Have you ever heard this iconic quote that’s attributed to St. Padre Pio? I definitely have. And as much as I can easily get on board with the, “Pray,” and the “hope,” parts, well that “don’t worry,” part gets me every time.
Easy for you to say, Padre Pio! You’re in heaven now. And you were clearly super holy while on earth. Somehow, it often feels like maybe he just didn’t have all that much to worry about.
Clearly, trusting abandonment to God’s will is not really my strong point, most times. Luckily for me and my marriage, though, it tends to be one of my husband’s strong points.
I’m not sure if the connection was a conscious one for him or not, but Padre Pio is actually my husband’s chosen confirmation patron saint. And it just so happens that this wonderful, trusting saint played a pretty cool part in our love story.
A Very Holy Kid
The man we know as Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. His parents were poor but were strong in their Catholic faith.
Even as a young child, Padre Pio had an exceptional love of God and attraction to religious life. It is said that he dedicated his life to God at age five, and that he saw Jesus, Mary, and his Guardian angel from a young age.
Padre Pio entered the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor when he was only fifteen years old, and those in his order observed that he was very pious and holy. He was ordained a priest at age twenty-three, and his celebration of Mass was so recollected and reverent that it often lasted several hours.
But despite what was clearly a deep holiness and an exceptional connection to God, Padre Pio would go on to have plenty in his life that would have caused a less trusting man to worry.
A Large Dose of Suffering
Padre Pio’s health was never outstanding. In fact, he once quipped that his health had been declining since age nine.
At one point, he had to remain separated from his religious community for five years because of his health. Doctors were unable to diagnose his debilitating illness, but he willingly offered up his sufferings for the conversion of souls.
He became passionate about offering himself as a sacrifice for sinners and for the souls in purgatory, even telling his spiritual director that he felt it was his special mission. And, as if to show that this was true, God brought him even more suffering.
In 1918, while praying his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio received the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ supernaturally imposed on his body. He would bear these wounds for the next fifty years.
Even More Distress, Born Patiently
As the years went by, Padre Pio’s reputation for holiness grew. In addition to having the stigmata, he had the odor of sanctity, could read souls in the confessional, would sometimes levitate, and bi-located on more than one occasion.
So obviously, quite a few people came to hear of him. He was himself uncomfortable with his new popularity, and probably even more so when the Church investigation of his phenomena began.
During the investigation, between some poor information given to the Pope and some prejudice against Padre Pio from his local bishop, his spiritual phenomena were considered of a natural character, as if he had himself created his wounds. And he was actually prohibited from publicly saying Mass or hearing confessions for a time, which must have been a severe hardship for him.
But finally in 1934, the Church investigation concluded that his phenomena were supernatural and he was again allowed to perform his priestly duties.
The Rest of His Quote
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
As hard as it is for Type-A worry-warts like me to stomach sometimes, Padre Pio’s famous quote really is true. And he lived his belief in it, despite the many things he could have worried about in his life.
Whenever my husband and I are faced with what seems like a pretty big need that we must pray for, almost without fail my husband assures me that God will take care of us.
And often, my husband reminds me of past answered prayers and granted requests. Near the top of the list is our proposal.
After six years of (mostly long-distance) dating, we both knew we wanted to get married as my college graduation neared and he came for a visit to the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus.
And I’d heard of people proposing to their girlfriends inside the perpetual adoration chapel on campus, but I’d always thought, “What, are you going to literally kick a bunch of praying people out from in front of the Blessed Sacrament so you can have your moment?”
Certainly, my then-boyfriend Luke wouldn’t do that. But apparently Padre Pio would.
Luke prayed to Padre Pio his patron and asked if, somehow, he might be able to propose to me in that chapel. It seemed more than unlikely to happen without the aforementioned rudeness, as the chapel had people scheduled to be there at all times.
But Padre Pio took care of it, and the chapel (almost miraculously) emptied while we prayed there one afternoon, for the space of a good few minutes.
It might seem a small thing, but it was truly the loveliest proposal a girl could ask for, and I’ve always thought it an illustration of God’s providence for even such apparently trivial things as our emotional fulfillment. And it definitely has put a devoted soft spot in my heart toward the saint ever since.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us, that we may have faith like you!