Tuesday 26 October 2021

Padre Pio A Holy Priest - Jim Gallagher - CTS Great Saints

Padre Pio: A Holy Priest
CTS Great Saints
Jim Gallagher
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860821554
eISBN 9781784692490
ASIN B0711W35R9
CTS Booklet B669

Over the last 4 years I have reviewed over 200 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. I stumbled upon them while researching works by a specific author. And I love these books and booklets. In 2021 the CTS has rebranded many of the books and series. They are apparently moving away from a series model. The eBook edition of this still has CTS Great Saints Series but the rebranded is tagged with ‘Saints and Blesseds’. Having reached out to the CTS they have confirmed the rebranding and less of a focus on series. Which I find a pity as there are several series I am trying to finish. But all the biographies in many series have the CTS Booklet B### format. I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I have already read 16 book in this series and over 60 CTS Biographies  from the CTS, and this is the first from Jim Gallagher. I have enjoyed all of them. This volume is another excellent read, in a wonderful series! 

The description of the book is:

“Perhaps the most famous modern saint, he received the stigmata, worked miracles and selflessly served in the confessional. One of the saints whose intercession is most called upon, often with amazing effect.

Canonised on the 16th June 2002, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, had already become one of the saints whose intercession is most called upon, often with amazing effect. Padre Pio received the stigmata, worked many miracles and is said to have often bilocated. Yet as Jim Gallagher beautifully recounts, it was for his holiness as a priest and selfless ministry in the confessional that Padre Pio will ever be remembered among the saints.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

Early Life
Padre Pio the Confessor
Home for the Relief of Suffering
The Shrine
    San Giovanni Rotondo
Further Information

I highlighted several passages during my first read of this book. Some of them are:

“In an age of multi-national business and the culture of ‘enterprise’ and ‘success’, in a time of instant satellite communication, 24-hour entertainment, space travel and new inventions, why do increasing numbers of people throughout the world, particularly young people, exhibit a fascination with and admiration for a Franciscan friar from a little village who lived and died in a remote mountain-top friary in southern Italy?”

“Padre Pio lived the Catholic priesthood day in and day out for over fifty years in a small Franciscan friary at San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy. His daily agenda was the Divine Office, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, community life with his brethren and the priestly ministry of Confession. Hour after hour, day after day he spent cooped up in the confessional. And, from near and far, the people flocked to him.”

“While Padre Pio threw himself into the discipline of the Capuchin life, and loved the study of Sacred Scripture, the Franciscan Rule, the mystical theology of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, he was never glum or downcast. At the appointed times of community recreation when the normal Rule of Silence was lifted, he loved to laugh and joke with his fellow novices.”

“On 22nd January 1904 the 16 year-old novice made his first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. There then began a six-year period of training and preparation for ordination to the priesthood (although in the event, Pio would be ordained early by special dispensation).”

“On the morning of 10th August 1910, he set off with Don Pannullo for Benevento. There, in the Canons’ chapel of the cathedral, he was ordained by the 83 year-old archbishop. On the 15th August he returned to Pietrelcina to sing his first public Mass for the feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven.”

“Pio had prepared a little memento card. It bore the words: “A souvenir of my first Mass. Jesus, my life and my breath, today I timorously raise Thee in a mystery of love. With Thee may I be for the world the way, the truth and the life, and through Thee, a holy priest, a perfect victim.” In those words the 23 year-old priest had summed up the whole theology of the Catholic priesthood.”

“Years later, there are reports of people having confessed to him at San Giovanni Rotondo in different languages and Pio replying to them in their own tongue. This certainly happened to some American and English servicemen who visited him during the Second World War as the Allied Forces were making their way up from southern Italy to re-take Rome from the Germans.”

“The wounds were there to stay and Padre Pio would bleed from them every day and night for the next 50 years. He would be the only priest in the history of the Church to be recognised as bearing the stigmata of the wounds of Christ.”

“During his life, though, false and extravagant claims and stories were sometimes circulated by those wishing to support Padre Pio. Inversely, others made harsh judgements and sometimes false accusations. Throughout all the claims and counter-claims, Pio stuck fast to his sure lifeline; obedience to his legitimate superiors.”

“The message was clear: the Church is our Mother. We venerate her whether we understand or like what She is doing or not, in the knowledge that She wills our greatest good.”

I was unaware prior to reading this that the wounds had come to him once before and that he prayed and they were not visible. I was also well aware of several instances of bilocation. But not about his being able to hear and respond in many languages in the confessional. And this story completely surprised me:

“Once during this time, Fr Agostino decided to test Pio’s intimacy with his Guardian Angel. In September 1912 Agostino wrote him a letter entirely in Greek. Pio brought the letter along to his friend and parish priest at Pietrelcina. Before Don Pannullo could begin to translate it, Pio proceeded to tell him its meaning, word for word.

Later Don Pannullo wrote a testimony at the bottom of that letter. “I, the undersigned, testify on oath that when Padre Pio received this letter he explained its contents to me literally. When I asked him how he could read and explain it as he did not know even the Greek alphabet, he replied: ‘You know! My Guardian Angel explained it all to me.’ Signed, The Archpriest, Salvatore Pannullo.””

This is a fascinating little read. It is an excellent introduction to the saint, his life, and his ongoing influence. It is a very accessible read. It will encourage, surprise and challenge readers of all ages. An no matter what edition you track down you will be blessed by the reading of this book. 

I hope those few quotes above will inspire you to pick up this excellent volume and give it a read. It seems every time I read a book from the Catholic Truth Society I find 2 or three others I want to read. I added a few of Gallagher’s other volumes to my to be read pile, after finishing this one. I have an ever growing wish list of eBooks, books in print, and books out of print from the Catholic Truth Society I want to track down. I greatly enjoyed reading this volume. I learned several things about this Saint I was unaware of. This is another excellent read, in a great series. Like the previous volume from Gallagher this book is very well written, and leaves me wanting to find the others from this author in the series. It is another great Biography from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Jim Gallagher:
Padre Pio: The Pierced Priest
Mother Teresa – The Life of the famous “Saint of Calcutta”
John Paul II: The Road to Sainthood
Serving the Young: Our Catholic Schools Today
Our Schools and Our Faith: A Pastoral Concern and Challenge

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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