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St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

SAINT PADRE PIO OF PIETRELCINA

Born: 25 May 1887 at Pietrelcina, Benevento, Italy as Francesco Forgione
Died: 23 September 1968 of natural causes
Canonized: 16 June 2002 by Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy
Memorial: 23 September

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St. Pio of Pietrelcina, a worthy follower of Saint Francis of Assisi was born on May 25, 1887 at Pietrelcina in the Archdiocese of Benevento, the son of Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio. He was baptized the next day and given the name Francesco. At the age of twelve he received the Sacrament of Confirmation and made his First Holy Communion.

On 6 January 1903, at the age of sixteen, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone, where on 22 January he took the Franciscan habit and the name Brother Pio. At the end of his novitiate year he took simple vows, and on 27 January 1907 made his solemn profession.

 

After he was ordained priest on 10 August 1910 at Benevento, he stayed at home with his family until 1916 for health reasons. In September of that year he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo and remained there until his death.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

Mystical Stigmata of St. Padre Pio

 

While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on 20 September 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. Reportedly able to bi-locate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920's he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide.

 

He was always immersed in supernatural realities. Not only was he himself a man of hope and total trust in God, but by word and example he communicated these virtues to all who approached him.

 

Padre Pio, as we shall see shortly, had a very particular relationship with the Holy Souls; indeed they were his frequent visitors - so much so that at one time he said:

"I see so many souls from Purgatory that they don't frighten me any more."

And on another occasion when questioned further on the matter, he replied:

"More souls of the dead than of the living climb this mountain to attend my Masses and seek my prayers."

Padre Pio was one who offered his pains, prayers and sufferings for the release of those in a state of purification, and those souls never ceased to thank him for this.

 

We must be truly grateful to Padre Pio for lifting the veil which separates this world from the next for a few instants and thereby helping us to understand and remember their REAL presence within the Church.


On November 29, 1910, writing to Padre Benedetto, his spiritual director, Padre Pio explains that the attacks of the devil are implacable, and that he wishes to be set free from this trial. But he asks permission to offer himself as a victim for sinners and for the souls in Purgatory.

"Now, my dear father; I want to ask your permission for something. For some time I have felt the need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. The desire has been growing continually in my heart, so that it has now become what I would call a strong passion. I have, in fact, made this offering to the Lord several times, beseeching Him to pour upon me the punishment prepared for sinners and for the souls in Purgatory, even increasing them a hundredfold for me, as long as He converts and saves sinners and quickly admits to Paradise the souls in Purgatory. But I should now like to make this offering to the Lord in obedience to you. It seems to me that Jesus really wants this. I am sure that you will have no difficulty in granting me this permission."

In a letter of 1 December 1910, he answered:

"Make the offering of which you speak and it will be. most acceptable to the Lord. Extend your own arms also on your cross, and by offering to the Father the sacrifice of yourself in union with the most loving Saviour, suffer, groan and pray for the wicked ones of the earth and for the poor souls in the next life who are so deserving of our compassion in their patient and unspeakable sufferings."

Once he had been given permission to become a victim, and once he had willingly offered himself, the apparitions of the deceased souls to Padre Pio became innumerable. From his own words we can see that these apparitions were very frequent indeed, so that after a while he wasn't even upset by them.

 

During his early years in San Giovanni Rotondo, he was in charge of the young students for the priesthood. He often spoke to them of the pains and sufferings of the souls in Purgatory and of our duty to help them with our prayers, mortifications, and other meritorious works. To encourage prayers and good works for the Holy Souls, Padre Pio would often relate to the seminarians his own personal experiences with deceased souls, telling them that these souls came to him to seek his prayers.

 

Indeed, as we know, nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all, for souls of the dead were frequent visitors to him during the fifty-two years he spent at San Giovanni Rotondo.

 

Need we say more? If we wish to follow Padre Pia's example, I'm sure he would say to you, our internet visitor:

"Do as I have done. Pray, pray always for the souls of the dear departed."

In conclusion, let us remember that we can form God's stairway for the Poor Souls in Purgatory through our prayers and pious actions offered for their intentions.

 

Can the Holy Souls (the Church Suffering) help us on earth, (the Church Militant)?

 

If you ask St. Padre Pio or his spiritual director they would say most definitely, they can and do. Pope Pius IX confirms this as well, when talking to a newly appointed bishop who did not feel up to the job, saying:

"Your diocese is very small in comparison with the universal Church which I carry on my shoulders. Your cares will be light in comparison to mine. I, too, suffered from a grave defect of memory, but I promised to say a fervent prayer daily for the Holy Souls who in return have obtained for me an excellent memory. Do likewise, dear father, and you will soon have cause to rejoice."

In the years following his death, his reputation for sanctity and miracles grew steadily, and became established in the Church, all over the world and among all kinds of people.