23    Padre  Pio's poetry and humor






Mary Ingoldsby: ”Padre Pio wasn’t a literary genius. There is no literary stile in his Letters, although at times he is like a poet, lyrical in the way he launches out into a description. But in his later letters he says things that are literary gems.”[1]


“The halcyon is a little bird that nests on the beach. He builds the nest in a round shape, so tightly compressed, that water cannot permeate it. The nest has an opening on top, so that the little birds can breathe fresh air. The nests are able to float without sinking or filling with seawater. Those little balls never overturn. Your hearts may be similar, tight on every side, so that they are not penetrated by the storms of the world, of the flesh, and of the devil. And there be only the opening on top to breathe and aspirate Jesus.”[2]

“You should be like the oranges of Genoa’s Riviera. They are the whole year full of fruits, flowers, and leaves.”[3]

“It is very easy to row a boat when it is not shaken by winds. But it is very difficult to do it when the winds are blowing.”[4]

“Scruples are like tight shoes. You can’t walk in them. Despise them.”[5]

“Our body is like a donkey. We beat him, but with some consideration.  Otherwise he throws himself on the ground and will not carry us anymore.”[6]


"Drowning on high seas or chocking on a glass of water has death as the same outcome."[7] [8]


“With repeated strokes of stone-chisel, and diligent polishing, the divine artist prepares the stones that will be used to build the eternal building.”[9] [10]

“How can a physician heal a sore or a wound if you don’t show it to him?”[11]

"The tall ears of grain are vain and empty; the ones bent to the ground are humble and laden with grain."[12]  [13]  [14]


“I act as they do at harvest time: they beat the sheaves to separate the wheat from the straw. Then they winnow the wheat to eliminate the straw and leave the wheat behind.”[15]

"The mom teaches the child walking by supporting him. But later he has to walk by himself."[16]


"In the spiritual life, the faster we run, the less tired we feel."[17]


"Unable to take big steps be content with little steps, until you have the legs to run; or wings to fly."[18]


'Keep going forward. If you stop, the wind will blow you back."[19]


"As the pearls are held together by the thread, thus the virtues by charity"[20]


“The pearls fall when the thread breaks, thus the virtues are lost if charity diminishes."[21]


“Do not care about tomorrow. Do good deeds today. And when tomorrow comes, it will be called today, and then you will care about it.”[22]


“Be confident in the Providence. Like the people of Israel in the desert, it’s necessary to stock up manna for one day only.”(Ex.16,33).[23]


Pietruccio the blind: “Padre Pio wanted that I confessed every eight days. He used to say: “A housewife who has a beautiful piece of furniture, she dusts it every day. She always finds e speck of dust. We must do the same with our souls.””[24]

“What should we say looking at a poor peasant intent in observing a river flowing at great speed? Maybe we would laugh at him, and with good reason. It is a folly to fix our gaze on something that is rapidly passing. This is the state of a person fixing his eye on visible things.”[25] [26]

“What should we say looking at a poor peasant intent in observing a river flowing at great speed? Maybe we would laugh at him, and with good reason. It is a folly to fix our gaze on something that is rapidly passing. This is the state of of a person fixing his eye on visible things.”[27] [28]

Padre Pio told Katharina Tangari: “Every Christian denomination in the world feeds off of the Catholic Church. Our Holy Catholic Church is like a great and extremely precious unpolished diamond, from which every so often somebody takes a particle and polishes it – not without the help of the evil one – so that it begins to shine better than the great unpolished diamond. And this shine draws men, dazzles them and deceives them, so that the particle necessarily is worn out and comes to nothing. This is the game of deception, which appears and reappears with time. Jesus warned us to watch out for it.”[29]


To Padre Benedetto, March 26, 1914: “For some time the Lord God has given to my soul very big gifts… To my soul happens what would happen to a poor shepherd if he was introduced to a royal room, where are an endless number of precious things; things that he has never seen before. When the shepherd gets out, he will certainly have in the eyes of his mind all the objects, beautiful and precious, but he will not be able to tell their number, nor to give them their proper name. He would like to tell others of what he has seen; he would collect all of his intellectual and scientific knowledge to do well so; but seeing that all of his efforts wouldn’t be able to have him understood, he prefers better to be silent.”[30]







Padre Pio singing the Italian song "Mamma" (Mommy)


Padre Pio surprising a child



Padre Pio’s quips are difficult to translate because they were expressed in the Neapolitan dialect of the countryside and very often was involved a play on words.


Padre Pio’s statements:

"Keep an attitude of holy joyousness that gives encouragement to others."

"When I am dead I will make an even bigger din than when I was alive."



Shorts, and short sleeves, even on children, were not accepted around Padre Pio.

To a man going to confession in short sleeves he said: “Either you lengthen the sleeves or shorten your arms.”[31]


2 clowns

Two nursing students in miniskirts were told that if they wanted to confess to Padre Pio they needed to wear longer clothes. They did, and looking in the mirror one of them said: “We just look like clowns.” When Padre Pio arrived, looking at the line of people waiting, told the friar who was accompanying him: “I am not going to confess those two clowns.”[32]



A girl in miniskirt was told that a longer dress was needed to confess to Padre Pio. She went to a store with her mom to buy appropriate clothes. Looking at herself in the mirror on a new dress she said: “If my boyfriend could see me he would think I was a clown.” When her turn came and the grate opened she heard: “Go away! I don’t confess clowns.”[33]


Countess Rina Telfner was wearing a hat. Padre Pio: “Do you think you are prettier with that thing on your head?” She stopped wearing hats.[34]


The horse

In the early days, at least in one occasion, Padre Pio, in good humor, force Padre Paolino, the superior of the convent, to share the responsibility for “making miracles”. A peasant knocked at the friary door. Padre Pio opened, and a peasant asked for “the friar who works miracles”. Padre Pio led him to Padre Paolino’s room and remained outside eavesdropping. The peasant told Padre Paolino: “You know everything. My horse has been stolen. You have to tell me who stole it.” Padre Paolino replied: “The proverb says: ‘He who knows your habits goes in and robs.’” The peasant left, and returned eight days later with a present of cheese for Padre Paolino. He told him: “When I got back home I thought over your words and singled out who could know my habits. I went to his house and said: ‘You stole my horse. The friar that works miracles told me.’ At these words he gave me back my horse.” Padre Paolino would often joke with Padre Pio: “You are not the only one to work miracles.”[35]


A fool

Cleonice Morcaldi told Padre Pio: ‘Padre, you suffer so much because you had the imprudence of offering yourself for the whole humanity’. Padre Pio: “Well, a fool was needed for this.”[36] [37]



In 1916 Padre Pio was talking at a meeting of Franciscan tertiaries at the Ventrella home. A goldfinch in the cage interrupted him with a persistent chirping. Padre Pio said: “Quiet! Listen you too!” The bird stopped, and resumed only when Padre Pio was leaving the meeting.[38]



Dr. Nicola Centra and several other people were conversing with Padre Pio in the garden on a summer afternoon. They couldn’t hear each other because many birds were singing on the trees. Padre Pio turned towards the trees and said: “Enough now.” Dr. Centra later reported: “The birds obeyed to Padre Pio.”[39]


Sugar almond (confetto)

A friar offered to Padre Pio a sugared almond. He accepted it and started chewing it. He was then accompanied towards the sacristy to hear the confession of men. When they reached the door he said: “Don’t open the door yet. Let me finish this candy. Otherwise they will say: ‘What kind of saint is this, if he eats candies?’” [40]


The ox

Carlo Campanini told his doctor in Florence: Tomorrow I'm going to see Padre Pio. The doctor replied: ‘He is a hysterical who got the wound by thinking too much about Jesus on the Cross.’

When Campanini visited Padre Pio, he told him: "When you see your doctor, tell him to think intensely about being an ox. Let's see if he grows horns."[41]



Padre Bernardo showed a letter to Padre Pio. Reading the address, he said: “Pio, You need to respect me. They just made me cardinal. The address says ‘His Eminence Padre Bernardo.” Padre Pio’ “You have to respect me more than that, this one beats You”. Padre Pio showed him an envelope addressed to “Holy Father Pio da Pietrelcina”.[42]


Butchers and thieves

There was a discussion on who is more important and gets precedence over the other, the doctors or the lawyers. The pope suggested: “Let’s do the same as they do when they hung a person: “Praecedant carnefices, sequantur latrones” As to say: ‘The executioners (doctors) go first, and they are followed by the thieves (attorneys).”"Who enters first, the doctors or the lawyer? The butchers enter first, and then the thieves.”[43] (In short, the doctors are butchers, and the lawyers thieves.)


Crackling voice

Carlo Campanini  joined the choir, after Padre Pio’s evening prayers, in singing a hymn to Mary. The refrain was ‘To the Heaven I will go to see her one day.” Carlo’s voice was a bit crackling. Back in the sacristy Padre Pio told Carlo: “Hey you, when it comes to getting to Heaven you always have a bit of a struggle don’t you?”[44]


Three things

“Three things are useless: washing a donkey’s head, adding water to the ocean, and preaching to nuns, friars, and priests.”[45]


Holy Father

Fra Modestino reported: “One day Padre Pio was coming out of the sacristy, and a woman came to him and asked: “Where is the Holy Father?” Padre Pio answered: “The Holy Father is in Rome.” Padre Pio entered the door of the friary and left. The woman asked me: “Were his the Holy Father?” I told her: “You were just talking to him.”[46]


Long sermon

A priest celebrated Mass and preached the sermon. Padre Pio was in the audience. After Mass he asked Padre Pio: “What do you think of my sermon?” Padre Pio: “Good, but if you kept on much longer you’d be talking to yourself.”[47]


“What should say to my sister Rose?” “Tell her to become a carnation.”[48]


“Padre Pio, will you take me to Paradise, even you will have to grab me by the hair?” Padre Pio: “I might need to grab you by the neck, because you will have so little hair!”[49]



“Frederick Barbarossa (Holy roman Emperor of the 12th century) went to a monastery and said to the superior: “I will come back a year from now, and if you don’t know the answer to three questions I will destroy your monastery. The first question was: “What is the distance between the earth and the moon?” The second “What is my worth as an emperor?” The third was: “What I am thinking now?” The superior was desperate, but the cook said to him: “Don’t worry, I will answer those questions.” The year passed, the cook put on the vestments of the superior, and Barbarossa came back. “Do you have the answers?” “Yes, sire.”

“What is the distance?’. The cook gave an enormous cipher. “How do you know?” “I measured it, and if you don’t believe it, measure it yourself.” “All right! What is my worth?” “Judas sold our lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. You must be worth a little less than him, let’s say twenty eight.” “All right. Now what am I thinking?” “You are thinking that you are speaking to the superior when instead you are speaking to the cook!”[50]


The key

 Padre Pio used to tell a story: "One day Our Lord making rounds of Paradise saw some strange faces. He asked Peter: Who let these people in? Peter:  “Nothing to do with me.”  The Lord: 'But you have the key.' Peter: 'There is nothing I can do, and you can't do either.' The Lord: 'What do you mean?'  'It's your mother. Every time she finds my back turned, she opens the gate and lets somebody in.”[51] [52]


Saint Joseph

“St. Peter saw a man that should not have been in Paradise. He asked: “Who let you in?” The man answered: “St. Joseph did.” St. Joseph told  St. Peter: “He was a carpenter, so I let him in.” St. Peter: “No exceptions, he has to leave.” St. Joseph: “If that is the case, Mary get the child and  let’s leave.” St. Peter, afraid to lose them said: “Did you say carpenter? Now I remember. There is an exception for carpenters!”[53] [54]




A drunken looking at a caterpillar: “Oh Lord, why did you give so many feet to this little thing, and only two to me who am unable to stand?” [55]  [56]



When Padre Pio had to be operated of hernia in 1925, he refused anesthesia. Dr. Festa convinced him to take a little glass of Benedictine liqueur. He did reluctantly have a sip of it. When asked to drink a little more of it, he told dr. Festa: “That’s enough, otherwise we will have a confrontation between the Benedictine and the Capuchin.”[57]



Padre Pio had not been feeling well and the friars tried to convince him to go some few days inpatient in Casa Sollievo. He said: “What do you think the doctors know!” “But you have created a hospital!” “Yes, but the hospital is for sick people, not for the doctors!”[58] [59]


The hearing aid

One day after lunch padre Pio said to Padre Costantino Capobianco: ‘You hear better than usual. Do you have a device?” Padre Costantino replied that indeed he was wearing a hearing aid. Padre Pio: “Take it off. Let me see it.” When he got it in his hand Padre Pio said to the other friars : “Come on, boys. This is the right time to talk bad about padre Costantino. He can’t hear now!”[60] [61] [62]



The scale

At the confessional: “Father I have only committed light sins.” Padre Pio: “Did you weigh them on the pharmacist’s scale?”[63]



A woman told Padre Pio that her doctor had recommended for her shock treatment. Padre Pio: "If you are not crazy already, you surely will be after shock treatments."[64]


A mouse

When doctors Festa and Romanelli did a joint examination of Padre Pio’s wounds in 1920, Padre Pio didn’t lose its jovial attitude and told them a question and answer joke: "What is like a sick person in between two doctors? He is like a mouse between two cats!"[65] [66] [67]



Here not there

Reported by Dr. Festa: A colleague of mine asked Padre Pio : "Why the lesions are here and not in other parts of the body?" Answer: "You are a doctor. You should tell me why they should have been in other parts of the body and not here."[68] [69] [70] The colleague of dr. Festa was dr. Bignami.[71]  [72]



The King

The king was coming to inspect, and the recruit was prepared by the sergeant: The King will ask you 3 questions: how old are you? Answer 22.

How long have you been in the army? Answer 2. Whom you like most, your king or your country? Answer: both. The king came and asked the recruit: How many years have you been in the army? 22. How old are you? 2. The king got frustrated and said: Either of us is stupid. The recruits answer: “Both your majesty."[73] [74]



“Padre my leg is not doing well.” “Lucky you! I have both legs in bad shape.”[75] [76]



Empty head

Padre Isidoro told Padre Pio: “I have to go inpatient in Casa Sollievo because it has been a month now that I have atrocious headaches. Pray for me.” Padre Pio laughed. Padre Isidoro came back to Padre Pio after a week. He was all smiles. “They didn’t find anything in my head”. Padre Pio: ‘That is something that we all knew already.”[77]



During a lightning a friar told Padre Pio: "Father let’s move away from the transformer. Ten people were killed yesterday. "We ran no risk of this. There are only two of us."[78] [79]


To a doctor

“Do you know why you doctors never go on strike? Because if you go on strike people will realize that, without you, they get better, and faster.”[80]



Padre Pio was celebrating a wedding, and the groom was so emotional that he has unable to say “Yes”. Padre Pio asked several times and then added: “Well, when are you going to say yes? Perhaps you want me to marry her?”[81]


A lie

Rina Giordanelli went to see Padre Pio with Fracesco one of her children. When they saw Padre Pio, Francesco was munching on a chocolate given to him by a friar. Padre Pio: “Will you give it to me.” The child said no and hid the chocolate behind his back. An onlookes said to the child: “How do you dare to say no to Padre Pio? Give it to him!” Padre Pio to the man: “What do you mean? I gave him the chocolate, and now he has to give it back to me?” Padre Pio lied to avoid embarrassment of the child.[82] [83]



Not feeling well

“Father, my friend asked me to tell you that she has not been feeling well for the past two years. What should I tell her?” “Tell her that I have not been feeling well for the past seventy years.”[84]


Roundtrip ticket

A farmer who had never traveled was about to take the train for the first time. At the counter: “Where are you going?” “It’s not your business.” “But I need to know it to issue a ticket.” After a long arguing he bought a round trip ticket. The train started moving, and when it entered a long dark tunnel he got terribly scared. He asked: “Where are we going?” “We are going to hell” was the answer. The man: “I am not worried. I have a roundtrip ticket.”[85] [86]



In 1959 Padre Pio was show the newly built church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, just before the inauguration on July 1s t. The church was several times larger than the original church, and to everybody’s surprise Padre Pio was not impressed and called it “a mousetrap”. He said “Ma che avete fatto. Nu mastrillo? Doveva essere piu’ grande, molto piu’ grande.” “What did you make? A mousetrap? It should have been bigger, much bigger.” In other occasion he called it “a matchbox”[87]


Not so humorous

Padre Costantino Capobianco witnessed this whole episode. The superior Padre Carmelo ordered to install an air conditioning box, donated by a benefactor, in Padre Pio’s room, while he was in the confessional. When Padre Pio went back to his room asked what that was, and how much it cost, and said: “This in an offence against poverty. What will the Seraphic Father Saint Francis say?” These words were said to Padre Tarcisio, who replied: “Padre, it’s not your fault. The superior decided so against your will. With your attitude you make people lose peace.” Then Padre Pio looked at Padre Costantino and asked: “What do you say?” Padre Costantino: “Padre Tarcisio is right. You didn’t want it. If there is a fault is certainly not yours.” Padre Pio never turned it on. It became an extra shelf for little objects.[88]


Too long

Padre Joseph Pius, Bill Martin before becoming a Capuchin friar: ”Once I heard that Padre Sexto said to him: “I wish you another fifty years.” Padre Pio replied: “What harm I have ever done to you?”[89]



The bricklayer

Padre Pio walking in the church saw a bricklayer carrying stuff downstairs in the crypt, working on Padre Pio’s tomb. He asked: “What are you making?” The man was extremely embarrassed and said: “I don’t know; maybe an altar.” Padre Pio: ‘Remember that I will spend very little time down there.”

The tomb

Padre Pio was asked what he thought of the tomb they were building for him. “I think that it’s a bit smallish and I will not have much air to breath.”






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    Return to front page                                       24 Padre Pio's quotes, virtues  


[1] Sch87, 134

[2] Epist. IV, 444-5

[3] Epist. IV, 440

[4] Epist. IV, 433

[5] Cas11, 280

[6] Del62, 48

[7] Del62, 55

[8] Pio10, 13

[9] Epist. II, 87

[10] Epist. I, 329

[11] Epist. IV, 443

[12] Gau74, 191

[13] Del50, 552

[14] Pio10, 96-7

[15] Ias06, 31-2

[16] Pio10, 16

[17] Pio10, 14

[18] Pio10, 228

[19] Mor73, 26

[20] Pio10, 135

[21] Pio10, 135

[22] Epist. IV, 437

[23] Epist. IV, 437-8

[24] Ias06, 352-3

[25] Epist. II, 190

[26] Dun99, 144

[27] Epist. II, 190

[28] Dun99, 144

[29] Tan 96

[30] Epist. I, 461-2

[31] Mod01, 54

[32] Ias06, 152

[33] Ias06, 152

[34] Ias06, 148

[35] Ruf91, 168-9

[36] Cle97,

[37] Duc68, 20

[38] Cov07, 27-8

[39] Cov07, 141-2

[40] Par011, 126-7

[41] Cat91, 186

[42] Cap12, 387-9-8

[43] Cap12, 388

[44] Iase06, 122

[45] Nap78, 198

[46] Sch87, 137

[47] Kea07, 25

[48] Cap12, 390

[49] Cap12, 390

[50] Ruf91, 415-6

[51] McC78, 140

[52] Nap78, 205-6

[53] Cap12, 393

[54] Par011, 273-6

[55] Nap78, 204

[56] Cap12, 390

[57] Cap12, 397

[58] Cap12, 398

[59] Nap78, 198

[60] Cat91, 188

[61] Cap12, 395

[62] Cap06, 228-9

[63] Cap12, 396

[64] Nap78, 208-9

[65] Sch87, 31

[66] Cap12, 393

[67] Nap78, 198

[68] Win88, 71

[69] Ger95, 173-273

[70] Cap12, 393

[71] Del62, 79-80

[72] Win88, 71

[73] Cat91, 184

[74] Nap78, 202-3

[75] Cap12, 399

[76] Nap78, 199

[77] Ale10, 221

[78] Cat91, 185

[79] Cap12, 390

[80] Cap12, 391

[81] Cap12, 391

[82] Pro02, 145-6

[83] Gio87, 92

[84] Cap12, 390

[85] Sch87, 66

[86] Cap12, 391

[87] Con01, 218

[88] Cap06, 242-4

[89] Sch87, 65