They dug up Padre Pio after forty years and put him in a glass box so the faithful can trudge past and see the great man in the flesh. I understand they’re booked out for years in advance with people who want to see their favourite old fraud.
I was listening to people on a radio phone-in during the week, including, for Christ’s sake, the mother of our Minister for Education. True believers every one in the healing power of Padre Pio. Mrs Hanafin (the Min’s Mum) has a blood-soaked mitten from the old monk, and apparently you can borrow it and take it home to heal any lepers you might be keeping in the coal shed. The only stipulation is that you must bring it back to Mrs H by midnight, in case it turns into a bat.
You can bring it to the hospital if you like, but for some reason it doesn’t heal everyone there. You have to point it at the person you want to make better, and even then it doesn’t always work. You see, it’s a great deal for Padre Pio. A no-lose situation. If you recover, it’s a miracle. If you don’t get better, it’s God’s will.
Isn’t that brilliant?
Here you have all these desperate people with appalling diseases and illnesses. Scrofula. Burst eyeballs. The doctor tells them they’re probably screwed, so of course they’ll grab at any old horse-shit if they think there’s the remotest chance they’ll get better. Here. Have a stinking old glove. That’ll fix ya!
Of course, it won’t rid the hospital of MRSA, for example, or instantly re-knit a broken leg. No. Nor will it grow back a finger that got bitten off by Amy Winehouse.
You see, it has to be God’s will, so Padre Pio has to persuade God to make you better.
Go on, God says Pio. Go on, go on go on go on go on go on go on go on!
And God gets so pissed off listening to the nagging, he cures you to get rid of the bilocated old bastard shouting into both his ears at the same time.
Padre Pio is like a sort of holy county councillor, ideal for Irish people. Instead of doing things straight, they’d rather have a word with some gobshite who knows some other gobshite and see if he can pull a bit of a stroke.
Some gobshite of a priest came on the radio to talk about the state of the body.
Incorrupt, he said. Science can’t explain it.
Oh, really? Can’t it, you slippery, conniving arsehole? Listen, Father O’Cretin. The old fraud has been buried in a very cold, dry place for forty years.
He’s a fuckin mummy!
And as for these perfectly preserved facial features all the old true believers are so astounded by — another miracle — well, Father Halfwit, you know perfectly well that it’s a mask. A mask, you fool! A silicon mask, made at great expense by the same company that supplies Madame Tussaud’s.
Look. Let me put it bluntly. Padre Pio is in bits, because he’s been dead for forty years, and what you’re looking at in that glass case is nothing but a pile of bones stuffed with newspapers and a rubber Hallowe’en mask.
There’s your fuckin miracle!
But, they object, the stigmata. Didn’t the stigmata disappear just as Padre Pio prophesied?
Of course they did, when the old bastard stopped pouring acid on his fuckin hands. The stigmata disappeared a few weeks before he died. Why? Very simple. It isn’t so easy to buy bottles of acid when you’re on the flat of your back in a hospital. The nursing staff take a dim view of elderly patients pouring acid on their hands, no matter how saintly an old fucker you might be.
For all this, they keep telling us about miracles.
Miracles! What the hell is a miracle? A miracle, by definition is something that can’t happen. Perhaps, when they talk of miracles, they really mean things that are highly unlikely,but still possible. I’d like to think so, but I’m afraid I’m probably wrong. They really do believe in magic.
Jesus, do you know what? Sometimes I despair of this country. Really, I do.