Padre Pio and the Irish Part One
Precisely, how has the faith fallen? Mass attendance has dropped to such low levels, that only in the time of St. Patrick's arrival were there fewer people going to Mass (this might not be an exaggeration!). Fewer people know the basics of the faith. But Padre Pio is still very well-regarded and people are more likely to know the basics of his life story than they are the Catechism. Devotion to Padre Pio, is a golden thread of faith that unites both 'Catholic Ireland' of old and modern Ireland. In the days of 'Catholic Ireland', thousands of Irish people underwent trail-blazing trips to San Giovanni Rotondo in the '50s and '60s. And equally large numbers of Irish people were present for his beatification in 1999, and then his canonisation in 2002. Much of this is recounted in the book by Colm Keane, Padre Pio, The Irish Connection.
Here is an account reported in The Waterford News and Star about a 12 year old girl who sustained chronic injuries to her spine and back after falling from a pony. She was semi-paralysed, and then developed pneumonia. Her life hung by a thread. Eventually, Dónal Enright was asked to visit and bring Padre Pio's mitt. Just prior to Dónal's visit, the girl's condition was 'critical', but after he prayed over her with Padre Pio's mitt, there was a 'dramatic' improvement. The girl recovered and leads a 'perfectly normal life'.