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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oh, Mein Papa

While researching my beloved Franciscan patron, Padre Pio, I stumbled across several disturbing articles indicating he faked his stigmata using carbolic acid. Historian Sergio Luzzatto found a single document in the Vatican library, testimony from a woman who claimed Padre Pio asked her to get him 4 grams of carbolic acid and some other supplies. He told her it was for sterilizing needles.
So the author draws the conclusion that a single piece of circumstantial evidence is enough to prove conclusively that the stigmata was a hoax. It seems to me that if, over the course of 50 years of stigmata only one person was found who supplied carbolic acid that the evidence is too weak to be conclusive. Furthermore, the Vatican investigators who looked into his cause for canonization found that Padre Pio and another priest were having to care for victims of the Spanish flu which was raging at the time and were actually sterilizing needles with carbolic acid. Furthermore, when St. Pio died, his hands bore no stigmata wounds nor even a scar. It seems if someone were using carbolic acid to fake stigmata, that would probably leave some kind of mark with even infrequent application.
To be fair, i'm sure Luzzatto's book has other damning evidence building a case against St. Pio. However, as quickly as he overlooked the obvious, that this evidence is circumstantial and doesn't hold up to logical scrutiny, i'm gonna go out on a limb here and say he probably isn't the most unbiased and credible of historians. St. Pio pray for us.