|Volume Reveals Report of Vatican Investigator
By Mirko Testa
ROME, 22 SEPT. 2008 (ZENIT)
A volume detailing the report of a Vatican investigator into Padre
Pio gives new information on the wounds of the Passion that the friar
Padre Pio da Pietrelcina received the stigmata from the crucified
Christ, who in an apparition invited the Capuchin friar to unite himself
to his passion so as to participate in the salvation of others,
particularly consecrated persons: This is what we can know with
certainty thanks to the recent opening
at the request of Benedict XVI
of the archives of the former Holy Office up to 1939, which contain
information on revelations to Padre Pio that were not previously
These revelations have been released in a book titled "Padre Pio
Sotto Inchiesta: l''Autobiografia Segreta'" ("Padre Pio Under
Investigation: The 'Secret Autobiography'"). The volume is prefaced by
Vittorio Messori and edited by Father Franceso Castelli, historian for
the beatification cause of Pope John Paul II and professor of modern and
contemporary history of the Church at the Romano Guardini Institute for
Religious Sciences in Taranto, Italy.
Until the publication of this book, many assumed that Padre Pio
whether for reasons of modesty or because he thought himself unworthy of
the charisms he had received
had never disclosed to anyone what happened on the day he received the
The only known reference to these events was in a letter Padre Pio
sent to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto da San Marco in Lamis,
in which he speaks of the appearance of a "mysterious person" but does
not offer any details.
The new book, which contains the first complete version of the report
penned by Bishop Raffaele Rossi of Volterra, (later cardinal), apostolic
visitor sent by the Holy See to secretly investigate Padre Pio,
clarifies that on the occasion of the reception of the stigmata the
saint had a conversation with the crucified Christ.
The book also contains a number of statements that Padre Pio made
under oath, which provide an interpretive key to Bishop Rossi's report.
Asked to swear on the Gospel, Padre Pio for the first time revealed
the identity of the one from whom he received the wounds.
It was June 15, 1921, and in answer to a question posed by Bishop
Rossi, Padre Pio said: "On Sept. 20, 1918, I was in the choir of the
church after celebrating Mass, making the thanksgiving when I was
suddenly overtaken by powerful trembling and then there came calm and I
saw Our Lord in his crucified form.
"He was lamenting the ingratitude of men, especially those
consecrated to him and favored by him."
"Then," Padre Pio continued, "his suffering was apparent as was his
desire to join souls to his Passion. He invited me to let his pains
enter into me and to meditate on them and at the same time concern
myself with the salvation of others. Following this, I felt full of
compassion for the Lord's pains and I asked him what I could do.
"I heard this voice: 'I will unite you with my Passion.' And after
this the vision disappeared, I came back to myself, my reason returned
and I saw these signs here from which blood flowed. Before this I did
not have these."
Padre Pio then said that the stigmata were not the result of a
personal request of his own but came from an invitation of the Lord,
who, lamenting the ingratitude of men, and consecrated persons in
particular, conferred on Padre Pio a mission as the culmination of an
interior mystical journey of preparation.
Father Castelli, the book's editor, noted that the theme of the
ingratitude of men and especially those favored by God is not something
new in the Capuchin friar's private revelations.
He told ZENIT: "What is decisive is that Padre Pio made no request
for the stigmata. This helps us to understand the freedom and the
humility of the Capuchin who is clearly completely uninterested in
making a show of the wounds.
"Padre Pio's humility also manifests itself in his reaction to seeing
the signs of the Passion traced in his flesh once he had come back to
himself. In fact, in the conversation with the bishop, once the mystical
scene has finished, it is not elaborated on further."
From the conversation with Padre Pio, from the letters, from the
witnesses questioned by Bishop Rossi and finally from his own report, it
is plain that the friar was unhappy about the signs of the Passion, that
he tried to hide them and that he was uneasy in showing them at the
request of the apostolic visitor, the editor explained.
A 6th wound?
The book conveys Bishop Rossi's conclusions about the stigmata, of
which there had only been partial information, and so provides new
information, especially about the form of the wound in the side and a
rumored sixth wound on the friar's back.
In his report the apostolic visitor says that there was no festering
in Padre Pio's wounds, they did not close and did not heal. The remained
inexplicably open and bloody, despite the fact that the friar had tried
to stop the bleeding by treating them with iodine.
"Bishop Rossi's description of the wound in the side," Father
Castelli told ZENIT, "is decisively different from those before and
after him. He did not see it as an upside down or slanted cross, but as
having a 'triangular form' and so therefore with definite edges."
Contrary to what certain doctors have said, Bishop Rossi concluded
that the wounds did not appear to be externally inflicted.
"This speaks in favor of the authenticity of the stigmata," Father
Castelli explained, "because carbolic acid
which according to some was what Padre Pio might have used to cause the
after it has been applied, consumes the tissue and inflames the
surrounding area. It is impossible to think that for 60 years Padre Pio
could have caused himself these wounds of the same definite shape.
"Further, the wounds emitted the intense odor of violets rather than
the fetid stench that degenerative processes, tissue necrosis or
infections usually cause."
According to the report, Padre Pio said that apart from the stigmata
in his hands, feet and side, there were no other wounds, and therefore
no wound on his back as Jesus might have had from carrying the cross.
Some have suggested that Padre Pio might have had this wound.
Father Castelli maintains that it is not possible to speculate beyond
the information gathered in Bishop Rossi's 1921 investigation and
attribute to Padre Pio any other sign of the Passion.