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September 23

St Padre Pio portrait

St. Pio of Pietrelcina
(Padre Pio)

Priest, Mystic, Stigmatic

(1887 – 1968)

“When you gossip about a person it means
that you have removed the person from your heart. But be aware, when you remove a man from your heart, Jesus also goes away from your heart with that man.​

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Saint’s Life Story

His Youth

Francesco Forgione was born to Grazio Mario Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio, peasant farmers, on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, a small Italian town in the province of Benevento in the southern region of Campania. His siblings were an older brother, Michele, and three younger sisters, Felicita, Pellegrina, and Grazia (who was later to become a Bridgettine nun). His parents had two other children who died in infancy. 

Priesthood and Military Life

On January 6, 1903, at the age of 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars in Morcone, Italy. Francesco took the Franciscan habit and the name of Fra (Friar) Pio, in honor of Pope St. Pius V, the patron saint of Pietrelcina. He took the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Francesco was afflicted with a number of health problems. However, he prevailed over them to receive his ordination at the age of 22 on August 10, 1910, at the Cathedral of Benevento. 

His Poor Health

Padre Pio’s health being precarious, he was permitted to remain with his family until 1916 while still retaining the Capuchin habit.  On September 4, 1916, Padre Pio was ordered to return to his community life. Thus, he was moved to an agricultural community, Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, located in the Gargano Mountains in San Giovanni Rotondo in Foggia. At that time with Father Pius, the community numbered seven friars. He stayed at San Giovanni Rotondo until his death, except for military service. On November 16, 1915, he was drafted into the Italian army and on 6 December assigned to the 10th Medical Corps in Naples. Due to poor health, he was continually discharged and recalled until on March 16, 1918, he was declared unfit for military service and discharged. In all, his military service lasted 182 days.

Spiritual Director

Padre Pio then became a spiritual director. He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. He compared weekly confession to dusting a room weekly and recommended the performance of meditation and self-examination twice daily: once in the morning, as preparation to face the day, and once again in the evening, as retrospection. His advice on the practical application of theology, he often summed up in his now famous quote, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”. He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.

Stigmatas

On September 20, 1918, while hearing confessions, Padre Pio had his first occurrence of the stigmata: bodily marks, pain, and bleeding in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This phenomenon continued for fifty years, until the end of his life. The blood flowing from the stigmata smelled of perfume or flowers, a phenomenon mentioned in stories of the lives of several saints and often referred to as the odor of sanctity. Padre Pio was subject to numerous investigations. At one point, he was prevented from publicly performing his priestly duties, such as hearing confessions and saying Mass. Despite intense personal and physical sufferings, he never waivered in his prayer life.

His Supernatural Phenomena

As word spread about his supernatural phenomena, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, Padre Pio himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. Father Pio earned a reputation for holiness and spiritual guidance such that thousands came to San Giovanni Rotondo to have him hear their confessions and seek his counsel. Padre Pio was reportedly able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. In the 1920’s, Padre Pio started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide.
In 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza or “Home to Relieve Suffering”. The hospital opened in 1956 and serves 60,000 patients a year.

His Death

The deterioration of Padre Pio’s health started during the 1960s and in spite of this, he continued his spiritual works. Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows and died in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo with his last breath whispering, “Maria!” His body was buried on September 26, 1968, in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady of Grace. His Requiem Mass was attended by over 100,000 people.

 

Beatified:            May 2, 1999 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:         June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:          September 23

Patron Saint:     Adolescents; Civil Defense Volunteers; Stress Relief

Source: 

Reflection

Even under ill health and suffering, Padre Pio dedicated his life to serving God tirelessly during long hours each day. May we ask for Padre Pio to intercede for us during our sufferings and weaknesses.

How can you grow stronger in faith and relationship with Jesus serving others in love and hope?

Prayers

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you never waived in prayer and your beliefs even when so many doubted your physical wounds of your stigmata. May you be an example for all of us to “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – no matter what physical and personal struggles we may be going through in our lives.

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – St Padre Pio: His life, miracles and legacy

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Padre Pio

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Padre Pio Quotes

Anastpaul – Saint Padre Pio Quotes

Angelus News – Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Catholic Culture – Padre Pio: One with Christ, One with Sinners

Catholic Exchange – St. Padre Pio and the Trasverberation of the Heart

Catholic Fire – St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Catholic Ireland – Sep 23 – St Pius of Pietrelcina (1887-1968) Padre Pio

Catholic News Agency – St. Pio of Pietrelcina

CatholicSaints.info – Saint Padre Pio

Franciscan MediaCapturing Padre Pio

Good Catholic – 5 Padre Pio Miracles

Independent Catholic News – Book: Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Loyola Press – Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, 1887-1968 Feast Day September 23

My Catholic Life – Saint Padre Pio

Newman Ministry – Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Saints, Feast, FamilySaint Pio of Pietrelcina’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Padre Pio da Pietrelcina (1887-1968)

Saint Resources – Pio of Pietrelcina

uCatholic – Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Wikipedia – Padre Pio

Video Link

St. Pio of Pietrelcina – YouTube Video (Catholic Online)