Church & Society

Padre Pio: The healer of the sick August 14, 2018

Throngs of devotees flocked to the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the village of Camarin in the suburb Caloocan in the Philippine capital Manila on Sunday, Aug. 5, to welcome the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, or simply known to Filipino Catholics as Padre Pio

The relics include pieces of hair, a nail, a crust from his wound, his glove, and a gauze with blood.

"These very important relics of Padre Pio will be touring big churches all over the Philippines and I am surprised that our church has been chosen to be one of the destinations," said Father Luciano Felloni, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes parish.

"Our church is probably the smallest and most disadvantaged among the churches, but Padre Pio has chosen to bless us with his visit," said the Italian priest, adding that he could not contain his joy for the thousands of parishioners in this church.

"Maybe Padre Pio knows he is well-loved here," said Father Felloni, pastor of about 70,000 parishioners in the outskirts of the city.

Caloocan is one of the poorest districts of Metro Manila and as of late has been in the news because of the high incidence of killings related to the government's drug war.

On Sunday, however, the parishioners had nothing but gratitude for being able to see up close, and even touch, the relics of Padre Pio. The people came in droves and the veneration had to be extended by another hour to accommodate the crowd.

As a young priest in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy, Padre Pio was first noticed by the Vatican for his stigmata, bodily marks corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ.

Later on in his life, he became famous for being able to heal the sick, which was initially viewed with skepticism by the Holy See. 

In 1982, fourteen years after his death, his life and works merited a second look from the Vatican and in 2002, Pope St. John Paul II declared him a saint.

Padre Pio's relics, which came from San Giovanni Rotondo, will be toured in many parts of the Philippines until September. In October, Filipino devotees will again get the chance to venerate one of his relics with the arrival of the heart of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

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