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The poor Italian peasant boy Francesco already has visions of Jesus and Mary as a child, but the Devil visits him too. He, Francesco, is quite certain that he will become a priest. After entering the Capuchin Order it becomes clear that Padre Pio (his new name) has powers which can not be explained rationally: he heals the sick, knows the names, problems and future of complete strangers. His prophesies the then unknown young Karol Wojtyla that he will become Pope one day. Padre Pio's charity and extatic prayers make an great impression on the people. In 1918 the Wounds of Christ appear on his hands and feet- Padre Pio carries the stigmata. His followers multiply, and the cult that grows up arround him makes his holy order and the Vatican uneasy. Many within the church consider him to be an hysteric or a trickster, since he only shows his wounds the one time when they first appeared. Padre Pio suffers reprisals, he is no longer allowed to carry out his role as a priest. The ordinary ... Written by
Carlo Carlei's film PADRE PIO is a very detailed depiction of life and mission of the great saint from San Giovanni Rotondo (Apulia, the Coast of Gargano), a charismatic person who aimed at loving God and suffer for goodness. This is one of the best Italian films ever made and it is a pity that it has hardly become popular. I love this movie because of many reasons:
First of all, Mr Carlei shows Padre Pio (1887-1968) not only as someone who always wins, a kind of "religious superman" (sorry if this term is offensive) but a person full of innate struggle - SOMEBODY WHO HE REALLY WAS. Padre Pio, except for the fact that he had Holy Wounds of Christ on his body, he was, first of all, a very good and pious priest. He invited people to confess their sins and reconciled even atheists with God. And this is particularly noticeable in this beautiful movie. That's great since it gives a viewer a right picture of the saint.
Secondly, a very good aspect of the film is Padre Pio's mercy and help for the poor. This proves the fact that Jesus lived in him. I was moved by the scene when a woman from San Giovanni Rotondo comes to church and prays to God to help her as she had no food to give her children. She lacked even basic head wear. When Pio saw her, he took as much money as he could handle in his hands and gave it to her. At this moment, a beautiful sunlight went through a window... Or another memorable moment when he plans to build a hospital for the poor, he says to one of his "spiritual daughters" Cleonice Morcaldi that Christ is in every ill person but in poor ill, He is twice as much. And when the hospital is built, his words to the doctors: "Remember, if you don't bring LOVE to your work, all your efforts are nothing!" Isn't that true???
Finally, the director shows the truth of how church "persecuted" dear Padre Pio. The priest (Jurgen Prochnow) who comes to him on the day before Padre's death (22 September 1968) does not have to be historical but he represents the whole hierarchy in church and those who persecuted Padre Pio throughout his life. Fortunately, the end is surprising. I loved his words: "Christ is usually so close to us but we fail to recognize Him. What a blindness!!!
After seeing this movie, now I do realize why more than 7 million people a year come to San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio was a great gift from God to the dark 20th century, so much shocked by hatred of two world wars and atheism. Do see this film and you will look at the world, and especially at Holy Confession differently! He is also a great example for priests.
Padre Pio was canonized by His Holiness John Paul II on June 16th 2002. Saint Peter's Square rarely saw such huge crowds of people of different races and from various parts of the world...
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