by Chris Mcals
In the month of October 1911 the young Priest, Padre Pio of Pietralcina, was sent to Venafro in the region of Molise to study Sacred Eloquence (the theory and practice of preaching), along with some other newly ordained Priests, under the direction of his friend and Confessor, Padre Agostino da San Marco in Lamis.
While there, he fell gravely ill and was taken to Naples by the Father Superior of the Venafro Convent, Padre Evangelista da San Marco in Lamis, for a medical evaluation; however the doctors didn’t understand the nature of Padre Pio’s illness and were unable to help him.
Padre Pio returned to Venafro, but because of his grave illness he was confined to bed and was therefore unable to celebrate Mass. He could at best receive Holy Communion, his only nourishment for the next 21 days.
While Padre Pio’s was ill the Friars at the Venafro Convent became aware of his ecstasies during which he had long conversations with Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Mother, His Guardian Angel and, at times, with St. Francis of Assisi. In the background there were always indications of his encounters with the devil, which Padre Pio called “dirty scoundrel.”
Padre Agostino was an Eye-Witness of Padre Pio’s ecstasies and he took it upon himself to jot down as best as possible every word he heard coming out of Padre Pio’s mouth. His pencil notes were written quickly and in a hurry while he stood in the same room with Padre Pio. Afterwards he copied everything in another notebook, which eventually became the first part of his diary from which I am translating these excerpts from their original Italian.
One morning, during the first eight or nine days of his illness, after receiving Holy Communion, Padre Pio was in a state of deep affliction. He was asked the cause of his affliction to which he responded with a question of his own, “Tell me the truth, did I receive Holy Communion this morning?”
The Priest who brought him Communion earnestly assured him that he did indeed receive Holy Communion, still Padre Pio couldn’t be persuaded because he was unaware, so the Priest who gave him Communion mentally directed a simple prayer to Padre Pio’s Guardian Angel, and immediately Padre Pio remembered, and thanked him.
Padre Pio received Communion twice while he was in ecstasy without his awareness and it was Jesus who, during his ecstasy, made him aware of it, as described in the following two ecstasies.
First Ecstasy (no date)
. . . My Jesus . . . how wonderful You look this morning! . . . tell me Jesus, are You in my heart? . . . Did I receive You this morning? . . . Yes? . . . And who was that brought me Communion? . . . My papa? . . . It’s always he who brings me Communion . . . if I ask him he immediately responds: I gave you Holy Communion with these unworthy hands . . . but, my Jesus, should I keep asking him? Will he tell me the truth? . . . I know he doesn’t lie . . . yes with my mouth? . . . But, Jesus, what sign do You give me? . . . He called me? . . . He called me! . . . Then I was asleep . . . no? . . . And what did he say to me? . . . Pio, behold Jesus in my unworthy hands! . . . Ah Jesus, forgive me . . . I already felt You in my heart like the disciples of Emmaus . . . I felt You . . . with Your sweetness . . . I no longer feel thirsty . . . Ah, my Jesus, my sweetness . . . . how can I live without You? Come back always my Jesus, come, to You alone my heart belongs . . . Oh, if I had infinite hearts, all the hearts in Heaven and on earth, even the heart of Your Mother, all of them, all of them I would offer them to You . . . My Jesus, my sweetness, Love, Love who sustains me . . . thank You . . . to the next time! . . .
Second Ecstasy (no date)
My Jesus, why so small this morning? . . . You made Yourself so small! . . . My Angel, do you see Jesus? . . . Well, then, bow to Him . . . that’s not enough . . . kiss Jesus’ wounds . . . Good! . . . Well done, my Angel. Well done, little boy . . . there, there he gets serious. . . . he starts pouting! . . . what should I call you? What’s your name? . . . Anyway forgive me my Angel, come on, and bless Jesus for me . . .
My Jesus, my Jesus, why so small? . . . tell me . . . come closer to me . . . tell me, can you speak? You are small! . . . Tell me, Jesus, did I receive Communion this morning? . . . Yes? . . . And who gave me Communion? . . . Ah! . . . It’s always him! . . . if I ask him he tells me the usual story . . I brought you Communion! . . . And he speaks French, too: Petit enfant, petit enfant . . . But Jesus what sign do You give me? . . . He called me! . . . But was I asleep? . . . I was talking with You! . . . And what did he tell me? . . . He commanded me! . . . but what did he say? . . . Pio, behold Jesus!. . . I command you in the name of this Jesus that I have in my hands to take Communion . . . Ah is that so, my Jesus? . . . And what other sign? . . . Padre Agostino was also there and he held the paten? . . . Ah thank you, my Jesus, thank you! . . . Go back to Heaven my Jesus . . .
Ah, my beautiful Mommy, my dearest Mommy . . . so Your eyes are beautiful after all! . . . Jesus was right . . . yes You are beautiful . . . if it weren’t for our Faith, people would call You a Goddess . . . Your eyes shine brighter than the sun . . . You are beautiful, my Mommy, I glory in Your beauty, I love You . . I beg You, help me . . . Jesus wants me to go there, help me Mommy dear . . .
My Jesus, we ran out of time . . . to the next time! . . . Ah, how I long to see You in Heaven! . . . . Ah, what will Heaven be like, if even on earth we can feel so wonderful? . . . To the next time, my Jesus, my sweetness, my beauty . . . To the next time, Love that sustains me! . . .
Padre Pio’s ecstasies were almost ongoing: they happened two or three times a day and lasted anywhere from one to two and a half hours. On Nov. 29/1911 and March 3/1912 his doctor was also present.
During the ecstasy of Nov 29 (I will be publishing at a later date) the doctor was only there for a few minutes and, seeing him with his unblinking eyes fixed upwards, he lit a match and kept it close to his pupils: Padre Pio remained totally unaware, so the doctor said that he was in catalepsy.
During the ecstasy of March 3 the doctor listened to the words that Padre Pio uttered for half an hour. He proceeded to give him a physical check up during the ecstasy and was surprised to see that Padre Pio’s heartbeat wasn’t synchronized with his pulse.
He also marveled at the liveliness and beauty of his face and asked those who were also present whether Padre Pio retained any cognition of what transpired during his ecstasies, afterwards. Having received an affirmative answer he said that in his opinion this was a very unusual and unnatural state.
Because Padre Pio remained asleep for quite awhile after his ecstasies and only awoke immediately if summoned by an act of obedience to a superior, the Padre Superior called him while the doctor was there, only he did so from outside the room and with a low voice so that no one of those present in the room could hear him. Immediately Padre Pio woke up saying, “Who is it?. . . “
The doctor was amazed at the sight of this phenomenon as well.
Padre Pio’s ecstasies were always preceded or followed by diabolic apparitions. At first the devil appeared to him in the guise of a black, ugly cat. The second time he appeared under the guise of nude nymphs who lasciviously danced before him. The third time, without appearing, they spat on his face. The fourth time, also without appearing, they tortured him with unbearably jarring sounds. The fifth time the devil appeared to him in the form of a flagellator who scourged him. The sixth time he appeared in the form of a crucifix. The seventh time in the form of a young friend of the Friars, who had just visited them and left. The eighth time he appeared under the form of his Spiritual Father. The ninth time he manifested himself under the form of Pope Pius X. Other times he took the shape of his Guardian Angel, St. Francis, Our Blessed Mother… and finally he appeared in his own horrible likeness, along with a host of hellish spirits.
Padre Pio was always able to discern the diabolic apparitions by ordering them to say Glory to Jesus! After having recognized them for what they really were, he was always able to overcome the crisis with the Divine help, and immediately after there followed an apparition of Jesus, Mary and his Guardian Angel.
When Satan appeared to him under the form of our Blessed Mother, Padre Pio admitted that he suffered more than he did when the beast appeared to him under any other disguise.
One morning he wanted to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but his Father Confessor, who was in a hurry, told him to go ahead and take Communion, and he would hear his confession later that evening.
Later that day, the devil appeared to him disguised as his Spiritual Father and told him that he had come to hear his Confession, as he had promised him in the morning. Padre Pio recognized him immediately first of all because he had a large wound in his forehead, which he justified saying that he had fallen down the stairs, and second because of the disgust he always felt in his spirit when he received similar visitations.
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