By Christian Martinez
Greetings. My name is Christian Martinez. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to speak about our dear Saint Padre Pio at this event in his honor. The life of Padre Pio is a testament to God’s grace and goodness, working extraordinary miracles through a humble man. For while Padre Pio had meager beginnings, born and raised in the small farming village of Pietrelcina in southern Italy, he was nurtured by a family that was rich in faith. It was this faith that would sustain him during his many physical trials-from mystery ailments that began early in his life to the painful stigmata that he experienced until his death. It would also propel him to live a life in service to God and others. So despite his initial inclination to retreat to a mountainside monastery and live a meek and quiet life of intense prayer as a Capuchin friar, it was God’s will and plan that Padre Pio would save many souls in his name.
Padre Pio managed to touch myriad lives through his labors in the Confessional, spiritual guidance, miracles, and the example of pure devotion to our Lord and Mary, the mother of God. He taught his spiritual sons and daughters to fully trust in God, sharing the now familiar refrain, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Anxiety doesn’t help at all. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer” (St. Padre Pio, N.d.). Still, those who were blessed enough to personally know him also knew that they could count on his counsel and prayers by sending their messages to him through their guardian angels.
Of course, despite his holiness (or perhaps because of it), Padre Pio faced many trials-including distrust by Pope Pius XI and temptations and attacks by the devil himself. As biographer Diane Allen describes, “one night in 1964, the superior of the monastery was awakened by a terrible noise coming from Padre Pio’s cell. When he rushed to see what had happened he found Padre Pio lying on the floor. He was bleeding from a gash on the right side of his face, above his eyebrow. His face was swollen and there were black circles under his eyes as though he had been punched. Bruises were observed on his shoulders… When the superior asked Padre Pio what had happened, he said that the devil had come in his cell and attacked him” (Allen, 2012: pg. 87-88).
He also suffered from health limitations, financial and other obstacles in carrying out God’s plans. Yet, he was always ready to take on the suffering of others. One of his greatest labors of love was the construction of the Home for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo, so that the impoverished residents of the mountainside could access quality care that tends to both their spiritual and physical health. Today, as we remember the life and love of Padre Pio, we must renew our own commitment to God to do what we can to relieve the suffering of others. We also strengthen our resolve to offer our own suffering to Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Padre Pio compels us to do good, “Ahead! Courage! In the spiritual life he who does not advance goes backward. It happens as with a boat which always must go ahead. If it stands still the wind will blow it back” (St. Padre Pio, N.d.). May Padre Pio help us in these efforts, pray for us, and continue to intercede for us.
Allen, Diane. Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio, BookBaby, 2012.
St. Padre Pio. “Prayers and Meditations.” EWTN. Available at: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/prayer-and-meditation-14165. Accessed July 15, 2021.
Photo by Christian Martinez
Christian Martinez – University of Chicago Laboratory School – DMSF