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Simon & Schuster asked Greene to provide a blurb for Kenneth L. Woodward’s book Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn’t and Why. Greene complied, but wrote a separate letter to Woodward about his own encounters with two saints, the stigmatic Padre Pio, whose picture Greene as an old man still carried in his wallet,40and Pope Pius XII. Woodward, a religious affairs specialist with Newsweek, responded to musing by David Lodge on whether Greene was actually a believer at the end of his life by offering the letter not as conclusive proof but as evidence that Catholicism was still of interest to Greene in his last months.41

September 11, 1990

Dear Mr. Woodward,

I’ve been reading your book Making Saints with great interest. I thought you might be interested in your turn by my own experience at a Mass of Padre Pio in a village in Southern Italy. He was a friend of a great friend of mine, the Marquess Patrizi,42and I went to the village with a woman friend43of mine. I was invited to see him that night in the monastery, but I made excuses not to go as neither of us wanted our lives changed! We were both Catholics. However the next morning we went to his Mass. He was not allowed to say Mass at the high altar but only at a small side altar and he had to say his Mass at 5.30 in the morning. There were only a few women outside the monastery gates waiting for them to open, and during the Mass we were only about six feet away from him. The women had all immediately gone to the confessional box as directly his Mass was over he went into the confessional until lunch time.

Throughout the Mass he tried to hide the stigmata by pulling his sleeves halfway down his hands, but of course they kept on slipping. He was presumably not allowed to wear gloves. I had been warned that his Mass was a very long one so I was surprised to find it of average length, except that it was spoken clearly and without, as some Italians do, gabbling. I was even more surprised when we left the church to find that it was seven o’clock and I had no idea where this long period of time had been lost.44

In Rome I was told by a Monsignor of the Vatican that Padre Pio was a ‘pious old fraud’, a view which I did not share. I also felt that I had said the wrong thing when I met Pius XIII – or was it the XII (this was in the early fifties) when I told the Pope that the two Masses which had most impressed me in my life were his own double Mass on the anniversary of his becoming a priest at Saint Peter’s45and the Mass Padre Pio had said in his village. My interview with the Pope became rather a stiff one.

Yours sincerely,
Graham Greene

P.S. You might tell your publisher that I have never in my long life seen such bad page proofs circulated. Whole pages and lines missing sometimes in the most interesting places.46


An old friend of Greene’s, the playwright Václav Havel (b. 1936) was gaoled three times for political activities under the Communists. He became president of Czechoslovakia in 1989.

October 5, 1990

Dear President Havel (It gives me great pleasure to address you thus formally!)

I hope you got my note thanking you for your kind enquiry after my health. Alas it’s such that much as I want to come to Prague I can’t make the journey. I live between blood transfusions! If you see her do give Mrs. Temple also my regrets.47

I often remember the evening we spent together in 1969 with a suspicious character in the old town the night that you had discovered a listening apparatus in your ceiling!

All my best wishes for you and for your country.
Yours very sincerely,
Graham Greene

Date: 2015-02-03; view: 892

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