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|
|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!!|
"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!!!!|