Padre Pio: Two Books Compared

I have now finished “Saint Padre Pio, Man of Hope” in the latest version of Renzo Allegri. I had bought it some time ago, but never came to reading it, likely because I found the Ruffin book (“Padre Pio, The True Story”) so well written that it would be difficult to surpass it.

All in all, I’d say that that the Allegri work is a good one, but the Ruffin one is a much better one and, if you want to buy a book about the life of Padre Pio, I would recommend the latter.

The difference between the two books I can easily discern (I have read the Ruffin years ago, though I keep coming back to it again and again for single parts) are the following:

  1. The Ruffin book gives a very vivid description of the environment in which Padre Pio found himself to operate. The explosive mixture of ignorance, superstition, arrogance, violence, poverty and corruption the saintly man had to endure is very vividly present to the mind of an Italian reader, who knows his people with their good and bad sides. However, without the description of all the, ahem, “quirks” of the local populace it is difficult to understand why the Holy Office would see Padre Pio with suspicion, or try to protect him from the fanaticism of the mob, or try to avoid the hysterical “cult” (and the frauds, with the awful “relic” business) that was developing around the saintly man. Renzo Allegri’s work says very little about it, and frankly describes it in a rosewater way that makes a reader wonder how the Holy Office could “persecute” Padre Pio (fact: Padre Pio had enemies and slanderers, but a lot of what was done from Rome was done to, actually, protect the man).
  2. The Allegri book is a revised version, modified in the last years, and it’s too much V II for my liking. You are told how good the future JP II was to Padre Pio (good for him!), and how devout Francis is of the guy! You don’t say, Renzo, old boy!! I must say, I vomited a little bit inside my mouth as I read that.
  3. The Ruffin goes in detail about Padre Pio’s opinion of the Aggiornamento. There are brutal sentences there. There are moving episodes. Not one word on this in the other book. You’d think the entire V II process did not make any impression, or cause any reaction, in the great Saint.
  4. The Ruffin book has several more instances of Padre Pio’s frank and very direct behaviour than Allegri’s one. One can clearly see that Allegri did not want to give his readers the sharpest angles of the everyday Padre Pio, the one who slapped people in the face, shouted in church, or threw sandals around the classroom (however, it has the delightful episode of the woman left by her husband…). I am Italian, and I assure you that a saint who slaps people in the face (when it has to be), shouts in church (when it has to be to get people to shut up: see above about the antics of the populace), and throws sandals around the classroom is as authentic, as unashamedly Italian, and as wonderfully tasty as Tiramisu’; but, in the case of a saint, it is obviously better still.
  5. Ruffin goes where Allegri does not: the militant anticommunism and anti-homosexualism of Padre Pio are not really mentioned. Big minus points here.
  6. Ms Pyle is mentioned, in the lesser book, only once. I don’t think this is a honest representation of a collaboration that went on for decades.
  7. The last chapters in Allegri’s book want to make the Church look bad for putting Padre Pio’s beatification on ice for ten years after his death, as if the Church had to be worried about beatifying great saints in double quick time so that their followers are not upset. I think this is unfair, and a worrying indication of a “santo subito”– mentality. Again, so very V II. We have seen where that goes…

Mind: I am not saying that the “man of hope” book is wasted money. However, to me this is the book you read *after* you have read the Ruffin, just to have a different perspective.

Be it as it may, delving into the life and times of this great Saint is always a very instructive, edifying, and unforgettable experience. It’s amazing that, in the midst of the godless XX Century, God gave us a Saint of such colossal, and I mean colossal magnitude.

A Saint who will help us, too, who have to live in the midst of the utterly mad, and utterly perverted XXI Century.

Posted on January 2, 2022, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Good Shepherds, Traditional Catholicism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the book review…there are people in my life who love Padre Pio (we have a shrine near us here in Pennsylvania). A good Christmas gift…the Ruffin book:+) God bless~

  2. I have read your bog for a few years now, since Francis came to the scene. Being Italian American I guess your style, intelligence and frankness is what I would expect from my own father or brother. Something I would expect sitting around the kitchen table enjoying an espresso with my family. Be assured you are in my prayers.

    • Many thanks, Donald. Yes, my talking is the one you would expect at an Italian table, after Sunday lunch, as the fragrance of the coffee slowly fills the kitchen…

  3. I read the Man of Hope and really liked it. Now I have to get Ruffin’s book after reading this. Thank you.

  4. sixlittlerabbits

    Thanks, Mundabor; I am ordering the first edition (1982) after your glowing review of this book written by a non-Catholic. It is not carried by Amazon, which only sells the 2018 third edition. The reviews suggest that the book has changed. A reviewer state that on p. 299, ‘the author tells us that Padre Pio believed that few people actually go to hell.” This must be wrong!!!! I fear that the third edition may not be so different from Allegri’s book.

  5. I read the first edition (I think) of the Ruffin book. I have found his book more believable than many other biographies of St. Pio, simply because the characters are more believable.

%d bloggers like this: