The miracle man, Saint Padre Pio is one of the world’s most popular saints. Also referred to as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, he is the patron saint of civil defense volunteers. The first Catholic Church priest to have stigmata, Saint Padre Pio healed many of their internal and external sufferings.
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Saint Padre Pio: The Beginning
Saint Padre Pio was born in southern Italy in the year 1887. His name by birth was Francesco Forgione. He was dedicated to Christianity faith since his childhood. At his local parish, he worked as an altar boy. He attended daily Mass with his family. He had this peculiar trait of seeing guardian angels like Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. For a very long time, he assumed this was normal and even others could see and speak to God. He was evaluated and told that he needed more education when he expressed his wish to become a friar. His father traveled to America to find work and sent the money home so that his son could be tutored privately.
Saint Padre Pio: Initiation into priesthood
At 15 years of age, Francesco entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. He often saw the relic of Pope Pius I at his local chapel and thus took the name of Pio in his honor. He suffered from ill health so much that he could only digest milk and cheese. Finally, he was sent home to his family where he continued to study for the priesthood. Even though his health was feeble, he completed the required studies and was ordained a priest in 1910. He was even summoned for military service during World War I but was finally dismissed because of his ailing health and tuberculosis.
Saint Padre Pio: Stigmata
In 1918, Padre Pio felt pain in his hands and feet when he was making his thanksgiving after Mass. He had a vision of God and noticed stigmata, the wounds of crucified Christ appearing on his hands and feet. The five wounds were painful and bleeding but the miracle was that they were never infected. Even the doctors were not able to tell the reason for the stigmata. He became the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. The wounds disappeared and appeared many times. It was studied by a number of physicians but remained unexplainable. The phenomenon continued for fifty years until the end of his life. At the time of his death, no visible scarring was present on his body.
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Saint Padre Pio: Healing powers
By 1919, the news about Saint Padre Pio and his stigmata spread far and wide. He was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions when the authenticity of stigmata was questioned. He rarely left his friary but curiosity seekers visited him in busloads. People who saw him encountered supernatural occurrences. For them, he had the power to levitate and perform miracles. Every morning after the morning Mass, he heard confessions from scores of people. The crowd was so tough to handle that the penitents had to take a number for their turn. Many have claimed that Padre Pio knew some details of their life which they had never mentioned to him.
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Saint Padre Pio: Cure for the sick
During the 1920s and 1930s, following the investigation of stigmata from the church, Saint Padre Pio was forbidden from speaking publicly. They even tried to relocate him but were met with resistance from local parishioners. But from 1933, the Church changed its stance and began more accepting of Padre Pio and his good deeds. In 1940, Padre Pio announced his plans to build a Home for Relief of Suffering called the Casa Sollievo Della Sofferenza. It was finally opened in 1956 and was a hospital with 350 beds built on nearby Mount Gargano.
Saint Padre Pio: The end and sainthood
The health of Saint Padre Pio started deteriorating in the 1960s and he eventually died in 1968 at the age of 81. He was often known to say that his real mission will begin after his death. In 1982, the Holy See authorized the archbishop of Manfredonia to open the investigation to determine if Padre Pio should be canonized. In 1990, he was declared a Servant of God which was the first step towards canonization. After studying the evidence and discussions of the effects of his life on others, Pope John Paul II declared him blessed. Finally, in 2002, he was declared a saint. The canonization ceremony in Rome was attended by 300,000 people.
Indeed, Saint Padre Pio was a saint of the masses. Bestowed with mystical powers, he was the chosen one to heal people from their sufferings and misery. He will continue to inspire Catholics around the world forever.
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