“I have been Crucified with Christ”
Today (Sunday 23rd September), is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of one of the most popular saints in the Church today – St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. We even have a statue of him in St Mary’s and many candles are continuously lit in front of it which is a sign of the great devotion and trust many of you have in his intercession.
On 20th September 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix in his Friary when he received the stigmata (the wounds of Christ) on his hands, feet and side. There was never any medical explanation for this and the wounds neither healed nor became infected, and he had them for fifty years. They would continually bleed and gave him great pain.
He had many other mystical gifts. Among these was his ability to read souls in the confessional. He would tell people exactly what their sins were before they even had time to confess them, and even sins they had forgotten! Soon huge numbers of penitents would flock to him and he would spend ten to twelve hours a day in the confessional. He also had the gift of bilocation – the ability to be in two places at once and there are many stories regarding this. From a very early age he saw his Guardian Angel and would converse with him and even send him on errands! He also suffered physical attacks from the devil. Souls suffering in Purgatory would appear to him and ask for his prayers for their release from Purgatory and for him to celebrate Mass for them – we should always remember that having Masses offered for the dead is the best help we can give our deceased loved ones.
Blessed Pope Paul VI said Padre Pio was a man of suffering and of prayer. So why did God allow Padre Pio to suffer so much and for so long? Padre Pio was a victim soul in that he suffered, like Our Lord did, for the salvation of souls. He himself said his sufferings give glory to God, and through them he made reparation for sin. With his conformity to Christ through the stigmata, like St Paul, he could say, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Padre Pio’s life was also a living out of the message of Our Lady of Fatima and he said the Rosary many times a day. Our Lady asked us to make sacrifices and to do penances for the conversion of sinners that they might be saved. Padre Pio really lived this. Let us be inspired by this great Saint to do the same.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC