Born in 1887 in the small village of Pietrelcina in the south of Italy, Francesco Forgione joined the Order of Franciscan Capuchins at the age of fifteen and took the name Pio. He was ordained seven years later and assigned to the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo in his village.
For fifty years, Padre Pio, as he came to be known, was a much sought after spiritual advisor, confessor, and intercessor whose life was devoted to the Eucharist and prayer. People came from all over the world to see him celebrate Mass and ask for his help.
On August 5, 1918, Padre Pio received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ in his body. He was to carry these wounds for the next fifty years.
Many Church officials and doctors examined his wounds. Some of them thought that he might be faking his wounds. However, after examining him, almost all were convinced that his Stigmata was truly from God.
Padre Pio would especially suffer while he was celebrating Holy Mass each day. It was as if he were experiencing just what Jesus did on the Cross. Like Jesus, he would lose blood from his wounds. He would always offer up these suffering for the salvation of the world.
Padre Pio ate very little and slept even less. All his time was devoted to prayer and meditation and serving God’s people, especially hearing their confessions and offering spiritual advice.
Late in his life, Padre Pio was able to open a “House To Relieve Suffering” that would take care of not only the people’s physical needs but also their spiritual needs.
After an entire life lived for God, doing good works and even miracles, Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. So many people believed that Padre Pio was a Saint that by the next year the Capuchin friars asked the Church to consider canonizing him. Over the next several years all of the friar’s writings and actions were examined, and by 1983 the official process was in work.
Padre Pio was beatified in 1999 by Pope John Paul II and canonized in 2002 by the same Pontiff.
PRAYER: God, through a singular grace You enabled Your Priest St. Pio to participate in the Cross of Your Son and through his ministry You renewed the wonders of Your mercy. Grant that by his intercession we may be continually united with Christ’s Passion and reach the glory of his Resurrection. Amen.