Padre Pio

THE BIOGRAPHY OF SAINT PADRE PIO (1887-1968)

 

Following in the footsteps of St. Paul the Apostole, Padre Pio of Pietrelciny placed the cross of Jesus in the center of his life and apostolate, as the source of power, wisdom and glory. His fervent love for Jesus Christ made him resemble Jesus in His sacrifice for redemption of the world.

Francesco Forgione was born on 25th of May 1887 in Pietrelcina, a small country town in southern Italy. He was baptized the next day. He was one of eight children of Peppa and Grazio Forgione. His mother Peppa admitted that he was not like any other boys: ‘he wasn’t rude or nasty’. At the age of 5 he started to have visions of Heaven and suffered attacks of devil. In his visions he conversed with Jesus, the Madonna and his guardian angel but these experiences of Heaven were interrupted by presence of hell and devil. At the age of 12 he took the following sacraments: First Holy Communion and Confirmation. In 1903 he was close to death as a result of mortifications and bad health. Weakened but not in spirit, he took the Habit of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and started his novitiate – an intensive life filled with learning, praying, poverty and atonement. In the same year he took the name of friar Pio of Pietrelcina. On 27th of January 1907 he took his final vows. In July of 1916 Padre Pio was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of Benevento. Between 1915 and 1918 he was repeatedly conscripted to and discharged from the army because of his bad health. In July of 1916 Padre Pio was assigned to friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he stayed to his death. Padre Pio received stigma from an unusual being similar to an angel on September 20th 1918. He was praying then in front of a cross in a choir loft of an old church. Stigma wounds stayed open and bleeding for 50 years of his life. That was one of reasons for which physicians, scientists, journalists and ordinary people used to come to San Giovanni Rotondo – to see ‘the saintly friar’. That’s what he was saying about the Stigma: ‘What can I say about my crossing? My God! I feel so much shame and humiliation when I try to describe what you did to me, your miserable creature! It was in the morning, 20th (of September) – I was in the choir loft after the Mass was finished, when suddenly I felt such blissful peace similar to a nice dream. All the senses of my soul, internal and external, were in a state of unspoken peace. There was a deep silence inside and all over me, I was so peaceful and then – in the blink of an eye – I felt abandoned and detached from everything. When all of it was happening I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I would die – and I would have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death! I hope the Lord does hear me and relieve me of this condition.’ Padre Pio wanted only God’s glory and souls to be good. He treated everyone fairly, faithfully and with great respect. The virtue of bravery was shining from within him. He recognized very early that he was going to step on the path of cross and he embarked on it with bravery and love. He would experience much spiritual suffering for many years and he was able to withstand the pain from the wound with a surprising serenity. He accepted numerous comments from his superiors in silence and never answered to any smears.  When he became a subject to medical examinations and restrictions in his ministration, he accepted it all meekly and with devotion. He never answered to any unfair accusations and slanders, instead he surrendered himself to the judgment of  God, his direct superiors and his own conscience. On the 23rd of May and 17th of June 1923 the Holy Office ascertained the facts as not supernatural and placed restrictions on the public access to Padre Pio. At public inquiry Padre Pio was able to celebrate the Holy Mass at the end of June. Unfortunately in 1931 he was ordered to desist from all activities except the celebration of the Mass, which was to be in private. The ban on conducting a confession and celebration of the Mass was reversed in 1933. In 1950 Pio initiated the creation of Prayer Groups which prayed in the intention of the Church. On the 5th of May 1956 the Home to Relieve Suffering, a hospital which was established by Padre Pio, opened its doors. Padre Pio was prepared for his death on September 23rd 1968 at 2.30 am. He was 81 years old. Extraordinary crowds gathered for his funeral. On 20th of February 1971 - 3 years after Padre Pio passed away -  the Pope Paul VI said in his speech to superiors of the Order of Capuchin: ‘look at his fame, how many people he gathered around himself! But why? Was  he a philosopher? Or a sage? Maybe he had any means at hand? He humbly celebrated the Holly Mass, conducted confessions from dusk till dawn and he was – and it is hard to acknowledge – marked with stigmas of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was a man of faith and suffering.’ On the 18th of December 1997 in the presence of Pope John Paul II the Decree on the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God Padre Pio was promulgated. On the 21st of December 1998, after insightful examination, the Decree on miraculous healing of Mrs. Consiglia De Martino of Salerno was promulgated in the presence of  Pope John Paul II. On the 2nd of May 1999, in the course of a solemn concelebrated Mass in St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II by his apostolic authority beatified the Venerable Servant of God Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, naming 23 September as the date of his liturgical feast. For the canonization of Blessed Padre Pio of Pietrelcina the Postulation presented to the competent Dicastery the miraculous healing of the young Matteo Pio Colella of San Giovanni Rotondo. It was examined and confirmed. On the 20th of December 2001 in the presence of Pope John Paul II a Decree on miracle was promulgated and on the 26th of February 2002 a Decree on Canonization was promulgated. The canonization of Padre Pio was held on the 16th of June 2002 in St Peter's Square in Rome.




GIFTS AND CHARISMA OF SAINT PADRE PIO

 

Stigmas

 

On the 20th of September 1918 during the prayer in front of the Crusifixion of Christ Padre Pio received the Visible Stigmata. He had open wounds o his hands, feet and side – the signs of the Passion of Christ. They started to heal right before death of Padre Pio and then disappeared entirely.

 

Unusual scents

 

The Odour of Sanctity of Padre Pio – some saints possessed a faculty called ‘the odour of sanctity.’ It allows to smell the presence of the saint in form of a scent which is characteristic for him (smell of violets). The Odour of Sanctity of Padre Pio could be clearly sensed by persons nearby. His body, clothes or items which he touched - all emanated  this scent. Sometimes it was also present in places he visited, even if he was there only for a second.

 

Clairvoyance

 

Padre Pio had an ability to look within the soul of another because of the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This gift was manifested especially during the confession. A woman came to England to Padre Pio asking for confession. When she entered the confessional Padre Pio closed the window and said ‘I cannot give you absolution.’ However, this woman did not return home but stayed for another couple of weeks and she used to return to the confessional every day to hear the refusal. Finally Padre Pio agreed to hear her confession. She asked why he kept her waiting for so long. Padre Pio answered: ‘How long did you kept our Lord waiting? Do you think it is possible for Jesus to take you back after so many sins you committed? You waited so long to examine your conscience. You have been receiving the Holy Communion being guilty of mortal sin having committed sins against your husband and mother.’ The woman accepted what she heard with blank amazement and she was determined to atone. She cried while receiving the absolution. After a few days she returned to England very glad.

 

The gift of Prayer of Intercession and Incessant Prayer

 

Prayers of Padre Pio were especially effective. Even today people who call upon his intercession in prayer, experience many graces.

 

Bilocation

 

It is one of the most remarkable gifts – even though Padre Pio was physically present in one place, he was also seen somewhere else. Evidence say that since he left the army in 1916 Padre Pio never left San Giovanni Rotondo and yet he was seen in many places around the world, even in California...  Many testimonies exist: Padre Pio visited a Bishop who ordained him a priest  at the Cathedral of Benevento on 10 August 1910. The bilocation od Padre Pio was one of the last events in life of the Bishop before his death. Padre Pio bilocated to spiritually support the Bishop. Even the blessed Don Orione said about Padre Pio’s ability to bilocate. He said: ‘I was at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to take part in celebration of St. Terese beatification. Padre Pio was also there even though he was in his friary at the same time. I saw him. He was smiling and coming in my direction through the crowd. However, when he was quite close to me he disappeared.’ In 1951 Padre pio was celebrating a Holly Mass in a monastery in Czechoslovakia. After the Mass the nuns came to sacristy to invite Padre pio for coffee as they wanted to thank him for his unexpected visit. Unfortunately they did not find him there and concluded from that event that they’ve just been witnesses of bilocation.

 

Sources:

Kalendarium życia i działalności (‘Calendar for life and activities’) Wydawnictwo Diecezjalne i Drukarnia Sandomierzu

http://www.vatican.va/
http://www.brewiarz.katolik.pl/
http://www.voxdomini.com.pl/
http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/

Marzena Deresz and Melania Deresz

 

THE HOME TO RELIEVE SUFFERING

Padre Pio knew that spiritual suffering is far greater and harder to bear than physical suffering. This kind of pain is rarely treated. He recognized that people in hospitals face indifference from doctors and nurses. The patient happens to be lonely and lost because he is treated like a stranger. Padre Pio couldn’t reconcile to such cold treatment of the ill, who need somebody to raise their spirits rather than a medicine. That is why he developed a plan of a hospital which would be rather a home for patients than a medical unit. He dreamt of establishing a place where all ill persons could find professional help and medical care and primarily spiritual support, warmth, concern and love. The plan for this establishment was created in 1940. Padre Pio didn’t want to call it a hospital. It was named the Home to Relieve Suffering.

Padre Pio blessed the construction plans of Home to Relieve Suffering. He also made an offering for this purpose – a small golden coin which he received from one of the worshippers... Other offerings started to be made from other countries very fast. The hospital had 300 beds and was opened on 5 May 1956.

He used to say to doctors:

‘You are doctors and have a mission to treat the ill. However, if you don’t bring love to your patients, your medications won’t work. Bring God to your patients.’

Padre Pio was willing to extend the building so that everyone hoping to find there medical help and spiritual support  could be admitted to this hospital... His plans were finally realized – today the Home to Relieve Suffering is a big clinic with 1200 beds! It has the latest equipment and hires the best medical staff.  Numerous symposium and scientific conventions organized with participation of  the best specialists from around the world proclaim the prestige of this clinic.

 

SAINT PADRE PIO PRAYER GROUPS

 

The Home to Relieve Suffering has a central secretary of Padre Pio Prayer Groups as a part of organization of the clinic. Since the first Prayer Groups were established in 1949, thousands of Prayer Groups has been created around the world and a number of its members is estimated at about 500 thousands.

Prayer Groups work under supervision of a priest as a part of local Church. The members gather once a month at a common Eucharist and prayer. They organize meetings and formal conferences as a realization form of their religious formation.

 

Groups pray in intention of Pope and the Church and ordinary needs.

 

Saint Padre Pio wished that treatment of soul  and giving spiritual comfort would be conducted along with treatment of body and physical relief .

 

He ordered the members of Prayer Groups to use the strength and inspiration from the prayer by means of granting support for persons suffering from physical and spiritual illnesses.

During conferences for members of Prayer Groups he defined one of the main goals of those groups. They are supposed to be places for spiritual formation of doctors, the entire medical staff and volunteers, because only people who are fully aware of spiritual problems of suffering persons and whose strength comes from prayer and sacramental life may bring proper help and relief in illness.

 

This is why prayer Groups act not only in parishes but also near hospices, care facilities and other places where ill, suffering and lonely persons live.

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Copyright 2012

Stowarzyszenie im. O. Pio w Radomiu 2012