Our History

The National Centre for Padre Pio’s Faith-Filled History

For almost 50 years, the National Centre for Padre Pio has served as a spiritual refuge celebrating the life and works of Padre Pio—but the true story of the Center begins 17 years before its founding, with a couple named Vera and Harry Calandra.

  1. Vera Morabito & Harry Calandra Married

    The devout couple, who serve as pillars of Holy Saviour Church in Norristown, PA, marry and start a family. They eventually have six children.

  2. Vera Marie Born Ill

    The couple’s fifth child, Vera Marie, is born with congenital defects of the urinary tract. She undergoes a bladder removal operation and is not expected to live past a year.

  3. The Call from Padre Pio

    After reading a book about Padre Pio and beginning to pray to him, Vera M. Calandra experiences a message from Padre Pio via distinct locution: “Bring your little girl to me here in Italy and do not delay, come immediately.”

  4. Visit to Italy

    Vera Calandra travels to San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, with Vera Marie and two of her other children. Padre Pio prays over the children, laying his wounded hands on their heads, and Vera makes a private promise to God: If her baby girl lives, the whole world will know the greatness of Padre Pio. “Please God, make a miracle so that all the people will believe.”

  5. Vera Marie’s Healing

    Upon her return to the U.S., Vera Marie’s doctors discover a “rudimentary bladder” growing in place of the one that had been removed. Her health improves greatly, and her prognosis is strong.

  6. Padre Pio’s Death

    On September 23, Padre Pio passes away in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Interest in Padre Pio picks up around the world, and many want to hear more about the Calandra family’s story of healing.

  7. Word Begins to Spread

    People begin to request Vera for lectures and programs about Padre Pio. She would go on to speak at countless churches, monasteries, seminaries, universities and convents around the world.

  8. Cause for Padre Pio Founded

    On September 17, under the guidance of Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Vera focuses her efforts into the Cause for Padre Pio, dedicated to perpetuating the salvific mission of Padre Pio. She serves as the first Director.

  9. “Remember Vera, the Church first, always for the Church.”

    In recognition of her tireless service and dedication to the Church, Pope John Paul II confers upon Vera the prestigious honor of “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.”

  10. Cause for Padre Pio Transitions into the National Centre

    “National Centre for Padre Pio, Inc.” becomes the official title, as “Cause for Padre Pio” becomes finite, with the Beatification and Canonization of Padre Pio being certain.

  11. The National Centre Moves to Barto

    The National Centre for Padre Pio formally transfers its headquarters to “The Barn” in Barto, PA, under the auspices of the Most Reverend Thomas J. Welsh, D.D., J.C.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown.

  12. Groundbreaking at Current Location

    With the official Groundbreaking Ceremony, highlighted by the blessing of the land, construction of the Our Lady of Grace Chapel and Padre Pio Spirituality Centre begins.

  13. Beatification of Padre Pio

    On Sunday, May 2, 1999, Vera is invited to attend the Beatification Ceremony of Padre Pio in Rome, Italy. She has the privilege of representing the U.S. and is even asked to read the first reading at the Solemn Mass. The same weekend, the newly constructed Centre officially opens. Over 22,000 people assemble at the Centre in Barto for the simulcast and to participate in the Mass of Thanksgiving.

  14. Padre Pio Canonized

    On June 16, Pope John Paul II authorized the canonization of Saint Padre Pio based on his ability to heal the suffering and do good works even after his death.

  15. The Sacraments are Removed

    On December 17, for reasons never fully understood, Bishop Edward Cullen, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, issues a decree banning the celebration of the Sacraments at the National Centre for Padre Pio.

  16. Vera M. Calandra Passes Away

    Just months after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, Vera passes away peacefully in her home on August 19th, surrounded by her loving family. Her husband, Harry, is unanimously elected President of the Centre.

  17. Affiliation With the Official Work of Padre Pio

    On August 30, Board President Harry E. Calandra and General Director of the Fondazione Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Opera di San Pio of Pietrelcina, and representative of His Excellency Michele Castoro, Archbishop of Manfredonia, Dott. Domenico Crupi, sign the official Documents of Affiliation. With this affiliation, the Fondazione acknowledges the Centre as the authentic primary entity for the promotion of devotion to St. Pio and his works on the continent of North America. The Centre now falls under the purveyance of the Holy See.

  18. Harry Calandra Passes Away

    On April 13th, Harry passes away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loving family. He leaves behind his children and grandchildren to carry on with the work he and Vera started. Completing their story, Harry was laid to rest on April 25, on what would have been the Calandra’s 64th wedding anniversary.

  19. A Future of Growth

    The National Centre continues to host and minister to tens of thousands of yearly visitors. As we grow and expand, we maintain constant focus on our mission: leading souls to Almighty God through the intercession of Padre Pio. In this place of refuge, we endeavor to educate and promote the teachings and spirituality of Padre Pio through speeches, seminars, workshops, retreats and pilgrimages. We welcome you to join us!

Padre Pio’s Story

padre pio statue

Padre Pio dedicated his life to loving God—on the Altar, in the Confessional, and in the community.

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Due to storm damage, we currently do not have phone service at the Centre.  However, our website is fully functional, so feel free to contact us this way.  Additionally, the Centre is fully open to visitors and following our normal operating schedule. Thank you.

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