Mary Pyle, born into wealth, dedicated her life to Jesus through her friend and Spiritual Advisor, Padre Pio. She abandoned everything to purchase the Pearl of Great Value (Matthew 13:44). It is our hope that someday she will be raised to the altars of the church by the grace of God. So, if you have and letters from Mary Pyle or personal recollections about Mary Pyle would you kindly contact us.
In the year of 1888, New York City endured one of the coldest winters in living memory. It spared neither the rich nor the poor. In one of the buildings lining West 45th Street, a baby girl was born on the 17th of April. Shortly afterwards, she was baptized in the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant on East 42nd Street and given the name of Adelia McAlpin Pyle.
Adelia McAlpin Pyle's Baptismal Certificate from the Brick Presbyterian Church. Adelia McAlplin Pyle was Baptized September 18, 1888 at the Church of the Covenant in New York City. The information is supplied from the Register of The Church of the Covenant That church merged with the Brick Presbyterian Church in 1894.
The church of Our Lady of Grace and the Home for Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo. Mary would sit outside the church with the other women and eat her lunch when she first arrived and had a long walk up from village along the donkey trail.
In the years that followed, the parents continued to be attentive to the spiritual needs of their children, closely supervising their prayers at the end of each day. Still, even in her early years, it became abundantly clear that Adelia was a searcher-after-God. It is reported that she sometimes went to mass with an Irish maid.
Her early education was rooted in a series of private tutors, as befitted the means of a very wealthy family. Even at this point, she displayed an extraordinary gift for languages, a talent that would serve her well for the rest of her life. She attended the socially prominent Miss Chapin’s School and finished her formal education at Mrs. Master’s School In Dobbs Ferry, overlooking the scenic Hudson River.
For the young Adelia, there was no shortage of social relationships. It is reported that she loved to dance the night away. We also know, from the social columns, that she attended some of the glittering social events of that era with her neighbors. The guest list often included members of the Roosevelt and the Rockefeller families. Still, even in the midst of such a dazzling display of wealth, it would seem that her heart lay elsewhere, searching on another horizon.
In her mid-twenties, she left her home on Fifth Avenue to travel the lecture circuit with Maria Montessori, against the wishes of her mother. Adelia was employed to translate the lectures of the famous educator. Their tour took them straight across the map of Europe, traveling from country to country. For the young woman it was an enlightening experience. mixed with a growing sense of personal freedom.
By then, Adelia had taken to visiting ancient sites, especially churches, often in the company of Maria Montessori. She seemed to find a special peace at the Church of Our Lady of Montserrat, an old monastic complex which is sited on a high craggy mountain, a place apart, overlooking Barcelona. Even then, the church must have been crowded with pilgrims coming to see the statue of The Black Madonna. It is possible that It was in this lofty and holy place that Adelia was conditionally baptized as a Catholic and chose the name of Mary.
Saint Padre Pio at the Threshold of Paradise where Mary Pyle and Our Lady of Grace with baby Jesus await his entry.
This mosaic is located in the lower church of the huge Saint Padre Pio Church in San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio's crypt is nearby.
Mary Pyle’s journey now took her to Rome and it was there that she felt the need for some practical spiritual support. On a daily basis she visited the church of The Holy Name of Jesus. She noted to a friend that, “I began to say a novena to Our Lady of the Way in order to find a spiritual director, a holy person.” Her prayers would soon be answered.
While on a stay in Italy, Mary heard about the stigmatist priest living in San Giovanni Rotondo. At the time, she seemed to be only moderately interested in Padre Pio. Yet, we do know that she took the winding road to this mountain-town on several occasions. On her initial visit, she met with Padre Pio. As she herself described the meeting, “I fell on my knees and said, ‘Father’. He put his wounded hands on my head and said to me, ‘My daughter, do not travel anymore. Stay here.’” At that moment, it must have been obvious to Mary that she had found her spiritual director.
Still, it was a bittersweet time for Mary as she said goodbye to her friend and employer, Maria Montessori. Even so, it would seem that Mary’s decision to remain at San Giovanni caught the famous educator by surprise which seems to have developed into a cool disappointment on Montessori’s part.
By now, Miss Pyle had been virtually abandoned, even by her own family. Her mother, who heartedly disapproved of her conversion and the lifestyle she had chosen, decided to cut her out of the family estate. It should be mentioned, however, that her mother visited Mary in later years and restored her inheritance. Indeed, in later years, her mother and Padre Pio became the best of friends.
In the 45 years which followed, Mary Pyle left everything to follow in the footsteps of The Divine Master. She became a daily communicant, trudging up the hill to the small monastery church in the early hours to attend Padre Pio’s mass. After breakfast, she would usually answer some of the large volume of foreign mail that arrived on Padre Pio’s doorstep, calling into use her talent with foreign languages. She once told Ray Ewen, a close friend, that Padre Pio knew the contents of every letter before it was opened. During the day, she would find time for prayer with her friends, particularly the recitation of the rosary and hymn-singing.
The Black Madonna - The statue at Which Mary Pyle prayed at Montserrat
Mary also became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis and she was received into the Order by Padre Pio himself. She joyfully embraced it’s rules and wore the course woolen habit of Saint Francis on a daily basis. Like Saint Francis, she never refused to attend to the needs of the many destitute people who came to her door. She was always a friend to the poor.
Mary’s boundless generosity didn't stop there. She financed the building of a new church which, at Padre Pio’s insistence, was dedicated to the Holy Family. With this, she changed the face of the little town of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio’s birthplace. She also used her money to construct a much-needed friary and a seminary for the Capuchins.
Ray Ewen once described her as looking all-in-the world “like a mother superior with a smile on her face. She was a religious woman, constantly thinking of Padre Pio and her faith.”
Padre Pio gives communion to Mary
‘L’Americana’, as she was called by the people of San Giovanni Rotondo, would also build a house just below the high rise of the mountain, not far from the church. It would make it easier for her, especially in her later years, to attend daily mass and consult with her beloved Padre Pio. Her home became a center of hospitality, a joyful gathering place for pilgrims and for those who needed assistance.
When the increasingly frail parents of Padre Pio needed assistance, Mary took them into her home beginning in the winter of 1929. It also made it convenient for Padre Pio to visit with his aging parents. Both of them eventually died in that house, comforted by the presence of their son.
Click here for Audio of Father Esseff experience of a Padre Pio Bilocation in Mary Pyle's House 1959.
Mary Pyle's bedroom, where padre Pio's Parents died
Mary Pyle herself died in 1968, not far from the house where she had provided so much presence and charity. As her funeral slowly passed through the streets of her adopted town, a woman cried out, “What are we going to do without you Mary Pyle?”
Mary had previously requested to be buried in the Capuchin Chapel and her wish was graciously granted. The inscription on her tomb reads as follows:
The place of interment of Padre Pio's Parents, his brother Michele and Mary Pyle
“Adelia Maria Pyle Third Order of Saint Francis
Born in New York 17-4-1888
Died in San Giovanni 26-4-1968
Full of charity and seraphic virtue
May you rest forever in the grateful memory
Of Pietrelcina where you donated a monastery
Of San Giovanni Rotondo where you were admired for forty five years
Gentle Spiritual Daughter of Padre Pio.
Of the Capuchin Fathers who desired to have you in their chapel.”
Mary Pyle's place in the Capuchin Chapel of the San Giovanni Rotondo Cemetery
In your kindness, please pray for the beatification of Mary Pyle.
Music: Original Composition by Matthew Abramo