Our Story
vera marie calandra

Our Story

In April of 1966, Vera and Harry Calandra were thrilled to welcome their fifth child to the world. But Vera Marie, born with congenital defects of the urinary tract, was ultimately given a death sentence before the completion of her first year of life.

After all medical hope had been given up, the Calandras relied even more heavily on their faith. After being introduced to the life of Padre Pio through reading a book, Vera began to experience signs that her prayers were being heard. Padre Pio began making his presence known to her, first through the fragrance of roses, and then by distinct locution: “Bring your little girl here to me in Italy and do not delay, come immediately.”

“Bring your little girl here to me in Italy and do not delay…”

Encouraged by her husband Harry, Vera obediently listened to Padre Pio’s call. With her oldest child Michael, newborn Christina and now two year old Vera Marie in tow, Vera traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, to meet the “priest who worked miracles.” The young mother was granted two audiences with Padre Pio where he blessed her and children, placing his sore, wounded hands on their heads. While in the presence of the future saint, Vera kissed his hand and spoke to him through her heart. “Please God, make a miracle so that all the people will believe.” She made a silent promise to Almighty God that if her daughter were to live, the whole world would know the greatness of Padre Pio.

“Please God, make a miracle so that all the people will believe.”

Vera’s prayers were answered: upon returning to the United States with Vera Marie, her doctors discovered a “rudimentary bladder” growing in place of the one that had been removed. Vera Marie’s health improved greatly, her prognosis was strong, and Vera kept the promise she made to God in Italy. The Calandras devoted their lives to bringing souls to God through the intercession of Padre Pio, eventually founding the National Centre for Padre Pio in 1971.

Today, Vera Marie serves as the Centre’s Assistant Manager and Vice President, working alongside two of her sisters and several of her nieces and nephews to lead the Centre into a future of growth.


Visit the Centre

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Plan your group pilgrimage or individual visit to the National Centre for Padre Pio.


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.

Read More

Meet the Staff

meet the staff

Our dedicated team works to make the National Centre for Padre Pio a true spiritual sanctuary.


In observance of Memorial Day, the Centre is CLOSED on Monday, May 27, 2024.  We will reopen on Tuesday, May 28, at 9 AM.

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