If anyone could pinpoint the single most amazing thing about Padre Pio, it would be how many amazing things have been recorded.
Every time one thinks he has reached the end of astonishing accounts, there’s another, followed by another.
Can you imagine how it was with Christ?
(This is why John 21:25 says, “But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”)
Anyway, Saint Pio gives us a taste of that.
Take his bilocations.
“It is known that on the day of the beatification of Saint Thèrése of Lisieux, Padre Pio was seen at St. Peter’s, even though he remained in San Giovanni Rotondo on the very same day,” recounted the late famed exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth in a newly released work, Padre Pio: Stories and Memories of My Mentor and Friend.
“Seen” though his physical body was elsewhere? If so, it wasn’t the only time. Who knows how many times there were? Other biographies assert that Pio was seen in a confessional at St. Peter’s Basilica and also in the offices at the Vatican during discussions of his ministry (fending off a dapper stranger who was there to undermine his reputation and is said to have been a corporeal demon).
Mighty stuff. And best of all, true.
His confessional? One had to be prepared! Padre Pio was a tough confessor; none tougher; often denying absolution. “It was not a vending machine of absolution,” is the way Father Amorth writes it, “but a place of conversions.” As related by Father Amorth, Pio consoled one man to whom he had denied absolution, saying with tenderness, about the withholding of that grace, “My son, if that is so, I didn’t deny you absolution to send you to hell, but to send you to Heaven.” One man went three times before finally receiving absolution — and only after realizing that beyond basic sins, he had to correct a personality defect.
Those defects could include pride, disobedience, selfishness, disharmony, division, and lack of charity.
Key question for penitents: how much do you love? “Even granting that you may have committed all the sins of this world, Jesus repeats to you: your many sins are forgiven, because you have loved much,” Pio said.
By this do we realize true Catholicism.
By this do we end up as precious nuggets during the ongoing, “great sifting.”
“Rest assured,” said Padre Pio, “that God can reject everything in a creature conceived in sin that bears indelible imprint inherited from Adam: but He absolutely cannot reject the sincere desire to love Him.”
And so let us ask: how much do we love? How much time have we wasted on worldly debate, on discord, on social media, that could have been spent praising Him?
Notes a website: “One day, Padre Pellegrino asked Padre Pio: ‘Father, this morning you denied absolution to a lady who confessed to an abortion. Why have you been so rigorous with this poor unfortunate?’ Padre Pio said: ‘The day, in which people, frightened by the economic boom, from physical damages or from economic sacrifices, will lose the horror of the abortion, it will be the most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only homicide but also suicide. And with these people we see on the point of committing two crimes…do we want to show our faith? Do we want to save them?'”
Adds the site: “The devil is near to people who curse. In a hotel in St. Giovanni Rotondo it was not possible to rest neither during the day nor at night because there was a girl who was possessed and shouted for hours. Everybody was frightened of her. The child’s mother brought her every day to the church. She hoped that Padre Pio would free the child from the evil spirit. The child also shouted a lot in the church. One day, when Padre Pio had finished hearing the women’s confessions, he met the child that howled fearfully in front of him. The child was being held back with difficulty by two or three men. The Saint was annoyed by the whole uproar and kicked the child with his foot and then he struck the child’s head and he said: ‘Stop! Enough!’
“The child fell to the ground as if she was sleeping. Padre Pio told a doctor who was standing there, to bring the child to St. Michael, in the sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo. When the group reached their destination, they entered the cave where Saint Michael had appeared. The child revived but nobody succeeded in bringing her near to the altar of the Angel. In the midst of the confusion, a monk took the hand of the child and touched the altar. She fell down as if she had been struck by lightning. A few minutes later she woke up and as if nothing had happened she asked her mother: ‘Could you buy me an ice cream?’
“At that point the group of people returned to St. Giovanni Rotondo in order to inform and to thank Padre Pio. But Padre Pio told her mother: ‘Say to your husband not to curse anymore, otherwise the demon will return.'”
As for trials:
“All have their Cross,” said Padre Pio, “(and) all ask that it be taken away. But if they knew how precious it is, they would be asking that it be given to them.”