By Sarah Levesque (Rated G)
Pio of Pietrelcina, more commonly known as Padre Pio, was born in Pietrelcina (Benevento), Italy in 1887 to Maria Giuseppa DeNunzio and Grazio Maria Forgione. He was their fourth child of eight. As a child, he would interact with his guardian angel, reacting in surprise when realizing other children could not see their heavenly guardians. In 1903, at the age of fifteen, Pio joined a Capuchin Franciscan monastery in Marcone, where he was called Fra (Brother) Pio. Seven years later, on August 10th, Pio was ordained a Catholic priest, and became known as Padre (Father) Pio. His Masses were known to last several hours, for he would sink into a deep, prayerful silence.
During World War I, Padre Pio served as a chaplain in the Italian army, and after his discharge, he lived in Franciscan poverty at Our Lady of Grace Friary in San Giovanni Rotoundo. There, he received a spiritual wound – the Transverberation – a spiritual and physical piercing of the heart. Not long after, Padre Pio was given the gift of the Stigma – Jesus’ wounds, though he humbly hid his wounds with his signature gloves. He would bleed from these wounds for the rest of his life, and doctors who examined them could only agree that they were supernatural. Padre Pio offered his pain from these and other illnesses for the conversion of souls and the freeing of those in Purgatory. These latter souls often visited him to thank him for his prayers, though his brothers in the Friary could not see them.
Many people’s lives were changed by talking to and witnessing the life of the holy priest. Padre Pio was known for many spiritual gifts, including the gifts of tongues, bilocation, prophecy, healing, and the ability to read hearts. He was a champion of the Rosary, often recommending the prayer to other people. Many miracles are claimed to have taken place due to his intercession (read some of them in the first reference link). On September 23, 1968, Padre Pio died with a rosary in his hand and the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips. The signs of his spiritual wounds disappeared in just a few hours. On June 16, 2002, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was officially declared a saint by the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II, who presided over the ceremony, had once made his confession to Padre Pio, and said, “Prayer and charity–this is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching.”
May we, like Padre Pio, bear all ills for the conversion of others, and pray and show humble charity in all things.