St. Pius of Pietrelcina

St. Pius of Pietrelcina
On September 23, Catholics celebrate the memory of St. Pius of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), the Capuchin Franciscan friar still best known simply as "Padre Pio," who has become one of the most popular saints in the Church.

He was born of poor but devout parents, Grazio and Maria Forgione, in the province of Benevento in Southern Italy, and baprtized Francesco. At an early age, he wanted to enter the Capuchin friars, but lacked the educational background.  His father Grazio came to the  United States to find work in order to pay for schooling, and Francesco entered the novitiate in 1903 and given the name Pio.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1910. 

Padre Pio was plagued with ill health in his early years. In 1916 he was assigned to the small friary of Our Lady of Grace in the town of San Giovanni Rotondo in Apulia where he spent almost all the rest of his life. Shortly afterward, Padre Pio began experiencing para-normal phenomena, especially the stigmata that first appeared on his body in 1918. These caused considerable notoriety and suspicion during the 1920s and early 30s. But gradually the tide turned, and Padre Pio’s deep spirituality and ability to "read hearts" brought thousands to his friary for counsel and confession. The friars built a new church in the 1950s to accommodate the large crowds who were coming to San Giovanni Rotondo. He died shortly after marking the 50th anniversary of the stigmata.  For more details on Padre Pio's life, see: http://padrepiodevotions.org/a-short-biography/

Padre Pio's life demonstrates again that the heart of Franciscan spirituality lies in a radical response to the in-break of God's love in one's life that leads us to empty ourselves and follow in the footsteps of Christ in humble service. His great confidence in the love of God is typified in his oft-quoted advice to penitents: "Pray, Hope, Don't Worry." As Pope Paul VI said shortly after Padre Pio's death: "Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following gathered around him! But why? Because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise? Because he had resources at his disposal? No - because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was–it is not easy to say it–one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering.”

We should remember also that as Padre Pio came to know Christ more and more, he began an outreach to the suffering poor through a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, which today has become a major medical treatment and research center - http://caccioppoli.com/St.%20Padre%20Pio%20Casa%20Sollievo.…

Pade Pio was canonized in 2002 by Pope St. John Paul II, who had written him in 1962, asking him to pray for a friend of his, Dr. Wanda Poltawska, who was very ill with cancer. She was cured.

Written by : Dominic Monti

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