"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Feast of Saint (Padre) Pio

Today is the liturgical feastday of a man whom I am by no means the only Catholic to consider one of the greatest saints in the Church's history. He died thirty-seven years ago, a few days after writing Pope Paul VI to express his support for the recently published encyclical Humanae Vitae, probably the most widely execrated papal document ever (save, perhaps, for Unam Sanctam).

Padre Pio was from the same part of Italy as my father's family. A stigmatist for fifty years, his vow of obedience led him to submit to several scientific examinations that failed to uncover any natural explanation. By all accounts from Catholic and non-Catholic alike, his Mass was transporting, a palpable symbol of the sacrifice he presented in persona Christi. He had the gift of reading souls, hearing confessions many hours per day for decades and tolerating no hint of dissembling. His bilocations were well attested, as were his miracles of healing. The hospital he started at San Giovanni Rotondo, near his monastery, now has few rivals for size and quality of care. I ask him regularly to obtain a miracle of healing for those closest to my heart.

I'm only giving you a bare taste. Of course he provoked bitter opposition and misunderstanding as well as the devotion of millions. For a long time the Holy Office treated him with reserve, even contempt. All the accusations against him, which were many, proved unfounded. That only increases my identification with and devotion to him. He remains very active today among his "spiritual family."

A good introductory book on him is Meet Padre Pio: Beloved Mystic, Miracle Worker, and Spiritual Guide, by Patricia Treece. For those a bit better acquainted, try Padre Pio: A Man of Hope, by Renzo Allegri.

Get to know him. You'll be glad you did.
blog comments powered by Disqus