20160530 Padre Pio receives the stigmata

Relics of St. Leopold Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina arrived in Rome in February for the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Francesco Forgione (the future Padre Pio) was born on May 25, 1887, in the small village of Pietrelcina, near Benevento in Italy.
Francesco was a deeply religious boy. When he heard the name of God, Our Lord, or the Blessed Virgin taken in vain, he would run off and hide weeping, and kneel down in a corner to pray.
One day as Francesco’s father, Orazio, was watching his older son working in the fields under the sun, he turned to Francesco and said, “I am never going to let you see the sun!”
Francesco asked what he meant. Orazio answered, “I am going to have you study to become a monk.” Francesco protested there was not enough money for him to study. Orazio said he would go to New York and earn what was needed.
While Orazio was working in New York, the family had Francesco study under Dom Domenico, had been relieved of his duties as a parish priest because he was not faithful to his commitment to celibacy. Francesco’s mind was closed to the teachings of such a sinful man.
Dom Domenico finally told Francesco’s mother that the child had better go to work in the fields, as he had no brains for book learning. When Francesco was told this, he said with great indignation: “My head is no good? You mean that his head is no good! He is living in sin in his own house!”
Years later, Dom Domenico repented of his sins and went to confession to his former pupil, Padre Pio. Two days after his confession, Dom Domenico died a good Catholic death.
After their son had worked in the fields for awhile, the family chose another teacher for Francesco: Maestro Caccavo. Under him, Francesco made great process.
In 1902 Francesco entered the Capuchin Monastery at Morcone. His religious name was “Pio” after St. Pius V. Fra Pio faithfully observed the rules of the community.
He spent long hours in prayer and was often seen reading his textbooks on his knees. However, his life of prayer and penance was interfered with by fevers, nausea, and the attacks of evil spirits.
Despite difficulties, Fra Pio persevered in his vocation, and he was ordained a priest on Aug. 10, 1910. During World War One, Padre Pio was called up for military duty, but he was eventually discharged for health reasons. He settled for good in San Giovanni Rotondo.
On Sept. 20, 1918, Padre Pio was in the choir alone making his thanksgiving after Mass when suddenly he gave a piercing cry and collapsed. He was found to be bleeding profusely from five deep wounds in his hands, feet, and side.
He was taken to his cell, and when he regained consciousness, he begged his fellow friars to keep the event secret. However the news soon spread, and people flocked to the friary to see the stigmata for themselves, and to confess their sins to this “living saint.”
For the next few years Padre Pio suffered a “prolonged martyrdom.” Besides the constant pain from the wounds, he was repeatedly subjected to medical investigations and attempted cures.
When asked once if his wounds hurt, he replied: “Do you think that the Lord gave them to me for a decoration?”
The wounds of the stigmata lasted for 50 years. They caused Padre Pio considerable pain, so much that he was unable to close his hands into a fist, and when descending stairs from the altar to distribute Holy Communion, he was obliged to walk backwards to relieve the pressure on his feet.

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