John Paul II was the only person that Padre Pio ever told about his most painful and bloody wound

Padre Pio bore the wounds of Christ, and deliberately confided in the priest who would be 
the Vicar of Christ

 In the years after World War II, the young Fr Karol Wojtyla was doing further study in Rome. He journeyed into rural Italy so that he could spend nearly a week in San Giovanni Rotondo and be in the company of Padre Pio. At the time, swarms of people did not buzz around Padre Pio, so the young Fr Wojtyla had the opportunity to speak at length with the Franciscan who called himself the ‘humble friar who prays’.

Decades later, when Fr Wojtyla became the Holy Father, people speculated as to whether Padre Pio had told him that he would be Pope. Pope John Paul II clarified that Padre Pio did not tell him that he would be Pope.

But Padre Pio went further than reading the future for Fr Wojtyla, and did something much more decisive and significant. When Fr Wojtyla asked Padre Pio which one of his wounds (from the stigmata) caused him the most suffering, Padre Pio divulged, “it is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated.”  After the most diligent analysis of Padre Pio’s life, it was revealed that Fr Wojtyla was the only person that Padre Pio ever told about his most painful and bloody wound.

Padre Pio had his reasons, which are unknown, for not telling the young Pole that he would be the Holy Father. But it’s certain that Padre Pio bore the wounds of Christ, and deliberately confided in the priest who would be the Vicar of Christ. It’s like Padre Pio was talking directly to the soul of one who God had ordained would be Pope.

But there’s something even more unique.  From what we know, Padre Pio did not tell other Popes, such as Paul VI (the reigning Pope when Padre Pio died) about his most excruciating wound. From all ruling popes and all future popes, Fr Wojtyla was the one entrusted with this secret.
On Sunday, Pope Francis will canonise the only pope who Padre Pio entrusted with the most private detail of his stigmata.

You might also like to read WHY I write about Padre Pio.

Over at The Catholic Herald, I wrote this blog in the run-up to the canonisation of John Paul II.


  1. Thank you for making this known.

  2. My husband and I are excited to be having our fifth baby in September. We have been praying on what name, if a boy, he will have. While we were watching the canonization live of St. John Paul the Great we were both convinced he will be John Paul and seconds after this was decided Pio became the choice for his middle name. So if we have a boy, he will be John Paul Pio. When we were on our honeymoon in Rome almost 6 years ago, Padre Pio's incorrupt body was on display for that one year. What a grace to have seen him and to meet with one of the friars who knew him!

    1. If she is a girl, Pia is the name many Padre Pio devotees use.

    2. Great point, Frank! I know of a family here in England who called their daughter 'Pia'.

  3. Thanks for the article. I find it interesting that St Pio indicated that the most painful wound was the Shoulder wound. I believe that St Bernard was told by Our Lord that the shoulder wound was the most painful-and indicated special graces for those who would venerate it!
    God Bless

  4. Good Morning, Mary,

    I have a devotion to St. Pio (and aspire to be a Lay Franciscan--a lot of work to do!), and I have read a lot of material about St. Pio's life. We are blessed to have a church in NYC that holds a glove, sock, and first-class relics of St. Pio. I've never heard of him having a shoulder wound that was associated with the stigmata; I'm also curious as to how this relates to the stigmata--since they are "replicas" of Christ's wounds, and usually don't include the shoulder area. Do you mean his side wound? I know it is well-documented that St. Pio had the five wounds of Christ, including a constantly bleeding side wound (such as the one our Lord received from the Roman Soldiers upon death). I have seen photos of his stained night shirt. Can you clarify and share your source? I'm a writer and am planning a book on St. Pio; very curious about this! Your blog is lovely. God Bless! ~ Tiffany O'Neill/New Jersey

    1. Dear Tiffany O'Neill,

      Thank you for your comment. I have only now had time to give your comment the response (and time) it deserves.

      I'm delighted to hear you have a devotion to St Pio, that you are hoping to be a Lay Franciscan and that you are planning a book on St Pio. May you be successful in all your undertakings.

      To be clear, my post above does not concern Our Lord's side wound, nor does it concern how the side wound was part of Padre Pio's stigmata.

      My post does two things, it states that Fr Karol asked Padre Pio about his wounds, that in reply Padre Pio said his shoulder wound gave him the most pain. Secondly, it gives a reflection on why Padre Pio chose Fr Karol for this very special confidence, regarding the shoulder wound.

      I can see that some may wish to separate the two: that the shoulder wound was from carrying the cross, and that the phenomenon of ‘stigmata’; refers directly and only to wounds inflicted by crucifixion. I do not take this literal academic approach, because Padre Pio did not receive his wounds from actually physically carrying the cross, nor from being hung on the cross. But Padre Pio received the entirety of his stigmata directly from God as supernatural manifestations. I take the ‘stigmata’ to mean a collection of wounds from His sorrowful Passion that Our Lord chooses to give a select soul such as Padre Pio’s, which may not be confined solely to the five wounds.
      Therefore, I include the shoulder wound was part of the entirety of the wounds of Christ that Padre Pio bore in a mystical way – and that the shoulder wound was not separate – but part of Our Lord’s Passion and thus given to Padre Pio as part of the ‘stigmata’.
      My essential point is that the phenomenon of stigmata on a person such as Padre Pio is scientifically unexplained, it is miraculous, and a direct work of God, so it cannot be explained in human terms. It is the physical manifestation of wounds that God decides to give a human person such as Padre Pio. God defines the stigmata for a soul such as Padre Pio, so I don’t believe it is our place to question which wound is stigmata and which is not, if all the wounds relate to the Passion of Our Lord.
      The first time that I read the facts about the manifestation of Christ's shoulder wound on Padre Pio was on Frank Rega's excellent article.

      Frank is a good friend of mine, and he lists two published books that may be of interest to you:
      1. Campanella, Stefano, Il Papa e Il Frate, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Edizioni Padre Pio da Pietrelcina, 2005.

      2. Gaeta, Saverio, Sulla Soglia del Paradiso, Edizione speciale per Famiglia Christiana, San Paolo Edizioni, 2002.

      I did a post on Frank Rega's story, which may be found at this link, or by going to the popular posts on the right hand side of this blog.

      To be absolutely clear, my reflection as to *why* Padre Pio gave this confidence to Fr Karol, they are my own meditations, they have no source, and are the fruit of meditation when reciting the Rosary. I trust that since Padre Pio had the gift of reading souls, that it would follow that he treated Fr Karol as a person with the soul of a future Pope, and honoured him with an amazing secret.

      God bless,

      Mary O'Regan

  5. I was praying the Sorrowful mysteries and contemplating the passion of Jesus. The fourth mystery...Jesus carrying his cross. Every time the cross would hit rough ground, the cross would dig deeper into his shoulder. Yes, it must have been very painful. Thank you Lord...give us the grace t carry our cross. Give us the grace to help others carry theirs.

    1. You make an excellent observation about the rough ground - that whenever the cross would hit it - it would hurt Our Lord's shoulder more.


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