It’s a unique perspective, a book about Saint Padre Pio written by a priest, Gabriele Amorth, who would become a famous exorcist and knew the famous mystic of the Gargano personally.
Indeed, Father Amoth — in a highly worthy, handily written little book, Padre Pio: Stories and Memories of My Mentor and Friend — makes Padre Pio’s life seem fresh even to those, such as ourselves, who have read many books about the great saint.
There is a newness here. There is a powerful brevity. The writing is simple, direct, and interesting at every turn.
Naturally, Father Amorth often focuses on the spiritual-warfare aspect of Pio’s life, and that’s fine with us, at this spiritual-warfare time of the year. The key fortifications: humility and obedience.
Perhaps you’ve heard this before. Perhaps not — Pio’s vision early in life.
As Father Amorth recounts, “Shortly before he joined the Capuchins in 1903, two things happened to Francesco at the age of fifteen that he always considered important and frequently discussed with his spiritual directors. They are two episodes that played a role of great significance in his life.”
“This was a vision he had,” writes Amorth. “The youngster saw a radiant, handsome man who was beckoning to him: ‘Come with me, because you are to fight as a valiant warrior.’
“Together they went to a huge field. On one side were handsome men dressed in white garments; on the other were hideous men dressed in black, making them look like dark shadows.
“Francesco suddenly found himself facing a horrible man who was so tall his head was in the clouds.
“The radiant figure urged the youngster to fight the giant. Francesco pleaded with him to spare him from the contest, but the other said to him: ‘It is useless for you to resist. You have to scuffle with him. Take heart, enter the combat with trust, and fight courageously. I will be close by, helping you, and will not let him beat you.”
So we see the unseen help — the angels — we too have on our side.
“The clash was terrible,” relates Father Amorth, “but thanks to the help of that radiant figure, the giant was defeated and forced to retreat, followed by that multitude of repulsive men, who ran off hurling shrieks, curses, and deafening cries. But the other multitude broke into shouts of rejoicing and praise for the radiant figure who had helped Francesco in the unequal fight.
“At this point, the figure placed a crown of indescribable beauty on Francesco’s head and then removed it, saying to him, ‘I am setting aside for you an even more beautiful crown, if you are able to fight against that giant. He will keep attacking you, but be fearless and fight him. I will always be near you so that you may always succeed in knocking him down.’”