Today Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast day of St. Padre Pio. Born on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy, Francesco Forgione, he entered the Capuchin Novitiate when he was 15. He took on the Franciscan habit and the name Br. Pio.
He was ordained a priest in 1910, when he was 33. About a month after he priestly ordination, he received a “temporary” stigmata, which appeared and disappeared from time to time. A wound on his body appeared in 1918 due to some kind of heart problem.
One September 20, 1918, Padre Pio received the permanent and visible stigmata while praying before the crucifix.
And with that, he became the first Priest to receive the stigmata.
Padre Pio passed away on September 23, 1968. His last words: “Jesus, Mary.” Within ten minutes of his death, all of his stigmatas disappeared.
He was beatified on May 2, 1999 and canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Click here for the beautification homily and here for the canonization homily. Both are excellent reads…perhaps a post on them later.
Why did Padre Pio receive the stigmata? Methinks it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. (though a rocket scientist probably wouldn’t have an answer.)
- he prayed countless rosaries each day
- he administered the sacrament of Penance hours each day
- he saved countless souls
- he bi-located!
- he spent hours in prayer each day
- he slept only three or four hours a day
- he followed Christ every day
- he was IN LOVE–on fire with love–with Jesus!
- he was IN LOVE–on fire with love–with Mary!
- he was IN LOVE–on fire with love–with Holy Mother Church!
I don’t know if there is a person more closely aligned on this earth with our Savior! Padre Pio took the command to imitate Jesus seriously. And he did it, through the grace of God.
They say that the doctors and nurses at the time paid close attention to his food and liquid intake, and continued to say tell him that a person physically cannot go on with that kind of diet. He did go on with that kind of diet. For years. And little sleep. Could you imagine? Fasting, prayer, almsgiving…these were the works of this man every day. And he saved countless souls in the process.
Perhaps the best thing we can learn from St. Padre Pio is the example he has given us in praying the Mass. So many were privileged to observe him as he presided over the Holy Sacrifice.
He offered the Mass at 5:00 in the morning, but he began preparing for it hours beforehand. Many times he began preparing his soul for Mass before 1am. “Introibo ad altare Dei” were some of the words from scripture (Psalm 42:4) he prayed before offering Mass. (Translated: I will go to the altar of God.)
As Padre Pio offered the Mass (of course this is before the NO), tears would run down his face and he himself felt a burning sensation. Many observers would describe him as sobbing, with his face full of sweat and tears. During the consecration his stigmatas would bleed, while he elevated the consecrated Host and Chalice for ten minutes. Observers say he looked so focused as he faced the east, leading God’s people, that he appeared to be in conversation with our Lord.
This is how is must be!
A fellow Priest of Padre Pio, Fr. Alberto D’Apolito is quoted this way:
It produced such an impression that time and space between the altar and Calvary disappeared. The Mass of Padre Pio visibly reproduced the Passion of Christ, not only in a mystical form, but also physically, in his body. Waves of emotion made Padre Pio tremble at the altar as if the struggle with invisible persons filled him, time after time, with fear, joy, sadness, anguish, and pain. From the expression on his face, one could follow the mysterious dialogue. Whoever doubted the Real Presence had only to assist at Saint Pio’s Mass.
I think we’ve lost, very sadly, a sense of the sacredness of the Holy Mass. One reads accounts like this and simply feels like going to Mass in the Extraordinary Form, which our wonderful Pope has made much more accessible. But within the NO, we must look to this humble and holy Priest for an example of how we ought to approach Mass, and how we must pray it.
Part of the beauty of his story is: he was a living man not that long ago! Yet it’s easy to look at a written account of this man and say, “Wow, he was really something!” But could you imagine, if a Priest were to be like this today, how many complaints his Bishop would get for taking this whole “God thing” way too seriously?
Methinks we all could take this “God thing” a bit more seriously. And what better example than Padre Pio’s.
St. Padre Pio: PRAY FOR US!!!!