Saint Padre Pio
Be at peace in the crosses God has asked you to carry. Do not be angry at heaven or blame heaven for the troubles in your life. Your life will end and the troubles will end. If you are at odds with heaven, your anger is misplaced. Brothers and sisters, neither should there be so much energy scrutinizing what your Church has done wrong. Acknowledge the mistakes of others, and pray for them. Protect yourself from their flaws if they are dangerous to you, but do not live your life discussing the flaws and mistakes of those in the Church who are struggling. This is over. The time for this has passed. A renewed Church is coming, faithful and united, and you must help to usher this in by setting an example of great loyalty and fidelity. Perhaps there are things you do not agree with about this Church. Heaven accepts the fact that you have opinions. But you should discuss these things with Jesus and not use these points to pull your Church down and distance others from obedience. You will be accountable for this, my friends. If Jesus is calling you to lead in the Church, then you must lead. If He is calling you to follow in the Church, I suggest you follow or risk displeasing heaven. These words I say to you are serious and I am praying that you will heed them. God is allowing this because He loves you and He does not want you confused and distracted. This relentless criticism of the Church is not from God, of course. But you know that and you understand that being in a constant state of disagreement with your Church is causing you unnecessary stress. There are many beautiful and brave souls who have been called to the renewal. You are one of them. Work for your Church and defend Her in whatever way you are called. This is God’s one true Church and that has not changed. Be faithful during this time and your reward will fill you with the greatest joy. It is too uncomfortable for you to be doubtful of our Lord’s leaders. So you should be accepting of both your personal crosses and also accepting of the crosses your Church is carrying during this period. Heaven is with you in each personal cross and heaven is working to renew the Church. Be patient and calm while we work together in these matters.”
A Booklet about St. Padre Pio signed by him. It was written during his lifetime and is signed on the title page Padre Pio. It is undated.
Padre Pio who lived from 1887 to 1968 was a stigmatist for fifty years. A stigmatist bears the wounds of Christ in his body. He was recognized world wide for his sanctity.
An autograph of his is rare and invaluable because he is so popular in Italy even though he died such a short time ago.
Pope John Paul II canonized him June 16th, 2002. —Father Richard Kunst
The Words of St.Padre Pio: It would be easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Francesco Forgione, better known to the world as Padre Pio, was born on the May 25. 1887, at the small village of Pietrelcina, near Benevento in Italy. The family was poor, but his father, seeing how quiet and religious his son was, determined that he would not end up labouring in the fields and travelled to New York to earn sufficient money to send Francesco to a seminary. As a result, Francesco entered the Capuchin Monastery at Morcone in 1902 to begin his year of novitiate. He was fifteen years of age.
Francesco was ordained to the priesthood in August, 1910, but bouts of ill health resulted in his frequently having to go home to rest. While there, apart from a brief spell in the army which concluded with his discharge on the grounds of a tubercular condition, he spent most of his time helping the parish priest and living an ascetic and prayerful life. When his health improved he moved to an isolated monastery known as San Giovanni Rotondo, where he was to spend the rest of his life.
On the 20th September, 1918, Padre Pio collapsed in the chapel and was found to be bleeding profusely from five deep wounds in his hands, feet and side. When he regained consciousness he begged his fellow monks to keep the event secret, but word soon spread and people flocked to the monastery from all over the country to see the stigmata for themselves, and to confess their sins to this living saint. During the next few years Padre Pio was forced to endure a series of medical investigations and attempted cures, none of which changed the character of the wounds. He never talked about himself or complained, but when someone foolishly asked him if his wounds hurt, he replied: Do you think that the Lord gave them to me for a decoration?
Padre Pio Helps Us Make Sense of Stigmata
Growing up, I was obsessed with Johnny Cash. My parishioners would say that I still am, and admittedly that’s probably true. I love the Man in Black. I jokingly tell people that I have worn black every day since he died (which is also true).
When I was young and still in the practice of going trick-or-treating, I was Johnny Cash pretty much every year except for one. That one year I was the Fonze from the popular 1970s television series Happy Days. Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “The Fonze,” was simply the coolest thing that ever showed up on a television screen. Kids my age rarely would miss an episode, because The Fonze simply captured our imagination.
Now cool is hardly a theological term, but if it were used to describe one saint on the church’s liturgical calendar, it would have to be St. Pius of Pietrelcina, universally known as Padre Pio.
Padre Pio, whose feast day is September 23, died in 1968. He had all sorts of miraculous events surrounding his person, things that we would normally associate with saints from centuries past, like bilocation, levitation, reading of souls (telling people their sins before they confess them) and more. Yet he died in our own era.
But what really grabs people’s attention about Padre Pio is that he had the stigmata for 50 years — the wounds of Christ on his body. He was the first priest in recorded history to have such a phenomenon.
The word stigmata comes from a Greek word meaning a mark impressed by iron, something like the branding of cattle. Believe it or not, the word actually appears in the New Testament, when St. Paul wrote, “I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body” (Galatians 6:17). This verse has caused some people to ponder if St. Paul himself had the stigmata, though there really is no indication that he did.
As famous as Padre Pio is for the stigmata, he is not the most well-known saint to have experienced it. St. Francis of Assisi is the first saint said to have had this phenomenon. His wounds appeared only in the last two years of his life, following an ecstatic vision. There are different traditions, but one states that his disciples did not even know about it until they saw them on his body after he died.
What might surprise some readers is that the church has never made any definitive statement on the miraculous nature of stigmata. In fact, often claims of stigmata have rightfully received a cool reception.
St. Francis de Sales, in his book Treatise on the Love of God, refused to define the phenomenon as miraculous. What’s more, Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century was cautious in attributing stigmata to sanctity. This is clearly true, since many of the great saints, such as Therese of Lisieux, John Vianney, John Paul II and many others, never experienced anything resembling stigmatization.
Sceptics of the miraculous nature of the stigmata cite the fact that every documented case of it followed an intense ecstasy, which points to the possibility that stigmata could be explained as a result of an intense psychological experience.
Obviously sceptics do not take the stigmata as a point of faith. Doubtless there have been many frauds throughout history who have claimed to have the miraculous marks of Christ on their body, so it is healthy to be skeptical. But just as the church does not make an official statement on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, so it is not going to make an official statement on those who experience the stigmata.
Whether the stigmata is supernatural or a result of something more physiological can still be debated. But there is one thing the stigmata most certainly is not: an historical portrayal of the wounds of Christ crucified.
No two persons have had the exact same marks on their body. Some have had them in the form of a square, while others have had circular marks. Some have had the marks on their wrists, while others have had them on their hand. Some have had the wound on the left side of their chest, while others have had the wound on the right side. We are wrong to look at someone like Padre Pio and conclude that that is the way it must have been for Jesus.
Personally, I think the stigmata certain saints have experienced are most likely of a miraculous nature. At the very least a saint would not fake such an occurrence. However, the claims of people who profess to have the wounds today (and there are many) I would take with a big grain of salt.
Either way, we see in Padre Pio and other such saints a clear and tangible sign of Christ’s love for us in his suffering, and that is our take-away from such a phenomenon. And that’s pretty cool.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!