Meeting Padre Pio
Padre Pio was helped by the friars when he went from his cell to the confessional or to the sacristy to prepare for Mass.
People were allowed to line up in the halls to have a chance to talk to him when he passed, and get his blessing.
Children, soldiers, dignitaries, people from all walks of file had a chance to meet Padre Pio.
These encounters were extremely emotional, full of intense spirituality, life changing, rich in prophecy, healing, and soul reading.
Padre Pio also celebrated occasionally Baptisms, First Communions, Weddings, and blessed new cars.
People meeting Padre Pio in the halls:
getting letters from the faithful
Padre Pio listening to a painful story
Another sad story
Italian President Antonio Segni
Padre Pio meeting some faithful. Fra Giovanni, Padre Damiano and Padre Alessio are present.
During World War II many American and Allied soldiers visited Padre Pio.
"I wholeheartedly bless the work of catechizing children, the little flowers of Jesus."
Padre Pio performing a Baptism
Padre Pio visiting the school in San Giovanni Rotondo
Padre Pio taking care of a sick child
Padre Pio confessing a child
Sometimes Padre Pio administers the First Communion:
Padre Pio signed the certificates: P. Pio Capp. (Padre Pio Cappuccino)
Padre Pio celebrating Matrimonies:
Padre Pio blessing new cars
Raffaelina Cerase from Foggia. In 1914 started exchange of numerous letters with Padre Pio for spiritual direction.
In 1915 she became gravely ill and asked if Padre Pio could come to Foggia to confess her.
At that time Padre Pio was at home in Pietrelcina in convalescent leave.
He was solicited to come to Foggia by father Agostino and father Benedetto.
He was in Foggia on February 17, 1916 and stayed at the capuchin convent of St. Ann.
Raffaelina Cerase was visited daily by Padre Pio from February 17, 1916, until the day of her death on March 25, 1916.
Giuseppina Morgera, from Casamicciola (Naples), met Padre Pio in 1915 while he was in Naples for the military service.
Excanged numerous letters with Padre Pio. "She doesn't walk, but flies on the road of divine love."
Antonietta Vona was introduced to Padre Pio by Giuseppina Morgera in 1917 while he was in Naples for military service.
Exchanges letters with him for spiritual guidance.
1916: First group of spiritual daughters in San Giovanni Rotondo
Rachelina Russo and her niece Rachelina Gisolfi who had met him earlier in the year 1916 in Foggia,
asked Padre Pio to meet with some devout souls of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo.
At first he rejected the idea, than after much insistence, he agreed.
Nina Campanile in her diary 'Memories of Padre Pio' (Memorie sul Padre Pio) described: In 1916 'The first group of souls
around Padre Pio from the first moment he came to the convent were: Rachelina Russo and her nieces,
the sisters Vittorina, Elena, and Filomena Ventrella, the sisters Giovanna Lucia Fiorentino,
Maria Ricciardi, sister of father Ambrogio, Maddalena Cascavilla.
'On October 5, 1916, after Padre Pio had returned definitely in September, the group was joined by me Nina Campanile
and my sister Lucietta. Few month later joined the sisters Maria Antonietta Pompilio and Filomena Fini.'
The group used to meet in the guest area of the convent every Thursday and Sunday.
Nina Campanile in her diary: ' He explained that the principal means of Christian perfection are: the choice of a saint and learned director,
frequentation of sacraments, meditation, spiritual readings.' 'He used to say: 'the sacred argumentations need always to be
sustained by sacred examples.' 'He wanted that we meditate twice a day, morning and evening.'
'He insisted a lot on daily meditation "Even with the face on the ground, like Jesus did in Gethsemane."
"It is important to meditate, even if there is no emotion involved."
In 1916 Antonietta Pompilo asked Padre Pio how to meditate. He started talking about the agony in the Gethsemane, an than he went in ecstasy.
For about an hour he stayed with the eyes closed, without moving. Than he returned normal and said:"God be blessed. Let's continue."
Assunta Di Tomaso from Casacalenda (Campobasso), Became spiritual child of Padre Pio on September 24,1916, and received several
letters from Padre Pio for spiritual direction. After the death of her parents moved to San Giovanni Rotondo.
Margherita Tresca started spiritual direction with Padre Pio on December 20, 1917. Received letters for 4 years.
Cleonice Morcaldi. Met Padre Pio in 1920. Got revealing answers through verbal contacts and
exchanges of short notes about the supernatural mystical aspect of Padre Pio.
Mary Pyle born 1888 in Morristown, NJ, died April 26, 1968. Assistant and interpreter to Maria Montessori, traveled extensively with her.
Met Padre Pio on October 4, 1923, Padre Pio: "My daughter, do not travel anymore. Stay here."
Built a house near the convent. Opened the letters: He knew the contents of each letter before it was opened.'
Generous with the pilgrims, the poor, and the friars, she financed the church of the Holy Family, a convent and a seminary for the Capuchin students
in Pietrelcina, became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, went daily to Padre Pio's Mass, daily Communion, weekly confession.
She took care in her home of the aging Padre Pio's parents until they died.
Mary Pyle with Padre Pio's father and sister.
Below, with Padre Pio's father and his relatives
Mary Pyle is the only spiritual child of Padre Pio featured in the mosaics of the Crypt.
She, with Our Lady of Grace, greets Padre Pio at the entrance to Paradise.
"I have made a pact with the Lord: I will take my place at the gate to paradise,
but I shall not enter until I have seen the last of my spiritual children enter."
Padre Pio conversing with Mary Pyle, one of his spiritual daughters
Padre Pio meeting with spiritual daughters
"I accept you as spiritual child; and don't make me lose face."
Padre Pio with Carlo Campanini
I see all my children who come to the altar, as if in a mirror.
"When the Lord entrusts a soul to me, I place it on my shoulder and never let it go."
I love my Spiritual Children as much as my own soul and even more.
"Once I take a soul on, I also take on their entire family
as my spiritual children."
"If one of my spiritual children ever goes astray,
"If one of my spiritual children ever goes astray,
I shall leave my flock and seek him out."
I shall leave my flock and seek him out."
Tenor Beniamino Gigli sings "Mamma" for Padre Pio
"I tell Mary: Here are the children of your Son. "
Vittorina Ventrella had a vision one night of a dazzling Padre Pio in heaven, with innumerable rays of light emanating from him.
The rays were formed by myriads of white and red roses. The morning after went to Padre Pio for an explanation.
"Oh! you came to ask me about what you saw last night. The rays are the prayer groups;
the white roses are the souls who live in grace;
the red rosed are the souls who carry the cross with me."
Interpreted as if after his death, all those who entered the prayer groups would become his spiritual children.
"Woe to those who lay a hand on my spiritual children."
"To my Spiritual Children: my prayers for you will never be lacking"
Some spiritual sons of Padre Pio
Giacomo Gaglione. Met Padre Pio in 1919. Paralized for more than fifty years. Padre Pio said of him: "With Jesus on the Cross, with Jesus in Paradise."
Dr. Giorgio Festa. Investigated Padre Pio in 1919 and 1920. "This is an extraordinary phenomenon that science can't explain."
Morcaldi Francesco. Met Padre Pio in 1919. Mayor of San Giovanni rotondo for many years.
Emanuele Brunatto. 1920. Lived in the convent from 1920 to 1925. Defended Padre Pio in writing.
Attorney and journalist Cesare Festa. 1921. Padre Pio wrote in a letter to him: "Never blush of Christ and his doctrine".
Guglielmo Sanguinetti. 1936. "You will work for me." He built the Casa Sollievo.
Carlo Campanini. 1939. Actor and comedian. Daily Mass and Rosary.
Enrico Medi. 1941. Scientist phisicist. 'Padre Pio for 27 years has guided my life with infinite wisdom.'
Angelo Battisti. 1941. Administrator of Casa Sollievo. "Work, and I will take care of the rest."
Gerardo De Caro. 1943. Politician. "This is my Representative. You'd better keep your hands off him."
Beniamino Gigli. 1946. Tenor opera singer. "Young man. Change your shirt." And those words changed his life.
Dr. Giuseppe Sala. 1955. Personal physician of Padre Pio, and medical chief of Casa Sollievo.
La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza. "The Home for the Relief of Suffering "
"The good Lord gave me an earthly mission: the creation of a clinic for the poor of soul and body.
The clinic will rise beautiful and large."
Padre Pio had founded and inaugurated in 1925 a small "Hospital of Saint Francis" near the convent in San Giovanni Rotondo.
It was humble, but satisfied "in an outstanding way the most urgent needs". Treatment was free for the poor.
In 1938 an earthquake leveled the Hospital of St. Francis.
In 1940 Padre Pio started thinking of a new hospital.
The evening of January 9, 1940 the Home for the relief of suffering was born.
A tiny committee formed by dr. Kiswarday, secretary, (who wrote the minutes), dr. Sanguinetti, medical tachnician, dr. Sanvico secretary,
miss Seits, director of internal organization, Padre Pio, founder, got immediately into action.
From the minutes: "It is agreed that everything undertaken must be subject to Padre Pio's advice."
"Here will stand one of the largest centers for the cure of the human ailments."
Padre Pio got from a pocket a small gold coin which had been given to him and said:
"I want to be the first to make an offering for the Home for the Relief of Suffering."
May 19, 1947 laying of the first stone, and steady work begins for the construction of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza
May 5, 1956 grand opening of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Home for the relief of Suffering.
"when it is done well, prayer moves the divine heart, and solicits answers more and more"
"Never grow weary of praying. This is essential.
Prayer penetrates the heart of God and obtains the graces needed…
Without prayer, our Home for the Relief of Suffering is somewhat like a plant without air and sun."
Gruppi di Preghiera. "Prayer Groups".
On March 13 1943 Pius XII: In the fight between good and evil we suggest to form groups of faithful who will fully and openly live Christian lives.
Groups of people who pray together. No particular rules or new prayers; just a reunion at least once a month in a church,
with the approval of the local bishop and the assistance of a priest.
Padre Pio: "Let's roll up our sleeves and immediately answer this appeal sent out by the Roman Pontiff."
The first list of officially established Prayer Groups was drawn up in 1950.
Padre Pio formulated a precise and clear image of what the Prayer Groups were to be and how they were to fulfill their mission.
The Invitation to Prayer, from the August 1950 edition of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza states:
The Prayer Groups will live their Christian life fully and openly according to the wishes of His Holiness if they are first groups of the faithful who pray together.
At the Second International Congress of the Prayer Groups, gathered at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza on May 5, 1966,
Padre Pio spoke to the Congress and called attention to their growth and work:
"It is prayer, this united power of all good souls, that moves the world, that renews the consciences,
that supports the “Casa”, that comforts the suffering, that heals the sick, that sanctifies labor,
that elevates health care, that gives moral strength and Christian resignation to human suffering,
that spreads the smile and blessing of God on the fainthearted and the weak"
"Pray much, my children, pray always without ever growing tired…we entrust this work to God."
"Praying is the pouring of our heart into the heart of God"
The Prayer Groups are mentioned for the first time in the June 1950 issue of the "Bollettino della Casa Sollievo della Ssofferenza"
(see a random issue below)
"Let us pray together"
"Community prayer is a powerful weapon in the hands of the Church and the faithful."
"If more souls unite together in prayer, they form a formidable power."
"In the Groups, when my children unite together in prayer, Jesus will be in the midst of them;
there will also be the Mother of Jesus;
I will also be present in spirit and united in prayer."
"Pray every evening with you family; recit the rosary; once a week or a month gather together
to recite the rosary, assist at Mass, listen to a sermon, receive the Communion,
keep Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament company for an hour."
Restrictions 60's, death, saint, exhumed
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