Conchita, on making her pilgrimage to Rome in February 1967 at the request of Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Holy Office (now called the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith), had to wait a day to see the Cardinal. So, accompanied by her mother, a spanish priest, Father Luna, a spanish professor, Enrico Medi, and Princess Cecile of Bourbon, decided to see Padre Pio. They were told Padre Pio couldn't be seen until the next morning, after he said the 5 am Mass.
Padre Pio asked, "Conchita of Garabandal?" The professor answered "yes." Padre Pio said, "Come at eight o'clock this morning."
"When we arrived," Conchita would recount later, "we were brought into a small room, a cell, which had one bed, a chair, and a small table. I ask Padre Pio if this were his room or whether he slept here or not, and he replied, 'Oh no, you cannot see my room. This is a rich room.' At the time I did not realize what a holy man Padre Pio was, as I know him to be now. I was very young at the time. I was only 16."
The only ones with Conchita were her mother, Father Luna, and a priest from Padre Pio's monastery who spoke Spanish and was taking alot of pictures. The priest then asked Padre Pio if he could take his picture, and the stigmatist replied, "You have been taking them since you came in."
Conchita had a crucifix kissed by Our Lady with her, and she told Padre Pio what it was, and asked him to bless it. He took the crucifix from her and placed it in his left hand, over the Stigmata. Then he took Conchita's hand and placed it on top of the crucifix in his palm, and then he closed his fingers over her hand. With his right hand he blessed first Conchita's hand, and then the crucifix. He did the same thing for Aniceta Gonzalez, Conchita's mother, who brought her rosary kissed by the Virgin. The photographs taken by the priest are still at the monastery, the friars reluctant to make them public because Garabandal is not recognized by the Church yet. Nevertheless these photos are important documents that verify Conchita's meeting with Padre Pio. Although Padre Pio is going to be canonized this summer by Pope John Paul II, the photographs are still not expected to be made public until after the Church approves the apparitions, or at least not until after the Warning and the Miracle have taken place.
When Conchita found out Padre Pio died in Sept. 1968, she met his close friend, Father Bernardino Cennamo, at Lourdes, and asked him, "How is it that Our Lady told me Padre Pio would see the Miracle and he has died?" Father Cenammo responded, "Padre Pio saw the Miracle before he died. He told me himself."The priest gave Conchita one of the three veils that covered Padre Pio's face during his wake, saying that the stigmatist had requested this before he died. He told her truthfully that he personally did not believe in the authenticity of Garabandal until Padre Pio requested this of him. Conchita also was given Padre Pio's rosary, and one of the gloves he wore, stained by his stigmata. She has these treasures preserved at her home in New York.
Padre Pio never ceased recommending pilgrims who asked him about Garabandal, to make a visit there. He told Joey Lomangino, (the next most significant individual in the story of the apparitions after the visionaries) that yes, the Virgin was appearing there, and yes he should go there. That trip would change Joey's life like he would never have believed.