Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Pope John Paul II was eager to see that Padre Pio was canonized. The canonization to took place in record time on June 16, 2002. However, the two future saints shared a close bond long before the canonization process.
Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope St. John Paul II) met Padre Pio (St. Pius of Pietrelcina) only once in 1947. At that time, he had been a young priest (for less than a year) studying in Rome. He went to San Giovani Rotundo to meet the mystic with the stigmata and managed to have his confession heard by Padre Pio. He also attended the famed Capuchin’s Mass. Apparently, the two visited and spoke at length, although no one knows the content of their conversation.
In 1962, when Karol Wojtyla’s long-time friend, Dr. Wanda Poltawska, became seriously ill from cancer, the future Pope, wrote to Padre Pio, requesting prayer for her. He had the letter hand delivered. The monk’s response to the messenger was: "To this one I cannot say no.”
In late November, 1962, Bishop Wojtyla telephoned to inquire about the state of Wanda’s condition and whether or not the surgery had been performed with success. Her husband Andre explained that the operation did not take place. The doctors had found that there was nothing to be done. Assuming the worst, Wojtyla began to console Wanda’s husband, but was interrupted by Andre. “Oh no,” he said, “you do not understand. The doctors are confronted with a mystery. They could not find anything.” The tumor had completely disappeared. For Wojtyla, there was only one possible explanation – the intercession of the Capuchin mystic, Padre Pio.
What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the Holy Office had dispensed strict disciplinary restrictions against Padre Pio at this time, forbidding priests and the religious to have contact with him. Wojtyla was surely aware of this, but did not take it into account.
Pope St. John Paul II’s letters reveal that he had asked Padre Pio to pray for at least two other people who were miraculously healed. He also asked Padre Pio to pray for a paralyzed woman in his diocese, as well as for a lawyer who has been ill since birth. In addition, he requested prayers for himself, writing: "At the same time I would like to entrust to you the enormous difficulties that my poor pastoral work is encountering in this situation".
What was he referring to when he mentioned this prayer request? In June 1962, the archbishop of Krakow, Baziak had died, and for months there was an open search for a candidate to take his place who would please both the Polish primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, and the State authorities. The authorities basically looked on Wojtyla as a “harmless intellectual” and it was he who was chosen as archbishop of the Polish dioceses. It was also Wojtyla who effectively put an end to Communism in Poland.
Wojtyla and Padre Pio met only once, in 1947, yet there was a miraculous bond between the saints.