As an atheist, it's easy to reject stories like those of Padre Pio as self-serving bullshit. And yet, millions believe it- some because they legitimately believe, some because their faith is that important to them, and some because...well, what's that other option? It all seems rather harmless.

In the case of Padre Pio, there's probably no downside in believing in his holiness. Sure, he almost certainly was a charlatan, a fraud, and a womanizer...but what harm, really, was done to Italy? Some folks need something to believe in, and if something like this gives them hope...well, there are worse things.

It's not like a bunch of ignorant rednecks elevated a reality-show gimcrack to a god-like cult status and then elected him President.

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That is EXACTLY how I feel about it. Every word of what you wrote is printed on my heart. Also, it's none of my business what somebody else believes in, just as long as they don't try to foist their beliefs on me. But unfortunately, Americans are expert foisters.

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Oct 5, 2021Liked by Stacey Eskelin

Stacey, I venerate some of the Christian saints. One of my favorite saints is Saint Francis. I prefer St. Francis to Padre Pio, in the Historical Saints of Italy category.

Yesterday was St. Francis' feast day. Two nights ago, I posted a joke meme about how the Patron Saint of copying people on email is St. Francis of A CC. I did not know it was the anniversary of his death in 1226. He died so late in the day that the Vatican chose to honor him on October 4th. On the timeline, I also posted my two favorite works of art depicting St. Francis, the one by Bellini at the Frick in NYC, and the Giotto at the Louvre of St. Francis receiving the stigmata.

The church could not ignore St. Francis' insistence that the poor and that animals deserved better from humans because of the stigmata. The church fathers in their satin and lace would have much preferred to declare him a heretic, but the stigmata were conclusive: he was a saint.

So I am not surprised if Padre Pio did indeed fake his stigmata. Carbolic acid is still painful, although not as painful as nails all the way through.

I love St. Francis so much that I went to Assisi on one of my trips to Italy when I was a young woman, partly to see the incredible Giottos there. I loved it there, and would like to return.

I don't think it was at all accidental that I had a post up about St. Francis as his feast day dawned. Call it a happy coincidence. In general, I venerate female saints more than male ones, with a few exceptions like St. Francis, St. Michael, and St. Expedite.

I suggest you look up the Giotto in the Louvre online. Giotto was born slightly more than six decades after St. Francis, which is almost contemporaneous compared to the centuries between St. Francis and us. His painting is glorious, and my favorite part: Jesus is shown with the Many Wings formation sometimes seen in older Christian icons of saints. Lines are drawn showing the stigmata flowing from Jesus in the sky with many wings down to St. Francis' hands and feet.

It kind of looks like Jesus is a kite........ and St. Francis is flying him.

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I always learn something from you, Caroline. What a terrific post to this thread. And I wholeheartedly agree with you about St. Francis. How a society treats the most vulnerable among them (children, pets, the elderly) tells you everything you need to know about that society.

We went to Assisi, but didn't have the same experience you did. Too many Christian singing groups from America, and an overall creepy vibe. When John did a gig in Benevento once, he was SO weirded out, he got up in the middle of the night and left.

The spiritualized ego is a dangerous thing.

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