Whenever airplanes flew near the town, Padre Pio was there to stop them.
In the midst of World War II, Italy was invaded by Nazi Germany and Allied forces made many attempts to liberate the country. According to various accounts, intelligence reported a cache of German munitions near San Giovanni Rotondo, the town in which stood the monastery of St. Padre Pio.
However, at the beginning of the war Padre Pio reassured the people that no bomb would touch their small city. True to his word, Padre Pio reportedly went out of his way to make this happen.
According to author Frank Rega in his book Padre Pio and America, “none of the Allied planes sent to bomb the San Giovanni Rotondo area were able to complete their missions successfully. There were often mysterious malfunctions, causing the bombs to drop harmlessly in the fields, or mechanical failures which caused the planes to veer off course.”
Most remarkable of all were the stories of a “flying monk.”
An American pilot was just about to bomb the city when, “Suddenly, the pilot saw in front of his plane the image of a monk in the sky, gesturing with his arms and hands for the plane to turn back. The shocked pilot did just that, and jettisoned his bombs elsewhere. When he returned to the base and told his story, his commanding officer decided it was best to put this pilot in a hospital under observation for mission-fatigue.”
The pilot couldn’t get the image from his mind and after the war he made inquiries to find this monk. He eventually made the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo and recognized the “flying monk” as St. Padre Pio.
While the accounts might appear to be fictitious tales, what is true is that San Giovanni Rotondo was spared during World War II and multiple pilots reported seeing a “flying monk” in the sky over the spot where they were ordered to unload bombs.
If these stories are true, it further attests to the remarkable sanctity of Padre Pio and how he was given extraordinary graces during life. He was united to God so intimately that he could be in two places at once, extending himself to another location because of his deep relationship with God, who exists outside of space and time. Padre Pio certainly did not do any of these amazing feats from his own power, but through the infinite power of God.
As Jesus said to his apostles, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).