Acid freak: Padre Pio was a fake. No, really.

Well even an unscandalised former altar boy like me had doubts about Padre Pio‘s stigmata – even as an 11-year old, I suspected it that it might be a load of bollicks. And it was bollicks – carbolics, in fact, in the form of acid.

Padre Pio, the friar with fingerless gloves whose image is found on a million Catholic key chains; who was canonised before 200,000 ecstatic pilgrims five years ago, was a charlatan who deliberately mutilated himself with acid to give the appearance of bearing the stigmata of Christ, according to evidence to be published next week.

In the summer of 1919, the 28-year-old cousin of a pharmacist in the southern city of Foggia, a deeply religious young woman called Maria de Vito, made the pilgrimage to Pio’s church, San Giovanni. The pharmacist told his local bishop, Mgr Salvatore Bella, “When she returned to Foggia she brought the greetings of Padre Pio and asked me in his name, and in strict secrecy, for carbolic acid, telling me that Padre Pio had need of it, and giving me the little bottle he had given her, capacity 100g, and with a skull and crossbones.”

Well, I suppose you got to respect the man – in between the flagellation and the shagging, he was intent on suffering for his art…
The Independent: Padre Pio ‘faked his stigmata with acid’

Just found links to al these Irish Padre Pio stories:
Padre Pio ‘fixed’ Coyler’s leg »
“Jack McCarthy and his family believe his leg – and his life – was saved through the intercession of the St Pio.”
Padre Pio saved my leg and my life »
Padre Pio The Irish Connection’ written by Wicklow-based author Bray miracle’ features in new Padre Pio book »
How Padre Pio influenced wing wonder Damien Duff »

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.


  1. Here is a quote from the book Padre Pio and America which explains what
    the carbolic acid was actually used for in his friary at that time:
    “The boys in the Seraphic College could not understand why their
    instructor seemed to be hiding his hands under his garments during the
    classes that he was teaching. The Father Guardian, Padre Paolino, noticed
    that Pio appeared to be covering up red spots on his hands with the
    sleeves of his habit. However, he was not too concerned since he and Padre
    Pio had recently received burns on their hands from carbolic acid. The
    boys had needed injections to fight the Spanish Flu which was raging at
    that time. Due to a shortage of doctors, Padres Paolino and Pio
    administered the shots, using carbolic acid as a sterilizing agent.”
    Frank Rega, author of Padre Pio and America p. 55, TAN Books 2005.

  2. Michael G Casey email
    Padre Pio and Me ©
    Michael Casey
    It’s a contradiction in terms immediately , how can I copyright a Saint . A brand new saint at that . I first heard of him through some Religious reading I did . I feel embarrassed to admit it , but I am a practising Catholic , its not fashionable to have any Faith but its mine so I admit it . Immediately the prejudice begins , but if I WERE A Jew or a Muslim , it would be the same . I do feel that my catholic tastes have given me a broader outlook on life , as has my eclectic tastes and rubbing shoulders with a wide variety of people .
    But I want to talk about Padre Pio . I had a crisis and was reading about him at the time , so I said my prayers to him and the way forward was revealed . Though Padre Pio always says go Higher , he is just a stepping stone on the way to a better place . What is so hard to understand about Padre Pio is how he suffered . He had the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune . Condemned by his own superiors , made to be quiet for a decade and so forth . Science Fiction teaches or rather amuses us about Time Travel , but with Padre Pio it really happened , he wanted to share in Christ’s agony so he thought , what if he too could have and suffer the wounds on that day of Crucifiction . So it came to pass that he suffered for 50years . He had the indignity of medical examinations and of being thought just to be a mental patient , but his work and life proved his holiness .
    So it’s nearly 1990 and I hear about him and read a few books , its hard to understand the value of suffering in this age of quick fix pain killers and the lets have a fix , whatever the fix might be , sex, drugs and rock and roll or whatever . Its like suddenly studying again after years of lying fallow , the learning curve is enormous . So too is it with Padre Pio , the idea behind his life is enormous , but so too is the capacity for love and help .
    My favourite story is how Padre Pio explains that The Wedding Feast at Cena happened because Jesus could not refuse his mother . Very Italian , or Irish or Spanish and so on , but could any of us refuse our mothers?
    So I thought more about what Padre Pio said , and his motto of Pray Hope Don’t Worry became my own . Carpe Diem is another good motto but perhaps this can be used by any Hedonist , or other kind of selfish person .Padre Pio reminds us to pray and that pray is not wasted , its perfume that is never wasted is a phrase I like . My mother always used to say that if you couldn’t sleep you should say the Rosary , and she was right . Though in todays world an hour on the Internet or with MTV might do the trick .
    So why the devotion to Padre Pio , I’ll cut to the chase.
    My mother died suddenly but peacefully in her sleep , my brother tried CPR , but she was gone . Imagine the angusih amongst her 6 children and her husband of nearly 50 years . All except me , my mother had said no tears when she go ,so I never cried , I was the odd one out .I know how prayerful she was , so I had no need of tears .
    Eight bare weeks later my brother , the same brother heard our dad fall out of bed , so he ran to his bedroom . My brother was facing the exact same situation , he tried CPR , the ambulance was called , an injection was given straight to the heart . On weekends there is a doctor in the ambulance , so Luck , if that’s the word was with us . The next day 4 of my brothers and sisters came around to tell me the news . When my sister had come around 8 weeks previously I knew somebody was dead but I assumed it was my dad , he’s die first we all thought . So now 8 weeks later it was his turn to die .
    At the hospital dad was given 1 week to live , I cried like a baby , worse than a baby , but I loved him , so I told he he should go to our mother and not hang on if he didn’t want to . The next day I was in my sister’s house crying , we picked hymns for his funeral .Yet my father survived , 19 patients on a heart ward , 18 died my dad survived . Padre Pio was beseiged by my prayers , I put Padre Pio’s photo under his pillow . Dad lost his mind , he was in Dudley Rd for 3months , 12 weeks , more than half of them all tubed up . His life hanging in the balance . At the same time somewhere in Florida another man was at deaths door , he was a totally stranger to me , I didn’t even know his name , I’d never met him , he was give 24hours to live , a Chinese man from Shanghai was at deaths door . The Chinaman survived .My dad’s memory was totally wiped , he did not know who I was, I’m your son was greeted with , am I married . I was the favourite son , he did not even know me . But still we prayed , it’s a feeling in your guts , just like when you are nearly killed as you cross the road , its in your guts and in your heart , Jesus save my dad , Jesus save my dad , Padre Pio help !!! This goes around your head like a merry go around or a kaleidascope . Finally dad awoke . He said that he can remember hearing the doctor say to wheel him down to the end of the ward , because he’d be dead soon . At that moment my dad awoke, and the doctor dropped his cup of tea in shock . No not an instanteous miracle , but as Dr Singh had said if he were 30years younger he’d have a heart transplant because dad’s heart was rubbish .
    Now , when I told my brother that dad was reading a newspaper he was shocked . His memory had come back . He knew who we all were .Every day for three months I walked the corridor at Dudley Rd , the longest hospital corridor in Europe , 1 kilometre long . Finally he left the hospital , my sister had found a good home for him to live in , he was far too weak to live in the family house .
    For 3 years dad survived , like a Godfather with all his children making constant visits . Finally I met my future wife . It was her uncle who had miraclously survived at the same time as my father . It was her uncle who encouraged us in our love . From Shanghai to Birmingham .These great men , her uncle and my father never met , but I know Padre Pio must have helped both of them . Further prayer was needed to bring me and my wife permanenetly together . A Chinese miracle happened . Now we are wed , we have a 2year old and please God a healthy second baby in the Autumn . The improbability of our meeting , plus the fact that both men HAD to live for us to be married and have a family , this may be a coincidence to some but I know a miracle when I see one. A miracle is something that makes you feel humble , it makes you know that God has whispered your name . When I look at my wife , I feel humble . Seeing our daughter laugh and play also makes me humble as will our new baby.
    Then you can look back and know that prayer is like perfume that can never be wasted , your life has led you to where you are now , yes at times sad and terrible , but be humble in the sight of God means something , not just for me , but for all Believers .
    I once stood by the fridge and said to Padre Pio , I give up , you take over , all I want is to be married , and perhaps have a family , and do something useful with my life . That was just before my eyes were opened to my wife . I used to say that I got 2 out of my 3 wishes . Perhaps my current occupation is my 3rd wish , or a more outstanding miracle is waiting in the wings , but as Padre Pio said ,always ask for the big Grace .Perhaps
    we have to be humble enough to deserve it , because I believe it to be a fact that , truly great people are humble because they know just how little they really know.

  3. That ‘carbolic acid’ theory for Padre Pio’s theory is so old it has gone mouldy. I must have read at least 4 biographies of Padre Pio and each one mentioned the ‘carbolic acid’ allegation which simply doesn’t add up. Why the media should get so overheated about it at this late hour remains a mystery. The bottle of carbolic was purchased in 1919! Just the usual old Catholic-bashing routine I guess. Hi-ho.Is that all that Sergio Lazotto can come up with? In which case, he would be better off writing some other anti-clerical tosh like The Da Vinci Code.

  4. When I look at pictures of Padre Pio, I feel like I am looking at a member of my family. I grew up with Padre Pio. I know his face. I I know the comfort he has provided to my family and the profound impact his message of prayer and hope provides to the world. My parents were devout followers of Padre Pio well before his canonization and figurines and pictures of the priest graced my chidhood home, found their way into my school books and were readily accessible at a moments notice. To this day if my mother knows I am traveling she will find a way to tuck a Padre Pio prayer card in my suitcase. So when I hear people relishing the opportunity to invalidate Padre Pio’s years of suffering by holding up a claim of fraud as though it were substantial proof, I feel like someone is attacking a family member. More so than that I feel compelled to defend the honor of a man who lived a holy and pious life and who touched and continues to touch the lives of his followers by way of his intercessions and miracles and by the hope that his call to prayer affords. If you believe that his stigmata was false, I challenge you to burn your hands with acid every day for 50 years and see if you can mimic his results. Otherwise, I challenge you to open your heart and your mind to this saint and see what happens- you might just be pleasantly surprised.
    -Annette, NY

  5. The real test is – where were his wounds? If there were in the palms of his hands then he was a fake as the stigmata are in the wrists.

  6. Yes you are absolutely correct, Padre Pio could have created the wound of the Lord on his hands and side with acid. The mystery is not how the wounds got there but how they managed to dissapear without a trace. Can somebody please answer me this? Maybe a man in such a weak frail state when in his last few days had enough strength to make wounds heal faster than the average joes scars would heal 🙂

  7. I feel bad for you. You have not received the proper education and/or sources to declare that Padre Pio of Pietrelcina wounded himself for fame. I have spoken with many priests and bishops and all of them have said that Padre Pio, according to tests of the Holy Office, had received the stigmata by miracle. You know about the carbolic acid but do you know what it was used for? Padre Pio was a man of humor. He used it for a practical joke. He needed to sterilize a needle to inject a liquid into an object for the joke to work. You are not to judge Padre Pio and his stigmata. You don’t even know how many people he has helped during and after life. Look past his real wounds and look at what kind of person he was. He did not seek fame but he even said that the stigmata were humiliating! He was only an instrument of God not the second Christ like some books hold title to. I send all of my peace to you. May Christ show you the path to truth which is Christ himself. I shall keep you in my prayers. May you have a happy life filled with God.

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