April 18, 2012


Back in the Philippines, when its Easter Sunday me and my family/relatives would usually go to the beach. Here in Italy, we just go to mass and stay at home but this year it was more meaning full! We went to Padre Pio Shrine in San Giovani Rotondo. It was a five hour drive from our place.
 The Shrine of Padre Pio is the world's second most visited  Catholic shrine . About seven million pilgrims visits the shrine every year.
 I am posting here  the history on the Life of Padre Pio and the shrine  as narrated on the  catalog that i got.

Padre Pio  was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcino, Italy. He entered the friary in 1903 and after a year he received the capuchin habit, taking the name Pio.
 Padre Pio came to the Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916 and made his home there for 52 years until his death in 1968. Besides being devoted to God, he was known for his care of the sick, supernatural powers and bearing of the stigma. Stigma is defined as bodily marks, sores or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, such as the hands and feet. He  first experience the stigma in 1915 but had already a vision when he was still in his novitiate period in 1903 to 1904. He was terrified by the phenomenon back then that  he begged the Lord to withdraw them, the visible wounds , since at that time he considered it  as indescribable and unbearable humiliation. The wounds disappeared but reappeared in 1918. He was also experiencing the pain of the the crown of the torns and the scourging at least once weekly for some years. 
I love this statue of Padre Pio. I think I experienced some kind of miracle. I was praying to Him and He was like looking directly to me. When my cousin came nearer His gaze suddenly shifted to him. Plus I cant take a close up photo of Him. Really  had a goose bumps.
 In July of 1918 while the World war I was still on going, Padre Pio offered himself as  victim for the end of the  war. On between August 5 and 7, Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ appeared and pierced his side. As a result, he had a physical wound in his side. This occurrence is considered as "transverberation" or piercing of the heart indicating the union of love with God. On August 8 the war ended
get Holy Water here
candle dispensing machine
 He was declared a saint in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.
 In April, 2008, the saint's body was exhumed and put on display in a glass coffin in Santa Maria delle Grazie sanctuary until September, 2009 then be returned to the crypt of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church.
the coffin of Padre Pio containing His remains, usually its covered with a red cloth but my easter visit  it was open.
entrance to the crypt
   At the old church just besides the Santa Maria delle Grazie church,  visitors can see where Padre Pio said mass, his cell that still contains books and clothing that belonged to him, and the Sala San Francesco where he greeted the faithful.

Santa Maria delle Grazie church
photo of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church taken at the Via Crucis
  Across the street on the forested hillside above the church is a modern Way of the Cross, Via Crucis.
  The modern Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church was built in 2004 behind Santa Maria and can hold 6,500 people seated for worship and 30,000 people standing outside.
altar for outdoor mass
entrance to the modern church
internal altar of the modern church
Letters to Padre Pio
 The old car of Padre Pio and his original coffin  is also all display at the exhibit hall.
 This was actually my second visit but every visit is a memorable and "holy" experience .