Under the watchful eye and intercession of Padre Pio, Father Jean Derobert was taken to heaven when he died momentarily.
Many people have had near-death experiences, where their body remains on Earth, most of the time lifeless.
And their soul goes up through a tunnel that gets brighter and brighter, until they reach a beautiful and peaceful place that cannot be described in words.
And there they meet dead relatives and saints.
This has also happened to some priests, but there is only one case in which Padre Pio had an active participation in the experience.
Here we will talk about the strong connection Padre Pio had with Padre Jean Derobert, what Derobert's near-death experience was like in which he was taken to heaven, and what Padre Pio's participation in it was.
Jean Derobert was a young French seminarian in Rome, who in 1955 had the opportunity to go to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio.
Derobert went with the idea that he would be dealing with a poor deluded guy or a con man, because he knew of the accusations he was the subject of in the 1920s.
The first surprise this overconfident young man had was that in Padre Pio's presence he immediately lost all his audacity, was stupefied and found himself unable to remember what he wanted to confess.
The conceited and proud seminarian, who had gone to amuse himself at the expense of a poor Italian friar, who was suspected of deceit by some high dignitaries of the Church, would then go on to receive the most important lesson in humility of his life.
Padre Pio let him catch his breath for a moment, and with tears in his eyes, showed him the gravity of certain acts.
Hearing these things from Padre Pio's mouth, they took on their true dimension, and he wept.
He also gave him precise details that he had completely forgotten.
After receiving absolution, he stood there stupefied and distressed, not understanding what had happened to him.
Then Padre Pio asked him, "Do you believe in your Guardian Angel?"
In the 1950s, devotion to the Guardian Angel was for many Catholics largely antiquated and he replied, "Um... I've never seen him!"
And then, Padre Pio slapped him hard on the cheek and said, "Look carefully, he's there, and he's very beautiful!"
And he added, "Your guardian angel is here protecting you! Pray for him!".
And Derobert remembers that Padre Pio's eyes were luminous, reflecting the Angel's light.
From then on, Padre Pio took the seminarian as a spiritual son.
Jean Derobert had come to such a relationship with Padre Pio that later, around 1966, he commissioned him to start a prayer group in Paris.
At the time, Father Derobert was chaplain of a college outside Paris and was troubled by the idea, because he did not know many people in Paris.
Padre Pio, however, was not in the least dismayed; he simply smiled at him and said, "I will help you."
When Padre Derobert returned to France, he told a friend about Padre Pio's request.
And his friend was thrilled at the prospect of having a prayer group in Paris.
And he said, "Padre Pio has sent me here to help you."
Father Derobert and his friend soon found a beautiful chapel in Paris, where they received permission to hold monthly prayer meetings.
And from the beginning, several people showed great interest and attended regularly.
Everything progressed in a wonderful way.
And a year later, Father Derobert returned to San Giovanni Rotondo.
As soon as Padre Pio saw him, he wanted news about the prayer group.
He listened with great interest as Father Derobert gave him a full report.
And then Padre Pio told him, "I know the group well, there are some very beautiful souls attending, I go there often."
And then he proceeded to describe in detail the beautiful chapel where they met each month.
In fact, many of the members of the prayer group had told Father Derobert, that they often felt Padre Pio's presence at their monthly meetings.
And before Father Derobert returned to Paris, Padre Pio gave him a word of wisdom, telling him, "Do nothing but pray."
Derobert would later be appointed chaplain of the famous Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris.
But he had already gone through the most impressive experience of his life, so he could speak of heaven with authority, because he had been there.
And with this experience he was also able to testify in the process of Padre Pio's canonization.
In 1958, Derobert went through his most impressive situation, he had a near-death experience, where Padre Pio played a decisive role, as in his whole life.
Three years after Derobert was taken as Padre Pio's spiritual son, he was recruited for the health services of the French army in Algeria.
And Padre Pio sent him a letter in which he promised him his prayers and support.
On an August morning in 1958 he had received another letter from Padre Pio with two handwritten lines that read, "Life is a struggle, but it leads to the light," underlined two or three times.
And that night, a commando of the Algerian National Liberation Front attacked the village where he was, he was arrested, and was shot along with five other military men.
He immediately rose and saw his body beside him, lying covered in blood, and began a curious ascent through a kind of tunnel.
From the cloud that surrounded him, familiar and unfamiliar faces emerged.
At first the faces were shadows, and they were undesirable people, unvirtuous sinners.
But as he ascended, the faces he encountered became brighter and brighter.
He was surprised to be able to walk, to be able to see everything around him without having to move his head and not feel the pain of the wounds produced by the bullets of the rifles.
And he told himself that he was out of time and therefore had been resurrected.
Suddenly his thoughts turned to his parents and he found himself in the family home, in Annecy, in his parents' bedroom as they slept.
He tried to speak to them, but without success, went around the apartment and noticed that a piece of furniture had been moved.
Then he would write to his mother and ask her why she had moved a piece of furniture.
And she would reply, "How do you know?".
During the ascent through the tunnel he thought of Pope Pius XII, whom he knew well, and suddenly, he found himself in his room, he had just gone to bed.
They talked exchanging thoughts, because he was a very spiritual man.
And he continued his ascent until he found himself in the midst of a wonderful landscape, enveloped in a sweet, bluish light.
However, there was no sun, giving reason to the Apocalypse that says that "the Lord will give them light".
He saw thousands of people, all in their 30s, and met some he had known when they were alive.
One had died when she was 80 years old and another had died when she was 2 years old and they were all the same age, about 30 years old.
Then he left that paradise full of extraordinary and unknown flowers on Earth and ascended further.
There he lost his human nature and became a "drop of light".
He saw many other "drops of light" and knew that one was St. Peter, another St. Paul, another St. John, and he saw other apostles or saints.
Then he saw the Virgin Mary, wonderfully beautiful with her mantle of light, who received him with an unspeakable smile.
Behind the Virgin Mary was Jesus, marvelously beautiful, and behind, an area of light that he knew was the Father, and into which he plunged.
There he felt the total satisfaction of all his desires and knew perfect bliss.
And suddenly, abruptly, he found himself on Earth again, his face full of dust, among the blood-covered bodies of his comrades.
He noticed that the door before which he stood was riddled with bullets and the bullets had pierced his body.
He saw that his clothes were pierced and covered with blood, that his chest and back were stained with practically dried and slightly viscous blood.
However, he was intact.
He went to the commander looking like that and when he approached him he shouted, "Miracle!".
Undoubtedly, this experience definitely marked him.
And later, now freed from the army, he went to visit Padre Pio, who spotted him from afar in the hall of St. Francis.
He gestured for him to come closer and offered him, as always, a small token of affection.
And Padre Pio said to him these simple words, "Oh, how much you put me through, but what you saw was very beautiful!".
And that was the end of his explanation of what Derobert had gone through.
That is why Derobert would henceforth say that he had lost his fear of death, because he knew what lay on the other side.
This was witnessed by Jean Derobert during the process of canonization of Padre Pio, who was declared a Saint in 2002.
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