Feast of St. Padre Pio!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 23rd is quite possibly my favorite day of the year - the feast of my favorite saint, Pio of Pietrelcina!!! St. Pio died in 1968 and was canonized in 2002, so he's relatively "new" compared to the likes of Augustine and Aquinas. I was introduced to Padre Pio my senior year of high school when I watched the movie Padre Pio: Miracle Man at a friend's house (highly recommended - I'm watching it now!). It is almost a four hour movie and we started watching it around midnight. I watched the entire thing until 4am, long after everyone had falled asleep on the couch. I was so enthralled and moved by his life, suffering, and holiness. As I learned more about Padre Pio and began to read his spiritual writings I  began to develop a devotion to him.

In June of 2010 I was privileged to make a pilgrimage to seven cities in Italy including San Giovanni Rotondo, the town where Padre Pio spent most of his life. Besides seing the Holy Father in Rome for the first time, being in San Giovanni was the highlight of my trip and is something I will never forget. I cannot even begin to describe how profound it was to attend Mass in his chapel, see his confessional and altar clothes stained with blood from his stigmata, pray at his tomb, and venerate and receive a blessing from two relics, one of the gloves he wore over his hands and the crucifix from his rosary. My friend Sr. Mary Grace (then Alexa), who also has an incredible devotion to St. Pio, was on the pilgrimage with me. I remember both of us crying tears of joy and thanksgiving from the overwhelming amount of graces we received that day from Padre Pio.

Fr. D blessing me with relics of St. Pio
Touching rosaries to Padre Pio's tomb!!
Pio's cell where the devil would attack him...creepy

St. Pio was born in Italy in 1887 as Francesco, after St. Francis of Assisi. Even as a small child he was very devout, and conversed with Jesus, Mary, his guardian angel, and was even attacked by the devil (this would continue on throughout his life). He entered the Capuchin Friars at the age of 16 and was ordained a priest at the age of 23. In 1918, while kneeling in front of a crucifix in the choir loft of the monastery chapel he received the stigmata - the wounds of Christ. He would bear these wounds for almost 50 years, and miraculously, when he died the wounds disappeared leaving no scars. Padre Pio had other mystic gifts such as bilocation (being physically present in two places at once) and reading hearts in the confessional, where he would hear pilgrim's confessions for upwards of 10 hours a day. As I mentioned before, he was physically attacked by Satan throughout his life and would even sustain injuries. The other friars would be woken up at night by the sounds of fighting coming from his room. Word quickly began to spread around San Giovanni Rotondo and Italy about Father Pio and the miracles people experienced after he prayed for them.

His confessional & prayer intentions from pilgrims
Padre Pio once bilocated into an imprisoned priest's
jail cell to bring him the supplies to celebrate Mass
Bloodstained altar cloths
The crucifix he received the stigmata from
Many in the church thought Pio was a fraud and for two years he was not allowed to celebrate Mass publicly or hear confessions. Pio continued his good work by bringing doctors to San Giovanni (a small town in the mountains) to start a hospital, which is still in existence today! By the 1960s word of Padre Pio had spread internationally and thousands and thousands of pilgrims flocked to San Giovanni to catch a glimpse of him waving from the window above the church. At this point, Pio was receiving so much mail that the town had to open an extra post office to accomodate all the letters being sent to him!  When i was in Italy in 2010, our tour guide shared with us that he had seen Padre Pio waving from that very window when he was a boy!

Home to Relieve Suffering Hospital
Just a portion of the letters on display that he received
from all around the world asking for prayers and to be healed
The window where Padre Pio would wave to pilgrims

One of the more notable more stories about Padre Pio was his meeting with Father Karol Wojtyla, a young Polish priest, in 1947. Pio heard Karol's confession and told him that one day he would ascend to the highest post in the Church. Ten years after Padre Pio's death in 1978, Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II :) How beautiful that two of the most popular saints of our time met each other!

The altar where Pio celebrated Mass!!!
My priests celebrating mass on St. Pio's altar - incredible!!
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer...Prayer is the best weapon we possess: it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart; in fact on certain occasions you should speak to Him only with your heart." - Padre Pio

"Let us be saints, so that after being together on earth, we will be together always in heaven." - Padre Pio

"This heart of mine is yours my Jesus, so take this heart of mine, fill it with Your love and then order me to do whatever You wish." - Padre Pio

Padre Pio, ora pro nobis!!!! 


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