Padre Pio – Modern Saint – Superminds 11

When looking at the things Padre Pio experienced in his life, things seen by witnesses and doctors, we may believe there is no scientific explanation for them. Such things are often called supernatural. The word means beyond the natural, or outside of nature. Supernatural is not a good word however, as all things are part of the universe we live in. There is nothing we know of outside of it. So it would be better to say that what Padre Pio experienced were natural principles we do not yet understand, or have not been able to measure or perceive.

Padre Pio was born in Southern Italy in 1887. He joined the Capuchin Friars, a group of monks within the Catholic Church, in 1903 at the age of 16.  At 23 he became a priest in the order. His childhood had been unremarkable. He had been a healthy active boy and youth, working on his father’s farm. But in the summer of 1918, when he was 31, something from beyond what we can explain by science touched his life. He was praying alone in the mountain friary at San Giovanni Rotundo.



All was quiet on the mountainside, and within the priest there was also an intense stillness. So quiet was his mind and feelings that he passed into a state resembling sleep where all thought stopped, yet he was still awake. He lost all sense of time and described his condition as one ‘similar to sweet sleep.’ Suddenly the silence seemed to penetrate him, and he saw Christ standing before him, bleeding from wounds. So moved was he by the vision, he felt as if his chest would burst open. Then, when he came out of the ‘sweet sleep’ he realised that his own hands, feet and side were bleeding, and showed the same wounds as he had seen on Christ.

A doorway beyond time

From that time onwards Padre Pio became a doorway, a window, or an opening, through which the power and the qualities from another dimension of life poured through into the everyday world. For instance Padre Pio appeared to become critically ill at times. Some doctors said he had tuberculosis, at that time a killer disease. Other doctors could find no sign of the disease, but could see his ravaged body. They also witnessed the signs of illness arise and disappear suddenly. One day while Padre Pio was in bed struggling to breathe, his face red with fever, Father Paolina of Casacalenda took his temperature before sending for the doctor. The thermometer ran so high it broke, showing a reading of 42.5° centigrade (108.5° F.) The normal body temperature is about 37° C. Anything above 41° is considered life-threatening. Fr. Paolina, knowing Padre Pio was a focus for strange phenomena, did not panic but got a larger thermometer and tried again. This time it showed 52° C. Nobody in a normal state could survive such heat, hot enough to cook an egg. Padre Pio said this was a spiritual fire burning in him. He said it caused a suffering he voluntarily endured to burn out the darkness and despair in the lives of people around him. He nevertheless lived till he was 81.

Many other strange and wonderful things happened to Padre Pio giving people belief that life is more than just having a body. He renewed in people the belief that we have an eternal life, continuing even at the death of our body. This was because people were healed of serious illnesses when Padre Pio prayed for them or touched them. He had the ability to be seen and help people even when they were hundreds of miles away. Being near him changed the way people felt. Therefore by September 1955, so many people were visiting Padre Pio that new building and enlargements were being undertaken at San Giovanni Rotundo. Thousands of letters arrived monthly asking his help, and with all this work he never left the Friary. But it was obvious to those close to the padre that not only was he living a life within the normal time and activities of the day, but he was living another life outside of time and space. Therefore, despite being at the friary constantly, some people met Padre Pio at distant places. Cecil Humphrey-Smith for instance, who was working for Heinz in Italy checking tomato crops, had such a meeting. Before this happened Cecil had barely slept for nights due to rain and hail ruining crops. Farmers continually called him asking him to check their harvest for quality. Having driven a long distance across bad roads he fell asleep while driving and crashed into a bridge. His car broke in half and his injuries were severe. As he lay injured he had a typical near death experience of standing apart from his body watching people carry his body to a car and on to the hospital. For a while he was pronounced dead and he watched his body being covered in a sheet and wheeled away. But another doctor found signs of life and revived him. As he lay near to death, a priest came in and sat next to him, telling him he must make confession. This is called the last rites in the Catholic practice. The priest knew all his history, and drove him to admit things about his life he had kept hidden.

Instantaneous healing

The next day another priest came. He and the staff said nobody else had already given confession. Later, returning to England, Cecil developed a serious illness in which he experienced ‘brainstorms’. At such times he lost control of his body, and the pain in his head was so severe he smashed furniture, banged his head on walls, and convulsed.  He was later found to have a growth in his brain. A friend in Italy suggested he return there, and without telling him, took him to meet Padre Pio. Cecil immediately recognised the padre as the priest who had given him confession that night at the edge of death. Padre Pio reached out and tapped the left side of Cecil’s head twice. Cecil’s pain immediately stopped. X-rays later revealed the brain tumour had gone. His symptoms never returned. He then discovered that on the day of the car smash the friend who had taken him to Padre Pio had prayed that his guardian angel ask Padre Pio for help.

How could Padre Pio be in two places at once? Some scientist believe that time is connected with speed. So if you were travelling at the speed of light – 186,000 miles per second – you could be in many places at about the same time. The study of very small particles such as electrons shows that some things happen faster than light – instantaneously in fact. If there is a part of our mind that is also faster than light, we could experience things beyond what we usually know as time and space. You could be in many places at the same time. Time wouldn’t have the same meaning anymore.

Many of Padre Pio’s followers helped to build a hospital connected with his work. He taught that “Love is the first ingredient in the relief of suffering”. Helping sick people, and praying to heal the sick world, were two of the main aims of Padre Pio. The padre’s experiences had convinced him that when his body died he would move to an even better life. He promised people that when he moved to this bodiless, spiritual life, he would be even more powerful as a helper and healer than he was alive in the body. Because thoughts and feelings are the means by which we reach those who are dead, thinking of Padre Pio and asking his help, can still link you with him. Your feelings of love are a power to help those you want to help. Let your love shine.

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