St. Padre Pio
Padre Pio was born on May 25, 1887 in Italy. He was baptized and given the name Francesco. It is said that by 5 years old he already decided to dedicate his life to God and would take on penances like sleeping on a stone instead of a pillow. He was able to speak with Jesus, Mary and his guardian angel and assumed everyone did.
As a child Francesco was sick very often, he suffered grave gastroenteritis which had his bedridden, then typhoid fever.
As a young person he would experience visions and ecstasies. After completing 3 years of public school Francesco applied to be a Capuchin friar. On January 6 1903, at the age of 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at Marcone. He took his friar habit on January 22 and took a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Later he fell ill yet again, complaining of insomnia, exhaustion, fainting spells, and migraines. He vomited often and could only digest milk and cheese. During this suffering and inexplicable phenomena began to occur, fellow friars claimed that during prayer Pio was seen in ecstasy and levitating above the ground.
On September 20, 1918, while hearing confessions, he had his first occurrence of the stigmata: bodily marks,pain and bleeding in the locations that corresponded to Jesus’ wounds. This continued for 50 years, until the end of his life. The blood of the wound was said to smell like perfume or flowers called the ‘odor of sanctity’.
His wounds were studied and tested by several doctors where they could find no abnormalities causing his stigmata. He was humiliated by the affliction and early on begged the Lord to remove it.
Along with his childhood illnesses he also suffered from asthmatic bronchitis, a large kidney stone, frequent abdominal pain, chronic gastritis which developed into an ulcer, inflammation of the ear, nose, throat and eye which eventually formed rhinitis. He was treated for a malignant tumor, and was cleared after two treatments.
Padre Pio died in 1968 at age 81. After his passing his stigmata vanished without leaving a mark.
Padre Pio was said to have had the gift of reading hearts and bilocation. He was also said to have been in physical altercations with the devil. Saying “my whole body is bruised from the beatings, several times, they even tore off my shirt so that they could strike my exposed flesh.”
On June 16 2002 Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio a Saint. 300,000 people attended his canonization.
He is the patron of stress relief, adolescents and civil defense volunteers.
“Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry."