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St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Francesco Forgione was born in a small Italian village on May 25, 1887. His parents, Grazio and Giuseppa Forgione were peasant farmers and worked hard to make a living; Francesco’s father went to America on more than one occasion in order to provide for his family, especially to make sure that Francesco received the best schooling. Francesco was tutored by various tutors and then sent to the minor seminary at an early age for he already knew he wanted to be a priest. At age sixteen, he became a Capuchin novice; he took the name Pio upon taking his vows. In 1910 he was ordained. The new priest did not enjoy good health, and frequently had to go home to his parents’ house to recuperate, but he offered his sufferings to God. In September 1918, as Padre Pio was praying before the crucifix at his friary’s church he had a vision of Christ and received the stigmata, the visible marks of Christ’s crucifixion on his body. Padre Pio was the first priest known to receive the stigmata; others who had received the stigmata, such as St. Francis of Assisi were not priests. The priest would bear the wounds for nearly fifty years and they caused him great suffering, as well as spiritual joy. Shortly have he received the stigmata, he was examined by doctors; they could find no physical cause for the wounds. Several doctors over the years would draw the same conclusion. Thousands of people eventually flocked to Padre Pio for his spiritual advice; he could sometimes read souls, telling the penitents who confessed to him exactly what their sins were. On numerous occasions, people reported being visited by Padre Pio, although he was still at his monastery many miles away; this is a mystical gift known as bilocation and several canonized saints have had this gift. During his lifetime, people constantly sought his intercession and innumerable cures and other miracles were attributed to him. To accommodate the many sick people who flocked to see him, Padre Pio led a drive to build an excellent, modern hospital in the small town near his monastery; the hospital became one of the best in Italy. After a period of declining health, Padre Pio died September 23, 1968. His wounds had disappeared by the time of his death, just as he had predicted they would. He was proclaimed a saint on June 16, 2002

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