One conversation between a couple of Nazis in “episode zero” of Dies Irae caught my attention:
There is only one priest to whom she could be referring to; though, the gift of reading hearts has not been confined to one priest of the twentieth century–or to Catholic priests for that matter. This particular priest almost certainly Padre Pio.
I have dubbed Padre Pio–more formally, St. Pio of Pietrelcina–“the last medieval saint.” Though he lived from 1887 to 1968, accounts of the miraculous phenomena surrounding Padre Pio seem to belong to the saints of the thirteenth century, like St. Francis of Assisi whom Padre Pio referred to as “Our Seraphic Father.” For, Padre Pio was not only a priest, but a Capuchin monk whose order followed the Rule of St. Francis. Among the accounts of the miraculous surrounding Padre Pio, he saw visions of Jesus, Mary, and other saints, read hearts, received the stigmata, prayed successfully for the healing of people’s bodies and souls, bilocated, spoke in foreign tongues which he never studied, and had the gift of prophecy.
So many marvels are apt to draw the curious, especially to look at the stigmata in Pio’s hands, feet, and side–wounds he received during a vision in 1918. During mass, blood tended to pour freely from these wounds, which gained him worldwide attention. The easiest way to see Padre Pio was for confession, and many people sought him out accordingly. It was not unheard of for Padre Pio to hear confessions for as long as nineteen hours in a day!
Two such curiosity seekers tried a scheme to refute that Padre Pio could read hearts in Confession. These two Freemasons had drawn up a list of fake sins to tell Padre Pio–only to have Padre Pio tell them their real sins. These two, unsurprisingly, became Catholic shortly after their encounter with St. Pio. Padre Pio also had much success converting Communists, and he could tell whether someone possessed a red card indicating Communist membership on their person. The stories surrounding Padre Pio and the confessional are numerous, and people have estimated that Padre Pio heard five million confessions by the time of his death.
Curiously, Padre Pio was persecuted by the Holy Office of the Inquisition–as well as by various priests and bishops. For three years, Padre Pio was forbidden to communicate to anyone by letter, to hear confessions, or even to hold mass in public! His wounds were frequently scrutinized, and a few people declared the wounds to have a natural origin even as other doctors declared it supernatural. (That Padre Pio used carbolic acid to keep the wounds open is one such theory–but I doubt that a wound piercing into his side of indeterminate length could be kept open for fifty years without death by infection or blood loss.) Amid all these restrictions and accusations, Padre Pio obediently fulfilled his priestly and monastic duties without complaint. When one of his followers brought up how shabbily the Holy Office treated him, Padre Pio responded that they should remember that, when the Church punishes, it is with the hand of a mother.
After a long life of good works, Padre Pio passed into his eternal reward on September 23, 1968. So many miracles and personal accounts were recorded about Padre Pio–both of his life and of miracles occurring under his intercession after his death–that his beatification was held up until 1999. Three years later, Padre Pio would be canonized in 2002 by Pope St. John Paul II. This pope had visited Padre Pio while still a young Polish priest and been told by the monk that he would attain the Church’s highest office.
It’s nice to see an anime mention a Catholic saint–even indirectly–besides St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Mary in anime. I wonder what other surprise Dies Irae has in store?