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A Book Review… An Inspiring Read To Increase Devotion To Padre Pio

August 7, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Amazing Miracles of Padre Pio: And the Stories Behind Them by Frank M. Rega (219 pages, Paperback and Kindle); available at Amazon.com.

Frank M. Rega’s Amazing Miracles of Padre Pio details many of the saint’s numerous miracles in thirty chapters, and begins with a dedication from the author addressed to “those who do not yet believe in miracles.”
This is, of course, rather ironic, since Padre Pio’s life was really one long cavalcade of miracles both of physical healing and spiritual healing in the confessional. And not only was he a miracle worker, but he was also a stigmatist who bore the wounds of Christ.
Padre Pio was born in Pietrelcina in central Italy in 1887 to pious but poor parents. His father went to America twice to earn money so young Francesco Forgione could study to become a priest. He lived at the friary at San Giovanni Rotondo near Foggia as a Franciscan Capuchin and was ordained in 1910.
In 1918, open wounds developed on his hands and feet, and he is thus credited with being the first Catholic priest to display the stigmata. These wounds were exterior signs of an intense interior life, and he became well known as a spiritual guide and confessor.
Padre Pio’s first public miracle was the subject of a story in a Naples newspaper in 1919. The reporter had been skeptical about the reports concerning the mystical friar, but was an eyewitness to a miraculous cure of 36-year-old Pasquale Di Chiara. The previous year he had sustained a serious fall while descending some stairs. This left him having to use a cane and drag his leg along; and so he was left with a serious disability.
His reason for visiting Padre Pio, though, was not his own injury, but because he was seeking healing for his three-year-old daughter who had been stricken by infantile paralysis or polio.
Di Chiara visited Padre Pio’s friary with his wife and daughter and asked him for the healing of his child. He was told to throw away the orthopedic apparatus used on the child’s leg, but his wife was wary of doing this and the parents were chided by the Friar for their lack of faith and hope. The next day the apparatus mysteriously broke, but they were still lacking in faith, and the child remained uncured.
The family returned to the friary some time later, and when Di Chiara met Padre Pio, he was told to throw away his cane and walk. He let go of his cane but remained leaning against a wall. This prompted Padre Pio to say, “Man of little faith, go ahead and walk.” At this, Di Chiara said he experienced a feeling of great warmth in his foot, which spread through his whole body.
He took one step, then two, then another and another, and began to cry from joy and emotion. He started to walk faster, and found himself at the feet of Padre Pio, who, with a bright smile, blessed him.
The newspaper reporter saw this cure and it was also seen by several other witnesses, including doctors. The little girl was also cured.
The book relates numerous other miraculous events, including the experiences of an Englishman, Cecil Humphrey-Smith, who was seriously injured in an auto accident in Italy in 1955. He had an out-of-body experience and saw himself lying beside the fuel tank of the wrecked car. While he was in the hospital, a bearded friar came in, heard his Confession and anointed him.
After the accident, he was left with excruciating pains in the head, but seven years later he visited San Giovanni Rotondo with a friend, and after Padre Pio’s Mass he met him in the sacristy. The priest tapped him three times on the head, and the pain left him immediately.
Humphrey-Smith also had some rather surreal experiences during meetings he attended to do with Padre Pio’s charitable works. He relates that it was as if the priest had the ability to make time almost stand still, so that enough business was discussed to have easily lasted two or three hours, although the meetings were over in half an hour.
Padre Pio could also seemingly talk to several people at once, while also praying the rosary continually.
He also had the ability to bilocate, that is to be in two places at once, and cases of this are also recounted in the book, including one amazing instance in the 1920s involving the then reigning Pontiff, Pope Pius XI.
At the time, because of false rumors that were being spread about him, Padre Pio had come under Vatican censure, but his enemies were not satisfied with this and wanted to completely destroy him. This led to a secret meeting at the Vatican chaired by the Pope and involving seven cardinals, two of whom were fervent supporters of the Franciscan.
The meeting reached a point where the Pope was about to decide in favor of an a divinis suspension, which would have deprived Padre Pio of his priestly standing. Then the door of the meeting room opened and a Capuchin friar entered, despite the fact that Swiss guards were in attendance outside. The friar approached the Pope, kissed his feet and then said, “Your Holiness, for the good of the Church, do not permit this to occur.” Then he silently left the room.
The guards were interrogated, but insisted that no one had passed them. The Pope suspended the meeting and send a trusty cardinal on a mission to San Giovanni Rotondo. He returned with the news that the Father Guardian of the community had confirmed that Padre Pio had not left the convent that day and had in fact been in choir reciting the Daily Office at the time of the meeting.
The outcome of this incident was that the suspension from the priesthood never occurred, and apparently, from this point on, Pius XI was more favorably disposed toward Padre Pio.

The Value Of Suffering

Perhaps the most amazing miracle in the book, though, was not a physical healing at all, but a spiritual one, which led the individual involved to embrace a lifetime of suffering. Giacomo Gaglione had suffered from a rare form of polyarthritis for seven years, which left him almost completely paralyzed and in constant pain, when he met Padre Pio early in his ministry. He had heard of the priest’s miraculous powers and was desperate to be cured.
After a grueling journey to San Giovanni Rotondo, he finally managed to meet the Capuchin and confessed to him. But then Padre Pio looked at him and he suddenly realized that it was not his destiny to be cured but rather to accept his sufferings for the love of Christ. As the author says, “Giacomo was healed when he ceased to desire a healing.”
He returned home a different person and dedicated his life to caring for the sick and infirm, and showing them the immense value of suffering. Giacomo remained paralyzed for the next fifty years, but founded an Apostolate of Suffering. He died in 1962, and when Padre Pio was asked if he was a saint, he replied, “A saint? Giacomo is a great saint.”
He was declared venerable in 2009 by Pope Benedict, and the cause for his canonization is ongoing.
The author has provided sources for all the miraculous accounts in the book, and the fact that the print is large makes for easy reading.
In sum, Amazing Miracles of Padre Pio is an inspiring read which should increase devotion to St. Pio, and also our belief in the miraculous.

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(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theo
tokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people, and the third in the series is due to be published later this year — details can be seen at: http://glaston-chron
icles.co.uk.)

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