Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio, or Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. Regardless of the name by which our saint may be remembered, he has had an abiding impact on the spiritual lives of those both within and without Roman Catholicism.
Born in 1887 and one of seven children of peasant farmers in Southern Italy, he had already decided by age five to dedicate his life to God. Before the age of ten, he related that he had had ecstatic visions, and by the age of 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone.
When he was 23, he began to experience the beginnings of the stigmata—sores and lesions that are reminiscent of wounds that Jesus endured at the time of his crucifixion. Those stigmata were a source of fascination for the church, the press, and the public, but they were a source of suffering for Padre Pio. Their very presence made him the subject of investigations, fueled in part by curiosity but also in part by a belief that mystical experiences were, by definition, suspicious.
The more attention he received, the more he was restricted from participating in the ministry of the church. Harassed, confined, and even wire-tapped, his doubters ranged from religious skeptics to fellow friars to bishops and even to a pope. He had been forbade to celebrate Mass until 1933 when Pope Pius XI admitted that he had been badly informed regarding Padre Pio. In 1934 Padre Pio was finally allowed to hear confessions, and it was not until the mid-1960s that all ecclesiastical charges against him were dismissed by Pope Paul VI. A few short years later in 1968, Padre Pio passed away, and the world felt a loss like no other.
So often we look for the phenomenal, the miraculous, or the inexplicable as “proof” that our devotion is not misplaced, but Padre Pio offered a different path to allay our fears. His life of discipleship in Jesus showed that it is the pursuit of humility, kindness, love, and forgiveness that brings us the assurance that we rest in the hand of an almighty, omniscient, and omnipresent God.
We urge you to spend some time reflecting on this giant of a modern saint today, Friday, September 23, when the world celebrates Saint Pio on his feast day, remembering his temporal life and his eternal lessons in holiness.
On September 13, 2022, Saint Pio Foundation CEO Luciano Lamonarca presented an authenticated copy of Padre Pio’s birth certificate on behalf of the town of Pietrelcina, Italy, to Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark. The presentation took place after a Mass in honor of Padre Pio that was celebrated by the Cardinal at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Cardinal Tobin is the second American cardinal to receive such a gift.
Before Cardinal Tobin, the first authenticated copy of the saint’s birth certificate was presented to Cardinal Edwin O’Brien in 2018 by Domenico Masone, the Mayor of Pietrelcina, during a visit of the Cardinal to the town of Pietrelcina.