by Dan Millman and Doug Childers
After Therese Neumann, Padre Pio is perhaps the most widely observed modern Western mystic to demonstrate divine powers of healing and regeneration. The first signs of his extraordinary qualities occurred unexpectedly on September 20, 1918. Then a thirty-one-year-old Capuchin monk, Padre Pio was sitting alone in the monastery chapel, praying after Mass. Outside, Padre Leone heard a scream within the chapel and ran in to find Padre Pio lying unconscious on the floor, bleeding profusely from the five wounds of the stigmata.
Several monks carried Padre Pio to his room, where he begged them to keep his condition a secret. But word spread. The church quickly put a ban of silence on him, concerned that this untested monk might be manifesting symptoms of hysteria. He was forbidden to write or speak in public - yet over the next five decades, Padre would prove to be one of the most remarkable Western saints in history.
Like Therese Neumann, Padre Pio bore for his entire life wounds of the stigmata that never healed. And thousands of individuals - from ordinary Italian peasants and fellow clerics, to high public officials and pilgrims from around the world - witnessed and testified to his powers of telepathy, prophecy, bilocation, levitation, and healing.
Although Padre Pio never left the city of San Giovanni Rotondo in his last fifty years, he often appeared to those in need far from his physical body - to teach, admonish, comfort, and heal. Numerous testimonies, by telegram, letter, telephone transcript, and personal declaration, document Padre Pio's long-distance appearances in places he never physically visited - throughout Italy, Austria, Uruguay, and even Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Padre Pio admitted appearing on June 25, 1950, to attend the death of a fellow monk's father. When asked about his ability to appear in two places, Padre Pio replied, "If Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes, why cannot he multiply me?"
And the fragrance of violets that often emanated from Padre Pio also often manifested to those who prayed to him, and was noticed by witnesses in those places where he had miraculously appeared.
Padre Pio's miraculous healing powers were well documented. He cured many illnesses deemed incurable, and on more than one occasion restored sight to the blind. His most well-documented case of healing involved a little blind girl named Gemma Di Giorgi, from Ribera, Sicily, who had been born with no pupils in her eyes. In 1947 her grandmother brought her on a long journey to see Padre Pio. Gemma's grandmother, ardently devoted to Padre Pio, believed the saint could give sight to her granddaughter, even though her doctors declared it physically impossible for a human being to ever see without pupils.
That morning, Gemma and her grandmother arrived in Padre Pio's village in the enormous crowds that always attended Padre Pio's Mass. Afterward, in the silence following Mass, all present heard a voice shout, "Gemma, come here!" Gemma's grandmother led her through the crowd up to Padre Pio, where they both knelt at his feet. Padre Pio, after hearing Gemma's confession, sweetly administered her first Communion, then gently stroked her eyes. Before they left, Padre Pio bid them farewell, saying, "May the Madonna bless you, Gemma. Be a good girl."
At that very moment, before the crowd of witnesses, Gemma uttered a shriek as the power of sight was given to her for the first time - a miracle that would last for the rest of her long life. Numerous doctors who examined Gemma later admitted their bewilderment. By all known science, she should not have been able to see without the apparatus required for sight.
The testimonies of miraculous cures and demonstrations of Padre Pio's supernatural abilities fill volumes. And the volumes written about this great contemporary saint are increasing each year.
Padre Pio left his body in 1968. More than one hundred thousand people came from around the world to attend his funeral in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, and half a million devotees would gather in Rome in 2002 to witness Pope John Paul II proclaim Padre Pio Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.
Many thousands wept at the passing of this humble saint, for the awe with which he was regarded for his miraculous powers was less than the love that his kindness had awakened in the hearts of his people.
From the book Bridge Between Worlds, Copyright 1999, 2009 by Dan Millman and Doug Childers. Reprinted with permission from H J Kramer/New World Library.
Dan Millman is a former world trampoline champion, hall of fame gymnast, university coach, college professor, and bestselling author whose eight books, including Way of the Peaceful Warrior, The Laws of Spirit, and The Life You Were Born to Live have inspired millions of people in more than twenty languages.
Doug Childers is an author, editor, and writing coach whose books include The Energy Prescription and The White-Haired Girl. He lives with his family in northern California.