Franciscan Cross Arms

ST. PIO PEACE CENTRE

The UK National Shrine Of Padre Pio
Pantasaph, North Wales

Pray, Hope And Don't Worry

Who Was Padre Pio?

An Introduction To The Life And Mission Of The Extraordinary Priest From Southern Italy, St Padre Pio Of Pietrelcina (25.05.1887 - 23.09.1968)

T he text on this page is taken from the leaflet "Padre Pio, A Living Crucifix". Printed by Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary Editions. Translated by Geraldine Nolan.

Photograph of Padre Pio

"my past, o lord, to your mercy; my present, to your love; my future, to your providence!"

Down Arrow The Early Years

Down Arrow His Stigmatization

Down Arrow 20th Century Charismatic

Down Arrow Padre Pio's First Love

Down Arrow "My Little Mother" Mary

Down Arrow Invisible Companion - His Guardian Angel

Down Arrow Poverty, Chastity, Obedience

Down Arrow San Giovanni - "A City Will Arise"

Down Arrow The Popes Speak About Padre Pio

Down Arrow His Words Live On

Down Arrow How to become one of Padre Pio's Spiritual Children

Down Arrow Powerful Intercessor

"always live under the eyes of the good shepherd and you will walk unharmed through evil pastures"

The Early Years

F rancesco Forgione, the future Padre Pio, was born of simple, hardworking farming people on 25th May 1887, in Pietrelcina, southern Italy. Francesco had a normal, happy childhood with adequate clothing and good, simple food. At the age of five he had already decided to dedicate his life entirely to God in the priesthood. At this tender age, also, he was the object of the devil's attacks, but on the other hand this was compensated for with heavenly visions. Francesco also inflicted penances on himself, and once he was reprimanded by his mother for sleeping on the hard, stone floor with a rock for a pillow.

His schooling began at a rather late stage - at the age of ten - due to the fact that, up to that time, he had worked on the land, looking after the family's small flock of sheep. When he was fifteen he was ready to embrace the religious life. He entered the Capuchin Novitiate at Morcone and, with the help of grace, completed the required studies and was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 23. Padre Pio's health was quite precarious, so that, with the required permission, he was obliged to live outside the friary, retaining the Capuchin habit.
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His Stigmatization

H is ailing health was perhaps the first sign of his vocation to win souls back to God. Indeed in a letter to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto, he tells of his desire to suffer for others: "..This desire," he writes, "has been growing continually in my heart and has now become what I would call a strong passion. I have, in fact, made this offering to the Lord several times; beseeching him to pour out on me the punishments prepared for sinners and for the souls in a state of purgation, even increasing them a hundred fold…"

Throughout the years, Padre Pio's zeal for souls increased at an amazing rate. When he received the faculty to hear confessions, this zeal of his snowballed.

This frail young friar was sent to San Giovanni Rotondo for "a short stay" in the hope that his health would improve somewhat, but he was to remain here for the rest of his days. And it was here that, in accordance with his desire to be a 'victim' for souls, he was to become the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. When giving thanks after Mass in the little friary church of San Giovanni Rotondo, on 20th September 1918, he was marked with the five wounds of Our Lord's crucifixion.

"On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash."

"While this was taking place I saw before me the mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5th 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 should die and really should 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…"

"I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will He at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring Him until in His mercy He takes away, not the wounds or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation."
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20th Century Charismatic

T his extraordinary young friar, now living in the midst of unspeakable sufferings, was to become one of the most remarkable confessors of this century. He reconciled countless sinners to God and led many more to the heights of holiness.

Padre Pio was a simple, humble friar who prayed. But to the mystical gifts which enriched his soul and raised him to close union with his Lord and Redeemer, were added a whole series of charisms which were to equip him in a unique way for the mission which God evidently intended him to fulfil. The extraordinary charisms with which the Lord endowed him were many: bilocation, prophecy, healing, the power to read men's hearts, the gift of tongues, and the fragrances which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence.

This ability of his to read men's hearts was particularly useful in the confessional. Indeed, more than anything else, Padre Pio was a priest of the confessional. How many souls returned to the straight and narrow path due to his help and encouragement? It was not rare to see a person, somewhat shy about telling all the sins he had committed, being told their sins by the good Padre himself, to their absolute astonishment. And how many people, having decided finally to return to the Sacrament of Penance after many, many years, were met in the confessional with the words: "So you finally decided to turn up! I've been waiting for you for… years!"

It was through his atrocious suffering, five open wounds which bled continually for fifty long years, that he snatched so many souls from the clutches of Satan. He truly was a 'victim' for his brothers and sisters who had left the fold.

But Padre Pio's suffering was not only physical. His interior trials came in the form of "violent and assiduous" temptations against faith, hope and purity. Coupled with this was the disturbed environment which surrounded him; disputes, noisy manifestations of the crowd and devotees, accusations, medical check-ups imposed by ecclesiastical and religious authorities, and then the supreme test: Complete segregation from the faithful, the suspension from any and every sacred office, except the Mass, which, however was to be celebrated in the internal friary chapel (11th June 1931 - 5th July 1933).

Among the moral sufferings, that particular trial of the spirit made of the mystical phenomenon from the "dark night of the soul" should be remembered above all for, as is noted, it represents the test of fire of holiness, because the creature is detached from everything, even from spiritual joys, and gives himself to God unconditionally.

"I want to be only a poor friar who prays… Pray, hope and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer… Prayer is the best weapon we possess; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart; in fact on certain occasions you should speak to Him only with your heart… One searches for God in books. One finds him in meditation."
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Padre Pio's First Love

H is love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was unparalleled. Many were moved to tears while assisting at Holy Mass and evening Benediction in the friary church, overawed by the beloved Padre's evident emotion. He received great consolation when praying to Jesus. "…My heart feels as if it were being drawn by a superior force each morning just before uniting with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I have such a thirst and hunger before receiving Him that it's a wonder I don't die of anxiety. I was hardly able to reach the Divine Prisoner in order to celebrate Mass. When the Mass ended I remained with Jesus to render Him thanks. My thirst and hunger do not diminish after I have received Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but rather, increase steadily. Oh, how sweet was the conversation I held with Paradise this morning! The heart of Jesus and my own, if you will pardon the expression, fused. They were no longer two hearts but only one. My heart disappeared as if it were a drop in the ocean."
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"My Little Mother"

Madonna and Child

P adre Pio was a "living rosary." His deep devotion to Our Lady manifested itself principally through the continual recitation of the holy rosary, throughout every day of his long life. He was never seen without the rosary in his hands. He himself called it his "weapon;" his arm against the devil and the world. But his love for Our Lady was a tender love, the love of a son who believes and hopes and trusts. This great love of his was returned a hundred-fold by the Madonna: She was always ready to console him after the diabolical manifestations, and indeed accompanied him to the altar to say Mass.

The many graces and favours which he gained for all those who asked his help were obtained through the recitation of the holy rosary. He said: "Our Lady never refuses me a grace through the recitation of the holy rosary."
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Invisible Companion

Guardian Angel

E ven though the work Padre Pio carried out throughout his long life was excessive for one man, he was not without help. A particular helper was his Guardian Angel. He had great devotion to his Guardian Angel and indeed was constantly helped by this dear, but unfortunately often forgotten by many, little friend. When his spiritual director wrote to him in French, (a language Padre Pio had never studied) Padre Pio replied to that letter in equally perfect French to the great surprise of his director. And when asked how this could be, given that he had never studied French, he replied saying that his Guardian Angel had explained the letter to him and had dictated his reply. His Guardian Angel brought messages to him from his spiritual children who were unable to speak to him directly for one reason or another. Indeed Padre Pio used to say: "If you cannot come to me, send me your Guardian Angel. He can take a message from you to me, and I will send you a reply through him." And still today his devotees send their Guardian Angels to this saintly priest who is undoubtedly in Paradise, and are very surprised by this little angel's efficiency.
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Poverty, Chastity, Obedience

Bedroom

E ven though it is true to say that the Lord bestowed many exceptional gifts on Padre Pio, this holy priest should, more than anything else, stand before us as a model priest and Christian, first and foremost. A priest who, for more than fifty years, never left the friary except to vote, his entire life being spent in prayer, saying Mass, hearing confessions and suffering excruciating spiritual, moral and physical pains for the salvation of his brothers and sisters: "The immense pity I experience at the sight of a poor man gives rise deep down in my soul to a most vehement desire to help him, and if I were to follow the dictates of my will I should be driven to strip myself even of my clothing to cover him."

His exemplary charity can be summed up in his own words: "I can refuse no one. How could I, when the Lord refuses me nothing?"
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"A City Will Arise"

Hospital

I n 1957 Padre Pio spoke before a great crowd of confreres and devotees. It was the first anniversary of the inauguration of the new hospital which was constructed and opened to serve the needs of the people of southern Italy. The prophetic words of Padre Pio rang out across the almond tree-covered terraces and still echo in our ears today: "One day a city is destined to arise around Our Lady of Grace's Shrine." Over thirty years later one sees the words of Padre Pio bearing fruit. In addition to the great medical-surgical facility, there is also a larger church, which opened in 1959 standing beside the original 16th century friary church; a Way of the Cross built into the side of the Gargano Mountain, a modern Centre for Children with special needs, and a larger new church. Modern hotels and restaurants supply the needs of tourist and pilgrims who come to San Giovanni Rotondo all year round, but particularly from April to November.

Tomb

The many needs of pilgrims coming to Padre Pio's tomb are being met by the architect Renzo Piano. His model includes a main church for 10,000 people and a crypt for another 2,000. A large confession hall and six chapels will also serve the pilgrims' needs.
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The Popes Speak

P ope Benedict XV
Padre Pio is truly a man of God. You must assume the responsibility to make him known. He is not esteemed according to his merits."

Pope Pius XII
"Padre Pio is a holy man. I send him a blessing from the bottom of my heart. He is so good… so good… how fortunate he is…"

Pope Paul VI
"What fame he had. How many followers from around the world! Why? Was it because he was a philosopher, a scholar, or because he had means at his disposal? No, it was because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning until night and was a marked representative of the Stigmata of Our Lord. He was truly a man of prayer and suffering".

Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John-Paul II)
"It is impressive and profound, the fact that we are celebrating this Eucharist near the tomb of Padre Pio who, with his exemplary life, preached the passion, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
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His Words Live On

S ome of Padre Pio's words:

"On this earth everyone has his cross. But we must act in such a way that we not be the bad but the good thief."

"The proof of love is to suffer for the one you love."

"In the spiritual life you must take one step forward each day in a vertical line, from the bottom up."

"Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace."

"It would be easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."

"Humility and charity go hand in hand. The one glorifies, the other sanctifies."

"To fail in charity is to wound God in the pupil of His eye."

"The surest means of remaining immune to the pestiferous disease that surrounds us to fortify ourselves with Eucharistic food."

"Prayer is the effusion of our heart into God's… When it is well done, it moves the Divine Heart and makes Him always more inclined to grant our requests."

"Let's approach Holy Communion with holy love and fear. May the entire day be preparation and thanksgiving for Holy Communion."

In the life of Padre Pio, the graces obtained through his intercession occurred at a growing pace. His prayers and his sufferings gave health back to the gravely ill, made cripples walk, made the blind see, restored peace and serenity to tormented souls and converted atheists and sinners.

There was nothing sweeter than his smile and prayers at the bedside of a sick confrere and companion; there was nothing more dear than his concern to bring solace and refreshment with his pierced hands; for there was nothing more precious to him than to give back life to a dying person.

Padre Pio is still amongst us in the spirit. As he himself said during his long lifetime; "I will stand at the gates of Heaven until all my spiritual children have entered." His intercession is extremely powerful and he is simply waiting for us to "knock at the heart of Jesus for any grace," which we seek through his intercession.
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How to become one of Padre Pio's Spiritual Children

D uring his lifetime Padre Pio was Spiritual Director for many people. He called them his "Spiritual Children". Since his death the Friars in St. Giovanni have extended this privilege to those who wish to follow in his footsteps.

If you would like to be registered as his 'Spiritual Child', please contact Lisa Lalani on 0208 9891606. A suggested donation is £2.00.

Padre Pio would say to those who wish to be in his 'Spiritual Family', "I accept you but do not rub my face in the dust".
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Powerful Intercessor

PadrePio Celebrating The Eucharist

P adre Pio's mission continues to this day. In San Giovanni Rotondo he continues to recall the lost sheep to the fold through the Sacrament of Penance. People come from the four corners of the earth to visit the friary where he spent the best part of his priestly life. Padre Pio is undoubtedly still in our midst. His message for each one of us is one of hope, joy and comfort. He recalls each one of us to the "one true Church," the Catholic Church; to obedience, obeying the Priests and Bishops who tend the fold, and not merely when the rules suit us.

He recalls us to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the recitation of the holy rosary of Our Lady, who never refused him a grace. He, as a good Samaritan, always ready to carry the cross for others, wants us to do the same in as far as we possibly can, always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need. Padre Pio's tomb is visited by tens of thousands of people every year, both in petition and thanksgiving.

At a solemn ceremony in the friary church of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo, on 20th March 1983, the Canonical Informative Process on the life and virtues of the Servant of God, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, was officially opened. On 21st January 1989, the Diocesan Process came to an end and the relative documentation was brought to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where the vast amount of documentation has been already carefully examined.

In December 1997 Padre Pio was pronounced Venerable by Pope John Paul II. On Monday December 21st 1998 it was announced that the Venerable Padre Pio will be Beatified, and on Sunday 2nd May 1999 in Rome he was beatified and finally canonised on 16th June 2002 and is now known as St Pio of Pietrelcina.
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