How Extraordinary Healing Led to the Creation of the National Center for Padre Pio | National Catholic Register


Padre Pio was not well known to many American Catholics in the mid-twentieth century. However, that started to change after Vera Marie Calandra, a 2-year-old girl, recovered.

As one of the world’s best known modern saints, the intercession of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina – more commonly known as Padre Pio – has been the source of many alleged miracles over the years.

EWTN News In-Depth Correspondent Mark Irons recently had the opportunity to meet with a variety of people touched by Padre Pio’s legacy, including a woman who received extraordinary healing that would later lead to the establishment of the National Center for Padre Pio in Barto, Pennsylvania. .

Born in the southern Italian town of Pietrelcina as Francesco Forgione before taking the name Padre Pio in the Franciscan order, he was known to have a variety of supernatural gifts. One of these gifts was the stigmata – the spontaneous appearance in the body of wounds resembling those of the crucified Christ. He could also read people’s hearts, heal the sick, and bilocate.

Despite the spread of his gifts, Padre Pio was not well known to many American Catholics in the mid-twentieth century. However, that started to change after the recovery of Vera Marie Calandra, a 2-year-old girl who had suffered from congenital urinary tract problems which left her with a dire prognosis.

To medical providers, his impending death seemed all but sealed, even in the eyes of Dr. C. Everett Koop, a surgeon involved in his care who would later become the Surgeon General of the United States under the Reagan administration.

While Koop helped remove Calandra’s bladder to comfort her, he also advised her parents to prepare for her funeral. However, that day did not come – as Calandra herself recounted when telling the story to EWTN News In-Depth.

“[Koop] said, “You have to… accept this now, you can’t hang on to this dying child,” Calandra recounted. “And my mom came home, and she didn’t accept it.”

Calandra described how her mother, a devout Catholic, picked up a book someone had given her about Padre Pio and heard an inner voice as she read the book telling her to bring her daughter to Italy without delay .

Quickly arranging the trip, Calandra’s mother was able to bring her daughter to Italy, waiting for the priest in a crowded hallway with others. It was then, Calandra describes, that Padre Pio approached.

“And their eyes met,” Calandra said. “It was then that she made her promise: to perform a miracle for all to believe. He took her injured hand, covered in his half-glove… pushed it in front of her face, and she was able to kiss his hand.

After Padre Pio individually touched them on the head and blessed them, Calandra and her mother returned to the United States.

Subsequently, during a follow-up X-ray with Koop, an extraordinary discovery was made: they found a bladder in the exact place where the previous one had been removed.

“He couldn’t explain it himself,” Calandra said. “And he just said ‘there’s a ‘rudimentary bladder’, [later saying] “Whatever you do, keep doing it.”

While Padre Pio died shortly after Calandra’s recovery, his mother devoted the rest of her life to thanking the brother and making his name known, eventually building the National Center for Padre Pio near their home in Pennsylvania – with the emphasis on directing souls to Christ.

Nick Gibboni, Executive Director of the National Center for Padre Pio, provided insight into how the center’s mission was lived throughout Padre Pio’s life on earth.

“People who would come to see Padre Pio and they would almost throw themselves at Padre Pio,” Gibboni said. “[They would say]”I love you, I love you” and one of his most famous quotes was [to say]”No, you don’t love Padre Pio because of Padre Pio, you love Padre Pio because I lead you to Jesus.”

Ultimately, Gibboni stressed that, for Padre Pio, it was about leading souls to Christ through the Catholic Church – a legacy that lives on through the center’s work.


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