May 08, 1988: the day that Cinzia and I married.
A very special, long-awaited event, of great significance: entrusting ourselves to Mary on a day dedicated to her.
Our honeymoon was simple and economic, yet it was marvelous because Jesus had a wonderful giftin store for us.
Our destination was San Giovanni Rotondo, the home of our Father Pio. Cinzia and I made this decision without thinking twice: it was the most natural and heartfelt choice.
We had also decided to try and find some customers on our honeymoon, as we really needed them. Our business creating rosaries was just beginning and it was incredibly challenging. However, we were serene, convinced that we were on the path that God had chosen for us.
Cinzia had mounted the rosaries on card covered with white velvet, creating our very first sample. They were like works of art, we were so proud...
We left on May 9th. The next day we had an appointment with Father Michele, who at the time managed the shop at the Sanctuary of San Giovanni Rotondo, and we were very excited.
We were supposed to meet at nine in the morning and we were there right on time, standing in the small corridor next to the convent.
Hours passed but nobody came to meet us. Then, around midday a brother that had seen us earlier in the morning, and who was sorry to see us waiting there for hours, came and offered us sweets and asked us what we were doing.
We replied that we were waiting for an appointment with Father Michele. He laughed heartily and told us to forget about it.
Unfortunately, our hopes of work evaporated, but Divine Providence had something far greater in store for us: the brother who brought us the sweets went on to become Brother Modestinoof Pietrelcina, fellow townsman and widely considered as the spiritual son of Father Pio.
A wonderful friendship was born that lasted a great 23 years, until his death on August 14, 2011.
We spoke several times a week, and we had his direct mobile number and could call him for anything we needed.
So many times we entrusted people to him who wanted us to ask him to pray for them!
Over the years, whenever I visited San Giovanni Rotondo, we would have lunch together at the convent and I would remain with him where he received thousands of pilgrims every day. I remember so many anecdotes, so many stories in his lively voice, which I will always treasure!
I will share one with you.
He told me that upon the death of Father Pio, he was charged to fold and organize his robes and other important personal items.
At a certain point, he noticed there was blood on the shoulder of a shirt, which he immediately associated with the blood of Jesus's wound from the wood of the cross.
The reaction of Brother Modestino was to ask Father Pio that he too might have such a wound. He told me how, as soon as he said those words, he felt a weight as though the entire world had fallen upon him. He found himself crushed to floor while Father Pio, who had appeared before him, answered that this was impossible because he would have died.
What an amazing account...
We had a wonderful bond. One evening, while we were talking on the telephone, he said to me: “When I die, I will be closer to you than I am now, because your family is my family”.
And he was exactly right... thank you Brother Modestino!
Alessandro & Cinzia Ghirelli
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