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New Left Review 74, March-April 2012


Marco D’Eramo

CELEBRITY THAUMATURGE

The spiritual career of Padre Pio poses a challenge for those who, following Max Weber, expected that the world should become more and more disenchanted in the face of modern capitalist civilization. [1] Sergio Luzzatto, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, Picador: New York 2011, $22, paperback 371 pp, 978 0 312 61166 8 It also helps to dismantle the notion that modernity is a univocal concept; rather, we must speak of plural modernities, simultaneous and mutually irreducible. From the former perspective, it is difficult to explain the fact that Francesco Forgione—as Pio was named on his birth in 1887—would become the most famous Italian of the last century. Neither Antonio Gramsci nor Benito Mussolini can match the hordes of pilgrims, several million each year, who visit San Giovanni Rotondo to worship at Forgione’s grave. How could this sickly, ill-educated southerner achieve such global renown? The details of his life have been rehearsed endlessly in media of every kind. Yet this translation of Sergio Luzzatto’s outstanding biography gives Anglophone readers the first opportunity to consult a serious account of the Padre Pio phenomenon, a study of the man and of his socio-political environment, based on comprehensive research by a skilled and subtle academic historian.

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