Christmas of a saint
Devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the daily prayer of several rosaries, the Saint of stigmas, Padre Pio, also had a bond of love with Jesús Niño, that he cared for with zeal … avoiding even to make public some extraordinary events that occurred while he was seen in the company of the Son of God.
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The sanctity of the Capuchin priest – who would be officially recognized by the church when the holy Pope John Paul II officially canonized him on June 16, 2002 – began to manifest itself in his childhood, according to historians and biographers.
While his parents worked in the countryside, he modeled the small images of birth with clay; he placed them in a small cave carved out of the biggest wall of the house, and then prepared the little lights, filling with a few drops of oil and a bit of tow the empty shells of the snails, which he made empty and clean his friend Luis Orlando, since “he did not have the courage to carry out this operation”.
Later, he would place large pieces of moss around the cave, which he would remove from the trunk of the trees with a penknife. He remained for hours and hours before the birth, singing lullabies or praying the Rosary.
Prayer to the Child Jesus
After I was older, I counted the days until Christmas. He sent all his auguries of peace, serenity, joy …
“The heavenly Child grants you to experience in your heart all the holy emotions that made me enjoy in the blessed night, when he was placed in the poor portal”, says the saint in one of his letters (Epist., I, 981).
In the days that preceded Christmas, Father Pio also wrote to his spiritual daughters inviting them to pray to Jesús Niño …
“At the beginning of the holy novena in honor of the holy Child Jesus, my spirit has felt like reborn to a new life; the heart feels too small to contain the goods of heaven; the soul feels itself to be completely undone in the presence of our God, who has become flesh for us.
How to resign yourself to not loving it every day with new enthusiasm?
Oh, let us approach the Child Jesus with a clear heart of guilt, that, in this way, we will savor the sweetness and softness that is to love Him “(Epist II, 273).
“Be very close to the cradle of this funny Child … If you love riches, here you will find the gold that the wise men left him; If you love the smoke of honors, here you will find that of incense; and if you love the delicacy of the senses, you will feel the smell of myrrh, which perfumes the holy grotto entirely.
Be rich in love towards this celestial Child, respectful in the attitude you take before him in prayer, and fully happy to feel in you the holy inspirations and the affections of being uniquely yours “(Epist III, 346s).
As a result of this same prayerful devotion that he practiced since childhood, at least three extraordinary events are known that link the saint with Jesus Child.
First appearance (November 1911). From the end of October 1911 until December 7 of the same year, Padre Pío lived in the convent of Venafro (Isernia). Here in an ecstasy whose date does not specify Father Agostino de San Marco in Lemis, he appeared to Padre Pio the Child Jesus. The peculiarity is that the Child Jesus appeared with the stigmata of the crucifixion in hands, feet and side.
His chroniclers do not miss that sign, for St. Pio of Pietrelcina contemplating the mystery of Christmas was to see the Child Jesus in the light of the Paschal Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Second appearance (September 20, 1919). This apparition is documented by Father Raffaele de Sant’Elia a Pianisi in the manuscript, ‘Brief notes on the life of Padre Pio and my long stay with him’. Also in this apparition there is a reference to the stigmas and, in this, to the mystery of Salvation that Christmas contains …
“After eight years of military life, I had to continue my studies in theology and prepare myself for priestly ordination. I slept in a narrow cell, almost opposite the number 5, which belonged to Padre Pio. The night between 19 and 20 (September 1919) I could not sleep. Toward midnight I get up, scared. The corridor was submerged in darkness, broken only by the dim light of an oil lamp. While I was at the door to go out, I see Father Pio pass by, all bright, with Baby Jesus in his arms. He moved slowly murmuring prayers. He passes in front of me, all radiant with light, and he does not notice my presence. Only a few years later I have known that September 20 was the first anniversary of his sores. ”
Third appearance (December 24, 1922). Lucia Ladanza, spiritual daughter of Padre Pio, is the one who narrates what happened on December 24, 1922 when she wanted to spend the Christmas vigil with the Father.
That night it was cold and the friars had brought a brazier with fire to the sacristy. She and three other women stayed by the brazier waiting for midnight to attend the Mass that Padre Pio was to celebrate. The other three women began to fall asleep, while she continued to pray the rosary. At that moment he saw that Padre Pio was coming down the inner staircase of the sacristy and stopped by the window. Suddenly, he says, wrapped in a halo of light appeared the Child Jesus in the arms of Padre Pio … whose face became all radiant. When the vision disappeared, the Father noticed that Lucia was awake and was staring at him, stunned. She approached him and said: “Lucia, what have you seen?” She replied: “Father, I have seen everything.” Padre Pio, then, warned him severely: “Do not say anything to anyone.”
Sources: The Devout Life of Padre Pio, Gerardo di Flumeri and web portals. Article originally published by Portaluz