Padre Pio and the Irish Part One

This week I have been steeped in research on Ireland's recent economic history. I'm doing some journalism on how the faith in Ireland fell, and economic carelessness rose. This may sound all too coincidental and a fluke, but as Ireland went further from the teaching of the Church on how to manage its finances, it went more towards a very unrealistic continental-style financial model that did not suit our wet, windblown island's interests.
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.

There remains a very instinctive drive to pray to Padre Pio. Dónal Enright, who I wrote about in a previous post, has a phone that never stops ringing - mainly sick people from all corners of Ireland invite him to their bedside to pray with them and bless them with Padre Pio's mitt. Books on Padre Pio are bestsellers in Ireland (sorry, that's not true for the Catechism). Liberal Irish newspaper enthusiastically report the accounts of miracles attributed to Padre Pio. These same newspapers are busy discrediting the power of the sacraments one day, and the next day these newspapers celebrate the great intercession of St. Pio. 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'.


  1. Mary, In a nutshell, Pope Benedict XVI explains that both the USA and Europe [including Ireland]have allowed an eclipse of God to practice what he calls "practical atheism". The Pope goes on to recommend that in order to rebuild those Church's that have fallen from faith, the Catechism must be reintroduced to those who are ignorant of their faith. If you want to see the Mass in Ireland full, teach and preach the Catechism [and along the way mention Padre Pio].


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