St. Padre Pio – Spiritual Father of the World Apostolate of Fatima

By Donal Foley –

padrepio-and-fatimaSt. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, whose feast day is celebrated September 23, was both a great supporter of the Rosary and of the Fatima message.  He called the Rosary a “spiritual weapon,” and said, “Mary has recommended the Rosary at Lourdes and Fatima because of it’s exceptional value for us and our times.”

Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in 1887, in poverty, in Italy, to a very devout family in which Mass attendance and the Rosary were part of the daily round. But the family was so poor that his father had to go to America to find work to pay for his studies. He entered the Capuchins at the age of 15 in 1903, and is most famous for the fact that he bore the stigmata of Christ’s Passion. He received the visible stigmata one year after the Fatima apparitions, in September 1918, and these wounds afflicted him until his death on September 23, 1968.

He only slept for three hours a night, rising between 2:30 and 3:30am to prepare for his daily Mass which was celebrated at 5:00am; but pilgrims and local people would wait much earlier outside the church at his friary in order to get seats at the front. His Mass could last for up to two hours.

This is what he said of the Holy Sacrifice: “Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know … It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!”

padre-pio-210x300Because of his stigmata, at the request of his superiors he had to submit to various medical examinations which caused him some anguish. But his sense of humor never deserted him and he once remarked, “It is better to be a mouse between two cats than Padre Pio between two doctors!”

Those close to him, such as his Capuchin brethren, said that what really attracted them to him was his spirit of prayer, his simplicity, his sense of humor and his love for people.

He was privileged to receive numerous apparitions of Christ and Our Lady, and was devoted to the Rosary, often saying over 30 rosaries a day – such was his incredible and constant spirit of prayer. Regarding of the power of the Rosary, he said, “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.”

He had a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and credited her with healing him of a serious condition. This happened in 1959 when a Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was being taken around Italy by helicopter. Padre Pio, though, was afflicted with pleurisy and unable to visit the Statue. Then, a change of schedule became possible and the Statue was brought to Padre Pio’s friary at San Giovanni Rotondo on August 5 of that year. The next day he was able to venerate the Statue, despite his illness and weak state, but as the helicopter departed he lovingly complained to Our Lady that she had not cured him. That very moment he felt a powerful “shudder in his bones” and was completely cured.

Like St John Vianney, the Cure d’Ars, Padre Pio spent long hours in the confessional, sometimes 16 hours a day, and similarly reconciled thousands of people to God. He often displayed supernatural insights, but was quite strict and could refuse absolution if he felt that the penitent wasn’t sincere.

Padre Pio was asked by the late Msgr. Harold Colgan, the co-founder of the Blue Army, if he would be the spiritual director of the organization and accept its members as his spiritual children. He is said to have smiled and said: “May they only behave well!”

padre-pio-240x300Padre Pio also stated his belief that Russia would be converted when there were as many members of the Blue Army as there were Communists. Although Russian communism has gone, the atheistic materialism behind it is still very much with us, and so all those who believe in the Message of Fatima, and all World Apostolate of Fatima members in particular, ought to regard St. Padre Pio as a spiritual Father and sincerely live out the message given by Our Lady as we approach the centenary of the apparitions next year.

Become a spiritual member of the World Apostolate of Fatima and become a spiritual child of St. Padre Pio:


Visit our Fatima Gift Shop for books and other items related to St. Padre Pio.

Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, and maintains a related web site at He has also a written a time-travel/adventure book for young people – details can be found at:,2575.html.

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