Spiritual Gifts of Padre Pio
Padre Pio manifested several spiritual gifts in his lifetime, including the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, and the stigmata. Also extraordinary abstinence from both sleep and nourishment (Padre Agostino recorded one instance in which Padre Pio was able to subsist for at least 20 days at Verafeno on only the Eucharist without any other nourishment), the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and the fragrance from the stigmatic wounds.
The gift of bilocation enables a person to be present in two places at the same time. Although it is uncommon, bilocation is an ancient phenomenon. Several Christian saints and monks were adept at bilocation besides Padre Pio such as St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Severus of Ravenna. In 1774, St. Alphonsus Maria de’Ligouri was seen at the bedside of the dying Pope Clement XIV, when in fact the saint was confined to his cell in a location that was a four-day journey away.
The Testimony given by Padre Carmelo Durante is just one of the many stories testifying to Padre Pio’s gift of bilocation.
“One day in the refectory we were talking of this and that.
I remember that in the conversation I was holding forth about a fact then unheard of: an aeroplane – I don’t remember of which airline – had made the journey non-stop between Rome and New York in only six hours. To me and the others it seemed something incredible!
The Padre who until then had kept silent, interrupted in the middle and asked: “How long? How many hours, did you say?”
I answered, with increasing marvel: “Padre, six hours and what is more non-stop!”
The Padre also marveled over the fact but to the side exclaimed: “Six hours! Good heavens, but that is a long time! When I go it takes me only a second.”
We asked him to explain himself, but he would say no more and only repeated: “I told you! I told you!”
“Six hours” in contrast to “a second” is indeed a long time, but his mysterious “second” was that of a man in bilocation!”
The gift of being able to read hearts enables the spiritual individual, in this case, Padre Pio, to discern when someone was being deceitful in Confession or simply had forgotten a serious sin, perhaps through lack of an adequate examination of conscience. In such cases he was able to tell the penitent exactly what they did and when, as well as any relevant circumstances. This drew many hundreds a day to him, moved by the grace of sincere repentance and the knowledge that Padre Pio could guide them with the wisdom of God in the spiritual life. He also drew those who did not believe in his gifts or who intended to test the Padre. These were invariably unmasked, often in harsh ways. In the end they often repented, made a sincere confession and renewed their lives, despite their initial intentions.
Padre’s gift of prophecy was demonstrated in his correspondance with Pope John Paul II. When the young Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) learned that, on Mount Gargano, lived a monk who had the stigmata he left for Mount Gargano. He was able to have a few meetings with Padre Pio, and naturally, went to confession to him. What did Padre Pio say to Father Wojtyla? We don’t know. The Pope did not speak about it, but on the day of his election as a Pope, on October 16, 1978 curious things circulated in Rome about this meeting in 1947. People said that Padre Pio had foretold to young Wojtyla that he would become a Pope. An old Polish priest said that Karol Wojtyla, still young, often alluded to this prophecy and joking judged its realization impossible, but after he became Bishop, than Archbishop of Krakow, he no longer spoke about it, because he was starting to think that the prophecy might well come true.
Young Bishop Wojtyla was in Rome, attending Vatican II. He received from Krakow a letter which informed him that one of his main collaborators, Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a doctor in psychiatry with whom he had worked a lot in family services, was seriously ill with throat cancer. The doctors had decided to operate on her, but the hope of saving her was almost nil. Wojtyla learned of the news with great sorrow, not only because she was a personal friend of his, but also because she was still young with four children, who would have become orphans. Medicine could do nothing. Wojtyla thought about Padre Pio. He wrote to Padre Pio a letter in Latin, which was handed to the Capuchine priest by Msgr. Angelo Battisti, who was working at the Secretary of State of the Vatican, and also the administrator of the House for the Relief of Suffering, the hospital founded by Padre Pio. Msgr. Battista handed the letter to Padre Pio, who replied, after having read it: “Angelo, I cannot say no to this request.” Eleven days later, Msgr. Battisti returned to San Giovanni Rotondo, with a second letter of Archbishop Wojtyla, in which he thanked Padre Pio, saying: “The lady who was ill with cancer was suddenly healed before entering the operating room.”
The gift of the stigmata is also a very rare spiritual gift whereupon the individual receives on their person the wounds of Christ. Padre Pio wrote of his experience in receiving the stigmata to Padre Benedetto little more than a month after the event took place:
“It all happened in a flash. While all this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious Person, similar to the one I had seen on August 5th, differing only because His hands, feet and side were dripping blood. The sight of Him frightened me: what I felt at that moment is indescribable. ‘I thought I would die, and would have died if the Lord hadn’t intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The Person disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were pierced and were dripping with blood” (Ep., V. 1, no. 5 10, p. 1094).”
Padre Pio had just received the visible stigmata.
He had not desired this physical conformity and when he had recovered somewhat from the immediate experience his embarrassment was extreme: “I am dying of pain because of the wound and because of the resulting embarrassment which I feel deep within my soul. . . Will Jesus who is so good grant me this grace ? Will he at least relieve me of the embarrassment which these outward signs cause me” (Ep., V. 1, p. 1904).
Not the wound, not the pain did he wish removed but only the visible signs which at the time he considered to be an indescribable and almost unbearable humiliation. For the next fifty years they would confound impartial science; their continuous and profuse effusion of blood, accompanied often by the sweetest fragrance, came to be regarded as a prolonged miracle, because, as the experts correctly state, blood for its production requires nourishment while this friar’s extraordinary frugality was such as hardly to maintain the life of a small child.
Padre Pio is one extraordinary example of a man who possessed many very rare spiritual gifts. I don’t know off-hand if I know of another saint who possessed all of these same gifts in one soul. Another item worth mentioning is that Padre Pio also experienced many violent attacks by the demonic. Attacks which manifested themselves as visions of Holy beings or physical attacks that literally left him bruised and beaten. Often saints will receive the grace of one or two of these great gifts but Padre Pio serves as an example of a great man of God who received even more of the rare graces.
This blog was compiled through several sources. Much of this information can be found in more complete forms from the following links:
The descriptions of Padre Pio’s spiritual gifts can be read in detail here: http://www.ewtn.com/padrepio/mystic/index.htm
as well as the story told by Padre Carmelo Durante.
The story of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Padre Pio was published in the May-June-July, 2002 issue of “Michael”