We know him as Padre Pio. He was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy. Even as a child, Francesco had already shown signs of extraordinary gifts of grace. At the age of five, he dedicated his life to God.
From his early childhood he showed a spirit and a love for the religious life. His mother described him as a quiet child who, from his earliest years loved to go to church and to pray.
The young Francesco was able to see and communicate with his guardian angel and also with Jesus and the Virgin Mary and assumed everyone had the same experiences.
Once a woman who noticed his spiritual demeanour asked him, "When did you consecrate your life to God? Was it at your first Holy Communion?" He told her, "Always, daughter, always."
At the age of sixteen he was admitted to the Capuchin novitiate and was admired by his superiors and his fellow students for his exemplary behaviour and his piety. There was something which distinguished him from the other students. He was always humble, recollected, and silent. Padre Pio's love of prayer greatly inspired the other novices. Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood in 1910 at the age of twenty three.
His parishioners were deeply impressed by his piety and one by one they began to come to him, seeking his counsel. For many, even a few moments in his presence, proved to be a life changing experience. As the years passed, pilgrims began to come to him by the thousands from every corner of the world, drawn by the spiritual riches which flowed so freely from his extraordinary ministry. To his spiritual children he would say, "It seems to me as if Jesus has no other concern but the sanctification of your soul."
Padre Pio had a great love for our Blessed Mother and he prayed the rosary almost continually. He had a special mission to the souls in Purgatory and encouraged everyone to pray for them. He used to say, "We must empty Purgatory with our prayers."
When asked asked what legacy he wished to leave to his spiritual children, Padre Pio's only answer was, "My child, the rosary." Throughout his entire life, he suffered from poor health, but this did not in any way discourage him. He offered all of his bodily sufferings to God as a sacrifice, to help save souls. He experienced many spiritual sufferings as well. Two years after his ordination he asked of his spiritual director permission to offer his life as a victim for sinners.
He wrote, "For a long time I have felt in myself a need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. . . It seems to me that Jesus wants this."
Six years later, the marks of the Stigmata appeared on his body, while he was praying before a crucifix after Mass. At the age of thirty-
God endowed Padre Pio with many extraordinary graces including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, the gift of conversions, the ability to read hearts, the ability to speak and understand languages he never studied, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence.
When questioned about these extraordinary gifts, Padre Pio said only, "You know, they are a mystery to me, too."
Although he received more than his share of spiritual gifts, he never sought them, never felt worthy of them. He never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God. He would rise at 2:30 am to begin his prayers and to make his preparation for Mass. He was able to carry on his work with only a few hours of sleep each night and an amount of food that was so small (300-
Between Mass and confessions, his workday lasted 19 hours. He very rarely left the monastery and never took even a day's vacation from his gruelling schedule in 51 years. He never read a newspaper or listened to the radio. He cautioned his spiritual children against watching television.
In his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, he lived the Franciscan spirit of poverty with detachment from self, from possessions, and from comforts. He always had a great love for the virtue of chastity,
and his behaviour was modest in all situations and with all people. In his lifetime, Padre Pio reconciled thousands of men and women back to their faith.
The prayer groups that Padre Pio established have now spread throughout the world. He gave a new spirit to hospitals by founding one which he called "The Home for the Relief of Suffering."
He saw the image of Christ in the poor, the suffering, and the sick and gave himself particularly to them. He once said, "Bring God to all those who are sick. This will help them more than any other remedy." Padre Pio entered in to eternal life on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-
He had often declared, "After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death." Padre Pio was canonized by Pope John Paul II on 16 June, 2002. Drawing approximately 8 million pilgrims each year, San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Padre Pio lived and is now buried, is second only to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in its number of annual visitors.
A Prayer to Padre Pio
Beloved Padre Pio, today I come to add my prayer to the thousands of prayers offered to you every day by those who love and venerate you. They ask for cures and healing's, earthly and spiritual blessings, and peace for body and mind. And because of your friendship with the Lord, He heals those you ask to be healed, and forgives those you forgive.
Through your visible wounds of the Cross, which you bore for 50 years, you were chosen in our time to glorify the crucified Jesus. Because the Cross has been replaced by other symbols, please help us to bring it back in our midst, for we acknowledge it is the only true sign of salvation.
As we lovingly recall the wounds that pierced your hands, feet and side,
we not only remember the blood you shed in pain, but your smile, and the invisible halo of sweet smelling flowers that surrounded your presence, the perfume of sanctity.
Padre Pio, may the healing's of the sick become the testimony that the Lord has invited you to join the holy company of Saints. In your kindness, please help me with my own special request: (mention here your petition, and make the sign of the Cross). Bless me and my loved ones. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Padre Pio's whole life might be summed up in the words of St. Paul to the Colossians,
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church."
Copyright Fr. Simon Broughton © All rights reserved.
Our Lady, Star of the Sea,
32 Staithes Lane, Staithes,
North Yorkshire. TS13 5AD
Telephone: 07952 922318
If you are going into hospital and would like to receive either Holy Communion or the Sacrament of the Sick contact the nurse on the ward and ask to see a Catholic Priest. Or alternatively call Fr. Simon on 07952 922318 and he will come and visit you whilst you're in Hospital.