“In the 40’s there was the war going on, and I was a teenager, and there were no regular schools, and I frequented daily the convent. I bought a small camera and took picture of Padre Pio; many of them” – photographer Elia Stelluto writes.

“One day my masters, the photographer Federico Abresh, asked me if I would take a picture of Padre Pio with the flash, at the moment when He turned to the assembly to give the final blessing. He said that he would give me 5000 lire (the equivalent of what I could make in a year). Padre Pio was known to dislike the light of the flash, and it was prohibited to use it.

I prepared myself during the Mass, and took the picture from about five feet. Padre Pio didn’t like the flash. After the Mass I went to him in the sacristy to apologize. And he was very sweet and made me promise to “take as many pictures as you want, but never use anymore that mousetrap” (the bulky flash of the old days). I will never forget the moment that I took that picture of Padre Pio with the white carnations in the background.

By the way, I refused the 5000 lire, because I had made Padre Pio mad.”

The photos can be viewed here.