Pio of Pietrelcina
Feast Day: September 23
Canonized: June 16, 2002
Beatified: May 2, 1999
Venerated: December 18, 1997
Francesco Forgione was born in Pietrelcina, Italy, in 1887. His family and the people of his town were very religious. They celebrated festivals to honor the saints. The church bells called people to prayer many times during the day. His family attended Mass every day and prayed the Rosary each night. When a Capuchin friar visited his town to ask for donations for the friars’ ministry, Francesco knew that he wanted to become a Capuchin.
Francesco entered the Capuchin friary when he was 15. He took the name “Pio” in honor of the patron saint of his town, St. Pius V. After many years of prayer and learning how to live according to the Capuchin rule, he was ordained a priest. He was called “Padre Pio.” Padre is the Italian name for “Father.”
One day soon after his ordination in 1910, Padre Pio received a great blessing during prayer. He had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, his body bore the marks of Christ’s crucifixion on his hands, feet, and side. This bodily sign of Christ is called the stigmata. (Another famous saint who received this blessing is St. Francis of Assisi.)
Medical tests were done on Padre Pio. His Capuchin superiors questioned him to make sure he was strong enough to continue his work as a priest.
When Pio was able to return to his priestly ministry, busloads of believers came to the friary for his blessing, to participate in his Masses, and to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation with him. He had a special gift for helping sinners return to living as followers of Jesus.
Perhaps because of the physical suffering he experienced, Padre Pio had a special compassion for the sick and suffering people of the world. He asked that a hospital be built near the friary in 1948. Money was raised and in time, the “House for the Relief of the Suffering” was completed.
Padre Pio spent all but a small portion of his priestly ministry in the remote mountain town of San Giovanni Rotondo in Italy. He died in 1968 and was declared a saint in 2002.
Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
The Story of Jesus, unit 3