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Many Irish grateful to Padre Pio.

Thursday, October 11st, 2007

A newly published book recounts the personal stories of twenty-five Irish people who have experienced miracles, cures and visions which they attribute to Saint Pio.

Padre Pio: the Irish Connection by journalist and broadcaster Colm Keane reveals the stories behind many unexplained events in the lives of Pio devotees.

The author spent over a year intensively researching the study and met devotees in twenty-five different counties in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

They include Mona Hanafin, the mother of Education Minister Mary Hanafin and wife of former senator and pro-life activist Des Hanafin.

Mrs Hanafin describes how she credits Padre Pio with her recovery from cancer to which she succumbed in 1963 when she was only in her twenties.

She said she had been "very, very ill" and was advised she would have to have her womb removed immediately if she were to stand any chance of recovery.

She travelled with her mother to San Giovanni Rotondo in Italy where the famous monk was based and attended Mass during which he removed his glove and blessed the church.

Mrs Hanafin also met him privately afterwards and he laid his hand on her head.

When she returned home from the trip, she found her condition had deteriorated, she had a temperature of 106 and was rushed to hospital in Dublin after disembarking.

"They gave me the last rites and they sent for my family and my husband. They said: 'She won't pull through'. But I did come through the following morning."

"When I came to, the cancer had gone. That is over forty years ago. I never got it back."

Mrs Hanafin promised Padre Pio that in thanksgiving she would bring groups of pilgrims to San Giovanni and has been doing this since 1968.

Another beneficiary of Padre Pio's intercession, Jack McCarthy from Tralee, Co. Kerry, has a similarly remarkable story which he revealed to Colm Keane for the book.

Mr McCarthy and his family believe his leg - and his life - were saved by St Pio after he became seriously ill with a disease of the arteries some years ago.

He was then in his mid-70s and told the leg would have to be amputated and his general prognosis was bleak.

The day before he was due to have surgery, his wife, Ella, and his daughter Rosalyn O'Mahoney sourced a mitten that had been owned by Padre Pio.

The mitten, they all believe, saved Mr McCarthy's leg and most likely his very life.

"I went to Daddy with the mitten and he caught it in his hand and he kissed it," recalls Ms O'Mahoney in the book.

"He said prayers and he rubbed it profusely up and down his leg and kissed the mitten again."

The following day, Mr McCarthy was taken to the theatre but returned with his leg intact.

"I also absolutely believe that Padre Pio is a miracle man. It is definitely through the power of prayer that Daddy is still alive. And I do believe that it was a miracle that his leg was saved" said Ms O'Mahoney.

Padre Pio: the Irish Connection is published by Mainstream Publishing. Royalties from the  book are being donated to the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People in Church Street, Dublin.