We came to Pietrelcina for the first time in 1988. Our family – ourselves and our four young sons, were on a two week coach trip/pilgrimage from England to San Giovani Rotondo in Puglia.
On our way back our coach stopped for two hours in Pietrelcina. We walked through the main street, past the square and visited the ‘Castello’ area where Padre Pio was born. Lastly we visited the friary, near to where the coach was parked. There was a junior choir practice going on in one room and music drifted softly through the corridors. Brother Lawrence, who was showing our party around, spoke fairly good English and showed us the vestments worn by Padre Pio and other carefully preserved items, explaining the significance of each thing.
Four young children, hot weather, quick fleeting look at the town but something here struck us deeply. We both felt it; we both acknowledge it to each other.
We shook Fra Lorenzo’s, (Brother Lawrence’s), hand and sighed, saying that we felt sad to be leaving so soon. He laughed and said ‘Don’t worry! You will be back many times!”
Eighteen years later, in 2006, when we decided to look for a place to go for a quiet retreat in our busy life, we thought of Brother Lawrence and tracked him down to Foggia where he was stationed.
After a few phone calls we agreed to meet him in San Giovanni Rotondo, before going on to Pietrelcina, where we had booked into a hotel. Dear Fra Lorenzo drove us all the way, 200 Km, to Pietrelcina and introduced us to Cavalliere Vincenzo Molinaro and from then on things just fell into place.
A year later, we were told of a house, just 100 meters from Padre Pio’s birth place, which was for sale and needed much restoration. With the help of our new friend, Vincenzo who introduced us to Michele Cardone our site manager and Nicola Piacquadio, our architect, we succeeded in purchasing the property and restoring it to a very modern and comfortable state.
Sadly, about six months after our new house was ready, both Brother Lawrence and Vincenzo passed away near the end of 2009. Thankfully we had managed to share many good times with Vincenzo before that time. We also visited Brother Lawrence again just a few months before and were able to express our gratitude for all he had helped us with.
We started this site in 2010 as a tool to let more people know what blessings are to be found here. Our idea is to introduce the town, and the area around it, not just as a place to visit for an hour or two, but as a place which offers a spirit of peace and blessing to those who need a refuge from a busy world.
To carry that dream forward, we bought a field in 2011 – our idea with this field carries on from this.
If you would like to know more about this new dream of ours, and how it is developing, please go to the ‘Community of Prayer‘ page.