THE PHENOMENON THAT IS PADRE PIO IN POLAND



By the time I will publish my book on Padre Pio, I will have spent over 4 years working on it. At 500 pages, my book is quite a tome.

I have not written such a long book in blindness; books on Padre Pio that are comprehensive and good quality tend to outsell the more succinct, niche books on Pio that have a moment in the sun before they are more usually sought out by people who want to know about one side of Pio or about one period in his life. That said, I have bought all the niche books on Pio and I am in the debt of many authors who have slavishly researched particular areas of his life. And maybe my book will sell poorly and buck the trend.   

But when I was researching my book, I came across a few ideas for books on Pio, books I will never write but which I would like to make known. This post is a pitch for a book on the dramatic explosion of interest in Padre Pio that is happening in Poland.

For starters, in Polska the number of "Padre Pio prayer groups" is starting to multiplying at a dizzying rate. Few people know that in Padre Pio's lifetime he founded a movement for prayer groups and he set out careful guidelines (each group has to be under the watchful eye of a faithful priest). On September 22nd, 1968, the day before Pio died, there was a convention for all the prayer groups held in his home of San Giovanni Rotondo and thousands upon thousands of people flooded the town.

Modern day Poland is home to an explosion of Padre Pio prayer groups. Even in tiny hamlets and villages there are the "Padre Pio prayer groups" and in larger towns and cities a pattern is developing where many of the prayer groups become so big that they divide into smaller prayer groups that then become so big that they divide again... A usual development is that if there are, let's say 15 people in a prayer group, it is not beyond the bounds that every member of the group goes in search of other souls to whom they introduce Padre Pio, these souls join up, and often want to form groups of their own. A great many of them are Millennials and many are Generation Z, and even those in their late teens describe themselves as spiritual sons and daughters of Pio. Their stories are not all alike, and the unique intervention of Pio in their lives would make for an enthralling read.

To be sure there are many unlikely conversion stories; young people brought up in anti-Catholic households who develop an uncannily strong attraction to Padre Pio, and even have mystical experiences where Pio reaches out to them. More often, they are invited to pray at a prayer group by a peer of theirs. They are impressive in their sincerity, but also their numbers which are multiplying beyond all expectations, except when you consider that this growing movement of Polish spiritual children of Pio is part of one of a most extraordinary prophecy concerning Padre Pio. Ah, the prophecy! This grand prophecy holds that it will be a Franciscan, one of St Francis' fold who will lead a third of the world to Christ. Padre Pio tacitly agreed it was him, and even took issue with it, arguing that he did not want merely a third. I wrote about it in the same post where I described Pio's greatest mystical experience: when Jesus took Pio's heart and submerged it in His Sacred Heart and the two hearts beat as one and most notably shared the same function. 

This isn't my story or news article or book, but it may be yours. I am not in a position to travel to Poland even once, and I do not have the necessary passion for the recent history of the country. Yet it is a priority of mine to have my book on Pio translated into Polish. In my own book I have done an analysis of the guidelines set forth by Pio as to how to ensure the prayer groups are successful.

By way of job spec, I would suggest that the ideal author to write the story of Padre Pio and Poland has a fascination and a great affection for Polish Catholicism in all its colorful forms that defies the common stereotype of the blue-eyed Eastern European from a devout family who reveres John Paul II. As I hinted above, some of the spiritual children come from homes that are virulently anti-Catholic, and those who are Generation Z do not have any memories of the JP II pontificate but they are pleasantly surprised to hear Pio confided in JP II that his shoulder wound was the most painful. If the author is not Polish, then the author would need a working knowledge of Polish and have a translator. T'would be good if the author had a facility with numbers, accounting and statistics because a tenet of this book would be to demonstrate how vast swathes of the Polish population are spiritual children or are actively seeking to become spiritual children and paint a remarkable numerical portrait of a country that is fast becoming a living proof of the prophecy that Pio will lead a third of the world to Christ.

If anyone out there decides to run with this, there is no need to report back to me, or even give me credit for this hot tip. Whoever you are, I wish you all the best in your mission of researching and writing this book.

Dearest Readers, You may also like to learn of how a photograph of Padre Pio chased away demons that were flying at a man on his death-bed. 

Comments

  1. Mary,

    A respectful suggestion. Make sure your book not only has a good table of contents, but a good index. Two of the three great books on Mariology (and both title "Mariology") , Juniper Carol O.F.M.'s trilogy and Mark Miravalle's book both lack an index. It is actually very difficult to do cross references with these works due to their lack of an index. While I realize this is not an academic work, you reveal above that this is not going to be the typical run of the mill devotional book that all of us read and enjoy at some point in our spiritual lives.

    And you know, maybe if your book does well enough, it ight be translated into Polish!

    There are so many anecdotes about Padre Pio. Simply amazing. Collating and documenting these alone would take a lifetime.

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    1. Yes, what a great idea. From the earliest days of writing the book I have been planning an index. Your comment is my signpost to prioritize this all the more.

      Actually, my book is quite academic and one that is also a devotional book set in a biography of Pio. My aim has been to take the hard facts about Pio's life and simultaneously document his mystical life while making Pio's holiness absolutely accessible to his spiritual children. For example, Pio was human, not divine, yet at a certain point in his priesthood, his heart became one with the Divine Heart of Jesus, and when you or I venerate the relic of Pio's heart that tours the world, we are venerating the heart that was "fused" with the Sacred Heart and served Our Lord's Divine Body in pumping blood through Our Lord.

      While Pio suffered "all" the pains of Our Lord's crucifixion, Pio suffered this agony only in his human nature, while Our Lord suffered His Passion in both His humanity and Divinity. When he offered Mass, Pio shared in all Our Savior's human pain, but Pio was always was in an act of adoring Our Lord. You and I may not endure the agony of the Cross in our flesh, but we may adore Our Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as Pio did. Pio's extreme reverence can inform how we assist at Mass: we are to be the meekest child.

      I agree, so many anecdotes about Padre Pio! This is why a large chunk of my life will be devoted to stories about Pio.

      God bless you, James Ignatius,

      Mary

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  2. Mary, I am very interested on hearing your perspective on Padre Pio and the Latin Mass. As far as I know he never did the Novus Ordo Mass, but was allowed to remain giving his Masses in what is now called the Extraordinary Rite. In your research have you found anything he had to say about the new rite? I think I read once that he said something like: "I am glad I am dying since I won't have to endure some of the changes (in the Church)" but I haven't found the book in which I found that. My intuition tell me that he will definitely won't like the new rite but probably I am speculating here. What do you think?
    thanks.

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    2. Hello Hugo, Thank you for your comment. Padre Pio's eyesight was failing and in fact he was beset by a huge number of illnesses when the Novus Ordo Mass was introduced, and he found reading especially hard. Pio obtained permission to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass, (or Extraordinary Form as it was named in Pope Benedict's 2007 Motu Proprio). And no, he never offered the Novus Ordo Mass. Pio, however, was asked under obedience to face the people when offering the Tridentine Mass and he agreed.

      I, too, would like to find out the veracity of that quote, attributed to Pio, "I am glad I am dying since I won't have to endure some of the changes (in the Church)." I believe it is quite possibly true. In his last years, Pio would say many times that he was glad he was dying, and would then give his reasons, the most common I believe is, "The world is catching fire."

      God bless you.

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    3. Hugo, I look forward to getting back to you with more data on this topic. It may not be soon, but as soon as possible. God bless you.

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    4. Hi Mary, thank you so much for your kind replies. What you shared with me was most helpful. God bless you.

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