Reports of levitation

Padre Pio is one of the Church’s most well-known and beloved saints. He was born Francesco Forgione, on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy, to peasant farmers. As a child he was very religious and he decided to dedicate his life to God aged five. At 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone and took the name of Pio in honour of Pope Pius I. He struggled with ill health but continued to study for the priesthood. When he was ordained in 1910 he was allowed to stay at home due to his sickness.

On September 20, 1915, when he was hearing confessions, he felt a pain in his hands and feet. When he examined them, he saw the wounds of Christ. They bled but never became infected, and doctors were amazed at their perfectly round shape. By 1919 the story of Padre Pio’s stigmata began to spread; reports that he could levitate and perform miracles also circulated, causing concern at the Vatican.

Banned from duties

Rome banned Padre Pio from certain public duties while it investigated the stigmata. It was concluded that his condition was genuine. By 1934 he was allowed to preach again.

In 1947, Fr Karol Wojtyła met Padre Pio. It is widely rumoured that the friar told him that he would rise to the highest position in the Church. Fr Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection