Sitting with Mungo atop the ancient karst rocks of the great Monte Gargano. This area, Monte Calvo, is the highest part of the Gargano massif -- the 'high tor' of my search for the doors to Padre Pio's 'life' -- and looks out over the church, friary and homes of San Giovanni Rotondo. Mungo belonged to my friends, Christine and her son Charles, who live in San Giovanni Rotondo.
Once Upon A Time...I wanted to be an actress. . . .
Becoming an actress in the States...here, with DeForest Kelley, the future Dr. Leonard McCoy of
... I went to Rome to pursue that dream in the burgeoning Italian cinema.
Rome was different then. Not the crowds of tourists you see today. We were expatriates....
We owned the streets. . .But today, we are figures in an old postcard.
Forget her, she's gone.
Becoming an actress in Rome....
On the Piazza di Spagna...when the Spanish Steps were mine!
Pigeons and me...when the piazza of The Duomo in Milan was mine. The Duomo
is considered one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world.
Our Lady of Grace in Milan...when DaVinci's Last Supper was mine! Note the scaffolding, as restoration was being done.
Feeding the pigeons of Venice in Piazza San Marco.
Pigeons on my right hand,
pigeons on my left hand,
pigeons at my feet-- and in my face!
Being a PR person in New York.
What were the eyeglass frame manufacturers
thinking? What was I thinking?
Then we pilgrimaged to see the living Padre Pio in 1966 (see Encounters
With Padre Pio) -- my family and I. We had a Padre Pio experience when
we met him and were able to kiss his gloved hand. After that, life was
We also met Bill Martin, the American Third Order Franciscan who
attended Padre Pio the last years of Pio's life. A thirty-four year friendship
was begun. Bill later became Fr. Joseph Pius Martin, OFM, Cap.
Some years later, 1981, my novel, Appassionata, about falling in love in
Rome of the fifties (a Rome long gone), was published, and a paperback
edition, Princessa, came out in 1984 (same book!). I plan to re-issue it in
the near future...and then my new novel, Rome Was Like That.
All the while, Padre Pio was ticking away patiently, quietly, invisibly, deep
within my consciousness, as they say, waiting....Then one day Bill--
Fr. Joseph Pius Martin, at this point-- said, "Why don't you write a book
about Padre Pio?" The ticking reached the alarm-set, the alarm went off. . . .
I returned to San Giovanni Rotondo often over the years, sometimes
sojourning weeks at a time, researching and interviewing for my books
with Fr. Joseph's help, and have also written numerous articles for
The Voice of Padre Pio. I imagine Padre Pio might have been saying,
"I've been waiting for you," as he was known to say to people who never
got around to visiting him until a moment came in their lives when they
simply had to.... But he knew about them, and when they finally showed up,
he would smile and say it, "I've been waiting for you. . ."
Now, I finished writing two books about Padre Pio: Padre Pio and Children
and He Shall Stay! a Memoir of Father Joseph Pius Martin.
And in progress...The Night Padre Pio Died and Padre Pio Was Like That.
Mommy and I, walking down the street in Assisi. . .perhaps we'll walk that way again, when she shows me the sights of. . .Heaven.
Here is the verbatim picture caption from The Voice of Padre Pio:
" Offertory gifts were brought to the altar by representatives of
the English-speaking nations taking part in the 25th anniversary
commemoration . England was represented by Mrs. Ana Ley,
Australia by Miss Natalia Kollar, the USA by Miss Jeanette Salerno
and Ireland by Miss Kathleen Colvert. (We apologize for the bad
[I'm the 'redhead' in the rear, next to Kathleen in forefront]