Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

So who is this saint (better known as Padre Pio)? Let's find out from Wikipedia:

- was born as Francesco Forgione on May 25 1887 in Pietrelcina, Campania in southern Italy
- was baptized in the Santa Anna Chapel (which stands upon the walls of a castle) and later served as an altar boy there
- attended Daily Mass, prayed the Rosary nightly, and abstained from meat three days a week in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- in 1897, after completing three years at the public school, he was drawn to the life of a friar
- on January 6, 1903 (at the age of 15) he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone, where on January 22 he took the Franciscan habit and the name of Fra [Brother] Pio in honor of Pope Saint Pius V (the patron saint of Pietrelcina)
- in 1910 Brother Pio was ordained a priest by Archbishop Paolo Schinosi at the Cathedral of Benevento
- on September 4, 1916 he was moved to an agricultural community (Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary) located in the Gargano Mountains in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he stayed till his death (except for his military service)
- in August 1917 he was called to military service - was assigned to the 4th Platoon of the 100th Company of the Italian Medical Corps - in all, his military service lasted 182 days
- had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience - his advice on the practical application of theology: "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry"
- in addition to his childhood illnesses, throughout his life Padre Pio suffered from ailments such as: asthmatic bronchitis, a large kidney stone with frequent abdominal pains, chronic gastritis, (which later turned into an ulcer), inflammations of the eye, nose, ear and throat, rhinitis and chronic otitis
- on September 20, 1918, he received the Visible Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ (these were permanent). Later through his life he manifested many gifts including: healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and fragrance from his wounds
- though he would have preferred to suffer in secret, by early 1919 news about the stigmatic friar began to spread in the secular world - he became a symbol of hope to people who had started rebuilding their lives after World War I - however his fame had the negative side effect that accusations against him (e.g. that he was "an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity" and that he violated all three of his monastic vows- poverty, chastity and obedience) made their way to the Holy Office in Rome, causing many restrictions to be placed on him (e.g. in 1923 he was forbidden to teach teenage boys in the school attached to the monastery he was living in)
- in the period from 1924 to 1931 the Holy See made various statements denying that the happenings in his life were due to any divine cause - at one point, he was prevented from publicly performing his priestly duties (e.g. hearing confessions and saying Mass)
- by 1933, the tide began to turn, with Pope Pius XI ordering the Holy See to reverse its ban on his public celebration of Mass - in 1934, he was again allowed to hear confessions - was also given honorary permission to preach despite never having taken the exam for the preaching license - in the mid 1960s Pope Paul VI firmly dismissed all accusations against him
- in 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the "Home to Relieve Suffering"; the hospital opened in 1956 - in order that Padre Pio might directly supervise this project Pope Pius XII in 1957 granted him dispensation from his vow of poverty
- on September 22, 1968 he celebrated his last mass - early in the morning of the next day he made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows - at 2:30am he breathed his last in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo - his body was buried on September 26 in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady of Grace
- in 1997 was declared venerable, was declared blessed in199, and was canonized in 2002


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