I remember being a little shocked when Donal Enright disclosed to me that in the 1960s he had helped several women who were suffering during the aftermath of their illegal abortions.  Donal was a disciple of Padre Pio - Pio had given him a great role to be at the side of post-abortive women and guide them to realize the gravity of their sin. At the time abortion was not legal in Italy. Donal met these women when they were milling around San Giovanni Rotondo and hoping to confess to Padre Pio. But Donal was not the only spiritual child who knew post-abortive women who confessed to Padre Pio.

One woman had an illegal abortion and was distraught when Pio informed her that her baby boy could have been a great prince of the Church. The lady in question was a neighbor of Alberto Cardone who was a spiritual child of Pio's. Alberto had impeccable integrity. She told Alberto of her confessions with Pio which led to Pio revealing that her son could have been a cardinal. 

This was in the mid 1940s. The lady knelt in Pio's confessional and when she had given him an account of her sins which she thought was complete, Pio invited her, "Try to remember the other sin." She responded, "Padre, I think I gave you all the sins I know and I think this is it." Padre Pio was not satisfied, and he gave her a harsh penitential exercise; "Go to the cross and say 15 Ave Marias and 15 Our Fathers". The cross was at the top of the mountain, it was reached by going up a very bad road and was considered by all to be a dangerous expedition. But the lady did as Pio asked, and when she went back to him, hoping to get absolution, he said to her, "Do you remember all your sins?" Again she was adamant that she had previously confessed all of them, "Padre Pio, I've confessed everything." Pio was patient and blamed it on her memory, "No, you still don't remember all." Then he assigned the same penance as last time, "You've got to go to the cross at the top of the mountain again." 

When she returned from her perilous climb up the mountain, she still claimed not to remember the other sin, and Pio asked her to go to the cross for a third time. When she returned to his confessional, she was resolute that she did not remember anything else, but Pio questioned her, "What do you mean, you don't remember anything? Don't you know he could have been a good priest, a bishop, even a cardinal?" The woman was thrown into deep thought and as she remembered her abortion, tears welled up in her eyes and she defended herself, "Padre, I never knew abortion was a sin." Pio was not moved to soften his stance, "What do you mean, you didn't know this was a sin? That's killing."

The lady thought the cloak of secrecy had granted her immunity, "Nobody knows about this, only me and my mother, how could you say it could have been a priest or a cardinal?"

But Pio knew. The mere fact that Pio said the boy could have been "a good priest" is exceptionally telling because Pio rarely if ever said that a priest was good, he was harder on priests than he was on anyone else, he even denigrated himself so harshly it was hard for Pio's enemies to insult him worse than he insulted himself. This genuine account is not just the story of the mother's tragedy, but ours as well, because it follows that if he had been a good priest according to Pio, he'd have been a good prince of the Church, and they are in short supply. 

Pio ended the conversation with the woman of the dead son by saying solemnly, "It's [abortion] is a sin, a very great sin."

May I wish you and yours a very happy feast of St Padre Pio. 

UPDATE:  I have done further analysis and I believe that the baby boy would have been born circa 1946 and would be 76 years old now; he would be considered an older Boomer. The average age of a cardinal is 72, and the current Pope was 76 when he was elected Pope. 

His mother, the penitent, the post-abortive mother presented as someone who went to confession at least twice a year at Christmas and Easter. This is not as regularly as Pio advised, but had she been away from the sacraments for years, he would have sent her away without speaking to her and would have made her wait before any dialogue took place, or he would have stated her sin without trying to induce her to tell him. The mere fact that he first gave her penance tells us that it was a recent abortion, because otherwise Pio's concern would have been to make her feel how long she had been away from confession before her actual sins were voiced. 

The woman's surprise at hearing the wrongness of abortion indicates that she was among the first generation of Italians that needed to be instructed as to its evil. 

This confession took place just after World War II had ended and when the War was raging, destitute Italian women took to prostitution and the abortion rate rose. Before the War, abortion was exceedingly rare and thus there was little spoken catechism devoted to it; the woman had never heard it said that abortion was sinful, because before the War, abortion was genuinely something that was not at all common. The post-abortion woman was not a prostitute but when she confessed she was very young and she did not remember a time when abortion was so uncommon as to be unknown among ordinary Italians and she came of age when it was regrettably more accepted and thus she was aghast when Pio emphasized its evil. 

* * * 

This post was informed by my interviews with Donal Enright and most particularly C. Bernard Ruffin's Padre Pio: The True Story  which is available at the Spirit Daily bookstore


  1. Happy feast day of St. Padre Pio.

    Jim Doody
    Elko, Nevada, USA

    1. Jim, may you be showered with blessings through Pio's intercession.

  2. Happy feast day, Mary, of a true wonderworker before the Lord who has brought so many blessings to all of us.

    Thank you for your work for the unborn.

    1. Thank you for hailing Padre Pio as a wonderworker. I wish you and yours a very happy feast of Padre Pio! You and yours are such a blessing.

  3. I'm doing a novena to St. Padre Pio, because even though I'm a miserable sinner, I desperately need his help. In addition to praying for my wife's conversion, we're trying to sell our house and move to a lower-tax state, as I'm on disability and my wife and I take care of a number of cats (no, we're not "cat hoarders") that otherwise would've likely been put down during the 'pandemic.' The temptation to despair is great.

    Any prayers to Saint Padre Pio would be appreciated.

    1. Yes, I hear you and I will pray to Padre Pio and all the Saints for you. Have you offered the Novena to the Sacred Heart that Pio said everyday? https://thepathlesstaken7.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-prayer-that-padre-pio-said-everyday.html

      Forgive me if this is the novena that you are already offering. It is very Franciscan of you and your wife to save the lives of your feline friends. May you get many graces, especially those to overcome the temptation to despair - I understand it is not easy. May you sell your house for a high price and find the perfect house in a state with less taxes.

      + Continued prayers

  4. Dear Mary-I greatly enjoy your blog. Given your great devotion to St Padre Pio, I trust you will remember his aversion to criticizing his superiors whether they were his bishop or the Pope. Thus, although I empathize with your concerns, I urge you to jettison your post from 2015 concerning Laudato Si. Try a letter addressed to the Holy Father and concisely express your thoughts and keep silent. here's the address:
    His Holiness, Pope Francis
    Apostolic Palace
    00120 Vatican City

    best regards,
    Bill McIntosh
    Bellevue, Nebraska

    1. Dear Bill,

      I am so glad that you enjoy this humble blog and thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I believe you are referring to this post of mine: https://thepathlesstaken7.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-dangerously-contradictory-elements.html

      I will take under advisement your suggestion that I write directly to the Holy Father and remain silent. This is what I do most of the time anyway. My calling in recent years has been to move from covering current events to doing analysis of the pearls of wisdom from our mystics that is universal in application and as relevant and salutary for the soul today as it was when it was first given our beloved Saints.

      You are right to say that Padre Pio had an aversion to criticizing the hierarchy, but that is not to say he never did it. As he got older, and graduated to higher and higher levels in the spiritual life, this aversion to such criticism waned in Pio and there were times he had reason to be blunt about his betters' true intentions.

      This is especially true of the time during the worst persecution of Pio, during 1960 to 1964. One of Pio's persecutors from the Vatican had, what Pio described as, "cardinalitis"; he was trying to become a cardinal by mistreating Pio, dragging his name through the mud by way of a perjured testimony and ultimately imposing sanctions on Pio which stopped souls from coming to Pio. Pio could see this man's soul, and he knew that his ambitions came first, before treating him fairly. At this time, too, one of Pio's spiritual daughters was also persecuted and she called one of the monsignors "a hairy ape". This individual later left the priesthood. But Pio did not upbraid her for this comment and worse that she made. This was, admittedly, a very vexed time, but souls were on the line and the faithful were the ones who suffered most because extreme limits were placed on Pio.

      I have my own soul to consider and have a calling to use whatever tiny bit of a brain I've been given, and will answer for all my writing, and thus I'm electing to keep the post on Laudato Si because it asks a question that needs to be answered; why is the Holy Father happy to bolster the career of one like Schellnhuber who has opinions totally at odds with the Church's teaching on life?

      While I respect the sincerity of your request, it is an emergency situation when children are chemically and surgically aborted as a way of "saving the planet" and needs emergency action. I have had at least two people close to me who I loved very much whose brothers and sisters were aborted because their parents were "green" and kept company where having one child was applauded, two tolerated, and three considered an abomination. In the world at large there is too much polite silence that helps this to happen, the woke elite want our silence for sure. There are other such public figures, whose known beliefs are foul, and the Holy Father does not meet with them. Were he to do so, he would get dreadful press and deservedly so. But just because "being ecologically friendly" garners sympathy and is popular does not mean it ought be given the protection of silence.

      This is good preparation for my Last Judgment.

      God bless you, Bill and your many good works. Mary

      PS - That certain cleric never did get his red hat.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful blog, Mary. Thank you, too, for your insightful and charitable example when responding to comments from your readers.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts