St. Padre Pio was banned from celebrating Mass publicly or even giving spiritual direction to his followers.
Many were skeptical of Padre Pio’s miraculous stigmata and all the attention he was getting from the thousands of pilgrims who flocked to his monastery.
Some in the Vatican worried that Padre Pio’s fame was based on a lie and that people were following a false prophet.
They launched multiple investigations and even planted secret listening devices to hear his conversations.
There were a few among the hierarchy who were bent on catching Padre Pio, and who insisted that he was fooling everyone and leading a double life.
This culminated in an effort to move the beloved friar to a different monastery and to forbid him from acting as a priest in a public manner.
Furious mob comes to his defense
The local people were furious when they heard he was to be moved. According to the biography Padre Pio: The True Story published by Our Sunday Visitor, “Around 10:00 p.m., a furious mob descended upon the friary.”
They barred the door from a priest they believed would take Padre Pio away.
The crowd didn’t leave until Padre Pio spoke to them, saying, “My blessed children … Now I implore you to listen to me, as you always do, and return to your homes without harming anyone.”
This made it clear to Church officials that Padre Pio could not be moved peacefully. Instead, the Vatican decided to restrict his faculties, removing him from public life.
Padre Pio is to be stripped of all the faculties of his priestly ministry except the faculty to celebrate the Holy Mass, which he may continue to do, provided that it is done in private, within the walls of the friary, in the inner chapel, and not publicly in church.
It was a difficult cross for him to bear, but he obeyed and submitted to the decree.
The superior of the monastery read to Padre Pio the decree and the saintly friar responded, “God’s will be done … The will of the superiors is the will of God.”
Padre Pio would spend the next several yearsin silence, celebrating Mass privately and accepting no visitors.
He couldn’t even write to his spiritual children.
Humble and obedient son
During this time many came to Padre Pio’s defense, submitting petitions, writing letters and even publishing books.
Padre Pio was appalled by this response and urged them to stop, writing to the local bishop to assert his dissociation with them.
I must repeat that I am very disgusted by the unworthy behavior of certain false prophets who speak in my behalf … they should stop this false and unworthy propaganda, but meanwhile they have followed in their morbid fanaticism, not caring about the supreme authority of the church.
I turn, therefore, as a son most humble and completely obedient to the Catholic Church … With profound humility I kiss your sacred ring and profess myself to your excellency your most humble and obedient son.
Above all, even though the accusations put against him proved false (and he would eventually be allowed to minister without restrictions), Padre Pio submitted to the decree and remained silent, trusting in God’s provident plan.