Friday, September 23, 2011
Padre Pio died 44 years ago today. His last words were, 'Jesus, Mary.' Ten minutes after Padre Pio's death, all traces of the stigmata on his hands, feet and side which he had borne exactly 50 years (since September 20, 1918), had disappeared.
He had visions throughout his life, from childhood visitations by angels when he was playing in the fields to horrific confrontations with demons in later life.
During the consecration, he had visions of souls on the precipice of hell and he bargained with Jesus, offering up his own suffering in their stead, to save them. At the moment of the mass when he held up the host, these visions could last for hours. On that night in 1918 when he received the wounds, he was in such physical pain that he had to crawl back to his cell from the chapel, leaving a long trail of smeared blood behind him.
Bi-location, transubstantiation, miracle cures, visions, supernatural knowledge of people’s souls in the confessional – sounds at least like old superstition and more like a marvel comic. What did this “phony self promoter,” this “huckster” do with his ill gotten fame? He built a hospital to relieve the suffering of the poor. He stayed his entire adult life in the desolate craggy landscape of southern Italy, cloistered in a monastery and isolated himself further still, spending up to 18 hours a day in the confessional. He saved countless souls through confession including and especially his “spiritual children”.
And, even though he could lose his patience with the local women who competed with each other for his attention (even sticking each other with sewing needles to cut in line and sit closer to the front at Mass – love that!), he smiled often even in his excruciating pain and fragile health, and had a reputation for his practical jokes on other monks.
As the only person in human history to both consecrate the Eucharist and bear the stigmata, I would posit that he was possibly the most powerful man who ever lived – and he is probably even more powerful in his death as an intercessor. How’s that for a superhero.
Happy Feast Day. Thank you.
For the very cool story of his interactions with a young John Paul II read here: