Relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina to visit the Diocese of Pittsburgh
Following the historic tour of the United States in 2017, relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina – better known as Padre Pio –will be at the Saint Paul Cathedral of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Thursday, April 5, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The relics of Saint Pio available for public veneration will be the following: Saint Pio's glove; Saint Pio's crusts of the wounds; Cotton-gauze with Saint Pio's blood stains; A lock of Saint Pio's hair; Saint Pio's mantle; and Saint Pio's handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.
The Most Reverend David A. Zubik, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, will celebrate a Mass in honor of Saint Pio on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at 12:05 p.m. The Saint Pio Foundation, which is sponsoring the tour on the occasion of the 50th commemoration anniversary of his passing, will sell books and items related to Padre Pio in the Joan of Arc Chapel.
St. Pio was born on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy, and baptized Francesco Forgione. He first expressed his desire for priesthood at age 10. In order to pay for the preparatory education, his father, Grazio Forgione, emigrated in the United States on 1899, where he worked for several years. The future saint entered the Capuchin order at age 15, taking was known as a mystic with miraculous powers of healing and knowledge, who bore the stigmata. 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. His 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.
In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects associated with a saint or candidate for sainthood – part of the person’s body or something with which he or she was in contact. Relics are not worshipped 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.