Rorate Caeli

Padre Pio and the Seminarian’s Guardian Angel


Don Marcello Stanzione

Il Nuovo Arengario

October 9, 2022

Padre Pio with Father Jean Derobert


The French writer, Yves Chiron, in his biography, cites the case of an American soldier, upon landing in Italy [during the Second World War]. This Catholic man was black and hailed from New York.  In terms of English he only spoke the Harlem slang-dialect, incomprehensible to anyone who had not grown up up in that black neighborhood. As soon as the soldier knelt before Padre Pio, the Friar began speaking this slang as if he had done so all his life.

But Padre Pio possessed also a charism that made of him a miraculous confessor: clairvoyance and the discernment of spirits, that extremely rare faculty of reading consciences like open books.

[…] Padre Pio hinted on several occasions that he got his information [about souls] from the same source.

[ So it happened then that ] a certain Father Derobert, a young seminarian in Rome, had the opportunity in 1955 to go to San Giovanni Rotondo. It was not without reticence that he embarked on this journey. Recalling perhaps the accusations that Padre Pio was subjected to in the 1920s,  a prelude to when he would  be victimized later under the pontificate of John XXIII, Derobert thought he would be dealing with a poor deluded fellow or a con-man. This did not prevent him from wanting to test the Capuchin's famous talents as a confessor. The first surprise this young man (who was a little too sure of himself) had in the presence of Padre Pio, was that he immediately lost all his boldness and was dumbstruck and found himself unable to remember what he wanted to confess. Padre Pio let him catch his breath for a moment, then set him back on track with such precision that it could not have been the result of natural discernment - harshly highlighting the faults that Derobert had never accused himself of - more out of negligence as he had not measured their gravity and extent.

'With tears in his eyes, he showed me the gravity of certain acts...gravity that, to tell the truth, had never occurred to me. But upon hearing these things from the mouth of Padre Pio, they took on their true dimensions. 'This is's serious!' And he wept. I was in great difficulty, especially since everything he said was true.  He also gave me precise details that I had totally forgotten about. Sometimes one acts on reflex, with no sense of guilt whatsoever.' 

This seminarian then, so smug and proud, who had gone there to amuse himself at the expense of a poor Italian Friar (suspected of deception by some high dignitaries  in the Church), would then go on to receive the most important lesson of his life.  After receiving absolution, he remained there stupified and distraught, not understanding what had happened to him. Padre Pio then asked him: 'Do you beleive in your Guardian Angel?'

In the 1950s, devotion to the Guardian Angel was for many Catholics largely outdated, judged childish, ridiculous and embarrassing.  Nonetheless, the French seminarian was so impressed by Padre Pio’s personality that he dared not laugh in his face.  However, as a kind of provocation or because he was so taken aback, he responded with the first silly thing that came to mind: ‘Um…I’ve never seen him!’  

Then on behalf of his Angel who had refrained from doing it for such a long time, Padre Pio administered a resounding slap to the lad's cheeks and said to him: Look carefully; he is there - and he is very beautiful!'

The seminarian Derobert, his cheeks red and stinging from the slap, was so persuaded of the truthfulness of Padre Pio's words that he turned round quickly, almost expecting to find the Heavenly Spirit right behind him: 'I for sure saw nothing, but the Father had the expression in his eyes of one seeing something.  He was not looking into empty space. 'Your Guardian Angel is here protecting you! Pray well to him!' Padre Pio's eyes were luminous, reflecting the light of my Angel.' 

After that Derobert never again trifled with his Guardian Angel. On the contrary, when he became a priest he wrote several books on Catholic devotion to heavenly spirits. 

Source: Padre Pio e l’Angelo Custode del seminarista – Il Nuovo Arengario

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana