|Padre Pio the Flying
Padre Pio was canonised on
June 16, 2002, by Pope John Paul II.
Not every pope had been so convinced of his saintliness. From 1931
to 1933, the Vatican banned the Capuchin from saying Mass in public
or hearing confessions and from all contact with worshippers. John
XXIII, elected in 1958, set spies on him.
According to the accounts embraced by believers, Pio's life was a
continuous succession of miracles. He had
stigmata. He could fly. He even beat the devil at wrestling.
He could be in two places at the one time (bilocation).
Bi-location enabled Pio to visit the United States and the Holy Land
without leaving San Giovanni. The Voice of Padre Pio
relates that he returned from one flying visit to Palestine
disgruntled by his discovery that: "The room of the Last Supper is
looked after by Moslems!"
His most famous flights came during World War Two when American
planes were sent to pulverize San Giovanni and they saw a monk in full robes
arrowing towards them at 10,000 feet as they began their bombing
run. Reasonably enough, they turned tail and headed home.
Pio was a strong advocate of prayers for the Holy Souls, some of
whom visited him from Purgatory to express thanks.
The devil in physical shape assaulted him frequently, once flinging
him across a bedroom. But the devil never got the better of
the defender of faith.
The Vatican's skeptical attitude towards Pio was transformed with the
election of John Paul II in 1978. Pio had heard the young Fr Karol Wojtyla's confession as far back as 1947. Wojtyla came to the papacy
profoundly convinced that God was working in the world through the
In 1982, John Paul opened a formal inquiry into Pio's possible
sainthood. In 1990, the Vatican declared him a Servant of God; in
1997, he was declared Venerable; in 1999, Blessed; and in 2002, a