The historic city center of Pietrelcina is characterized by the “Castello” district, a small neighborhood with medieval origins. To enter this area, you must go through the “Portal of the little Madonna” (la Porta Madonnella). This door houses an old window frame which has been bricked in. It was decorated with 30 panels of Maiolica tile that have depictions of the Virgin Mary, Saint Anthony of Padua, and Michael the Archangel. These Maiolica tiles are likely from the 18th century. Padre Pio came here to unite in prayer with the inhabitants of the Castello district and to recite a novena to the saints.
Padre Pio passed by the “Portal of the little Madonna” every day on his way to school, to church, or to the farm in “Piana Romana”. His job there was to lead a small flock of sheep out to graze.
The Portal of the little Madonna in Pietrelcina (Porta Madonella) is where Padre Pio formed his first prayer group; he always gathered a large group of people together to pray the Rosary to Mary, especially in the month of May. “Would that I had the loudest voice so I could invite all the sinners in the world to love Mary. But, since that is not in my power, I always pray to my guardian angel to do that job for me.”