As the spiritual influence of Padre Pio increased, so did the voices of his detractors. Accusations against Padre Pio poured in to the Holy Office. Consequently, Padre Pio spent ten years, from 1923 to 1933, isolated from the outside world.
By June 1922, restrictions were placed on the public’s access to Padre Pio. His daily Mass time varied each day, without announcement to diminish the crowds, and he was ordered not to answer correspondence from people seeking spiritual direction.
From 1924 to 1931 various statements were made by the Holy See that denied the supernaturality of Padre Pio’s phenomena. On June 9, 1931, Padre Pio was ordered to desist from all activities except the celebration of the Mass, which was to be in private. However, in early 1933, Pope Pius XI ordered the Holy See to reverse its ban on Padre Pio’s public celebration of Mass, saying, “I have not been badly disposed toward Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed.”
On 16 July, 1933 Padre Pio resumed celebrating Masses in public. His faculties were gradually restored. First, confessions for men were allowed (March 25, 1934) and then women (May 12, 1934). The Capuchin Minister General granted Padre Pio permission to preach and he preached several times a year. In 1939 when Pope Pius XII was elected pope, he began to encourage people to visit Padre Pio. More and more people began to make pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo.
In 1940, Padre Pio convinced three doctors to move to San Giovanni Rotondo and he announced plan to build a “Home for the Relief of Suffering”, which he himself referred as “his greatest work here on earth”. He said to the three doctors, “One single act of love on the part of man, one single act of charity is so great in God’s eyes, that He could not repay it even with the immense gift of the entire Creation! Love is the spark of God in man’s soul, it is the very essence of God personified in the Holy Spirit!” Padre Pio took out from his pocket a gold coin which he had received once as a gift and said, “I wish to be the first to give a donation towards the Hospital.”
The doctors were excited about the project, but they were also fearful that it was not the time to begin such a project with Europe being on the brink of another world war. These fears did not stop Padre Pio and the project began. On October 5, 1946, the “Home for the Relief of Suffering” received its full official status and legal constitution. On May 5,1956, the hospital was inaugurated with the blessing of Cardinal Lercaro and an inspiring speech from Pope Pius XII. The purpose of the hospital was to cure the sick person both spiritually and physically: faith and science, mysticism and medicine, all in accordance with helping the entire person: body and soul.
Human envy went after the work of Padre Pio. Since 1959, newspapers and weekly magazines began to publish articles and calumnious reports against the “House for the Relief of Suffering”. In order to take away from Padre Pio the donations that came from all over the world to support the House, his enemies planned a series of false documentation and even placed microphones in his confessional to find anything with which to accuse him.
Some offices of the Holy See conducted investigations. They took away the administration of the “House for the Relief of Suffering” and Padre Pio’s prayer groups were abandoned. The faithful were advised neither to attend his Masses nor to confess with him. However, even in the midst of suffering Padre Pio said, “Sweet is the hand of the Church even when she slaps because it is the hand of a mother.”