St. Padre Pio has always been one of my favorites. Even before his canonization, I felt a strong affinity toward his life and spirituality. I suppose part of it was due to my parents’ love of Franciscan ways, particularly in helping the poor and care for animals. But I was drawn to St. Pio’s white martyrdom, his mysticism, his exemplary and sacrificial love.
In Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait, a classic that was recently re-released in English by Servant this year, I not only became reacquainted with this beloved saint, but I also learned about who he was behind the scenes – the Padre that only a few caught a glimpse of.
I’ve read a handful of books written about St. Pio, but this one was the most informative while remaining succinct. Perhaps it was due to the fact that its author, Fr. Francesco Napolitano, was a personal friend of Padre Pio. No matter, the life and legacy of this timeless saint was reawakened in me, and I felt inspired as if I had never known him before.
Written in biographical style, Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait includes several short chapters that follow St. Pio from his birth to his death. What’s unique about the format of this biography is that several chapters are devoted to his unique spiritual charisms, such as bilocation, transverberation of the heart, his unusual flowery fragrance, and his stigmata.
One of my favorite chapters, however, was about Padre’s sense of humor. I had always believed him to have been a serious, melancholic sort of person, but his childlike heart included room for laughter and wit.
Not only is the book well written, it is also encouraging to the reader who perhaps has found him/herself in a place of desolation or even spiritual aridity. St. Pio is a saint of miracles, even to this day, and one may find him/herself a new or renewed devotee of his through novena prayers and other supplications.
For anyone who wishes to get to know St. Pio for the first time, or perhaps learn about him in a new way, Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait is a fantastic option that isn’t overbearing or too detailed with information.
Text Copyright 2016 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.