1. Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina

 

Summary:
Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Francesco Forgione, future Padre Pio: rione Castello, Morgia, Porta Madonnella, Pantaniello. Birth, parents, family. Home: Vico Storto Valle, la cucina, la Torretta, maternal home, Michele’s home. Baptism in St. Anne. Infancy: angels and devils, Giuseppe Faiella, religiosity, Michele Peruto, Andrianella, Anna Fucci. The farm “Masseria”: figs, broccoli, and zucchini; shepherd, the water well, Margherita de Cianni; farmer, hot peppers, cigar; Luigi Orlando, Mecurio Scocca, Antonio Bonavita, Virginia Faella, Ubaldo Vecchiarino, Vincenzo Salmone. St. Mary of the Angels, “Gregaria,” Altavilla Irpina, the picture, fra’ Camillo. Education: Scocca, Saginato, Tizzani, Caccavo. Grazio goes to America. First Communion, Confirmation, devil, Pompei. Preparation to novitiate: battle plan in three visions.

 

 

Pietrelcina

Satellite view of Pietrelcina. "A" indicates Padre Pio's home.

In the upper right side of the picture is Piana Romana, where the Forgiones had a plot of land.

In the lower left corner is Pietrelcina's train station.

 

 

 

    

View of Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Pio. Map of the area, in Southern Italy.

 

 

Pietrelcina is a rural village of about 3000 souls in the province of Benevento, in Southern Italy. Pietrelcina is 8 miles from Benevento.

Over the centuries the name of the town has changed several times: “Petrapolcina,” “Petrapucina,” “Petrapolicina,” “Petrapulcina,” “Pietr’elcina,” “Pietra Elcina,” “Pietralcina.”[1] [2]

 

The medieval part of the town is called “Rione Castello.” A castle was there in 1100 which was destroyed by the earthquakes of 1349 and 1688 and rebuilt each time.[3]

 

Rione Castello

                     

 

The castle was really a “Castrum,” a small town fortified with walls, with two entry doors, inhabited by military and civilians. [4]

Morgia

The “Rione Castello” is standing on a large rock called the “Morgia" or “Morgione”.

 

Porta Madonnella

               

The houses in Rione Castello are made of rough local stones, attached to one another in rows.[5]  One of the

 

entry doors to “Rione Castello” is called “Porta Madonnella”.

 

The painting on majolica tiles at Porta Madonnella shows the crowned Madonna in the center, with Saint Michael the Archangel defeating the devil, and Saint Anthony of Padua on the either side. The local artist was Giuseppe De Biase.[6]

 

Pantaniello

       

The “Pantaniello” well is the center of the town.

 

(Pietrelcina reminds us of an episode in the Gospel: John 1: 45 "Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.' Nathaniel said to him, 'From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place?' Philip replied, 'Come and see.' ")

 

 

Birth

 

    

Birth Certificate "Atto di Nascita" of Francesco Forgione.

 

The future Padre Pio was born on Wednesday May 25, 1887, at 5:00 PM of Grazio Mario Forgione (father), age 26, (1860–1946), and Maria Giuseppa de Nunzio Forgione (mother), age 28, (1859–1929), in the rione Castello, Pietrelcina.

 

The birth certificate, by the town’s acting mayor Gaetano Sagliocca, states that the parents were “possidenti,” meaning property and land owners. [7]

 

The birth certificate also gives the name of the midwife who delivered the baby boy, Grazia Formichelli.[8]

 

She said at birth: “The baby is born wrapped in a white veil, and this is good sign: he will be great and fortunate.”[9] She was also the godmother.[10]

 

The parents

     

The name of Padre Pio’s father was Grazio, but he was known as Orazio and called "Zi Orazio" by his neighbors. The Forgiones were farmers, cultivating their own piece of land. They married on June 8, 1881. Both were illiterate. She brought a dowry of about a hectare of land. They were not poor. There was food on the table every day. But there was little cash.[11]

Padre Pio: “In my home it was difficult to find ten liras, but we were not deprived of anything.”[12]

 

 

The family

The Forgiones had 8 children. The first born was a boy they named Michele. The second child, also a boy, Francesco, died after 19 days. The third, a little girl, Amalia, died at 20 months. Then, the future Padre Pio was born and he was given the same name as his older brother, Francesco, who had died in infancy.

He had also three younger sisters, Felicita, Pellegrina, and Grazia (who was later to become a Bridgettine nun). The youngest child, a brother, Mario, died before his first birthday.[13]

 

 

The home

 

                  

          

 

Crooked Valley Lane (Vico Storto Valle)

The house was located in Crooked Valley Lane (Vico Storto Valle) 27, and 28, later renumbered 32, and consisted of one room of about 145 square feet, with three external steps to the entrance.[14]

 

    

Inside, on the right was a bed with an iron frame and a nightstand; straight ahead was a window, with a basin to wash hands and face, and a chest of drawers; on the left there was another chest and two chairs.[15] [16]

 

   

Under the house there was another room, accessed through a trapdoor and also through a door in the street, there they would keep the donkey, supplies and tools.[17]

 

La cucina

 

The arrow indicates the house were Padre Pio was born. To the left, there is a taller two story house.

It didn't belong to the Forgiones.  Next to the taller house is the "Cucina".

 

On the same street, separated by a taller construction belonging to a different family, there was the other section of the house, consisting of two rooms: the kitchen and the bedroom.

 

 

The two rooms of the "Cucina".

   

Mamma Peppa with her niece Pia

 

The kitchen had a fireplace; the bedroom was used by Francesco and his brother.

Like in most houses at the time there was no plumbing, no bathroom, no running water, nor shower. There was also no stove and no electricity.[18]

 

La Torretta

         

                  

 The single room of "La Torretta" in various stages of preservation.

 

Nearby there was the building called “La Torretta” (the little tower). It has a room accessible by outside stairs in the same Crooked Valley Lane, at the #1.

The numerous steps are very steep. The simple room had a bed, a table, and a window.

La Torretta was damaged by the 1962 earthquake, and had to be restored and reinforced.

Padre Pio lived in this room as a school boy. He also lived in it after his ordination to the priesthood. There he studied, prayed, rested, and wrote letters, until he was able to climb the steps..[19]

 

 

 

Maternal home

                 

Inside the maternal home.

    

Arched entry to maternal home.

In the first year of marriage, the Forgiones lived with her parents.

 

Casa Michele

   

Years later Michele Forgione, brother of Padre Pio, bought the house on the left, which is entered by outside stairs. 

 

During his stay in Pietrelcina from 1910-16 Padre Pio did not stay for long at La Torretta because he was in poor health and the steps were too hard to climb. He stayed in another nearby house, in Via Santa Maria degli Angeli #44.

This house had been bought by his father and brother Michele, when they returned from America in 1903.

Padre Pio had his own room there on the upper level. Here he wrote letters to his spiritual directors, had frequent apparitions of Jesus and other heavenly beings, and was tormented by the devils with multiple physical assaults.[20]

 

 

 

Baptism 

 

Baptistery of Francesco Forgione

 

Don Nicolantonio Orlando (right)

 

The future Padre Pio was baptized by Don Nicolantonio Orlando in the nearby Santa Anna's Church on May 26, 1887 the day after his birth, at 8 in the morning and given the name of Francesco.[21]

 

 

The church of St. Anna

                     

            

The church of St. Anna is small and simple, built on top of the steep side of the “Rione Castello,” very close to where the Forgiones lived.[22] [23]

 

 

Infancy with Angels and devils

   

Francesco's crib.

When talking about his infancy Padre Pio said that he remembered everything about it, including when he still was in the crib.”[24]

 

Still in the crib he started having the visible companionship of his Guardian Angel. He later reported in a letter: "The Guardian Angel has been my companion since my infancy." [25]

 

In a letter to Maria Campanile, in November1922, Padre Pio wrote: “The Lord from my birth showed me signs of a very special predilection.”[28]

 

He started seeing devils, too. Years later he recalled: "When I was in the crib, and my mom extinguished the lamp, I saw those horrible monsters and screamed, terrified. Then mom turned the lamp back on, and the monsters disappeared, and I stopped screaming."[26]

The devils were constantly lurking around his cradle in the form of hideous terrifying monsters.[27]

 

As an infant Padre Pio cried long hours through the night.

His Father Grazio, years later, recalled that one night he lost his patience, took the baby and threw him on the bed saying: “What has been born in the house, a devil instead of a Christian?”

The infant slipped from the bed and fell to the floor. Mamma Peppa scalded the husband: “You killed my son!” She took the baby in her arms and realized that there had been no harm.[29]

 

Recalling the episode at his father’s funeral Padre Pio said: “From that day on I didn’t cry anymore.” [30]

 

Years later Mamma Peppa told Padre Pio: “Son, what a scare you gave me that night!” Padre Pio: ‘Mom, it was the devil tormenting me.”[31]

 

Many years later Padre Tarcisio asked Padre Pio: “When did you start suffering?” Padre Pio: “From the time I was in my mother’s womb.”[32]

  

Giuseppe Faiella

Mama Peppa recalled years later that when the baby was few months old she took him to the fortune teller of the village, Giuseppe Faiella. He said: “This baby will be honored by the whole world. A lot of money will pass through his hands, but he will own nothing.” Mamma Peppa reported that she thought to herself, “Maybe it means that one day Francesco will go to America, and the whole world will know him.”[33] [34]

Faiella also said that Francesco would live to be ninety eight years old (Padre Pio died at eighty one).[35]

 

The healer of the village

Mamma Peppa also recalled that when Francesco was 2 years old he had frequent belly aches, so she took him to the healer of the village to remove the evil eye. The healer held him upside down while pronouncing her formulas. Padre Pio years later recalled the episode: “She held me by the legs, like a lamb.”[36] [37]

 

Religiosity

The Forgiones were very religious. When the church bells rang every morning the family gathered for prayers. They went to church every day and prayed the Rosary together as a family in the evening. Prayer came before all other activities in the household.[38]

Around age three Francesco recited prayers by himself.[39] [40]

 

At the age of five Francesco thought and felt that he should consecrate himself to God, forever. At that age the

ecstasies and the apparitions began. [41] [42] [43] [44]

 

 

Francesco became an altar boy, went to church twice a day, as well as every Sunday afternoon going to religious education classes.[45]

 

He stayed away from the kids who "lied, cursed, and had bad habits."[46]

 

  

Jesus Sacred Heart puts his hand on the head of five year old Francesco

(stained glass window in the church of St. Anna).

 

One day, he didn't feel like playing with the other kids, and sat in a pew in the church, and from the tabernacle Jesus made a sign with his hand for him to come to the altar, and Jesus put his hand on Francesco’s head.[47] [48] 

 

The Sacred Heart this way attested his pleasure in accepting the offering of self to him.[49] [50]

 

When later he was asked why he had never told his mom of the visions he was having, he said: "I believed that these things happened to everybody".[51]

 

 

          

The area outside St. Anna's church where Francesco used to play with his friends.

 

 

Michele Peruto

Francesco used to say to his mom: "I don't want to play with the other kids because they curse".[52]

 

"Mom, my companions say bad things and offend Jesus”.[53]

 

He, in agreement with the sacristan Michele Peruto had himself locked in the church, and the sacristan would let him out at an agreed upon time. Francesco wanted to pray and meditate alone.[54] [55]

 

One afternoon he went out dressed in a new garment that his parents had just bought for him. A few hours later he came home half naked. His response to his mother’s scolding was: “I gave it to a little boy who needed it more than I did.”[56]

 

Andrianella

One Sunday on his way home after Mass he saw Andrianella, a neighbor woman, sitting on her doorstep, stitching a ribbon to a skirt. He told her: “You don’t work today. It’s Sunday.” “That’s what you think, my son.” She replied. Francesco went home and came back with a pair of scissors, and cut the ribbon in pieces before the

astonished woman.[57]

 

Anna Fucci 

Fra Modestino's mother Anna Fucci was the same age of Padre Pio and lived in a home a few yards away. She reported that he refused to play with the other kids, avoided grazing the sheep when she was around, and that he always had a Rosary in his hands. Everybody called him "lu santariello nuostro" 'our little saint'.[58]

 

At age 8, when his mother saw him beating himself with a chain, he told her, "I must do it like they made Jesus shoulders bleed." [59] [60] [61]

 

Ubaldo Vecchiarino reported that he and his friends frequently piled up some stones when they walked by Francesco's window, and climbing on them they spied Francesco beating himself with a hemp cord.”[62] [63]

 

 

Stone pillow

Stone used as a pillow.

The priest of the parish, Giuseppe Orlando, reported that Francesco, despite the objections of his mother, would sleep on the floor using a stone as pillow.[64] [65]

 

 

The farm, in Italian “Masseria”

 

                       

        

The farm "Masseria" in Piana Romana.

 

The Forgione farm was small, by American standards. It yielded grapes, wheat, Indian corn, olives, figs, and plums. They also raised sheep, goats, hens, ducks, rabbits, and occasionally kept a milk cow or two and some

hogs.[66]

 

The farm was located in Piana Romana. On a lane near their plot they had a cottage were they stored the equipment, kept the animals, and, in the summer, cooked, ate and slept.[67] [68]

 

Figs and broccoli

Young Francesco with his mom on their way to Piana Romana.

One day Francesco and mamma Peppa, on their way to Piana Romana, passed a field of broccoli. She said: “How good they look! I’d like to have some.” Francesco replied: “That’s a sin!” Few days later on the same road they saw a tree with ripe figs. Francesco got a few and ate them. His mom: “So, it’s a sin to eat broccoli, but not figs!”[69] [70]

Padre Pio, recalled years later: “I suddenly got an irresistible craving for them.”[71]

 

Felicita

Padre Pio recalled in later years how he used to play and joke with his sister Felicita. Once he pushed her head down into the basin while she was washing her face.[72] [73]

 

Pants

Once, he made a pair of pants that he disliked unusable, forcing his parents to buy a new one.[74]

 

Shepherd

Francesco didn’t go to elementary school. At age six he was assigned four sheep and a goat, to take care of in Piana Romana.[75] 

 

There he met with other children more or less his age: Maria, Cosimo and Mercurio Scocca, Luigi Orlando, Ubaldo Vecchiarino called Baldino, Antonio Bonavita, Margherita de Cianni, and Anna Fucci. When he spent the night in Piana Romana he stayed at the home of his aunt Daria. [76]

 

Orlando, Mercurio, Antonio

Luigi Orlando recalled that when the two were fighting: “Francesco always won because he was nearly three years older than me.” He also reported: “Francesco never said a bad word. He was frequently reciting the rosary.”[77]

 

During a fight, Francesco was winning, and Orlando said a bad word. Francesco immediately stopped and ran away.[78] “He absolutely never used bad language nor did he wish to hear it.”[79]

 

Mercurio Scocca recalled that Francesco frequently organized processions, and he would lead, singing aloud and the other shepherds followed. “We did so many processions!”[80]

 

Mercurio and Orlando recalled that at Christmas, they helped Francesco make a Nativity scene, carving the figurines out of clay.[81]  [82]

 

They also filled the best snail shells they could find with oil and made lamps to lighten the creche.[83] [84]

 

Antonio Bonavita recalled: “The rest of us children were wicked, but he was always good.”[85]

 

The water well

    

The well has been preserved.

 

Margherita De Cianni reported that one day Padre Pio’s father Grazio was digging a well in Piana Romana. Grazio dug forty feet without finding water.

Francesco said that he would never find water there, and then pointed to a precise spot somewhere else on field where he would find water. Orazio: “How do you know?” Francesco: “Jesus told me.”

Orazio: “I’ll dig there, but if there is no water, I’ll throw you in the hole.” He dug seven feet and a copious spring of water burst out.”[86] [87] [88] [89]

 

 

Farmer

      

The area of the farm were Francesco grazed sheep and farmed.

Padre Pio also did farm work on the land that the family owned in Piana Romana. In 1901 in a letter to his father who had migrated to America, he reported: “This year corn (granone), as you can imagine, was very little, because we didn’t get rain on time. We filled only four sacks of it.”[90] 

 

Padre Pio, remembering that age: "I was an unsalted piece of macaroni."[91] [92] [93] [94]

 

McGregor writes that Padre Pio didn’t say that. He states that when Padre Pio was asked about himself about it he cordially replied: “I never said I was like unseasoned maccarone or at least I don’t remember saying so. I liked to pray but I preferred to watch, as I was equally entertained.”(McG85, 73)

 

Padre Pio had a scar on the little finger of left hand. He cut himself one day in Piana Romana when he was asked by his brother Michele to cut grass with a sickle.[95]

 

Hot peppers and zucchini

At age twelve Francesco spent forty days sick in bed with typhoid fever. The town’s physician Dr. Giacinto Guadagno said that he had only a few days to live.

Francesco said: “If I’m dying, I want to see Piana Romana once more.” He was taken there by donkey.[96] [97]

 

Meanwhile mamma Peppa cooked a large plate of fried peppers and went in the field. When she returned the peppers were gone and Francesco was in bed sound asleep with a red face and sweating profusely. She was concerned. But when he awoke he felt perfectly well, and confessed that he had eaten the peppers. The binge of peppers had healed him.[98]  [99] [100] [101] [102]

 

Francesco didn’t like zucchini. One day his mom prepared zucchini parmigiana. He didn’t eat it, and his mom burst into tears. Recalling the episode he would say: “If I had known that my mom would have been so displeased, I would have devoured all those zucchini.”[103] [104]

 

Cigar

Padre Raffaele da Sant’Elia asked Padre Pio if he had ever smoked in his life.

Padre Pio said: “I was about 10 years old when one day, at Piana Romana, uncle Pellegrino Scocca gave me some money to buy him a “Toscano” cigar and some matches. On the way back I wondered what smoking was like. I took a match and lit the cigar. Soon I had nausea and stomach pains, and fell to the ground from dizziness. My uncle laughed heartily when I told him. That lesson put a wall between me and smoking.” [105]  [106] [107] [108]

 

 

St. Mary of the the Angels

 

             

          

St. Mary of the Angels parish church in Pietrelcina.

 

The parish church in Pietrelcina was Saint Mary of the Angel. The “Madonna della Libera,” the Patron Saint of Pietrelcina, is venerated in that church.

        

Madonna della Libera in procession at the times od Padre Pio

 

Every year, the statue covered with donations from the faithful, especially the migrants, is taken in procession. For the town it was the main event of the year.

The archpriest of the time was Don Salvatore Pannullo. When Padre Pio lived  in Pietrelcina as a Priest, Pannullo kept a close friendship with him.

 

The “Gregaria”

The Gregaria was an area of open field, just to the right of the parish of St. Mary of the Angels, where the future Padre Pio in about 1909 used to walk with the archpriest Salvatore Pannullo, Don Giuseppe Orlando, and other altar boys. Passing by that area he heard a choir of angels singing and bells ringing coming from an area in the countryside.[109] [110]  [111] 

 

Years later Padre Pio stated to Orlando that he remembered the episode very well.[112] 

 

In 1947 the Capuchin convent was opened there, and in 1951 the Holy Family Church was consecrated at the

Gregaria.[113]

 

The archpriest Salvatore Pannullo admired three qualities in Francesco. He said Francesco “possessed strongly”: intelligence, sensitivity, and courage.[114]

 

 

Altavilla Irpina

      

      

The town of Altavilla Irpina with the church of the Assumption,

and the altar of San Pellegrino were the prodigy happened.

 

At age nine, on August 25, 1895, Padre Pio went with his father to Altavilla Irpina for the feast of Saint Pellegrino. While in the church, a young mother, holding her deformed sick child, prayed aloud for his recovery. At one point she approached the altar of Saint Pellegrino, threw the child on it, and said “If you don’t want to heal him, you've got to take him back!" To the general astonishment the child fell on his feet. For the first time in his life

he walked. He was healed. [115] [116] [117] [118] [119]

 

Padre Raffaele da Sant’Elia a Pianisi reported, many years later, that Padre Pio told him about that episode and cried abundantly.[120] [121]

 

Picture

   

This is a picture of a boy of about age eleven, commonly described as the first picture of the young Francesco Forgione, the future Padre Pio. However, it could be a picture of his cousin, Franceschino Forgione.[122]

 

Franceschino Forgione, son of Padre Pio’s brother Michele Forgione and Giuseppa Cardone, died of meningitis at the age of eleven.[123]

 

 

Fra’ Camillo da Sant’Elia a Pianisi

Fra' Camillo

Fra’ Camillo da Sant’Elia a Pianisi, was alms-seeking brother stationed in the convent of Morcone. Stopping by the Forgione farm in Piana Romana while doing his rounds, he inspired Francesco with his beard and the stories about St. Francis. Francesco told his parents: “I want to be a friar with a beard like fra’ Camillo.”[124] [125]

In later years, Padre Pio remembering those times, said: “Fra’ Camillo's beard was so impressed in my mind that nobody could distract me from my desire to become a bearded friar.”[126]  [127]  [128]  [129] [130] [131]

 

 

Scocca, Saginato

Francesco had very limited formal schooling. He did not frequent the three years of public schools in his village. His parents started having second thoughts about raising him as an illiterate farmer and shepherd, when Francesco expressed the desire to go to school, and he seemed motivated to learn. They decided to send him to school when he was ten.[132]

 

Luigi Peroni quotes 2 Samuel, 8-9: “I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to become ruler over my people Israel. I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth.”[133]

 

Cosimo Scocca, the family friend from a nearby farm in Piana Romana, who had a fifth grade education, introduced him to the alphabet when Francesco was about ten.[134]

 

His first teacher was Mandato Saginato (also mentioned as Mennato Saginario)[135], an artisan who worked

hemp during the day as a rope maker, and used to teach basic reading and writing to four or five kids at night for half a lira per month.[136]  [137]

 

A town priest named Don Nicola Caruso also taught Francesco.[138]

 

Vecchiarino

Ubaldo Vecchiarino was one of the night students. He reported that Francesco was the only one to answer the teacher's questions, “Because he studied during the day, and we didn’t care, and we have stayed shepherds

and push the hoe.”[139]

 

Baldino (Ubaldo Vecchiarino) also reported that Francesco often was kneeling in intense prayer and he had to tell him: “You, when you pray, you seem to be dead, as if you were no longer of this Earth.”

 

Vincenzo Salmone

Vincenzo Salmone also remembered: “So many times I would see him sitting at the small table learning his lessons! I’d go and invite him to play buttons. He would raise the head smiling, and say: 'Later, later,' until it grew dark.”[140]  [141] 

 

Tizzani

Starting in September 1898, at age 11, Francesco began private lessons with  Domenico Tizzani, "per cinque lire al mese." (For 5 liras per month)

Tizzani apparently had been relieved of his duties as a parish priest because he had broken his vow of celibacy. He lived with his wife and daughter, and spent all of his time at home because he was ashamed to go out.[142]

The tuition of five lira per month was quite a bit of money in those days.[143]

 

In the beginning Francesco learned a lot and made good progress with Don Tizzani, to the point that zi’ Grazio asked him to buy a Latin textbook for Francesco in Benevento, [144] but as time went on time he felt uncomfortable. Don Tizzani called the boy’s mother one day and said: “Send your son to be a shepherd, because that’s all he is good for.” [145] [146]

 

After a few months with Don Tizzani, he changed teacher.[147]

 

In Pietrelcina, years after his ordination to priesthood Padre Pio was passing by Tizzani’s home one day and saw his daughter Assunta crying on the steps in front of the house. Her father was dying and no one had the courage to approach him. Padre Pio asked permission, entered, and brought him reconciliation with God and eternal salvation for his soul.

 

The dying man made his confession to Don Giuseppe Orlando, and died with the comfort of the Sacraments.[148] 

[149]  [150]

 

Padre  Pio also obtained that he have a funeral in church dressed in his priestly robes.[151]

Padre Pio got emotional every time the subject came up, and he had difficulty talking about it.[152]

 

 

Grazio goes to America

 

     

Ships with immigrants at the time of Zi' Grazio Forgione.

Francesco about his childhood : "In my home you hardly found ten lire, but we never lacked anything"[153] [154] [155]

To make money to pay for Francesco's studies, Grazio Forgione went to work across the ocean. It seems that over the years, until his death in 1946, nobody asked zi’ Grazio about his trips to America, and if anybody did there is no written testimony about it. Probably he went to Brazil or Argentina in 1897, but came back without money. Also probably in 1899 he worked for the Erie Railroad,[156] and later went to work in Mahoningtown, near New Castle, in Pennsylvania, as a farm laborer.

He stayed with a cousin and brought some money home.[157] [158]  [159]

He was able to repay a loan of one hundred lire received from don Tizzani when Francesco started

studying with him.”[160]

 

Padre Pio later recalled: "My father crossed the ocean twice to give me the possibility to become a friar."[161]

 

 

First Communion and Confirmation

Padre Pio received his First Communion on September 27, 1899, at age 12, and was confirmed the same day by the Archbishop of Benevento and future cardinal Mons. Donato Maria Dell'Olio in the church of St. Anne, in Pietrelcina.[162] [163]

 

Years later Padre Pio recalled the day of his Confirmation: “The day of my Confirmation was very special and I will never forget it in my life. The Holy Spirit gave me special emotions. Remembering that day I feel like I am burned by a very lively flame.” [164]

 

 

Caccavo

   

Francesco's teacher Angelo Caccavo. His desk preserved in Pietrelcina's museum.

 

Francesco had completed the studies of the first three years of elementary school with Tizzani, when he left him and went to study with Angelo Caccavo.

Caccavo, a former seminarian, was a teacher in the public schools and also taught night classes at his home. Francesco stayed with him for three years, from 1900 to 1902. With him Francesco passed the exams for his elementary diploma, and also passed the tests for admission to high school.[165]

 

With Caccavo, Francesco changed from a poor pupil to a brilliant one.[166] He was the first in his class.[167]

 

A notebook with 30 essays developed by Padre Pio when he studied with Caccavo is still preserved to this day.[168

 

Virginia Faella

Virginia Faella, who lived next door to Francesco, reported how the student would return from school laden with books, and would study hard to make up for lost time. [169]

 

 

 

Devil

Don Nicola Caruso, a priest living in Pietrelcina, reported that when Francesco went home from school at night many times he would find a priest standing in the doorway of his home. He did not let Francesco get in the house. Then, a barefoot child would come, and make the sign of the cross, and the priest would disappear.[170]

 

Love letters

The boys in Caccavo’s class drafted a love letter, signed in Francesco’s name, and delivered it to one of the girls. She handed it over to Caccavo. The teacher beat Francesco severely in front of the class. When Caccavo later learned that the note was a forgery he was horrified. He regretted the beating for the rest of his life.

[171] [172] [173]

 

Padre Pio later said: “All his remorse could not take away the black and blue marks that I carried about for

days.”[174]

 

Another classmate wrote a letter stating that Francesco was dating the daughter of the chief of the railroad station. After an investigation the boy confessed to writing the letter out of envy.[175]

 

 

Pompeii

 

     

 The image of "Madonna di Pompei" and the inside of the Sanctuary. 

 

In 1901 Padre Pio made a pilgrimage to Pompeii with his teacher Angelo Caccavo and seven schoolmates. He explained in a letter to his father in America, on October 5, 1901, about the pilgrimage, and why he had wasted some few lire, and told him of his resolution to become a friar: “Next year I will abandon this life to embrace a better one.”[176]

 

Preparation to Novitiate

Francesco had decided to consecrate his life to God since age five. He had also chosen the Capuchin order to become “a friar with a beard”. The minimum age to enter the Capuchin novitiate is 15. Francesco turned 15 on May 5, 1915. The archpriest Salvatore Pannullo wrote a letter of recommendation, Padre Pio was not accepted because the novitiate was already full. Pannullo was told that there would be an opening after the Christmas holidays, in January 1903.[177]

 

In a letter to Nina Campanile in November, 1922 Padre Pio reported the excruciating interior fights that he endured when he has about to enter the novitiate 20 years before, in 1903. “There were two powers inside me, and they fought each other, and they tore my heart; the world wanted me all for itself, and God called me to a new life.”[178]

 

 And he told God: “You hid me from everyone’s eyes, and entrusted me with a grand mission; a mission that is known only to You and me.”[179]

“I constantly hear a voice inside me saying: Sanctify yourself and sanctify others.”[180]

 

The battle plan: Three Visions.

In the days before entering the novitiate Padre Pio had three visions.

He reported them years later under obedience to his superiors in a manuscript. The transcript is now included in the appendix to the Epistolary, part I.[181]

 

Right after Christmas in December 1902, he had a vision: “An immense hall richly adorned and splendidly lighted. On one side there were many people of extraordinary beauty. On the other side, horrible looking people. Jesus took my arm and walked me to the center of the hall. At that point from the back a gigantic beast advanced, coming forward seemingly with the intent of devouring me. I was scared, but Jesus encouraged me. When the monster was close to me, he uttered an infernal shout, and fell stricken dead. Jesus said: “This is what you will have to fight.” He did and won. The majestic man said: "The monster you have defeated is the devil and you will fight this enemy for the rest of your life..”[182] [183]

 

On January 1, 1903, after receiving Communion he was suddenly enveloped byan interior light and he understood that by entering the service of the Lord he was exposing himself to the unending fight with the devil.[184]

 

On January 5, 1903, during the night, Francesco had a vision of Jesus and Mary encouraging him to go on with his plan to enter religious life. "My last night at home I saw Jesus and his Mother who, in all their majesty, encouraged me  and assured me of their predilection".[185]

 

 

      

Pietrelcina's train station. Francesco Forgione reached it on a mule, from his home.

 

     

The rundown construction is the freight building

 

    

 The sign states that this outside bench was used by Francesco waiting to take the train for Morcone.

 

 

 

  

Francesco Forgione, the future Padre Pio, entering the novitiate in Morcone, greated by Fra' Camillo da Sant' Elia a Pianisi

 

Francesco entered the novitiate in Morcone on January 6, 1903.[186]

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Agostino, d. S. (2012). Diario. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio.  Ago 12

Alessando, d. R. (Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. Everybody's Cyrenean). 2010. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Ale10

Capuano, P. (2012). Con p. Pio: come in una fiaba. Foggia: Grafiche Grilli. Cap12

Castelli, F. (2011). Padre Pio under investigation. The secret Vatican files. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. Cas11

Convento. (2001). Padre Pio dalla Terra al Cielo. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Frati Cappuccini. Con01

De Rossi Giuseppe, (. B. (2008). Padre Pio da Pietrelcina. Collana SAO. DeR08

DeLiso, O. (1962). Padre Pio. New York: All Saints Press. DeL62

Duchess, o. S. (1968). Magic of a Mistic. Stories of Padre Pio. New York: Clarkson N. Potter. Duc68

Flumeri, G. d. (1996). Positio super virtutibus Betifications et Canonizationis servi Dei Pii a Pietrelcina. 6 thomes, synthesis of 104 voumes of diocesan process. Roma: Capuchin Order. Positio

Giannuzzo, E. (2012). San Pio da Pietrelcina. Il travagliato persorso della sua vita terrena. Book sprint edizioni. Gia12

Gigliozzi, G. (1965). Padre Pio. New York: Pocket Cardinal Edition. Gig65

Ingoldsby, M. (1978). Padre Pio. His Life and Mission. Dublin: Veritas Publications. Ing78

Leone, G. (1976). Padre Pio, infanzia e prima giovinezza. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Leo76

Malatesta, E. (2002). Aiutatemi tutti a portare la Croce. Milano: Il Saggiatore. Mal02

Mc Gregor, A. O. (1985). Padre Pio, his early years. San Giovanni Rotondo : Edizioni Padre Pio. McG85

Modestino, F. d. (2001). Io testimone del Padre. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Mod01

Mortimer Carty, f. C. (1973). Padre Pio the stigmatist. TAN Books. Mor73

Multiple. (2009). Padre Pio The wonder worker. New Bedord, MA: Franciscan Friars of Immaculate. Mul09

Napolitano, F. (1978). Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. A brief biography. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Nap78

Parente, P. (1968). A city on a Mountain. Washington, NJ: Ave Maria Institute. Par68

Peroni, L. (2002). Padre Pio da Pietrelcina. Borla. Per02

Pietrelcina, P. P. (2011). Epistolario I Corrispondenza con i direttori spirituali (1910-1922). San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Epist. I

Pietrelcina, P. P. (2012). Epistolario III, corrispondenza con le figlie spirituali (1915-1923). San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Epist. III

Pietrelcina, P. P. (2012). Epistolario IV, corrispondenza con diverse categorie di persone. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Epist IV

Preziuso, G. (2000). The life of Padre Pio between the altar and the confessional. New York: Alba House. Pre00

Rega, F. M. (2005). Padre Pio and America. Rockford: TAN books. Reg05

Riese, F. d. (2010). Padre Pio da Pietrelcina crocifisso senza croce. San Giovanni Roronto: Edizioni Padre Pio. Fer10

Ripabottoni, Alessandro da (1970). Pio da Pietrelcina, Infanzia e adolescenza. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Ale70

Ripabottoni, L. d. (1976). Beata te, Pietrelcina. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Ale76

Ruffin, C. B. (1991). Padre Pio: the true story. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. Ruf91

Saldutto, P. G. (2001). Il cammino di Padre Pio. Edizioni Piemme. Sal01

Winowska, M. (1988). Il vero volto di Padre Pio. Milano: Edizioni San Paolo. Win88

 

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[1] Fer10, 36

[2] McG85, 23

[3] Con01, 13

[4] Pio12, 8

[5] Con11, 15

[6] Ale12, 5

[7] Gia12, 7-8

[8] Cap11, 6

[9] Ale70, 14

[10] Cap12, 92

[11] Mul99, 7

[12] Positio III/1, 11

[13] Ruf91, 26-7

[14] Con01, 15

[15] Con01, 15

[16] McG85, 29

[17] Con01, 17

[18] Con01, 17-8

[19] Con01, 21

[20] Con01, 22

[21] Gia12, 8

[22] Con01, 25

[23] McG85, 32

[24] Leo76, 27

[25] Epist. I, 321

[26] Fer08, 51

[27] Duc68, 23

[28] Epist. III, 1006

[29] Cov07, 107-8

[30] Mul99, 8

[31] Per02, 23

[32] Per02, 23

[33] Leo76, 28

[34] Cap12, 92

[35] Per02, 24

[36] Leo76, 28

[37] Cap12, 92-3

[38] Leo76, 33

[39] Cas11, 276

[40] Fer10, 389

[41] Ago12, 53

[42] Pre00, 11-12

[43] Per02, 25

[44] Positio II, 501

[45] Per02, 26-7

[46] Positio II, 500

[47] Fer08, 50

[48] Pre00, 11

[49] Cas11, 289

[50] Con01, 25

[51] Duc68, 23

[52] Fer10, 41

[53] Ale70, 17

[54] Fer10, 42

[55] Positio II, 501

[56] Pre00. 12

[57] Duc68, 24

[58] Mod, 01

[59] Ale70, 65-6

[60] Pre00, 12

[61] Con01, 19

[62] Fer10, 50

[63] Ale010, 15-6

[64] Ale70, 14

[65] Pre00, 12

[66] Ruf91, 27

[67] Ruf91, 27

[68] Con01, 38

[69] Duc68, 24-5

[70] Con01, 38

[71] Duc68, 28

[72] Con01, 19

[73] Ale010, 13

[74] Cap12, 93

[75] Pre00, 16

[76] Leo76, 54-5

[77] Ale70, 31

[78] Fer10, 42

[79] McG85, 52

[80] Per02, 31

[81] Ale70, 32

[82] Pre00, 13

[83] Fer10, 43

[84] McG85, 54-5

[85] Ruf91, 31

[86] Lin76, 113

[87] Ruf91,34

[88] Cap12, 112

[89] Con01, 41

[90] Epist. IV, 934

[91] Win88, 54

[92] Mor73, 1

[93] Pas68, 12

[94] Gig65, 26-7

[95] Cap12, 95

[96] Ruf91, 30

[97] Cap12, 94

[98] Per02, 32-33

[99] Leo76, 75-6

[100] Ing75, 7-8

[101] Pre00, 15-6

[102][102] Positio II, 501

[103] Cap12, 96

[104] McG85, 68 note

[105] Cap12, 96

[106] Ruf91, 32

[107] Con01, 38

[108] McG85, 73-4

[109] Gig65, 22-3

[110] Con01, 31

[111] Del62, 18

[112] Con01, 37

[113] Con01, 31-7

[114] Del62, 25

[115] Ale70, 37-8

[116] Sal01, 28

[117] Ruf91, 33

[118] Pre00, 13-4

[119] Cap12, 113-4

[120] Fer08, 46

[121] Cov07, 99-100

[122] Mal02, picture 6 of photo insert.

[123] Ruf91, 407

[124] Gia12,21

[125] Cap12, 58-9

[126] Pre98, 23

[127] McG81, 83

[128] Pre00, 16

[129] Pre00, 16

[130] Con01, 38

[131] Positio II, 502

[132] Fer10, 45

[133] Per02, 39

[134] Ruf91, 30

[135] Fer10, 46

[136] Leo76, 71-2

[137] Ruf99, 30

[138] Fer10, 45

[139] Fer10, 46

[140] McG85, 68-9

[141] Fer10, 46

[142] DeR08, 17

[143] Nap76, 16

[144] Per02, 48-9

[145] Gig65, 23

[146] Del62, 20

[147] Mor73, 2

[148] Cap12, 98

[149] Mult99, 17

[150] Nap76, 17

[151] Per02, 138

[152] Fer10, 349

[153] Pas50, 11

[154] Con01, 18

[155] Ale010, 12

[156] Del62,13-4

[157] Ruf91, 36

[158] Reg05, 6-10

[159] Per02, 50

[160] Per02, 49

[161] Mul99, 12

[162] Gia12, 22

[163] Pre00, 15

[164] Epist. I, 471

[165] Gig65,24

[166] Del62, 22

[167] Fer10, 47

[168] Mor73, 3-4

[169] McG65, 67-8

[170] Fernando, 44-5

[171] Mul99, 37

[172] Duc68, 26

[173] Cap12, 99

[174] Leo76, 28

[175] Positio I/1, 604

[176] Epist. IV, 933-4

[177] Chi99, 27

[178] Epist. I, 1008

[179] Epist. I, 1009

[180] Epist. I, 1010

[181] Epist. I, 1280-4

[182] Ago12, 53

[183] Epist. I, 1280-2

[184] Epist. I, 1283-4

[185] Epist. I, 1284

[186] Cap12, 8

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