[Translated from an article by Padre Silvano Troncarelli, Gente, 3 April 1999, N.15, Anno XLIII, p. 56, courtesy of the Padre Pio website].
If you wish, it is possible to visit another location dear to Padre Pio, not far from San Giovanni Rotundo, and it is also found on the Gargano: the Sanctuary at Monte Sant’Angelo, which is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. Padre Pio visited here in 1917 and celebrated a Mass, before being transferred officially to the monastery which sheltered him for the rest of his life.
For this celestial personage he had a lively devotion. He did not fail to recommend that his spiritual children invoke this Prince of the heavenly armies, conqueror of Satan and his demonic army. One curiosity: in the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo is conserved to this day the Chasuble worn by Padre Pio at the Mass he celebrated in the grotto consecrated to the apparition of St. Michael.
Padre Pio prayed 36 rosaries a day, and offered his life to avert a universal cataclysm.
[Translated from “The Gospel of Padre Pio” a series of three articles running once a week in the Italian magazine Oggi, based on interviews with Padre Carmelo, who when young was the spiritual child of Padre Pio, and later in life became his Superior at the Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo. The articles were published beginning April 28, 1999, and were written by Gisella Pagano and Matilde Amorosi]:
Padre Carmelo recalled that one night, with two other Friars, he entered the cell of his spiritual father in order to wish him good night. They found him ready for bed, with a little cap on his head, tied with two loops around his neck, and with white half-gloves covering his wounded hands.
To his visitors he explained: “I must pray two and a half rosaries before going to sleep.” And in response to the question of Padre Carmelo as to how many he had said during the day he replied: “To my Superior I must tell the truth: I have said thirty four. I am able to recite so many because when I hear confessions and the penitents are going to need time, first I make them tell their sins, and then I permit them to speak about any others they might have. And while listening to them I say the rosary. But this, thirty six in one day, is not for you. It is enough for you to pray fewer, but it is necessary to pray, to pray.”
[Padre Carmelo was eventually transferred, but during the last years of Padre Pio’s life, often visited him]
The cruel reality, that of a man very ill and morally crushed, was evident during the visits of Padre Pio’s ex-superior.
Upon this holy friar, he recounted, was imposed the praying of only one rosary per day, according to the conventual rules, an absurd chastisement, very painful for one who normally prayed thirty six daily, passing the night in prayer. Moreover, he was forced to limit his confessions, to rest more, and to eat more; the pretense being for his physical well-being. But they never took into account the transcendental dimensions into which he had soared in the last years of his life, thereby indirectly putting into doubt his very sanctity.
“In my memory my spiritual Father is similar to the figures of the Old Testament at the end of their days, a new Moses, leading not only one group of people, but a whole multitude of peoples disseminated throughout the globe. I kneeled before him to kiss his hand and to give him a filial embrace.
He returned the embrace and smiled without speaking. His confrere Padre Mariano ask him, “Do you recognize who this is?”. The holy Friar looked at him with a stare as if he were coming out from a state of ecstasy with the Lord, and spoke: “Yes, I recognize him.”
Then he said this, word for word: “My son, I offer my life to the Lord in order to avert a universal cataclysm“.
[Resources: Padre Pio Books]