Angels gave the Capuchin saint special help, especially in the face of the assaults he suffered from Satan.
If there is one saint of our time who exhorted the faithful to turn in prayer to the angels, it was Padre Pio. Perhaps it was because of his own experience in relying on his guardian angel’s intercession at crucial moments of his journey. Or maybe it was because he was so aware of the importance of the mission of the heavenly spirits for the salvation of souls.
Padre Pio was gifted with considerable charisms, and the sacred was manifested through his virtues and actions. He was wise and prudent, only revealing what happened to him with the authorization of his superior and in order to teach some truth or lesson. However, those who lived with him knew first-hand how preternatural reality was manifested in the life of the Capuchin, who bore the stigmata.
He had the gifts of bilocation, healing, infused science, prophecy, ecstasies, and reading hearts — including the forgotten sins that he reminded penitents to mention in the confessional. We must emphasize the very special gift of communication with the hereafter — the Souls in Purgatory — and his frequent conversations with his guardian angel, which started when St. Pio was still a boy in Pietrelcina.
As if all the aforementioned gifts were not enough, the stigmata (the signs of the Passion) and transverberation marked the body and soul of the religious with the indelible stamp of the extraordinary.
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Padre Pio and the angels
At the beginning of his priesthood, Padre Pio sent letters to his spiritual directors, Fr. Benedetto and Fr. Agostino, mentioning his encounters with angelic creatures, including his struggles with the greatest of enemies: the devil. In one of these correspondences, he described in detail what was happening around him: visions of the celestial spirits, locutions, visits from the angels — especially his guardian angel — and his constant battle with the devil.
The year 1918 was unforgettable for the Capuchin, and the facts are recorded in a letter to his spiritual director. On August 5, Padre Pio experienced the painful phenomenon of the transverberation, when a mysterious being — whom the saint referred to as a “mysterious personage or hidden personage” — appeared in front of him, piercing his chest with a very fine spear.
This phenomenon — the transverberation — happens in the soul, which does not prevent it from also causing some bodily effects such as a kind of stabbing pain. In the history of the Church we can find some other saints who have experienced it, such as St. Teresa of Avila. In the saint’s mystical experience, a beautiful-looking angel appeared with a long golden dart with a kind of fire at the tip, which it stabbed into her heart and then withdrew.
Who was this personage?
Padre Pio never revealed the identity of this personage, but the angelic creature would appear again days later to mark his body with the signs of the Passion. It was September 20, when the Capuchin was beginning his novena to St. Michael the Archangel. As he stood in the choir of the church in prayer, a creature similar to the one in the event of the transverberation appeared to him. As he recounted in a letter to Fr. Benedetto, the Franciscan explained that the creature appeared with its “hands, feet, and right side dripping blood.” When he disappeared, Padre Pio found himself withwounds in the same places, a situation which caused him to lose a lot of blood.
St. Pio was very devoted to the angels, especially St. Michael. Because San Giovanni Rotondo was located about 15 miles from the Shrine and Grotto of Monte Sant’Angelo, the Capuchin often urged pilgrims to extend their spiritual journey to the famous site of the archangel’s apparition. He would say, “Go to the Grotto to greet the Archangel.” Scholars believe that the mysterious personage, whose name had never been revealed, was none other than St. Michael the Archangel himself.
“My guardian angel explained everything to me”
In the face of so many phenomena that occurred with celestial creatures, around 1912, Fr. Agostino had an idea for determining if the manifestations the saint experienced were of a spiritual order, or autosuggestion. The episode of the transverberation or the stigmata had not yet happened. Fr. Agostino began to write some letters in Greek and French, languages totally unknown to the priest. While Padre Pio received these documents, he understood them calmly as if they were in his native language (Italian). Some people witnessed the prodigious fact, and when asked by his confessor, Padre Pio answered, “You know, my guardian angel explained everything to me!”
In one of his letters to his confessor Fr. Agustino, Padre Pio explained more about how he understood these letters. “The heavenly personages do not cease to visit me and make me taste the intoxication of the blessed. And if the mission of guardian angels is great, mine’s mission is even greater, because it must also act as a teacher in the explanation of other languages.”
We cannot fail to mention that, besides the special help with translations that the angels gave Padre Pio, sensational phenomena were present when the saint was helped by his angel in the face of Satan’s assaults. There are countless stories and testimonies of the action of heavenly creatures in Padre Pio’s trajectory. The active participation of angels in his life may be linked to the fact that Padre Pio was the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church, who consequently needed special protection from Heaven.
PARENTE, Fr. Alesio. Mandami il tuo Angelo Custode. San Giovanni Rotondo: Edizioni Padre Pio di Pietrelcina, 2019.
BURNETT, Loo. São Miguel Arcanjo – um tratado sobre angelologia. SÃO PAULO: Paulus, 2021.