“If you cry, I won’t come to your house any more” -The miraculous cure of Paolo Nigro.
Paolo Nigro received a degree in Humanities in 1936 and took a second degree in Philosophy in 1940. He considered himself an atheist and his Philosophy thesis was a denial of the existence of God. He later taught in high school, all the while maintaining his ideas. His wife however was strong in her faith. Because she was an orphan, she had been brought up and educated in a convent run by Carmelite nuns and she had stayed there until she was twenty-two. Together they made their home in Taranto.
When Paolo was still very full of intellectual vigour and feeling quite fit, he was suddenly struck by an grave illness. He had a dry pleurisy and in the spring of 1950 it was bringing him close to death; the doctors in fact had eventually declared they could do nothing more for him.
One Saturday evening in April at 10pm two men knocked at the door of his house; they introduced themselves: Otello Risaliti was a warrant officer in the Navy and the other was a man named Carlo Lusardi. Since Paolo’s wife Maria did not know them, she of course did not want to let them in the house, for she was alone with her two children and her seriously ill husband. At this time, he was gravely ill and had had a very high temperature of 105°F for two weeks. At times he was delirious, and seemed at death’s door.
The two men insisted saying: “Padre Pio has sent us and we have to say the rosary for the man here who is seriously ill”.
The poor woman had never even heard of Padre Pio and therefore she was unsure what to do. She told the men to wait at the door and went and had a word with her sick husband, who having heard that the men spoke of saying the rosary, he gave his permission, and so finally she let them in.
Here it must be said that a few years before, in 1946, Prof. Nigro had slightly changed his opinion as an atheist. He had surprised everyone when he had requested to meet the Archbishop of Taranto, Mons Bernardi, to whom Prof Nigro related a story of how he had had a kind of vision in which he saw Our Lady’s profile. After this vision he started to go to Mass, even though he didn’t go regularly. We can surmise that this was the reason he let two strangers, who wanted to pray the rosary for him to the Blessed Virgin, to come into his house.
Santina, Paolo’s daughter, who was a child at the time tells us what happened next:
“I can see it as if it were yesterday. The two men, Risaliti in his white uniform and Lusardi, both kneeling and together devoutly saying the rosary. However as they were praying, dad was restless and said to mum: “Maria, send that hooded friar at the foot of the bed away”. Mum said nothing; she imagined that vision was due to his high temperature”.
Before leaving after finishing the rosary, the Padre’s spiritual sons discreetly begged Maria to accept some money: “It is sent by Padre Pio. You will need it next week to pay for your husband’s journey from here to San Giovanni Rotondo. The Padre wishes to see him. And the remainder is for the medicines”.
About this particular point Santina explains: “It was as if Padre Pio knew we had spent nearly all our money to buy penicillin which was very expensive at the time”.
The following Monday, the sick man was much better. His temperature had gone down to normal and the doctors were amazed. His health had improved so much that on Thursday, three days later, at 9.00 in the morning, Risaliti and Lusardi came to collect him and take him by taxi to the Taranto train station, as he ardently desired to meet Padre Pio. In the evening they arrived at San Giovanni Rotondo and the three men together took lodgings in a little white house on the right, going up the road leading to the friary.
The next day, Friday, they took him to the sacristy where Padre Pio was confessing the men. At the end of the confessions, P. Pio came out from the curtain, which hid him from view of onlookers.
“My Dad” said Santina, “immediately recognized in him as the friar who the previous Saturday he had seen at the foot of the bed while the rosary was being said. My dad immediately went up to him and threw himself on his knees, crying. The Padre helped him up holding his wrists and said in our dialect: “If you cry, I won’t come to your house any more”.
The next day dad confessed to the Saint, who put him back in God’s grace and accepted him as a spiritual son. He immediately became a different person. He went to Mass every day and received Holy Communion.
The Padre continued to be near him in those first steps into a new life. He came [spiritually, through bilocation] to visit him at home. During his convalescence dad sometimes said to me: “Santina, Padre Pio is putting his hand on your head”.
Afterwards I had often seen him crying because of his past sins. He tried to make up for it by leading people to God and also to Padre Pio.”
(Testimony of Santina Nigro, San Giovanni Rotondo, May 10, 2005)