Monday, September 23, 2013

St. Pio of Pietrelcina - (1887-1968)


Today is the memorial of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968).

St. Pio is one of my favorite saints. Miracles happened everyday of his life. He was a priest, a mystic, and a stigmatist who possessed many rare and mysterious gifts. He was bi-locational, that is, he appeared in two places at one time. He was able to communicate with others through mental telepathy. When he thought of them, they began to smell the scent of violets, which they associated with him. In the Confessional, he was able to tell people their sins in detail, even those which they did not confess to him. Through the simple means of touch, he was able to heal others. God had blessed him with an abundance of gifts that he used wisely to build up the body of Christ and to convert sinners.

Padre Pio was born in 1887 in the small village of Pietrelcina in southern Italy, the son of a shepherd. His baptized name was Francesco (Francis) Forgione. He joined the Capuchin friars at the age of 16 and was ordained as a priest seven years later. He spent fifty years at the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he was very much sought after as a spiritual advisor, confessor, and intercessor. Throughout his life, he experienced many mysterious health problems, suffering from high fevers and, at one time, was thought to have tuberculosis.

While praying before a crucifix, Padre Pio received the stigmata at the age of 31 and bore the wounds of Christ for fifty years. He was the first priest ever to be so blessed. The doctor who examined Padre Pio was unable to detect any natural cause for the wounds. When Padre Pio died in 1968, the wounds completely disappeared. In fact, there was not even any scaring of the skin, which was completely renewed, fulfilling a prediction that Padre Pio had made 50 years earlier that upon his death the wounds would heal.

Word of Padre Pio spread and after World War II, many traveled to see him both out of curiosity and piety. He was an extremely popular confessor and spent 18 hours a day in the confessional with people who came from all over the world to confess their sins to him. He possessed the gift of reading the hearts the penitents and he knew exactly the right words to say to bring healing, counsel, and encouragement to the sinner and to bring him closer to God.Padre Pio's humility -- manifested through his constant devotion to the Eucharist -- was impressive. He would often remark, "I only want to be a friar who prays."

Padre Pio entered Eternal Life on September 23, 1968 and was canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. He died a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, and over 100,000 people attended his funeral. The pilgrimage town of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived for nearly all his life, is visited by approximately 8 million people a year.

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