Padre Pio, Pray for Us!
St. Pius of Pietrelcina died Sept. 23, 1968, repeating the words “Jesus, Mary.”
Francesco Forgione was born in Pietrelcina, in southern Italy, in 1887. His parents were poor farmers, whose eight children attended Mass and prayed the Rosary daily, and abstained from meat three days a week in honor of the Blessed Mother.
As a child, Francesco saw visions of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, St. Francis of Assisi and his guardian angel. At age 10, he announced to his parents that he wanted to be a Capuchin friar. He entered the community at age 15 taking the name Pio (in honor of Pope St. Pius V), and was ordained a priest in 1910. In 1918, he received the visible stigmata — the wounds of Christ on his hands, feet and side — which bled profusely for the next 50 years of his life, causing him great suffering.
During his lifetime, Padre Pio drew hordes of pilgrims to his southern Italian monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. They attended his Masses, which could last for hours, and had their confessions heard by him. Some days he heard confessions for up to 15 hours a day. Padre Pio encouraged frequent confession, once remarking, “Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. … Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!”
Padre Pio also had a tremendous devotion to the Holy Eucharist. To souls who believed themselves unworthy to receive the sacrament, he responded, “It is quite true, we are not worthy of such a gift. However, to approach the Blessed Sacrament in a state of mortal sin is one thing, and to be unworthy, quite another. All of us are unworthy, but it is he who invites us. It is he who desires it. Let us humble ourselves and receive him with a heart contrite and full of love.”
Many miracles have been attributed to Padre Pio, including the gifts of bilocation, prophecy and healing. A fragrance emanated from his wounds and he had the ability to read souls, especially during confession. He would recite several Rosaries daily, explaining, “The Rosary is the weapon for all who want to win every battle.” He described prayer as “the best weapon I have. It is the key to God’s heart. Speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but also with your heart; in fact, on certain occasions you should speak to him only with your heart.” He also said, “One searches for God in books, but will find him especially in prayer.”
Padre Pio was known for his great intelligence and exemplary character, piety, humility, charity and purity. He died Sept. 23, 1968, repeating the words “Jesus, Mary.”
Pope St. John Paul II beatified Padre Pio before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on May 2, 1999, and designated Sept. 23 as his feast day. He canonized him June 16, 2002.
Pope John Paul himself, as a young priest, went to confession with Padre Pio in 1947, and in 1962, as Archbishop of Krakow, sought his prayers for a woman with cancer. She was cured 11 days later.
- padre pio