Padre Pio’s first hospital is a success, but an earthquake strikes

Surely it is a shame that more people, especially people devoted to Padre Pio, do not know of his great practical works; especially that he founded hospitals?
Padre Pio had superhuman compassion. It was Christ who said that ‘I was thirsty and you gave me a drink…sick and you visited me.’ And Padre Pio who defined for us that ‘in every sick person there is Christ who is suffering. In every poor person there is Christ who is languishing. In every sick person who is poor, Christ is doubly there.’
And the outlook was at times – very bleak - for the poor and sick in San Giovanni of that time. We must not neglect the fact that Padre Pio lived in San Giovanni of the 1920’s – then it was a primitive town situated on the Gargano Mountain. Health care was basically nonexistent, with the nearest hospital being quite far away – and over extremely rough terrain. Only people with serious medical emergencies took the arduous journey to the hospital. Among his followers, Padre Pio sought collaborators, raised money, and bought an abandoned Poor Clare Convent.
Then in January 1925, The Civil Hospital of Saint Francis was established. It was a little hospital – we would identify it as more of a small clinic. It had an operating room, two wards (one for men, the other for women) and two private rooms. Those who could not pay, were treated for free. The medical staff were chiefly Dr Angelo Maria Merla who was on call daily and nursing was provided by the sisters of the Sacred Heart and Sisters of the Precious Blood.  Dr Bucci, from Foggia went there twice a week and performed surgery.
To express appreciation to those who had helped make the hospital a reality, there was a plaque on the outside wall, listing the names of those who had collaborated to make the little hospital a reality. On the plaque was written; ‘Padre Pio of Pietrelcina wished that this town would have a hospital. From his faithful followers, he gathered the necessary funds for the establishment of the same.’
The Hospital of St Francis was an amazing gift to the local people for 13 years. Until a brutal earthquake jumbled the earth upon which the hospital was founded, and buried the operating room. The little clinic was closed forever. But the need for medical care in the area was still acute, and Padre Pio was undeterred…
To be continued…
Facts for this post obtained from Frank Rega's book Padre Pio and America. 
If you would like to see amazing video footage of Padre Pio later opening the hospital 'The House for the Relief of Suffering' - click here.  


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