Padre Pio on Salvation Outside the Church Part Two

King George V of England, a Baptized Protestant  
“Let us pray for a soul . . .”
 A picture of Padre Pio in his cell
One evening in 1936 Padre Pio was conversing with some dear friends in his cell. Among those present were Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti and Angelo Lupi, who would respectively become the medical director and the builder of Padre Pio’s hospital years later. In the middle of their conversation, Padre Pio suddenly interrupted the discourse with the words, “Let us pray for a soul soon to appear before the tribunal of God.” With that he bowed his head, and his guests, although astonished, kneeled and joined him in prayer. When they had finished, Padre Pio announced that they had been praying for the king of England. The next morning, the news blared forth on the friary radio of the unexpected death of King George V of England the previous evening.14 Two of the sources for this story 15, 16 report that Padre Aurelio was also present in the room, while another source states that Padre Pio went to the friary cell of Padre Aurelio at midnight that evening and asked him to join him in prayers for the king of England who “at that moment” was to appear before God.17
 An Anglican and the son of the future King Edward VII, George was baptized on July 7, 1865 in the private chapel of Windsor Castle. Upon accession to the throne in 1910, the new king swore the following required oath: “I, N., do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God, profess, testify and declare that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments to secure the Protestant Succession to the Throne of my realm, uphold and maintain such enactments to the best of my power.”18
 In all likelihood, the king was in his final agony or had already died when Padre Pio requested prayers for him, since he was “at that moment” to appear before God. If he believed that the soul of this Protestant were doomed to the everlasting fire, why would he pray for him, and also ask others including another priest to do likewise, other than to ask for his conversion. However, it is not recorded or implied that he asked his confreres to pray for the deathbed conversion of the king – an important intention that Padre Pio in all likelihood would have explicitly stated, if such were his purpose. Although he mentioned the king to his priest colleague, he did not tell the friends in his room that they were praying for a non-Catholic until they had finished their prayers. One cannot therefore say that it is to be assumed that as Catholics they were praying for the king’s conversion.
 Since as far as is known they were not specifically asked to pray for his deathbed conversion, there are two alternatives. The first is that they were simply praying for the salvation of a Protestant whom Padre Pio did not consider doomed because of his non-Catholic religion....
 This is from an exceptionally important article by Frank M. Rega, S.F.O. It was found here with a full set of references.


  1. The teaching of Padre Pio seems to me to anticipate/reflect that of such Vatican 2 documents as Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio:

    "it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.

    "Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church....

    "The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community.

    "These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

    "It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation.

    "For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

    "Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those to whom He has given new birth into one body....

    "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained."

  2. Thank you Mark for dilligently compiling these quotes from key Vatican 2 documents. Dilligence is a great grace of yours.

  3. thank you for this article i really did enjoy it.

  4. I'm not sure how the fact that St. Pio praying for the soul of a non-Catholic, can mean that the soul was/was not doomed. There is no evidence as to whether Padre Pio rejoiced afterwards but that he was just silent.

    While we are not sedevacantists, who believe everyone without water baptism, goes to Hell: this story only seems to illustrate one thing: we must pray for the souls of anybody, friend or foe, who dies.

  5. I think a big point is being missed here. According to my reading about him Pio used to place the responsibility and inspiration for many of his actions/phenomenon on divine agents. It seems pretty clear to me that in this case Pio hadn't just thought 'I think we should pray for the King' etc.ect. but had probably been the recipient of some divine inspiration. I think that is a pretty clear indication that this did not end up in damnation, but it doesn't rule out purgatory ...

  6. The comments are excellent. and yes Padre Pio seems to anticipate some of the pastoral teachings of Vatican II, although these teachings have mushroomed into a presumption by many that it is no longer necessary to convert to the Catholic Church. I agree with the comment that he probably was the recipient of divine inspiration in his decision to pray for the King.
    After this article was published, I received some criticism for its title, since it appears to contradict the teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church. Therefore I wrote an introductory note to my web version of the article:
    Note: The examples given below refer to people not in visible communion with the Catholic Church that Padre Pio considered saved. Question 29 from the Catechism of St. Pius X: "But if a man, through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved? Answer: If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God's will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation."
    For a further explanation, please see "Role of Baptism in Salvation"
    Thank you.
    Frank Rega


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