St Padre Pio is the first priest in the history of our Catholic Church to receive the sigmata. He is born in 1887 and he is also known as Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. His real name is Francesco Forgione and his parents were simple farmers.
They worked very hard to give their children food and education. Little did they know that their son Francesco would become one of the most remarkable capuchins of the 20th century!
Francesco was a very sensitive, very spiritual boy. At the age of five he went into ecstasy and had an apparition of our Lord Jesus in the church of our Lady of the Angels. Jesus put his hands on Padre Pio's head, after having invited him to come to the altar.
This was a turning point in his life, for it was at this tender age that he decided to give his life to Jesus. It was also when he was five years old that he started having apparitions from Our Lady. These apparitions continued happening all his life.
Francesco entered the Capuchin order on the 22nd of January 1903 taking the name of Pio. He was ordained to the priesthood on the 10th august 1910. He remained in Pietrelcina till 1916, due to health reasons. He had to be discharged from the army that same year, due to the same reason.
St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina became Director of Studies at the seminary in San Giovanni Rotondo. Here he spent the rest of his life.
For him began a life of intense sufferings since August 5th, 1918. On this day, during confessions, a Holy figure appeared before him and mystically pierced his heart with a lance. Some weeks after this, the 20th of September, St Padre Pio received the Stigmata.
The people of San Giovanni Rotondo loved St Padre Pio earnestly, but due to their over reaction, there started some kind of cult around him!
This was not seen with good eyes by the Vatican and Pope Pius XI restricted him in his active ministry. This suspension has caused Padre Pio extra suffering because he loved to be used to deliver people by confession. But since he was always a loyal son of the Church, he obeyed without questioning.
In July 1933 he received the good news from the Vatican that he was reinstated to full ministry, but he was not allowed to preach or correspond with those outside the convent where he lived.
But he was able to celebrate the Holy Mass in public and hear Confessions again. San Giovanni Rotondo was transformed into a world famous pilgrim centre, due to this. People would wait for hours in the bitter cold outside the Church. They would come in the middle of the night to take part in the 5:30 a.m. Holy Mass with him!
Let's ask our Lord to send us more saints like this Capuchin priest, whose love for Christ was so ardent, that people could actually see him being transformed into the Crucified Christ before their eyes!
If you ask the mass of people who knew and loved Saint Pio of Pietrelcina dearly, why they had such devotion to this holy man? They all would answer you the same: He was the man who could help them find the living God!
Padre Pio was beatified on 2 May 1999, and canonized on 16 June 2002 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. A crowd of more than 300.000 people was present at this so special event!
The feast day of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is September 23rd.
Get to know the life of St Padre Pio at first hand experience by reading books about his life. Read also about the many great things he has done for mankind, the Church and for God.