Padre Pio’s Cell
Published on July 2, 2018
Painting of “Our Lady of Purity” that hangs over the foot of Padre Pio’s bed. He didn’t want it to hang there because he considered it too rich for his cell, but his superiors insisted, so there it is. And that was good because he could lay in bed and look up to her during his hours of sleeplessness; he only slept about two hours a night.
As you look into his room from the door, you see that to the right of his bed is the window from which he would wave and bless people who came to visit. Directly in front of the window is the armchair on which Padre Pio was sitting when he died. It will be 28 years next September. He was 81 years and four months old when our Lord called him home at the end of his extraordinary mission of suffering.
He had prophesied endless things during his lifetime, including his own death, nine years before it happened, to the exact day. Seeing that moment coming, he got up from his bed, put on the habit, confessed, sat down in the chair and whispered “I see two mothers!” An hour later he was in Heaven. His was a calm and peaceful death.
Alongside the chair, on a little table, are the things that were in his habit when he died: a relic of the true cross which he always carried on his person, and medals that he would give to the faithful as he would go through the crowds. There were a few little white mints that someone gave him and they happened to be in the pocket of his robe. The table was such that he could nibble at something during the middle of the day.
During the last years of Padre Pio’s life Padre Joseph Pius would bring him his food. He was continually amazed to see how little was eaten. More than half the food would be left on the plate. One day his doctor friend was at the door of the cell. Padre Joseph showed him the tray. Of course the doctor didn’t have to be shown the tray. He’d been around Padre Pio for years. But Padre Joseph asked him: “Could he live on what he eats?” The doctor replied straight out, “Not even a one-year old child could!” So how do you explain the existence of this man – not eating enough to sustain the life of an infant, but still bleeding daily from five holes in his body for half a century; sleeping only two hours a night; in fifty years not taking a day’s vacation because he didn’t want one.
Sometimes he would have fevers so high that the doctor had to use a horse thermometer because normal thermometers would shoot the mercury right through the top, so excessively hot was his body. His whole being was such a great operation of God that it was completely without the bounds of human possibility. As a matter of fact when he was twenty- one years old he had been given a month to live because of an infection in his lungs.
In the manner of the saints who do so much to grab souls back from Satan’s clutches, Padre Pio himself could suffer even physically at the hands of evil spirits.
In July of 1964, at about 10 o’clock one night, the monks heard a crash; they came in and found him dumped on the floor. He had been thrown from his bed; his forehead had been split so deeply that a doctor had to be summoned to stitch it up. His eyes were blackened; his whole upper body, front and back, was covered with contusions. So badly was he beaten, in fact, he couldn’t say Mass for several days.
The cushion that was placed under his head is still in the cell. Blood from his head wound stained it. You can still see the marks of blood that ran from his head the night Satan came to beat him up.
On the wall, opposite his chair are faded photos of his home in Pietrelcina, of his mother and father and a small memorial card of Mary Pyle. She was an American lady, a convert from the Presbyterian Church who lived in San Giovanni for four decades and was a very holy Third Order Franciscan. On his little desk below the pictures are his books of meditation and the Rosary which he was never without. He took it to bed with him at night, so that the minute he woke up he could start praying Our Lady’s beads. He used to refer to them as his WEAPON.
Next to the Rosary is a tiny box containing black fragments. They are actually crusts of blood that would fall from his hands when he would take off his gloves; a pair of his socks are there with the blood stains clearly visible, and there is also a piece of linen used to cover the cross-shaped wound that penetrated his heart. The spiritual lance of mystical love went in the front, through the heart and out his back.
Seeing these things marked with his blood, you can see why his confessor wrote to Padre Pio when he was still a very young man, “Your mission is a mission of co-redemption.” How right he was, because Padre Pio became a living crucifix for fifty years!
Think of us when we have a headache! Then think of him limping around his monastery in those half steps filled with pain from his swollen feet. (And you understand how swollen his feet were when you see the width of his specially designed sandals.) The crown of thorns which he said he never took off; his body flagellated; his hands cut open; his body (and heart) lanced open from front to rear; yet he had time to talk to you, listen to you, even joke with you.
Padre Pio’s charity was extraordinary even in all the annals of virtue. When he was very young he offered himself to God as a “victim soul: ‘That is, he took on his suffering willingly, but for others.
In 1959, he was so seriously ill he was thought to be dying. At that time the Fatima Virgin Statue, with the Blessed Mother’s message, was passing through San Giovanni. Padre Pio prayed to Our Lady, “Are you going to leave me here like this when there is so much to do?” He was instantaneously, miraculously cured and died of a different cause some nine years later.
Even in death there was a similarity to the suffering Christ, whom he loved so much. When the doc- tors examined the dead body in the cell, they found it to be without a drop of blood left in it. He literally spilled it out in imitation of Our Lord on Calvary.
Another marvelous thing found by the doctors was that the wounds, through which you could touch your fingers, were completely healed and no scar was left whatsoever – a sign of the resurrection that was taking place following the end of the crucifixion.