Padre Pio 31-34 (1918-21)

Transverberation, Stigmatization, examinations


The seraphic college

Seraphic College

The convent of San Giovanni Rotondo included a small seminary called “Seraphic College”. Padre Pio was assigned the direction, including spiritual direction, and some teaching.[1] Aurelio Di Iorio da Sant’Elia a Pianisi studied under Padre Pio from 1916 to 1918. Padre Aurelio reported: “He had a superficial way of teaching. He taught history and grammar, but he knew little of the former and none of the latter. None less we boys were attracted to him. The key to his charm was his humanity. His sanctity was his humanity.”[2]

   Seraphic College

Paolino also was his student: “He had weekly conferences were he introduced us to the love of the Lord.”[3] Padre Pio was so committed to help the student that he wrote to Padre Benedetto on March 6, 1917: “I have a vivid desire to offer myself as a victim for perfecting this college that I love tenderly.”[4]

  Padre Federico Carrozza

Federico Carrozza da Macchia Valfortore, another student at the time: “He was always praying, night and day. In our midst, while talking to us, he held the rosary in the right hand, hidden in the folds of his habit. He spent long hours on his knees. In the refectory he took a few mouthfuls.[5]


Aurelio reported that he and the other students in the seraphic college one morning saw Padre Pio’s bed completely turned upside down and twisted. Also, the curtain and the rod holding the iron curtain were all twisted up like a piece of curly hair. The rod was thick as a finger, and was all turned and twisted. “We were really scared.” When Padre Pio came along and saw the devastation, and the students scared, he said: “Don’t make a big deal of it. Barbablu’ messed up everything.”[6]


July 29, 1918: “It has been a week that I have been alone with the students, because Padre Paolino is out. I hope that he will come back this evening. He will leave again on Saturday.”[7]


Spanish fever

  Padre Paolino da Casacalenda

In September 1918 the Spanish fever was still raging in Italy. In those few weeks 200 people had died of Spanish fever in San Giovanni Rotondo. [8] In the college, the two dozen or so boys were almost all ill. The doctor prescribed injections. Because he was understably overworked, he thought Padre Paolino and Padre Pio how to give the injections. Since alcohol was not available, the doctor left some carbolic acid to sterilize the site of the injection.[9]

Padre Pio obtained “secretly” through Maria De Vito from her cousin Valentino Vista, a pharmacist in Foggia a little bottle with four grams of pure carbolic acid “for the disinfection of the syringes and also four grams of veratrine.[10]

Mons. Salvatore Bella

Towards the end of June 1920, Mons. Salvatore Bella, bishop of Foggia, took to the Holy Office the deposition of the two pharmacists who feared Padre Pio was artificially causing the stigmata with the aforementioned drugs.[11]Padre Pio explained it under oath to Mons. Rossi: “The secret was requested to conceal from those who would transport it that it was a dangerous medicine, without a doctor’s prescription. The purpose was to disinfect he syringes. In a boarding school for boys there is often such necessity.”[12]

  Padre Ignazio da Ielsi

About the veratidine Padre Pio testified: “I requested it because Padre Ignazio made me sniff once such powder. I wanted to use it during recreation. A small dose of this powder prompts immediate sneezing.”[13]

Padre Pio’s family had also been stricken. On September 22 died Padre Pio’s nephew Pellegrino, and on September 25 his sister Felicita, the mother of Pellegrino, died of Spanish fever too. Padre Pio’s mother also contracted the illness and for weeks was gravely ill.[14]


Padre Pio had it in moderate form, and was sick in bed for September 5 through the 16th. He restarted celebrating mass on September 17.[15]

Because most of the friars were in military service, at that time the convent consisted of three friars: Padre Paolino, superior, Padre Pio, and Brother Nicola alms seeker. There were also a dozen of young students of the seraphic college. [16]



Transverberation of the heart


Transverberation is a wounding of the heart, as a reward by God for loving Him. It manifests itself by physically passing through the heart.[17]

Several saints experienced it. Some few names: Theresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Veronica Giuliani, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, Gerardo Majella, Joseph of Cupertino, Francis de Sales, Philip Neri, Jane Francis de Chantal, Lutgarde, Charles of Sezze.


On August 5-7, 1918 and in December 1918 Padre Pio had transverberation of the heart.


Padre Pio described under obedience his transverberation in a letter to Padre Benedetto on August 21, 1918: "The evening of the fifth I was hearing the confessions of the boys, when a celestial personage, holding a very long sharp pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire, hurled it into my soul with all is might. All done in a split of a second everything in my inside was lashed by fire and steel. I felt I was dying. I asked the student to leave, because I was not feeling well and I didn’t have any strength to continue. The agony continued without ceasing until the morning of August 7. From that moment on I feel an open wound which causes me to suffer continual pain."[18]

Padre Federico Carozza da Macchia Valfortore, a capuchin friar himself, in later years revealed that he was the student present at the transfiguration of Padre Pio. He didn’t tell anybody to avoid becoming center of attention. He was in the college also at the time of the stigmatization.


Padre Agostino to Padre Pio on August 24, 1918: “August 6 was the feast of the Transfiguration. Jesus wanted to transfigure your spirit and inflict on you a wound that only He can heal.”[19] Padre Benedetto on August 27: “All that happens in you is a consequence of love, of the vocation to be co-redeemer.”[20]


After the Transverberation Padre Pio was left into “the dark night of the soul” for several weeks. God seemed to have abandoned him.[21]



Permanent stigmata wounds


The stigmata are the bodily wounds on the hands, feet and side corresponding to those inflicted on Jesus at the Crucifixion. Notable stigmatics were Francis of Assisi, Rita of Cascia, John of God, Gemma Galgani, Veronica Giuliani, Catherine of Siena.

Saint Francis of Assisi received the stigmata on Saturday September 14, 1224, feast of the triumph of the Cross, on Mount Verna, town of Chiusi della Verna, in Tuscany, Italy.

       The spot of the stigmatization of Padre Pio  

It all happened the morning of September 20, 1918, between 9 and 10. Padre Pio was praying in the choir after Mass. [22] He was kneeling on the upper row of stalls near the window,[23] on “the vicar’s bench”.[24]

         The Crucifix of the stigmatization

Padre Pio was alone. He saw a “mysterious personage” bearing five wounds. He was terrified and fainted. When he recovered his senses, his hands feet and side were dripping blood. The pain was immense. He slowly got up and dragged himself, step by step on the wounded feet, to his cell where he tried to control the bleeding and clean up.[25]


The Crucifix in the choir has four nails, two for the hands, and two for the feet. Instead of the customary three.[26]


          The only picture of the wounds on the hands   

Padre Placido Bux took the only picture of the hands of Padre Pio without gloves under obedience


Padre Pio did not tell anybody about it. How did people around him find out?

     The habit that Padre Pio was wearing at the time of the stigmatization

Padre Paolino had gone to San Marco in Lamis to preach and confess in preparation of the fest of St. Matthew.[27] Brother Nicola da Roccabascerana was in the countryside in search of alms[28] [29] or in the kitchen[30]. The students had a vacation day and were staying in the backyard. [31]

     Vittoria Ventrella

The first to notice the stigmata were the devout women in church.[32]

One of his spiritual daughters, Vittoria Ventrella, reported that “My sister Filomena went to the convent on September 20, 1918, and was the first to notice that the Padre had received the wounds, because she saw on his hands the red marks similar to the marks that we see on the statue of the Sacred Heart. She came home and told us.”[33]


Another spiritual daughter, Nina Campanile, went to the convent the morning of September 21, to give Padre Pio an offering for a Mass to be said by Padre Pio. In the sacristy, when she gave the offering she noticed a red mark on the back of his hand. She said: “Padre, did you burn your hand?”  He did not answer. But when she tried to kiss the hand Padre Pio said: “If you only knew the embarrassment you cause me!”[34] When Nina reached home, she told her mother that Padre Pio has the stigmata like St. Francis of Assisi.[35]

The next day, the 22nd, she went to the convent again and told the superior: “Padre Paolino, do you know that Padre Pio has the stigmata?” Padre Paolino smiled incredulously.[36]  Maria Campanile later committed to paper her memories of those days.[37]  Filomena Ventrella too went to Padre Paolino to inform him that Padre Pio had the stigmata.[38]


  Padre Paolino da Casacalenda

Padre Paolino’s testimony: “I started thinking: “How can be possible that Padre Pio has received the stigmata without me realizing it? I am always with him’. I went in Padre Pio’s room without knocking at the door. He was writing at the desk. When he saw me he got up. I asked him to continue writing. I got closer, and first saw the wound on the back and on the palm of the right hand. Then I saw the one on the back of the left hand. The same day I wrote to Padre Benedetto, Provincial in San Marco La Catola, telling him what I had seen, and asking him to come to San Giovanni Rotondo as soon as possible. To my astonishment and disappointment he didn’t come. He sent me a letter where he seemed not to give importance to what had happened. He only recommended me to keep absolute silence over the issue.”[39] [40]


Emilio da Matrice, at that time a fifteen years old student of the Seraphic College, testified: “The morning of September 21, 1918, as soon as we approached Padre Pio, we realized he had a wound on the palms of his hands, and was walking with a certain difficulty. We learned only a few days later, from Padre Paolino, that he had received the Lord’s wounds from[41] the Crucifix in the choir.”

  Padre Benedetto

In a letter to Padre Benedetto on October 17, 1918, about a month after the event, Padre Pio gave him a hint: “A mysterious individual wounded me all over. Please come help me.  All my inside rains blood and I am forced to see it flow outside. For pities sake I beg that ceases this torment, this condemnation, this humiliation, this confusion!” [42]


Padre Benedetto was in San Marco La Catola. He didn’t go to San Giovanni Rotondo as requested, but sensed what had really happened, and wrote to Padre Pio on October 19: “Tell me exactly what happened. I want know thoroughly everything, under holy obedience.”[43]


Padre Pio wrote to Padre Benedetto under obedience on October 22: “It was the 20th of last month and I was in the choir after Mass. It was the Friday after the feast of the stigmata of Saint Francis. Suddenly I was wrapped in a sea of blazing light. In that light I saw a mysterious individual, similar to the one I had seen the evening of August 5. He had hands, feet and side dripping blood. From his wounds came rays of very bright white light that penetrated my hands, my feet, and my side. They were like blades of fire that penetrated my skin piercing, cutting, and breaking. I felt that I would die. The pain was immense. The wounds were bleeding, especially the one on the side of the heart. I had barely the strength to drag me to my cell to clean my clothes all soaked in blood." Padre Pio concludes: “Oh my God, how much confusion and humiliation I feel in having to show what You have done in this poor creature of yours!”[44]


Second Transverberation of the heart

On December 20, 1918, Padre Pio wrote to his spiritual director Padre Benedetto: “For several days I have been feeling like an iron blade penetrated the lower part of my heart and extended transversally to the right shoulder. It gives me an atrocious pain and doesn’t let me rest. What is this? This new phenomenon has started after I saw the same mysterious personage that I saw on August five and six and in September; of which I have written to you, if you remember, in other letters.”[45]

According to the experts of mysticism this was the final seal of love, were Padre Pio was completely transformed in a living image of Jesus.[46]

Padre Paolino da Casacalenda, the superior of Padre Pio, examined repeatedly the chest wound, and reported in his memories: “The wound on the left side of the chest has the form almost of an X. From that fact, one has to deduct that the wounds are two.”[47]


Soon after the stigmatization

The wounds created uneasiness in Padre Pio and in the friars. Padre Pio had to continue his daily routine with the student of the seraphic college, while dealing with the excruciating pain and the dripping of the blood. He started wearing a green shawl trying to hide the hands under it. For mass he used a vestment with extra-long sleeves, than he used full woolen gloves, and then half gloves. He would remove them before the Canon and put them back after communion.  On the side wound he put a linen cloth, and on the feet he started wearing socks. Padre Pio’s humility, simplicity and obedience were unchanged. He would say to Padre Agostino: “Pray and have people pray for my conversion.”[48] He went through desolation, aridity and scruples. “I see only darkness in my soul. Who knows if God is happy with me.”[49]



On March 3, 1919 Padre Benedetto examined the wounds and sent a letter to Padre Agostino: “They are real wounds, perforating the hands and feet. I have also observed the side wound: it is a real gash that bleeds continuously either blood or serum.”[50]

On April 24, 1919 Padre Benedetto informs the Padre Generale in Rome, explaining what he had seen, and that he had not informed him before, because of the sensitivity of the issue.[51]

The friars had no idea if the wound could be infected or contagious, since Padre Pio had been diagnosed in the past as probably having tuberculosis. And the Spanish fever was still raging or. An answer could come only from doctors.[52]




On May 1, 1919 Dr. Angelo Maria Merla was the first doctor to see Padre Pio after he received the wounds. He was the town’s doctor, and also the mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo. He went to the convent by request of Padre Paolino di Tomaso da Casacalenda, the Padre Superior. He declared that the lesions were not the result of tuberculosis, but that he could not say with any certainty what caused them without extensive tests.[53]


On May 15 and 16, 1919, Prof. Luigi Romanelli, head physician of the Hospital in Barletta, by disposition of Padre Benedetto di San Marco in Lamis, Provincial Superior of the Capuchins, did a physical on Padre Pio, examining the wounds. He wrote a report that was sent to the Superior General in Rome.[54]

He wrote in his report: "The lesions on the hands are covered by a red brown membrane, without bleeding, no edema and no inflammation of the surrounding tissues. The pigmented areas are membranes covering a hole. There was no bone resistance. I am certain that these wounds are not superficial because, putting my thumb in the palm of the hand, and the index finger on the back, and applying pressure, I have the exact perception of a void existing." [55]

“The wounds on the feet are circular, with a diameter of about 1 ½ inches, covered with red lucent membranes, with sharp edges and surrounded by normal tissue. They are located in the area of the second metatarsal bone.[56]

“On the left side of the chest, in the area of the sixth intercostal space, there is a linear slash wound of about three inches, leaking out arterial blood.”[57]


 "The etiology of the lesions of Padre Pio is not natural. The agent producing those lesions needs to be searched, make no mistakes, in the supernatural. The fact in itself it's a phenomenon that cannot be explained with the sole human science."[58] [59] [60]



In 1919-1921,Cardinal Augusto Silj, Prefect of Apostolic Signature, the Supreme Tribunal of the Holy See, visited with Padre Pio several times, each time expressing a very positive opinion to Pope Benedict XV.[61]



July 1919: Dr. Amico Bignami, professor of medical pathology of the University of Rome, an atheist, examined Padre Pio by disposition of Padre Venanzio da Lisle, Superior General, and of Padre Giuseppe da Persiceto, General Procurator of the Capuchin Order. On July 26, 1919 he gave a written report of his examination.

"The lesions on the hands, feet and side can be explained as unconsciously self-produced by autosuggestion, and kept artificially with repeated applications of tincture of iodine." He also stated: “I do not understand how these wounds have persisted for nearly a year now without getting better or worse.” Bignami also commented: “The expression of Padre Pio’s face is full of goodness and sincerity and leads me to the positive exclusion of a simulation”.[62] [63]

Bignami also ordered the wounds bandaged and sealed for eight days under supervision of a sworn committee. When the bandages were unsealed and removed eight days later “the wounds remained the same.”[64] [65] [66] The committee was composed of Padre Paolino da Casacalenda, Padre Basilio da Mirabello Sannitico, and Padre Ludovico da San Marco in Lamis. Padre Paolino wrote in his memories: “I am particularly grateful to Dr. Bignami. Without his order I would never had a chance to see the wounds. I was particularly impressed by the side wound. It has almost a form of an X. That means that they are two wounds.” In fact it was consequence of two separated mystical events: the transverberation of August 5, 1918, and the stigmatization of September 20, 1918.[67]


On October 9 and 10, 1919, Dr. Giorgio Festa, a surgeon in private practice, well known in Rome at the time, examined the wounds by disposition of Padre Venanzio da Lysle, Superior General of the Capuchin Order.

He made three examinations. The last was in 1925.[68] [69]

On October 28, 1919, Dr. Festa, back in Rome, wrote a report of his examination, and gave it to the superior general of the Capuchin order.


“In the palm of the left hand there is a circular lesion a little less than 1 inch in diameter. The lesion has a red brown color and is covered by a blackish crust. The lesion doesn’t seem very deep. The back of the left hand has a lesion similar to the one on the palm . The lesions on the right hand have the same characteristics of the left hand.

The dorsal and plantar sides of the feet have circular lesions similar to the ones on the hands. Applying a light pressure on the lesions elicits a sharp pain. While examining the lesions ooze serum and blood. The skin surrounding the lesions shows no signs of edema, infiltrate, or inflammatory reaction.

Le lesion on the left side of the chest, transversal, about two fingers below the nipple, has the form of a cross, with the long arm measuring about little less than three inches, and the short arm about 1 ½ inches. The lesion is superficial and still emits drops of blood, more than the other lesion.

The lesions appeared all together on September 1918, 13 months ago, and show the same freshness as they had just appeared. In all this months they have not shown any tendency to cicatrization.

My opinion is that they were not originated by a cutting object or by applying chemical substances. The action of chemicals would have influenced also the surrounding tissues, which are normal. Padre Pio has applied iodine every couple of days to limit the loss of blood. However he hasn’t applied any for more than 3 months, by disposition of his superiors, and the lesions present the same characteristics as before.

My conclusion is that the lesions and the hemorrhage of blood have an origin that our knowledge is very far from explaining. The reason for them is well above the human science.”[70] [71]


Padre Pietro da Ischitella

Padre Pietro da Ischitella

About the depth of the lesions, dr. Festa wrote that Padre Pietro da Ischitella, the provincial superior had observed the lesions few months after the event and had clearly the impression that the lesions went through the whole hand. Dr. Festa continued: “I have personally questioned Padre Pietro da Ischitella, and he told me verbatim: ’If a superior authority asks me I can declare and confirm swearing that looking at the wound from the palm side one can easily see through, recognizing a writing or an object positioned on the other side.’ “[72]

  Dr. Andrea Cardone

Dr. Andrea Cardone from Pietrelcina, who was friend and physician of Padre Pio for many years, testified in 1968: “In both hands exist holes a bit larger than half inch, passing through the palm of the hands to the other side; so that one could see light passing through. And with pressure the fingertips of my thumb and pointer touched each other.”[73]


In July 1920 the professors  Giorgio Festa and Luigi Romanelli  did follow up examinations of the wounds. They did not perceive any interruption in the bones of the hands and of the feet.[74]

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."[75] [76] [77] The colleague of dr. Festa was dr. Bignami.[78]  [79]


Dr. Alberto Caserta of Foggia did x-rays of the hands of Padre Pio on October 14, 1954. The radiographs did not show interruptions in the bones.[80]

       Padre Gerardo greeting Padre Pio, and one of his books about the stigmatization of Padre Pio

Regarding the chest wound, Padre Gerardo Di Flumeri has collected 14 descriptions of the direct observations of the examining physicians and of the friars in contact with Padre Pio. They vary from a linear wound to one X shaped.[81]

Intigrillo: “The lesion on Padre Pio’s side will always be the subject of discussion, with regard to both shape and exact position.”[82]



  Cardinal Pietro Gasparri


On November 19, 1919, the Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, Secretary of State, wrote to the superior of the Capuchins, to recommend the Rosi family, who wanted to confess and receive the Communion from Padre Pio, and also to ask him to pray for the Pope’s intentions and for his own. He also asked for some little object from Padre Pio for his niece Antonia Veda.[83] [84] [85]


In 1919, Mons. Alberto Costa, bishop of Melfi and Rapolla after visiting with Padre Pio he wrote: “I am convinced of the holiness of Padre Pio. His life is totally consecrated to the glorification of God and the conversion of the sinners. My impression can be boiled down to one: to that of having talked to a saint.”[86] [87]



On March 24-27, 1920, Archbishop Anselm Edward Kenealy, of Simla, India, who was himself a Capuchin and a prelate, examined Padre Pio by request of Pope Benedict XV. Mons. Kenealy was known to be skeptical regarding mystical phenomena. He spent five hours with Padre Pio.[88]

He reported: “I wanted to see the wounds of Padre Pio because I am resistant to believe in things if I have not seen them with my own eyes. I went, I saw, I was conquered (Veni, Vidi, Victus sum). I am deeply convinced that we have a true saint here. The Lord, with the five wounds of the Passion has given him great gifts, and he is completely at ease. If he knows how to suffer, he also knows how to laugh.”[89] [90] [91]

   Mons. Benaventura Cerretti


On May 20, 1920, not completely satisfied, the pope sent archbishop Bonaventura Cerretti, secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, who’s Prefect was Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, to examine Padre Pio. He reached the convent on May 24. Padre Onorato wrote that Cerretti came dressed as a simple priest, showed the letter of the Holy Office and his episcopal cross, and asked to examine Padre Pio. He was deeply impressed, wrote in the guest book an expression of admiration, asked the prayers of Padre Pio, and gave the Pope a very positive evaluation.[92] [93]


  Mons. Angelo Poli


Bishop Angelo Poli (or Police), apostolic vicar of Allahabad, India, visited Padre Pio in October 1920. He wrote on November 2, 1920: “I came, I saw, and I was conquered. Not the slightest doubt remains in me: the finger of God is here (Digitus Dei hic est). Seeing Padre Pio one feels overwhelmed by the presence of supernatural, and at the same time, his natural simple attitude inspires confidence.”[94] [95] [96]

  Capuchin missionaries

On February 17, 1921, Padre Pio expressed in a letter to Mons. Poli his desire to become a missionary: “… I have made persistent pressure on my director to let me be one of your missionaries, but he finds that I am unfit for it.”[97]



On April 18, 1920. Padre Agostino Gemelli, Franciscan friar, physician and psychologist, went to the Convent. He said: "Padre Pio I came for a clinical exam of your lesions." Padre Pio asked: "Do you have a written authorization?"  "No" replied padre Gemelli. "Then I'm not authorized to show them to you" concluded Padre Pio. The conversation did not last more than two minutes: a few words, no examination of the stigmata, and Padre Pio dismisses him. But the next day Gemelli sends a personal letter to the Holy Office declaring the stigmata “fruit of suggestion”, and two months later he sends a second one with specific advice on the measures to take.[98] Gemelli stated in a written report that he had examined Padre Pio, and described in details the wounds, but it is certain that no such examination took place. He also said the he had done a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. Padre Benedetto da San Marco in Lamis, who was present at the meeting, wrote a detailed report, confirming that Gemelli hadn’t examined Padre Pio. Gemelli’s criticism was instrumental for the measures taken by the Vatican against Padre Pio.[99] [100] [101]

Gemelli’s report submitted to the Holy Office has never been released. In 1931 Cardinal Michele Lega told Padre Luigi da Avellino: “It was terrible. If you could read it, it would change your mind about Padre Pio.”[102]

In later years Gemelli had “somewhat” changed his position about Padre Pio.

Gemelli died July 15, 1959. It is reported that Padre Pio told another friar that he assisted and confessed Padre Gemelli in bilocation in his final moments.[103]



On July 12, 1920, Padre Luigi Besi, General Postulator of the Passionists, made an apostolic visitation by disposition of Pope Benedict XV. He went unannounced. When he reached Foggia by train, he was greeted by a Capuchin friar who told him: “Padre Pio has asked for a friar to go to Foggia and pick up a Passionist who had been sent by the Pope. I am here to accompany you to the convent.”[104]  [105] Besi was impressed. He wrote that Padre Pio “was privileged by God, as was St. but even more so.” (Gemma Galgani was Passionist mystic nun who had died about twenty years before). [106]



On July 20, 1920 prof. Giuseppe Bastianelli, the physician of pope Benedict XV was sent personally by him to examine the wounds of Padre Pio. He visited with Padre Pio on July 22 and examined the wounds. He gave a favorable report on the supernaturalism of the case.[107] [108]



In 1920, Mons. Alberto Valbonesi, titular bishop of Memphis, Egypt, a Vatican employee, visited Padre Pio and was very favorably impressed. He said that the interview with Padre Pio had ‘compensated me for years of pain.”[109]



On September 7, 1920, Padre Roberto Nove di Bassano wrote that he had been to San Giovanni Rotondo with a skeptical and indifferent attitude, but after visiting with Padre Pio and closely observing his daily routine he had been conquered by his serenity and simplicity, and had dropped all his preventions against him.[110]



The crowds


By summer the scene was one of pandemonium. The little church was invaded by peasants, artist, writers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists, curious, fanatics, thieves, pickpockets, sick wanted to be cured, possessed wanting to be freed.[111] The church was not spared. People cut pieces from cassocks, chasubles, albs, and anything that presumably had been used by Padre Pio, such as straws from chairs were he had been seated. Whenever Padre Pio appeared in public they cut pieces of his clothing.[112] In April 1919 Padre Pio complained to Padre Benedetto that his breviary had been stolen.[113] [114] People stayed around the convent for days, and since there were no hotels or private homes outside the town a mile away, they slept under the stars, ate what they could, and drunk well water.[115] There was no sanitation and many were sick.[116]

The Capuchin friars deplored what was happening, including the publicity by the press, forbidden by Canon Law.[117]



In the town of San Giovanni Rotondo things had changed dramatically since the news about Padre Pio spread. One of the changes was that many faithful started deserting the local parish and went to the convent for religious services. This emptied the church in town and made some of the local clergy resentful. Don Giovanni Miscio, don Giuseppe Prencipe and don Domenico Palladino accused the friars  of “putting Padre Pio on display for the purpose of making money”. The Bishop of Manfredonia, Mons. Pasquale Gagliardi, with jurisdiction over San Giovanni Rotondo, got informed, noticed, and joined the action against the convent. They “bombarded the Vatican with complaints about Padre Pio.” Gagliardi went to the Vatican deploring Padre Pio’s horrible manner of hearing confessions” leaving the souls “in a state of agitation”. He insisted: “Padre Pio is demon-possessed and the friars of San Giovanni Rotondo are a band of thieves.” He added: “With my own eye I saw Padre Pio perfume himself and put makeup on his face! All this I swear on my pectoral cross.” He also state that Padre Pio habitually slept  in the friary’s guest room attended by young girls with whom he took liberties. Gagliardi also charged that the friars were living in “unspeakable luxury, and were raking in huge sums of money.[118]


Rumor of transfer


In September 1919 a rumor spread that Padre Pio was going to be transferred. The citizen made massive public demonstrations and stayed around to guard the monastery day and night.[119] [120]

On October 14, 1920 in a clash between opposed political parties on the square of city hall in San Giovanni Rotondo, there were fourteen dead and eighty wounded. The town got national attention. Padre Pio tried to promote pacification between the parties.[121] [122]

On June 21, 1921 a visiting priest was suspected by the people as the one assigned to prepare for the transfer of Padre Pio, and they stormed the monastery.[123] [124]



In the newspapers

         The Napoli newspaper "Il Mattino" reporting about Padre Pio


For several months the stigmatization of Padre Pio was known only to few people.

Than he news spread, and pilgrims and curious arrived at the convent, from Southern Italy, then from the whole Italy and from abroad. [125]

On May 9, 1919 the “Il Giornale d’Italia” was the first newspaper to report about Padre Pio.

On June 1, 1919 “Il Tempo” run a title “Il miracolo di un Santo” describing he instantaneous healing of a soldier by Padre Pio. The article had been written by Adelchi Fabbrocini. On June 3, 1919 the same paper “Il Tempo” titles “I miracoli di Padre Pio a San Giovanni Rotondo”, reports some prodigies attributed to the friar. Also reports that “at times his body reaches temperatures of 50 C (F 122) as it has been observed with bath thermometers).”[126]

On June 20 and 21, 1919, the journalist, Renato Trevisani, on the Napoli’s newspaper “Il Mattino”, in full page describes that “Padre Pio, ‘The Saint’ of San Giovanni Rotondo, makes a miracle on the person of the town’s chancellor.”[127] [128] [129]

On June 19, 1920 the “Daily Mail” reports “extraordinary events happening daily in San Giovanni Rotondo”, and describes how the wounds had been investigated by the doctors and prelates“. On October 27, 1923 the Belgian newspaper “Le Soir” describes the wounds, the examinations, the prodigies and the “very high fevers of 48-50C “(118-122 F).



The palace of the Holy Office in Vatican

Meanwhile the Vatican office of Inquisition, called at the time The Holy Office, received contradictory information regarding what was going on in San Giovanni Rotondo, about the nature of the wounds, the presumed holiness of the stigmatized, and the behavior of the friars. The Holy Office was forced to take a stand and initiated an exhaustive formal investigation.[130] [131] [132]


In 1920 the theologian Joseph Lemius of the Oblates or Mary Immaculate was entrusted directly by the secretary of the Holy Office, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val.[133] Lemius was asked a very precise question: “That measures, if any, should be adopted by the Holy Office regarding Padre Pio da Pietrelcina.[134]

 Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, now Servant of God

From the fall of 1920 to January 1921 he read the documentation available. In a meeting at the Holy Office on January 21, 1921 he stated that without direct examination on site nothing could be said for sure about the origin of the stigmata.

Fr. Lemius suggested to send an Apostolic Visitor to be sent as a Qualificator, to do a thorough investigation about Padre Pio’s moral, ascetic and mystical character, focusing on humility and obedience, his way of dealing with women, use of pharmaceutical products such as the carbolic acid he requested in connection with the injections administered to the novices during the epidemic of the Spanish fever.[135] [136]


On April 26, 1921 the choice of the Holy Office fell on Msgr. Raffaello Carlo Rossi, bishop of Volterra. He would have to answer the question on who really is Padre Pio. He declined at first, than accepted the task. Mons. Rossi first went to the Holy Office in Vatican were he examined Padre Pio’s file, full of praise and criticism, then he went to San Giovanni Rotondo on June 14, 1921.[137]



Padre Raffaello Carlo Rossi of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites


In 1921, The Holy Office ordered the first Apostolic Visitation concerning Padre Pio. The bishop of Volterra Raffaello Carlo Rossi, future cardinal, was sent to San Giovanni Rotondo. He started on June 14, 1921, and left after eight days. Padre Pio was 34 years old. Mons. Rossi had formal interviews with two priests of the local parish: archpriest Canon Mons. Dr. Giuseppe Prencipe and bursar canon Domenico Palladino. He also interviewed the friar padres Lorenzo, Luigi, Romolo, Lodovico, Pietro, and Cherubino. Last, he had formal interview and examination of the wounds of Padre Pio.[138]

From Mons. Rossi’s written report: “Padre Pio is a good religious, exemplary, accomplished in the practice of the virtues.”[139] "In conversation, Padre Pio is very pleasant; with his brothers, he is serene, jovial, and even humorous."[140]

 "The religious Community in which Padre Pio lives is a good Community and one that can be trusted."[141] 

"The very intense and pleasant fragrance, similar to the scent of the violet, I have smelled it."[142]  "I have examined the monk's cell and could find nothing that would cause such a scent. There was only plain soap."[143] “He has attested in a sworn statement to never using, and never having used, perfumes.”[144]

Padre Pio told Mons. Rossi under oath: "On September 20, 1918 I saw the Lord in the posture of being on a cross, lamenting the ingratitude of men, especially those consecrated to him.  He urged me to partake of his sorrows, and to work for my brothers’ salvation. I asked him what I could do. I heard this voice: 'I unite you with my Passion.' Once the vision disappeared, I came to my senses, and I saw these signs here, which were dripping blood. I didn't have anything before."[145]

Mons Rossi: "The stigmata are there: We are before a real fact that it is impossible to deny."[146] "I am fully in favor of their authenticity, and, in fact, of their Divine origin."

"The future will reveal what today cannot be read in the life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina." The report, called “Votum on Padre Pio da Pietrelcina” was completed on October 4, 1921 and given to the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office.[147]


“On the wounds I used iodine every once in a while, but a doctor told me that it could irritate them even more. They had me to use petrolatum jelly when the wounds would lose their scabs. It may be over two years that I have used nothing at all.”[148]

        America brother Bill Martin, later Father Joseph Pius

Padre Joseph Pius, Bill Martin before becoming a Capuchin friar, reported: “The wounds were in the center of the palm, and the coagulated blood covered the whole hand. The blood was always running out of the holes. It is true that if you were very close and there was a light behind his hand you could see a light shining through the holes. Mrs. Emilia Sanguinetti, said that when Padre Pio celebrated Mass and held up his hands to bless people, she would see the light through his hands. His feet were always very swollen. They were like melons under his socks, one more swollen than the other. On the last day I did find white crusts with a tone of pink, very pale pink, after last Mass on September 22. I took them away. When he died there were no scars.”[149]


Padre Pio to Mons. Rossi: “The wounds don’t always keep the same appearance. At times they are more noticeable, at times less so. Sometimes they look like they are about to disappear, but they didn’t, and then come back, flourishing again.”[150]

Mos. Rosi: “Do you swear on the Holy Gospel that you have not, directly or indirectly, produced, nurtured, cultivated, preserved the signs?” Padre Pio: “I swear! Quite the contrary! I would be very grateful if the Lord relieved me of them!”

  Sign on the house were Mos. Rossi was born in Pisa

Mons. Raffaello Carlo Rossi, born in Pisa, Italy, was a religious of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. He served several Popes in many assignments in the Roman Congregations, including the Holy Office. He was elected bishop of Volterra and later Cardinal. Mons. Rossi saw Padre Pio’s holiness well before many others who would follow him. He was the first to verify on behalf of the Holy Office, the theological nature of the stigmata.[151] He too, like Padre Pio, had an intense saintly life. Currently he is Servant of God, and the process of sainthood is well under way.


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

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

Allegri, R. (1998). Padre Pio, un santo tra noi. Milano: Edizioni Mondadori. All98

Andrea, G. S. (2008). Padre Pio. L'ultimo sospetto. Edizioni Piemme. And98

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

Casacalenda, P. P. (1978). Le mie memorie intorno a Padre Pio. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio. Paol78

Castelli, F. (2011). Padre Pio under investigation. The secret Vatican files. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.  Cas12

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

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

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

Flumeri, G. D. (1995). Le stigmate di Padre Pio, Testimonianze e relazioni. Edizioni Padre Pio.  Flu95

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

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

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

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

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 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

Pronzato, A. (1999). Padre Pio, mistero doloroso. Editore Gribaudi.  Pro99

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

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. Bedès Publications.  Sch87

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


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[1] Gia12, 105

[2] Scg87, 112

[3] Gia12, 105

[4] Epist. I, 874

[5] Pre00, 87

[6] Sch87, 116-7

[7] Epist. I, 1054

[8] Gia12, 127

[9] Ruf91, 153

[10] Gia12, 203-4

[11] Cas11, 63

[12] Cas11, 223 and 204-5

[13] Cas11, 205

[14] Ruf91, 156

[15] Fer10, 133

[16] Gia12, 127

[17] Ale10, 84

[18] Epist. I, 1065

[19] Epist. I, 1068

[20] Epist. 1, 1068

[21] Duc83, 50

[22] Gia12, 128

[23] Per02, 248

[24] Ruf91, 155

[25] Per02, 248-252

[26] Ing78, 66

[27] Fer10, 134

[28] Fer10, 134

[29] Gia12, 127

[30] Per02, 252

[31] Pre00, 105

[32] Cas11, 154

[33] Ger95, 141-2

[34] Ger95, 143-4

[35] Pre00, 109-10

[36] Ger95, 143-4

[37] Ruf91, 163

[38] Ruf91, 154

[39] Pro99, 91-4

[40] Paol78, 70-75

[41] Cas11, 297

[42] Epist. I, 1090-1

[43] Epist I, 1091

[44] Epist. I, 1093

[45] Epist. I, 1106

[46] Gia12, 135-6

[47] Epist. I, 151

[48] Ago12, 58

[49] Ago12, 58

[50] Ago12, 341

[51] Gae08, 23-4

[52] Gia12, 140

[53] Paolino, 54-57

[54] Ger95, 147-151

[55] Ger95, 147-151

[56] Ger95, 147-151

[57] Ger95, 147-151

[58] Ger95, 147-151

[59] Fer10, 147-9

[60] Pre00, 112-4

[61] Pre00,124

[62] Fer10, 149-52

[63] Gia12, 145-9

[64] Ger95, 173-179

[65] Fer10, 153-4

[66] Pre00, 115-6

[67] Gia12, 150

[68] Mor73, 288-92

[69] Ger95, 179-273

[70] Mal99, 347-55

[71] Pre00, 117-8

[72] Fer10, 154-60, 170-1

[73] Fer10, 171

[74] Ger95, 173-179

[75] Win88, 71

[76] Ger95, 173-273

[77] Cap12, 393

[78] Del62, 79-80

[79] Win88, 71

[80] Ger95, tav, 17-20.

[81] Ger95, 10-22

[82] Cas11, 77

[83] Pre00, 123

[84] Mal99, 316

[85] Nap78,45-6

[86] Ruf91, 179-80

[87] Mal00, 317

[88] Pre00, 119

[89] Gia12, 175-6

[90] All98, 318

[91] Mal00, 319-20

[92] Pre00, 124

[93] Per02, 283

[94] Epist. IV,39 Note2.

[95] Ale99, 318

[96] Mal00, 318-9

[97] Epist IV, 40

[98] Cas11, 5

[99] Ruf91, 178

[100] Chi99, 152-3

[101] Pre00, 119-21

[102] Ruf91, 179

[103] Ruf91, 179

[104] Per01, 263-4

[105] Mal00, 319

[106] Pre00,  124

[107] Ruf91, 179

[108] Chi99, 153-4

[109] Ruf99, 179

[110] Chi99, 154

[111] Mal00, 326

[112] Gia12, 166

[113] Ruf91, 168


[115] Per03, 272

[116] Mal99, 263

[117] Pre00, 123

[118] Ruf91, 169, 183, 190

[119] Pre00, 123-4

[120] Per02, 282

[121] Chi99, 161-2

[122] Per02, 274

[123] Pre00, 124

[124] Per02, 282-3

[125] Fer10, 145-6

[126] Gia12, 143

[127] Cas11, 86

[128] Fer10, 146

[129] Mal99, 123

[130] Mal99, 134

[131] Gia12, 140

[132] Cas11, 5

[133] Cas11,64

[134] Cas11, 5

[135] Gia12, 204-5

[136] Cas11, 6

[137] Gia12, 206

[138] Cas11, 232

[139] Cas11, 27

[140] Cas11, 94

[141] Cas11, 132

[142] Cas11, 124

[143] Cas11, 125-6

[144] Cas11, 126

[145] Cas11, 202

[146] Cas11,107

[147] Cas11, 81-133

[148] Cas11, 201

[149] Sch87, 62-3

[150] Cas11, 231

[151] Cas11, 272