Padre Pio – Irish Pilgrims

Back in the 1950′s a few Irish people set out for San Giovanni Rotondo.   It was a big venture.    First they set out on a long journey in old propeller driven aeroplanes.    Then they took slow trains and old buses to their destination.    Since then hundreds , even thousands of people have been drawn to San Giovanni Rotondo drawn there by the presence of a priest, a mystic, a man of God – Padre Pio.     A stream of miraculous events, cures and strange happenings have occurred there through the intercession of Padre Pio, many of them enjoyed by Irish people.

Mona, Mary and Des Hanafin

Let’s start with the story of Mona Hanafin of County Tipperary.    Mona is the wife of Des Hanafin who had served in Seanad Éireann for over thirty years and the mother of Mary Hanafin, the former Fianna Fáil T.D. and Minister in various departments.    In 1964 when she was in her mid-twenties Mona was diagnosed with cancer.

She went to Padre Pio.     ” I was very ill at the time and in San Giovanni Rotondo mass was at 5.00 in the morning.    I went to mass and got very close to him.   Later he passed right by me, he stopped, put his hand on my head and blessed me.     On the return journey home I got extremely ill.    My mother checked me into a Dublin hospital.     My temperature was 106.5.    I lost consciousness for about four days.     When I came to a miracle had happened – my cancer was gone !      I owe a big thank you to Padre Pio”.

Josephine McLaughlin lives in county Donegal.    She has a son called Bill.     Back in the 1990′s on All Souls Day Bill went to work as usual.     He was then 23 years of age.    That evening he was driving home.    His mother said    ” I was  waiting for him for dinner but he didn’t arrive.    Then the guards knocked at the front door and came in.    They were friends of ours and good friends of Bill.    They said he had had an accident and that we should go to the hospital straight away.

The guards pieced the incident together.    He had been driving home along a narrow road when his wheels caught the grass verge and he lost control.    He crashed into a bridge and was thrown through the sun roof but fell back into the car, in the front passenger seat.    It was a quiet country back road but eventually a woman came along.     She was a nurse, saw the crashed car and stopped and had a look.    Bill was dead – his heart was stopped.      She called an ambulance and went to work on him.     She managed to resuscitate him.    The ambulance took him away to Letterkenny hospital.     He passed away several times on the journey.      From the hospital he was brought by helicopter to Beaumont hospital in Dublin.    The doctor said he had only a fifty per cent chance of living and that if he did he would be a vegetable.

Josephine continues   ” Then someone told me about Padre Pio.    I went to the Padre Pio office in Dublin and they gave me his mitten.    I brought it and rubbed it on Bill “.    The next day he came out of the coma but he was paralysed all down his left side, even his eye was closed.     Someone said there was a Capuchin, Brother Lawrence in Beaumont and he had a Padre Pio mitten.    ” Eventually I found him and asked him to come to Bill.    He came with the mitten and rubbed it all over Bill.    Then he gave it to us and we blessed ourselves with it.

Just fifteen minutes after he left Bill lifted his left leg way up the full way.   He crossed his chest with his left arm.   The nurse was astonished.    She called the doctor at once and he said ” Normally after paralysis some movement starts with a small twitch.   Then after lots of work a little more movement.   But this is amazing “.

However there was a problem.   Bill still recognised nobody until one day when the nurse called Mrs. McLaughlin and said that she had a phone call for her.   She got up to take the call and when she was half way across the room a voice called her from the bed – “ Mammy where are you going “?   Bill got everything back after that.   He was a hundred per cent normal.

When they visited their own doctor in Buncrana he was reading Bill’s notes.   ” You shouldn’t be here”  he said .   “You should be dead “.

They went to visit the physiotherapist in Letterkenny.   She called for a Bill McLaughlin and we went in but she said “Not you.   I want Bill McLaughlin”.    ” This  is Bill McLaughlin”  his mother said.    She consulted her notes again and said   “According to these it’s not !    He should be in a wheelchair”.

Later they were called back to the Beaumont in Dublin.   Bill drove.    Before he went in to the neurologist Bill had a brain scan.   When they were called to see the neurologist they went in and he was reading the scan.    He spoke to Mrs. McLaughlin.    ” How is he ? “.   ” He’s fine ” she answered.   “Tell me ” he persisted ” can he put on his own clothes ?”    ” Of course he can ” she laughed.   ” He doesn’t put them on inside out, does he ?”   ” No, no.   In fact he drove us here today from Donegal “.    The neurologist looked at Bill in surprise and after that he spoke directly to him.

At the end the mother asked  ” Tell me, why is he so good after such a serious accident ?”.    The neurologist paused in thought for a long  time and then he said   ” I can’t explain it.    It wasn’t anything we did.    It must have been divine intervention “.

” I knew then it was Padre Pio ” she says.

Ann Mulrine with Seán

One Sunday morning almost 20 years ago Seán Mulrine and his wife Ann from Derry were planning a picnic.    After dinner the wife Ann went to the sitting room with a cup of coffee.   Her two older children Nicola and Michael joined Seán in preparing a picnic hamper.    Then they heard a scream !    They ran in to find Ann lying on the floor.    At that time she was pregnant, expecting twins.

The doctor was called and an ambulance whisked her off to hospital.    Then they came to Seán and said  “ Your wife has half an hour to live.   She has had a massive brain haemorrhage or a tumour of the brain, we don’t know which yet.   If you wish we can keep her going on a ventilator until the twins reach about 38 weeks.    Otherwise your wife and the babies will die in about 30 minutes”.     Seán signed the forms and they told him to go and say goodbye to his wife.

Seán  got a leaflet of Padre Pio and he said the prayer on it a few times each day.    Then a visitor, Michael Murray brought Padre Pio’s mitten.   He blessed Ann’s head with it and then …!    She moved her hand, grabbed the mitten and kissed it.   She blessed herself with it three times and then fell back on the bed exhausted.     The doctors were called and  they examined her again.    ” We don’t know how this has happened.    Clinically she’s brain dead”  they said.   The next day she opened her eyes and she spoke.    She got so well that she was discharged from the hospital back to Derry.    The date was 23rd September, the Feast of Padre Pio.

Seán and Ann later went to San Giovanni Rotondo and met Fr. Alessio, Padre Pio’s friend and his nurse.   He asked them for permission to investigate Ann’s case as part of the cause for the Beatification of Padre Pio.   The investigation lasted several years and when they asked Ann’s doctors  for their personal opinions they all said that it was beyond medical science how she had recovered.

As a result Ann and Seán were invited to attend the Beatification ceremony and again for the canonization.    They went up on the altar to meet the Pope, Pope John Paul II and presented him with flowers – roses from the people of Ireland.

Seán now says   ” We never make any fuss about it or say it was a miracle.  We just say it was a grace given to us by God through the intercession of Padre Pio “.






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