Born Francesco Forgione in 1887, he took the name Pio when he entered the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916. He never left until his death in 1968. A mystic known for many miracles, he was the first priet to receive the stigmata, the wounds that Jesus received in His hands, feet and side during the crucifixion.
On 08 Sep 1943 several British and American pilots were sent on a mission. Their job was to destroy the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, which was the home of a group of Conventual Franciscan friars including Padre Pio. As the pilots approached their target, they saw the image of a Franciscan monk with outstretched arms in the sky. They discovered that they were physically unable to drop the bombs the planes carried. This was repeated during other attempts.
During the war the area surrounding the monastery was severely damaged but not one bomb fell on the monastery.
Needless to say, some of the military were skeptical including an American General by the name of Nathan F. Twining. He went on one of the missions and saw the “Flying Monk,” as he was being called, for himself. As they flew over the monastery, he saw what the others had reported.
After the war the general, a Protestant, visited the monastery. When Padre Pio entered the room, the general immediately recognized him as being the “Flying Monk.” Padre Pio also recognized the General and jokingly said, “So, it is you, the one who wished to do away with all of us!’ The two talked for a while. Although the friar could only speak Italian and Latin, the General heard him in English. He later became a Catholic.
Padre Pio was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II on 16 Jun 2002 and is now known as St. Pio of Pietrelcina.
Text © 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.