New details have emerged about the Vatican’s first investigation of the famous stigmata of St. Pio of Petrelcina.

The renowned saint — who died exactly 40 years ago today on Sept. 23, 1968 — was first investigated in 1921 by the Holy Office, known today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

A new article published by L’Osservatore Romano rejects longstanding claims that the Holy Office was suspicious of Padre Pio and of the authenticity of his stigmata.

According to the article, written by St. Pio’s biographer Francesco Castelli, records from the 1921 investigation instead show the Vatican’s admiration and appreciation for the Italian Capuchin friar.

And Bishop Carlo Raffaello Rossi, who conducted the investigation, concluded Padre Pio’s holy wounds were genuine and that “the distinctive elements of true stigmata were found in those of Padre Pio.”

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is travelling today to San Giovanni Rotondo, the town in southeast Italy where Padre Pio lived for more than 50 years until his death.

Cardinal Bertone will mark the saint’s feast day by celebrating Mass in the town and blessing the renovation of a hospital wing.

— Tom McFeely