Superhero Saints: Bilocation, the Power to Appear in Two Places

Miracle Superpowers as Signs Pointing People to God

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Superheroes can be in two places simultaneously, and sometimes real people can, too! God gave some saints the miracle power of bilocation, believers say. Andy Ryan/Getty Images

Some pop culture superheroes can appear in two places at once to deliver an important message across time and space. That ability to be in different locations simultaneously is called bilocation. As incredible as it sounds, the power of bilocation isn't just for superhero characters. These saints were real people who could bilocate through the miracle of God's power at work, say believers:

Saint Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio (1887-1968) was an Italian priest who became famous worldwide for his psychic gifts, including bilocation. Padre Pio spent most of his life after being ordained as a priest in one location: San Giovanni Rotondo, the village where he worked at the local church. Yet, even though Padre Pio never left that location during the last decades of his life, witnesses reported seeing him in other places all over the world.

He spent hours every day praying and meditating in order to stay in close communication with God and angels. Padre Pio helped start many prayer groups around the world, and said of meditation: "Through the study of books one sees God; by meditation one finds him." His deep love for prayer and meditation may have contributed to his ability to bilocate. The thought energy expressed while praying or meditating intensely may manifest in physical ways across time and space. Possibly, Padre Pio was directing good thoughts with such power toward the people who said they saw him that the force of that energy led him to appear to them -- even though his body itself was in San Giovanni Rotondo.

The most famous of the many different bilocation stories about Padre Pio comes from World War II. During war bombing raids over Italy in 1943 and 1944, Allied bombers from several different missions returned to their bases without dropping the bombs they had planned to drop. The reason, they reported, was that a man matching Padre Pio's description appeared in the air outside their planes, right in front of their guns. The bearded priest waved his hands and arms frantically in gestures to stop while looking at them with eyes that seemed to be lit with flames of fire. American and British pilots and crew members from different squadrons swapped stories about their experiences with Padre Pio, who had apparently bilocated to try to protect his village from being destroyed. No bombs were ever dropped on that area during World War II.

Venerable Mary of Agreda

Mary of Agreda (1602-1665) was a Spanish nun who has been declared "venerated" (a step in the process of becoming a saint). She wrote about mystical experiences and became known for her own experience with them through bilocation.

Even though Mary was cloistered inside a monastery in Spain, she reportedly appeared on various occasions to people in Spanish colonies in the area that would become the United States of America. Angels helped transport her to the New World from 1620 to 1631, she said, so she could speak directly to Native Americans from the Jumano tribe living in what is now New Mexico and Texas, sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ with them. Angels translated her conversations with members of the Jumano tribe, Mary said, so even though she spoke only Spanish and they spoke only their tribal language, they could still understand each other's language.

Some of the Jumano people contacted priests in the area, saying that a lady dressed in blue had urged them to ask the priests questions about faith. Mary always dressed in blue, since that was the color of her religious order's cape. A variety of church officials (including the Archbishop of Mexico) investigated reports of Mary bilocating to the New World colonies on more than 500 separate occasions over 11 years. They concluded that there was ample evidence that she had actually bilocated.

Mary wrote that God has given everyone the ability to develop and use spiritual gifts. "So great is the impetus of the river of God's goodness overflowing on mankind ... if creatures would place no obstacle and permit its operations, the whole soul would be inundated and satiated with participating in its divine essence and attributes," she wrote in her book The Mystical City of God.

Saint Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639), a Peruvian monk, never left his monastery in Lima, Peru after he joined as a lay brother. However, Martin traveled all over the world through bilocation. Over many years, people in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America reported interacting with Martin and only later discovering that he hadn't actually left Peru during those encounters.

A friend of Martin's from Peru once asked Martin to pray for his upcoming business trip to Mexico. During the trip, the man got severely ill, and after praying to God for help, was surprised to see Martin arrive at his bedside. Martin didn't comment on what brought him to Mexico; he simply helped care for his friend and then left. After his friend recovered, he tried to find where Martin was staying in Mexico, but couldn't, and then discovered that Martin had been at his monastery in Peru the whole time.

Another incident involved Martin visiting the Barbary Coast of northern Africa to encourage and help care for prisoners there. When one of the men who had seen Martin there later met Martin at his monastery in Peru, he thanked him for his ministry work in the African prisons and learned that Martin had conducted that work from Peru.

Saint Lydwine of Schiedam

St. Lydwine (1380-1433) lived in the Netherlands, where she fell after ice skating one day at age 15 and was so severely injured that she became bedridden for most of her life after that. Lydwine, who also showed the symptoms of multiple sclerosis before that disease was identified by doctors, serves as a patron saint of people suffering from chronic illnesses. But Lydwine didn't let her physical challenges limit where her soul wanted to go.

Once, when the director of the St. Elizabeth monastery (located on an island Lydwine had never physically visited) came to visit Lydwine at her home where she was bedridden, Lydwine gave her a detailed description of her monastery. Surprised, the director asked Lydwine how she could know so much about what the monastery looked like when she had never actually been there before. Lydwine replied that she had, in fact, been there many times before, while she was traveling to other locations through ecstatic trances.

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Your Citation
Hopler, Whitney. "Superhero Saints: Bilocation, the Power to Appear in Two Places." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Hopler, Whitney. (2023, April 5). Superhero Saints: Bilocation, the Power to Appear in Two Places. Retrieved from Hopler, Whitney. "Superhero Saints: Bilocation, the Power to Appear in Two Places." Learn Religions. (accessed May 30, 2023).