Worn out by half a century of intense suffering and constant apostolic activity in San
Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio was called to his heavenly reward on September 23,
1968.  He was canonized a Saint by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002.  Today his
tomb is the most visited shrine in Europe, surpassing even Fatima and Lourdes - a
place of extraordinary holiness for those in search of inspiration.
Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy, into a
simple family.  At the age of 15 he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Friars, and was
ordained a priest in 1910.  In September, 1916 he was assigned to the Friary in San
Giovanni Rotondo in central Italy where he lived for the rest of his life.

After celebrating morning Mass on September 20, 1918, during his prayers of
thanksgiving before the Crucifix, Padre Pio received the "Stigmata".  His hands, feet
and side were pierced with the nail marks and the lance wound of Crucified Christ.  
Doctors estimated that for the next 50 years he lost a cup of blood every day.  His five
wounds were deep, bleeding and painful, but completely free of inflammation and
News of his holiness spread rapidly.  Millions of
people attended his Masses.  He received letters
from believers all over the world who asked for his
saintly  counsel in their time of distress and
misfortune.  Countlesswere attracted to his
confessional, where he celebrated the Sacrament
of Reconciliation for as many as 16 hours a day.  
People waited as much as two weeks to have him
hear their confession, for they perceived in Padre
Pio the true heart and soul of the Gospels,
expressed in a simple and uncomplicated manner.  
His whole life was marked by long hours of prayer,
continual sacrifice, and strict austerity.  He had a
very deep union with God, a burning love for the
Holy Eucharist, and a fervent devotion to Our
Blessed Mother.  
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Saint Pio of Pietrelcina