THE FOLLOWING BOOKS ABOUT PADRE PIO ARE FROM THE FRIARY; THEY CAN BE ORDERED DIRECTLY FROM THE FRIARY :
E-mail: The Voice@Voiceofpadrepio.com
OR THEY CAN BE BOUGHT AT THE PADRE PIO CENTRES BELOW:
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Padre Pio Foundation of America
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Tel (860) 635-4996/Fax (860) 635PPIO(7746)
THE PADRE PIO SHELF
In my October 1987 interview with Padre Gerardo di Flumeri, the Vice Postulator of the Cause for Padre Pio's Beatification and Canonization, he began by saying, "If you want to know about Padre Pio, read his letters."
Simple as they are, no truer words were spoken. You can't deeply know Padre Pio until you read his letters, and in truth I mean all of the letters. If you want to make Padre Pio a presence in your heart and life-- you need the letters. Lucia, the mother of Matteo, the child who received the Canonization miracle, would always open one of the volumes of Letters at any place and begin reading to receive sustenance, support, love, some meaning of life's confusing happenings. Padre Pio got her through that terrible time.
Keep the three volumes at your bedside and whenever you feel pulled under the heavy waves of events and emotions, open one of them and let Padre Pio speak to you.
LETTERS, VOLUME I - Correspondence with His Spiritual Directors (1910-1922)
These are to and from his spiritual directors. In this volume you will find his description of his visions; of the Third Heaven; he speaks of the "very lofty and secret things" about which he cannot speak. He speaks of the devil, Bluebeard, Satan, The Enemy, and the means to defeat him. He speaks of his love for souls, his desire to save all souls. Here you will find so many of the famous sayings of Padre Pio you have come to know-- "I belong to everyone. . . " and all the historical moments are explained, including the famous letter in which he describes receiving the visible stigmata. These letters in themselves are a virtual autobiography. Then came the restrictions, and the letters were no more....
Here are some random picks. . . .
"This morning at four'oclock we gained another intercessor at the throne of the Most High. Raffaelina has finished the course, she has celebrated the nuptials with her divine Spouse." [Raffaelina Cerase, see LETTERS, VOLUME 2]
"I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition [his stigmata]"
"I am weary of life, dear Father; I detest this world as much as a soul belonging to Jesus can detest sin."
"Let us pray fervently for the soul who has left this exile in such a violent manner. [Suicide] I have a feeling that the Lord showed mercy towards him during the last moments."
"But alas, how different from the reality is sensual man's estimation of spiritual things."
You cannot deeply know Padre Pio until you read his letters. They are filled with beauty, love, discreet discussion of his dark nights and physical agonies, his battles with the devil, his 'talks' with Jesus, and of all our struggles. A cornucopia of spiritual gems for the soul.
LETTERS, VOLUME 2 - Correspondence with Raffaelina Cerase, Noblewoman (1914-1915)
These are masterpieces from both. . . .Raffaelina, who needed to see Padre Pio and confess to him, was the instrument that finally extracted him from his ensconced meditations and contemplations in Pietrelcina. Fevers and illness had brought him there, and when they abated, not all the coaxing and exasperation of his spiritual directors could pluck him back to friary life.
Stricken with cancer, Raffaelina needed his spiritual support, and confessed to him--and after she confessed, it was she who told his spiritual directors that Padre Pio would be a great confessor.
Raffaelina bared her soul to him in these letters. He filled her with God's love. She asked him to burn her letters.
."Oh! My poor letters! May Jesus permit them to be seen by no other eyes but yours, for you alone are my counsellor."(12/26/1914) "To you alone I confide all, so I ask you to burn them." (12/15/14)
Padre Pio reassured her more than once, "As regard your letters, you mustn't worry about what is to happen to them...All will be done as God wills." "Don't have any fear with regard to your letters... they will be in good hands."
Did she dream how far into Christendom's documented history she had ventured as the woman who brought him from Pietrelcina to Foggia--from whence he went to San Giovanni Rotondo and his destiny? Could she ever have imagined that her beautiful letters of such literary quality would travel the world?
Here they are, then. . . In their Introduction, the editors (Padre Melchiorre of Pobladura and Padre Alessandro of Ripabottoni) call them "a supernatural breath of holiness."
In this correspondence, the meaning of Padre Pio begins to shine . . . .
LETTERS, VOLUME 3 - Padre Pio to His Spiritual Daughters
That "supernatural breath of holiness" continues here in abundance. Here is the heart and soul of Padre Pio's faith, what he would tell us, if he were writing to us or talking to us today.
There is so much one can say here, it boggles the mind where to begin. Padre Pio writes so many letters ever so patiently to some of the women who sought holiness and perfection, holding back nothing of the sweet essence of their love of God, mingled with their suffering, their periods of drought, their imperfections. Despite his heavy load of duties, he wrote for more than five years with the painful wound of Crucifixion in his hand. . . .
"With repeated blows of the chisel and with divine smoothing, the Divine Artist wants to prepare the stones to be used for the eternal edifice," he wrote (p586), comparing the sanctification of these spiritual daughters to the sacred hymn for the dedication of churches (symbol of chosen souls).
These women had profound spiritual callings. They also had problems that, sometimes, prevented them from following through. They were, indeed, saints, there is no getting away from it, and Padre Pio knew he was guiding these beautiful souls to their sanctification. Here are some of my favorites from this big book (1203 pages of my First English Edition -1994).
He most often began, "My dearest daughter..." but sometimes, "My always dearest daughter..." my favorite -- so, so beautiful, reaching through history and time to us....
"The most beautiful Credo is that pronounced in darkness, in times of sacrifice and when one has to make a great effort to do this." (p549) "
"When you are unable to take big steps on the path that leads to God, be content with little steps, patiently waiting until you have the legs to run; or better still, wings to fly." (p435)
"Be fully convinced, my dear, that what more greatly assures our perfection is the virtue of patience. And if it is necessary to practice this virtue with others, it is useful to firstly practice it on ourselves. Those who aspire to pure love of God have no need to be patient with others, to the degree we should be with ourselves. We must resign ourselves, my dear daughter, to bearing our imperfections in order to arrive at perfection. I say to bear our imperfections with patience, and not at all to love and caress them, because humility is nourished in this suffering." (pp 684, 685)
". . . be tranquil in God, like a child in the arms of its mother." (p527)
"Do this always. Work a little, spin a little every day, both at night, by the light of a lamp, amidst spiritual impotence and sterility, and by day, by the light of enjoyment and spiritual enlightenment. (p567)How often he repeats this to his spiritual daughters. How much we see his urgings to trust the Lord in the darkest moments. How much he compared this trust to the arms of a mother.
He often spoke of the spindle. . .
Every woman--and every man--should read these letters. As with the letters to Raffaelina Cerase, they take us along the path we seek with Padre Pio as our guide. They take us to our higher selves.
The following books are primary sources, memoirs of confreres who knew Padre Pio, and should be read; for any books that came thereafter, written by those who did not know Padre Pio, take their facts and understanding first and foremost from these sources--Padre Pio's letters and the memoirs of confreres--which become like puzzle pieces to be fitted together.
PADRE PIO'S JACK OF ALL TRADES - Fr. Pellegrino Funicelli
I would not be without this book. I read it long ago and go back to it so often to re-read passages that take me deeper into Padre Pio's teachings and whole existence. In a single day, a single moment, Padre Pellegrino reveals Pio's humor and patience, his sharp wit, his transcendent wisdom, his knowledge and immense suffering, or all of these combined . . .
Deep in the heart of Padre Pellegrino was a profound love for his beautiful, spiritual father, Padre Pio. Their debate on abortion, a purely academic one for Padre Pellegrino, takes us into the deepest love of Padre Pio for humanity. . .
Pio's last hours were under Padre Pellegrino's watchful eye and heart.
His account of those hours, not recounted in this book, of course, has become legendary and is read on the anniversaries of Padre Pio's call from Heaven. It seems to me to be an inestimable gift from above for Padre Pellegrino, for all the years of loyal caretaking. .
3 BY ALESSIO
When Fr. Joseph Pius Martin called to tell me Fr. Alessio had died, I can still hear his voice saying, " All he accomplished, Jeanette!" One could say it was a beautiful eulogy looking back on Alessio's life with fresh admiration for his confrere. He enumerated all Padre Alessio had accomplished over the years; learning the English language, traveling to many English-speaking countries to give talks and lectures on Padre Pio; creating the popular English-language office where, over coffee or tea and a biscuit, he and Fr. Joseph greeted all the English-speaking pilgrims; his work with the spastic centers for children----and the books about Padre Pio he wrote.
The following three books by Fr. Alessio are his major literary works about "the man through whom all graces are granted," as he puts it in Padre Pio, Our Good Samaritan. I love every word of his clear and precise explanations. . . .
PADRE PIO, OUR GOOD SAMARITAN - Fr. Alessio Parente
In reading the parable of the good Samaritan that opens this book, one is reminded how busy the good Samaritan was in helping the man who was beaten and left half-dead by robbers. Compassion is a busy occupation, and in all accounts of Pio's life we get the great span of his reach, the immense effort of those wounded hands and wounded heart, and painfully wounded feet as he went about healing and helping others. One of the best chapters is Ancient Warrior, which tells us how much energy and vigor and even a bit of heavenly rage Padre Pio expended in fighting the good fight.
Father Alessio covers many aspects of Pio's love for his 'neighbor'; he brought down miracles from Heaven, he obtained cures for the sick, converted unbelievers, and spent long hours in the confessional, purifying. He built a huge hospital on a mountain in an area that desperately needed aid for the sick--it is often referred to as his greatest miracle, considering the many obstacles he encountered, including medical opinion, that hindered but did not defeat its fruition. The hospital today is a beautiful sight from a distance and up close, one of the best hospitals in Italy, and one of Italy's great Christian miracles. It tends to the soul as well as the sick body as part of its ministering--which was Padre Pio's intention. . . .
. . . .and so the pages of Good Samaritan are filled with detailed first-hand accounts of miracles and graces received during Pio's lifetime and after his death. They continue today, of course. . . .In the chapter, Ask for the Big Grace, Padre Alessio advises, "we should not ask for a grace in a half-hearted manner (this is my own personal experience as regards prayer), but firmly believing that the grace has already been granted." Elsewhere in the chapter, he comments on Padre Pio's "insistence that the person asking for his intercession should be totally convinced of his willingness, and indeed ability, to hear and intercede for them. "The simple friar of the Gargano, 'the man become prayer,' the apostle of faith and love, was granted that power to intercede for his fellow men," wrote Padre Alessio.
Naturally, this, in turn, would mean that [Padre Pio] wants us to have a boundless faith in God and in His availability at all times to hear our prayers."
There is a book that followed up on Good Samaritan -- God's Graces Through Padre Pio's Intercession -- a tome of letters received from people who received these graces and miracles, interspersed with Padre Alessio's comments. The way to read these letters is to think of them as short stories of Padre Pio's world.
SEND ME YOUR GUARDIAN ANGELS - Fr. Alessio Parente
This book of the invisible, loving, assisting, playful, serious, rescuing, interceding, upholding, protecting, message-bearing Guardian Angels counters The Devil in Padre Pio's Life--in case you've been reading that one (see below).
Fr. Alessio has gathered together an abundance of Guardian Angel-Padre Pio legends in this 200-plus page book, and many you've never heard before. He begins with the history of angels in Heaven and continues through the life of Padre Pio; his companion in life, since childhood, was his Guardian Angel. Guardian Angels surrounded him on the veranda as he took moments of respite; Guardian Angels kept him up all night with their requests, he told Fr.Dominic Meyer, his assistant for the English mail at the time. A favorite: a woman wrote that her husband, Milo, "was very ill and suffering great pain. His body was almost completely consumed with cancer and his vision and hearing were severely impaired." Toward the end, there were visitors in his nursing-home room, one of them a priest, Fr. Frank Bognanno. They were praying and singing, a thing Milo, a religious man, loved to do. They were singing "Alleluia" with their eyes shut, as they usually prayed, and "another male voice joined us in beautiful harmony.. . . When we finished our 'Alleluia,' I turned and found nobody there!. . . [but] I had felt, heard and enjoyed something beautiful that I could not explain. . .We had all heard the beautiful angelic voice and harmony. Milo then said that an angel had been with us and sang the 'Alleluia' in harmony. . . Our encounter with an Angel was beautiful and, for my beloved husband, Milo, this was only a token of what our Heavenly Father had prepared for him when a host of Angels would carry him before the throne of God. . . [M]y husband passed away ten days after seeing the Angel. How precious to know our Guardian Angels are ever with us."
Padre Alessio then reminds us of Padre Pio's words to Raffaellina Cerase (Letters, Volume 2). "At the moment of death your soul will see this Angel, so good, who accompanied you through life and was so liberal in maternal care...." Padre Alessio then asks, ". . . isn't it quite possible that Milo's Angel was with him as he approached death?" And that reminded me of the Canonization miracle, when Matteo, close to death, saw figures in the light, and among them, an angel. . . But this time, no doubt, they were to accompany a miracle. . . .
A recent article in The Voice of Padre Pio, states that through this book, translated into many languages, including Japanese, Padre Alessio has come to be known as the poet of the Guardian Angels. Quite so. In smooth and easy language, he has opened up the great invisibile world of Guardian Angels. The pictures of angels throughout the book have made me feel like the believing child of so long ago, who never questioned the possibilities. . . .
THE HOLY SOULS - Fr. Alessio Parente
Anyone who has delved, even slightly, into the life of Padre Pio, has learned that he was never alone, even in his moments of solitude. He was hounded by demons, visited by a continuous stream of Guardian Angels---and there were also the visiting souls from Purgatory: The Holy Souls.
Padre Alessio writes "Apparently, the Holy Souls were his constant companions throughout his life and he was their untiring intercessor before the Lord. They surely were his frequent visitors." Alessio himself heard Pio say "More souls of the dead than of the living climb this mountain to attend my Masses and seek my prayers."
All the stories are here, the legends and the not so well known. So many, that it is foolish not to think about Purgatory. Padre Pio seemed aware of the Holy Souls in Purgatory since childhood. Included in this book are Francesco Forgione's school compositions -- a wonderful and absolute necessity in understanding that his love for souls was already present in the child. Later,
Padre Alessio gives edifying explanations of the historical belief of a place for dead souls to expiate their past sins and faults. This belief in "a halfway house to Heaven" goes back to ancient times. Purgatory, as a place of purification, of making amends, of Redemption, by all logic, Padre Alessio tells us, would involve suffering.
"The holy souls are our dear friends, ready to help us through their suffering, and to intercede with God," Padre Alessio writes. But they are "incapable of helping themselves. . .God turns to us to ask our help in releasing them from their pains."
Through the Communion of Saints we are all a family. "Therefore, our sufferings are
theirs and vice versa,"and there is much we can do to help them 'out' of Purgatory-- our prayers, our deeds, our sufferings, resignation to God's Will on death of a loved one (because this is efficacious for the release of their soul), and the Sacrament of the Mass --all things Padre Pio made his life.
Padre Alessio calls our attention to the great mystery of Pio's love and suffering, "so that
all would be saved--the Church Militant and the Church Suffering." Pio told his spiritual daughter, Antonietta Pompilio, "I have made a covenant with God. After my soul is purified in Purgatory and is then worthy to enter Heaven, I will only stand at its gates and not enter until I have seen the last of my brothers and spiritual children enter before me."
There is tremendous consolation in reading about that vague, necessary Purgatory that so many no longer believe in. This book is much more than a collection of Padre Pio incidents with the dead, but even if it were only that, the consolations here are great because these stories and events come from Padre Pio's world, his supernatural reality.
You can believe them--and it! Purgatory.
In the opening presentation of this little, beautifully produced book, Fr. Francesco Colacelli cites the great French poet Baudelaire: "The greatest work of the devil in this modern era is to convince us that he does not exist."
THE DEVIL IN THE LIFE OF PADRE PIO - Fr. Tarcisio Cervinara
Thereafter, the author of this book, Fr. Tarcisio Cervinara, after great research, brings together Sacred Scripture, the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, and the testimonies and words of Padre Pio "to help unmask this great deception of our era."
The devil, indeed, exists! Padre Pio counsels how to thwart him, and under obedience to his superiors, "describes his personal 'vocation,' clearly indicating 'the most singular mission' to which the Lord had destined him."
The book describes the three visions that informed young Francesco that he would spend his life "destined to the sublime mission of co-redemption beside the Redeemer. The entire life of this singular son of the Poor One of Assisi will unfold, therefore, in an uninterrupted, always furious and merciless struggle with Satan, which will often reach blood-curdling and unheard of heights." Fr. Tarcisio describes some of the terrifying hauntings and physical battles that pursued Padre Pio throughout his life.
What then, the immensity of his "real mission," which he said would begin after his death?
I repeat here the words of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., as shown on my Home page:
" Satan was very real for Jesus. He was very real for Paul and the other great saints throughout history. And he is profoundly formidable. If we want a sense of the grandeur of the Fallen Angel before he fell, the violated genius of who Satan really is, we can take a hint from the [Rainer Maria] Rilke poem, The Angels:
'When they spread their wings they waken a great wind
through the land, as though with his broad sculptor-hands God
was turning the leaves of the dark book of the Beginning.' "
Archbishop Chaput goes on to say--
"This is the kind of Being--once glorified, but then consumed by his own pride--who is now the Enemy of humanity."
And the 'enemy of humanity' made Padre Pio a prime target.
A crucially important book. In a way, the most important book you can read in understanding the overall, essential purpose of Pio's mission in life--and after life. The battle between good and evil waged -- and being waged as you read this -- by St. Michael and Padre Pio on the Gargano mountain. A book to propel and direct our prayers.
In his May, 1987 Centenary visit to Padre Pio's tomb and subsequent visit on the 24th to the Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel in Monte Sant'Angelo, a short distance away on the Gargano mountain, Pope John Paul II said:
"This struggle against the devil, which distinguishes Saint Michael the Archangel, is valid even today, because the devil is still living and working in the world. . .In fact the evil that is in the world, the disorder which is to be seen in society, the incoherence of man, the interior fracture of which he is a victim, are not only a consequence of original sin but also the effect of the infesting and obscure action of Satan. St. Paul does not hesitate to call this tempter of the moral equilibrium of man 'the God of this world' (2 Cor 4:4) insofar as he manifests himself as an astute enchanter who knows how to insinuate himself into the yoke of our work . . . ' "
PADRE PIO OF PIETRELCINA - TESTIMONIALS - Padre Alberto D'Apolito
It seems one is always saying "not to be missed" when it comes to books about Padre Pio, and this is another case. It is in this book that you will find the testimonies of many of the sayings of Padre Pio we love to quote. "When I take a soul, I never leave it. Once a soul approaches me, I seize it." "If a soul avoids me and strays far away, I suffer and pray for its return; once it has returned, I take it back and never let it flee from me again." (Page 143) Is it any wonder that we all want to be a spiritual child of Padre Pio?
Padre Alberto grew up in San Giovanni Rotondo and knew Padre Pio since 1917, as a boy in elementary school. The result: he became a Capuchin, and writes in this book, "I knew that I was close to a chosen soul of the Lord and in contact with an extraordinary friar, who emerged and distinguished himself from the others by the holiness of his lfe [. . . ] But in spite of the publication of the Letters which reveals the greatness and holiness of Padre Pio, one still asks oneself: 'Who is Padre Pio?' " (Page 142)
We are still asking. . .
Padre Alberto continues: "Padre Pio was Christ Resurrected in our times: this explains the mystery of Padre Pio." (Page 142)
A few days after Padre Pio's death, Giovanna Rizzani told Padre Alberto that she had been in Padre Pio's cell for two hours the night he died, and she was present at his "beatific vision". Padre Alberto did not believe her, since no woman was allowed in the friary, much less Padre Pio's cell. This is a long story, something Padre Pio prophesied a day or so before, and told in great detail in the book from Padre Alberto's first-hand knowledge of what Giovanna told him. When Giovanna was able to describe Pio's cell in "minute detail" he was thoroughly convinced that something mystical had taken place. . .
On the 19th of September, four days before Padre Pio died, Padre Alberto was present when a spiritual son brought Pio a bouquet of roses for the 50th anniversary of his stigmata. Padre Pio asked the spiritual son to bring one of the roses to the shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii. He did so. One of the Sisters placed it in a vase with other flowers. On the 23rd, when Padre Pio died, the Sister saw that the vase of flowers had withered and was about to throw them out when she noticed that the Padre Pio rose "had closed and become a fresh and perfumed bud again." Padre Alberto writes, "It was an eloquent sign of the predilection and love of Our Lady towards Padre Pio, who had so loved her and made her loved by hundreds of thousands of faithful."
The rose was placed in a glass container. A year later, when Padre Alberto went on a pilgrimage to Pompeii, he and his group saw the rose "preserved in its container, still fresh, with the stem slightly yellowed." Most befittingly, in his epilogue, Padre Alberto writes,"...his Canonization will bring about a renaissance of Christian life for millions of souls, and a return to God for many brothers who are now far, dispersed and desperate."
We are living in the gathering momentum of that renaissance. . .
There is so much to love in this book, how can one avoid saying "not to be missed" ?
Padre Pio, the great sufferer, asked permission from his spiritual advisor, Padre Benedetto, to offer himself to the Lord ". . . beseeching him to pour upon me the punishment prepared for sinners and for the souls in Purgatory, even increasing them a hundredfold for me, as long as He converts and saves sinners and quickly admits to Paradise the souls in Purgatory." Benedetto granted permission. From then on, the apparitions to Padre Pio of the souls in Purgatory "became innumerable." "I see so many souls from Purgatory that they don't frighten me anymore." Pio said. They materialized before him, often surprising him, and told him that they were in Purgatory and doing their penances. . . ."God has given me permission to come to you and ask for your prayers," he was told by Pietro de Mauro, who in 1908 lived in the friary when it was a home for the elderly, and burned to death smoking in his bed.
"You can rest assured that I will celebrate Mass tomorrow for your liberation," Pio replied. The next day he did so. The Father Guardian verified with the town records that such an event in which Pietro de Mauro burned to death did take place."
Padre Pio Under Investigation - The Secret Vatican Files
The following is taken from Blog-Ette Jeanette, July 19, 2013. It is one of the most important books about Padre Pio ever written. All who are devoted to Saint Pio should have the answers to questions and accusations about his stigmata and his life at their fingertips.
HE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH, ME THINKS...
There’s something I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years concerning an infamous book about Padre Pio, but time sneaked away and I'm late, I'm late, for this very important date... (to borrow from the White Rabbit of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).
Nevertheless, I have to have my say.
The book, which shall go nameless here (I’m sure everybody knows of it anyway,) gained worldwide publicity because of its touted flash to the world that the Vatican released secret documents of an old testimony claiming that Padre Pio secretly ordered carbolic acid from a pharmacist. The question hung: why was Padre Pio ordering acid? The insinuation-- indeed, the implied accusation—was that he did so in order to produce/fake his stigmata! Headlines followed stating it as fact.
Evidence proved this was not so. The truth is very simple: there was a raging Spanish Flu pandemic sweeping the world in 1918, killing many hundreds of thousands, while the First World War also raged. Doctors were scarce and overworked.
“The two dozen or so boys now in the college [of the friary] were almost all ill. A doctor examined them and prescribed injections. Since alcohol was not available, the doctor left some carbolic acid to sterilize the site of the injection [and obviously the syringes]. Unfortunately, the exhausted doctor didn’t think to tell the friars [Padre Paolino (the Superior) and Padre Pio] that they were to dilute the carbolic acid before applying it to their pupils’ posteriors… ‘You can imagine what happened to the part of the body we had disinfected for the injection!’[said Padre Paolino.]" (C.Bernard Ruffin: Padre Pio: The True Story, p 153)
The priests spilled the acid on themselves, as well, as they disinfected the hapless students, which left lots of red spots and rashes. I can also imagine how much acid was lost in the spilling, and that they might have needed more. And Padre Pio might have quietly requested someone to obtain it. At any rate, how anyone could think that carbolic acid could produce the precise, perfectly rounded stigmata of Padre Pio evenly on all sides of hands and feet, instead of some ragged, imprecise, eaten-away flesh and/or furious redness, is the first rebuttal to this absurd accusation.
An excellent chapter covering the details of the carbolic acid accusations can be found in Frank Rega’s book, The Truth About Padre Pio’s Stigmata and Other Wonders of the Saint, also published in The Voice of Padre Pio (Sept-Oct. 2012) and in Catholic Family News (June, 2012 issue).Rega also gives explanation in his book Padre Pio and America. (www.frankrega.com)
And best of all, following is Padre Pio’s explanation, his testimony in those very same secret Vatican documents given to The Apostolic Visitor (The Inquisitor), Monsignor Raffaello Carlo Rossi, who was sent by the Holy Office against his wishes to investigate this incident and the life of Padre Pio. The explanation, though mostly ignored by the "historian" (as he inserts and asserts himself in the book) is presented completely in Francesco Castelli's Padre Pio Under Investigation. After sessions of questioning, of examining the stigmata, and careful reviews of all the facts of the carbolic acid incident, Monsignor Rossi, who admittedly arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo against Padre Pio, (p14), wrote:
“ [Padre Pio] requested carbolic acid to disinfect syringes needed for shots, and veratridine for. . . a prank to be played during recreation !! Padre Pio had experienced the effects of this powder mixed, in an imperceptible dose, in the tobacco offered to him by a Brother. Without knowing anything about poisons, without even considering what veratridine was (and that is why he asked for four grams), he requested it to repeat the joke and laugh at the expense of some Brothers! That’s all. Instead of malice, what is revealed here is Padre Pio’s simplicity, and his playful spirit.” (pp 24, 25)
And here is the June 17, 1921 Deposition of Father Ignazio of Jelsi, Capuchin, which informed Monsignor Rossi of the very prank Padre Pio planned to repeat in secretly ordering the veratridine.
"...I have the veratridine...One evening, joking with the Brothers, I made them try the effects it produces when it is drawn close to the nose. Padre Pio, too, took some, and he had to go back to his cell because he couldn't stop sneezing." (Padre Pio Under Investigation - The Secret Vatican Files, p.168)
Hence, we can understand the desire to be secret about ordering the carbolic acid and veratridine from the pharmacist for the use in an upcoming prank!
The stigmata incident can be so easily dismissed with all the medical and scientific evidence against the accusation. But here is the more insidious aspect of the book as far as I’m concerned:
Throughout the pages, the "historian" (as the author insists on intruding himself) tells a secular tale, absent of the holy. Padre Pio seems like some distant shadowy figure, never really present, never developed as a personality. The “historian” writes pages and pages about all that surrounds Pio in those Fascist times, all the evil-doers and their nefarious activity throughout the country and even in France, and then he places Padre Pio, like a flat paper doll, into the center of the ensemble, as part of the Fascist landscape, as if Pio conspires with the era.
This is the sulfur that permeates the book; that clouds the truth.
The book shamelessly and transparently wants to recast and re-characterize Padre Pio's entire life and events by implication--although the author stresses, as if stamping his petulant foot, that he is an "historian!"
The "historian" doth protest too much, methinks...
The distaste the "historian" has for Padre Pio in the pages of his book is like a buoy that he can't keep down. He mentions a few anonymous Capuchins (Padre Pio’s confreres) who seem askance at Pio—no names, of course. But he ignores the vast majority of friars who indeed loved and respected Padre Pio, their “Spiritual Father.” They wrote their memoirs about Pio in which this love and respect lifts off the pages, but these the “historian” ignores except to refer vaguely to hagiography.
The following books are generally available at the Padre Pio centres, or may also be ordered from Amazon as well as other bookstores.
In other words, no religious figure is considered a reliable source – unless of course he has something damaging to imply, like the anonymous Capuchins.
There are hundreds into thousands of stories that can be quoted from reliable, intelligent, indeed esteemed witnesses, which have been noted in all the books written about Pio--for there is no three-dimensional Pio without his activities, his words, his daily pearls of wisdom, the quips in the midst of his constant, excruciating suffering before our eyes. Where are these witnesses?
Where are the wonderful Pio conversations, the great one-liners to the point, the quick humor, the consolations? Where is the lover of souls, the heart that wouldn’t stop beating with fervor to build that hospital on the mountain so that the sick could have care? Where is the brilliance in getting it done in the face of immense obstacles? Where is the priest who slept before the tabernacle not to leave Jesus alone? Where is any positive opinion of Pio at all? The “historian” must surely have come across some in his delving.
It’s as if the “historian” couldn’t bear to draw near holiness. What comes to mind are the old Dracula movies of Count Alucard (Dracula, spelled backwards, played by Bela Lugosi) raising his black cape as a shield as he turns away in horror from the Crucifix held before him to stop him in his tracks.
But if you would have the truth about Padre Pio, then take this criticism from Vittorio Messori’s Preface in Padre Pio Under Investigation, which counters all of the “historian’s” manipulations of the documents he uses…
“…[the author’s] way of reading the events, by making use of historical and political, when not ideological, categories, is absolutely insufficient to describe and penetrate phenomena like the ones at issue, which, while belonging to history, at the same time transcend history. Only faith—which is not fanaticism or sentimentalism, as it would be sometimes convenient to portray it—grants that vision of the world, and hence of history, which allows for the hypothesis of God and accepts all wonders in a person like Padre Pio and through him may powerfully intervene in the world.” (pXI)
And here is Francesco Castelli, the author of Padre Pio Under Investigation, writing about Monsignor Rossi’s investigation of Padre Pio’s stigmata and all the virtues and all the rumors:
" …he summons and interrogates nine witnesses—to be specific, two diocesan priests and seven Capuchin Brothers. ‘Tell me about Padre Pio, tell me everything you know!’ And we’re off to “a barrage of questions to which Monsignor Rossi subjects them for eight days.” (p13)
When Monsignor Rossi orders Padre Pio: “Let me see your stigmata,” Padre Pio, resigned, removes the gloves. Monsignor Rossi reports: “The stigmata are there: we are before a real fact—it is impossible to deny it.” And he goes on to describe them in detail. (p21)
It is one of the most informing, rewarding, scholarly and beautifully written books about Padre Pio, a heavenly-light-of-truth shining on the saint.
Monsignor Rossi’s report to the Holy Office, concluded:
“Padre Pio is a good religious, exemplary, accomplished in the practice of the virtues, given to piety and probably elevated to a higher degree of prayer than it seems from the outside; he shines especially because of his sincere humility and his remarkable simplicity, which did not fail even in the gravest moments, when these virtues were put to the test, a test truly grave and dangerous for him.” (underscoring mine.) (p27)
Elsewhere, Monsignor Rossi writes: “To think that so many idle words had cast such an unfavorable light on this poor Capuchin! I’ll take the liberty then to call to the attention of the Most Eminent [Fathers] his genuine and honest depositions, since they reveal him to be not at all like an unscrupulous miracle worker or an enthusiastic instigator of mobs. He is a poor friar who, as far as I know, keeps his place and unwittingly has become the center of such attraction.” (p20)
Unfortunately, none – or very little --of Monsignor Rossi’s positive report is in the “historian’s” book.
If you read Castelli’s book, you will read Padre Pio's depositions, and you will know once and for all what was revealed by the Vatican about Padre Pio’s stigmata, what Our Lord told Pio just before the moment of the stigmata, what his mission was to be, and the whole explanation of the acid. You’ll read what the Apostolic Visitor thought about the stigmata: “…there seem to be enough reasons to lean toward the presence of a supernatural gift.” (p25)
For us….Saint Padre Pio will go on inspiring, magnetizing, interceding, all the while accomplishing his “real mission” --
“…he was united with the Passion of our Lord to remedy men’s ingratitude” and as a stigmatic “to share in Christ’s Passion for the sake of his brothers’ salvation.” (Padre Pio Under Investigation. p41.) Thus, he can help save the Faith in a rising anti-Christianity era. He can draw us back from the magnetic pull of the world and help us cling to Christ, like metal slivers to that other magnet, The Cross.
A Padre Pio Profile - Fr. John A. Schug
A marvelous cast of characters in Padre Pio's life! (January 26, 2005)
Another "Father Brown" pursuing the witnesses to Padre Pio's mysticism, miracles and cures. These interviews and firsthand accounts will lead you into a certainty and love of Padre Pio's endlessly mysterious and heavenly ways. Margherita Hamilton tells the famous story of Giovanna Rizzani she witnessed on the night Padre Pio died . ". . .the strangest story I had ever heard about Padre Pio..." writes Fr. Schug.
In A Padre Pio Profile you'll find interviews with a marvelous cast of characters in Padre Pio's life: Fra Modestino ("I, myself, personally handled the undershirts which he wore. There was a cross of blood over the shoulder."), Dr. Giuseppe Sala, Giovanni Savino, Padres Alberto, Alessio, Gerardo, Eusebio, Clemente, Joseph Pius and more; Cleonice Morcaldi (". . . his hands would be covered with crusts which would reach to the base of his fingers. I kissed Padre Pio's fingers for ten years while he was not wearing gloves."), the blind Pietruccio, Mary Ingoldsby--who translated the daunting Volume I of Padre Pio's letters into English. Altogether 29 fascinating interviews. Especially interesting is the interview with Father Joseph Pius Martin, the American who, as a traveling young Bill Martin, made a casual visit to see Padre Pio, was drawn back there a second time and was asked by Padre Pio to stay...He became a popular priest for the English-speaking pilgrims, and stayed the rest of his life (d. 2000). He said, "We will never be finished with Padre Pio till the end of time."
PADRE PIO: THE TRUE STORY - Fr. Bernard Ruffin
The 'must-have' definitive English-language biography !
My review is from: Padre Pio: The True Story (Paperback) Amazon
From the Lutheran wing of Christianity comes this priest of the "Father Brown" caliber, relentlessly tracking down every aspect and detail of a life so huge and mystical it's almost ungatherable! A complete and completely objective narrative of one of the greatest saints of the century, perhaps Christendom. It's the book you'll reach for first and can trust when searching for a Pio fact. And Pio emerges everlastingly real! Fr. John Schug, a Capuchin and also a biographer of Padre Pio (and he was Spiritual Director on the second pilgrimage we led to Padre Pio, in 1994), said to me of his friend, Fr. Ruffin, "We're fortunate to have him." A must for Padre Pio seekers!
a most minor revelation. I reviewed some of the Padre Pio books listed below on Amazon under the name of Happy Loumin. The name is a combination of my mother, Minnie, and my father, Louis, and how "happy" I am that they were my parents.
I reviewed the books because they affected me in an extraordinary and thoughtful way. I am not a 'book reviewer' per se -- writing reviews of books I do not like is something I would not care to do.
PADRE PIO AND AMERICA - Frank M. Rega
PADRE PIO AND AMERICA is a TAN edition of "The Holy Man on the Mountain, Padre Pio and the Americans Who Discovered Him," but even better because of photographs, which of course intensify the whole experience. You'll enjoy meeting these Americans (some of whom I knew)--so graced to have discovered Padre Pio on that mystical mountain long before the rest of the world heard of him.
Following is my original review of December 29, 2004 :
Frank Rega has gathered in one book all the stories--many never before told--of the first Americans, especially GIs, who discovered Padre Pio early on, at a time when you could still get near him, speak to him, kiss his gloved hand. I met Padre Pio briefly two years before he died. By then the world had begun to make inroads into this long forgotten mountain, and because of his age and frailty, Pio was guarded by friars who protected him from the rushing waves of people (much as Jesus was surrounded by crowds).
But it wasn't so during the war. Rega writes about the GIs--battered soldiers, exhausted fliers, engineers--who took the road that wound up the lonely, barren mountain to San Giovanni Rotondo, some in trucks and jeeps, some even walking, to find this rumor of a "holy man" they'd heard about at the airbases below. Prompted by faith or curiosity in the midst of battle (perhaps, I have always thought, spurred on to a secret mission they were completely unaware of), they found the holy man to be a conduit of miracles, a discerner of souls called "a saint." They found a stigmatist, who became known as "The Living Crucifix." And all of the GIs spoke of Pio's profound Holy Mass conveying a real presence.
I'd read snippets in other Pio books about their awe, their standing in the back of the tiny, crowded 16th- century church, soldiers but also saints, in a way, answering the call for God and country. I had read of their visits to Mary Pyle, the first American to make her way up the mule path to Pio in 1923 (a great story recounted in detail in Rega's book), but I always longed to know more, more! What was it like during the war, when sacrifice was a daily thing? How did Pio inspire these men? Some even became priests! What did the GIs say to Padre Pio? And Pio to them? Well here it all is! And Rega does a sound, thorough, updated investigation of "The Flying Monk" mystery that haunts the legends of Padre Pio--Pio seen in the sky, stopping American bombers from unloading their unused bombs near San Giovanni Rotondo before returning to their base. And oh yes, that possible secret mission of the GIs, for which it seems they were a great instrument in a plan of God we can only guess at? To carry back Saint Pio to this land of faith--"the good America!" I loved this book!
THE TRUTH ABOUT PADRE PIO'S STIGMATA AND OTHER WONDERS OF THE SAINT - FRANK REGA
What is outstanding about "The Truth about Padre Pio's Stigmata: and Other Wonders of the Saint" is the meticulous detective work done by Frank Rega.
Yes, of course, some of these stories can be found in comprehensive biographies of Padre Pio that must touch on everything in his life-- how could one write a luminous history of Padre Pio leaving out these heavyweight legends, wonders and miracles? But they are, necessarily, condensed because there are so many of them. Here, Rega expands on some of them and lays out the entire field of their happenings, so we have the full story and fascinating details. Among the ones covered by Rega are the cancer miracle for JP II's (then Karol Wojtyla) friend, after a prayer request sent to Padre Pio; Padre Pio's vision of the death of a non-Catholic soul as it was happening, breathing new life into the question of salvation outside the Catholic Church; Padre Pio's letter to Pope Paul VI regarding the Pope's "Humanae Vitae" just days before Pio died -- a support so courageous at the time, and vital now! and often held aloft! But as necessary in biographies, these are often given in summaries, a sort of neutrally passing through the great legends on the way to the next one, and the next . . . And they leave you wondering:
1. Did Padre Pio really appear in bilocation to the disgraced General Cadorna of the First World War before the General was about to shoot himself, and thereby stop the suicide?
2. Did the child Gemma di Giorgi miraculously recover sight in eyes without pupils on her long railway journey to see Padre Pio?
And more recently there have been fatuous and irresponsible stories that needed to be addressed:
3. What were those crazy persistent rumors about Padre Pio's body being stolen or abducted from his burial place, the tomb in Our Lady of Grace church (before he was exhumed, kept on display for over a year and eventually transferred to the new Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church.)
4. BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF ALL CONCERNS THE STIGMATA ON WHICH PADRE PIO'S FAME RESTED THROUGHOUT THE YEARS: Did Padre Pio apply chemicals to produce his famous stigmata, as implied by a chemist many decades ago (in recently opened Vatican archives of a Padre Pio investigation) and developed into a theory seriously set forth in a badly written book. Padre Pio devotees and admirers who have delved deeply into his life over the years find this laughable, as they well know the truth of the chemical story at San Giovanni Rotondo.
But this preposterous theory went over the hot wires of the media and is a resonating echo even today in a world that doesn't check things out. (The same happened some years ago when, after poorly controlled testing, it was announced that the Shroud of Turin was a fake -- a finding that is far from accepted or resolved. But subsequent objections to the impure testing, and new evidence and discoveries that weighed in on the side of the Shroud as the true relic-covering of Christ, were never given equal media time and global coverage.)
Frank Rega, a Padre Pio devotee to be sure, but also a scholar, focused his magnifying glass on all the Padre Pio stigmata evidence to zoom in on the truth. His chapter on the medical investigation of the 1918 event should put to rest any doubts that they were real. He does not take a neutral stance and points out clearly with documented evidence, the absurdity of the 'possibility' that they were faked.
It is important that all Padre Pio devotees, admirers and searchers must recognize and know by heart the true answer to the stigmata question, and not let ignorant theories cast doubts on the integrity of a Divine gift to one of the greatest saints ever to come to the Catholic Church.
TALES OF PADRE PIO - John McCaffery
I have often called this my favorite of all Padre Pio books! I say this because many years ago, when I first read these remembrances, they evoked the human in Padre Pio, as well as the saint. The emotional scenes McCaffery recreates made me wish I had been there then, feeling the warm-blooded Padre Pio, walking beside him in some small way, if not in the larger sense of those who knew him well. I wouldn’t hesitate to take this book to a desert isle–with Padre Pio's letters, of course! I would not be lonely.
McCaffery was an organizer of the European resistance movements during World War II, and was occasionally accused of being "too cerebral a Catholic." He was skeptical at first of the stories he'd heard about Padre Pio. But once he met him he was won over and went on to become a loyal, sensitive, most loving and confidential friend of Pio. He writes of the intimate moments with him, of the gathering of friends in Pio's cell when one can almost hear the voices and laughter and feel the active life of disciples about him. He knew Padre Pio from postwar on and describes all Pio's heroes of "those great days," who, with almost nothing to work with, but under the spell of a divine madness, built the magnificent hospital Padre Pio dreamed of for years. Every page is mesmerizing, but standouts are the following:
From Chapter 26, this incident is in the untold miracles department. McCaffery had developed heart problems during the war with bad symptoms: choking at times, palpitations, often having to sleep sitting up, and acute local head pains that led to a partial stroke. He was told by doctors that the problems were not organic, yet, but soon that was to be expected. The heart problems never left, and after the war, when the head pains that had preceded the stroke returned, and McCaffery had the sensation of being close to passing on, he thought of his wife and young family. It was during the early days of his acquaintance with Padre Pio, and he went to San Giovanni Rotondo to ask Pio to intervene. During Mass he bombarded him with this thought. Later that day, kneeling with others for Pio's blessings as he passed through a corridor:
". . .he took a good long look at me, said nothing, but then, taking my head between his hands, he held it hard for quite some time against where the wound was in his side; he then gave me his blessing and passed along."
Three more times during that visit to San Giovanni, McCaffery knelt for Pio's blessing.
". . . each time he did the same thing, holding my head hard against his side. Two months or so later I was down again and kneeling for his blessing once more. He took my head, placed it for an instant against his side, and then, pushing it away with a pleased, playful expression like that of a good-humored family doctor who finds his patient fully restored to health, he waited for me to stand up and embraced me. That was almost twenty-five years ago: almost twenty-five years of borrowed time during which I have never had the slightest recurrence of my trouble."
". . . in the course of normal conversation, without any relevant reference, he placed the palm of his right hand, and therefore his wound, against my heart. Since then, not only have I put this unfortunate organ under very severe stresses without any ill result, but on several occasions on which I have had general medical examinations, the doctor in each case has said after his sounding, 'Nothing wrong with your heart, anyway!' "
And don't miss the famous star and comedian of the Italian cinema, Carlo Campanini , declaring that he had the biggest cure of all from Padre Pio--he was cured of a "cancer of the soul!"
But the passage that remains with me forever -- and surely will for all readers who know Padre Pio's love for humanity, for "the neighbor," and trust his words -- is when, in a discussion with McCaffery, he said thoughtfully, " . . .I believe that not a great number of souls go to hell. God loves us so much. He formed us in His image. God the Son incarnate died to redeem us. He loves us beyond understanding. And it is my belief that even when we have passed from the consciousness of this world, when we appear to be dead, God, before He judges us, will give us a chance to see and understand what sin really is. And if we understand it properly, how could we fail to repent?"
This book is still available at Amazon in the U.S. It is shown as available at the Irish Office for Padre Pio (www.padrepio.ie). It is a shame that this gem has been allowed to fade away.
SECRETS OF A SOUL Selected Letters of Padre Pio to His Spiritual Daughters
by St. Pio of Pietrelcina
For those who can’t, for various reasons, read the voluminous books of Padre Pio’s letters, "Secrets" will give you a great sense of him. You can't deeply know Padre Pio until you read his letters, filled with beauty, love, all that was happening around him, discreet discussion of his dark nights and physical agonies, and of all our struggles. A cornucopia of spiritual gems for the soul.
But when you finish this...go to the volumes of his complete letters, and take your time getting to know him more deeply.
WORDS OF LIGHT: Inspiration from the letters of Padre Pio
Introduction by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa
I can't think of a more appropriate one to draw inspiration from Padre Pio's letters than the insightful Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, a Capuchin himself (and what a name: Cantalamessa--Sing the Mass). Be sure to read his
Introduction on Amazon. Here's a snippet--
"It is necessary to actually read the letters of Padre Pio in order to realize the stature of the man and the purity of his sanctity. Only God knows how those days were, and even more the nights, when Padre Pio left the confessional with his soul full of the sufferings and sins which had been poured into his heart. The sculptor, Francesco Messina, who designed the Via Crucis of San Giovanni Rotondo, portrayed Simon of Cyrene in the garments of Padre Pio. He could not have had a more beautiful intuition. Those who came to Padre Pio left the meeting feeling lighter, while he remained crushed. . . "
"...the person who follows Padre Pio's own way of internal suffering and expiation, sees in him a companion, a friend and an incomparable light."
MAGIC OF A MYSTIC Stories of Padre Pio - Suzanne Marie Adele Beauclerk, Duchess of St. Albans
This book is out of print, but there are some new and used available at Amazon.
Suzanne arrives in San Giovanni Rotondo, where her sister lives, from the south of France.
She'd prepared for miracles and mysticism, but not for the intensity she finds. But then who is? She goes about exploring and talking to some of the people who knew Padre Pio well. They don't often come out of their privacy, but there is a hard-won trust between them and Suzanne's sister, which makes them willing to open up, and Suzanne learns about Padre Pio's doings. Gently, you can feel her being drawn as she hears the legends of Padre Pio--some not often told. They tell about stripping their souls to as-close-to-perfection as possible in the confessional. "There he listened, admonished, advised, encouraged and thundered in turn." They relate incredible events with a touching ingenuousness, as full of wonder as though these things happened only yesterday--yet these extraordinary happenings seem so natural to them.
Suzanne describes an enchanted place, inspite of the often raw-boned living to be near Padre Pio. One spiritual daughter, Margherita, slept in a hut in a desolate field, without heat or running water, but with the protection of a guardian-dog sent by Padre Pio. Of course, guardian angels abound.
The Duchess of St. Albans meets Padre Pio with refreshing light-heartedness, sometimes over a cup of tea, as she listens to the people's reminiscences....
I can never get too much of this! It's Padre Pio's world, and a delight!
Suzanne, Duchess of St. Albans, passed away on February 12, 2010. RIP
THE OT H E R S H E L F
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI AND THE CONVERSION OF THE MUSLIMS Frank M. Rega
Have you ever wondered why it's the Franciscans in their long brown habits with rope ties who lead you along the Via Dolorosa, The Way of the Cross in Jerusalem, the most sacred of Christian sites and Christian moments? Strangely enough, there are probably many Christians, many Catholics, who are not aware that a crucial meeting took place between Francis and the Sultan. Those who knew Francis, as well as scholars through the centuries, have written tomes opining and debating the reason for Francis' bold venture into the enemy camp during a lull in the heated battle at Damietta, Egypt. But march in he did, with the might of his faith and one companion! He expected he would most likely be martyred. He was not. Instead. . .
In this excellent narrative of St. Francis coming face to face with the Muslims, Frank Rega (a Phi Beta Kappa and Woodrow Wilson scholar) traces a great and controversial moment in Christian history--the meeting of Francis of Assisi with the Sultan al Malik al Kamil, one of the most important leaders of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, in the hot summer of 1219, during the Fifth Crusade. Questions come to mind immediately: what on earth was Francis doing on a Crusade? What was his plan? his hope?
This is Rega's entry into the debate. Francis, who had renounced the world, reduced himself to rags and the most austere living, and who loved every soul and creature on earth, joined the 5th Crusade "in a courageous attempt to preach the Gospel. . . in the Middle East," writes Rega. Standing in his beggarlike habit, Francis began to speak, and because of the simplicity of his arguments and the confidence he exuded, the Sultan was willing to listen to Francis' words. These are gripping moments, and one feels Rega's passion for the subject in his driven narrative, as he shows a Francis many of us have not met before. Along the way, Rega clarifies every question and possibility put forth by theorists, especially today, who "reduce this saint to a glorified social worker, nature lover, or 'the first hippie.' "
Much took place in those few days--or maybe they were more than a few; it is not known--resulting in the unprecedented gesture of the Sultan giving Francis a permit of safe passage to travel "without hindrance" anywhere in the Sultan's domains. Hence, a special relationship existed between the two men, which resulted in allowing the friars to eventually obtain custody of the Christian shrines in the Holy Land. The Sultan also eventually released 30,000 Christian prisoners and negotiated a peace with the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, in which he returned Jerusalem to the Christians, with Muslims keeping their holy sites. This was the period in which the first Franciscans came to Palestine to care for the Christian sites, and they are still there today!
When Francis finally returned to Italy, he went on to another great Catholic moment on Mt. Alvernia--receiving the stigmata, the Crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This is one of the many dramas in his life that could stand out as the moment he stepped into history. Part of this book is an essence-biography, highlighting the heart and soul of the man whose love for Christ held no room for compromise, and who ultimately reformed the Church. The better to understand why he went to the Middle East.
One of Francis' most passionate disciples was Clare--beautiful, wealthy, patrician--who escaped her pursuing family to follow the impoverished Francis' path. Only 18, if she had any vanities, she left them completely in a gesture of renouncement, letting Francis cut off her glorious blonde hair, and giving up her beautiful clothes and jewels for the rough Franciscan habit. These two figures captured the imagination of Christian Europe, and not by halfway measures....
Rega's research goes back to 13th-century volumes. He asks the polemical questions about Francis' mission and offers his own answers at the conclusion of the book. Although intensity of Faith and Belief has faded in much of the world in our time, St. Francis remains relevant and is still an ambassador for Christ and the Gospel, a blaze of love for all souls, everywhere.
LIFE OF THE MYSTIC LUISA PICCARRETA:
Journeys in the Divine Will- The Early Years - Frank Rega
IN THE STEPS OF ST. PAUL - H.V.MORTON
|There is no doubt that some of the writings of the Catholic mystic, Luisa Piccarreta, concerning the coming Reign of The Divine Will, have stirred controversy -- just go to the internet! Although Luisa had the support of clergy, and although 19 of her diary-volumes were published under the Imprimatur of her spiritual director and confessor for over 17 years (who is now a saint --St. Annibale di Francia, canonized by John Paul II on May 16, 2004), for a long time the Church placed some of her writings--not the diaries-- on the Index.
But those were not the pure, handwritten writings of Luisa-- they had been edited by others, explains author, Frank Rega (Padre Pio and America; St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims; The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador). The debate has not deterred a wide fervent Catholic following, but has only served to bring focus to her life, mystical journeys, visions and revelations.
Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947) lived in Corato, in southern Italy, one of five daughters born to simple Catholic farmers who worked for a landlord. Her childhood was characterized by extreme shyness and nightmares of demons trying to carry her away. From this she turned to prayer so intense, she began to experience inner locutions from Jesus that continued throughout her long, impoverished life--bedridden for over 60 years.
Ordered by her confessor to write down her experiences, her diaries fill 36 volumes from February 1899 to December 1938. Luisa's almost nightly mystical encounters put her into a rigid, nearly petrified state that could only be undone by her confessor the next morning. Her diaries record her years of conversations and journeys with Jesus, His Mother, the angels, the souls in Purgatory, and describe all her sufferings, physical and otherwise, the dark nights of her soul, the invisible stigmata, the supernatural world she lived in and the coming of the reign of The Divine Will -- a world inside-out from our own earthly grounding.
In short, the Divine Will unfolds, trying her spirit, slowly creating a victim-soul in Luisa, willing to save other souls through her suffering: "...her soul would leave her body and travel with Jesus to places of iniquity--and she would share the pain Jesus felt. He passed such bitterness into her soul that it felt as if knives were piercing her." (p. 43)
Her diaries leave no doubt, either, that she also experiences promises and rewards, and often a lyrical feeling of beauty and ineffable happiness not known in our world.
Luisa was a Dominican Tertiary existing mostly on the Eucharist, and became known as the Little Daughter of The Divine Will. Some photographs available show an aged woman with white hair drawn back, dressed in white and sitting upright in bed. One sees the shy dark eyes tinged with a grave humility and a sweet acceptance.
Rega, as a defender of Luisa, cites good references in evidence of the sincerity of her transcendent experiences. Since most of us would perhaps not even know about her or have time or inclination to read 36 volumes, he has taken on the herculean task of "sifting" 1000 pages of the first 12 volumes into some 270 pages in a fast-reading narration, opening the door to Luisa's mystical world of the Divine Will, what Rega calls "Heaven on earth. . . "
As often happens with mystics, they face conflict, doubt and questioning, but the Cause for Beatification and Canonization of Luisa Piccarreta has found its way. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "nullified the condemnations..." clearing the way for her Cause, which was opened on November 29th, 2004, the Feast of Christ the King. As part of the Vatican process for the Cause, her diaries are under scrutiny by the Magisterium, and they have requested that writers do not quote her work verbatim. Therefore, Rega has told the essentials of parts of her diaries in his own words, "from the perspective of an observer, reporting in the third person on what he has read."
For those who have never read Luisa's voluminous work--and I am one! -- the author has presented a chance to know her life and what she has to tell us of The Divine Will, of Divine Justice and Divine Love. "Her revelations and visions teach the way of personal sanctity and of life in the Divine Will, to prepare for a coming Era of Peace," Rega writes. I have not sufficient knowledge to offer an opinion on her vast diaries -- we'll have to wait until the Church speaks-- but in the meantime, reading Rega's book is a great help for those who want to ease into her writings. It flows like a simple prayer book that can be carried on the subway or bus to work -- easy to understand by the busiest reader of 'things Catholic,' while we await the outcome of her Cause for Beatification. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven..." All Christians want this.
Five stars for Rega's great effort-- and his fervent intention to bring the essence of the volumes before the world.
NOTE: An update from the official Newsletter for THE PIOUS UNIVERSAL UNION OF THE CHILDREN OF THE DIVINE WILL reports:
"The second theologian assigned to evaluate the writings of Luisa Piccarreta by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has given a positive, that is, favorable judgment.
This means that the Censor Liborum for the cause of Luisa have found nothing contrary to the faith in her writings, and her cause can now go forward."
November 26, 2012:
Update on the Cause of LuisaPiccarreta
Frank Rega reported the following on November 14th 2012.
"His Eminence Archbishop Pichierri, who is responsible for Luisa Piccarreta's cause, rejects the claim that there are doctrinal errors in her writings. Further, not only is it not prohibited to spread the knowledge of her life and of her writings, but it is desireable to do so. Please see attached communication for details. "
Luisa Piccarreta's path to sainthood, long and labyrinthine as it may be, is now clear of cluttering misinterpretations and declarations of heresy, and so...her journey is a step closer to that honor and conntinues freely. Her time, her day approaches. . .
In the meantime, since many may not want to read the thirty-six volumes of her diary, Frank Rega will soon be bringing out his second volume of Luisa's diary, The Middle Years.-- not translating it but "from the perspective of an observer, reporting in the third person on what he has read." It is indeed what is needed in these speeding times--a shorter path to get to the revelations of His Will.
To read an excerpt from this 2nd volume, a chapter entitled "Chastisement, Purges, Destruction - and a Remedy," go to www.lifeofluisa.com .
We may wish to read some passages a second time, not because they are not clear -- they are! -- but because the ideas and explanations to Luisa by Jesus are so profound and beyond our natural imaginings and inclinations, we want to digest them thoroughly. They bring to mind Isaiah 55: 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts; nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord." Luisa's sacrifice is called on by Jesus to "prepare the act opposite to the many evils that inundate the earth." I think one can say Luisa is a seedling of the Divine Volition--indeed, one could say a 'seedbed' for she was bedridden most of her life and from there was infused through the years with the purpose and meaning of The Divine Will. Among the many thoughts that flood one is how many such acts of sacrifice are silently and invisibly preventing the great fall of humanity into the inundations of evils.
Rega writes that Jesus tells Luisa "The earth will be purified further, since He is disgusted with it and cannot bear its sight." "He cannot rest until He gives the last divine brush stroke to all Creation." And for this he needs souls like Luisa, filled with His Will. . . .
THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS. . . .
A TRAVELER IN ROME - H.V. Morton
There has been no travel writer to compare with H.V. Morton (RIP), who wrote from the thirties to the sixties. Most of the travel books today are filled with hotel and restaurant descriptions, thumbnail sketches of great cathedrals, churches and castles, and a rush through streets to the next sight and the next, never dwelling long enough to fill the soul. . .
But not H.V. Morton. Where, today, can you find passages like this as he stood on the terrace of the Pincio gardens on a summer eve, looking across the span of Rome to St.Peter's:
"I gazed... out across the roofs of Rome to the dome of St. Peter's.... It is one of the great views of the world, and as I stood with the declining sun in my eyes, the whole landscape, with the dome in the centre, the tomb of Hadrian with its Angel, and the long, dark ridge of the Janiculum on the left, took on the exquisite colours that are not the least of Rome's glories. It is not really the sunset, but the afterglow in summer that is so wonderful from the Pincio. The sun went down. A golden light hovered above the city, seeming to ascend from it. The dome grew sharper against the sky, and gradually an upsurge of dull red light spread in the west and moved up to blend and mingle with the still dark blue of a summer's day in Italy. This is the rich Homeric light that suggests the dust flung by galloping horses and the wheels of chariots, an epic colour which deepened and darkened as the blue sky turned paler; until there was a rusty glow all over the west, a promise that tomorrow would be as cloudless as the day just ended."
And when the sun has gone down, Morton continues:
". . . the first stars burned over Rome. At this moment the heart is touched. First one and then another--one hardly knows where it starts--the bells of Rome are ringing the Angelus--the Ave Maria--and another day of life has gone. There is now the dark, and tomorrow."
And now he is watching a summer sunrise in Rome, from the Janiculum hill.
"Turning around, I saw that St. Peter's had now detached itself from the sky and loomed up, ready to catch the first light of the rising sun. Rome lay in beautiful, blessed silence. . .As I stood watching, facing the dim, incoherent mass of roofs and domes, the light grew stronger every second, and buildings, churches, towers and cupolas emerged clearly from the morning greyness, taking on individuality as colour flooded back into them, all the reds, browns and yellows of Rome; and the next instant the sun was shining in a cloudless sky. This was more wonderful than any sunset, this sight of Rome's new morning. All at once the roofs and domes were glinting and scintillating..."
The new Roman Missal, in conveying the original Latin, will say "from the rising of the sun to its setting," instead of "from east to west." These two Morton descriptions surely show us why: how beautiful is God's turning world.
Morton visits churches. . . .with a reverence. Here is one of my favorite passages, as he is sitting in the church of San Clemente, "the most beautiful of the mediaeval churches of Rome." He describes its beauties, but then...
"As I sat glancing around this beautiful church, a poor old woman like a little black ghost, her head covered with a ragged shawl, came shuffling along in carpet slippers and approached a life-sized crucifix in one of the aisles. She was like a bundle of old, dry leaves wrapped round with cobweb. First she knelt and told her beads, then she approached the crucifix and, bending forward, kissed the feet and placed her cheek against them, whispering all the time. I watched her lift a corner of her shawl and wipe the feet, as if wiping away the blood. Then she looked up into the face of Christ, and, with her arms held out in the earliest attitude of prayer, an attitude one still sees on the walls of the catacombs, began to speak to Him; then again went forward and kissed His feet. She seemed to be holding a conversation with the crucifix, pausing as if for a reply and then speaking again, sometimes blowing up a kiss. Then she touched the feet again, and stood there as if she were standing on Calvary, waiting for Christ to be taken from the cross.
"I fancied from her manner that she was in the habit of talking to Christ like this, perhaps telling Him her anxieties and maybe the events in the tenement where she lived. 'The infinite pathos of Human trust,' I thought, then I seemed to hear St. Paul, 'We walk by faith, not by sight'; and these lines came into my mind:
And Wisdom cries 'I know not anything';
And only Faith beholds that all is well. . . .
After all, I thought, is there much difference between this poor old creature and the great mystics? St. Teresa, who was on the same easy terms with God, and even on one occasion became angry with Him, would have understood this old woman. I remembered that a great scientist, now dead, once said to me: 'We know nothing, Science leads us to a sunny mountain, but from the top, where we expect to see everything, there is nothing but an impenetrable mist.' "
This is the way to see Rome. How many travel writers today, I wonder, would write of 'Christ' and the Cross with such focused interest, and give us St. Peter's beauty in sunset and sunrise as the great looming splendor of Rome? How many would describe this wonderful old woman before the Crucifix in such a way? Morton gives credence to the woman, her gestures, her faith....He even weighs the doubted 'wisdom' of science against her unquestioning faith. He evokes that moment so vividly, we know how much he is drawn....
In between such H.V. Morton passages, you'll find marvelous slices of Imperial Rome, Christian Rome, Renaissance Rome, Baroque Rome, the Popes and Princes and storylines better than any historical novel you can pick up today. And yes, you get a little something about restaurants, mainly because of the culture he's explaining. But you'd better keep to the dry practical 'guides' for that sort of thing. H.V. Morton is out to give you the heart and soul of Rome and anywhere he goes.
For a while his books were out of print--a ridiculous thing to happen to these literary treasures about Rome and all travel. But now they are back in print and if you're traveling to this truly Eternal city, on a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo and Padre Pio, and stopping over in Rome for a few days, or simply traveling by armchair, grab a copy of H.V. Morton's Rome before it goes out of print again!
CHRISTMASTIME...a time Hope became visible and palpable.
Mary trusted and believed.
The animals knew, they gave their warmth...The shepherds knew and approached the light. The Angels explained...
The skies forecast it. The Wise Men, Astrologers, saw it in the firmament and followed "the star," the planets. . .
Something earth-changing, life-altering, magnificent and foretold was happening as God's designing finger moved the stars along their course. . . Something breathtaking. . . Something, someone, who will save, as history would hurtle its turbulent storm through the centuries to this very moment you are reading this. . .
It came in the presence of a child. . .
Through the centuries, great composers have put their wondrous thoughts and feelings about this moment into Christmas music. How much joy we owe them! Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Handel's Messiah, of course, and all the great Catholic Liturgical music and Masses, But it's Christmas. . . and I am speaking now of the traditional classics, the heavensent inspiration given to the composers of the songs we listen for every year.
I want -- I need -- to look constantly to this great moment, this still point when "God is with us" to remind myself of the Love that is offered to the world. . .of what I can hope for. This meaning never stops opening out, radiating its beauty and fragrance with every Christmas song and meditation, an unspeakably beautiful truth, ever, ever flowering...I need to look at that Christmas truth ALWAYS.
Here are a few meditations on some of the Christmas tableaux by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in his Life of Christ, a great jewel in the Catholic treasury. They are followed by some of the Christmas music that evokes those stunning Nativity scenes.
"No worldly mind would ever have suspected that He Who could make the sun warm the earth would one day have need of an ox and an ass to warm Him with their breath; [. . .] that He, from whose hands came planets and worlds, would one day have tiny arms that were not long enough to touch the huge heads of the cattle[. . .] that the Eternal Word would be dumb; that Omnipotence would be wrapped in swaddling clothes; that Salvation would lie in a manger [. . . ]no one would have ever suspected that God coming to this earth would ever be so helpless. And that is precisely why so many miss Him. Divinity is always where one least expects to find it." (p.28)
"What Child is This..." "Away in a Manger..."
"Only two classes of people found the Babe; the shepherds and the Wise Men; the simple and the learned; those who knew that they knew nothing, and those who knew that they did not know everything. He is never seen by the man of one book; never by the man who thinks he knows. Not even God can tell the proud anything! Only the humble can find God!" (p.30)
"While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night..." "Shepherds! Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep..." "Angels We Have Heard On High..." "Hark the Herald Angels Sing..." "Behold, I Bring You Glad Tidings!"
"Bethlehem became a link between heaven and earth; God and man met here and looked each other in the face. (p.31) [. . .] It was the first time in the history of this world that anyone could ever think of heaven as being anywhere else than 'somewhere up there'; when the Child was in her arms, Mary now looked down to Heaven." (p.27)
"Oh Little Town of Bethlehem..." "A Spotless Rose..." "Once in Royal David's City" "O Holy Night..." "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear ..." "Silent Night"
"Simeon had foretold that the Divine Babe would be a Light to the Gentiles. They were already on the march. At His birth there were the Magi, or the scientists of the East [. . .] The Psalmist had foretold that the kings of the East would come to do homage to Emmanuel. Following a star, they came to Jerusalem to ask Herod where the King had been born.
[. . .] It was a star that led them. God spoke to the Gentiles through nature and philosophers[. . .] The time was ripe for the coming of the Messiah and the whole world knew it. Though they were astrologers, the slight vestige of truth in their knowledge of the stars led them to the Star out of Jacob[. . .] Though coming from a land that worshiped stars, they surrendered that religion as they fell down and worshiped Him Who made the stars. The Gentiles in fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah 'came to Him from the ends of the earth.' " (p. 43)
"We Three Kings..." "In Dulci Jubilo..."
And here is a beautiful meditation written by St. Louis De Montfort, about the child, the loving Saviour, from his little book, "The Love of Eternal Wisdom," which teaches us so much....
"The shepherds who came to the stable to see him were so spellbound by the serenity and beauty of His face that for several days they remained to gaze upon Him in rapture. The kings, exalted as they were, had no sooner seen the loving features of this beautiful Child, than, laying aside their dignity, they fell on their knees by His crib. They must often have said to one another, 'Friends, how good it is for us to be here! In our palaces we find no enjoyments to be compared with those we experience in this stable looking at this beloved Infant God.' "
"Love Came Down at Christmas ..." "O Magnum Mysterium..."
I'm reminded of Padre Pio's immense love for the Infant God. . .Father Gerardo Di Flumeri - RIP (Vice Postulator of The Cause for Canonization of Padre Pio) wrote: "I will always remember that Christmas of 1963 that I spent with Padre Pio, my beloved and venerable spiritual father. That look of wonder, his profound recollection and prayer remain fixed in my memory. What most of all remains still vivid before my eyes is the color of his rosy cheeks as he sang the Te Deum that announces the birth of Our Savior." [. . .]"Padre Pio was unable to contain his joy over the birth of the divine child intimately united to him in the depth of his soul..."
Is it any wonder Padre Pio carried the infant in his arms with such love and tenderness and the profound understanding of the meaning of this divine infant. They processed through the church, corridors, friary, singing the Te Deum. Fr. Di Flumeri wrote: "The procession seemed to me like all humanity that has always gone to meet Jesus, who comes to us. Passing through the happy and noisy crowd that flanked us on either side, I noticed all eyes were turned to the image of the divine Child Jesus in the arms of the stigmatized priest. And with their hands they stretched out to touch Him, the soft hands of innocent little children, the gentle hands of devout women and the hands of laborers hardened from work in the fields. All wanted to see and touch the one 'through whom all was fulfilled' " (The Voice of Padre Pio, #12, 1993, p.8, cited in my forthcoming Padre Pio and Children)
To touch the awesome (in the true meaning of that much abused and casually used word), the awesome beauty of the moment, to touch the gift of inexpressible love, to feel the astonishment grip one's heart, to know the yearning for that Love and Purity. . . All this I want in Christmas music! I listen throughout the year. I can't give up Christmas just because the calendar moves on. In fact, our Christmas tree stays up longer and longer each year, and it is still up, this year, since last Christmas. Whenever I feel a little 'down,' I plug in the lights, and there it is...the Nativity, the light of the world. Beside it are statues of Our Lady, and one large mock-bronze bust of Padre Pio. Prayers of thanksgiving rise up. . .
Below are some recommendations if you'd like to go there. . . the place of the heart found by Padre Pio and Archbishop Sheen and St. Louis de Montfort and all the composers. . . The place where God has given the world salvation, if it accepts it. . .
"NATIVITAS" is my favorite. I have been listening to it for quite a few years now, year-round. I love the streaming flute transitions from one song to the next, floating the mood, the truth of each musical meditation to the next. Plus, on this recording, you have some beautiful chorales from one of my favorite composers, Francis Poulenc. Don't pass over Poulenc's "4 Motets for Christmas--O Magnum Mysterium." The Mystery. . . How beautifully he expresses the mystery, the unimaginable mystery--that a child could be God, that God could be a child; that the mystery continues to this day in transubstantiation--the Eucharist; that God could give himself in the form of a wafer, that a wafer could be Jesus Christ in us. . .O Magnum Mysterium permeates us, infuses and courses through our blood, heart, mind and soul . . . In the second Christmas Adagios, listen to Richard Stoltzman's meditating, praying clarinet. . .
These selections are not for noisy Christmas parties. But they will work wonders for your spirit as you are wrapping gifts, baking Christmas cookies, preparing Christmas dinner, putting up the tree, missing loved ones who have left this world. . . or most importantly, as you are trying to pull away from the chaos of our times...and enter the real Christmas.
In some of these selections, as with all great music, train yourself to listen at intervals, a day or so apart for a while, and soon what you hadn't heard before, you will hear-- and, I pray, be present at The Birth.
O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord,
IN DULCI JUBILO
Oh sweet rejoicing
now sing and be glad!
Our hearts' joy
lies in the manger
And it shines like the sun
in the mother's lap
You are the alpha and omega!