Parting Glances: Good question, PP!

Charles Alexander
By | 2018-01-16T12:54:23-05:00 December 13th, 2007|Opinions|

Padre Pio, the notorious Italian monk, is back in the news. He was canonized on June 16, 2002. (How could you forget?)
For 50 years his body was said to bear the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, a phenomenon known to the faithful (and incredulous) as stigmata. He died in 1968, age 81.
For skeptics (count me in) and paranormal psychologists, such manifestation are said to be attributed to autosuggestion (no doubt last century’s models) induced by strong emotions and unconscious incorporation of dramatic visual imagery into the psyche.
Mind over (does it really) matter?
The Vatican was suspicious of Padre Pio. In 1960, initiated by jovial Pope John XXlll, it began a series of snoops that included what amounted to bugging Padre Pio’s confession box to discover if he might be a fraud. (Critics say he used nitric acid to induced his bleeding wounds. A debunking book released in Italy this year, states this as fact.)
It’s recorded — for what it’s worth in airline ticket stubs — that he was also a bilocator (it has nothing to do with tricking — or maybe it does). He could be seen in two places at once. (I have friends that I swear are closing-time bilocators, dancing at Menjo’s while hobnobbing just as energetically at the AUT Bar in Ann Arbor. Whether they attend church while still in bed — and celebate — is not known.)
The most dramatic of PP’s bilocations purportedly happened during World War ll. It’s alleged that he appeared in the sky over his hometown San Giovanni Rotondo, spotted by understandably startled Americas pilots on bombing missions.
Witnesses to his fractured comings and goings include several presumably non-replicating cardinals. His canonization by Pope John Paul ll took into account two documented cases of miraculous healings. (John Paul ll as priest had his confession heard by Padre Pio.)
According to Catholic historian Ted Harrison, an authority on all things stigmata, there have been 500 such spiritual “wonders” since the first, St. Francis of Assissi. “Over half were members of religious orders and only about 50 were male.” Some are non-Catholic, including in 1972 a black California girl, Cloretta Robertson (thankfully no relationship to bloody Bible fundyclone Pat).
Many stigmatics are out-and-out frauds. I viewed a video of a PMS (pre-menstrual stigmata) woman who gets bleeding palms each year during Holy Week. An unintended camera close up reveals that she had filed her fingernails to sharp points. Her wounds were self-inflicted. Obviously an attention seeker (and a mess of a house guest on Good Friday).
We have saints for all seasons. All faiths do. They perform a variety of miracles. Some inspirational. Some uncanny. Some questionable. (Take St. Joseph. How many times has the lowly carpenter been forced to play realtor — without license, I’ll add — by having his plastic likeness buried, upside down no less, in a corner of somebody’s seldom mowed front lawn?)
Sadly, the real saints of this world (and you know who they are) go unnoticed, seldom if ever verbally praised or spiritually beatified . . .
There’s St. Single Mom, struggling to raise a family of three. There’s St. Round-the-Clock, caring for an Alzheimer parent. There’s St.Touch-and-Hold, ministering to the needs of someone dying from AIDS related causes. There’s St. Take-Time-to-Share, visiting a shut in, forgotten senior. There’s St. Live-and-Let-Love, working with Ruth Ellis House youth (along with robust Sister P-Flag).
Make no mistake, as earthly saints go, these living, dedicated, very special human beings surely rank among Heaven’s finest. God bless them one and all. (Who in hell needs Padre Pio?)

About the Author:

Charles Alexander