Padre Pio's Letter to the Mayor.


Based on excerpts from an article by Paolo Scarano in the Italian weekly "Gente", Feb. 22, 2001.

This letter was written by Padre Pio to the mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, Francesco Morcaldi, in 1923.  At the time rumors abounded that the Vatican wanted to transfer Padre Pio to another location, and the townspeople had organized and armed themselves to prevent this from happening, ready to use force if necessary to keep possession of "their Saint".

"The events unfolding in these recent days have moved me profoundly, and I am quite concerned because I fear that I might involuntarily be the cause of unfortunate happenings in this my dear city.  I pray that God will wish to keep away any such calamity, instead pouring out on myself any mortification whatsoever. However, if it is true what has been told me, that it has been decided that I should be transferred, I pray you to adopt all means in order that the will of my superiors be accomplished, which is the will of God, and which I will blindly obey.

I will always remember this generous people in my poor and avid prayers, imploring for them peace and prosperity; and as a sign of my affection, being able to do nothing else, I express the desire that, my superiors not being opposed, my bones will be laid to rest in a tranquil corner of this ground.  All this I respectfully say in our sweet Lord. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, 12 August 1923."

Almost 75 years later, the sons of Mayor Mordaldi, who have had possession of the document, have decided to consign it to the officials of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo. "We have respected a desire expressed by our father while he was still alive, that he wished the letter donated to the municipality, also desiring that the words of the letter be be inscribed on a bronze plaque in the center of the city". 

And this has been granted by  mayor Antonio Squarcella who has decided to affix the bronze plaque outside of the city hall, consigning the work to a local artist Michele Miglionico.   Thus the inhabitants of San Giovanni Rotondo, as well as the pilgrims, will be able to read this memorial of the strong bond that existed between Padre Pio and the town he lived in for 52 years. 

In an interview presented in the February 22, 2001 issue of Gente, Mayor Antonio Squarcella explains the full story behind the letter:

  "In order to understand the significance of this beautiful letter, we have to go back to the events of that period which was among the most painful times for Padre Pio, and also very unsettling for the people of San Giovanni who felt the effects of his persecution.  The facts are will documented.

   The end of the First World War coincided with the arrival and permanent residency of Padre Pio on the Gargano. His charismatic manifestations began to attract thousands of the needy:   sick people, cripples, the unhappy, all expecting to receive divine grace. Then the sensational phenomenon of the stigmata further enlarged his fame, but also was the beginning of his persecutions. 

   Against this humble Capuchin, who in the confessional practiced incessantly his ministry of guiding souls, there broke out the scheming of the corrupt area clergy - for the presence of a saint was for their lives a firm reproof.  Their plotting reached the summits of the Vatican, already shaken by the arguments of Fr. Gemelli, a scientist and Franciscan, who did not believe in the authenticity of Padre Pio's stigmata.  He said they were caused by psychological hysteria.

   So around Padre Pio there swirled intrigues and accusations, false and calumnious. Soon in 1923  there followed requests for his transfer, which the populace of San Giovanni Rotondo countered with an ominously demonstration in the piazza. Although they were not religious zealots, and in many cases with an outlook opposite of Padre Pio's, the Friar had early on moved their hearts. It was a question of a singular human affection: the San Giovanese, who were socialists, fascists, Catholics, or masons, all understood that Padre Pio had represented for them a moral conscience in an era of profound material and spiritual miseries

   No one would be allowed to touch him, whom they all considered to be the symbol of their town. In order to prevent his permanent transfer to another part of Italy or even to Spain, there would have broken out a bloody uprising. Something similar occurred three years previously, when a large group of discharged soldiers had from the surrounding area battled against the police.  Fourteen people were killed.   Among the insurgents was Francesco Morcaldi, destined to shortly become the mayor, and with the advent of Fascism, a power in San Giovanni Rotondo.

   Morcaldi was an ex-Army officer, very intelligent and volatile.   Because of his open mindedness, he was able to establish himself in political life starting from the ground floor.  He was also one of the first great friends of Padre Pio,  and had an important role in these controversial events. He had already used his talents as a brilliant lawyer to counter some of the attacks which tried to destroy the Friar.  In that summer of 1923, when the San Giovanese were preparing a revolt to block the transfer of Padre Pio, the mayor put himself at the head of the movement, searching to placate the citizens, but at the same time promising them:   "If the transfer of Padre Pio is attempted, I will resign as mayor and as a simple citizen will fight with you".  But meanwhile, the Padre had told the mayor about the ecclesiastical proceedings against him, also told him that he did not wish to disobey the authorities.

   Yet, the town was filling with men carrying stakes, clubs, axes and even guns.  They were digging trenches and raising barricades. San Giovanni Rotondo was ready to explode. It was in this tense climate that Padre Pio wrote his letter to Mayor Morcaldi.  In it he expressed his desire to one day be buried in this town, convinced that he was to be transferred and never see it again.

   Instead, things turned out differently.  The Church authorities, faced with the consequences of a protest movement that was so menacing, suspended the transfer order.  And from those dramatic times there remains what can be considered a true spiritual testament, that gives witness to the strong ties between Padre Pio, and the townspeople who were ready to defend him against all ignoble attacks."


All translations in any of my Web pages made from various Italian language sources are intended as an informal, good faith sharing from my own personal notes, and are not otherwise authorized, official, or presented as completely accurate.


 Controversial, bold and thought-provoking, the above book is available in print or Kindle format.



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Frank Rega is the author of:  Padre Pio and America,
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims,

The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador
  Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - Journeys in the Divine Will 
vols. 1 and 2
Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - volume 3 in preparation
 The Truth about Padre Pio's Stigmata and Other Wonders of the Saint
Vatican II, Evolution, and Medjugorje: Hubris, Heresy, and Mystery