Pope John XXIII believed that one of Italy’s most beloved saints was a fraud. Recently unearthed documents conserved the Vatican archives give evidence that Angelo Roncalli thought the very popular Capuchin monk Padre Pio to be a fake whose soul was in danger.
Padre Pio was extraordinarily canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II and boasts millions of followers across Italy, especially in the South, for the miracles he performed and his stigmata (wounds on the patterns of Christ’s). Pius XII encouraged Padre Pio’s rise to sainthood. However, Padre Pio’s role as religious icon millions of Catholics has not always been supported by Vatican officials. In addition to John XXIII, both Benedict XV and Pius XI were said to have been skeptical of the monk.
News of the papal skepticsm comes as Italian historian Sergio Luzzatto prepares to present a new biography of Padre Pio, The Other Christ. Luzzatto spent six years researching the book in Vatican archives and discovered documents revealing that John XXIII denounced Padre Pio’s ‘incorrect’ relations with women, along with allegations that he created his stigmata with acid.
Vatican officials said that John Paul II took both of these accusations into consideration during the canonization process. Sources reveal that the Vatican doctor who examined Padre Pio’s stigmata was unable to find a medical explanation to the phenomenon.
Padre Pio’s real name was Francesco Forgione. His stigmata began in 1911 and continued until his death in 1968. Believed to be an extraordinary man of miracles, he is said to have had the gift of bilocation (being in two places at once), and the ability to heal the sick and to predict the future.