This month we celebrate the Fest Day of St. Padro Pio. In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002 with more than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf.
Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917, he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo.
On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side. Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities, and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio.
Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned. Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds. A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio.
May St. Pio and all the saints intercede for us as we continue to build a Culture of Life among all the challenges in our world today. Thanks to all of you for your ministry.