La fama di Santità di Padre Pio da Pietrelcina ormai è tanto diffusa che il numero dei pellegrini alla sua tomba ha superata anche quello di Lourdes . Durante la campagna d'iItalia nel 1943 molti soldati americani ebbero modo di conoscere personalmente Padre Pio e ne rimasero affascinati Riportiamo,dopo una breve biografia la testimonianza di uno di essi :William M. Carrigan oi
Padre Pio, al secolo Francesco Forgione, nasce il 25 maggio 1887 a
Pietrelcina, un piccolo comune campano, vicino Benevento, da Grazio
Forgione e Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio, piccoli proprietari terrieri La
madre è una donna molto religiosa, alla quale Francesco rimane
sempre molto legato. Viene battezzato nella chiesa di Santa Maria
degli Angeli, l'antica parrocchia del paese, posta nel Castello,
cioè nella parte alta di Pietrelcina.
sua vocazione religiosa si manifesta sin dalla più tenera età,
infatti giovanissimo, solo 8 anni, rimane per ore davanti l'altare
della chiesa di Sant'Anna a pregare. Manifestata la sua vocazione
per la vita religiosa cappuccina, il padre decide di emigrare in
America per affrontare le spese necessarie per farlo studiare. Nel
1903, a quindici anni, arriva al convento di Morcone e il 22 gennaio
dello stesso anno indossa il saio di cappuccino e prende il nome di
Fra' Pio da Pietrelcina e viene destinato a Pianisi, dove rimane
fino al 1905.
maggio del 1919 all'ottobre dello stesso anno, ricevette la visita
di diversi medici per esaminare le stigmate. Il dott. Giorgio Festa
disse:"...le lesioni che il Padre Pio presenta e l'emorragia che da
queste si manifesta hanno un'origine che le nostre cognizioni sono
ben lungi dallo spiegare. Ben più alta della scienza umana è la loro
ragione di essere".
by William M. Carrigan
MAY 18, 1944
My very dear friend:
For a few of us who are attached to the 15th Air Force in Italy, this day and its meaning will long remain crystal clear in our minds. Because it was our privilege to hear and see Padre Pio say Mass. Padre Pio, who since September 20, 1918, has borne the marks of the Crucifixion in his hands, feet and side is obviously a favored son of Christ. He is the only Priest in all History ever to receive this grace. Not only are these marks visible to all but his whole person reveals the Christ who bore them before him. His Mass is an unforgettable experience, and a sermon which stirs the depths of one's soul and awakens dormant faith in the heart. Yet he preaches not a word! To me, and to the soldiers I took with me, Padre Pio's Mass eclipses anything we have yet experienced in this theater of War. That is not difficult to understand when one realizes that he is the very antithesis of the cause of War, and thereby the cause of our being here. In him we have found the true opposite of hate. And in the violence of this war, contact with the Love of Christ through this favored Priest is a shock to our thinking. We will remember.
There is always a crowd at his Mass. The men are allowed in the Sanctuary, and crowd even to the Altar steps. Our soldiers are always accorded the favor of the Sanctuary, that they may see Padre Pio better. His Mass is often two hours long, but no one minds the time. During the Consecration he is literally on the cross with Christ. His suffering in his hands and feet and whole body are obvious to all. His pain is so great at the words of Consecration that it is very difficult for him to say them. He will repeat a word many times, rest and go on to the next one and repeat again. After the Elevation he seems to be lost to the world and pleads with Christ for the needs of his vast spiritual family. It is well known that once he accepts a person into his family of spiritual children, he never forgets them. When I asked him to remember the father of one of our soldiers, he said to me, "I will pursue him with constant diligence and love." He never forgets a person who seeks his counsel and he has said that he will not let a soul get away from him once that person enters his spiritual family. Thus it is easy to understand why he is long with Christ during the Consecration and at his Communion. A peace and calm seem to settle over his pain wracked countenance immediately after he receives the Sacred Body of Our Lord.
There are always many Communicants, and while distributing the Sacred Host he is most watchful of every particle. Many times he will take the paten and examine it closely, picking off or shaking a particle into the Suborium. Often one that he alone can see. After the Mass the men are permitted to go with him to the Sacristy and kiss the wounds in his hands while he is unvesting. He wears fingerless gloves at all times except at Mass and the men seek the opportunity to kiss his hands while he is unvesting because he puts on the gloves as soon as he removes his alb. He is most patient and kind to all who come to him at this time, especially this is true for our soldiers who often get a word and a gentle pat on the cheek from him.
At this time I have often arranged for him to take our soldiers to a side room and give them his blessing, a word, perhaps, and bless their rosaries, or anything they might desire blessed. Many like him to bless their silver wings. His engaging smile and simple humility draw everyone to him. There are always interpreters around should any wish to ask questions, but for the boys who speak Italian he is a special interrogator. He does the questioning. He wishes all a safe and speedy return to their families and loved ones.
When the soldiers board their trucks and begin the winding trip down the mountain, their is much silence and deep thought. When conversation starts, it is always about Padre Pio and what effect he had on them. Reactions vary greatly, but every one reports an undefinable change in their being. One said he found Padre Pio looking at him as he entered the Sacristy and in that moment he felt that Padre Pio could see right into his mind, and the sins of his whole life seemed to flash into his consciousness. Another man told me that he felt that his soul was given a profound shaking and his mind put to work at right thinking. Back in Camp the soldiers think and talk about this wonderful Priest and what he must be. All want to return again, most every one has a buddy who wants to go, too. So the word spreads and more and more soldiers are turning to a new and better interest here. From careless, carefree soldiers they turn to sober thought of their future, their family, and their relationship to God.
What an opportunity we have here to grasp spiritual values! Here we can talk with and receive guidance from a man of God who bears with him always the miracle of the stigmata. We can see and touch a true miracle of outstanding significance! Padre Pio is certainly a favored son of God. What an Ambassador to the Throne of God! We always seek the best lawyer we can get to plead our case in civil court, but here we have a representative known to be in high favor at the Court of Christ. Who is there who would not put their case in his hands? God has endowed him with the special gift of guiding souls no matter where they are. All that is required is desire for and obedience to this guidance which one will feel and know to exist.
Padre Pio is a designer of souls. Great artists are rare in this field. Would not you like to have your soul designed by so great a spiritual artist? Think about it.
Introduction to Padre Pio
by William M. Carrigan
It is always a great honor for me to talk about Padre Pio. I am a witness.
At Christmas time, 1943, the 15th Air Force, to which I was attached, arrived from North Africa to take over the great German air bases around Foggia on the Adriatic across from Naples. I was assigned to the American Red Cross Field Office in Foggia. Little did I think that I was soon to travel up a steep winding road on the mountain of Gargono which forms the spur of the boot of Italy. Two soldiers who told me that they heard of a Capuchin Monk at a monastery in the town of San Giovanni Rotondo who had the wounds of the crucifixion in hands, feet and side, and they wanted me to take them to Mass in order to meet him. A snow storm was in progress on the mountain. We were taken into the sanctuary where Padre Pio was saying Mass. We knelt on the cold marble floor on the side not ten feet from Padre where we could observe his every movement. As he began the consecration he seemed to be in great pain, shifting his weight from side to side, hesitating to begin the words of consecration which he would start and repeat-biting them off with a clicking of his teeth as if in great pain. His cheek muscles twitched and tears were visible on his cheeks. He reached for the chalice and jerked back his hand because of the pain in the wound which was fully visible to me. After his communion he leaned over the altar for sometime as if he was in communion with Jesus. Later I learned that at this time he presented his many spiritual children to Our Lord offering his own suffering for them.
I am a witness, I am a witness to a saint in formation. I was totally convinced that here was a priest who had attained a state of sanctity the like of which I had only read about, but never met before. In the Sacristy after mass we met for a few minutes. I received his blessing and was allowed to kiss the wound in his hands. I knew we had a destiny together. I sensed that I wanted to help make him known in America.
I am supposed to tell you about Padre Pio's spirituality. I don't really know what spirituality is. There is a lot of talk, a lot of books about spirituality. I wonder sometimes what Padre Pio would say - He might have answered too - "I don't know -- but that is what I do." What I do leads to an atmosphere of spirituality. Spirituality is the result of something.
Spirituality is sometimes like gravity - Sure, one may pass it off as a force within the universe, but does that tell us what gravity is? We all experience it every moment of our lives-but what is it?-really?
Spirituality can be a universal force which we experience. Gravity can be described as coming out of the laws of nature. So too spirituality may be described as flowing from Christ's new commandment. The law of Love. "Love one another." "God is Love." Let us go a little deeper into this. What is the essence-the root of spiritualized action? Spiritualized action always has to be motivated by the spirit, since the spirit is inspired by God. God is Love. So spirituality may be the result of God's love in action. Really we have little to do with it, because it is a grace. I think Padre Pio would buy that. Maybe we would do well to try to spiritualize our actions - all our actions. That is what Padre Pio did. That is what he did when he blessed some crucifixes for me with the added promise he would pray especially for those to whom I gave them, especially to those in great need,