Padre Pio 1903-1914, age 16-27


Preparation to priesthood

Novitiate in Morcone

       The mountainside village of Morcone. Map of the area.

On January 6, 1903, Francesco left home for Morcone, to begin the novitiate in the Capuchin’s Order. After the Mass of the Epiphany he went home so say good bay to his parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and neighbors.[1] Leaving his world was very hard for Francesco: “It was a very painful excruciating agonizing detachment.”[2]

His mom gave him a Rosary (still preserved) and said: "My son, Saint Francis has called you, and you must go. Pray many Rosaries!"[3] [4]

The convent as it was when Francesco Forgione entered the novitiate.

  The trip from Pietrelcina to Morcone was by train. With Francesco were two other aspiring novices, Vincenzo Masone and Antonio Bonavita. The three were accompanied by the priest Nicola Caruso and the teacher Caccavo.[5]


When Francesco knocked, the door to the convent was opened by Fra’ Camillo, by coincidence the friar who had inspired him to became Capuchin. Fra’ Camillo said: “Bravo, bravo Franci’. You have been faithful to the promise and to the call of St. Francis.”[6] Francesco was assigned room #18, in the hallway leading to the choir; Later he went to #28, in the seminarian’s hallway.[7]

The party was greeted by a committee of friars who did the first screening. Francesco and Vincenzo were approved. Antonio was not 15 yet, and had to return to Pietrelcina.[8]


Taking the habit

  Padre Pio with Padre Anastasio da Roio and other friars, in later years.  

     Page of the registry of the convent, documenting brother Pio's vestition.

On January 22, 1903, at age 15, after two weeks of initiation, Francesco  and three other novices took the Capuchin habit, received the tonsure, and changed their name.  Francesco Forgione become Brother Pio da Pietrelcina, Vincenzo Masone to fra Filippo da Pietrelcina, Giovanni Di Carlo to fra Anastasio da Roio, and Salvatore Pranzitella to fra Sebastiano da Campobasso.[9]

          The outside of the church and convent today.

The order of Capuchins is the strictest of the three orders that trace their origin to St. Francis. As Francesco knelt at the foot of the altar his jacket was removed and these words were said: “May the Lord strip from you the old man.” Than Francesco put on a Franciscan tunic while Padre Tommaso said: “May the Lord clothe you in the new man.” As he put on the hood the novice master said: “May the Lord put the hood of salvation upon your head, to defeat the deceptions of the devil.” As Francesco donned the belt, the master said: “May the Lord gird you with the cordon of purity and extinguish the fire of lust so that the virtues of continence and chastity might abide in you.” Then he was given a lighted candle: “Take the light of Christ as a sign of your immortality.” After that he received the tonsure as a sign of submission to Christ.  Completing the ceremony he was given a new name as a sign that he was born a  new man: Pio da Pietrelcina.[10]

  Padre Tommaso  

Padre Pio recalled in 1922: "Where better I could serve you, o Lord, if not under the banner of the Poverello (the little poor man) di Assisi."[11]


Life in the convent

The novitiate is a yearlong succession of trials intended to put off weak souls. It is amazing that anybody could survive it. Only with powerful supernatural help is this possible. Once you survive that year, you can put up with anything. No hardship will ever again dismay you.[12]

      The choir where Brother Pio and the other novices prayed.

During the year of novitiate Francesco Brother Pio distinguished himself for his obedience, and for spending long hours in prayer. In two occasions he had to wait for hours in the cold at the door of the master of the novices, without any complaints.[13] Once he said: “If my superior ordered me to jump out of the window, I would not argue. I would jump.”[14]

  The room of the common fire.

In the convent there was no central heating. Only on the coldest winter nights the community could gather before the common fireplace to warm themselves before retiring. The friars wore sandals but no socks. The novices went barefoot. [15]

The life in the convent was not for everyone. It was a life of great austerity.

       The choir of the church.

After midnight a bell awakened the community of friars and novices at 12:30 AM for  prayers in the choir, Divine Office Matins and Lauds. After that, at about 2:00 AM they went back to bed.

They arose again at 5:00 AM: Make the bed and go to choir for: Angelus, Litany of the Saints, meditation, personal prayers, followed by Mass, Divine Office Prime and Terce, and a second Community Mass “Messa Conventuale.” After that there was breakfast of boiled bread and oil, after which they went back in the choir for the Divine Office of Our Lady.

The novices had than a conference with the master Padre Tommaso, memorized the Rule of the Capuchin order, and studied the lives of the saints.

      The refectory for the novices and friars.

At noon there was lunch. The meals were frugal, chiefly consisting of bread and stew. During the meals there was no talking. In Lent no meat was served at all, and on Lenten Fridays they subsisted on brad and water.

The cooking place at the time of brother Pio   Clothes washing place.

At 2:30 PM there were Vespers in the choir, than chores, including manual labor.    

At 7 PM: Rosary in choir, than 30 minutes of meditation, the Compline (final hour of the Divine Office), supper at 8 PM followed by a brief period of recreation.

          The cloister.          

Finally at 9 PM: 30 minutes visit to the Blessed Sacrament, examination of conscience, and bedtime.[16] [17]

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the community took the discipline. The friars and novices went to the choir, pulled the habit from their backs and struck themselves on the bare flesh with a chain. During the discipline they were to think of the Passion of Jesus. [18]  There was always blood on the floor after these religious exercises.[19]

  Padre Tommaso

Padre Tommaso went a step further and he would order the discipline at any time or place, until the back was bleeding. Vincenzo Masone left for good, after two months of this strict discipline. Another novice commented “Back home we pay a dime to see madmen. Here we see them for free.” He too left the friary and never returned.[20]

        The fruit and vegetables garden

One of the novices later testified about Padre Pio: “He never criticized, never grumbled about the cold, or the food. What struck me most was his love for prayer.” And a friar recalled of him: “He would weep many tears, so much that very often the floor would be stained.”[21] [22]

            Brother Pio's room in Morcone.

Padre Pio’s mom visited her son during the novitiate, and brought him a number of goodies from home. When he saw her he sat a few feet away, with his hand in the sleeves, and his eyes lowered. She was horrified that her son was not showing any sign of affection, and returned in tears to Pietrelcina. In later years Padre Pio recalled: “As soon as I saw my mother, my impulse was to throw myself into her arms. But the discipline of the novitiate did not permit this.” [23]

   Padre Angelico da Sarno recalling the time spent in the novitiate.

October 1903 brother Pio got the assignment of tutoring a new novice in the religious life. The novice, future Padre Angelico da Sarno recalled: “For three months, Pio every day explained to me the rules and constitutions. Every day I was longing for this encounter. He was only few months older than me.”


Temporary wows

    The main altar of the church

At the end of the yearlong novitiate, on Friday January 2, 1904, he pronounced the temporary wows of chastity, poverty and obedience. He knelt before the provincial Padre Pio da Benevento, and declared: “I, Fra Pio da Pietrelcina, wow and promise to the Omnipotent God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St. Francis, and to all the saints, and to you, father, to observe for three years the Rule of the Friars Minor, confirmed by Pope Honorius, living in obedience, without property, and in chastity.”[24]  His mom was there: "My son, now you really are a son of Saint Francis. May he bless you."[25]

    Padre Eliseo Pizzarelli kindly, patiently,  and knowledgeably  showing around the convent.      


Fra’ Pio stayed in Morcone from January 6, 1903, until February 24, 1904. Six years of study for the priesthood were waiting for him.

   Panorama from the convent in Morcone.

Padre Pio has been to Morcone severar other times. He returned to Morcone to be ordained deacon on July 18, 1909. On July 21, 1910 he went to Morcone to learn how to say Mass. After a day he felt sick and returned to Pietrelcina were don Salvatore Pannullo thought him the ceremonies of Mass.[26]

Padre Pio was again in Morcone in December 1913, by suggestion of the Capuchin provincial father, but after five days he felt sick and had to return to Pietrelcina.[27]




Sant’Elia a Pianisi, 1

  The convent  in the old days.     Map of the area. The star indicates sant'Elia.     

  Panorama of the church and convent.   Outside of the church.


High school

On February 25, 1904 the future Padre Pio with his novitiate companions, Brother Anastasio da Roio and the Provincial Padre Pio da Benevento, moved to the convent of Sant’Elia a Pianisi. There he began high school, including courses in rhetoric and philosophy. He stayed there for almost four years, except for a trip to Campobasso and a brief stay in San Marco la Catola. In Sant’Elia he did high school studies and  learned Latin.[28]


Dog devil

    Brothe Pio's room in Sant'Elia.

In Sant”Elia he was favored by “celestial visions”.[29] At the same time “the martyrdom of the scruples, started at eighteen in Sant’Elia and continued until twenty one.” He reported it under obedience to Padre Agostino, in a letter on October 17, 1915.[30] “During the first two years this trial became almost unbearable. It started in Sant’Elia and continued later on in San Marco and elsewhere.”[31]

There he saw the devil coming in his cell. He reported in a letter: “He was in the form of an enormous dog, with a lot of smoke coming out of his mouth, and the dog talked and said: ‘It’s him, it’s him.’ He had a strong smell of sulphur. The horrible animal leaped out of the window, jumped on the roof of the nearby building, and disappeared.”[32] [33] [34]


Giovanna Rizzani

  New born Giovanna Rizzani.   Giovanna at the time when she met Padre Pio.

Still in Sant’Elia, on January 18, 1905 he experiences the first bilocation. The details regarding Giovanna Rizzani are reported in the section of bilocation. [35]



  Brother Leone with Padre Pio in later years.

Brother Leo (Fra' Leone) classmate of Padre Pio 1903-8, testified: "While praying, Padre Pio was always crying, silently, and so abundantly that his tears were leaving traces on the stone pavement of the choir. We youngsters made fun of him. So he took the habit of lying on the floor hi large handkerchief in front of him. After praying he would take the handkerchief that was all wet. You could have squeezed it!"[36]  [37]

Padre Damaso da Sant’Elia a Pianisi gave a similar testimony.[38] Padre Antonio da San Giovanni Rotondo, reported the same, and when he asked Brother Pio why was he crying, the answer was: “I cry for my sins and those of mankind.”[39]



Padre Pietro da Ischitella testified in 1921: “I remember that whenever there was a procession in Sant’Elia a Pianisi, people were attracted by the collected bearing of this young man, who distinguished himself from his companions by his modesty, his eyes.”[40]



Picture taken in Sant'Elia.

While he was a philosophy student in Sant’Elia, Fra Pio asked to be sent on the missions. He was denied because he was still a student. He returned on the subject as soon as he became a priest.[41]



Outside of Santa Maria del Monte

In May of 1905 he went with other students fron Sant’Elia to Campobasso, to visit the sanctuary of Santa Maria al Monte.

Inside of the church.   The castle on the hill.

There he helped with the religious celebrations.[42] [43]

The painting of Amedeo Trevisonno    Plaque remembering Padre Pio

He returned briefly for few days to Campobasso in October 1909. He was already in Morcone on October 4.[44]

Padre Pellegrino da Sant'Elia a Pianisi, who had been at the side of Padre Pio during his last hours of life, reported that Padre Pio had told him that the "Madonna di Santa Maria a Monte" had appeared to him several times. Padre Pellegrino then asked the artist Amadeo Trivisonno to put in painting what Padre Pio had described to him. Trivisonno made the painting in 1972. The painting is above the altar in the room used by Padre Pio while in Campobasso.[45]




San Marco la Catola

   View of San Marco La Catola with map of the area.

       The room of brother Pio.



In October 1905 the convent of Sant’Elia a Pianisi had to be temporarily abandoned to allow a substantial remodeling of the church and the convent. Brother Pio had completed the course of rhetoric and passed the exam of philosophy.[46] Everybody moved to San Marco La Catola. He remained there until April 1906 studying philosophy.  He met there Padre Benedetto who would become his spiritual director until 1922.[47]


      Panorama with the church and the convent.

  Refectory.     The cloister.





Padre Antonino testified: “In Sant’Elia a Pianisi, at the time of the common prayers, and especially after Communion, brother Pio shed so many tears that made a little pit in the pavement. We asked him for the reason, and he never told us. One day, since I was his spiritual director, I asked him under obedience, and he said: “I cry for my sins, and the sins of everybody.”[48]

           Padre Pio Capuano describing the life in the convent.

The amazing book on Padre Pio da Pietrelcina written by Padre Pio Capuano.

Padre Pio returned to San Marco La Catola for a month, in 1918, to get spiritual direction from Padre Benedetto. In his cell #20 Padre Pio wrote eight letters from April 17 to May 13, 1918, to Padre Agostino and to spiritual daughters.[49]


During  that time he continued to be tormented by scruples about his inadequacy to love God and to help others.[50] [51] [52] [53]




Sant”Elia, 2

           Inside of the church.

In April 1906, brother Pio returned to Sant’Elia a Pianisi, since the remodeling had been completed.[54]


At that time he predicted the reopening of the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo, closed in 1896. He also predicted that he would be assigned to that convent. The convent was effectively reopened in 1909, and Padre Pio moved there in 1916.[55]


At the same time Lucia Fiorentino, a future spiritual daughter of Padre Pio,  wrote in her diary of a vision of a big tree that would be planted in the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo. A tree whose shade would cover the entire world.[56] [57]

   The main altar

Perpetual wows

On Sunday January 27, 1907 Padre Pio made the solemn profession of his perpetual wows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the hands of Padre Raffaele da San Giovanni Rotondo.[58] His statement in writing is kept in the registry of the convent.[59]




         Views on the convent.


The mountaintop town.         The church of the convent.

  Chapel of Padre Pio, with Padre Antonio Belpiede.

          In the convent.


             In the garden.    


The pictures remind of an episode in the fall of 1907 when Padre Pio was student in Serracapriola. The friars were stomping on the fermenting grapes and the fumes were inadvertently inhaled by the future Padre Pio  and he got inebriated. Later he used to say that he got drunk without drinking a single drop of wine.  Padre Antonio Belpiede extremely kind, patient, and knowledgeable Capuchin friar.  

     Brother Pio's room     A book about the past friars living in the convent.



At the end of October 1907 Brother Pio was transferred to the convent of Serracapriola and admitted to the course of theology, under the guidance of Padre Benedetto di San Marco in Lamis. Brother Pio had complete the course in philosophy but never took the exam.[60] The future Padre Pio left Serracapriola in November 1908.[61]


In the fall of 1907, when Padre Pio was student in Serracapriola, the friars were stomping on the fermenting grapes and the fumes were inadvertently inhaled by the future Padre Pio and he got inebriated. Later he used to say that he got drunk without drinking a single drop of wine. [62]




        The mountaintop town of Montefusco.


Brother Pio arrived in Montefusco at the end of November 1908, to continue the studies of theology in preparation for the ordination to priesthood.

       Outside and inside the convent.        Monument.  


He stayed there only few months because he was ill and had to return to Pietrelcina, accompanied by Padre Agostino. Brother Pio left the convent of Montefusco for his home Pietrelcina in May 1909, accompanied by Padre Agostino, in the hope that in Pietrelcina he would recover.[63]

           Brother Pio's room.

Padre Pio later recalled: “The main problem with my sickness was that I did not appear sick, and many could doubt that I was effectively suffering.”[64]


Aunt Daria

One special episode occurred while brother Pio was in Montefusco in 1908. One day he gathered chestnuts growing in a nearby forest into a bag and sent the bag to Pietrelcina to his aunt Daria. She always had a great affection for him. The woman received and ate the chestnuts. She saved the bag as a souvenir. A few days later she was looking for something in a drawer where her husband usually kept the gun powder. It was in the evening so she used a candle to light up the room when suddenly the drawer caught on fire, and aunt Daria’s face and hair got burned. After a moment, she took the bag father Pio sent and put it on her face. Immediately, her pain disappeared and no wound or hair loss or burn mark remained on her face.[65]


   In 1923, when Padre Pio was about to be transferred from San Giovanni Rotondo, he told his superiors: "If I have to be transferred in another convent I'd like to be transferred to the convent in Montefusco.



In Pietrelcina Brother Pio felt better but still had bouts of high temperature, chest pains and stomac upsets that forced him in bed. At the same time continued to be tormented by the idea that he had not properly confessed his past sins and should stop the daily communion because of it. He had to be continually reassured by Padre Benedetto.[66]

During that uneasy time in Pietrelcina he tried to continue the studies for ordination to priesthood. Don Salvatore Pannullo thought him liturgical ceremonies, and Don Giuseppe Orlando, the pastor of the parish, thought him dogmatic theology to prepare him for ordination. He stayed home almost seven years.[67]




      The mountaintop town of Gesualdo as it was and as it is.

  Map of the area. Gesualdo is indicated by a star.

          Monument to Padre Pio.


Between the months of November and December 1909 he spent few weeks in the convent of Gesualdo where he studied moral theology. In Gesualdo the devil appeared to Padre Pio in the form of Padre Agostino and tried to discourage him from continuing the religious life. Padre Pio was disconcerted, and at the moment he started to understand he said: “Whoever you are repeat after me ‘Long live Jesus’. The visitor disappeared in a cloud of smoke living behind a disgusting stench.[68]



Minor Orders in Benevento

     The Cathedral of Benevento 

On December 19, 1908 Padre Pio received in the cathedral of Benevento, by the Archbishop Benedetto Bonazzi, the four minor orders of Doorkeeper, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte. Two days later, on December 21, 1908 in the same cathedral of Benevento, Mons. Paolo Schinosi, archbishop titular of Marcianopolis, conferred him the Subdeaconate.


Benevento: Ordination to Priesthood

  Certificate of ordination to Deaconate

On Sunday July 18, 1909 Brother Pio was ordered Deacon by Mons. Benedetto Maria Della Camera, titular bishop of Thermopolis, in the church of the convent in Morcone.[69]

Too much salt

Inside of the church were Padre Pio baptized Ermelindo Masone.

At the time when Padre Pio was a deacon (July 18, 1909 – August 10, 1910), while in Pietrelcina, he was asked by Vincenzo Masone to baptized his newborn child. Whith the permission from archpriest Pannullo he did. At a certain point of the ceremony he had to put a very small pinch of salt in the mouth of the baby. Apparently he used too much salt, and the baby’s eyes started rolling. Padre Pio was frightened and run to Pannullo: “I killed the baby! I killed the baby!” But it was not the case. The newly baptized became the redemptorist religious Padre Ermelindo.[70]


Age dispensation

  The certificate of age dispensation.

The minimal canonical age to be ordained priest is to have completed 24 years. Padre Pio was in poor health and fearful he could die soon. So he asked for dispensation to be ordained at 23. On January 22, 1910, he wrote a letter to Padre Benedetto, provincial minister, begging him to petition the Holy See and recommend favorably for the dispensation: “…explaining the current status of my health … so that if God has decided to abbreviate my exile on earth, I will die very happy.”[71]

On July 6, 1910 Padre Benedetto informed Padre Pio that the Holy See had granted the dispensation.[72]


On July 30, 1910, together with don Salvatore Pannullo who had been preparing him privately, Brother Pio went to the Archibishop of Benevento to take the exams. The committee was happy with his preparedness, and gave the go ahead for him to be ordained priest.[73]


          The cathedral of Benevento         

         Chapel of the Ordination.

  Certificate of ordination of Padre Pio to priesthood by Mons. Schinosi.

On August 10, 1910, at age 23, he was ordained priest in the Cathedral of Benevento. He was the only priest ordained that day in a private ceremony in the chapel of the canons, by Mons. Paolo Schinosi, titular Archbishop of Marcianopoli.[74]


Prayer card

  Draft by Padre Pio for the prayer card of his ordination.

Padre Pio wrote on the prayer card for his ordination to priesthood:


O king, I ask that my life be spared,

and I beg that you spare the lives of my people.” Esther 7:3

Souvenir of my first Mass.



my sigh and my life,

today that with trepidation

I raise You in a mystery of love,

may I be for the world

Way, Truth and Life,

and for You holy priest

perfect victim.

P.Pio, Capp.”[75]



In the afternoon of the same day Padre Pio and his mom returned to Pietrelcina. They were met on the edge of town by the city band. The band accompanied them home greated by cheering townspeople along the way. At the house Mamma Peppa put on a great feast.[76]

     First solemn Mass in St. Mary of the Angels in Pietrelcina.   

On August 14, 1910 he 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.”[77] [78]


Padre Pio was approved for confessions by the archdiocese of Benevento after his ordination to priesthood, but for three years hid didn’t confess, by disposition of Padre Benedetto.[79]

Padre Pio obtained the license to confess in May 1914.[80]



      The "Seggiolone"

Padre Pio started his ministry officiating in St. Anna, the church where he had been baptized, helping the archpriest Salvatore Pannullo with baptisms, weddings, funerals and Masses.[81] After Mass he used to go to Piana Romana, in the Forgione farm. There his father had built a straw hut, under an elm tree. Near the hut and the elm there were two large stones. He used to call the stones “il seggiolone” the big chair. In that setting he spent many hours a day, praying, reading and meditating. “From there I used to see the sunrise and the sunset.” [82]


“Il Ponticello” (The little bridge)

          The "Ponticello"

To go to Piana Romana from Rione Castello where he lived Padre Pio had to walk over a little bridge. There invariably he met a bunch of devils who would say “Mo’ passa o’ santariello (Here is the little saint passing). Padre Pio’s reply was: “Schiattate! Schiattate!” (Burst! Burst!) A sign with explanation reminds the events.[83]



Invisible stigmata wounds


  The remnants of the elm tree, in the chapel built around the stump.

On September 7, 1910, twenty eight days after being ordained priest, while he was praying in Piana Romana, on the “Masseria” ground, under the elm tree, Jesus and Mary appeared to him and gave him the wounds.[84]

His mom was not far, in the Masseria, and when Padre Pio showed up, a bit later than usual, the mother noticed that he was shaking his hands like they were burning. The mom told him: “Why are you shaking your hands, are you learning to play guitar?” Padre Pio did not answer.[85]


      Don Salvatore Pannullo.

Salvatore Pannullo, pastor of the Parish in Pietrelcina testified that in that afternoon of September 7, 1910 Padre Pio showed him the wounds and told him: "Father, do me a favor. 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 while the suffering continued. When Pannullo was told in 1918 that the wounds had appeared on Padre Pio, he replied: You see them now. I saw them in 1910." [86] [87]


Pannullo insisted that Padre Pio saw a doctor. The first doctor diagnosed as tuberculosis of the skin. Then they went to dr. Andrea Cardone. Cardone was positive that they were not of tubercular origin, but he could not explain them.[88]

  Padre Benedetto da San Marco in Lamis.

Padre Pio did not tell anybody of the wounds, besides Pannullo, for a full year. He reported the phenomenon a year later, in a letter to Padre Benedetto dated September 8, 1911. In the letter he stated that he hadn’t said anything because he was “ashamed”. Here are his words: “Last night in the middle of the palm of my hands appeared a circular red mark, accompanied by strong sharp pain. The pain was stronger on the left hand. Also under the feet I feel pain. This phenomenon has been going on for about a year. But it had been a while since it happened last time. Don’t get agitated because this is the first time that I tell you about it. You know that shame took over me. Even now you can’t imagine how much violence I have had to to do myself to tell you about it.” [89]

On October 10, 1915, answering a specific question by Padre Agostino, asking if he had received the wounds in 1910: “Yes, I received the stigmata. I was aghast. They were visible, especially in one hand, and prayed the Lord to remove this visible sign, and they disappeared. But the sharp pain did not go away.”[90]

   The straw hut has become a church, and the stump of the elm is preserved inside the church. Many years later it was decided to preserve the elm tree, but by then very little had been left of it, dead and petrified.[91]

  Years later Silvio Scocca, the son of Mercurio, childhood friend of Padre Pio, was asked to take care of the Forgione’s farm. He didn’t know about the ‘Seggiolone’. He saw those two large stones and tried to remove them, to no avail. One day he was visiting Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo and he told him: “Don’t remove those two stones. The where my seggiolone. From there I used to see the sunrise and the sunset.”[92]


Outside the convent

Padre Pio did not return to the convent because of poor health. He suffered mysterious illnesses and just his stay in Pietrelcina was mysterious. Padre Benedetto for five times in the span of two years ordered Padre Pio back in convent. Padre Pio obeyed promptly, but each time he became so suddenly gravely ill that they accompanied him precipitously back home.[93] Padre Agostino wrote that when he questioned him one day about it his answer was: “I cannot tell you the reason why the Lord wanted me in Pietrelcina. I would lack of charity!”[94] From some documents, letters, depositions, testimonies, one might have to conclude that the life in some convents could not have been that exemplary at the time.[95]


Michele Forgione’s home

Padre Pio could not afford climbing the steep steps of “La Torretta”. He moved to his brother’s home since it was empty. His brother had emigrated to America. Michele’s home was located above the maternal home of Padre Pio.




Meanwhile the months passed, and the fact that Padre Pio stayed at home instead of a convent, continued to create agitation in the leadership of the Capuchin Order. Padre Agostino wrote: “How would I like to see you in the friary!” Padre Pio answered: “I continue to suffer at home, but I am able to perform my duties. That is something which was never possible when I lived in community”. And the Father Provincial stated: “Your continued stay in your home is a source of great sorrow to me.”[96] Because of the above, On October 28, 1911, Padre Benedetto took Padre Pio for a special examination “to hear from the science if he could stay away from his hometown without complomising his health”.[97]

  Prof. Dr. Antonio Cardarelli, professor of clinical pathology in Napoli.

The physical examination was done by the famed Dr. Antonio Cardarelli in Naples. After a thorough examination Cardarelli suggested to take Padre Pio to the nearest convent. According to the diagnosis of the celebrated physician, the young friar's days were numbered, and he had few days left to live, and he couldn't travel long distances.[98]

Following the suggestion from dr. Cardarelli. his superior Padre Benedetto accompanied Padre Pio to the friary of San Nicandro, in Venafro.[99]




The town of Venafto, the convent and the church of San Nicandro. Map of the area.

Padre Pio stayed in the convent of Venafro from the end of October 1911 until December 7 of the same year. In Venafro Padre Pio tried to get involved in the routine of the community life. But he was unable to do it. The days he spent in Venafro he couldn’t retain any food, and lived only on the daily Eucharist.[100] The Superior Padre Evangelista took Padre Pio again to Napoli to see another specialist. Padre Evangelista noted that “these doctors understand very little.” [101] Padre Agostino: “The whole thing continued to be a mistery”.[102]

       The cell of Padre Pio in Venafro.


Visions of Heaven and hell

During the month and a half stay in the convent of Venafro, while Padre Pio was sick in bed, unable to retain food, feverish and at times delirious, and “in danger of death”, Padre Agostino noted by coincidence that something was going on with Padre Pio. While Padre Agostino was at Padre Pio’s bedside, his face would have an agitated frightened expression, followed by a serene and cheerful one; the eye wouldn’t blink, and he would stare at something unseen by others. Padre Pio begged Padre Agostino not to live him alone, and Padre Agostino decided to jolt down what he was hearing form Padre Pio’s voice. These notes later became a diary and give us an unprecedented insight in the relations of Padre Pio with the unseen. Padre Evangelista, the superior of the convent, joined Padre Agostino in witnessing the events. The described it to the Dr. Nicola Lombardi, physician of the friars, and he was witness to two ecstasies on November 29 and December 3, 1911. He described that Padre Pio had no pupillary reaction to the light of a match, hearth beat asynchronous from the pulse, the face appearing “vivacious and beautiful”. Then the doctor followed Padre Agostino outside the room. Padre Agostino whispered an order to Padre Pio to return to normalcy, and he instantly obeyed. The doctor was impressed. He gave a written testimony of the events.[103]

   Picture of Padre Pio done in Venafro when he was told he had only few days to live.           

Satan would appear in the form of an ugly black cat trying to fling on him, as a nude woman dancing lewdly, or just spitting on him without appearing, or 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 asking the apparition to repeat after him: “Long live Jesus.” At that point the demonic vision would disappear.[104]  Padre Agostino wrote in his diary that frequently, entering in his cell, Padre Pio asked him to repeat: “Long live Jesus.” Padre Agostino would say: “Long live Jesus a thousand times.” After that they started their conversation.[105] Padre Agostino wrote that “the heavenly visions started immediately after the diabolic ones. He then had long conversations with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Guardian Angel, St. Francis of Assisi, and other saints.”[106]


 Padre Pio’s health did not deteriorate in Venafro, but did not improve either. He was unable to hold any kind of food. Per disposition of Padre Benedetto, Padre Pio was accompanied back to Pietrelcina by Padre Agostino on December 4, 1911.[107] As soon he returned to Pietrelcina Padre Pio felt normal again and was able to resume the sacred ministry.[108]


                                             Inside and outside of the church. Monument to Padre Pio. Museum.        






    Padre Pio's room in Pietrelcina.

In Pietrelcina Padre Pio walked with difficulty on the cobblestone pavement of the streets, because of the invisible wounds on his feet. The archpriest Salvatore Pannullo decided that on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, when the wounds were more painful Padre Pio would celebrate Mass in the church of St. Anna, close to where he lived. There, in the space in front of the church he would also sit with the children, teaching them catechism and sacred hymns.[109]



The cobbler in town had a few months old child who was very ill and about to die. He refused his wife’s pressure to have the child baptized. One day the mother with other relative took the dying child to Padre Pio, and the child was baptized. When the cobbler father knew about it, went to threaten Padre Pio: “You put water on my child and said that with this water he will recover. If he dies will be your fault.” Padre Pio was scared and started praying locked at home, and frequently coming to the window, asking how the child was doing. The child started improving and recovered.[110]



Because of his poor sight, with a Decree from The Sacred Congregation of Religious on March 21, 1012, he obtained the faculty to celebrate the votive Mass of the Virgin Mary on holy days, and the Mass for the deceased on ferial days. The faculty was for three years, renewable.[111] For the same reason and on the same date he received the faculty to recite daily fifteen decades of the Rosary instead of the Divine Office.[112]

Long Masses

About Padre Pio’s Mass, Don Giuseppe Orlando, a priest in the same church, gave a written testimony that “the Masses were too long” “the ‘memento’ (‘remember’) would last for an hour” and the farmers that came to mass before going to the field complained that they couldn’t spend many hours praying with him instead of going to work .[113] [114]

The pastor talked to Padre Pio’s Capuchin superior, and got a suggestion that worked well. “The pastor would stay in the church when Padre Pio was celebrating, and when he started slowing down, he would give him a mental order to go on.  In the name of obedience he resumed Mass right away.” [115] [116]


While in Pietrelcina (mid May 1909 – March 17, 1916) the archpriest Salvatore Pannullo, following the suggestion by Padre Agostino Daniele, would from afar mentally order Padre Pio to resume Mass, and he would promptly obey.[117]


After Mass Padre Pio would stay for hours for thanksgiving in the back of the main altar of the church of St. Mary of the Angels in Pietrelcina. Many times he would stay still in ecstasy, appearing like dead, scaring the sacristan Michele Pilla. Pilla used to call the archpriest Pannullo, and he would come, and whisper and order to return to senses in Padre Pio’s ear, and he would do it on the spot.[118]



Since Padre Pio, because of his poor health was unable to reenter in convent, the superior general on the Capuchins, Padre Pacifico da Seggiano, asked of a decree of secularization, were Padre Pio would be removed from the Capuchin order and incardinated as a priest in the dioceses of Benevento. In a vision Padre Pio complained with St. Francis: “My father, are you chasing me away from your Order? Let me die, instead.” St. Francis promised that he would not be expelled from the Order. (Padre Agostino, Diario, 2012, pg. 44)



  Rescript dated February 25, 1915 were Padre Pio is dispensed from residing in convent.

The decree of secularization needed several steps, including the approval from the archbishop of Benevento. In the end it was never obtained. Instead, Pope Benedict XV, in a rescript from the Congregation for Religious life on February 15, 1915, gave permission to Padre Pio to live outside the convent while keeping the religious habit, “until the present need persists”. [119] [120] [121]



  The Capuchin convent of St. Anna in Foggia.

On February 17, 1916 Padre Pio, having agreed with the request of Padre Agostino to assist the dying noblewoman Raffaelina Cerase in Foggia, left Pietrelcina and reached the convent of St. Anna in Foggia. He thought that he would stay there only few days; instead he remained for about six months, until September 4, 1916.[122]


San Giovanni Rotondo

On September 4, 1916 Padre Pio left Foggia for San Giovanni Rotondo.[123] The convent would be his permanent home for next 52 years, except for the stint in military service, until his death.[124]




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Agostino, d. S. (2012). Diario. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Ago12

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

Cataneo, P. (1991). Padre Pio gleanings. Editions Paulines Quebec.  Cat91

Chiocchi Luciano e Frescobaldo Cirri. (1967). Padre Pio, storia di una vittima. Roma. Chi67

Chiron, Y. (1999). Padre Pio. Una strada di misericordia. Milano: Figlie di San Paolo.  Chi99

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

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

Duchess Suzanne, o. S. (1983). Magic of a Mistic. Stories of Padre Pio. New York: Clarkson N. Potter.  Duc83

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

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. (1999). La vera storia di Padre Pio. Casale Monferrato: PIEMME.  Mal99

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

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

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

Ripabottoni, A. d. (1999). Padre Pio così pregava e insegnava a pregare. Edizioni Paoline.  Ale99

Ripabottoni, A. d. (2010). Padre Pio racconta e dice. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio.  Ale10

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

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

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[1] Fer10, 61

[2] Epist. I, 1283

[3] Ale74, 18

[4] Cap12, 90

[5] Gia12, 34

[6] Con01, 46

[7] Ale10, 24

[8] Gia12, 34

[9] Gia12, 34

[10] Ruf91, 46-7

[11] Con01, 50

[12] Duc83, 33

[13] Con01, 53

[14] Ruf91, 51

[15] Ruf91, 48

[16] Gia12, 37-8

[17] Ruf91, 48-9

[18] Ruf91, 51

[19] Duc83, 36

[20] Ruf91, 51-2

[21] Ruf91, 52

[22] Fer10, 63

[23] Rus91, 53

[24] Rus91, 54

[25] Fer10, 66

[26] Con01, 53

[27] Con01, 53

[28] Ing75, 25

[29] Epist. I, 669

[30] Epist. I, 679

[31] Epist. I, 679

[32] Pre98, 54-5

[33] Cataneo, 79-86

[34] Ing78, 26-9

[35] Ing78, 26-9

[36] Win88, 134-5

[37] Ing75, 24

[38] Ale10, 33

[39] Ale10, 33

[40] Cas11, 193

[41] Ing78, 29

[42] Leo76, 145-7

[43] Chi99, 43

[44] Con01, 82

[45] Con01, 82

[46] Ale10, 28

[47] Con01, 91

[48] Ale74, 32

[49] Con01, 93

[50] Epist, III, 724

[51] Epist. III, 855

[52] Epist. III, 951

[53] Epist. I, 1025

[54] Chi99, 45

[55] Chi99, 45

[56] Chi99, 45

[57] Cov07, 25-6

[58] Ale10, 28

[59] Chi67, vol. III, 14

[60] Ale10, 30

[61] Con01, 102

[62] Pre98, 59

[63] Con01, 109

[64] Con01, 111

[65] Ruf91, 66

[66] Ale10, 44-5

[67] Ale10, 46

[68] Ale11, 72

[69] Pio12, 10

[70] Cap12, 79

[71] Epist. I, 178-9

[72] Epst. I, 188

[73] Ale10, 47

[74] Gia12, 65

[75] Epistolario I, 196

[76] Ruf91, 73

[77] Leo76, 172

[78] Per02, 116

[79] Ale12, 40 Note

[80] Cap12, 84

[81] Con01, 127

[82] Con01, 7

[83] Per02, 147

[84] Ruf91, 78-9

[85] Con01, 39

[86] Lin73, 209

[87] Ruf91, 78-9

[88] Ruf91, 79

[89] Epist. I, 234

[90] Epist. I, 669

[91] Con01, 40

[92] Cap12, 101

[93] Per02, 156-7

[94] Fer10, 48

[95] Per02, 156-161

[96] Ale10, 51

[97] Con01, 127

[98] Con01, 127

[99] Mal99, 56

[100] Win88, 54

[101] Ale10, 52

[102] Ago10, 21

[103] Con01, 130-1

[104] Ago12, 50-2

[105] Ago12, 289

[106] Ago12, 290

[107] Con01, 131

[108] Con01, 131

[109] Per02, 134

[110] Per02, 137-8

[111] Ago12, 62 note

[112] Ago12, 62 note

[113] Gia12, 66

[114] Del62, 49

[115] Chi67, III, 19

[116] Del62, 50-1

[117] Cap12, 78

[118] Cap12, 78-9

[119] Epist. I, 538-9

[120] Per02, 164

[121] Ago12, 61-2

[122] Con01, 141

[123] Con01, 152

[124] Epist. I, 12

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