The life of Padre Pio. The Great Mission
The life of Padre Pio. The Great Mission.
On July 28, 1916, Padre Pio arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo for the first time. San Giovanni Rotondo was at that time a small village on the Gargano peninsula, surrounded by very poor houses, without light, without drinking water or pipes, without paved roads and without modern forms of communication, very similar to the way of life in the small villas of that time.The monastery was about two kilometers from the town and to get to it, it was necessary to go on a mule. The monastery had a small and rustic Church of Our Lady of Grace of the fourteenth century.
Padre Pio was invited to San Giovanni by Father Guardian and his brief visit was from July 28 to August 5. During this visit, the Father’s health seems to have improved a little which pleased the Provincial Father and he sent him under obedience to return to San Giovanni for a time, until he improved his health. The Father returned to the Monastery of Gargano on September 4, 1916. In the designs of the Lord, what initially was thought to be temporary, lasted 52 years, until the death of the Father.
Padre Pio was called to the military ranks three times during the First World War and the three times he was returned after a short period due to health reasons. The last time he was called, his health deteriorated so much that the same doctors dismissed him to “allow him to die peacefully in his home.” The short stays in the military ranks caused great pain in his soul, because of the hardness of the soldiers, the blasphemies he heard and being away from the monastic life. Another great pain was not being able to offer Holy Mass every day. The Father was discharged from the military ranks with papers that testified his good behavior, his honor and fidelity to the country, although he was saved from confronting desertion charges for not showing up for an appointment, because of an error by the postman. San Giovanni Rotondo. He did not know that Francisco Forgione and Padre Pio were the same person and therefore did not know who to give the appointment to.
The minor seminary
Padre Pio served as the spiritual father of the young people who were part of the minor seraphic seminary, which at that time was in San Giovanni Rotondo. He was in charge of providing them with meditations, confessing them and having spiritual conversations with them. He prayed a lot and watched his spiritual progress and even asked permission to offer himself as a victim to the Lord for the perfection of this group to those who, as he himself said, “loved with tenderness”. One day when he was taking a walk with the young people he said: “One of you pierced my heart.” The young people were perplexed by this comment, but did not dare to ask who had been the culprit. “One of you this morning made a sacrilegious Communion. And to know that I was the one who gave it to him today during the Mass. ” The guilty young man threw himself at his feet and confessed to being the culprit. The Father signaled the others to retire a little and right there on the street he heard his confession and restored it to the grace of God.
Transverberation of the heart
The transverberation is an extraordinary grace that some saints like Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint John of the Cross have received. The heart of the person chosen by God is pierced by a mysterious arrow or experienced as a dart that when penetrating leaves behind a wound of love that burns while the soul is raised to the highest levels of the contemplation of love and pain. Padre Pio received this extraordinary grace on August 5, 1918. In great simplicity, the Father told his spiritual director what happened: “I was listening to the confessions of the young people on the night of August 5 when, suddenly, I was I was greatly frightened when I saw with the eyes of my mind a celestial visitor who appeared before me. In his hand he wore something that looked like a long iron spear, with a very sharp point. It seemed that fire came from the tip. I saw the person plunge the spear violently into my soul. I could barely complain and I felt like I was dying. I told the boy to leave the confessional, because I felt very ill and did not have the strength to continue. This martyrdom lasted without interruption until the morning of August 7. From that day I feel a great affliction and a wound in my soul that is always open and causes me agony.”
The stigmata of Christ
Undoubtedly what has made Padre Pio famous is the phenomenon of stigmas: the five wounds of the crucified Christ that he carried in his body visibly for 50 years. A little over a month after receiving the transfer of heart, Padre Pio receives the signs, now visible, of the Passion of Christ. The Father describes this phenomenon and spiritual grace to his director by obedience: “It was the morning of September 20, 1918. I was in the choir doing the thanksgiving prayer of the Mass and I felt little by little that it elevated me to a prayer always softer, suddenly a great light dazzled me and Christ appeared to me that bled everywhere. From his wounded body came rays of light that looked like arrows that hurt my feet, hands and side. When I came back to me, I found myself on the ground and wounded. My hands, feet and side bled and hurt until I lost all the strength to get up. I felt I was dying, and I would have died if the Lord had not come to hold my heart that felt strongly in my chest. On all fours I crawled to the cell. I leaned back and prayed, I looked again at my sores and I cried, raising hymns of thanks to God.”
The stigmas of Padre Pio were deep wounds in the center of the hands, the feet and the left side. His hands and feet were literally pierced and living blood came from both sides, making Padre Pio the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church (San Francisco Assisi was not a priest).
The Provincial of the Capuchins of Foggia invited Professor Romanelli, doctor and director of a prestigious hospital, to study the case and give his opinion. Dr. Romanelli had no doubt of the supernatural character of the phenomenon. Soon after, the General Curia of the Capuchins in Rome sent San Gionanni Rotondo to another specialist, Professor Jorge Festa. His conclusions were that “the stigmas of Padre Pio had an origin that scientific knowledge was far from explaining. The reason for its existence is beyond human science.” The news that Padre Pio had the stigmas spread quickly. Soon thousands of people came to San Giovanni Rotondo to see him, kiss his hands, confess with him and attend his Masses. The word STIGMA comes from the Greek and means “mark” or “sign in the body”, and was the result of the seal of a red-hot iron with which they marked the slaves. In the medical sense, stigma means a reddened spot on the skin, which is caused by the blood coming out of the vessels by a strong nervous influence, but never becomes perforation. On the other hand, the stigmas that the mystics have had are real lesions of the skin and tissues, real wounds, as in this case, have been described by Drs. Romanelli and Festa.
On Friday, September 20, 1968, Padre Pio celebrated 50 years of receiving the stigmas of the Lord. The celebration in San Giovanni was great. Padre Pio celebrated the Mass at the usual time. Around the altar there were 50 large pots with red roses for their 50 years of blood … In the same miraculous way as the stigmas had appeared on his body 50 years before, now, 50 years later and a few days before his death, they had disappeared without leaving any trace of five decades of pain and blood, with which the Lord has confirmed their mystical and supernatural origin.
Three days later, murmuring for long hours “Jesus, Mary!”, Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. Those who were present remained for a long time in silence and in prayer. Then there was a long, unstoppable cry. The funeral of Padre Pio was impressive. It took four days for the crowds to dismiss him. It is estimated that more than 100 thousand people participated in the funeral.
(september 4th 1916) Padre Pio is to San Giovanni Rotondo.
(march 16th 1918) After a series of convalescence vacations, he was sent away from the military service because of double bronchial-alveolitis.
(march 18th 1918) His re-entry into the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo was definite.
(september 20th 1918)It was Friday morning, a day in which, like many other Catholics, Padre Pio would have meditated on the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. In front of the cross in the choir of the church of the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo, he received the stigmas to his hands, feet and chest, the signs of the Passion of Christ already announced on the 5th and 6th of August with the prodigal of the cutting through the skin (trasverberazione).
(september 22th 1968) Padre Pio celebrated his last Mass, at five o’clock in the morning and the following night died at 2.30 a.m., he was reunited with God after fifty years from the day that he received the stigmas, which completely disappeared from his body at the moment of his death.
( march 20th 1983) There began the diocesan process for his canonization, which were concluded on the 21st of January 1990, they gave Padre Pio the title of Venerable in 1998 and Beatify in 1999, with the memorable celebration in Piazza San Pietro, presided over by His Holiness John Paul II.
(june 16th 2002) John Poul II proclamed “Saint the Blessed Padre Pio of Pietrelcina”.