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Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait

I had only a brief introduction to Padre Pio before reading this book, Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait. Providentially, it arrived on my door from Servant Books at the same time I set about to read Amoris Laetitia. Indeed, Padre Pio is not only a saint of miracles, but he is a saint of the confessional, and is intimately acquainted with God’s mercy and the suffering of Christ.

This biography is a short one and succeeds at being both succinct and insightful.

Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait is arranged to cover the saint’s entire life - from his birth to his death - within a series of short chapters. The chapters are highly readable and are devoted to certain aspects of the great friar’s life.

For example, there are chapters covering his priestly ministry, his particular - and heroic - experience with suffering, and pastoral joy. Additionally, there are chapters that cover specific charism of Padre Pio. There is a chapter, for example, dedicated to the stigmata.  I had forgotten that this was something he experienced, but in any case, I am not certain I fully understood the particular kind of miracle and the very real pain the marks brought to their bearer.

In another chapter, the author spends some time talking about bilocation and Padre Pio’s experience with it. Again, it was insightful as both general information about the miracle itself, but also about the way Padre Pio experienced it.  All of this, of course, to the glory of God.

Finally, I was surprised to see a chapter about Padre Pio’s sense of humor, including a joke he apparently took pleasure telling that involved Jesus, St. Peter, heaven, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. You’ll have to read the book to get the punch line.  In the meantime, suffice it to say that this particular chapter goes a long way in “humanizing” Padre Pio.  I am not sure how - or why - it is that we (is it just me?) think of “saints” and immediately think of somber, serious, and eccentric men and women who live a long time ago.

Saints are men and women of joy!

This is true of Padre Pio, too. A 20th century saint who, “in the plan of Divine Providence, was chosen in order to exercise his charisma and influence by awakening man’s conscience to a sense of sin, to the reality of the supernatural.” Fr. Pietro Tartaglia, in the forward of the original edition of this book, goes on to say, “He was to call the wayward, the abandoned to the road of truth and grace; he was to kindle in everyone the vivid and everlasting memory of a suffering, crucified Christ, who died for love of man.”

Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait is an intimate and interesting biography about the wonderful man, priest, and saint who lived and died so that others might come to know Jesus Christ, who lived and died for man.

We are right in the middle of the throes of Lent, and no doubt you’ve already mapped out your own Lenten schedule of spiritual reading.  If you are looking for something to add to your reading, or maybe to change up your original reading plan, this book is definitely worth the short time it will take you to read it. Have a pencil handy to underline and make notes. I have a feeling it’s a book you’ll find yourself returning to again and again.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hope that I would provide a (favorable) review. Complimentary books are not necessarily good books, though. My opinions are my own.