Who was Padre Pio?
Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina O.F.M. Cap. (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968), was a friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic, now venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church. Born Francesco Forgione, he was given the name of Pius (Italian: Pio) when he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
Padre Pio became famous for exhibiting stigmata for most of his life, thereby generating much interest and controversy. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) by Pope Saint John Paul II.
The Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is located in San Giovanni Rotondo, Province of Foggia, Italy. (From Wikipedia)
Encounters with Souls:
Padre Pio who has been known for many supernatural gifts had one more: being able to see spirits of souls from Purgatory. He prayed for a number of them. In May of 1922, he testified the following to His Excellency Alberto Costa (Bishop of Melfi), and Padre Lorenzo who was the superior of the friary. In their company too was five other friars, one of which wrote this account, his name was Fra Alberto D’Apolito of San Giovanni Rotondo. Here’s what he wrote:
“While in the friary on a winter afternoon after a heavy snowfall, he was sitting by the fireplace one evening in the guest room, absorbed in prayer, when an old man, wearing an old-fashioned cloak still worn by southern Italian peasants at the time, sat down beside him. Concerning this man Pio states: ‘I could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night since all the doors are locked. I questioned him: ‘Who are you? What do you want?’
The old man told him, “Padre Pio, I am Pietro Di Mauro, son of Nicola, nicknamed Precoco.” He went on to say, “I died in this friary on the 18th of September, 1908, in cell number 4, when it was still a poorhouse. One night, while in bed, I fell asleep with a lighted cigar, which ignited the mattress and I died, suffocated and burned. I am still in Purgatory. I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help.”
According to Padre Pio:
“After listening to him, I replied, ‘Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation.’ I arose and accompanied him to the door of the friary, so that he could leave. I did not realize at that moment that the door was closed and locked: I opened it and bade him farewell The moon lit up the square, covered with snow. When I no longer saw him in front of me, I was taken by a sense of fear, and I closed the door, reentered the guest room, and felt faint.”
When Padre Pio told this story a few days late to Padre Paolino, and they decided to go to the town hall, where they looked at the vital statistics for the year I908 and discovered that on September 18 of that year, one Pietro Di Mauro had in fact died of burns and asphyxiation in Room Number 4 at the friary, then used as a home for the homeless.
In the same period, Padre Pio told Fra Alberto of another apparition of a soul from Purgatory which also occurred around the same time. He said:
One evening, when I was absorbed in prayer in the choir of the little church I was shaken and disturbed by the sound of footsteps, and candles and flower vases being moved on the main altar. Thinking that someone must be there, I called out, “Who is it?”
No one answered. Returning to prayer, I was again disturbed by the same noises. In fact, this time I had the impression that one of the candles, which was in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace, had fallen. Wanting to see what was happening on the altar, I stood up, went close to the grate and saw, in the shadow of the light of the Tabernacle lamp, a young confrere doing some cleaning. I yelled out, “What are you doing in the dark?” The little friar answered, “I am cleaning.”
“You clean in the dark?” I asked. “Who are you?”
The little friar said, ‘I am a Capuchin novice, who spends his time of Purgatory here. I am in need of prayers.’ and then he disappeared,”
Padre Pio began praying for him immediately as the soul requested. It is unknown if this particular soul later returned or not or tried to contact the Saint. To this regard Padre Pio had once said:
‘As many souls of the dead come up this road [to the monastery] as that of the souls of the living.”
Which means many souls from Purgatory visited the Saint and sought after his prayers, penance and sufferings for their release.