This posting is about Padre Pio, the 20th century Italian monk who by all accounts had a very close-knit and active relationship with Jesus. His life was marked by willing personal sacrifice and hundreds of miracles. Some of the things that happened are so unusual that his biography reads like fiction. But according to hundreds of witnesses and recorded statements from people whose lives were converted by interaction with Padre Pio, these things really happened (I’ll mention some later in this article).
If you believe what was reported about Padre Pio, there are a couple of ways to react to such a story.
1. “How curious! How fascinating! This is a great conversation piece. When I’m done with this story, I’ll search for other oddball stories, like how a restaurant just set the world record for making the world’s largest cheeseburger.”
2. “There must be a reason these things happened. There must be something God wants us to learn from Padre Pio’s life, and I want to find out what that is… (right after I finish my cheeseburger… I got a hankering for one).
I finished my own large cheeseburger, so I decided to really think about the ‘meaning’ behind his life. Let me first catch you up on who this Padre Pio is, and why he’s attracted attention for years.
- Lived in Italy from 1887 – 1968. (Alive while I was alive, which makes him more credible than some middle-ages dude... there are photos and videos after all).
- From an early age behaved well, loved God, followed the rules, kind to others.
- At the age of five, began to have spiritual ecstasies and apparitions, including visions of the Blessed Mother Mary. But he didn’t report them to others until years later “Because I thought they were ordinary and happened to everybody.”
- At the age of nine, strangely declined to play outdoors with his friends so that he could read devotional books and request to stay long hours in the church.
- At the age of nine, was privileged to pray and weep together with a poor woman in his church holding a deformed child, who was miraculously healed in front of his eyes. This was the first of hundreds of miracles that occured a short time after a prayer from Padre Pio. (Years later, he explained that God performed all the miracles; he just prayed.)
- At the age of 15, despite very close ties to his mother and family, dedicated his life to Christ by entering a Capuchin friary.
- Put his own feelings and needs aside very happily to conform to the wishes of his religious superiors.
- Began to be afflicted with ailments far too many for a person his age, and he accepted them to join in the suffering of Christ. What was more remarkable than the number of ailments was his easy acceptance of them… he offered his suffering for the sake of the kingdom of Christ. (Stop here if you think this is too weird… because there’s more)
- When he was 31, he was ‘granted’ the stigmata… the visible wounds of Christ, in his hands, feet, and sides. The word spread quickly and he began to have a stream (OK, river) of pilgrims visit his friary.
- Padre Pio did not just stand in front of the pilgrims like a side show and wave his bloody hands around (for the benefit of our British readers, we mean here "red fluid" rather than "fricking"). He wrapped his hands with bandages to mask part of the continual flow of blood, and took their confessions. This began a long series of personal conversions… too many to count. This became Padre Pio’s life work for many, many decades. His life had a way of getting people to open up about their wrongdoing and promise to be a better person. To follow God from now on.
- Many more strange things happened during the course of his life, like the ability to appear before a soldier about to be blown up to tell him to “quickly run towards me now!” from hundreds of miles away. Like the ability to be seen suspended in air as a way of communicating hand signals to some airplane pilots who needed assistance. Like the ability to request God to allow a woman without pupils in her eyes to see as a normal person. Very strange stuff.
Alright now. Let’s get to the point. Why did these things happen? What is God’s goal? Does He want higher ratings than some TV expose about alien sightings? Does he want to sell more cars and toothpaste? I for one, was very intrigued. He got my attention. No. When you look back on Padre Pio’s life, what good was accomplished by this?
- Hundreds of people’s medical or safety problems solved.
- Tens of Thousands of people converted to believe in Jesus and the message of Jesus. Tens of Thousands of lives changed for the better. Tens of Thousands of souls on their way to heaven.
Which of the two do you think is the advertisement, and which is the product?