Foundation Releases Never-Before-Seen Images Of Padre Pio


By Zoe Romanowsky

To mark its 10th anniversary, the Saint Pio Foundation in the United States is releasing 10 never-before-seen photographs of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, on April 29. 

The candid images show the Italian priest celebrating Mass and deep in prayer but also in lighter moments of laughter, rarely captured of the friar. The foundation’s director, Luciano Lamonarca, discovered the photos when visiting photographer Elia Saleto’s studio.

EWTN News Vatican correspondent Colm Flynn sat down with Lamonarca in a recent interview for “EWTN News Nightly” to discuss the images. One of the most surprising photos was of Padre Pio smiling. 

“One is nice because [it shows everybody] hey, Padre Pio is smiling. Yes, he was smiling because he was a man. So we always think that Padre Pio was a serious man. We know that faith is also about laughing … sometimes,” Lamonarca said.

The professional opera singer grew up in Italy aware of the giant figure that Padre Pio was in the Catholic Church but didn’t have a particular devotion to the saint until he and his wife faced the great suffering of having a stillborn baby and receiving the news that they would probably not be able to have more children.  

It was then that the couple turned to St. Pio’s intercession and, in the process, began to learn more about his life. 

Lamonarca said he learned about St. Pio’s “simplicity and humility.” 

“He was the grandfather I never had,” he told Flynn.

Lamonarca said he felt such a connection to the saintly friar that he wanted to help bring his story and message to as many people as possible — especially in the United States — so he founded the Saint Pio Foundation.

Today Lamonarca and his wife live in the United States with their son, Sebastian, who was born the year after Lamonarca founded the foundation. As an Italian living in the U.S., he is passionate about strengthening the ties between the two countries in the name of St. Pio.

In addition to the release of all the photos to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the foundation has also produced a documentary drama about Padre Pio, which will air on EWTN later this year.

The full interview with Lamonarca on “EWTN News Nightly” can be viewed below.


The Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world. The Catholic News Agency takes much of its mission from its sister agency, ACI Prensa, which was founded in Lima, Peru, in 1980 by Fr. Adalbert Marie Mohm (†1986).

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