FROM BACK COVER:
Padre Pio (1887- 1968) is, to date, the only ordained Roman Catholic priest ever to receive the stigmata- the bodily wounds on the hands, feet, and side corresponding to those inflicted on Jesus at the Crucifixion. In constant pain, Padre Pio carried the open, bleeding wounds for fifty years. And although he rarely left the small friary in the remote Italian village of San Giovanni Rotondo where he spent his entire apostolate, his stigmatq. and mystical powers of spiritual and physical healing drew hundreds of thousands from every corner of the globe. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio has become a cult figure, and more pilgrims flock to San Giovanni today than ever before. And finally, after years of controversy, the cause for his beatification was officially opened by the Vatican on March 20, 1983.
Magic of a Mystic is an informal and personal portrait of Padre Pio by the Duchess of St. Albans, who made her own pilgrimage to San Giovanni, where she spent a year talking to his friends and followers, gathering stories, and learning firsthand what this extraordinary man was really like. She traces his life from an impoverished childhood in southern Italy, his dedication to God at age five, his grueling novitiate in the Capuchin order, the appearance of the stigmata, and his "imprisonment" in the friary as a result of restrictions and harassment by the church, to his later years as a revered spiritualleader. Even more remarkable than his ascetic life are the recollections of the legendary miracles and healings, his clairvoyance, and reports of bilocation that have made him a mystical phenomenon.
Thirty-six black-and-white photos of Padre Pio, his spiritual "children" and the haunting Gargano landscape enrich this inspiring and loving portrait of one of this century's great spiritual figures.
THE DUCHESS OF ST. ALBANS was born in Malaya and educated at private schools in France and England. The Duchess has written for Queen magazine, Encounter, and Harper's Bazaar and is the author of The Mimosa and the Mango, Road to Bordeaux, Uncertain Wings, Green Grows the Oil, and Where Time Stood Still. She now lives with her husband, Charles, in the south of France and Monaco.
The fascination of his gruff manner and the magnetism of his extraordinary saintliness drew people to him, and once they had met him, the experience marked them for life. The only way to talk to him personally was through the medium of confession. There he listened, admonished, advised, encouraged, and thundered in turn....
This is not a biography of Padre Pio. It is a collection of stories as told to me by people who knew him well.... In this way I hope that a picture of the real, living Padre Pio...will emerge.
-From the Preface
Jacket photograph courtesy Casa Abresch Jacket design by Gael Towey Dillon