Excerpted from: The Voice of Padre Pio
Toward the end of April 1959 a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that had come specially from Fatima was traveling all over Italy by helicopter, stopping at the provincial capitals. But San Giovanni Rotondo is not a provincial capital. The statue would visit Foggia, where a reception was planned for Our Lady. Padre Pio could not go to visit because just when the statue arrived in Italy, Padre Pio was struck down by a bad attack of pleurisy, that made it impossible for him to even celebrate Mass from 5 May onwards. And the illness continued so that he was still prostrate when our Lady arrived in Puglia.
But could the Mother with an Immaculate Heart so sensitive and delicate not visit her dearest son, Padre Pio? And the extraordinary exception, the change of schedule was granted!
The arrival of the Marian statue was fixed for 5 August. The people had to be prepared to receive our Lady with great fervor, with immense joy, with filial love and abundant spiritual fruits.
During the morning of 6 August, the Padre was able to go down to the church. He stopped in front of the statue of our Lady—but had to sit down because he was exhausted—and he gave her a gold rosary. The statue was lowered before his face and he was able to kiss her. It was a most affectionate gesture. Between two and three in the afternoon, the helicopter carrying the statue of our Lady rose from the terrace of the Home for Relief of Suffering headed for Sicily. It did three turns over the crowd and flew away.
From a window Padre Pio watched the helicopter fly away with eyes filled with tears. To our Lady in flight Padre Pio lamented with a confidence that was all his own: “My Lady, my Mother, you came to Italy and I got sick, now you are going away and you leave me still ill.”
At that instant he felt a shudder in all his person, that as long as he lived he repeated: “In that very instant I felt a sort of shudder in my bones which cured me immediately.” His Spiritual Father confirmed it saying: “In that moment the Padre felt a mysterious force in his body and said to his confreres: ‘I am cured’.” He was healthy and strong as never before in his life.
Informed about an article that appeared in Foggia, which asked why Our Lady of Fatima had gone to San Giovanni Rotondo and not the shrine of Saint Michael at Monte Sant’Angelo, Padre Pio explained with enchanting simplicity: “Our Lady came here because she wanted to cure Padre Pio.”