To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, his relics will be brought to selected churches and cathedrals in the U.S. for veneration. The relics are physical objects associated with the saint. Relics are not worshiped, but treated with religious respect. Touching or praying in the presence of such an object helps a faithful individual focus on the saint’s life and virtues, so that through the saint’s prayer or intercession before God, the individual will be drawn closer to God.
As scheduled, the only visit to the New York area will be on September 20 at St. Peter’s parish in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.
St. Pio was born on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy and baptized Francesco Forgione. He first expressed his desire for the priesthood at age ten. In order to pay for the preparatory education, his father, Grazio Forgione, emigrated in the United States in 1899, where he worked for several years. The future saint entered the Capuchin order at age 15, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest in 1910 at the age of 23. During his lifetime, Padre Pio was known as a mystic who bore the stigmata and had miraculous powers of healing and knowledge. Stigmata is the term the Catholic Church uses to speak about the wounds an individual receives that correspond to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. They can appear on the forehead, hands, wrists and feet
Padre Pio’s stigmata emerged during World War I, after Pope Benedict XV asked Christians to pray for an end to the conflict. Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ pierced his side. A few weeks later, on September 20, 1918, Jesus again appeared to him and he received the full stigmata. It remained with him until his death on September 23, 1968. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.
The Saint Pio Foundation is a national charitable organization that promotes awareness of Saint Pio and his mission by working with institutions and individuals who share the same vision to serve “those in need of relief of suffering.” Funds raised by the Saint Pio Foundation are used to provide grants to American Catholic healthcare, educational, social, religious and cultural partner organizations. More information about Saint Pio Foundation can be found at www.saintpiofoundation.org.