If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone


PADRE PIO and the Dubious Stigmata

Did Pio Fake His Stigmata?
Pio was never observed 24/7 to make sure he was not making the stigmata "wounds" himself. The doctors who examined him merely said he had wounds or marks and they did not diagnose a cause. They could not when the observation was not done.
Padre Pio Under Investigation: Were there Wounds at all?
In pro-Pio book, Padre Pio Under Investigation, Francesco Castelli states that a Monsignor Rossi (in 1921) examined Pio's stigmata and found no wounds in the palms even though there was a scab of blood in each palm. Rossi found two white button like marks on the feet but no blood or wounds there. Rossi described the marks not as wounds but as the effusion of blood - like blood getting out through skin. How could he know that? He evidently saw the blood there and Pio said it must have come through the skin.
This book admits that Pio was ordering and keeping carbolic acid but says without proof that he needed it to sterilise needles. One would hold that as Rossi investigated in 1921 when Pio was still young, he could bear full stigmata. The assertion that Pio later on in life had the full wounds of Christ is strange in that context.
For this person it seems Pio settled for putting blood on his unbroken skin. For others he made actual wounds or sores.
[NOTE: In Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age page 105, 106 we read that Rossi found only a wine coloured triangle on Pio's side. He did not see the reversed cross shape that Romanelli said was there. On the feet where the nail marks would be expected there was only two spots of whiter and softer flesh than the rest of the skin. However he stated that the hand wounds were stigmata. My comment on that was that Pio seems to have conveniently had the best marks where they would most often be seen - in the hands! Moreover, Rossi incidentally rejected all the alleged miracles attributed to Pio such as bilocation (page 108, ibid).]
Padre Pio Under Investigation, says that Rossi found no lesions but yet Pio told him that his hands were very sore. Why would they be sore when there were no wounds but only scabs?
What physicians say carries more weight.
This book says that in order the doctors who examined the alleged wounds were
* Doctor Romanelli in 1919. Asserted there was a side wound "lacerated" and "linear". Stated that he thought the wounds in the hands went right through.
* Professor Bignami in 1919. Asserted there was no side wound - there was only a mark like abrasion. Denied there were any deep fissures. Father Lemius who was investigating Pio for Rome agreed (page 96, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). Bignami did not see any bleeding during this examination (page 100, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism).  Another source says Bignami was perturbed a halo of iodine marks around the hand wounds but Pio said it helped stem bleeding and disinfect (if the wounds were a miracle then that was a lie for he said the wounds were untreatable and not prone to infection anyway and if it were the truth then the wounds were indeed faked).  He was definite in his negative conclusion about the miracle, ""This seems to be the most reliable interpretation of the facts that I have observed. In any case one can affirm that there is nothing in the alterations of the skin as described that cannot be the product of a morbid state and of the action of well-known chemical agents."
* Doctor Festa in 1919. He contradicted Romanelli who said the wounds in the hands went right through. Asserted there was no side wound. Denied there were any deep fissures.
* Doctor Festa conducted a second examination in 1920.
* Doctor Festa conducted a third examination in 1925.
They did not agree on what they saw in relation to the side wound and the feet wounds. Sometimes the wounds were described as stab marks. Other times they were thought to be just the result of bleeding out of unbroken skin. In other words, they were not wounds. One would wonder why the marks would change so much in the space of the year 1919. It sounds like he was making them himself. Why should Bignami and Festa see a cut in the shape of an upside down cross when they looked at the side wound and why should Rossi see no wound but only a red triangular mark?
The same book Padre Pio Under Investigation contains a Vatican file that says Pio had no real sores on his body. But it says Pio said the marks were very painful. That is hard to believe. The pain was probably an excuse to stop people being too curious about the marks. It was to deter examination.
Vatican document 21 in the book from 1921 states that Pio had no skin lesions at all. It says he bled as if through the skin. A mark was found on the chest but no piercing of the skin. Fr Lorenzo did this investigation and swore to the truth of the statement.
Pio’s Provincial said he would testify on oath that he could see through Pio’s hand wounds (page 68, The Bleeding Mind). But no doctor ever could so that is worthless. And seeing through a hole encrusted with blood is impossible. A piece of a mirror in the middle of the encrusted blood could be used to give the impression that the hand could be seen through just like a magician could do it. The Provincial took an oath that it was the truth. He lied under oath - period.
Most physicians believed Pio's wounds were superficial. The determination was made difficult by their supposed painfulness and their being covered by "thick crusts" of what was thought to be blood. A distinguished pathologist sent by the Holy See noted that beyond the scabs was a lack of "any sign of edema, of penetration, or of redness, even when examined with a good magnifying glass." Indeed, he concluded that the side "wound" had not penetrated the skin at all. And while in life Pio perpetually kept his "wounds" concealed (wearing fingerless gloves on his hands), at death there was only unblemished skin (Ruffin 1982, 146-154, 305). Reason bids us believe the doctors who said the wounds were superficial for that would explain why they were not septic – as can carbolic acid! It would explain why there was not a mark on Pio when he died. When there is conflict of testimony the testimony that is closest to a rational or simplest interpretation has to be preferred. We are surer that there were no blemishes on Pio when he died than we are that he had deep wounds when he was alive. This makes us see that the only reasonable assumption is that Pio did not have deep wounds.
It is absurd to think that the wounds may have changed - they would not change so much as from superficial to complete perforations if they were miraculous. They might change if they were natural.
Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, page 158, tells us how Pio fanatic Brunatto wrote that it was amazing to watch Pio pick up wooden balls while playing a shot putting game with the friars during the summer days. Who in their right mind would believe Pio was telling the truth about the wounds being painful after learning that?

Pio supposedly lost a cupful of blood every day from all the wounds and especially the side-wound (Padre Pio, page 6). The side wound did most of the bleeding. Yet his hand wounds were caked in blood, which is strange considering that he cleaned them with iodine. Also the scabs are huge. They didn’t bleed that much so the caking in blood was just something he deliberately produced for one of his accidentally-on-purpose exposures of the hand wounds. It had to be for the caking was avoidable. He could have used bandages to soak up the blood. He wanted the mess. If the scabs were too small it would have been harder for the wounds to be "accidentally" snapped by a photographer. All this sounds like manipulations to make people think he really was bleeding a fair bit.
Was Dr Romanelli Reliable?
Romanelli claimed the hand wounds may have gone through the hands.
Dr. Alberto Caserta took X-rays of the hands in 1954. Nothing strange was found about the bone structure. A wound going through would have had to go through the bone.
The doctors who examined the supposed wounds did not agree on whether or not fingers could meet through the hands. Dr Romanelli could not get his fingers through because it caused too much pain for poor Pio but he said that feeling the fissures suggested that there was a void between them (The Bleeding Mind, page 68). But he could not penetrate them for there was what appeared to be a thin membrane across the fissure (The Stigmata and Modern Science, page 14). He only thought it was a membrane for he could not see or feel through it so was it a blister or just the skin? Real stigmata would not have a membrane for Jesus had open holes. If Pio had been using chemicals to make the wounds then it is clear we are not talking about ordinary hands here and so the chemicals might have affected the skin in such a way that the hands seemed very soft or perhaps a blister was created thus creating the illusion of a void for there is no sense easier to fool than touch. The doctor would have been very excited by Pio and might have imagined things – it is very very easy to delude your sense of touch. For example, you can imagine a ghost touching the back of your neck if you think you are in a haunted house and it will seem real.  Romanelli did not confirm that there were miraculous open wounds. He only guessed that the wounds might be open.
The hand wound supposedly went through the hand. Nobody ever said he could press on the front and back entry of the wound and get his fingers to touch one another through the hole. Romanelli tried. But with the priest crying and struggling and wincing with the alleged pain would it have been done right? Romanelli assumed that his fingers would meet if he tried harder but was afraid to for Pio was in great pain (page 14, The Stigmata and Modern Science). So Romanelli was only assuming.
Doctor Romanelli described his opinion that there was a fissure as being an impression for he said he got the impression of a void (page 7, The Bleeding Mind). He further underlined this by saying he could not feel properly for a complete fissure for Padre Pio found the examination which entailed trying to insert fingers into the wounds very painful. The doctor stated that he could not tell if the wounds on each side of the hand were joined. All he could tell was that there was a wound on each side of the hand he examined and each wound was deep but could not be sure.
The Church does not hide the fact that Romanelli said Pio had a cut on the side which corresponded to Jesus having being pierced with a lance and this claim has not been supported by the other investigators who merely saw a mark not a wound and the other doctors saw no wound at all. This information is verified in Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age by Sergio Luzzato (pages 89 to 94) and in pro-Pio books. The excuse that Pio's wounds were miraculously superficial one time and deep the next stinks of Catholic desperation. Romanelli was unreliable. He could lie knowing that all he had to do was say something inexplicable was going on and it would just be his word for it. Romanelli had been getting Pio to pray for him months before he investigated him and he even asked him why the prayers had not be answered (page 37, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). Even on Catholic terms that is superstitious. It is said that God's ways are a mystery. Romanelli was obviously determined to experience the supernatural and to verify it even at the expense of truth!
If a doctor thinks something is happening that is contrary to what is known of medicine and anatomy, he could get careless. After all, if something odd is happening and he says there is a hole where there is no hole he will get away with it.
How convenient that Pio was not put under anaesthesia for examination of the wounds. That shows that neither Pio or those who organised the tests, including the good doctor, were very particular though they did their best to look particular and that Pio was not seriously interested in having the wounds cured for as far as he was concerned he knew how to handle them. Pio wanted the appearance of being verified as a true stigmatist. And Pio was able to undergo two operations without anaesthetic which is a phenomenon known as auto-anaesthesia (page 89, The Bleeding Mind) – many people with trained minds are - which makes his behaviour very suspicious. It looks as if he wanted to use the pain as an excuse for getting the tests rushed and to prevent anything suspicious being found. It paid off.
The Church authorities did not accept Romanelli's claim that the stigmata seem to be supernatural (page 37, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age) so they got Professor Bignami in to investigate as they considered him a more reliable authority as he was not a Catholic like Romanelli but possibly an atheist (page 38, ibid).
Romanelli’s testimony was used in the canonisation process to prove that Pio did not knowingly make fake stigmata. The Church is still open to the idea that Pio may have had problems and did it unawares. But I think that view is far-fetched. If he did it, it was a deliberate ongoing deception. The testimony of Romanelli should not have been used for Romanelli was being totally biased when he said he was certain Pio’s wounds were not superficial but deep when he himself admitted he could not prove it! The attempted finger penetration would have been done very quickly for the sake of the pain so a mistake could have been made. And that is exactly what happened!
There is no doubt for miracle believers that the testimony of Romanelli is the only one that is worth examining for it is detailed and comes nearest to supporting the idea of real deep miracle wounds. He is the only leg that the pro-Pio devotees have to stand on to "verify" the alleged great depth of the wounds. We have disposed of Romanelli’s reliability and we know too much has been read into what he recorded. Remember when we try to refute his testimony, that is all we really need to do to succeed in proving that there is insufficient justification for holding that Pio really had miracle wounds. After all, his was the only one that was nearly any good. So we can be confident that Pio’s wounds were superficial and that naturally he exaggerated the pain from them to avoid detection and so he was consciously deceiving.
Why Festa Thought the Stigmata Supernatural
Festa was a believer in Pio.
Festa tried to help reverse the trend of scepticism towards him as exercised by the Vatican.
A Vatican report in the book, Padre Pio Under Investigation, says that Dr Festa described the wounds as like burns or brandmarks. And it mentions Dr Romanelli who said they were probably open wounds that went right through the hands. Festa specifically said that if Romanelli had been right, Pio would not have been able to move some of his fingers.
Doctor George Festa in 1919 found Pio had a mark on his breast that was not a wound but from which there were some drops of blood issuing. He didn't say but he would have theorised that Pio put the blood there from elsewhere.
Festa however regarded the marks as supernatural. He reached this opinion merely from the fact that the marks were perfumed (page 139, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). He obviously just took Pio's word for it that no cologne had been applied!
Stigmata expert, Father Gemelli - who believed that the only convincing stigmatist was St Francis of Assisi, was annoyed at Festa's research for he thought it was biased in favour of recognising the stigmata as supernatural (page 140, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). Gemelli observed that marks of the same nature as Pio's were common among soldiers who were using caustic substances to make sores on themselves (page 140, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age - it is interesting to observe that Pio had been a priest-soldier before the stigmata appeared. Was this his chemistry school as to how to make deliberate wounds or marks? ). Gemelli wrote that there was no doubt that the marks were caused by erosion through application of some caustic substance. "The base of the sore and its shape are in every way similar to the sores observed in soldiers who procured them with chemical means. The colour of the base, the shape of the margins, their thickness, etc. all suggest this."
Festa saw drops of blood (page 100, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism). He was careful to say that the blood on the side did not mean there was a wound. It looks to the sceptic as if Pio was doing what loads of fake stigmatists do. They make themselves bleed in one place and put the blood on other places.
Context: Roman Catholic stigmatist and miracle-worker and saint-to-be Pio needs a hernia operation. Bits that make Pio look suspicious are in red.
All parties agreed that the operation should take place in the friary. When Dr. Festa had arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo a week earlier, he saw a Brother whitewashing the walls of a room, and joked with him that it would make a good operating room. “I never dreamed,” Dr. Festa said later, “that it was being prepared for Padre Pio’s operation.”
A friend brought Dr. Festa’s surgical instruments from Rome, and Dr. Angelo Merla arrived to assist him. Padre Fortunato, who had been in the medical corps during the war, also helped. A layman, Emanuele Brunatto, was stationed at the door as sentry.
Everything was ready for the operation – everything except the patient. He was busy hearing many confessions that morning. He also chanted a Requiem Mass for the deceased benefactors of the Capuchin Order, and gave Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Finally, at noon, he retired to the friary.
“We saw him approaching, walking very slowly,” Dr. Festa reports. “He was pallid from the sustained fatigue of the morning and from the physical pain which the hernia and his stigmata caused him.”
When Padre Pio entered the makeshift operating room, he emphatically refused any anaesthetic. “If you chloroform me,” he challenged Dr. Festa, “how could I keep you from inspecting the wound in my side? You see, I have reason not to take an anaesthetic. Don’t worry. When you’re finished, you will find me in the same place where you put me in the beginning.”
For at least a modicum of relief, Dr. Festa offered Padre Pio a drink of Benedictine. Padre Pio drank it right out of the bottle.
“Drink a little more,” the doctor urged. “No, that’s sufficient,” Padre Pio answered, “Otherwise we risk an internal scuffle between the Benedictine and the Capuchin.”
The operation lasted almost two hours. Padre Pio never complained.
“Only once,” Dr. Festa reported, “I saw two tears roll down his cheeks as he lay there and groaned: ‘Jesus, pardon me if I don’t know how to suffer as I should.’” During the operation, everyone in the room heard an insect buzzing and scurried around to find it. “It’s not a fly,” Padre Pio said. “It’s a mosquito, there, up there, in the corner of the window,” and he pointed at it.
While the doctor was putting in the stitches after the operation, a local veterinarian, Dr. Alessandro Giuva, tried to enter the room, but the stout guard Brunatto stopped him. Tempers rose and shouts were exchanged. Padre Pio heard the commotion and called out: “If you want to take my place, Alessandro, you can come in. The table is still warm.”
Giuva blushed. He too, had a hernia, but out of shame he had never mentioned it to anyone.
After the operation, Padre Pio was walked back to his room. There he collapsed, unconscious. Now Dr. Festa had his chance. “I confess that during this period,” the doctor admitted, “I took advantage of his condition and explored the wound over his heart, which I had reported on five years earlier. I was able to observe the same characteristics that I had noted then. For the love of truth and exactness, I must add only that the soft skin of the scab, which covered the wound on the left side two inches from under the nipple in the preceding examination, has not fallen off. This wound now appears fresh and of a vermillion color, in the form of a cross, and with short but conspicuous rays which spread out from the edges of the wound.”
SOURCE Rev. John A. Schug OFM Cap., PADRE PIO.
Note: Festa did not think that Pio was faking the stigmata.
Festa said that Pio was weak and slow that day from the pain of the hernia and the stigmata and the religious duties he performed. It was okay to say the hernia and the over-exertion were causes. Festa had no right to assume the stigmata had made an input for he was not sure what their current state was. There was no examination taken of them that week. He was being unprofessional and biased. He had stated in the past that the wounds were surface wounds.
Pio refusing to take a general anaesthetic in case Festa would take a look at the stigmata mark on his side is bizarre. Pio had rights as a patient and just needed to get the doctor to sign an agreement that he would not do it. Also, if Festa needed to bare him up to the mark to do the operation then he had to do it whether Pio would be conscious or not. Pio is telling us that he does not trust Festa. That is very profound mistrust. A doctor has the right and duty to examine any problems on your body before he operates in case he does further damage. How could you do a hernia operation if you suspected or thought the patient had a wound like a spear thrust through his body?
Pio's fear of the wound been seen again is bizarre when Festa had already seen it five years before. What difference did it make? A man who would refuse anaesthetic over a trivial fear is not mentally well. No wonder Rome said he was a nut. He fits the bill for somebody who might enjoy the challenge of inflicting crucifixion marks on himself.
Pio's endurance during the surgery is impressive but non-saints have displayed such endurance too. They did not neck a bottle of alcohol beforehand like Pio did for Dutch courage and they did not all collapse afterwards and go out cold like he did. Pio went unconscious in his room - the pressure of enduring surgery without anaesthetic had finally had its effect. It proves that his endurance was not a miracle but down to determination.
Pio cried once during the surgery according to Festa who had also heard him pray that he could not suffer as he should. Pio then was admitting it was nightmarishly hard. Why should surgery be any worse than having magical crucifixion wounds through your hands and feet and side? At least the surgery would have a purpose and that would make it more bearable. And it would not be long-term torment.
Festa claimed that he took advantage when Pio was unconscious and looked at the wound and said it was the same as five years earlier. Festa was always clear that there was no side wound. This book says he did say there was a wound. Even if he did, it says nothing about it being deep. And would Festa really admit to sneaking a look? I'd like to see if the book is really faithfully reporting what Festa said. How reliable was Festa if he was that sneaky? Nevertheless, the tale of a superficial side wound rings true. Pio had no reason to ban him from looking unless Pio wanted people to think it was deep when it was only on the surface of his body.
Bignami and the Alleged Wounds
Professor Bignami found superficial wounds on Pio's breast and hands and feet. He agreed with Festa that there were no deep fissures (page 100, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism). Pio’s stigmata is unsatisfactory. There is nothing remarkable about it (page 100, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism).
Bignami came up with an interesting diagnosis. The hand wounds were not deep but in the epidermis. They were caused by a condition called multiple neurotic necrosis (page 38, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). Suggestion and iodine were put forward as the means by which the wounds were symmetrical and well-placed and prevented from healing (page 39, ibid). He did not find any necrosis on the foot marks or in the side but merely what appeared to be pigmented skin. He thought these marks brown in colour were made by some irritating substance such as tincture of iodine (page 39, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age).
Bignami found it necessary to get a Father Paolino to go to Pio's cell and take away the tincture of iodine (page 41, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age ). Priests bound Pio's wounds to stop him making him and the wounds stayed the same and didn't heal. The following Thursday they went bright red and he started to bleed (page 41, ibid).
He did not regard the stigmata as supernatural or even inexplicable. But he did not provide any hard evidence or medical evidence that Pio was innocent of making the marks to defraud. He rejected fraud because of the "impression of sincerity that Padre Pio has made on me." This is in no way scientific.
But he did say that the wounds were both pathological and caused by some innocent action of Pio: "We can in fact think that the lesions as described first began as a pathological condition (multiple ‘necrosi neurotiche’ of the skin), and then perhaps by a process of unconscious suggestion, they came to completion in a symmetrical form, and are now maintained artificially by a chemical means, for example with tincture of iodine." He added in his report, "This seems to be the most reliable interpretation of the facts that I have observed. In any case one can affirm that there is nothing in the alterations of the skin as described that cannot be the product of a morbid state and of the action of well-known chemical agents."
Against that it is said that Pio was bandaged and sealed for days to see if the wounds would heal and they did not. During that time, Pio was supposedly unable to put anything on them. They were checked every morning in case there was any tampering. Pio to stop the healing had simply to put on a good dose of chemicals before the bandages went on and could have been topping up when the bandages were being changed. Hitting his body hard where the wounds were against a table corner would have stopped healing. A person's wounds being slow to heal is common enough.
Pio using Healing Treatments for the Stigmata
Pio even took on healing treatments for the wounds (page 9, Who is Padre Pio? page 7, The Bleeding Mind). This may indicate that Pio was trying to pretend the marks were miraculously staying put despite the intervention of medicine. Or it indicates that Pio did not see them as a miracle. To look for a cure would be like defying God who may have originated the wounds ie a sin. His supporters suppose he just took the treatments to convince the sceptics that the wounds were real and miraculous but that would not stop them being sceptical for he could have kept them open with acidic solutions. What Pio was really up to was this: he was trying to persuade people that he did not make the wounds himself and accordingly wanted to get them cured. Pio with his masochistic penances and the absence of infection in the wounds could not seriously expect us to believe that he really wanted a cure. I repeat Pio was giving a false impression of himself and his wounds. He was being very manipulative.
Pio Lets it Slip that Wounds are not Miraculous
Pio told a couple of young girls to listen to their father who warned them that kissing his hand would lead to infection (Who is Padre Pio? page 37). This is a denial of the supernatural nature of the marks. It shows that he feared they could turn septic. More importantly, it shows he knew far more than he let on about the nature of the wounds. Perhaps he had overdone the wounding and did get infections though this immunity to disease is boasted by the followers of Pio to prove that he had miracle stigmata. Pio was indicating then that there were times the wounds turned septic that only he knew about. When Pio lied to the girls and when he knew fine well that loads of people do dirty things with no harmful effects and that the risk was nothing it shows he did not like anybody seeing his wounds too closely at least at that particular time. The wounds would naturally look more convincing at some times rather than others and especially if he was making them himself.

Rome expressed scepticism about the wounds in 1923
In 1923, Rome declared that nothing supernatural had been proven about the wounds. The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office decreed in Acta Apostolicae Sedis that “after due investigation” that nothing supernatural had been determined in relation to Pio and that the faithful must accept this (page 99, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism). This is very important for less was known then about magic tricks and chemicals that keep wounds open and the power of the mind than is known now. The wounds then would have seemed supernatural indeed for the same reason that the cures for smallpox would have seemed miraculous to many. This shows that the Church did find indications of possible fakery. For believers, the Vatican is to be considered reliable if it says the wounds are inexplicable but unreliable if it says they may have been faked. Rational! And the Vatican to this day has not definitively accepted the wounds as supernatural. If proof appears that he faked the wounds the Church will say that he made them unwillingly and without intentional fraud for he is a saint so we can put this down to his psychological problems.
People were not allowed to interview Pio or write about him in Church decrees issued in 1926 and 1931. Yet in the early days of the stigmata Pio once claimed that the wounds were painful for the Lord did not give them to him for a decoration (page 9, Who is Padre Pio?). He was declaring the wounds were from God which was something that only the Church had the right to decide. Pio was not very bright and he knew he was not a theologian, psychologist or a doctor. Many would say this is evidence of his arrogance and false respect for the Church.
The End Comes...
Believers claim that when Pio’s health deteriorated in old age the stigmata marks began to fade. This was observed in summer 1968 so that by the time he died there was no trace of the stigmata (page 283, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). Maybe he was less particular in making them or was to ill to do so! Incredibly at the Mass of 20 September 1968, it was noticed that Pio had no marks at all on his hands.

The sources say that the healing of the stigmata was gradual. The bleeding slowly stopped as well. There is nothing unusual about bleeding wounds healing.
Dr Sala had a look and the hands and feet and chest of Pio's corpse and found the healing was complete. The skin had no trace at all of wounding. Dr Sala stated that the healing was an even greater miracle than the stigmata itself and claimed that where there had been only decaying flesh and indeed no flesh at all, fresh new tissue had regenerated. Now any reasonable person would take this perfect skin as proof that there never had been deep fissures in the first place. And even more so when no doctor confirmed definitely that Pio had deep fissures. Dr Sala is being unprofessional.
Sala himself had not examined the wounds so now he just takes it for granted than the legend about the wounds being right through Pio's body was true. That is bias of the highest order. The unprofessionalism is stunning.
Pio died a few days later. Fr Carmelo found that there was no indication left on the corpse that the wounds had ever been there (page 283, ibid). Such was the dishonesty of the Church that it had mittens put on the hands in the coffin as if the marks were still there and still had to be concealed! The excuse was to prevent the faithful coming to hasty conclusions about the absent stigmata.
Did those who had authority over the wake fear that the faithful might conclude that the stigmata was a hoax? That is unlikely. The real reason was that as the official position was that the stigmata was possibly natural and not miraculous it was hoped to discourage the faithful from putting a supernatural interpretation on the disappearance of the stigmata.
Some Thoughts


The Padre Pio stigmata case is interesting and also disturbing. Why are people so fond of lying to themselves and others that miracles and magic happen and are very believable? Why do so many have no conscience about such a thing? Why do they distort facts and lie and bully those who doubt or seek evidence against the alleged miracles and magic? They like feeling chummy with some magical entity such as God or Jesus or Pio. It gives them the illusion of power. Its about feelings. The sceptic is the one whose honour stands out. She sacrifices the illusion of security and control in order to put truth first. There are some dishonest sceptics yes. Our distaste for the arrogance of seeking a sense of control over the uncontrollable must not be allowed to drive us to such duplicity.


The burden of proof is on those who say the stigmata could not have had a prosaic explanation.


The burden of proof is on the person claiming the phenomenon is real, rather than the person offering possible explanations of how it is faked. We sceptics see no proof or at least evidence of an impressive quality for the miraculous nature of the marks. The evidence we are offered is an insult. Interpretations are thrown at us and called evidence. Sceptics are insulted and accused of being NECESSARILY biased against Pio. Just because the burden of proof is not on us we are slandered and our integrity impugned. Sceptics can be unjustly biased but not always.


Honest sceptics are not biased for its not their fault that the burden of proof is on the believers. It is not bias to expect those who say Pio's marks were miracles to give us proper evidence before we will believe. They are the one's who are biased and they are trying to bully us. Our critical examination of Pio is self-defence.
Pio was only officially investigated three times and that was in 1919. If he was a fake, he just needed to fool people that year and it would be easier afterwards. The evidence is this is what happened.
There is no evidence but Pio's testimony that the wounds appeared suddenly. There is no evidence of major tissue modifications and the unblemished skin when he died would indicate that the evidence is against. There is no evidence that Pio tried to treat them with the aid of a doctor. Any help given by a doctor would only be as good or as bad as Pio would let it be. There is no evidence that the wounds bled. If he made the side wound that could have been used to make the hands seem to bleed. The absence of infection means nothing. There was no sudden disappearance of the wounds. Their perfect disappearance could be down to them not having been real in the first place. Nothing matches even the Church criteria for supernatural stigmata.
Pio was surrounded by adulation from the start of his career as a saint to be. It led him to the pious fraud of the stigmata and sustained him in keeping it up. Had his stigmata been real, it would have been holes like those made by nails. Nobody was able to put the finger right through the hand wounds. Unbelievers are accused of never being satisfied with the evidence for the supernatural. That is not true. We would recognise somebody who had a hole right through their hand that say vanished in later years completely like Pio's did as something not naturally possible so we would see it as supernatural. We have no reason to believe in Pio's stigmata as supernatural. The Church never hid the fact that Pio had access to chemicals with which to make the marks. It simply refused to believe he was using them for that purpose. It is like saying that somebody who is 90 years of age and who has brown hair is telling the truth that they are not dying their hair even though they keep bottles of dye in their bathroom. Pio was maliciously deceptive as his fake stigmata enabled him to popularise the Catholic notion that suffering is to be welcomed. He soon learned that hiding the alleged marks won him more fame as religious people love mysteries and displays of humility whether real or intended. There is no evidence that he had the marks apart from the few times he let them be seen. There are plenty of Catholic religious claims about miracles and apparitions in the world. But why is it the ones where people are caught faking are very few and far between? There should be more of them. When Spiritualism started out, its reports about miracles were put to the test and one loved medium after another was exposed as a fraud. The Catholics then are ignoring signs of faking or saying nothing. How can we be expected to trust Pio?
On June 17, 1921, Pio took an oath on the gospels that he never suffered from nervous disorders and that he never used perfumes though he smelled of perfume. He swore on the gospels that he did not make the stigmata marks. If we can cast doubt on his veracity, then he is guilty of swearing to the truth of lies before his God. And we can. Pio was a liar of the most manipulative kind.


Liars (yes you Ms. Tornielli!) in the Church rationalise all his lies away.  They even accuse Luzzato of not mentioning how Pio said what he wanted the chemicals for.   He did.  They fear that Pio may have been using them for their intended purpose but also for a darker purpose - to fake the stigmata.