Fr. Ignazio da Ielsi, the guardian of the convent at San Giovanni Rotondo from 1922 to 1925, when Padre Pio was still young and had just received the stigmata, wrote in his diary: It is unnecessary to say with what passion Padre Pio celebrates Christmas. He thinks about it all the time. He counts the days to go from one Christmas or the next. The Baby Jesus holds a special attraction for him. It is enough for him to hear a Christmas carol or a lullaby and his spirit soars. To look at him you’d think he were in ecstasy.
Everyone who counts the days to Christmas, and enjoys carols has a lot in common with Padre Pio. It is a surprise for many to learn that Padre Pio yearned so profoundly for the Christmas liturgical feast. A lot of descriptions of Padre Pio throw around words like ‘stern’, ‘strict’ and ‘harsh’, but we need to amend our image of Padre Pio to allow the images of the spirited saint who looked as if he were ‘in ecstasy’ upon hearing a carol or lullaby and who had fervent affection for Baby Jesus.