Joanne DeAlessandro, is a Faux Painter by trade, but that’s not her true passion. Often a true artist has many more talents than one, and this is certainly so of Joanne D’Alessandro. Says Joanne, “I’ve always been a crafter. ” But take one look at Joanne’s true passion, and it’s clear that Joanne D’Alessandro isn’t really a crafter, she’s an artist.
Joanne makes beautiful framed photographs of St. Padre Pio and the Blessed Mother; Shadowboxes with dried or pressed flowers arranged around the images in beautiful spirit-led designs.
Inspired to begin creating these lovely works of art after dreaming of St. Padre Pio, Joanne’s Art has become her passion. After that dream, Joanne began praying to Padre Pio. Joanne told her parish priest about the dream, trying to decipher what it meant. Soon after, she dreamt of the Miraculous Medal.
Around seven years earlier, Joanne had been called to care for her ailing father, who was suffering from terminal Colon Cancer. Not long after her Father’s passing, Joanne’s Grandmother had a stroke, and Joanne took to caring for her. Later, she cared for an aunt who also had Cancer. Then, Joanne herself took ill. She chalked it up to care giving. But after months of exhaustion she was diagnosed with a Parathyroid Adenoma. That’s when she asked for Padre Pio’s intercession, praying for her health and also for employment as she’d been unemployed during her illness, and believed she could not go back to her faux finishing business after her recovery.
Joanne’s Father had spoken of Padre Pio when she was growing up but it wasn’t until after his death that she realized his devotion to him. Padre Pio prayer cards were found in his wallet, and relics among his belongings. Joanne believes it was her father in her dream sitting beside her in a church pew, instructing her on what to do when it was her turn to greet Padre Pio, urging her to ‘go up to the Altar and kiss his hand.’ Following that dream, Joanne felt a greater curiosity for Padre Pio and decided to visit The National Shrine for Padre Pio in Barto, Pa. There, she learned about the “odor of sanctity” that was present all around Padre Pio when he was alive, and was said to emanate from the stigmata he bore for over 50 years. The Stigmata are the wounds of Christ: holes in the hands and the feet, and a wound in the side; bleeding wounds, which were also the hallmark of St. Francis of Assisi, author of the well known Prayer of Peace, The Prayer of St. Francis.
The next morning, she awoke with visions of framed photographs of Padre Pio, surrounded in dried flowers to signify the Odor of Sanctity. Devotees today, including Joanne, have smelled the odor of sanctity, which can be described as a strong odor of flowers, or incense, when no flowers are present. (The presence of the Blessed Mother has been said to be “felt” by those devoted to her, through the scent of Roses.)
She couldn’t get the images out of her head. Her mother urged her to go ahead and create a few, even though she was unsure how to go about it. Joanne made six frames and returned to the Shrine in Barto. The owner loved them, and told Joanne to make as many as she could before September 23rd, Padre Pio’s feast day. There was to be a celebration at the shrine and the owner wanted to offer them for sale. Joanne went to work, creating 12 more frames, making, as she says, “a bargain” with Padre Pio: If half of the frames sold, she would continue making them, to venerate a Saint whom she feels very strongly, is a “powerful” Saint, swiftly answering prayers and taking souls on as his spiritual children.
They all sold, and the shrine even took orders for more.
Joanne kept her end of the deal, despite health challenges, which continue to some degree. After all, Padre Pio himself once said that
‘The grain of wheat does not yield anything unless it suffers and decomposes; it is the same for the soul and for nations who need trials and sufferings so as to rise up purified and renewed.”
Joanne has found peace and a sense of purpose in creating her own unique works of art, encouraging devotion to a modern day Saint. She has partnered with her mother who has realized her own strong sense for design, and a sense of purpose herself in assisting in the step by step process of gathering, drying and arranging the hand chosen flowers, and carefully cleaning the glass, envisioning and creating one of a kind designs. Joanne says, “St. Padre Pio has a way of bringing people together” and as so many ‘chance’ meetings following the dream, so often involve Padre Pio, Joanne relates, “There is no such thing as coincidence.”
After she dreamed of the Miraculous Medal, abandoned on the floor of a church, she began making framed photographs of various icons of the Blessed Mother to encourage a Devotion to the Queen of all Saints, to whom Padre Pio himself, (never seen without a rosary in his hand) was intensely devoted.
An avid viewer of EWTN, (always on in the background as she makes the frames) Joanne has a real interest in the lives of the saints. “God gives us the saints for us to use at our disposal. The saints can’t help us unless we ask. And if people don’t know about a particular saint, they can’t ask for help, and therefore they can’t help you. More People have to know about Padre Pio. So I said, ‘Padre, I’m a laborer, I’m not a marketer. I’ll do the work, you help me sell them’ ” And then she returns to Padre Pio’s mantra. “Pray, Hope, and Don’t worry.”
“ He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.”
-St. Francis of Asissi
Joanne D’Alessandro is an artist.
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