It was Holy Weekend, 1925, at San Giovanni Rotundo in southern Italy. On Good Friday, friends of Paolina Preziosi came to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for her. She had pneumonia and no penicillin was available. Padre Pio comforted them saying, “Tell her to have no fear since she will be resurrected with the Lord.”*
That night when Paolina was praying to be healed, so she would not leave her five children orphans, Padre Pio appeared to her and said, “tomorrow when the bells ring, you will be cured.”* Later that evening she fell into a coma and her friends began to make preparations for her death.
The following day, Padre Pio was told that the local pastor had come to her with Holy Viaticum, the Blessed Sacrament for her passing. Padre Pio then went to say the Easter Vigil Mass. When the bells rang to announce the resurrection of the Lord, Paolina leapt from her bed “as if she had been pushed by a superhuman force.”* She was completely well.
The above story may seem more appropriate for Easter Sunday than Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday, however, the disciples were still living with the idea that Christ had died, that He was gone and they were now separated from Him. On Holy Saturday, 1925, Paolina was in a coma and her friends were awaiting her death. In the warmth of His Presence, she did rise again. The fears and doubts of her friends gave way to joy.
Similarly, it is easy to have fears and doubts about the Eucharist. A consecrated Host gives no indiation that it is anything other than an inert white disc. He still seems elsewhere, separated from us. The story above and many others testify to something far greater.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina knew Paolina Preziosi would be healed. He also knew about the Real Presence.
He is not separated from us. He is still with us.
*Ruffin, C. Bernard, Padre Pio: The True Story (Huntington, Indiana, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1991) p. 202-03.
Additional source: Cataneo, Pascal, Padre Pio Gleanings (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, Editions Paulines, 1991) p. 123-124.