Padre Pio and his spiritual children. His words on meditation and prayer. The Prayer Groups.


Spiritual children



Padre Pio had many spiritual children. he would get all of their messages, written or sent to him by other means, and he would find a way to answer to all of them.




Padre Pio holding letters from, and writing to spiritual children



Padre Pio reading a message.



"I have made a pact with the Lord: I will take my place at the gate to paradise,

but I shall not enter until I have seen the last of my spiritual children enter."


Padre Pio smiling.


 "When the Lord entrusts a soul to me, I place it on my shoulder and never let it go."


"I accept you as spiritual child; and don't make  me lose face." 


"I see all my children who come to the altar, as if in a mirror."

"I love my Spiritual Children as much as my own soul and even more."

"Once I take a soul on, I also take on their entire family as my spiritual children."






"I tell Mary: Here are the children of your Son."

"Woe to those who lay a hand on my spiritual children."


"To my Spiritual Children: my prayers for you will never be lacking"


"If one of my spiritual children ever goes astray, I shall leave my flock and seek him out."


Vittorina Ventrella had a vision one night of a dazzling Padre Pio in heaven, with innumerable rays of light emanating from him.

The rays were formed by myriads of white and red roses. The morning after she went to Padre Pio for an explanation.

"Oh! you came to ask me about what you saw last night. The rays are the prayer groups;

the white roses are the souls who live in grace;

the red roses are the souls who carry the cross with me."


This statement has been interpreted  as if after his death, all those who entered the prayer groups would become his spiritual children.







When you leave us what are we going to do without you?

"I will be here in your midst, more than before. Come visit my tomb. Before, in order to speak to me, you had to wait.

Then, it is I who will be waiting there. Come to my tomb and you will receive more than you did before!".






How do you remember everybody? 

"I remember them and I call them one by one, and count their hairs, and then some."









Some spiritual daughters of Padre Pio before he went to San Giovanni Rotondo:



Raffaelina Cerase, now Servant of God

Raffaelina Cerase from Foggia. In 1914 started exchange of numerous letters with Padre Pio for spiritual direction.

In 1915 she became gravely ill and asked if Padre Pio could come to Foggia to confess her. At that time Padre Pio was at home in Pietrelcina in convalescent leave.

He was solicited to come to Foggia by father Agostino and father Benedetto. He was in Foggia on February 17, 1916 and stayed at the capuchin convent of St. Ann.

Raffaelina Cerase was visited daily by Padre Pio from February 17, 1916, until the day of her death on March 25, 1916.









Giuseppina Morgera, now Servant of God

Giuseppina Morgera, from Casamicciola (Naples), met Padre Pio in 1915  while he was in Naples for the military service.

Exchanged numerous letters with Padre Pio. "She doesn't walk, but flies on the road of divine love."






Antonietta Vona

Antonietta Vona was introduced to Padre Pio by Giuseppina Morgera in 1917 while he was in Naples for military service.

Exchanges several letters with him for spiritual guidance (cf. Epist. III, 817-906).







1916: First group of spiritual daughters in San Giovanni Rotondo:

The group used to meet in the guest area of the convent every Thursday and Sunday.






Rachelina Russo

Rachelina Russo and her niece Rachelina Gisolfi who had met him earlier in the year 1916 in Foggia,

asked Padre Pio to meet with some devout souls of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo. At first he rejected the idea, than after much insistence, he agreed.






Nina Campanile

Nina Campanile in her diary  'Memories of Padre Pio' (Memorie sul Padre Pio) described: In 1916 'The first group of souls around Padre Pio from the first moment he came to the

convent were: Rachelina Russo and her nieces,  the sisters Vittorina, Elena, and  Filomena Ventrella, the sisters Giovanna Lucia Fiorentino, Maria Ricciardi, sister of father Ambrogio,

Maddalena Cascavilla. 'On October 5, 1916, after Padre Pio had returned definitely in September, the group was joined by me Nina Campanile

and my sister Lucietta. Few month later joined the sisters Maria Antonietta Pompilio and Filomena Fini.'


Nina Campanile in her diary: ' He explained that the principal means of Christian perfection are: the choice of a saint and learned director,

frequentation of sacraments, meditation, spiritual readings.' 'He used to say: 'the sacred argumentations need always to be

sustained by sacred examples.' 'He wanted that we meditate twice a day, morning and evening.'


'He insisted a lot on daily meditation "Even with the face on the ground, like Jesus did in Gethsemane."

"It is important to meditate, even if there is no emotion involved."








Lucia Fiorentino

Lucia was part of the first group of spiritual daughters in 1916.

She wrote a Diary about her experience.

Exchanged several letter with Padre Pio. She burned them as a 'sacrifice to Jesus'. Only 6 have survived. They are included in the third volume of the Epistolary.










Filomena Fini

Filomena Fini  in 1913 married Cristoforo Fiorentino, brother of Lucia Fiorentino, also spiritual child of Padre Pio. Widow at age 28. She went daily to Padre Pio’s Mass. 

Wrote a diary  “News on Padre Pio”. “To follow Padre Pio it takes a lot of suffering.”





Assunta di Tomaso

Assunta Di Tomaso from Casacalenda (Campobasso), Became spiritual child of Padre Pio on September 24,1916, and received several

letters from Padre Pio for spiritual direction. After the death of her parents she moved to San Giovanni Rotondo.








 Margherita Tresca

Margherita Tresca started spiritual direction with Padre Pio on December 20, 1917. Received letters for 4 years (cf. Epist. III, 161-224).












Cleonice Morcaldi



Cleonice Morcaldi near Padre Pio


Cleonice Morcaldi and another spiritual daughter talking to Padre Pio


Cleonice Morcaldi. Met Padre Pio in 1920. She got revealing answers through verbal contacts and exchanges of short notes

about the supernatural mystical aspect of Padre Pio. She has written: Testimonianze su Padre Pio, and a Diary.












Angela Serritelli

From San Giovanni Rotondo. Met Padre Pio on January 23, 1917. Was part of the original group founding the Casa Sollievo della sofferenza.

Wrote a manuscript: Notizie di Padre Pio.











Maria Gargani, now Servant of God


Servant of God Maria Gargani, older sister of Erminia, founded “Apostole del Sacro Cuore”.

Met Padre Pio in 1915 when he passed by the convent of San Marco La Catola, and became spiritual daughter.

In the Epistolary there are 67 letters written to her by Padre Pio, starting in 1916.

Erminia Gargani

Donna Erminia Gargani, elementary school teacher for 60 years in several locations.    

Received from Padre Pio 69 letters from December 6, 1916 to May 31 1923, in the 3rd volume.



Erminia Gargani received a Gold Medal from Italian president Einaudi for special merits teaching in elementary schools.






Maria Pompilio

Maria Pompilio receiving the Communion from Padre Pio


The first page of the memories of Padre Pio written by Maria Pompilio




Maria Pompilio walking with Padre Pio ad another friar







Antonietta Pompilio

In 1916  Antonietta Pompilo asked Padre Pio how to meditate. He started talking about the agony in the Gethsemane, an than he went in ecstasy.

For about an hour he stayed with the eyes closed, without moving. Than he returned normal and said: "God be blessed. Let's continue."






Padre Pio smiling





Padre Pio meeting with spiritual daughters



A meeting of spiritual daughters with Padre Pio








Some spiritual sons of Padre Pio



Pietro Cugino "Pietruccio"



Pietro Cugino, called "Pietruccio" suffered from an hereditary eye disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa, and by the time he was thirteen he was totally blind, like his father.

He went to the convent daily and run every kind of errands for the friars. He transported daily on foot the mail from the friary to the post office, and back.

Padre Pio asked him several times if he wanted the sight back. His answer was always "If the Lord should restore my sight and this should be occasion of sin, I renounce it."

Padre Pio loved him for this generous offer of suffering. Pietruccio was at every Mass of Padre Pio, kneeling at the same spot on the right side of the altar.

He was allowed to stay with Padre Pio making him company, while they prayed.

He made good use of his access to Padre Pio by bringing to him written messages by the spiritual children, and returning to them a written Padre Pio's answer.



Pietruccio seen kneeling closest to the side of the altar during Padre Pio's Mass.




Detail of the blind Pietruccio kneeling closest to the side of the altar during Padre Pio's Mass.





Pietruccio is let in the friary, carrying a bag of mail from the post office.







Pietruccio Cugino













Communion to paralyzed Giacomo Gaglione, now Venerable

Giacomo Gaglione, now Venerable. Met Padre Pio in 1919. Paralyzed for more than fifty years.

Padre Pio said of him: "With Jesus on the Cross, with Jesus in Paradise."





Dr. Giorgio Festa. Investigated Padre Pio in 1919 and 1920. "This is an extraordinary phenomenon that science can't explain."






Emanuele Brunatto. 1920. Lived in the convent from 1920 to 1925. Defended Padre Pio in writing.


Young Padre Pio with Emanuele Brunatto







Attorney and journalist Cesare Festa. 1921. Padre Pio wrote in a letter to him: "Never blush of Christ and his doctrine".






Guglielmo Sanguinetti. 1936.    "You will work for me." He built the Casa Sollievo.











Carlo Campanini. 1939. Actor and comedian. Daily Mass and Rosary after meeting Padre Pio..

Padre Pio with Carlo Campanini









Enrico Medi, now Servant of God. 1941.  Scientist physicist. 'Padre Pio for 27 years has guided my life with infinite wisdom.'








Angelo Battisti. 1941. Administrator of Casa Sollievo. "Work, and I will take care of the rest."





Gerardo De Caro. 1943. Politician. "This is my Representative. You'd better keep your hands off him."







Beniamino Gigli.  1946. Tenor opera singer. "Young man. Change your shirt." And those words changed his life.

Tenor Beniamino Gigli sings "Mamma" for Padre Pio








Dr. Giuseppe Sala. 1955. Personal physician of Padre Pio, and medical chief of Casa Sollievo.









Francesco Morcaldi . Met Padre Pio in 1919. Mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo for many years.




Padre Pio's words on Meditation

Padre Pio meditating.



"To imitate Jesus we must meditate daily on our model."

"Meditation is like a mirror: it helps us discover and correct our defects."

"Meditation, like a tireless bee, transforms the pollen of flowers into nectar of life."

"Never let a day go by without meditating on the Passion of Christ."


In a letter to Annita Rodote, about meditation:

" Put yourself in the presence of God.

Remember that God is really present with the celestial court, inside you soul.

Than you start your prayers and meditations, holding the palm of the hand to the front, or both hands to the front.

All that must be done without affectation."


"Topics of you meditation should be the life, passion and death of Jesus. His, birth, life in Egypt

and Nazareth up to hid thirties.

The humility of the baptism by John, his public life, his extremely painful passion and death, the institution of

the Eucharist the night when men were preparing for him the most atrocious torments.

You can meditate Jesus in the garden, sweating blood seeing the torments that

men were preparing for him, and the ingratitude of men who would not take advantage of his merits,

Jesus dragged and beaten in the tribunals,  scourged and crowned with thorns, the trip to the Calvary carrying the cross, his crucifixion,

and finally his death on the cross in a sea of  anguishes at the sight of his sorrowful other."



Padre Pio absorbed in meditation.



In a letter to Maria Gargani, also about meditation:

"First prepare the topic of your meditation. You don't need a book for that.

Every truth in our religion can be topic for meditation.

Usually the life, passion and death of Jesus should be meditated.  Ask God for the grace to meditate well, so that it can be fruitful,

than recommend yourself to the Holy Virgin and all the celestial court that may help you

meditate well and keep away every distraction or temptation.

Done that, start the meditation going over the subject in every detail.




Padre at the desk, meditating.



After that one needs to make resolutions. Consider defects that are the cause of many ore defects and sins.

Resolve to work on a virtue, and only stop when you have conquered it.

Finally ask God for the graces and helps that you feel the need for. Recommend to God all the human beings in general and in particular.

Pray for the reestablishment of the kingdom of God, the propagation of faith, the exaltation and triumph of our holy mother the Church.



Padre Pio in his room, meditating.


"Pray for the living an the dead, the infidels e the heretics, and for the conversion of sinners.

After all that offer your meditation and prayer, with the offering of all of yourself, and of all the persons you care for,

through the hands of the holy Mary, the Guardian Angel, St. Joseph, etc. "



Padre Pio meditating in the choir of the church.


"Lastly, examine briefly how you did your meditation, and ask for forgiveness if it has been defective.

Meditate at least twice a day. No less than half hour each time. Possibly in the morning, to prepare for the fight,

and at night to purify the soul from any earthly attachment that happened during the day."



Padre Pio meditates.





Padre Pio's thoughts on Prayer

Padre Pio praying


"I pray constantly".

"I'm only a poor friar who prays" 

"I want to Save souls by continuous prayer."  

"I will never tire of praying to Jesus."

"All that you ask in prayer with faith, you will receive."

"Prayer must be persistent. Persistence denotes faith."

"Prayers will never be wasted."

"The only way to gain salvation is through prayer."

 "Pray, pray a great deal. Always pray, without tiring."

"Prayes is the effusion of our heart in the heart of Go."

"Prayer is the key that opens the heart of God."

"Our Lord wishes that we ask, in order to obtain graces."

"Seek, ask, and knock, in order to find, receive, and to be opened to you."

"Even though the Lord is in us, He still wants us to ask for what we desire."

"Prayer is the best weapon we possess."

"In praying, our heart needs to stay open towards heaven, and wait for the heavenly dew to come."

"Just staying humbly in His presence is an excellent sign of perfection."

"When we are in the presence of God, let's just be happy to stay there, not being concerned about anything else."

"when it is done well, prayer moves the divine heart, and solicits answers more and more"

"Never grow weary of praying. This is essential.

Prayer penetrates the heart of God and obtains the graces needed…


Padre Pio in prayer

Padre pio praying the Breviary


Padre Pio holding a book of prayers



Padre Pio immersed in prayer


Padre Pio praying, with Fra Daniele also praying.








Gruppi di Preghiera. "Prayer Groups".

On March 13 1943 Pius XII said: "In the fight between good and evil we suggest to form groups of faithful who will fully and openly live Christian lives.

Groups of people who pray together. No particular rules or new prayers; just a reunion at least once a month in a church,

with the approval of the local bishop and the assistance of a priest."


Padre Pio decided: "Let's roll up our sleeves and immediately answer this appeal sent out by the Roman Pontiff."


The first list of officially established Prayer Groups was drawn up in 1950.

Padre Pio formulated a precise and clear image of what the Prayer Groups were to be and how they were to fulfill their mission.

The Invitation to Prayer, from the August 1950 edition of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza states:

The Prayer Groups will live their Christian life fully and openly according to the wishes of His Holiness if they are first groups of the faithful who pray together.


At the Second International Congress of the Prayer Groups, gathered at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza on May 5, 1966, Padre Pio spoke to the Congress and called attention to their growth and work:


"It is the prayer, this united power of all good souls, that moves the world, that renews the consciences,


that supports the “Casa”, that comforts the suffering, that heals the sick, that sanctifies labor,


that elevates health care, that gives moral strength and Christian resignation to human suffering,


that spreads the smile and blessing of God on the fainthearted and the weak"


"Pray much, my children, pray always without ever growing tired…we entrust this work to God."

"Praying is the pouring of our heart into the heart of God"


The Prayer Groups are mentioned for the first time in the June 1950 issue of the "Bollettino della Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza"

(see a random issue below)



"Let us pray together"


"Community prayer is a powerful weapon in the hands of the Church and the faithful."


"If more souls unite together in prayer, they form a formidable power."


"In the Groups, when my children unite together in prayer, Jesus will be in the midst of them;

there will also be the Mother of Jesus;

I will also be present in spirit and united in prayer."


"Pray every evening with you family; recite the rosary; once a week or a month gather together

to recite the rosary, assist at Mass, listen to a sermon, receive the Communion,

 keep Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament company for an hour."






Diploma of Aggregation



Prayer Group of San Diego, CA




Prayer Group of New York, NY


There are several hundred Prayer Groups of Padre Pio in the United States


  Next: Padre Pio in Pietrelcina, child, novice, soldier, priest


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Close Encounters of the Special Kind with PADRE PIO: hallways, backyard; around the world, ecstasies; Purgatory, Guardian Angel, devil; Americans; confessional, baptisms, first Communions, weddings;  Virgin Mary, Rosary; Wounds; Mass; himself, God, Jesus, Cross, Christmas, Church; spiritual children, meditation, prayer, Prayer Groups; child, novice, priest, soldier, fevers; first inquisition, Saint Mary of the Graces, Home for the Relief of Suffering (Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza); the most famous picture, children, blessings, at the ballots downtown, eating; second inquisition, last ten years, death; the Capuchin friars; entombed in first resting place, blessed, saint, exhumed, displayed, final resting place in golden crypt; mosaics of the life of Padre Pio, Jesus, Saint Francis of Assisi; fists class relics with certificates; original painting, original icon.