It was the Morning of 20th of September, 1918 at a Church, Our Lady of Grace located in S. Giovanni Rotondo. After celebrating the Holy Mass, the priest, Padre Pio retired to the choir stalls for his usual Thanksgiving.
“It all happened in a flash. While all this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious Person, similar to the one I had seen on August 5th, differing only because His hands, feet, and side were dripping blood. The sight of Him frightened me: what I felt at that moment is indescribable. ‘I thought I would die and would have died if the Lord hadn’t intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The Person disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet, and side were pierced and were dripping with blood”
Padre Pio had just received the visible stigmata. There was nobody about. Silence settled once more round the brown-robed figure now lying huddled on the floor.
A long Calvary had just begun and with it the answer to a prayer: the prayer of his profound desire to identify with Christ crucified not only by participation in the priestly apostolate but in some mysterious way in that supreme immolation of Our Lord on Calvary (cf. Le Stimmate di P. Pio, G. Cruchon, SJ, Colana “Spiritualità”, No. 1, p. 102).
Padre Pio and John Paul II
It is no secret that St John Paul II, then Fr Wojtyla had interactions with Padre Pio in Italy. There were even stories that the Franciscan Saint had predicted the papacy of John Paul II to him. Though the Pope later said this actually didn’t happen.
Before his death, the Saint shared a story of his most bloody wound and pain with Fr Wojtyla. When the latter was furthering his education in Rome, that was years later after the Second World War. He journeyed to San Giovanni Rotondo where St Pio lived. At that time the crowd hadn’t grown too much, so the Pope had the opportunity to speak at length with the Friar.
When the Fr Wojtyla asked Padre Pio which one of his stigmata wounds caused him the most pain the Saint said :
“It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated.”
Later, it was discovered, after scrupulous analysis that Pope John Paul II was the only one Padre Pio ever told about this Stigmata.
Encounter with God
It was said that the “poor Friar who prays”, as he called himself, had the ability to read the hearts of the people he encountered. The reason why he confided in the young priest is uncertain, however, one could conjecture that he saw the burning fire of God in the heart of the future Pope.
Of all the miracles and supernatural gifts God gave to the Saintly Friar, the most fascinating to me is the encounter with God that people had whenever they met him. So many gifts of repentance given to hardened sinners who came close to him. People were able to meet the divine just by looking him in the eye.
I imagine that he himself encountered Jesus too in the future Vicar of Christ, and felt at home enough to tell him these secrets. It is worth noting that is believed, that he didn’t share any of these with the Popes of his times, including Paul VI who was Pope at the time of his death.