Thursday, September 23, 2010

Feast Day: St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Maybe better known as Padre Pio, St. Pio is a modern saint.  An Italian of humble origin, Pio grew up during the turbulent times of world wars and domestic uprisings.  He received the stigmata for a short time in 1910 at the age of 23, one month after his ordination as a priest in the Capuchins.  In 1918, the visible signs of the stigmata, including the transverberation (wounding of the heart, a sign of complete union of love with God), were to remain with him for the next 50 years.

Padre Pio was an amazing priest, confessor and spiritual director.  His story is wonderfully told in the docudrama, Padre Pio: the Miracle Man ... a DVD in Italian with subtitles (but don't let that scare you away as you get so caught up in the story, you  forget they're not speaking English!).  Pio is amazingly acted by Sergio Castelitto (Miraz in Prince Caspian).  Another excellent movie, and well worth the time to watch is Padre Pio: Between Heaven and Earth -- this was an Italian made-for-TV movie that drew ana amazing 12 million Italian viewers when it aired.

A short but excellent book to read about this Capuchin is Padre Pio by Fabrizio Contessa written just after his beatification in 1999.  JptheGreat declared him a saint in 2002.

[NOTE: Please be aware that the movies and book linked above are quite graphic when portraying the stigmata -- bleeding hands and feet -- and the battles Pio fought with the Devil.  These images may not be suitable for young children. ]

A final word from St. Pio of Pietrelcina:
"Always humble yourself lovingly before God and man, because God speaks to those who are truly humble of heart, and enriches them with His gifts."
For his feast day, we are baking Traditional Tuscan Biscotti a la Padre Pio ... a batch of cookies we'll bring to social after morning Mass today and save one or two for dad for this evening!  Here's the recipe:
Traditional Tuscan Biscotti a la Padre Pio

• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 cups flour
• 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1 1/2 cups whole unblanched almonds
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Add almonds and chocolate chips. In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla; add the cooled melted butter. Fold egg mixture into the dry ingredient mixture. Stir until dough is stiff. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and split in two. Roll each piece into a log around the same length as your baking sheet.

Place the logs on the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Make sure to leave plenty of room between them. Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and let cool. Using a sharp chopping knife, slice each log into 1/3" slices diagonally (a little messy around the almonds!). Place (cut side down) on the baking sheet. Bake for another 15-20 minutes at 350, until crispy.

These are amazing with a cup of strong Italian coffee!


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