The Young Priest
On the 10th of August, 1910, Padre Pio---then known as Fr. Forgione---was ordained August 10, 1910 in the Cathedral of Benevento. The city had once been named "Maleventum" or Evil Wind by its founder Diomede, because of the violent winds that prevail there, but the Romans renamed it Beneventum, or Good Wind. His father was still in America earning a living for his family and providing for his son's education, and could not attend the ordination. He said his first Mass the next day in Pietrelcinca in his home parish. Three days later he offered his first High Mass. A High Mass includes a deacon and sub-deacon taking part. Sometimes another priest officiates in the place of one of these.
For several years Fr. Forgione remained in his home town, in a straw hut outside the family home. His father had at last returned. His health was precarious and so it was considered best for him to stay on in Pietrelcina.
As soon as he was a priest he begin to experience the assaults of Hell. One night he saw his bed surrounded by the most fearful monsters who shouted to him: "See, the Saint is retiring!"
Fr. Carty, in Who is Padre Pio? gives us a short account:
"Yes, in spite of you!" he answered; and was promptly seized, shaken and beaten to the ground.
"The more he was tormented by the Devil, the greater grew his faith and his love for Our Lord.
Another time, when he was ill in bed, he saw a friar come into his cell who looked like his former confessor, Father Agostino. The apparition proceeded to advise him to give up his practise of penance, of which God did not approve. Padre Pio, much astonished, ordered his visitor to call out: 'Viva Gesu!' The strange creature disappeared, leaving behind a strong smell of sulphur.
"He had many of these supernatural manifestations, and has had many since, but it would take too long to describe even the most startling of them.
"During this period, the good Father Agostino, although getting on in years, continued to follow the career of his much-loved disciple and kept up a lively correspondence with him. When our holy Mother the Church comes to permit the publication of these letters, it will be possible to learn about the mysterious attacks that the poor Father has undergone from his terrible and invisible enemies. In the meantime he was ordered by the Archpriest to give over the unopened letters to him, without having read them.
"One day a letter came to Padre Pio from Father Agostino, whose writing he recognized; he took it to the Archpriest who, having opened it, found a plain sheet of paper with no writing on it. 'The good father must have forgotten to write anything,' he said, 'or else he just put a sheet of paper in the envelope instead of the letter.'
'No,' answered Padre Pio, 'he did not forget, it is "those gentlemen" who want to play me their usual trick.' " [p.7.]
In September of 1915, while praying in his hut, he suddenly felt sharp, stabbing pains in his hands and feet and on his left side under his heart. He was in agony with the invisible stigmata. A few weeks later, in November, Padre Pio was called to serve in the army where he was assigned to the Tenth Medical Corps in Naples, but he was sent home on a medical leave after just a few weeks with orders to await further instructions In February of 1916, he was appointed to the friary of Saint Anne in Foggia to the east, between Benevento and the Gargano region on the coast. The climate there was of benefit to his health, so he was there for only a few weeks, and transferred again, this time to the monastery in San Giovanni Rotundo where the climate was mild and more conducive to recovering his health. As sometimes happens with God, human affairs without intending to do so, serve His will. As life would have it, Fr. Forgione never received the awaited-for instructions, and all the while the military police were in pursuit of Private Francesco Forgione, who was listed as a deserter. The marshal finally caught up with the young priest in San Giovanni Rotondo. The mix-up was resolved and Francesco Forgione was discharged, with a pension, which he promptly gave to the poor. [From the Housetops, p.5.]