Padre Pio and I

Eva Ulian

Eva Ulian | May 25, 2024

Padre Pio and I

The Statue of Padre Pio Welcome Pilgrims to his Santuary

I’ve always had a sense of affinity with the Mystic Padre Pio and the fact that he was born the same day I was, May 25th, makes that bond even closer.

A tall illuminated cross welcomes you to
Padre Pio’s Sanctuary

The Cross that overlooks San Giovanni Rotondo where Padre Pio’s Sanctuary is

For years he drew upon himself the abuse of many, including that of the Pope because people were sceptical – claiming to have the stigmata of Christ – the holes made in Christ by the nails on the Cross, in his own body was, for many, not easy to digest. He won his claim to fame, so to speak, because he always hit the nail on the head with anyone who approached him. He could read their thoughts and never once had any of his predictions, verbal or written – he was a prolific letter writer – failed to be verified. 

And that’s why some years back I went to Padre Pio’s Sanctuary, San Giovanni Rotondo in Foggia, in search for my letter, the one I wrote to him back in the summer of 1968, when; disillusioned with the world, I wanted to enter the convent to see if there was more to life than what I had found so far. I was dilly dallying with the idea for a while and then I firmly decided, yes, I would enter the convent and knowing Padre Pio being notorious for his unfailing advice, I wrote to him, not really asking if I had made the right decision or not, but just to secure his approval.

The ‘offending’ church that can accommodate thousands, is frowned upon

It was the time when they wanted to move Padre Pio from the tomb where he was resting in the original church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. There was a hue and cry that the Saint should be left to rest where he was under his marble lid – and would you know it, I don’t even have a photo of that – at the precise moment when I found myself in front of the tomb, my camera was blocked.  I knew instantly it was Padre Pio up to his old tricks again, of which I shall explain herewith.

Pilgrims making the Stations of the Cross at the Sanctuary

As soon as we arrived in the square of the sanctuary, I left the rest of the pilgrims and went off on my own in search of my letter.

The Stations of the Cross are constructed on a hill- reminiscent of Cavalry

I can’t remember how many offices I went through nor for how long I stood in queues but I was determined to find my letter, even photograph-taking, took second place.


At the information desk they told me that they did not keep any of the letters at San Giovanni except the ones stacked in the glass cases that filled a huge room in the museum, which were the entire number of one year, that of 1958. Clearly this was not my case, since I had sent mine in 1968 just before entering the Novitiate in Broadstairs, Kent.

Letters, one of which was mine


Maybe I should try their newspaper’s offices, the Friar suggested, as they dealt with letters that verified Padre Pio’s authenticity in the process for Beatification.


So over I went and again waited and waited until the editor called me in.


He asked me to explain exactly what my letter was about. So I told him that I wanted to know if I had a calling to the Religious Life, “Because at that time,” I said, ”I was disenchanted with the world and wanted to know if there was anything else.” He looked at me as if I was a housewife in a supermarket looking for a special brand of soap powder. So as not to give him the chance to dismiss me without a fair hearing I said, “But Padre Pio replied… he replied.” I repeated to make sure the concept had sunk in.


“And…” the man said impatiently.

“Padre Pio said I was going to have a tough time throughout my life… he wasn’t at all nice…”

“Was that all?”

“No… He said I had to stop seeking my own will…” The man kept urging me to continue.

“Padre Pio wrote I would never become a nun, that I did not have a vocation… just like that, quite straight forward. However, he told me to say a lot of prayers and seek, not my own, but God’s will and that after much suffering I would find what I was looking for.”

The corridor leading to Padre Pio’s tomb can be quite packed

“Hum…” the editor muttered.

But that was not all… Padre Pio said to destroy that letter immediately after I had read it.”

And did you…?”

“Of course not… How can one destroy a letter from Padre Pio… I took absolutely no notice of what he had said and put it safely in my carer’s uniform pocket, I was working at a nursing home at the time.” A wry smile crept across the man’s lips. “Neither did I take any notice of his advice of not becoming a nun…”

“Obviously, I can see that you are not a nun… What happened?” I looked at him and smiled,

“It’s a long story…”

The man told me that I would have to go to the Main Monastery a few miles from there, where the archives are kept to see if they can trace my letter, but he raised his eyes upward and said the enterprise would be quite a feat.

It wasn’t the news I expected, however I left without telling him that in spite of all my efforts to safeguard the letter Padre Pio had sent me, when I next put my hand inside my pocket – it had simply disappeared.

That’s why when I got to the Saint’s tomb and my camera didn’t click, I knew Padre Pio was up to his old tricks again… he will have his own way, no matter what.

Padre Pio in a glass case

Back to the present: this time I did get someone to send me a photo of him in his glass case where they have kept him on display before placing him in his final resting place.

Doesn’t he look nice!

BTW: There’s a rumour going round that in effect I left the convent because of a tray of sausages that the local butcher boy delivered – But Padre Pio and I know better.

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