Lucia heard a noise and looked in the direction from which it came. From the internal stairway of the sacristy, she saw Saint Padre Pio come down and stop near the window.
All of a sudden, the entire room lit up. In a burst of heavenly light, there appeared the Child Jesus, resting in the arms of Saint Padre Pio, whose face turned radiant.
The scene reminded her of the biblical account of Moses when he came down from the mountain of God. If you recall Moses' face was glowing from having been in the presence of God.
Saint Padre Pio was having the same experience. He looked at the Child Jesus, Who returned his look with great love, and great intensity. This lasted only a few moments. But those few moments seemed to Lucia to last an eternity.
She was so excited she thought her heart would burst.
Saint Padre Pio seemed to her to be in ecstasy with his Lord, this Child Jesus.
As quickly as it had appeared, the light dimmed until finally, it went out. Padre Pio was standing there alone. It seemed, in the aftermath of the brilliant light which had filled the room, as if he was standing in the dark, when actually there was the dim light of one bulb lighting the stairway.
He came out of his reverie. He glanced over at Lucia.
She had a look of astonishment on her face. Padre Pio realized that Lucia had seen what had happened. He asked her, "Lucia, what did you see?"
Lucia hesitated in answering, for fear of upsetting Saint Padre Pio. In her mind's eye, she could see him making her leave his presence.
She didn't want to do that. However, she answered truthfully, "Padre I saw everything."
He knew what her answer was going to be before she said it. He looked at her very sternly.
Then he admonished her severely: "Don't say anything to anyone or else I will wring your neck like a chicken."
She was shocked and more than a little frightened, until she saw the glint of humor in his eyes.
He was being firm, but the two of them were able to enjoy a little joke. We would like to say that she kept the secret that she had with Padre Pio all her life, and brought it with her to her grave. But then, we would not have heard the story.
While we don't know for sure; the truth is probably that she didn't even keep it a secret until even New Year's Day.
She may have been out on the street the very next day telling the whole of San Giovanni Rotondo, and then all of Pietrelcina about the special apparition she shared with Padre Pio on the night before Christmas. However, we're pretty sure that from that time on, she stayed at least a little more than arm's length away from Saint Padre Pio, for fear he might truly "wring her neck like a chicken."
The painting reproduced here representing Padre Pio receiving the Child Jesus in his arms is not the fruit of a fervid fantasy of the artist, but a faithful transcription, in pictorial language, of the extraordinary event that really happened.