St Pius of Pietrelcina - Padre Pio

September 23, 2011
Padre Pio as he was known to millions, was a Franciscan priest, renown for his gift of the sacrament of healing, and for his extraordinary devotion in offering the Eucharist. He died in 1968, aged 80, and was canonized in 2002. He was born Francesco Forgione into a devout Catholic family in a small town in Italy. As a young man he joined the Franciscan order of Capuchins in 1903, taking the name of Pio, and was ordained priest in 1910. A man of deep piety, prayer and prudence, his zeal was legendary. His special gift was spiritual direction, and reconciliation through the sacrament of the confessional, where he would spend long hours. Such was the depth of his piety that as early as 1918 he was granted the mystical scars of the passion of the Lord – the stigmata – in his body. These scars appeared unannounced in his hands, his feet, and his side. It was the first time a priest in the Church was so blessed, and after St Francis of Assisi himself, the second time that a member of the Order had received the stigmata. Together with the stigmata, Pio enjoyed other extra-sensory gifts and he healed many, both of physical ailment and spiritual problems. Many skeptics doubted the genuineness of his stigmata, and were convinced he was a fraud. But he took it all in a Franciscan spirit of humility and resignation. “There is no flowering of the soul,” he was wont to say, “except at the price of pain.”
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