By the end of April, I arranged to have a hand-written copy of the first “Book of Love” delivered to him. He defined it as a “Testament-Promise of Graces, that will be given through the spirit of the man who wants to receive them with all the love of his heart.” He begged me to publish it as soon as possible and to have it reach the Holy Father, the ecclesiastic hierarchy and the world.
On May 25th, 1968, a great feast in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was being celebrated in St. Louis, in the United States. Padre Pio wanted the “Book of Love” to be available there by that date and he had confided this task to a fervent spiritual son of his, the celebrated composer and orchestra conductor,Alfonso D’Artega. For reasons that I do not know, the maestro was unable to leave and the “Book” did not reach America by that date. Padre was very saddened by this, because he had affirmed that the words of the “Book” were a PROMISE OF GRACES FROM THE HEART OF JESUS offered to a world without peace.
In Rome, in the month of June, 1968, my dearest friends Ugo and Cecilia Ammassari and Michele Famiglietti printed a first edition of the “Book of Love” minus a preface.
This was very useful to me, because Padre Pio had recommended that it be made known as soon as possible in Rome. I understood very soon the reason for such a hurry. One evening, I was invited to the home of Engineer P. Gasparri and, while I was presenting the first edition of the “Book of Love” to a select group of people, a lady who was very familiar with the religious life of the capital, upon examining the book, marvelled at my passionate appeal for the love of the Immaculate Heart. It appeared that in those very days some clergymen had proposed the removal of devotion to, and images of, the Sacred Heart from the churches. They stated that such devotion, born in the period of Jansenism, was no longer necessary.
A short while afterwards, yet another dear friend of mine, himself a devoted spiritual son of Padre Pio, Primo Capponcelli of Decima di San Giovanni in Persiceto, had undertaken to have a second edition of the “Book” printed.
In the meantime, I had insisted with Padre Pio that we remove some words and print this book anonymously, but he responded: “You must not remove any words, and then, why print anonymously? You must print the book in your name, including the pictures and the preface.”
In fact, the second edition was published complete with a brief preface and a large number of copies was printed in August 1968, by Casa Editrice Istituto Padano di Arti Grafiche di Rovigo.
On the 50th anniversary of the Holy Stigamata which took place on September 20th , Primo Capponcelli organized a pilgrimage of young people to San Giovanni Rotondo to thank and celebrate Padre Pio.
He took along many copies of the “Book of Love” to present to the Padre and to have them blessed. Moreover, in his simplicity as a man of God, full of faith and without any malice, he had begun to distribute them to the faithful who had come to San Giovanni. But suddenly, for no reasons, he has forbidden to distribute them or to even speak about them. Capponcelli, in the presence of many witnesses, strenuously, but in vain, defended the desire expressed by Padre Pio.

***

I, on the other hand, on September 20th, following Padre Pio’s advice, had not gone to San Giovanni Rotondo, but rather to Chianciano Terme, with my dear friend Michele Famiglietti of Rome. We took lodgings at Albergo S. Antonio in which in those days, among other friars and priests, Mons. Giuseppe Bo and Mons. Leoncello Barsotti of Livorno were staying too. On the morning of the 21st, at the Baths, I met Professor Letizia Mariani of Bologna, one of the teachers who had prepared me in the literary subjects for the entrance exams needed for proceeding from Aldini School to the Liceo Scientifico, long before in 1943. I was happy to see her and I gave her as a gift a copy of the “Book of Love”. She was surprised and touched.
Around 6 p.m. of that same day, I was at the Terme S. Elena with Michele. Suddenly Padre Pio made himself present to me, Luigi, and said to me: “I must anticipate my departure for Heaven in order to save the salvable. Here on the earth, they do not listen to me any more, not even the many who claimed to be faithful to me. Do not cry! I will follow you from Heaven. There was no faith in the words given to you, words that I told you to call ‘TESTAMENT PROMISE OF GRACES…’ What could have been saved, through the Promised Testament in the month of June, now (September 1968) can no longer be saved. The writings will serve, equally well, for the benefit of individuals.”
The next day, September 22nd, I stayed in the hotel, overcome by an infinite sadness. At about 5:00 p.m., while I was resting in my room, I had a prophetic dream. In the dream, Padre Pio appeared to me in the midst of an innumerable army of very beautiful angels. Ha was shining with Light and with Love.
He came up to me an embraced me very affectionately, saying: “Son, Son, my Son! You must not cry over my death which I announced to you yesterday. Remain strong and courageous and serene in my joy: I will put at your disposal my army of Angels. They will obey you in everything! I, your Padre, will always be near you, I will tell you what you must do or say for your own good and for the good of all those who seek to receive your word and mine. I WILL BRING YOUR THOUGHT INTO HEAVEN AND I LEAVE MY THOUGHT WITH YOU!”. In saying these last words, he clasped my head tightly between his hands, holding it close to his own. At that touch, my brain seemed as if had emptied itself, to be filled with a new substance.
In that moment Michele Famiglietti knocked repeatedly on the door of my room. I woke up with a terrible headache. I held my head tightly because I had the sensation that it might detach itself from my body. I asked Michele to wait, since I was unable to move. As soon as I could, I opened the door and I replied to his anxious questions: “Padre Pio came again and left me with a wonderful promise….”
I hardly slept at all the night between the 22nd and 23rd of September. I kept hearing in my heart the very sweet voice of the Padre, asking me to read for him the “Book of Love”, and I read and reread it till dawn. In the morning, I was passionately hoping to have been the victim of a suggestion but, at about 7 a.m., they called me from Rome to tell me that the great Heart of Padre Pio had stopped beating. The monsignors, the priests and the various friars, who were staying at the hotel, did everything possible to comfort me and had to admit that what I had been saying for the past two days had, alas, actually happened.
That same morning, I received a second telephone call from Rome. It was from Maestro Alfonso d’Artega, who had been entrusted by Padre Pio to bring the “Book of Love” to America by May 25th. He was profoundly moved by the sad news and he recommended that I go at once to Rome, because the Archbishop of Pittsburgh, Mons. Nicholas T. Elko, wished to meet me and speak to me about Padre Pio and the Book of Love. He had spoken with Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, two days before his death. Along with my friend Michele, I left for Rome. I had a long conversation with His Excellency Elko in his Roman residence.
From Rome, together with the Baroness Remy, we proceeded to San Giovanni Rotondo. I saw again for the last time the very beloved Padre in mortal rest of his Holy Body. In a few instants, I relived all my life, defended and directed by the wings of the Eagle of Heaven which came to Earth to defend the weak. The Padre, who had been my faithful friend, my strength, no longer spoke. My Eagle had returned to His kingdom.
A short while before flying to Heaven, the Eagle of Heaven had wished to leave his token of love to one of his sons who remained on earth. The beloved Padre had given me as token the “Book of Love”, a gift of love to his Luigi and to all his sons who are awaiting to embrace again in Heaven their most beloved Padre. I recalled the Canticle of Moses:
“Give ear, o Heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the gentle rain upon the tender grass, and as the showers upon the herbage. For I will proclaime the name of the Lord. Ascribe greatness to our God! He is the rock, His work is perfection. All His ways are Equity. A faithful God, with no iniquity, full of rectitude and justice”.
I was crying over the mortal remains of the Padre, when it seemed to me that I heard again his sweet words, spoken to me many years before: “Why did you cry? You know that I do not like tears.” I dried my tears and returned immediately to Rome.
On 17th of October 1968, the “Book of Love” and other Books that I was writing, in a manner that was somewhat miraculous, reached tha hands of eminent Roman theologians, who met with me and questioned me at length, marvelling that I knew so many secret things.
Thus, what Padre Pio had foretold came true:“The Books of Love must reach as soon as possible the hands of His Holiness and of the ecclesiastical hierarcy. The Pope and any others will understand everythings.”
I am, perhaps, the only one to understand less than anyone but I have written, and I continue to write, in obedience to Padre Pio, for faith and love to God, to Pope Paul VI and the Holy Church.
With the help of Padre Pio and of the Divine Providence, the “Book of Love” has already been translated and published in French, German, Spanish, English, Russian, Polish, Greek, Romanian, Croatian, Arabic, Portuguese and Braille. Future editions in Chinese, Armenian, Serb, Hungarian, Flemish.

Luigi Gaspari

 

Translation by Hillary Patrizia Giuseppina Antonietta Meroni

 
 
The 18th of November 1995 Luigi died in the hospital of Cesenatico (FC) in Italy. He lies in a chapel dedicated to him in the cemetery of the small town.

 

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