Padre Pio: "Tell the American people that for those who would like me to be their spiritual father, my answer is yes"


Padre Pio and American Soliders, Leo Fanning, Joe Asterita, Mario Avignone

Padre Pio showed himself to be very, very fond of Americans.  While World War II was raging Pio passed on a message to all Americans - those who were alive then and those who were yet to live - through Joe Peluso. Joe was a soldier stationed in Italy fighting in the theater of war, far from his native Pennsylvania. He first heard about Pio from his mother who was home in America and wrote a letter to Joe urging him to look up the holy friar. When Joe asked the military chaplain about Pio's whereabouts, the chaplain chuckled and pointed to mountain behind their army base and said, "Padre Pio lives right on that mountain!"

Joe went to see Padre Pio and struck up a warm friendship with the friar. They spent much time in each other's company over the next ten months. Joe had the rare privilege of joining Pio for meals and observed Pio ate like a bird, pecking at his food like the dove in the arms of St Francis as opposed to shoveling food into his mouth. Revealing the great grace of his simplicity of life, Pio said to Joe, "I need very little of this world's goods. I need just a little bit of food, a little sleep and few possessions."

A day came when Joe looked at Pio and asked if he would be his spiritual father. Pio agreed. But Pio wanted Joe to be his emissary back home in America and make known his will and his desire to be the spiritual father of every American:  "Joe, when the war is over and you return to the United States, tell the American people, that for those who would like me to be their spiritual father, my answer is yes. I accept all Americans as my spiritual children."  

This is as true today as it was in Joe's day. Padre Pio is open to "all" of the American people becoming his spiritual sons and spiritual daughters. If you are American and reading this and would like to ask Pio to be your spiritual father you have a very great opportunity to have Pio as your spiritual father.

During the same conversation with Joe Peluso, Pio did add, "I only have two requirements - that they lead very good Catholic lives and that they regularly receive the sacraments. And please, tell them never to embarrass me in front of Jesus and Mary. You must tell them, Joe." 

As someone who is writing (or rather re-writing and polishing) a book on Padre Pio, I feel I have inherited Joe's mission of inviting others to ask Pio to be their spiritual father.  So, like Joe before me, I must tell you dear reader of this blog, if you become the Stigmatist's spiritual son or daughter do not embarrass Padre Pio in front of Jesus and Mary. I must tell you... 

When he returned home to America Joe took pains to make a impressive presentation of Padre Pio, and over the years that followed he showed it to many thousands of people. Joe died in 1996, 52 years after meeting Pio and after 51 years of being Pio's ambassador and giving a sea of souls a warm introduction to the holy friar.

Frank Rega's Padre Pio and America is the classic text which reveals the reasons why Pio loved Americans so very much, and how Pio helped American soliders fight the war. I have just ordered a new copy so as to give it as a gift to an American couple I know (the wife is Catholic and the man Lutheran). The husband was in the armed forces and my hope is that he will convert to the one true Faith after reading Frank's book.

Yours truly with my copy of Padre Pio and America. Behind me is an icon of St Francis.

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