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Padre Pio and the Guardian Angels

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Bede is an artist with a long time interest in the lives of saints.

Among the marvels of modern technology is the ability to communicate instantly with persons living far away. If we lived in the 18th century, for instance, we might have to wait months to receive news from a loved one. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who died fifty years ago, found the secret to keep in immediate contact with his many spiritual children around the world. How did he know their needs so quickly? When troubled, he advised them to send their guardian angels to him. The contact was immediate and the response was swift.

Officially, Padre Pio is St. Pio since his canonization in 2002.

Officially, Padre Pio is St. Pio since his canonization in 2002.

Who Was Padre Pio?

For some souls, the thinnest of veils separate heaven and earth. In yet rarer individuals, God lifts the veil altogether. Such was the case of Padre Pio. He was in frequent contact with angels, often experienced heavenly visions, and performed many astonishing miracles. Most notably, he bore the stigmata (wounds of Christ) for fifty years. Who, then, was this rare and holy man?

He was born Francisco Forgione, in Pietrelcina, southern Italy, on May 25, 1887. His parents were hardworking farmers who instilled their own deep piety into the child. Francisco helped work the land and tended the sheep. One day, he heard a visiting Capuchin friar speak and felt the desire to become a friar himself. He realized this hope in 1903, aged 16, and was ordained to the priesthood seven years later.

In 1918, he received the stigmata in his hands, feet, and heart. Countless doctors examined this phenomenon over the next decades. They could not make sense of how he constantly bled yet continued to live. The wounds, which smelled of perfume or flowers, deeply embarrassed him and he usually wore gloves over his hands.

Until his death in 1968, visions, bilocation, miracles, levitation, ecstasies, became his ordinary daily experience. Countless multitudes visited the friary to attend his Mass. Among his ministries in helping others, he continually received the guardian angels of his spiritual children from around the world. He saw them plainly, received their messages, and responded with prayer.

Testing the Validity

Two teenage girls living near the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo heard of Padre Pio’s supposed communication with the angels. Finding it rather incredible, they decided to test the validity of this claim. They spent a whole night sending their guardian angels to Padre Pio. They made such requests as, “Pray for my uncle Federico,” or “Cure my cousin.”

The next day after Mass, the two friends went to the friary to ask for Padre Pio’s blessing. To their surprise, the Padre was upset with them. He said to one of the girls, “You kept me awake all night. First, you sent me your guardian angel to cure your uncle Federico,” and turning to the other girl, he said, “and you sent me yours asking that your cousin be cured. And you kept it up all night long…I didn’t get any sleep!”

Angelic Alarm Clock

Indeed, Padre Pio was accustomed to little sleep. One night in 1918, he was sick in bed and awake. He tried calling the superior of the house, Padre Paolino, but there was no response. Padre Paolino confessed that he was such a heavy sleeper that, “If you want to wake me up, you’d better send your guardian angel.” That very night, Padre Paolino was asleep and felt himself roughly awakened. He thought of Padre Pio, but tiredness got the better of him.

This same scenario occurred on the following night. Padre Paolino then told Padre Pio to make sure his angel got him out of bed. That night at 1:30 A.M., Padre Paolino said he felt himself shaken so vigorously that he got up at once and went to see Padre Pio. When he arrived at his room, he found that Pio was in great need of help and unable to assist himself.

As he advanced in age, Padre Pio became less independent and required the help of other friars. One of these helpers was Padre Alessio Parente. His duties allowed for little rest, so he slept during Padre Pio’s Mass. However, at the end of Mass, he had to guide Padre Pio through the multitudes.

Because of extreme tiredness, Padre Alessio often slept through his alarm clock or sometimes turned it off. Invariably, when the time drew near, he would hear a knock on his door. When he arose to see who it was, nobody was at the door. He then realized it was time to help Padre Pio. He arrived just in time.

On occasion, Padre Alessio slept through the knock as well. He later apologized to Padre Pio who said to him, “Yes I understand you, but do you think I will continue to send my guardian angel every day to wake you up? You’d better go and buy yourself a new alarm clock.”

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Night and Day Contact

Padre Alessio also worked as a secretary to sort the huge number of letters pouring into the friary. He once asked Padre Pio about a certain request in a letter. Padre Pio expressed annoyance over these questions. “Come on, my son, leave me alone,” he said, “Can’t you see that I am very busy?” It seemed to Padre Alessio that Pio simply sat in his chair, fingering his rosary. In fact, Padre Pio was communicating with a long procession of guardian angels.

Seeing his perplexity, Padre Pio explained to him, “Didn’t you see all those guardian angels going backwards and forwards from my spiritual children bringing messages from them?” The communication went on through the night; Padre Alessio would hear Padre Pio say to an unseen visitor, “Tell her I will pray for her,” or “Tell him that he will be present in my Mass.” Though invisible to Padre Alessio, Padre Pio could see the angels plainly.

Moreover, persons who sent their guardian angels were astonished at how quickly their troubles ceased. One woman wrote to Padre Alessio, explaining that she was sick to her stomach and alone. She thought she was going to die, so she sent her guardian angel to Padre Pio. She said her pain immediately stopped and she felt better than ever.

Angelic Translator

Besides helping others, Padre Pio’s guardian angel also assisted him with various matters. In a letter to his spiritual director, Padre Agostino, Padre Pio explained one of these services, “The heavenly beings continue to visit me and give me a foretaste of the rapture [or joys] of the blessed. And while the mission of our guardian angels is a great one, my own angel’s mission is certainly greater, since he has the additional task of teaching me other languages.”

Somewhat incredulous, Padre Agostino decided to test the linguistic ability of Padre Pio’s guardian angel. He accordingly wrote his letters in French or Greek, unfamiliar languages to Padre Pio. The local parish priest, Don Panullo, said he was in Padre Pio’s company when he received a letter written in Greek. The priest swore under oath that Padre Pio, despite his ignorance even of the Greek alphabet, translated its contents exactly.

This angelic assistance was especially helpful when Padre Pio heard the confessions of foreigners. Once, a young American girl went to confession to Padre Pio before her first Holy Communion. Though he never studied English, Padre Pio listened and spoke English to this girl. Another time a Swiss priest went to him for confession and spoke in Latin. The priest requested prayers for a woman he knew, and the Padre responded in perfect German, “I must commend her to the divine compassion.”

Angels and Autos

Padre Pio’s care for his spiritual children drew them to visit San Giovanni Rotondo. One of these persons, Piergiorgio Biavatti, was a car dealer from Florence. As he drove to see Padre Pio in Southern Italy, he ran into heavy traffic and lost time. He stopped for coffee in Naples and continued his journey despite sleepiness. “I remember only one thing,” said Biavatti, “I started the engine, put my hands on the wheel, and after that, I have no recollection whatsoever. I don’t remember any second of the three-hour drive. Not only that but when I reached the square in front of the friary, someone shook me on the shoulder and said, ‘Come on now, take over.’”

Biavatti explained what happened to Padre Pio, “I drove here from Naples but don’t remember driving my car at all.” Padre Pio already knew about it; “You are right. You were sleeping all the way and my guardian angel was driving for you.”

Another spiritual child of Padre Pio’s lived in Rome. She and her husband had a villa near the sea where they escaped from Rome’s dreadful heat. As they were driving there one time, their car broke down. For two hours, they watched as cars sped by without stopping to help them. They began to worry as night descended.

Having experienced the help of Padre Pio’s guardian angel before, the wife suggested that they pray to Padre Pio. The husband was doubtful but said, “Go ahead and try.” After ten minutes, a black car pulled up. A beautiful young man stepped out of the car and asked, “Well, what happened?” The husband explained and the young man said, “I’ll take care of it now. You’ll see that we will fix everything.”

They looked under the hood and the young man said, “Look, you lost all the water from the radiator; it’s burnt out.” He suggested that the husband go to a nearby farm and fill up a can with water. As the husband went, the young man took a toolkit from his car. He taped up the radiator and when the husband returned, he filled up the radiator. After closing the hood he said, “Now you can return home safely; anyhow, you are quite near. But tomorrow, bring the car to be checked immediately.”

As they drove off, they followed the young man in his car. They noticed that his car had no license plate but a long white strip with hieroglyphic letters. Before they turned off their exit, they waved goodbye to him. The couple were dumbfounded and marveled at several factors. First, they had a poodle in the car who always barked in the presence of strangers; during the repair, he remained perfectly calm and quiet. Secondly, how did the young man know about the empty can in the trunk and that they were not too far from home? They could only think that Padre Pio heard their request and sent his angel to help them.

Never forget your Guardian Angel, who is always close to you, who never leaves you, no matter how badly you treat him.

— Padre Pio

A Personal Account

While I’ve never seen my guardian angel, the angelic world seems very plausible to me. This stems partly from an unusual experience I had when I was about sixteen years old. I was sitting in the living room of my parent's home, waiting for my mom to say, "Dinner’s ready.” All of a sudden, I had a terrible feeling about my younger brother. I wasn't an overly devout kid; I went to church on Sundays but was far more interested in sports.

At any rate, the feeling persisted, so I went to a room on the other side of the house, got down on my knees, and started praying earnestly for my younger brother. Finally, my Mom called for dinner. Some ten minutes into it, we received a phone younger brother had been hit by a car! Very fortunately, he survived. However, this experience made a deep impression on me. Having learned of Padre Pio, I now believe my guardian angel prompted me to pray.

Praying to Your Guardian Angel

Biologists tell us of an imperceptible world of microbes that exist on our skin. So also, theologians speak of an invisible spiritual world all around us. Whereas a microscope detects the unseen world of microbes, only faith working with reason may perceive the spiritual world. The highest creation in this unseen world are the angels, traditionally categorized into nine choirs. The highest is the Seraphim and the lowest are the guardian angels.

Not only baptized Christians, but all persons have a guardian angel. While only rare souls like Padre Pio could see them, all may assuredly speak to their guardian angels. We may also send him, like Padre Pio, to a distressed loved one. The following is an ancient and popular prayer to the guardian angel, suitable for reciting in the morning:

The feast day of Padre Pio is September 23 and that of the Guardian Angels is October 2.


Padre Pio: The True Story, by C. Bernard Ruffin, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 1991

“Send Me Your Guardian Angel” Padre Pio, by Fr. Alessio Parente O.F.M. Cap., The Noteworthy Company, 1984

Questions & Answers

Question: How can I feel the presence of my Guardian Angel?

Answer: There's no need to feel or even desire to understand your Guardian Angel's presence tangibly. Some saints did but they did not ask for it - it was a gift. However, I suppose there's no harm in humbly asking God to make you more aware of your Guardian Angel's presence. It's mainly a matter of faith.

Question: How do I know who my guardian angel is?

Answer: Your guardian angel is a person with intelligence and will; he is at your side always and has the duty to lead you away from danger and ultimately to heaven. He sends inspirations to follow the right way and avoid pitfalls. Note that angels are neither male nor female – they are pure spirits (without a body); they are angelic persons - not human persons like you and me or divine persons like God.

Question: Do guardian angels graduate to become archangels?

Answer: It's a good question. To the best of my knowledge, God created the angels with a specific function and in a certain hierarchy known collectively as the "Choir of Angels." There are nine choirs with the seraphim and cherubim at the highest level and guardian angels at the lowest. I may be wrong but it seems that for a guardian angel to become an archangel is equivalent to a sparrow 'graduating' to become an eagle - it doesn't happen in nature and likely doesn't happen in super-nature. That's simply my opinion, though. However, according to some theologians, archangels can be guardian angels, as for a country or the Pope.

© 2018 Bede


Bede (author) from Minnesota on October 03, 2019:

Perce – he probably used the word in the broad sense, as in “ecstasy” or “glory.” In other words, the angels gave him a taste of the heavenly delights ahead of time, probably to encourage him in his warfare against the demons.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention, though - I'll add a note to explain.

PERCE-NEIGE on October 03, 2019:

Are you sure about the "rapture" part? It seems like protestant theology.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on March 24, 2019:

That's great news, Miebakagh. It's always helpful for children to be fed nourishing food for soul and body. Thanks.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 23, 2019:

Hi, Bede. Yesterday morning, I made a small sermon on it with my family as we woke up from sleep. I said each should hold Jesus tight for him to lead us home to God. Thank you.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on March 23, 2019:

Yes indeed, Miebakagh – that verse says it all. Jesus is our Good shepherd who leads us to the Father’s home. If we hold His hand like a child, we’ll end up in the Homeland to feast on God’s mountain. Thanks for chiming in my friend.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on March 23, 2019:

Tim, I agree that there’s no need to see or hear our angels. They will do their job as God directs them. Yet, they must be an awesome sight, as evidenced by Samson’s mother or St. John in the Apocalypse. He fell down to worship an angel but had to be corrected. Thanks again for the comment.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 23, 2019:

Hello, Bede, you are welcomed. Prayer is always to be addressed to God the father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus clearly states this in the Gospel of John that "I am the man comes to the Father but by me." Thank you, and have a nice time.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 23, 2019:

Indeed, I will always direct my prayers in such a manner, having studied biblical texts extensively, and being a minister. My angels will act as directed by my Lord. It would be nice to see and talk with them, but that's not a necessary step in receiving their assistance, from my studies and real life experience.

Great article.



Bede (author) from Minnesota on March 23, 2019:

Greetings Tim – thanks very much for the comment. It is scriptural to direct your prayers to the Father through the Son, so do so always. Catholic liturgical prayers are usually directed to the Father through the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

The angels are found throughout scripture in rolls of service – servants of God and helpers for man. I’m grateful for them though ignorant of just how much they help invisibly.

Padre Pio is definitely a unique soul in all the supernatural gifts he received, though he’s not the only person who saw and spoke to his guardian angel. Others include St. Gemma Galgani and St. Faustina, to name just a couple.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 22, 2019:

Interesting article. I also found the comments here interesting. I direct my prayers (always) to the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the King of the Angels. He is their and my King as well as my Savior,. He directs their actions; I don't.

I am not writing my comment for a theological debate, each of us must develop our relationships with God and His Son. We will encounter angels because it is written we may "entertain" them without knowledge of them as angels. I was just sharing my perspective which has been successful.

However, this padre was a special soul and this was an informative article. Thanks a lot.



Bede (author) from Minnesota on October 21, 2018:

Hello Ann, I share your sentiment that angels are at work in our lives, even in bodily form. I was once in Russia as a young man with a group of about twenty people. Towards the end of our three-week stay, I wanted to go (by myself) to St. Petersburg to see the Rembrandts in the Hermitage. Long story short – I went into the Moscow train station to buy a ticket and was soon overwhelmed. Everything was in Russian. I asked bystanders nearby if they knew English, and two people stepped forward, a brother and sister from the province of Georgia. They practically took me by the hand and remained with me until they returned a couple days later. I could say more about the experience, but I came away convinced that they were heaven-sent helpers.

Amble from Surrey United Kingdom on October 21, 2018:

I am convinced that on occasion our Guardian Angel comes in human form to help us. A while ago I was trying to find a place to park at the hospital in which my husband was a patient. I had turned into a narrow lane which turned out to be a dead end. The lady in the 4x4 car in front got out and came back saying to me "We need to reverse" I replied "I'll do my best but it may take me a while as reversing is not my strong point" She asked if I would like her to do it for me. Not only did she do it but also found a place to park for me. It remains a vivid memory for me how gracious and kind this lady was. I felt enveloped by her kindness. To this day I am convinced it was my Guardian, Angel. Each night when I go to bed I think of and pray for her. I shall never forget the kindness which enveloped me.

A few weeks ago when our weather was unbearably hot, I was waiting at the bus stop in whatever shade I could find. A young woman came out of her house, got into her car, turned it around and pulled up in front of me. Where are you going she said? it's too hot for you to be standing there. Get into my car and I will take you wherever you want to go. She was such a grace-filled young woman. She told me she worked in a local nursing home and was on her way there. She went totally out of her way to take me where I was going. She told me she loved working in the Care Home as she loved to help people. I told her that I thought she was a huge blessing to each one of them. Once again I told her that she was my Guardian Angel sent to help and I believe she was. There have been other instances like this too. I lie in bed at night and pray for those involved and give thanks for the blessing they were for me.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 13, 2018:

Hi Jeff, I guess we’re having a difference in terminology. To worship God, in my understanding, is to give Him one’s whole heart in humble, loving submission; it means to exalt and praise Him as the highest of all living entities. Worship belongs to God.

However, there are times when you ask a favor of God, such as, “Help me earn a lot of money.” That’s not worship but prayer, which etymologically means “entreaty.” Persons may entreat the angels or saints without worshiping them.

Moreover, one may love and honor the angels and saints without worshiping them. Here’s why; if your grandmother comes for a visit, you greet her warmly and when bidding her goodbye, you say, “I love you Grammy.” Clearly, you are not worshiping your Grandma by loving and respecting her.

Likewise, Christians respect and even love the saints as brothers and sisters in Christ. They are victors who are alive, not dead, and so we love them.

J Zod from Nairobi on August 13, 2018:

Hey Fiberesima and Bede,

I agree that angels are there to guide us.I totally disagree with worshiping other deities except God.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 12, 2018:

Well said, Miebakagh; thank you for your words of wisdom and for leading your family so well. We need the angel’s help all along the way.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 12, 2018:

Hello Jeff, (@bede): I agreed with bede. An hour ago, I lead my family in the last prayer of the day. We do not worship the angels, but God. And we remind him that although he created us a little lower than angels, yet angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. So, we ask them to be all around our beds this night and always. Is that worshipping angels? The anwser is no.

Demons or fallen angels are everywhere. It is the presence of the holy angels of God that sent them packing away. Do ask of help from your angels. And thanks.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 12, 2018:

Hi Jeff, I agree with you, one should never worship an angel. There are many examples in the Bible (Rev. 19:10, for instance), where somebody saw an angel and fell down in worship. The angel said in effect, “Don’t do it, I’m just a servant; worship God.”

However, praying to the angels is a different matter. They are servants of God who help us on the way. So we ask their help. That’s not worship.

Among Catholics and Orthodox, there are three distinctions about reverence and worship. To God alone belongs latria (or worship), to saints and angels belong dulia (or reverence, respect), and to the Blessed Virgin belongs hyperdulia, or great respect.

I hope that clarifies the matter.

J Zod from Nairobi on August 12, 2018:

Hi Bede,

I agree with you about the sightings of angels.They are spiritual beings that help and guide humans.I disagree with you about worshiping and praying to them.We should only give veneration to God only.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 12, 2018:

Hi Jeff, I’m somewhat apprehensive about angel sightings caught on video. After all, angels are spirits and as far as I’m aware, only take on visible form in extraordinary circumstances. There are various mystics besides Padre Pio, such as St. Gemma Galgani, who often saw and spoke with their guardian angel. These are rare souls, though. I would simply rest assured that your guardian angel is near you at all times. If you pray to him, who knows, maybe he will let you perceive him, while remaining invisible.

J Zod from Nairobi on August 12, 2018:

Hi Bede,

I have some videos on Youtube purporting to have caught angels on camera.What do you think of this? Can we easily perceive angels?

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 12, 2018:

Hi Jeff, thank you for the comment. It’s not necessary to have an angelic encounter. It’s likely a rare event, anyway, at least in perceiving them. Probably my favorite angel story comes from the Acts of the Apostles (cf 12), where an angel leads St. Peter out of prison.

J Zod from Nairobi on August 12, 2018:

Hi Bede,

Interesting article.I have never had any angelic contact whatsoever.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 12, 2018:

Thanks Linda, for commenting. There are many mysterious aspects about Padre Pio’s life. Down the road, I hope to explore some other feature of his interesting life in an article. I never thought I’d share that personal account, but it seemed to fit.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 12, 2018:

Hi Miebakagh, thank you for reading and commenting. I agree, it would be a great help to have another Padre Pio for our times. I met a priest from India who was a miracle worker but not a stigmatic. That’s interesting about your home; the angels are helping us more than we realize. I like the prayer you say to the angels.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 11, 2018:

Padre Pio sounds like an interesting person. Thanks for sharing his story. It's very thought provoking. Your personal account is impressive, Bede.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 11, 2018:

Hi, bede, this sounds real and make sense to me. I had been influenced by my guardian angel in more than one way. On one specific occasion, if I do not listen, my home could be flooded, but I act promptly it is saved.

Padre's characters are rare indeed in this world. Some days, God will send another like him for this troubled 21st century.

I remember I used to pray as a boy, "God, as I lay me down to sleep, let two angels stand at my sides, two at my food, and two at my head." I still pray the prayer, but I lost the actual model on which I based the prayer. I have copied out the prayer you inserted in the hub for my use. Thank you.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 11, 2018:

Hi Mary, thanks for the comment. The subject of Padre Pio is so gigantic that I had to choose one small aspect. Even so, I left many interesting things out of this article for the sake of brevity. I agree, it is very special that he was able to communicate with heavenly beings.

Bede (author) from Minnesota on August 11, 2018:

Thanks Eric for an interesting, albeit, heavy-duty comment. As I see it, the intercession of the saints is part of God’s plan, well before Catholics and Orthodox adopted it. Look at the Old Testament, where persons recognized Elisha as especially close to God. Consequently, he was called upon to “heal” the waters of the well (2 kings 2:19), or Naaman the leper (2 kings 5). As St. James says, “the prayers of righteous person are powerful indeed.”

It goes without saying that the saints are simply go-betweens to God, not an end in themselves. They are friends of the King. Is it possible to go straight to the King? Of course, no harm done, but it may take a bit longer.

Does man make saints? Yes and no; certainly, the canonization process is arduous, requiring men and women to work out the official recognition, but it is the Holy Spirit who “makes” saints. He is the maestro, as it were.

That’s interesting about your wife and son. In my earlier days I was “tempted” to become Orthodox. I apprenticed with an Eastern Orthodox iconographer for about a year and went to Russia afterwards for a month or so. The preventive factor was the Pope.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2018:

I have heard of Padre Pio but not really know his story on the guardian angels. I am familiar with the prayer to our guardian angel as we prayed it when we were kids just before we went to bed. I have an appreciation for Padre Pio's communication with these holy beings. It is a gift.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 11, 2018:

Most illuminating. I always worry for those who pray to saints instead of through them. But now I am told to have patience. Understanding a Saint is special. It will not hurt someone to do so.

In my home. I am not denominational. I have the Episcopal ministry stuff and a relevant degree.

But on a purely social event my wife and son are Eastern Orthodox.

In our home our saint is not a Catholic Saint. Father Troung Buu Diep. But he will be given a stamp soon I reckon. Man makes Saints?

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