came to the monastery to see him. Because of the war, religious medals and rosaries became scarce and almost impossible to acquire. Padre Pio felt very bad that his supply of medals was exhausted and he had none to give his visitors.

During his frequent visits to the monastery, Joe had become acquainted with Mary Pyle. He and Mary tried to think of a way to replenish Padre Pio’s supply of medals. Joe decided to take the 220-mile trip from his military base to Rome to see if he could acquire the medals. Padre Pio and Padre Pio’s brother Michael both gave him letters to deliver to their sister, Sister Pia. She was a nun of the Order of St. Bridget and lived in the Brigittine Convent in Rome.

When Joe arrived in Rome, something prompted him to follow a road leading up a hill. As he drove up the hill, he saw a large sign which said, “Cloistered Motherhouse of the Benedictine Nuns.” Joe remembered that the St. Benedict medals were a favorite of Padre Pio. Joe knocked on the door and the nuns who greeted him were extremely happy to give him a large supply of medals for Padre Pio.

On one occasion, Padre Pio asked Joe to select a name for his guardian angel. “Pick a name for your guardian angel and call him by that name always,” Padre Pio said to Joe.“When you send him to me, he will come instantly.”

One day Joe asked Padre Pio if he would accept him as his spiritual child and Padre Pio readily agreed. Joe then asked Padre Pio if he would accept his wife as his spiritual child and he agreed as well. Realizing the wonderful opportunity that was at hand, he next asked Padre Pio if he would accept his daughter. Joe thought about his aunts and uncles and realized that they needed to be mentioned as well. Somehow, the way the conversation was going struck Joe and Padre Pio as funny. They began to laugh.

They laughed so hard that tears were rolling down their faces. Suddenly Padre Pio became very serious and said to Joe:

“Joe, when the war is over and you return to the United States, tell the American people that for those who would like me to be their spiritual father, my answer is yes. I accept all Americans as my spiritual children. I only have two requirements – that they lead very good Catholic lives and that they regularly receive the sacraments. And please, tell them never to embarrass me in front of Jesus and Mary. You must tell them, Joe.”

Joe felt that it was an impossible request. He lived in a very small town in Pennsylvania. He was not an important person. He did not know many people. How could he tell all of America what Padre Pio had asked him to? Nevertheless, when he returned to the U.S. he tried to do what was asked of him. He made a slide show presentation of Padre Pio’s life and over the years, he showed it to thousands of people. Joe died in 1996, after having spent fifty years sharing the message of Padre Pio with more people than he could have ever imagined.

Ray Neameyer was a military pilot who was stationed in Italy during World War II. He visited San Giovanni Rotondo and felt honored to meet Padre Pio. Once, when Ray was flying a twin engine fighter known as a P38, one of the engines blew up during the flight. Black smoke was pouring out of the plane, indicating the extreme danger of the situation. Luckily, he managed to return to the base on one engine.

Later, the head mechanic who worked on Ray’s plane confided in him. He told him that he had worked as a mechanic for many years and had witnessed a number of serious aircraft accidents. Referring to Ray’s safe landing, the mechanic said, “That was an act of God if ever I saw one!” Before Ray had left San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio had put his hand on his head in a blessing. He did the same to the other soldiers who were with Ray. He prayed that they would all return home safely.✙

Corporal Joe Asterita was an American serviceman who was stationed in Cerignola, Italy during World War II. Along with other soldiers in his squadron, Joe used to visit Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo when he had the opportunity. Joe was fluent in Italian with the added benefit of being able to understand the dialect of those who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo. He often translated for the other GI’s who wanted to speak to Padre Pio.

On one occasion, Padre Pio told Joe that five people who had visited the monastery needed a ride back to their homes in Foggia. He asked Joe to drive them back. Joe told Padre Pio that it was against United States Army regulations to use military vehicles to provide transportation for civilians. Padre Pio was very firm and insisted that Joe do him the favor. Joe carefully considered the matter but finally decided against it. The risk of getting caught was too great. “Army regulations forbid me to transport those who are non-military. I am sorry but I cannot break the rule,” Joe said.

Speaking with authority, Padre Pio then said to Joe, “Remember this. Anytime I ask you to do something for me, it will work out. You need have no fear.” Joe was finally convinced. He then allowed the two men, two women and a little boy to get into his military jeep.

Shortly after they were on the road, Joe saw two Military Police Officers coming in their direction. The Military Police Officers looked in the jeep but passed right on by without stopping Joe. At that moment, the air became filled with a delightful perfume. As they continued on the road to Foggia, they encountered one Military Police Officer after another, but they were never pulled over. The fragrant perfume stayed in the air until the five Italian citizens were dropped off safely in Foggia.✙

“Let us always keep before our eyes the fact that here on earth we are on a battlefield and that in paradise we shall receive the crown of victory; that this is a testing-ground and the prize will be awarded up above; that we are now in a land of exile while our true homeland is heaven to which we must continually aspire.”

St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

The Remarkable Story Of Padre Pio’s Last Days.

The Remarkable Story Of Padre Pio’s Last Days.

The incorruptible mortal remains of St. Padre Pio enclosed in a Glass casket.

Padre Pio passed away on September 231968. He lived a holy life and died a holy death. The following is the remarkable story of his last days:

Padre Pio’s health steadily declined during the last years of his life. In 1968, the year that Padre Pio died, Father Carmelo, the superior of the monastery, was keenly aware of Padre Pio’s deteriorating condition. He told Padre Pio that he did not want him to overtax himself and that he could dispense with hearing confessions if he wanted to. But Padre Pio would not even consider it. He never wanted to “retire” from his priestly ministry. He wanted to work right up until the end and that is exactly what he did. 

A few days before his death, although weak and extremely ill, he insisted on hearing confessions. “He desired to die on his feet, at his place of work, after a day spent with others in prayer and in his ministry for good,” Father Carmelo said.

The Capuchins who lived with Padre Pio observed the decrease in his physical strength in his later years. On one occasion, Padre Rosario gave Padre Pio a Rosary as a gift. Shortly after, Padre Pio returned it to him. He explained that it was too heavy and he did not have the strength to hold it. Padre Rosario said, “He seemed always at the extreme limits of his strength and he was in constant expectation of death.” When saying goodnight, Padre Pio often asked his Capuchin brothers to recommend him to the Lord because he was not sure if he would be alive in the morning. “Padre Pio was not frightened of death, but he felt it looking over his shoulder, ready to snatch him away,” Padre Rosario said.

Several months before his death, Padre Pio asked that a picture of StJoseph be hung near his cell. His confreres noticed that he would stop every day before the picture and gaze at it in silence. It was only later that they learned that Padre Pio had been praying each day to StJoseph for a happy death.

Some of the Capuchins also stated that for a number of weeks before Padre Pio’s death, the monastery of Our Lady of Grace seemed to have an altogether different feeling about it. The corridors, the rooms and gathering areas, and the monastery itself seemed to be pervaded by what was described as a “mystical silence.” At that time, no one knew that Padre Pio would soon be passing away.

When Padre Pio knew that his end was approaching, he immersed himself in prayer. One of his spiritual sons said:

“Padre Pio’s life was dedicated to prayer, from the solitary prayers he learned as a child in Pietrelcina, to the Our Father which he prayed in his cell during the last hours of his life, when he was perfectly conscious of his imminent departure. In his temptations he prayed, in his joys he prayed, in the many vicissitudes of life he prayed, in his illness he prayed. God imbued his whole existence and his every action with prayer.”

In a sense, Padre Pio had always looked forward to the end of his earthly pilgrimage. He longed to return to his true home, Heaven, where he could be united to God for eternity. He wrote a letter to Padre Agostino and said:

“Living here below is wearisome to me, my dear Father. It is such a bitter torment to me to live in exile that I can hardly go on any longer. The thought that at any moment I could lose Jesus terrifies me in a way I cannot explain. (Letters I)”.

Not long before Padre Pio passed away, he spoke to Brother Modestino Fucci and asked him to assist him with his prayers. “But Spiritual Father,” Brother Modestino said, “it is you who must pray for me.” Padre Pio answered him, “My son, I tell you that the justice of God is severe. Pray for me.” Brother Modestino understood then that Padre Pio was speaking of his death.

Padre Pio also spoke about his death to his friend, Carlo Trabucco. He said to Carlo, “When my time comes to leave this life, if my heavenly Mother is not there to hold my hand, how will I have courage?” Carlo then began to contemplate the thought of his own death, knowing that he too, would have to render an account to God. As Carlo thought about it, he began to tremble.

There were many indications that Padre Pio had knowledge of the time and date of his death. To his niece, Pia Forgione Pennelli, he said in 1966, “I will not be alive in two years.” He would die in 1968. He told his friend Pietruccio Cugino that he would die in his eighty-first year, and indeed he did.

Padre Pio was very close to Father Onorato Marcucci, who assisted him in the last three years of his life. When Father Onorato had to travel to Montecatini a short time before Padre Pio’s passing, Padre Pio said to him, “Son, I beg you to return as soon as possible!” He wanted to have those he loved near him at the time of his death.

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Padre Pio told his spiritual daughter, Josephine Bove, that he would die when the crypt in the church of Our Lady of Grace was built. He knew that the Capuchins were planning to build a crypt for his burial. Nevertheless, he indicated that it was not his desire to be buried in a specially made crypt. Rather, he wanted to be buried in a simple grave. 

The construction of the new church of Our Lady of Grace was finished in 1959. Josephine Bove was afraid that the completion of the new church might in some way be a signal of Padre Pio’s death. But the building of Padre Pio’s crypt was put on hold for a number of years. It was finally completed and was blessed on September 22, 1968. Padre Pio died sixteen hours later.

Shortly before his death, Padre Pio conveyed the message that he would soon be entering eternal life to a number of his spiritual children. One was a woman who lived in Catania, Sicily. She visited San Giovanni Rotondo on September 8, 1968 and made her confession to Father Alberto D’Apolito. She asked Father Alberto for a favor. She told him that she had a great desire to see Padre Pio, even if only for a moment and to kiss his hand. Father Alberto told her that it would be impossible. There were too many pilgrims in the church that day. However, he could arrange for her to see Padre Pio on the following day.

The woman explained to Father Alberto that she had made the long journey to San Giovanni Rotondo from Sicily. She was poor and had made great sacrifices to get to the monastery. She did not have enough money to stay overnight in a hotel but would have to return to Sicily that very day. All of her life, she had wanted to see Padre Pio but could never afford to make the trip.

Pope Francis prays before the incorruptible body of St Padre Pio.

A few days before, she had a vivid dream. In her dream Padre Pio said to her, “If you want to see me, come to San Giovanni Rotondo immediately because in a few days I will die.” She had to borrow the money for the travel expenses.

Father Alberto was skeptical about the woman’s words. He believed that she was making up the story for her own purposes. He heard the same type of requests day in and day out and the more desperate the people were, the more they tended to exaggerate the truth. He had no indication that Padre Pio was going to die any time soon. When the woman began to cry, Father Alberto’s heart softened and he decided to help her. He led her through a corridor of the monastery to the elevator and told her to wait there. Padre Pio would be coming that way shortly. The woman knelt down and waited.

When Padre Pio passed by the area where she was kneeling, he stopped. He looked at her with great tenderness and spoke to her. She was deeply moved when he placed his hands on her head, giving her a blessing. Before leaving the monastery, she returned to the confessional to speak to Father Alberto. With tears in her eyes, she thanked him with all her heart for arranging the meeting. It was just fifteen days later that Padre Pio passed away.

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September 20, 1968 was the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s stigmata. For Padre Pio, it would be a day like any other day, a day devoted to Mass, prayer, and service to the Lord. But it was not a day like any other day for his spiritual children from around the world. Many had come great distances to be present for his anniversary.

The Mass on September 20th was at the usual early morning hour of 5:00 a.m. and the church was filled to capacity. Many people had to stand outside during the Mass. In keeping with Padre Pio’s wishes, there were no speeches, no festivities, no celebration. There was only one exception to the rule and that was the hundreds of deep red roses that decorated the sanctuary of the church. The crucifix in the choir loft before which Padre Pio received the stigmata on September 20, 1918, was also adorned with beautiful red roses.

Father Armand Dasseville, OFM Capuchin, was one of the many pilgrims that day who attended the Mass that commemorated the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s stigmata. An active promoter of Padre Pio prayer groups in the United States, Father Dasseville had traveled from New York City to attend the Mass. Father Dasseville said:

“It is hard to put my impressions of Padre Pio’s Mass into words. All I had heard and read about his masses were true. I was touched by the humility, the sincerity, and the great faith of this man of prayer. He seemed oblivious to the noises and exclamations, the pushing and shoving that was going on in the church as people edged closer to get a better look at him. He literally lived the Mass. He relived the Passion of Christ. From the expression on his face, he actually suffered with Christ. As far as I could judge, the sufferings of Padre Pio were greatest at the moment of the consecration of the Mass. His eyes sometimes would close, his face would contort in pain, and his lips would tremble. Frequently I saw him wipe tears from his eyes with his handkerchief. He was seated for the Mass and faced the people. In obedience to his superiors, the Mass lasted only a good half hour.”

Like Father Armand, Dorothy Boes was another one of Padre Pio’s spiritual children who attended the Mass on September 20. Dorothy had always had a great desire to visit Padre Pio and when she heard that there would be a Mass at Our Lady of Grace monastery celebrating the 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s stigmata, she immediately applied for a passport to travel to Italy. She received italy, just in time.

Dorothy and her friend Mary arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo on September 19. Knowing how crowded the Mass would be the next morning, they decided to get to the church at 2:30 a.m. to wait for the doors to open. When the church finally opened, the two women were almost knocked down by the crowds who rushed in all at once. Nevertheless, Dorothy and Mary managed to find good seats in the front.

Afterwards, Mary and Dorothy along with some of the other pilgrims in attendance were taken to a room in the monastery where Padre Pio was brought in to greet them. Dorothy said, “Padre Pio looked directly at Mary and I and said, “I knew for a long time that all of you would be coming to see me.” Then he called us his children.” Shortly after, Dorothy and Mary left San Giovanni Rotondo to return home. Just a few days later they learned that Padre Pio had passed away.

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Pope Francis prays in the reserved cell (room) of St. Padre Pio.

Mr. Gino Pin and his family also came to attend the 50th anniversary Mass of Padre Pio’s stigmata. Gino had a great devotion to Padre Pio and was a tireless worker for the Padre Pio prayer groups in Biella, Italy. Father Alberto D’Apolito was very happy to greet Gino when he arrived. He felt sorry for Gino because he knew that he had experienced many difficulties in his family life.

Padre Alberto went to Padre Pio with a request. He handed him a holy card and asked him to write a devotional message on the back. He did not tell him who he was going to give it to. He knew how much it would mean to Gino to have a prayer card that Padre Pio had inscribed. Padre Pio kissed the holy card and blessed it and wrote on the back, “May Jesus and Mary always sweeten your sorrows.” When Father Alberto read the message, he was disappointed. He did not want Gino to be reminded of his “sorrows” for he had experienced one trial after another in recent years. He decided not to give the holy card to Gino.

Instead, Father Alberto arranged for Gino to see Padre Pio personally. He took him to the veranda of the monastery so that he could greet Padre Pio. Padre Pio spoke to him with affection and said he would pray for his intentions. Before Gino left, Padre Pio gave him a blessing.

Afterward, Father Alberto decided to give Gino the holy card that Padre Pio had signed. Gino read the message on the back of the card and his eyes filled with tears. He said to Father Alberto, “Did you see the message that Padre Pio wrote to me?” indicating the reference to his “sorrows.” Father Alberto encouraged Gino by saying, “Be strong. Padre Pio is with you. He will help you.”

Later that evening, Gino came back to the monastery to see Father Alberto. He was crying as he told Father Alberto that his daughter, Maria Pia, had just been admitted to the hospital and was in very serious condition. The doctors suspected that she had a tumor or possibly peritonitis.

The next morning, Maria Pia’s condition was even more desperate. Gino wondered if he should take her back home to Biella to receive medical treatment there. He asked Father Alberto to explain the situation to Padre Pio and ask for his advice. Father Alberto went at once to look for Padre Pio and found him on the veranda, praying the Rosary. Father Alberto spoke to him about Gino, but he did not reply. It did not seem as though he was even aware of Father Alberto’s presence, for he was deeply immersed in prayer.

Father Alberto finally tapped Padre Pio to get his attention and he then looked up in surprise. “Padre Pio,” Father Alberto said. “Gino’s daughter, Maria Pia, is in the hospital in very serious condition. She may need an operation. Gino needs your advice. He wonders if he should take her back home to Biella. What should he do?”

“She should not be moved from the hospital,” Padre Pio replied. “If she needs an operation, she should be operated on here and not in Biella.” “Gino is a poor man,” Father Alberto said. “He cannot afford to have his daughter remain in the hospital and he cannot afford the cost of an operation. Can’t you invoke a cure from the Blessed Virgin for Maria Pia so that she doesn’t have to have an operation?” “Yes, I will pray about it,” Padre Pio answered.

Several hours later when Dr. Gusso, the head physician of the Home for the Relief of Suffering examined Maria Pia, he found that she was completely well. She was immediately discharged from the hospital. The miraculous recovery of Gino Pia’s daughter occurred on September 22, one day before Padre Pio’s death. It is considered to be possibly the last miracle, the last grace invoked by Padre Pio to the Blessed Virgin, before he died.

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Marissa Liberati, a spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, used to travel from Rome to San Giovanni Rotondo twice a month to make her confession to Padre Pio. She told him that she would like to bring her two nieces, Lucia and Anna to the monastery to receive their first Holy Communion from his hands. Padre Pio told her to have the girls receive their religious instruction in Rome and when it was completed he would be happy to give them their first Communion. Lucia and Anna attended catechism classes and completed their sacramental preparation but their parents kept delaying the date for the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. Marissa frequently spoke to Padre Pio about the situation.

Toward the middle of September 1968, Marissa had a vivid dream. In her dream, Padre Pio told her to bring Anna and Lucia to San Giovanni Rotondo as soon as possible. There was an urgency in his words. When she woke up, she reflected on the dream and decided to cancel the pilgrimage that she was planning to make to Lourdes. Instead, she purchased the first Holy Communion clothing for her nieces and along with their mother, took the girls to San Giovanni Rotondo.

Padre Pio was extremely weak and ill on the day that Marissa arrived with her nieces and their mother. It was September 22 and the church was full to overflowing. The members of Padre Pio’s worldwide prayer groups were present at the Mass that morning. They had come to San Giovanni Rotondo to attend the International Prayer Group Congress.

Padre Pio said Mass on that day in thanksgiving for the prayer groups and in special thanksgiving for the official approval and recognition they had recently received from the Holy Office in Rome. It was a great joy for Padre Pio to know that his prayer groups were established on a firm foundation and were flourishing worldwide.

At the Mass, Padre Pio gave Communion first to Lucia and then to Anna. Anna Fanoni was the last person to receive Holy Communion from Padre Pio’s hands for he died the very next day. As he left the altar, he almost collapsed. Several of the Capuchins who assisted at the Mass aided him and kept him from falling. Padre Pio looked out at the sea of people, and in a broken and shaky voice called out, “My children, my children.” Later, he went to a window of the monastery to greet and bless the prayer group members who were gathered in the piazza below. He was so weak that he had to be supported by two of his brother Capuchins.

That evening about 9:00 p.m. Padre Pio used the intercom to call Padre Pellegrino to come to his room. Padre Pellegrino, who took turns with Padre Onorato and Padre Mariano in assisting Padre Pio, was assigned to the evening duty that night. When Padre Pellegrino answered Padre Pio’s call and entered his room, he found him in bed and noticed that his eyes were red with tears. Padre Pio had called him because he wanted to know what time it was. Padre Pellegrino dried Padre Pio’s tears with a handkerchief and told him the time. After he checked to make sure that Padre Pio was all right, he went back to his room.

During the evening, Padre Pio called Padre Pellegrino to his room five or six times asking for small necessities. Every time he entered the room, he noticed tears in Padre Pio’s eyes. Nevertheless, Padre Pio joked with him by calling him Don Pellegrino rather than the usual, “my son” or “my brother.” He always called him Don Pellegrino whenever he wanted to make him laugh.

Around midnight, Padre Pio asked Padre Pellegrino if he would stay on in his room with him, and he was happy to do so. Usually Padre Pellegrino sat in the armchair but on this night, Padre Pio wanted him to sit right beside his bed. He took Padre Pellegrino’s hand in his and held it tightly. Padre Pio began to tremble like a frightened child. Every few minutes he wanted to know the time. Padre Pellegrino did not know what to make of it. It almost seemed as though he had an appointment with someone. He continued to wipe the tears from Padre Pio’s eyes and to stay close beside him.

A little after midnight, Padre Pio asked Padre Pellegrino if he had celebrated Mass. “Spiritual Father, it is too early to say Mass,” Padre Pellegrino answered. “Today you will celebrate the Mass for me,” Padre Pio said. Padre Pellegrino did not understand Padre Pio’s words and replied, “But I say Mass every day for your intentions.” “Today you will say Mass for my soul,” Padre Pio said. The words sounded strange to Padre Pellegrino but he did not ask for an explanation.

He then asked Padre Pellegrino to hear his confession. Padre Pellegrino was not his regular confessor but he had heard his confession many times in the past and he heard it on this night. “If the Lord calls me today, ask the Brothers to forgive me for all the trouble I have been to them and ask them and all my spiritual children to pray for my soul,” Padre Pio said.

Padre Pellegrino assured him that he had no need to worry for he still had a long time yet to live. Nevertheless, Padre Pellegrino added, “But if it is indeed near the time of your death, I ask you for a last blessing for the Brothers and for all of your spiritual children.” Padre Pio answered, “I bless them all and I ask you to have the superior give them this last blessing for me.”

Padre Pio then said that he wanted to renew his religious vows. At these words, Padre Pellegrino grew frightened because in the Capuchin tradition, the only time the vows of religious profession are renewed is when one is on his death bed. Padre Pio was putting everything in order, down to the last detail. Padre Pellegrino listened as Padre Pio renewed his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Padre Pio said:

“I, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, vow and promise to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father, Saint Francis, to all the saints and to you, Father, to observe all the days of my life, the Rule of the Friars Minor, confirmed by Pope Honorius, and to live in obedience, without property, and in chastity.”

Padre Pellegrino spoke the response, “If you abide by this, on behalf of God, I promise you eternal life.” Padre Pio said that he could not breathe well in bed and wanted to get up. “Are there any stars in the sky tonight?” Padre Pio asked. “Yes, indeed. The sky is studded with stars tonight,” Padre Pellegrino replied. “Let us go to the veranda then and see,” Padre Pio said.

Padre Pio had severe arthritis and at eighty-one years of age, his posture was stooped and bent. Because it was very painful for him to walk, he used a wheelchair most of the time. But on this night for some reason, he was able to stand up straight and he walked briskly and with great ease, to the veranda, needing no assistance. To Padre Pellegrino, he suddenly looked twenty years younger.

When Padre Pio got to the veranda, he reached over and turned on the light. That was something he had not done in so long that Padre Pellegrino could not even remember. He knew from personal experience that unusual things often happened in Padre Pio’s presence and he reasoned that this night was no exception. Padre Pio then began to stare intently at a particular area on the veranda. Padre Pellegrino could not understand what he was looking at with such concentration, but soon he would understand. He was staring at the exact place where the Capuchins would carry his lifeless body in just a few short hours.

Suddenly Padre Pio began to feel very ill. He wanted to go back to his room but he was too weak to stand up. Padre Pellegrino quickly went to get a wheelchair. Meanwhile, all of the color had drained out of Padre Pio’s face and he was growing weaker by the minute. He began to repeat the words, Jesus . . . Mary . . . over and over. All the while, his voice was growing fainter.

Padre Pellegrino took him back to his room in the wheelchair but had great difficulty getting him into his armchair. Once he finally got him settled, Padre Pio began to stare intently at a picture that was hanging on the wall. He wanted to know who it was. Padre Pellegrino answered, “Those are photographs of your mother and father.” “But I see two mothers,” Padre Pio said. “No, there is only one mother there,” Padre Pellegrino replied, pointing to Giuseppa Forgione. “Don’t worry,” Padre Pio said, “I can see very well but I can see two mothers.”

Padre Pellegrino had lived with Padre Pio for a long time. He knew that Jesus and the Virgin Mary often appeared to him. Padre Pio also had the rare gift of being able to see his guardian angel in form. Many times, when he was in prayer, he seemed to be having a conversation with someone, someone that he could see but that no one else could see. Padre Pellegrino was convinced that the Virgin Mary was present in his room at that moment and that Padre Pio could see her.

Right after Padre Pio spoke of seeing “two mothers” he seemed to grow weaker. He broke out into a cold sweat and his lips began to turn blue. Padre Pellegrino became alarmed and started to go to get assistance. “I do not want you to disturb anyone,” Padre Pio told him. “Do not waken anyone.” But Padre Pellegrino insisted on getting help and quickly left the room. He woke up Brother Bill Martin and told him to place a call to Dr. Giuseppe Sala immediately. After that, Padre Pellegrino woke up all the other Capuchins and told them to hurry to Padre Pio’s cell.

Dr. Sala arrived in less than ten minutes and realized that Padre Pio was having a severe bronchial asthma attack. He gave him an injection as well as oxygen in an attempt to ease his breathing which had become difficult and labored.

By that time, Father Mariano, Brother Bill Martin, Father Carmelo and the other Capuchins had gathered in Padre Pio’s room. Dr. Giovanni Scarale and Dr. Giuseppe Gusso soon arrived as well as Mario Pennelli, Padre Pio’s nephew. While the doctors were doing their very best to help Padre Pio, the Capuchins knelt down beside him and prayed the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the prayer for a holy death, and the prayer to St. Joseph, patron of the dying. Together, the Capuchins repeated, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may my soul peacefully expire in You.”

The Holy Oils were prepared and Father Paolo gave Padre Pio the Last Rites. Padre Pio was fully conscious and was very much aware of all that was happening. His feet and hands were becoming very cold and he was perspiring heavily. When the doctors realized that he was having a heart attack, he was given an injection directly into his heart. With his eyes closed, he continued to repeat the words, Jesus . . . Mary . . . Toward the end, his lips formed the words but he could make no sound, not even a whisper.

The Capuchins called out to him, “Padre, Padre!” He opened his eyes one last time and looked at his dear Brothers. At 2:30 a.m. with his Rosary clasped in his hands, Padre Pio gently bowed his head and died. Dr. Gusso, who had been present during Padre Pio’s final moments, stated that it was the most gentle and beautiful passing that he had ever witnessed. Padre Pio had lived a holy life and he had died a holy death.

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Last Moments.

During the months that preceded his death, Padre Pio’s stigmata had been slowly disappearing, beginning with the wounds on his feet. The Capuchins who attended him noticed that his wounds were bleeding less and less. The bandages that had to be changed regularly were significantly less bloodstained. On September 22, 1968, the day before Padre Pio’s death, his left palm still had a raised scab. During the Mass that morning, two scales fell from his hand.

When Dr. Sala and Father Carmelo examined Padre Pio’s body after his death, they discovered that the stigmata on his hands, feet, and side had disappeared completely. His skin was now smooth and regenerated in the places where the wounds had once been. There was no scarring whatsoever. The skin looked as fresh as that of a newborn baby. Dr. Sala noticed the beautiful fragrance of orange blossoms in the room. He had perceived the fragrance on many occasions when in the presence of Padre Pio.

As the two stood together and looked at Padre Pio’s lifeless body, a scab detached and fell from his left hand. It was the very last sign of the wounds of Christ which he had carried on his body for fifty years.

The news of Padre Pio’s death spread quickly. No one had anticipated it or had any reason to expect that he would die on September 23. The world was shocked and in mourning. In his hometown of Pietrelcina, the bells of the parish church tolled every half-hour.

Many who had come to attend Padre Pio’s 50th Anniversary Mass as well as the International Prayer Group Congress, were present at his funeral. It was as if Divine Providence had arranged for Padre Pio’s spiritual children from all parts of the world to be nearby at the time of his passing.

Padre Pio looked beautiful and serene in death. A Rosary was placed in his hands as well as a crucifix and the Rule of Saint Francis. Around his shoulders was draped his priestly purple stole. Before the funeral began, the casket that contained Padre Pio’s body was placed in an open hearse. Slowly and solemnly it made its way through the narrow streets of San Giovanni Rotondo, stopping in front of the Home for the Relief of Suffering for a last salute.

The funeral procession took more than three hours. Air force and police helicopters flew overhead, dropping flowers and prayer cards on the huge crowd below. It is estimated that one hundred thousand people attended Padre Pio’s funeral Mass. His body was placed in a granite crypt and buried directly below the main altar of the church.

Padre Pio assured his spiritual children that his death would not end their bond but that he would be ever ready to intercede and to help them from Heaven. On one occasion, Father Costantino Capobianco told Padre Pio that he hoped that he would die before Padre Pio did. “Why is that?” Padre Pio asked. “It is because I would like you to be with me to assist me at the time of my death,” Father Costantino replied. “But don’t you know that I can help you from Heaven?” Padre Pio replied.

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The stories that attest to Padre’s intercession since his passing are too numerous to count. One impressive testimony concerns a woman named Constance Woloskiuk who turned on her television set on September 23, 1968. She learned the news that Padre Pio has passed away that very morning and saw the crowds of people in San Giovanni Rotondo, all gathered to pay their last respects.

Constance had been suffering for a long time from a very painful lower back condition. As she listened to the report of Padre Pio’s death on her television set, she sent up a heartfelt prayer to him, asking for healing. Immediately, she noticed that all the pain in her lower back had vanished. Almost in disbelief, she kept getting up out of the chair and sitting back down again. That was something that previously, she could only do with great difficulty. It was a true miracle.

Another remarkable testimony concerns Mrs. Roversi who, along with her husband, owned a religious goods shop near the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. In addition to the rosaries and medals which were sold in their shop, literature about Padre Pio was also available, as well as his photographs and prayer cards.

When her husband passed away, Mrs. Roversi was put in a difficult situation. She needed an income to support her two children but had no knowledge of how to run the store. Her husband had always handled all aspects of the business. Mrs. Roversi went to Padre Pio’s tomb and prayed, “Padre Pio, I do not know how to manage the business. I need to support my children and I pray for your intercession. I need your help!” Immediately after the prayer, she felt a deep sense of peace and was greatly strengthened in spirit.

That night Mrs. Roversi had a dream in which she saw Padre Pio standing in front of her. He said, “Look, I can help you now much more than I could when I was on earth.” His hands were open and she saw that he no longer had the stigmata. In her dream, she said to him, “I know nothing about running the store and I am afraid that I will not be able to do it.” Padre Pio said to her, “Go forward with it. I will help you.” He showed her his hands and for the second time she saw that the wounds of the stigmata were gone. Then she woke up.

Mrs. Roversi acted upon the advice that Padre Pio had given her in the dream. She learned how to manage the store and everything went smoothly from that time on. The business did well and she was able to provide for her two children.

Once, a sick man who knelt at the tomb of Padre Pio, prayed for healing. He rose from his knees to find that he had been miraculously cured. He noticed a tiny rose petal on the top of the tomb and took it home to a friend. She too was healed.

“I will be able to help you more from Heaven than I can on earth,” Padre Pio often said to those who sought his counsel. And it is from Heaven that he has been helping so many of his spiritual children from every part of the world.

~St. Pio Of Pietrelcina, Pray For Us!

An American Tells What It Was Like To Meet The Great Padre Pio. 

An American Tells What It Was Like To Meet The Great Padre Pio. 

An American Tells What It Was Like To Meet The Great St. Padre Pio.

“I spent a week in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1965 and had the honor to attend Padre Pio’s Mass on my 21st birthday, January 8th, 1965. There were not many visitors to the monastery at that time of the year. I got up every morning while it was still dark and was able to enter the church about 4:30 am. The Mass began at 5:00 am. 

Padre Pio’s Mass was unforgettable, with long silent pauses in which Padre Pio appeared to be in ecstasy. He took off his half gloves during the Mass and from my vantage point where I was sitting in the trancept of the church, I was able to clearly see the stigmatization of his hands. 

One morning, I went into the church to make a visit to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. As I was leaving, I looked up and saw Padre Pio at his place in the choir. He looked down at me and smiled. He held up his Rosary for me to see and pointed at it. I took my Rosary out and held it for him to see. I knew that he was encouraging me to pray the Rosary. 

One night before going to sleep at my hotel, I prayed and asked my guardian angel to go to Padre Pio and tell him of all my spiritual needs. The following night, I joined the villagers outside in the square below Padre Pio’s cell. They gathered there every evening to bid goodnight to Padre Pio. He came to the window and gave everyone his blessing and spoke to the group in Italian. I asked the woman next to me who spoke English to tell me what Padre Pio said. She told me that Padre Pio said that he had been kept awake the previous night by a guardian angel from America.”

St. Padre Pio And His Friend From Sestri Levante, Italy.

St. Padre Pio And His Friend From Sestri Levante, Italy.


Padre Pio and his friend from Sestri Levante, Italy.

Elide Bellomo – A Testimony.

Elide Bellomo was a dressmaker by trade and lived in Sestri Levante, a resort town not far from Genoa, Italy. When Elide’s aunt became terminally ill, Elide tried to show her as much love and support as she could. Elide’s aunt wanted to be well prepared spiritually when her final moment came. She had always had a fear of death. She showed Elide a holy card of Padre Pio and spoke to her often of him. “Please pray to Padre Pio so that I might have a happy death,” she would frequently say.

Because her aunt spoke so much about Padre Pio, Elide decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would ask Padre Pio in person to pray for her aunt. Elide knew how pleased her aunt would be to hear of her plan. 

In February 1947, Elide set out for San Giovanni Rotondo. She took a train from Sestri Levante to Foggia and did not arrive in Foggia until the following evening. When the train pulled into the station, she learned that she had just missed the last bus that was going to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would have to wait until the following day for the next bus. She was so disappointed at the news that she began to cry.

Elide was exhausted from the thirty-hour journey. The train had been so crowded that she had to stand for most of the trip. In addition, not anticipating the winter weather, she had not dressed properly. She had been cold and uncomfortable since the time she had left her home.

The station master noticed Elide’s tears and asked her why she was crying. When she explained her frustrations to him, he took pity on her and led her to a small private room in the station. “You can sleep in here for the night,” the station master said. “The chair will be more comfortable to sleep than the bench in the lobby. The stove will keep you warm. I will close the door so that no one will bother you. We will be sure to wake you up early in the morning so that you can catch the bus for San Giovanni Rotondo.”

The next morning, Elide was in better spirits. She boarded the bus and was happy to be on her way. The weather grew colder as the bus approached San Giovanni Rotondo. When the bus dropped her off, it was a two-mile walk through the snow in order to reach the monastery. Elide regretted that she had brought only a light jacket to wear. She also regretted that she was wearing sandals and had no other change of shoes.

The following day, Elide went to Padre Pio’s Mass. After Mass, she waited in line to make her confession. When she heard Padre Pio’s stern voice speaking to a penitent in the confessional, she lost her courage and decided to leave the line. Just as she was preparing to leave, the woman behind her gave her a strong push forward. Soon she was kneeling before Padre Pio. Fear clutched at her heart.

Padre Pio’s voice was very gentle as he talked to her. It reminded her exactly of the way her own dear father used to talk to her when she was a little girl. As a matter of fact, Padre Pio used many of the same phrases that her father had used in days gone by.

Elide told Padre Pio that she had traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo from Sestri Levanti in order to ask for prayers for her aunt. “First make your confession, and then tell me about your aunt,” Padre Pio said. Elide started to make her confession but she could not find her words. Padre Pio helped her through the confession by asking her questions.

After the confession, Elide asked Padre Pio if he would accept her as his spiritual daughter. It was not something that she had planned to say. “Yes, I will accept you,” he answered. Then he asked Elide to tell him about her aunt. Elide told him of her aunt’s fear of death and of her desire to be well prepared when that moment came. Padre Pio listened carefully to all that Elide had to say. When she was finished talking, Padre Pio paused for a few moments of silence. “All will go well for your aunt,” Padre Pio said. He told Elide that she could be assured of his prayers.

Elide left the confessional greatly uplifted. All the inconveniences and hardships of the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo now seemed like trifles. The next day she left to go back to her home in Sestri Levante. A short time later, her aunt passed away. She had just received Holy Communion and was making her thanksgiving when she slipped peacefully into eternal life. It was truly a beautiful death. Elide knew that Padre Pio’s prayers had assisted her aunt.

Meeting Padre Pio had made a great impression on Elide and she looked forward with great anticipation to the time when she could make a return visit. Several months later she was able to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. “You are going to move here permanently,” Padre Pio said to Elide. “When the Home for the Relief of Suffering is completed, you will work there.”  “Oh no,” Elide replied emphatically, “It would be impossible. I am a dressmaker by profession. I have no skills that would enable me to work in a hospital. Besides, my mother needs me. I would never be able to leave her.”

Very gently Padre Pio said to her, “I will take care of your mother myself.” “But if my mother was to get sick, she would want me nearby.” “I will take care of that too,” Padre Pio replied. “You do not have to worry about anything. The hospital is now being built. You will come here and work. It is God’s will for you,” Padre Pio said firmly.

Elide knew that she would never move to San Giovanni Rotondo. It was a small backwater town that had nothing to offer her. Sestri Levante, on the other hand, where Elide made her home, was a lovely seaside resort city on the Mediterranean coast. The weather was mild and agreeable and the coastline was beautiful. Surrounded by her family and friends, Elide was very happy there. She had no intention of moving to San Giovanni Rotondo. She was convinced that only an act of God would cause her to leave her home town.

When Elide returned to Sestri Levante, she began organizing pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo. She wanted others to experience the same blessings that she had experienced while visiting Padre Pio’s monastery. Elide’s pilgrimages became very popular. She took small groups as well as large groups and had no trouble filling the seats.

On one occasion, when Elide was in San Giovanni Rotondo, she got word that her mother was ill. She returned to Sestri Levanti immediately. Fortunately, her mother’s condition had improved by the time she arrived home. 

Her mother had always said that she wanted Elide to be with her at the time of her death. She said to Elide, “I am at peace now. Even if I were to die soon, I feel prepared. I think Padre Pio is calling you to live near him. He needs you to help him with his work. I want you to move to San Giovanni Rotondo and assist him.” Not long after that, Elide’s mother had a beautiful dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at the foot of her bed and he gave her a blessing. She died the very next day.

Elide was deeply saddened by the loss of her mother. She returned to San Giovanni Rotondo and wept as she told Padre Pio about her mother’s death. “What am I going to do now?” Elide said to Padre Pio. “My mother, whom I loved so much, is gone. How will I continue?” “I am now your entire family – mother, father, and brother,” Padre Pio replied. “Your mother is in heaven. We must do our very best so that we too can arrive there someday. Let us concentrate on that.” His words brought her great comfort and great peace.

Elide moved to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1954. Two years later, the Home for the Relief of Suffering opened its doors. Padre Pio told Elide for the second time that she was going to work in the new hospital. “But I can’t,” Elide said. “I don’t have the experience.” Very quietly Padre Pio said to Elide, “Just do what you are told.”

The first day that Elide reported for work at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, she was greeted by a doctor and was given a white coat to put on, just like the one that he had on. The doctor gave her instructions on how to admit the patients and how to fill out the necessary forms and paperwork. Elide was able to learn the job quite easily. After about an hour of instruction, the doctor left her on her own. She found the work very enjoyable.

At the time, Elide was renting a single room, which was located very close to the hospital. A very nice little house became available for rent and Padre Pio told Elide that she should take it. Elide explained to Padre Pio that her salary at the hospital was not enough to cover the monthly rent. “Take the house,” Padre Pio said. “You will always have enough money for your needs with extra left over.” Elide rented the house. As it turned out, Padre Pio had been right. Elide was able to pay the rent each month with money left over.

Elide loved her job as admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. She was happy to be serving Padre Pio’s work. When she was asked to do the washing and ironing for the Capuchins who were in residence at Our Lady of Grace monastery, she gladly accepted the task.

One day, as Elide was doing the laundry for the Capuchins, she had the idea to keep one of Padre Pio’s undershirts. She knew that there were very strict rules in place regarding Padre Pio’s personal items. He was not allowed to give any of his possessions away.

Elide knew that she could get into a lot of trouble for disobeying the rules. But the temptation to keep an article of Padre Pio’s clothing was so great that Elide gave in to her strong desire. One day, she sent the freshly laundered clothing and habits back to the monastery minus one of Padre Pio’s shirts.

The next time Elide went to confession to Padre Pio, she was very nervous. She hoped that he would not guess what she had done and at the same time she knew that it was practically impossible to keep a secret from him.

In the confessional, Padre Pio’s first words to Elide were the words that she did not want to hear. “Have you stolen something that belonged to someone else?” he asked. “It is true,” Elide answered. “What is it that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “I stole a shirt,” Elide replied. “You stole a shirt? Well, who did it belong to?” Padre Pio inquired. “It belonged to you.” 

At that point, Elide could not contain her emotions any longer and she began to cry. “Well, did you need this shirt that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “Oh yes, I did need it. I truly needed it,” Elide answered. “Very well then,” Padre Pio said and then he changed the subject. “Now tell me what else you have been doing,” he exclaimed. He never mentioned the “stolen property” to her again. Elide was elated. She was able to keep the prized relic and all thanks were due to Padre Pio.

One morning, Elide was standing outside the church waiting for the doors to open for Mass. Two women who were standing nearby were having a lively discussion and Elide could not help but overhear what they were talking about. “I am going to send my guardian angel to Padre Pio,” one of the women said. “I will ask my angel to take a special message to him.” Elide thought that the talk about guardian angels was ridiculous. The women were obviously superstitious.

When the Mass was concluded, Elide made her confession to Padre Pio. “Will you always assist me?” Elide asked him. “Yes, I will,” Padre Pio replied. “I will always be near you and I will send you my guardian angel to help you.” Elide realized that Padre Pio was trying to show her the error in her thinking. She was sorry she had judged the women in such a harsh way.

Padre Pio’s spiritual children who resided in San Giovanni Rotondo were fortunate to be able to receive Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Often before doing the simplest tasks, like going to an appointment or making a trip to town, they would ask Padre Pio for his blessing.

In the late afternoons when Padre Pio took his recreation in the monastery garden, Elide would sometimes stand outside the garden wall and call to him, “Padre Pio, I am right outside the garden gate here. May I have your blessing?” Padre Pio would then open the gate, make the sign of the cross in blessing over Elide and then close the gate. Very satisfied, Elide would take her leave, usually to go back to her job at the hospital.

Receiving an individual blessing from Padre Pio was curtailed in 1960 with the visitation of Monsignor Carlo Maccari. Monsignor Maccari was sent to San Giovanni Rotondo from the Holy Office in Rome to investigate complaints that had been made against Padre Pio.

There had been accusations in reference to possible financial irregularities at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. There were complaints regarding the unruly behavior in the church on the part of some of the pilgrims. There were complaints about Padre Pio himself. Numerous rumors about him had been circulating for years.

Elide was working at the Home for the Relief of Suffering when Monsignor Carlo Maccari made his visitation. Monsignor Maccari stayed at the Home for the Relief of Suffering during the time of his visit. Much to the dismay of the Capuchin superior at Our Lady of Grace monastery, he took it upon himself to intercept Padre Pio’s personal mail and read it. Even confidential letters were opened and scrutinized. It seemed as though Monsignor Maccari had brought with him certain preconceived ideas and even prejudices against Padre Pio.

Before he returned to Rome, he set forth a number of directives that were to be strictly enforced. People would no longer be allowed to speak to Padre Pio as he was entering or exiting the confessional. The sacristy and the monastery garden became off limits to all members of the laity. A railing was to be built around the women’s confessional to make it more difficult for people to see and to speak to Padre Pio.

Padre Pio never contested the decisions of high church officials in reference to his ministry. He was very much aware that there was open hostility toward him. He would not speak to anyone about Monsignor Maccari’s visit and just as he had done in the past, he followed all of the directives to the letter.

Elide felt very sad about the restrictions that had been put in place as a consequence of the visit of Monsignor Maccari. Like many others, Elide depended on Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Now it seemed as though it would be practically impossible to greet Padre Pio each day and to receive his blessing.

Elide came up with a solution to the problem and she spoke to Padre Pio about it. She told him that when he went to the garden in the afternoon for his recreation period, she would be standing on the other side of the wall. Of course, he would not be able to see her but she would be able to look through the keyhole of the gate and see him.

“I would like you to pause as you pass by the garden gate and give me a blessing,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I will be waiting there.” Padre Pio was happy to agree to Elide’s request. Elide continued to receive his daily blessing, “through the garden wall” and Padre Pio did not break a single rule in doing so.

On January 30, 1964, Pope Paul VI announced that Padre Pio was restored to full freedom in his priestly ministry. Like many times in the past, it had been a waiting game. The accusations and complaints against him were eventually all shown to be false.

Padre Pio continued to direct his spiritual children step by step on the path toward holiness. Once, Elide’s brother surprised her by giving her a television set as a gift. She was delighted to receive it. When she told Padre Pio the good news about her new gift, he was not at all pleased. “I am sorry that you have invited the devil into your home!” Padre Pio said adamantly. Elide was shocked at his words. However, she could see that he meant what he said. Elide got the message loud and clear and decided to return the television to her brother.

Elide became very proficient as the hospital receptionist and admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One day without warning, Padre Pio told her that her job was going to be changed. She would become the hospital’s switchboard operator. The hospital had grown and expanded so much that a central switchboard had to be installed.

Elide panicked at the thought of being in charge of a busy switchboard. “But I can’t do that,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I have no experience. I don’t think I would be up to the task. I am afraid that it would be too difficult.” “I want you to do what I am asking of you,” Padre Pio said. Elide complied with Padre Pio’s wishes and a technician trained her in the work. The ease with which she learned the job convinced her that Padre Pio was assisting her.

After Padre Pio’s death in 1968, Elide continued to live on in the little house in San Giovanni Rotondo, the one that Padre Pio had urged her to rent. The house had a lovely garden in the back which she enjoyed very much. She was very contented there. She eventually retired from her job at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Padre Pio had assured Elide that her needs would always be supplied.

Time proved the truth of his words. Elide never lacked for anything. She felt blessed that she was able to give the extra money that she had at the end of each month to those who were less fortunate. She truly believed that Padre Pio was watching over her from heaven.

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