Padre Pio: Miracle Man

Last night, I watched Padre Pio:  Miracle Man in its 214-minute entirety.  It was probably one of the most well done movies I’ve seen in a long time (perhaps I’m biased because I like Padre Pio so much!).  The movie followed a lot of the life events that you would find in the standard Padre Pio biographies in print.

I was pleasantly surprised with the acting.  Sergio Castellitto, who plays Padre Pio, put together the man’s character in a way that was very believable.  For example, when I would read biographies on Padre Pio, I often wondered if the man had bipolar disorder:  one minute he was slapping someone or being very harsh in the confessional, and the next he seemed so gentle and caring about the poor.  I always had trouble getting a picture of a consistent personality for the great saint.  However, Castellitto ended my confusion by integrating those seemingly contradictory character traits into a consistent personality. 

The movie did something very interesting:  it minimized the importance of Padre Pio’s miracles.  Undoubtedly, several mentions were made to the miracles in the movie, and a few times the miracles happened on screen.  But there were no angels flying around, no visions of Mary, etc, and the miracles were not the main focus of the movie.  Only once was there a semi-dramatic build up to one of the miracles (where the little boy is brought back to life during Francesco’s childhood).  I was very grateful for this:  the focus of the movie was not on the miraculous aspects of the man’s life, but on his incredibly deep intimacy with God, his tenderness, his love for those around him.  To put it differently, I was pleased to see the producers say that the holiness of the man was more important than his miracles.

But even if the miraculous wasn’t highlighted, his encounters with the devil were.  Satan appeared several times on screen, tempting the minor friar the whole movie.  Since the devil was known to physically abuse Padre Pio, putting him in the movie was at the very least unavoidable.  Thankfully, his encounters with the devil weren’t just used as times to make the movie more lively; (which they did) rather, they served a purpose in setting forth one of the major themes of the movie, which is the fight against the creaping, faith-destroying rationalism so present in our modern times.  Presenting the devil as real is one way to do that.

I have been told by several people that I would be capable of living a number of vocations extraordinarily well; and yet, several people have told me point blank that I have nothing of what it takes to be a monk (nor do I usually have the desire to become one).  However, this movie was so powerful, and it did such a good job in portraying the poor friar’s sanctity that now even I want to be a monk…at least for the time being. 

If you have not seen the movie, take the time to do so.  If you appreciate it as much as I did, you will find yourself renewed in your Christian vocation and eager to grow closer to God.

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