Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age

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Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age

by Sergio Luzzatto

Picador | November 22, 2011 | Trade Paperback

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The first historical appraisal of the astonishing life and times of a controversial twentieth-century saint

Padre Pio is one of the world's most beloved holy figures, more popular in Italy than the Virgin Mary and even Jesus. His tomb is the most visited Catholic shrine anywhere, drawing more devotees than Lourdes. His miraculous feats included the ability to fly and to be present in two places at once; an apparition of Padre Pio in midair prevented Allied warplanes from dropping bombs on his hometown. Most notable of all were his stigmata, which provoke heated controversy to this day. Were they truly God-given? A psychosomatic response to extreme devotion? Or, perhaps, the self-inflicted wounds of a charlatan?

Now acclaimed historian Sergio Luzzatto offers a pioneering investigation of this remarkable man and his followers. Neither a worshipful hagiography nor a sensationalist exposé, Padre Pio is a nuanced examination of the persistence of mysticism in contemporary society and a striking analysis of the links between Catholicism and twentieth-century politics. Granted unprecedented access to the Vatican archives, Luzzatto has also unearthed a letter from Padre Pio himself in which the monk asks for a secret delivery of carbolic acid-a discovery which helps explain why two successive popes regarded Padre Pio as a fraud, until pressure from Pio-worshipping pilgrims forced the Vatican to change its views.

A profoundly original tale of wounds and wonder, salvation and swindle, Padre Pio explores what it really means to be a saint in our time.

Padre Pio is the winner of the 2011 Cundill Prize in History

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.85 in

Published: November 22, 2011

Publisher: Picador

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0312611668

ISBN - 13: 9780312611668

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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– More About This Product –

Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age

Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age

by Sergio Luzzatto

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.85 in

Published: November 22, 2011

Publisher: Picador

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0312611668

ISBN - 13: 9780312611668

About the Book

"Originally published in Italy in 2007 by Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a, Turin"--T.p. verso.

Read from the Book

Prologue: September 20, 1918For a Capuchin friar hidden away in the half-empty San Giovanni Rotondo monastery on the remote Gargano Peninsula in southern Italy, September 20, 1918, was a fateful day. Around nine that morning, while Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was praying before a crucifix in the monastery chapel, "a mysterious personage" materialized before him, a figure bleeding from his hands, his feet, and his side. Alarmed, the thirty-one-year-old priest begged for God's assistance. The figure disappeared immediately, but Padre Pio's alarm only grew when he saw that Jesus's stigmata were now visible on his own body. "I look at my hands, feet and side and see they are wounded and blood is pouring out," he wrote to his spiritual adviser.1 "All my innards are bloody and my eye must resign itself to watch the blood gushing out," so much of it that "I fear I will bleed to death."2Over the next ninety years, the minuscule Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo would become a leading place of pilgrimage in Europe, as crowded with worshippers as Santiago, Lourdes, Fatima, or Medjugorje. Padre Pio would become the most venerated saint in twenty-first-century Italy, more popular than St. Anthony of Padua and St. Francis of Assisi, more popular even than the Virgin Mary or Jesus of Nazareth.3 And questions about the meaning—if there was one—that the Lord intended to transmit to mankind with the friar's five stigmata would trouble believers and nonbelievers alike.Was the Capuchin f
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From the Publisher

The first historical appraisal of the astonishing life and times of a controversial twentieth-century saint

Padre Pio is one of the world's most beloved holy figures, more popular in Italy than the Virgin Mary and even Jesus. His tomb is the most visited Catholic shrine anywhere, drawing more devotees than Lourdes. His miraculous feats included the ability to fly and to be present in two places at once; an apparition of Padre Pio in midair prevented Allied warplanes from dropping bombs on his hometown. Most notable of all were his stigmata, which provoke heated controversy to this day. Were they truly God-given? A psychosomatic response to extreme devotion? Or, perhaps, the self-inflicted wounds of a charlatan?

Now acclaimed historian Sergio Luzzatto offers a pioneering investigation of this remarkable man and his followers. Neither a worshipful hagiography nor a sensationalist exposé, Padre Pio is a nuanced examination of the persistence of mysticism in contemporary society and a striking analysis of the links between Catholicism and twentieth-century politics. Granted unprecedented access to the Vatican archives, Luzzatto has also unearthed a letter from Padre Pio himself in which the monk asks for a secret delivery of carbolic acid-a discovery which helps explain why two successive popes regarded Padre Pio as a fraud, until pressure from Pio-worshipping pilgrims forced the Vatican to change its views.

A profoundly original tale of wounds and wonder, salvation and swindle, Padre Pio explores what it really means to be a saint in our time.

Padre Pio is the winner of the 2011 Cundill Prize in History

About the Author

Sergio Luzzatto is the author of numerous books on French and Italian history, including The Body of Il Duce: Mussolini's Corpse and the Fortunes of Italy. He is a professor of modern history at the University of Turin, Italy, and a regular contributor to the leading Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Editorial Reviews

Sergio Luzzatto, the virtuoso Italian historian, here turns to Padre Pio, the stigmata-suffering Capuchin monk from the boot of Italy. How to account for his immense cult? The crowds that worshipped him as a living saint? The ubiquity of his image, on display everywhere--in homes and sheds, ships and trucks--in so many cultures? Luzzatto's approach is agile and panoramic, embracing powerful Church interests, cunning commercial instincts, the awful twentieth-century wars, and the holy man's own highly manipulated religious sensibility. Concrete, empathetic, and exquisitely translated, Luzzatto's work on 'sainthood Italian style' highlights the perfect normality of outlandish religiosity in the secular West.