Padre Pio’s Sense of Humour

Saints are sad !   That’s a common perception.   In the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo on the door of  cell number 5 there is a written inscription that reads  “The Glory of the world is always accompanied by sadness”.  For more than 25 years that was Padre   Pio’s cell.  He walked in and out that door many times.   He would have seen that inscription often.

So was Padre Pio a sad man ?    St. Paul said  “Always be happy in the Lord ,  I repeat be happy.”.    The old Latin maxim used to say  “Servite Domino in laetitia”  -   Serve the Lord with joy.

Was Padre Pio a sad man?    On the contrary, Padre  Pio was a happy and joyful person.    Photographs of him at recreation with his fellow Capuchins show him smiling and laughing with his companions.   Padre    Pio was a happy man,  considering his afflictions and his suffering he was amazingly happy and humourous.    Yes, Padre Pio had a sense of humour.    He loved to tell little jokes and funny stories to his Capuchin brothers.

One day the friar who was accompanying him pointed out a gentleman, a famous writer who had travelled all the way from Milan in order to meet him.   “What a fine thing you have come to see,  all the way from Milan.   Don’t you have a prayer book at home ?   You could have saved yourself a long trip.    A Hail Mary is worth more more than any journey, my son”.

Once in reply to someone who was trying to make him see the difficulty that some people have in practising the word of God Padre Pio said “there are three things in life that are  completely useless – washing a donkey’s head, adding water to the ocean and preaching to nuns, monks and priests”.

Often he used to tease the doctors who from the hospital who came to see him each night.   “What do you doctors know ?”     “But Father” they replied “you have built a big hospital”.    “Ah yes” he replied “but only for sick people, not for doctors”.    Then he would remind them “Never forget the old proverb :  a mouse has a better chance with two cats than a sick person has with two doctors.”

One of Padre Pio’s favourite stories concerned the soldier who was being prepared for the visit of the king.  The conversation with the king never varied.   “How old are you ?” the king would ask.    The soldier should answer “Twenty two”.    “How many years of service do you have?”.    “Two” was the correct answer.     “Which do you serve more willingly, your king or your country ?”.      “Either one or the other”  the soldier was told to answer.    Eventually after a long session of practice the sergeant felt the soldier knew the answers well enough.    Finally the king arrived.    He reviewed the troops and asked his usual questions, but in a different order.    How many years of service do you have ?”    “Twenty two” said the soldier confidently.    “How old are you ?”    “Two”.    “Either you are a fool  or I am”  said the king.    The soldier gave the third answer ”Either one or the other, your Majesty”

Whenever he told the joke about the drunkard he always got up from his chair and acted out the part.    A drunkard saw a centipede walking up the wall.   “Why O Lord” he said  “did you give this little creature one hundred legs and to me who can barely stand up straight only two !”.

Our Lady to whom he had immense devotion even found a place in his anecdotes.   “One day the Lord took a walk through Paradise and saw so many ugly faces wandering around that place that is so full of beauty and devoid of all evil that he was amazed and sent for Saint Peter.    ‘ Peter what has happened ?     It seems as if we have transferred the local  jail to paradise’.    Peter replied   ‘Lord I don’t know how they get in’.   The Lord ordered him to guard the gates of Heaven more carefully.    A week later the Lord took another stroll through paradise and to his horror he noticed an increase in the number of ugly faces or jailbirds as he called them.    Again Peter was summoned.    ‘Peter, I told you to be on your guard.  You are no longer doing this job well.    Give me back the keys’.    Peter replied  ‘Lord, I didn’t want to tell you this.    I refuse them entry but no sooner do I turn my back than your mother opens the door and lets them all in.     What should I do when your mother goes to the door ?’.    The Lord thought for a moment and then he answered  ’ Peter, just pretend you don’ see it !’ “.

That story has a message – Our Lady is everyone’s mother and without her Heaven would not be the same.    Padre Pio did not talk for the sake of talking.    All his jokes and stories had a message and a purpose.   He used his sense of humour for his apostolic goal  -  to win people over to Christ.

We thank Padre Pio for teaching us with his sense of humour and we thank God for giving us Saint Padre Pio.


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