We left the Catskill Mountains and got on the road to Pennsylvania…Quakertown. No, we didn’t see any Quakers :), but we did get to practice golfing a little at Fox Hollow. It was primarily a travel and rest day for us.
The next morning we got up bright and early to go to Barto, Pennsylvania…the home of the National Center for Padre Pio.
We first visited the small chapel and prayed in front of one of Padre Pio’s gloves that covered his stigmata (the wounds of Jesus). We later learned his stigmata appeared when he was a young man, early in his priesthood. People flocked to San Giovanni Rotonda and there was a period of about three years where he could only celebrate Mass in private. When his wounds were confirmed to not be self-inflicted, he was able to celebrate public Masses again.
St. Pio is definitely a modern day saint. When we looked around the Spirituality Center, we were in awe of the color photographs they had on display of him celebrating Mass. There were even photos of him celebrating his last Mass (on Sept. 22) before he died on Sept. 23, 1968. The photographs of his funeral procession were humbling.
A little background about this Center….it is through the efforts of the Calandra family, whose 4 year old daughter was cured through Padre Pio’s prayers while he was still alive. (the doctors had removed her bladder and told her parents to take her home and make her comfortable, but she would not live long. After hearing Padre Pio in a dream tell her to bring her daughter to him, Mrs. Calandra flew to Rome and gained two very brief audiences with him. When she returned home, the doctors were astonished to see that a new bladder was growing her daughter’s body!)
After that Mrs. Calandra made it a priority to educate and speak to people about Padre Pio. This Center is a result of that effort. In fact, she even was recognized by the pope for her work…the papal award “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.” The Museum is well-done and a must see.
There’s a movie about the Calandras and another young man who survived a car accident where all the bones in his face were broken (through the intercession of Padre Pio, he was completely healed). In the museum, you can also see several replicas of rooms that he would have lived in…as a boy, as a seminarian and as a priest. There’s a timeline of his life and several first and second class relics.
We prayed at a replica of his marble tomb where on top was displayed the Calandras’s most cherished relic…a piece of cloth that touched the wound of his heart and had his blood on it. Pope John Paul II also gave the National Center the Pallium that he wore on the day Padre Pio was canonized. Along with that, there was a chalice that belonged to Blessed Pope John Paul II (soon to be Saint!)
In the gift shop, we met a famous Italian singer, Patrizio Buanne, who was also visiting the center. We have yet to hear his music, because our Internet has been spotty, but as he said to us, you can YouTube him =)
If you ever have a chance, this is a place to visit. There was so much to see and learn here. We loved it!