26.  The last day of Padre Pio  (with video)

 

Sunday, September 22, 1968 [1] [2] [3]

 

 

Last Mass

It was the starting day of the First International Convention of Prayer Groups. Many thousands of people gathered in town. Padre Pio sang a High Mass, and the church was full at the usual time of 5:00 AM. The church was full to capacity. Padre Pio was in a wheelchair pushed by Padre Pellegrino and Padre Raffaele.[4]

 

Padre Pio was helped at the altar by Padre Onorato da San Giovanni Rotondo as deacon, by Padre Valentino da San Giovanni Rotondo as sub deacon, and by Padre Paolo Covino as master of ceremonies, coordinating the celebrants and the altar boys.[5]

 

Whit the accompanying organ, the ‘scola cantorum’ sung “The Missa Jucunda” of Franco Vittadini. Padre Pio sang appropriately all the parts that he had to. His voice was tired and frail. The faithful had to strain to hear his feeble, quavering voice.

When the Mass was ended, the congregation broke into cheers of “Viva Padre Pio! Auguri Padre Pio!” [6]

 

Elia Stelluto did a video recording of last Mass of Padre Pio. He also took several pictures. There were no wounds on Padre Pio during last Mass.[7]

 

As Padre Pio was helped down from the altar, his legs gave way entirely, and he was about to fall to the ground when brother Bill, and Padre Paolo, who were nearby, run to the rescue and hugged him from the back holding him steadily to prevent the fall.

 As he was wheeled into the sacristy he looked around and kept saying feebly: “My children! My children!”[8] [9] [10]

 

 

 

Video of The last Mass of Padre Pio

 

This video shows Padre Pio celebrating an High Mass.

The title is "L'ultima Messa di Padre Pio". The comment in Italian is not intrusive.

 

The Mass was celebrated on September 22, 1968. A "Messa Cantata Solenne",

a solemn Tridentine Mass, was said in Latin, and several parts were sung.

 

The celebrant had two assistants, a deacon and a subdiacon.

It lasted more than one hour. 

It started around 11:00 AM and terminated after Noon.

 

This home video shows little more that eight minutes of the event.

Padre Pio died 14 hours later., at 2:30 AM on September 23, 1968.

 

The Mass was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the visible wounds /stigmata.

Many thousands of people were in town for the

First International Convention of the Prayer Groups.

 

This video is an authentic gem, even if it is at low resolution, given the age.

The sound of the bells, the organ, the singing choir, the assembly that filled the church,

the frail voice of Padre Pio all is authentic as it happened.

 

Some observations about what you see in the video:

 

That day Padre Pio was not feeling well and was very weak.

He drags himself and is held by both arms.

 

For the past six months he had used a wheel chair to go around,

but now he wanted to stand on his own for the occasion.

 

In the same timeframe he had been permitted to celebrate Mass sitting, instead of standing.

He celebrated at a altar, facing the assembly.

 

He sings the words "Gloria in excelsis Deo". Glory to God in the highest.

He also sings the "Oremus", the long Oration of the day.

 

Then the deacon reads the gospel of the Annunciation.

Padre Pio intones "Credo in unum Deum." I believe in one God.

 

He is helped to go to the altar, where he sits to continue the celebration.

When he raises the paten for the offertory, and when he raises the chalice,

one can see that the wounds have disappeared.

 

The video jumps to the end of the Mass, where Padre Pio sings:

"Dominus vobiscum. Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus,

Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus"

The Lord be with you.

May the almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

Then the deacon sings "Ite Missa est" .Go, the Mass is ended.

And the assembly responds "Deo Gratias". Thanks be to God.

 

While the organ plays a joyous finale, Padre Pio tries to leave the altar,

but he has no more energy, and is about to fall to the ground, and the crowd gets loudly agitated,

and the organ stops playing, and the gigantic American friar Bill Martin runs to the rescue,

and holds Padre Pio in a solid bear hug, until he is deposited on a wheel chair,

and taken to the sacristy.

The organ resumes playing.

The last Mass of Padre Pio 08:36

 

 

After last Mass

Padre Pio made his thanksgiving as usual in the sacristy, and then started into the church to hear the confessions of men. But after about a dozen of confessions he had to be helped back. He was taken to the elevator and returned to his room.[11]

 

Brother Bill was alone with him, ready to help if needed. He reported that, while there was a great silence in the corridor and the other rooms, Padre Pio suddenly broke and interrupted that silent atmosphere, and “in a loud and unusually strong voice he recited the Our Father”. A little later he received in his room his nephew Ettore Masone, who brought his five years old son, Pio. Padre Pio told his little grandnephew: “You carry my name. I want you to live up to it. Understand?”[12]

 

Timeline

After an 8:00 a.m. Mass the crypt of the church of St. Mary of Graces was blessed by Padre Clemente da Santa Maria in Punta.[13]

 

Around 10:30 AM Padre Pio appeared at the window of the old choir to bless the crowd. The people were waving handkerchiefs and crying “Viva Padre Pio”.[14]

 

At noon he had lunch of a bit of pasta and spinach in his room.[15]

 

At about 11:00 AM , there was the ceremony of laying of the first stone for the monumental Way of the Cross by Padre Clemente da Santa Maria in Punta, Apostolic Administrator.[16]

 

At six Padre Pio asked to be taken to the balcony overlooking the big church, were Mass was celebrated. After Mass he barely had the strength to lift his arm to bless the people. He went back to his room where he waved his handkerchief to an immense crowd who stood with torches and candles in their hands.[17]

 

He told Padre Raffaele: “I belong more to the other world than to this one. Pray to Our Lord that I might die.” Seeing Padre Pio in terrible pain, Padre Raffaele summoned dr. Bruno Pavoni from the Casa Sollievo asking why he was not given a pain med. “He doesn’t want it” replied dr. Pavone. Padre Raffaele went back to Padre Pio, bended over, and kissed and embraced him.  Padre Pio reached out, embraced him, and returned the kiss. He said: “Thanks for everything.  May the Lord reward you for your love.”[18]

 

 

The last five hours of Padre Pio

The account of Padre Pio’s last hours is best told in the words of Padre Pellegrino, the friar whose turn it was to assist him that night.[19]

 

Padre Pellegrino

Padre Pellegrino came on duty at 9 PM, relieving Padre Mariano. Padre Pellegrino later gave a audiotaped account of the events of that night. They are reported below.[20]

 

 The friars that helped him used in turn the adiacent cell. When Padre Pio needed help he used to press the button of a buzzer, and the friar would run to him. Padre Pellegrino testified that that night “he pressed the button about six or seven times between nine and midnight. He continually asked what time it was. He was in bet bud couldn’t sleep. His eyes were red for crying. It was a sweet and serene weeping.”

 

Midnight

“At midnight, like a scared boy he begged me “Stay with me, my son”, and continued to ask the time. And that he said “Boy, did you say Mass?” Padre Pellegrino replied “It is too early to say Mass.” And Padre Pio said: “Well, today you will say Mass for me.”

 

After that Padre Pio asked to confess, and at the end he told Padre Pellegrino: “My son, if the Lord today calls me, ask all the friars on my behalf to forgive me for putting them to great inconvenience; and ask my brother friars and my spiritual children for a prayer for my soul.”

 

Then Padre Pellegrino asked for a blessing for the friars, the spiritual children, and the sick people in the “Casa Sollievo.” Padre Pio: “Yes, I bless all of them; or better still ask the Superior to give himself in my name this last blessing.”

Then Padre Pio renewed his religious profession.

 

1:00 AM

Padre Pellegrino: “At 1 o’ clock Padre Pio told me: “Listen, my son, her in bed I’m not breathing well. Let me get up. In the chair I will breathe better.” “He got up and before sitting in the easy chair he said “Let’s go on the terrace,” “To my astonishment he was walking straight and steady like a young fellow, and there was no need for me to hold his arm. After five minutes on the terrace he returned the old heavy man and asked to go back to his cell.”

 

“Back in the cell he became pale, and the forehead was dripping a cold sweat, and the lips started getting blue, and he would say continuously: “Gesu’, Maria. Gesu’, Maria”, with a voice getting more and more feeble. I wanted to call for help, but he said: “Don’t wake up anybody.” I tried to leave him to run for help, and he said again: “Don’t wake up anybody.” I said: “now I have to go.” And I run to call Padre Mariano, and Fra’ Guglielmo, and the other friars, and I called doctor Sala on the phone, and he was in the room in about ten minutes.”

 

“Dr. Sala gave Padre Pio an injection to improve the cardiac activity. Padre Pio continued to pronounce in a very feeble voice: “Gesu’, Maria. Gesu’, Maria”, while holding the Rosary in his hands. Dr. Sala called on the phone Mario Pennelli, the son in law of Padre Pio, dr. Gusso and dr. Giovanni Scarale. In the meantime I had called the guardian, Padre Mariano, and all the other friars.”

 

Last Rites

“Padre Paolo Covino da San Giovanni Rotondo administered the absolution “sub conditione”, the last rites, and the apostolic benediction, while all the friars were kneeling in prayer.”

 

 

Padre Pio in his cell, sitting on the same chair where he died

2:30 AM

At approximately 2:30 AM of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio gently bent the head on his chest. He had passed away, seated in his armchair.[21] [22]

 

In Padre Pio’s room were Padre Carmelo Di Donato da San Giovanni in Galdo, Padre Pellegrino Funicelli, Padre Mariano Paladino, Padre Raffaele D’Addario da Sant’Elia a Pianisi, fra’ Joseph Martin and other friars; dr. Giuseppe Sala, dr. Giuseppe Gusso, and Dr. Giovanni Scarale.[23]

 

The stigmata

Padre Pellegrino: “During the last Mass, from the hands of Padre Pio fell two scabs, almost perfectly white.[24]

 

Padre Carmelo, superior of the convent: “The last two-three months of life, the wounds slowly closed, with decreased quantity of blood discharged. At his death, the wound were completely healed without any trace of scars.[25]

 

Dr. Rina Giordanelli: “The last few month during Mass I noticed that the back of the hands of Padre Pio became white and smooth. The palm of the hands was pink. I kept telling God: “Why did you heal his wounds?””[26]

 

 

Padre Giacomo

Padre Giacomo Piccirillo da Montemarano took pictures of the wounds. The hands, the feet, the side had no more wounds. The skin was completely normal. There were no signs of scars.[27]

 

Padre Giacomo Piccirillo

 

Padre Giacomo: “Padre Carmelo, the superior, ordered me to take the camera and go to the cell #1. It was about 2:40 AM when I took the pictures. The superior uncovered the sites of the wounds and I started shooting. I was surprised there were no wounds. The camera I had was a Kodak plus X pan. Afterwards I removed the film and gave it to the Padre superior.” [28]

 Palm right hand      Back right hand

 

Palm left hand      Back left hand

 

 

         Two pictures of the chest. No sign of the side wound.

 

   Right foot             Left foot              Soles of the feet

 

 

 

Michele Miglionico

 

 

About 30 minutes after the death of Padre Pio,  the artists Francesco Paolo Fiorentino and Michele Miglionico were called to the convent by Padre Carmelo, the superior, and were asked to do a cast of Padre Pio's face. They concluded that, given the circumstances, it was impossible to do it, and opted instead for a charcoal drawing. Fiorentino started, but he was too emotioned, and the pencil fell off his hand. Miglionico took over, and did the above drawing.

 

 

 

 

Padre Joseph Martin: “Padre Pio is a prayer away from us.”[29]

 

  

 

The funeral of Padre Pio

              

              

 

 

Video of the Funeral of Padre Pio  8:05

Padre Pio died, but he is not ended.

He said: “After my death I will be able to do much more.”

And that is what’s happening.

The enormous treasury accumulated through a lifetime of unconditional love for God, 58 years of wounds, endless sufferings,

millions of rosaries, eminently mystical Masses, continuous re-living of the Passion,

all of these things keep flowing abundantly around the globe, just for the asking. 

The rest is up to us.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Covino, Paolo (2007). Ricordi e testimonianze. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Cov07

Flumeri, Gerardo da (1995). Le stigmate di Padre Pio, Testimonianze e relazioni. Edizioni Padre Pio. Ger95

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

Iasenzaniro, M. (2007). Charismatic priest. Testimonies. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Ias07

Morcaldi, C. (2013). La mia vita vicino a Padre Pio. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Casa Sollievo. Mor13

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

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

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

Schug, J. O. (1987). A Padre Pio Profile. Petersham, MA: St. Bede's Publications. Sch87

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

    Return to front page       27. PERFECT VICTIM   

 



[1] Per02, 569-580

[2] Reg05, 248-260

[3] Ruf91, 373-378

[4] Gia12, 415

[5] Cov07, 200

[6] Gia12, 415

[7] Gia12, 517

[8] Win88, 180

[9] Cle87, 155

[10] Cov07, 200

[11] Gia12, 417

[12] Ruf91, 374-5

[13] Cov07, 200

[14] Ruf91, 375

[15] Ruf91, 375

[16] Cov07, 200

[17] Gia12, 717-8

[18] Ruf91, 375

[19] Ing78, 156-9

[20] Gia12, 418-21

[21] Win88, 181-3

[22] Cov07, 204

[23] Cov07, 204

[24] Ger95, 124

[25] Ger95, 116

[26] Ger95, 142-3

[27] Sch87, 4

[28] Flu95, 131-3

[29] Ias07, 660