Padre Pio back in Pietrelcina

     From 1910 to 1916 Padre Pio spent most of his time in poor health at home in Pietrelcina. Since he was ordained and was inappropriate for him to live in the family home, instead of the convent, the parents prepared for him a single room up on a steep flight of stair, called "La Torretta" (the little tower). It was located close to his parents in Crooked Valley Lane 1.
La Torretta (The little tower) is a one room dwelling, to which one can get climbing steep stairs. A table, a bed, a window.
     It was very hard for Padre Pio in poor health to climb the steep steps of La Torretta.
 The last picture shows La Torretta as it was at the times of Padre Pio living there.
  Nearby in Via Sant'Anna 2, there was the maternal house, were the Forgiones lived in their first year of marriage.
  Above the maternal house, with the entrance in Via Sant'Anna 44, there was the home of Padre Pio's brother Michele, empty because he had temporarily migrated to America. It had a lower room and an upper room. Padre Pio moved to the upper room from La Torretta.
              In this room Padre Pio wrote letters to his spiritual directors, had frequent apparitions of Jesus and other heavenly beings, and was tormented by the devil with multiple temptations.
     The archpriest Salvatore Pannullo spent many evenings visiting with Padre Pio. He reported some of what he saw. The first letter when opened was totally illegible (the devil had stained it). They sprinkled holy water and put a Crucifix on it. After that it was still stained, but legible. Pannullo called in his niece Grazia, who was a teacher, and she was able to read every word of it. Few years later, on August 25, 1919 gave the written sworn statement explaining what happened. 
The last picture shows another stained letter, written in French to Padre Pio by is spiritual director to see if it was true what Padre Pio claimed that the Guardian Angel translated the letters for him. The Guardian Angel translated it to him, despite the stains, and Padre Pio wrote back to his spiritual director about the content of the letter.
The lower room was used by Mary Pyle from October 1941 to December 1943, to oversee the construction of the convent and church of the Holy Family.
          Padre Pio lived in "Rione Castello" (Castle district), a medieval conglomerate of dwellings built on a elevation called "La Morgia." When he was in San Giovanni Rotondo he would say to the visitors from Pietrelcina "Say hi to La Morgia."



  Saint Mary of the Angels

  On August 14, 1910 Padre Pio celebrated his 'First Solemn Mass in the parish church of Our Lady of the Angels in Pietrelcina'.

    Padre Agostino said in the sermon: “You are in poor health so you can’t be a preacher. I wish you to be a great confessor.”

    He was a prophet.
  During his stay in Pietrelcina celebrated Mass in the parish church of Saint Mary of the angels, were he also helped with the confessions and other sacred functions. He had numerous ecstasies during Mass, and also experienced the mystical fusion of the hearths with Jesus, as he reported in a letter on April 18, 1912:"The heart of Jesus and mine were no more two hearts beating, but only one. My heart had disappeared , like a drop of water disappearing in the ocean."
  In the church there is a reliquary with relics of Padre Pio.
  In the church is venerated the Madonna della Libera, the patron saint of Pietrelcina, with huge yearly celebrations. 
  These pictures are from the times of Padre Pio.
The Madonna della Libera was adorned with gold donated by the faithful, and taken in procession through the streets of Pietrelcina.
The last picture was taken on December 3, 1921.



Padre Pio on his way to Piana Romana

           The "Pantaniello" well is located in the very center of Pietrelcina. Padre Pio passed frequently by it.
                   Porta Madonnella was the old medieval entrance to Pietrelcina. The religious ensemble has the Madonna at the center, and St. Michael and St. Anthony on the sides. Padre Pio stopped by frequently, and gathered people reciting the Rosary with them. It may be considered the birthplace of Padre Pio's "Prayer Groups".
                  To get to Piana Romana it takes about an hour of a steep walk on a dirt lane.   Padre Pio walked it in childhood to pray and graze the sheep, and later as a Capuchin friar to pray and meditate on Jesus Passion.
    A view of Pietrelcina from the road to Piana Romana.
Padre Pio had to pass through a little bridge "Il ponticello" were he frequently found standing the devils trying to scare him.



Piana Romana

    In Piana Romana the Forgiones had their patch of land to cultivate, and a one room "Masseria" were they kept the tools and slept when needed.
             On the property there were two large stones that Padre Pio called "Il Seggiolone" (the high chair, or the big chair). Padre Pio spent many hours kneeling or sitting on them in meditation and prayer.
           In Piana Romana Padre Pio's father built a shelter, under an elm tree, so that he could spend in the shade the many hours of prayer.  On September 20, 1918 Padre Pio received the permanently visible Wounds, In San Giovanni Rotondo.

 In reality he had received the Wounds years before. On the afternoon of September 7, 1910, few weeks after being ordained priest, while he was praying under the elm tree, Jesus and Mary appeared and gave him the wounds. Padre Pio considered always September 7, 1910, the date he received the wounds.

                   A chapel has been built around the stump of the elm tree.

Salvatore Pannullo, pastor of the Parish in Pietrelcina testified that in 1910 Padre Pio showed him the wounds and told him : "Father, do me a favor. Let's ask Jesus to take them away. I want to suffer, to die from suffering, but in secret." They prayed together, and God answered their prayer. The wounds disappeared and the suffering continued. When Pannullo was told in 1918 that the wounds had appeared on Padre Pio, he replied: You see the now. I saw them in 1910."  

In a letter to fra Benedetto, his spiritual director, dated September 8, 1910, Padre Pio wrote: "Yesterday evening some red spots appeared in the middle of my hands with sharp pain." When years later Padre Pio recalled those events he would say: "Jesus has been there. All has happened there."

    The remains of the elm tree, damaged by souvenir seekers, before the chapel was built around it,
      A large church has been built in the area of the "Masseria Forgione".
  One day Zi' Grazio was digging a well, but he couldn't find water. Francesco told him that if he wanted to find water he had to dig in a different spot, indicating it to him. Zi' Grazio did, and the water came out.
      The Forgiones' piece of land.



Military service

  The group picture shows the Company of Padre Pio in military uniform. Padre Pio is at the far lower right.
  On November 6, 1915 Padre Pio was drafted, at age 28. On December 6, 1915 the recruit #12094, was assigned to the 10th Company of Health in Naples. On December 17, 1915 a medical consultation diagnoses 'pulmonary infiltration', and grants 1 year of convalescent leave.        
    He served in the Italian Army from 1915 to 1918. He spent most of the time on sick leave.   
  Padre Pio's health was not good. On  October 1911, after a physical examination by the famous dr. Antonio Cardarelli in Naples, he was sent for convalescence to Venafro.
  According to the diagnosis of the celebrated physician, the young friar's days were numbered, and he couldn't travel long distances, which is why he was sent to Venafro location of the closest convent.  
During the month and a half stay in the convent of San Nicandro, October - November 1911,  the community noticed the first supernatural phenomena: divine ecstasies lasting up to one hour, and diabolic apparitions lasting a few minutes.
            In Venafro, from Padre Agostino's diary: 'Starting in November 1911, I was present with Padre. Evangelista, the superior of the monastery, for a considerable number of ecstasies, and many instances of demonic oppression." Satan would appear as a nude woman dancing lewdly, as is spiritual father, as his superior, pope Pius X, his guardian angel, St. Francis, the Virgin Mary, and also as the horrible self, with an army of demonic spirits.  At times there were no apparitions but he was beaten until he bled, tormented with deafening noises, covered with spit. He was able to free himself from the torments by calling on the name of Jesus."
        Padre Pio always distinguished the devil's apparitions from the heavenly visions by asking: "Say Long Live Jesus."  (Ripeti 'Viva Gesù). If it was the devil, he would disappear.
   This picture was taken in Venafro as a keep-sake memento, when it was believed that Padre Pio's days were numbered.
He was 24 years old.
  High fevers

Padre Pio had long bouts of high fevers, followed by normal temperatures. Padre Pio himself described the experience as a "moral, rather than a physical, illness" and said it was like he was  "in a furnace, still always conscious". A friar attested that "even under the strain of this fever, Padre Pio is not knocked down, but gets up, moves about, and can do everything." The body temperature was taken by mercury thermometer, today no longer in common use. Normal body temperature is 98.2°F (or 36.8°C). A temperature at or above about 104 °F (40 °C) requires treatment.

Dr. Giorgio Festa in 1920 took Padre Pio's temperature as part of his investigation. The reading was 48.5 C .  In 1921 Father Lorenzo, superior of the convent, testified under oath to Mons. Rossi that he was skeptical, and had personally witnessed and recorded Padre Pio with fevers of 43C (109.4F) degrees Fahrenheit, then 45C (113F) degrees, and finally 48C (118.4F) degrees.


On December 1915 at the Trinity Military Hospital in Naples, during a routine physical, Padre Pio's temperature was taken by dr. Giuseppe Grieco,

lieutenant medical doctor in the Italian Army,  with a armpit mercury thermometer. In less than one minute the thermometer cracked, having gone over the maximum temperature of 42C (107.6). Three other thermometers cracked the same way. Dr. Grieco called in a colleague dr. Francesco Melle. They decided to try with a bath thermometer, removed from the casing that could read up to 80C (176F).  The thermometer read 48C (118.4). They couldn't believe it, so they tried with a laboratory precision thermometer. This time the temperature was 49C (120.2).

They decided to inform the captain prof. dr. Felice D'Onofrio, chief of medical services. He came in, measured again, and the reading was 49C.

"This is a mystery. This is impossible. I can't believe my eyes. He should be in agony. This man is either a saint or a devil." He prescribed quinine and went to see him in the morning. He took again the temperature and was 36.7C (98.06). "I don't understand anything. Let's send him home to die in peace." He gave him a year of medical leave.

  On February 17, 1916 Padre Pio went to the convent of St. Ann Foggia.
      He visited daily the spiritual daughter donna Raffaelina Cerase, gravely ill, until she died on March 26, 1916.
      The room of Padre Pio in the Saint Anna's convent.
At the convent Padre Pio continued to feel sick: vomiting, sudden sweats, dizziness, and a very high fever. At night, terrifying noises came from his room. They ended with a boom that would shake the walls and terrorize the other friars. He wrote to Padre Benedetto that it was the devil who, unable to win, exploded in fits of rage. 


      Statue and relics of Padre Pio in the church in Foggia.
     Padre Pio stayed in Foggia until September 4, 1916.   On that day he moved to the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo.
On December 18, 1916 he returns to the Military hospital. On December 30, 1916, new medical consultation. He was granted 6 months of sick leave.   On September 4, 1917, he started training in the Military Hospital of Naples. On November 5, 1917, 6 more months of medical leave. 
  Discharge from the Italian Army
  On March 6, 1918, Padre Pio went back in the military hospital, after a year of sick leave.
 On March 16, 1918 he was discharged for medical reason for "double broncho alveolitis."
  Padre Pio's certificate of honorable discharge from the Italian Army.
    The last picture shows Colonel Iannetta  from Benevento military district of he Italian Army donating to the friars in Pietrelcina the original transcript of Padre Pio's military service.  


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