Now it can be said that the cures and conversions wrought through the intercession of Padre Pio are miracles of a kind.
Father Charles Carty, in the book, Padre Pio, the Stigmatist, says of miracles:
"Miracles are a part of our supernatural gifts, they are free gifts which God gives to man as a manifestation of His omnipotence, of the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holiness of the Roman Catholic Church.
"I have said that a supernatural act is manifest to our senses. Well and good; but it must, however, have aspects which stupefy us with wonder, that strike us forcibly, and make us acknowledge Divine intervention.
"A miracle accepted by the Church must be instantaneous, such as: to resuscitate a corpse, to cure a sickness on the spot, to restore a missing limb, to restore sight, to multiply loaves and fishes, etc. I believe and maintain that in miracles, as in all things, there are varying kinds and degrees.
"Miracles are of the first degree when neither science nor natural law can be agencies, either in the present or in the future.
"They are, however, of the second degree, when either science or natural law might, over a prolonged period, have accomplished the act, which in a miracle occurs instantaneously.
There are also so-called intellectual miracles, such as true and sudden prophecy of the future, the knowledge of one or more languages that have never been studied, or the revelation of an unknown doctrine.
"I don't know what to call the action of keeping a person dry while it is raining in torrents, of warning him by means of his perfume or by his presence if he fails in his devotions; by predicting an approaching event, such as the sex of a child about to be born; by asserting that the finest water one could desire would be found by digging a well five meters from the new monastery of Pietrelcina, although he had never been to the site; of stating that he had aided by touch, the hand of a surgeon who was operating upon a cataract of the eyes to restore the sight of a woman blind for twenty-eight years. . . . Enough, for if I continue to cite examples, I should never end." [pp. 120-121.]
Father Carty describes the following event:
In May of 1924, pilgrims from Bologna went to San Giovanni Rotondo to see the Saint. As they approached the monastery, they saw that a portion of the road running along an almond grove, was thick with black caterpillars, so numerous that they had to stomp on them. A man from the local told them that the caterpillars had invaded one of the trees in the grove and the owner was beside himself with anxiety to think that his entire year's crop was threatened. So he went to Padre pio entreating him to bless the almond tree. The Saint went to the terrace of the church, and blessed the almond trees below. In a matter of just minutes the affected tree was clean, and now the street was covered with the caterpillars, which no longer threatened anyone, but were rather a mere annoyance.
Padre Pio accomplished many similar acts, yet ultimately it is always God Who accomplishes them; but whoever is instrumental in bringing them about is always one of His chosen servants.
Some would say, "Why bother, why not just go directly to God?"
To use an analogy from the military, the soldier below does not go up to the top general with a request, but follows the chain of command; or a child to his mother and not to his father, as is often the case?
God has His intermediaries---we know this from the Holy Scriptures.
Or as Father Carty puts it, "Whoever accomplishes such acts is always one chosen of the Lord, a soul living in the will of God, according to His laws, and in whom God dwells; wherefore miracles are performed by the Saints alone, either during their lifetime, or after their death; either by themselves or their followers, or by means of others. Therefore, while a miracle is useful to the beneficiary, it is indispensable to others, for the results that it brings with it. The miracle helps to bring people closer to God, as Padre Pio indicates every time that he accomplishes some extraordinary deed he says: 'God has granted you this favor, turn to Him and not to me in your gratitude.' " [pp. 122-123.]
In fact in John 11:41, Jesus Himself thanks His Father in Heaven for Lazarus's raising, saying, "Father, I thank Thee for hearing my prayer. For Myself, I know that Thou hearest Me at all times, but for the sake of the multitude which is standing around, that they may learn to believe it is Thou Who hast sent Me."
Now, you might ask, can anyone obtain a miracle? Catholic teaching is yes, provided that the person conforms to the conditions given by Our Lord and only then. God is not obliged to place His omnipotent powers at the disposal of His creatures.
Does this mean to imply that God is ever unjust? Certainly not, to even to suggest such a thing is blasphemous! However, God grants a miracle, a special kind of grace actually, to those who believe more or are more meritorious, or to one who is not deserving but whom He wishes to redeem, the miracle being but an impetus to the sinner. Other times it is thought that He does not permit the miracle that a greater work of grace may happen, known only to Him or He desires the soul of the person, who is a Saint, to be with Him in Heaven. And sometimes because the sinner will not be converted he does not receive the miracle, any at all.
Father Carty gives us the following account attested by the well known Doctor Ezio Saltamerenda di Lanciotto, Director of the Biotherapeutic Institute of Genoa.
"From boyhood he had shown evidence of a stubborn and independent spirit. At the age of nine he had lost his faith, which his mother had made such a devoted effort to preserve. He had kept the fact to himself, to spare her feelings, hiding his religious indifference, until, at fourteen, he openly declared himself. He did not need God. . . .
"It is therefore not surprising that all too soon he knew evil, that he did not try to deny himself any of the pleasures that life showered upon him.
"Hungry for reading, he could satisfy his appetite in his father's well-stocked library, choosing at random, and in secret, the most varied texts, not excluding those of Sacred Scripture, which he intended to use in laying the foundations of his atheism.
"During his classical studies, the young man pursued his taste for physiology and poetry. He even wrote fairly good verse. Of life itself, he had by now, formed a purely pagan conception, contrasting strangely with the spiritual struggle which his pride bent toward the desired solution.
"War interrupted Saltamerenda's university studies, which he was later able to complete during his military training. The call to arms brought with it severe discipline to his exuberant and rebellious nature; he actually experienced the suffering of a prison sentence in the Regina Coeli jail, as a political suspect, accused of belonging to an anti-fascist movement. He saw the face of death fighting courageously in the front lines of Africa. Having been wounded at Tobruk, he recovered, and was able to return to his regiment. Finally he was deported to Germany, where he endured the horrors of the concentration camps.
"As a result of these painful experiences his pride, instead of becoming subdued, came bouncing back, more indomitable than ever. Neither marriage, and the birth of two sons, nor his love of art and nature changed his outlook; Dr. Saltamerenda preserved intact that doctrinal self-sufficiency which excluded the intervention of God in the affairs of men. Convinced that man is the sole artifex and judge of his own destiny, he did his best to bring others to his convictions.
'In each experience,' he said, 'man must go to the very bottom, without fear, because life is short, and may go smoothly if we dominate it. The body and the mind alone tend to destruction; everything that rebels against the fatal deterioration of matter, becomes knowledge of life . . . God does not exist, but, should He exist, man does not need to fear a divinity made for the weak and the dull-witted.'
"And thus it went until the first days of March, when a casual meeting took place with Mario Cavaliere, a spiritual son of Padre Pio. In his study, a large photograph of the monk was enthroned on his desk; Dr. Saltamerenda cast a glance at it, and a strange sudden sensation overcame him, the same that he had experienced a few days before, a sort of tightness in his throat, when he had seen the procession of the Madonna della Guardia.
Mario Cavaliere, who had noticed the glance, and a certain expression of diffidence in his visitor, after a few remarks about Padre Pio, gave him a monograph, which he accepted rather skeptically, and subsequently passed on to his wife.
"That same evening, he left for Rome, where, to his great surprise, he expedited in one day some business which he had expected would take him a week to transact. That night he heard suddenly an interior voice, imperious, insistent, which seemed to call him to San Giovanni Rotondo. The bus was not due to leave for three hours, but when he reached the deserted station, there was a taxi waiting, apparently for him! The strange feverish desire to see Padre Pio was too strong to resist; so off he went, covering the distance of forty kilometers across a desert region covered with snow, in the pale light of dawn. His great desire to reach his destination seemed to burn within him. He arrived at the monastery and found a few people waiting for Padre Pio to come down and say his Mass; these were joined by others, until the arrival of Padre Pio became imminent. Three times the young man experienced the same sensation in his throat, and felt at the same time, a great inclination to weep. He was shaken by the sound of approaching footsteps. Then everyone rushed to the door, and kneeling before the Capuchin father, tried to reach his hands, covered with half gloves, 'the privileged guardians of the Sacred Stigmata.'
"Ezio alone remained rigid, standing in a corner, frozen by the struggle with his will, which seemed to deaden all sensation. 'Why am I here? What am I supposed to do?' He stood there immovable, as though in a trance, for the whole period of the Mass. He does not know how long it lasted; he regained alertness, seeing Padre Pio going back to the Sacristy, and the faithful crowding around him, trying to kiss his hands, bare now, and streaked with red.
"Saltamerenda followed him from a distance, when he returned to the monastery for his thanksgiving. Padre Pio was to come back in an hour and a half, to hear Confessions. Then he too would approach him, and ask him . . . what? . . . nothing, surely, for
"When, at length, he found himself kneeling at his feet, he saw the face of the friar darken, and at his request for a blessing for a sick relative he said drily: 'He is blessed.'
"The young man, having nothing more to say, tried to get up; but seemed riveted to the kneeling bench. Suddenly the voice of the father boomed out: 'Tell me, son, don't you ever think of your own miserable soul?'
'Certainly, Father, or I couldn't go on living!' 'And with what end in view?' Padre Pio retorted with energy. Saltamerenda was bewildered, but managed to answer: 'For the propagation of the species.'
'Wretch!' snapped back the priest. 'Don't you see that your soul is being destroyed?' After a pause, placing one hand on his mouth, he dismissed him: 'Go!'
"The contact of that hand on his mouth had profoundly disturbed the young man. The Father had dismissed him, but he could not accept it; he must see him again . . . he must talk to him . . . otherwise, how could he ever find himself?
"In the afternoon, he returned to the sacristy. Padre Pio caught sight of him behind a group of men, and called to him: 'Genoese, you have a dirty face! You live near the sea, but you don't know how to wash!' And then after a pause: 'A stout ship, without a pilot!'
More bewildered than ever, Ezio Saltamerenda tried to kneel nearby, but Padre Pio sent him away once more. However, all this severity only succeeded in increasing his attraction; the more he humiliated him, the more he loved that friar. 'Father,' he would have liked to cry out, now that the ice was melted within him, 'Father, forgive me!' But he felt that the priest wanted to have nothing to do with him, and he left feeling nothing but despair in his heart. . . . On his way back he ran into Fra Francesco, who spoke words of comfort, and even persuaded him to stay. He brought him back to the monastery, and took him to Padre Pio's cell, which bears the inscription: 'Earth's glory has Sorrow for a companion.' While waiting for the door to open, the friar told him of the life of self-denial and sacrifice Padre Pio led, and of what an immense help he was to all about him; of how his effectiveness increased with the use of the scourge. . . .
" . . . The door opened, and the fragrance of violets invaded the corridor. 'What do you want? Don't make me waste my time!' And then: 'Go downstairs, and I'll hear your
Confession.' . . .
'These were the most beautiful moments of my life!' says our convert.' " [pp. 125-130.]