Today, Sept 23 is the feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Benevento, Italy), who died 44 years ago in 1968 at the age of 81.
Born Francesco Forgione in May 25, 1887, St. Pio knew as early as age 5 that he wanted to live a religious life. When he was about 10 years old, he told his parents that he wanted to be friar. His family was poor, and his father had to leave Italy for America to be able to finance his studies/tutoring which would prepare him for admission at the local seminary.
When he became a Capuchin priest, he took the name Pio, after the name Pope Pius V, the patron saint of Pietrelcino. Soon after, he would become a stigmatist, a person who bears the wounds of the crucified Christ.
Initially, the wounds or the stigmata were invisible – there were no outward manifestations of these. Still, St. Pio felt the excruciating pain caused by these invisible wounds. Later, the stigmata would become visible on his hands, feet, and on his side. He would patiently bear these wounds for 50 years, disappearing only a few days before his death.
It was said that his wounds emitted a very pleasant, sweet scent – some describe it as perfume-smelling, others attest it smelled like flowers. The faithful ascribe it to a phenomenon known as the “odour of sanctity.”
Countless miracles were attributed to St. Pio during and after his lifetime. One of the more noteworthy is the case of Gemma DiGiorgio, the blind girl born with no pupils on her eyes. In 1947, when she was 7 years old, Gemma recovered her sight after St. Pio blessed her eyes with the Sign of the Cross. There are numerous similar stories of healing and conversion. Fr. Marcellino Iasenzaniro has written three volumes entitled “Testimonies” which are about the miracles that St. Pio had interceded for, and the various spiritual experiences of the people that he had touched.
Aside from performing miracles, St. Pio also built a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, “La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” or The Home to Relieve Suffering. Envisioned perhaps much earlier, it was in 1940 that St. Pio began plans on building this hospital. Amidst various stumbling blocks – controversies, the 2nd World War, and mainly shortage of funds, the hospital was finally completed and opened in 1956. Now, after more than 50 years of existence, the present structure is said to be three times bigger than the original.
Now, after 44 years since St. Padre Pio joined his Maker, he continues to bring miracles, healing, and conversion to those who seek his intercession and assistance. The following is a powerful intercessory prayer to St. Pio.
PRAYER to ST. PADRE PIO
Dear God, You generously blessed Your servant, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, with the gifts of the Spirit. You marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and Death of Your Son. Endowed with the gift of discernment, St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional for the salvation of souls. With reverence and intense devotion in the celebration of Mass, he invited countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, I confidently beseech You to grant me the grace of (here state your petition). Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen (Say three times)
In the Philippines, there are at least two popular structures that bears the name of St. Pio. One is the National Shrine of Padre Pio in Barangay San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Its phone numbers are (043) 784.3568 and (043) 455.0894.
The other is the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Center, a chapel in Libis, Quezon City, near the Petron Gas Station beside Honda Cars in C-5 Road. For mass schedules and other info, call (632) 634.3668.
Let us remember St. Pio on his feast day today, and everyday. It is also wise to follow his admonition : “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry!”
Have a blessed day!!!