As If He were Suffering Blows
“Carrigan noticed a transformation in the celebrant during the consecration. He seemed to take on physical sufferings. Although he knew nothing at the time of Padre Pio’s stigmata, Carrigan noticed that the Capuchin leaned on the altar, first on one elbow and then on the other, as if he were trying to relieve the pain in his feet. At the words of the Consecration, he seemed to have difficulty in speaking the words, ‘Hoc est enim corpus meum.’ (“This is my body.”) Carrigan recalled Pio shouted the words, hesitating and biting them off ‘as if he were in physical pain.’ When he reached for the chalice, he jerked his hand back violently, ‘as if the pain were so great he could not grasp it.’ His facial muscles were twitching and tears were rolling down his cheeks. Occasionally, he jerked his head to one side or the other, as if he were suffering blows to the neck and head.”*
This is a description of the first time that Bill Carrigan saw a Mass said by St. Pio of Pietrelcina. It was 1943, in a place called San Giovanni Rotundo, near Naples, Italy. He had taught psychology before the war at Catholic University, in Washington, D.C. Now, he was travelling with the Fifteenth Army, U.S. Air Force, as a member of the Red Cross. He would come to write a story later, about many soldiers whose lives had changed dramatically after coming to see the enigmatic friar.
Many miracles are attributed to Padre Pio. He was said to have gifts of bilocation, healing and being able to read souls, among others. Carrigan himself, although he remained skeptical of them, possessed several boxes of stories relating miraculous events involving Padre Pio. In 2008, more than forty years after his death, Padre Pio’s body was exhumed and placed on public display. Videos showing its condition can be seen on Youtube. His face is lifelike.
This Lent, let us not doubt, nor recoil, from the great suffering Christ endured during His Passion for all of us. Let us know it through the communication with Him exhibited by His humble servant, Padre Pio. Let us know it was borne out of Love, Love of God for us.
*C. Bernard Ruffin, Padre Pio: The True Story (Huntington, IN, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 1991) p.258.