"Keep close to the Catholic Church at all times, for the Church alone can give you true peace, since she alone possesses Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, in the Blessed Sacrament." - Padre Pio of Peitrelcina

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


This is a photograph of the incorruptible body of Padre Pio exhumed on March 2, 2008, 40 years after his death on September 23, 1968. His remains was shown to the public in the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace, Madonna delle Grazie Church in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia province, Italy, from April 24, 2008 to September 2009. Padre Pio was a Franciscan Capuchin Catholic priest who bore the five wounds of Jesus Christ on his body visibly for more than fifty years. He was also a seer, mind-reader, prophet, miracle-worker, confessor, mystic, ascetic, and a missionary on a world-wide scale.

There have only been about 60 accepted cases of the stigmata in the Catholic Church’s history. Padre Pio was the first and only ordained Roman Catholic priest in the Church's history who has received the visible stigmata. According to medical science, his loss of blood over the years was so great that he could not have survived for very long – certainly not fifty years.

Padre Pio had wounds on the hands and feet, on the left side of the chest, and on the right shoulder were Jesus carried the Cross. He also had transverberation of the heart, wounds from scourging, and an invisible crown of thorns. All were very painful.

Padre Pio actually received the stigmata on August 14, 1910. According to Padre Pio's correspondence, even early in his priesthood he experienced less obvious indications of the visible stigmata for which he would later become famous. In a 1911 letter to his spiritual director, Padre Benedetto from San Marco in Lamis, Padre Pio described something he had been experiencing for a year:

"Then last night something happened which I can neither explain nor understand. In the middle of the palms of my hands a red mark appeared, about the size of a penny, accompanied by acute pain in the middle of the red marks. The pain was more pronounced in the middle of the left hand, so much so that I can still feel it. Also under my feet I can feel some pain."

His close friend Father Agostino wrote to him in 1915, asking when he first experienced visions, whether he had been granted the stigmata, or felt the pains of the Passion of Christ - the crowning of thorns and the scourging. Padre Pio replied that he had been favoured with visions since his novitiate period (1903 to 1904). He wrote that although he had been granted the stigmata, he had been so terrified by the phenomenon he begged the Lord to withdraw only the visible wounds but not the pain since at the time he considered them to be an indescribable and almost unbearable humiliation. The visible wounds disappeared at that point, but reappeared in September 1918. He reported, however, that the pain remained and was more acute on specific days and under certain circumstances. He also admitted experiencing the pain of the crown of thorns and the scourging. He was not able to clearly indicate the frequency of this experience, but said that he had been suffering from them at least once weekly for some years.

On July 1918, while World War I was still going on, Pope Benedict XV, who had termed the World War "the suicide of Europe," appealed to all Christians urging them to pray for an end of the war.  On 27 July of the same year, Padre Pio offered himself as a victim for the end of the war. Days passed and between August 5 and 7, Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ appeared and pierced his side. This occurrence is considered as a "transverberation" or piercing of the heart indicating the union of love with God.

In a letter to Father Benedetto on August 21, 1918, Padre Pio writes of his experiences during the transverberation:

"While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th (August), I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared. From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony."

With his transverberation began another seven-week long period of spiritual unrest for Padre Pio. One of his Capuchin brothers said this of his state during that period: "During this time his entire appearance looked altered as if he had died. He was constantly weeping and sighing, saying that God had forsaken him."

On September 20, 1918, the pains of the transverberation had ceased and Padre Pio was in "profound peace." On that same day, after celebrating Mass, and while Padre Pio was praying his thanksgiving in the choir loft in the Church of Our Lady of Grace, the same Being who had appeared to him in August and given him the transverberation, and who is believed to be the Wounded Christ, appeared again and Padre Pio had another experience of religious ecstasy. When the ecstasy ended, Padre Pio had received the visible Stigmata - the five wounds of Christ, which became permanent and would stay on him for the next fifty years of his life.

In a letter to Father Benedetto on October 22, 1918, Padre Pio describes his experience of receiving the Stigmata:

"On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. [...] I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation." 

Padre Pio quoted, "The pain was so intense that I began to feel as if I were dying on the cross." 

The Crucifix from which Padre Pio received the stigmata
located in the choir loft of Our Lady of Grace Church.
Padre Pio was 31 years old when he received the stigmata. The stigmata which he bore were very deep wounds at the center of his hands and feet and on the left side of his body. His hands and feet were pierced all the way through, one could even see light through the membrane that covered his wounds. He wore half-gloves over his hands that would leave his fingers free (except during Mass), and stockings on his feet. The bandage that covered his side wound which was soaked with blood during the night, had to be changed the following morning. 

When asked why the wound in his side was in a slightly different place than the place where Our Lord’s wound was, Padre Pio responded, "It would be too much if it were exactly like the Lord’s." Besides the stigmata, Padre Pio suffered the crowning with thorns and the flagellation almost once a week.

On several occasions, by order of Padre Pio's Superiors, the Holy Office, and the Pope, his stigmata was examined by medical doctors and prelates who all found his wounds unexplainable and miraculous. Without direct permission of his superiors, no one was able to see the wounds. Professor Amico Bignami, professor of medical pathology at the University of Rome, examines Padre Pio on July 12, 1919, upon request by Padre Giuseppe da Persiceto, General Procurator of the Capuchin Order: ". . . I do not understand how these wounds have persisted for nearly a year now without getting better or worse." Padre Pio’s wounds on his hands were often open and exposed, but remained completely free from infection. He lost about a cup-full of blood every day from the wound on his side, which was covered always by a linen cloth. Another doctor, Dr. Sanguinetti, told a friend, "If you or I would suffer one-tenth of the pain that Padre Pio suffers from his wounds, we’d be dead."

Dr. Luigi Romanelli, head surgeon of the hospital in Barletta, examined Padre Pio 5 times between May 15,1919 and July 1920 by disposition of Padre Benedetto di San Marco in Lamis, Provincial Superior of the Capuchins. "The lesions on the hands are covered by a red brown membrane, without bleeding, no edema and no inflammation of the surrounding tissues. I am certain that these wounds are not superficial because, putting my thumb in the palm of the hand, and the index finger on the back, and applying pressure, I have the exact perception of a void existing." "The etiology of the lesions of Padre Pio is not natural. The agent producing those lesions needs to be searched, make no mistakes, in the supernatural. The fact in itself it's a phenomenon that cannot be explained with the sole human science."

Prof. Giorgio Festa, a private practitioner, examined the  wounds on 3 occasions: the first on October 28, 1919, upon request by Padre Venanzio da Lysle, Superior General of the Capuchin Order, and the second from July 9 to 15, 1920 together with Dr. Luigi Romanelli. The third was on September 28, 1925. Benedict XV was the pope when Padre Pio received the wounds in 1918. Pope Benedict XV sent Archbishop Anselm Edward Kenealy, of Simla, India, who was himself a Capuchin and a prelate. He examined Padre Pio on March 24-27, 1920: "I am deeply convinced that we have a true saint here. The Lord has given him great gifts, and he is completely at ease. If he knows how to suffer, he also knows how to laugh." Not completely satisfied, the pope sent Archbishop Bonaventura Cerretti to examine Padre Pio. He too was deeply impressed, and gave the pope a very positive evaluation.

On July 20, 1920, Professor Giuseppe Bastianelli, physician to Pope Benedict XV agreed that the wounds existed but made no other comment. Pathologist Dr. Amico Bignami of the University of Rome also observed the wounds but could make no diagnosis. Both Bignami and Dr. Giuseppe Sala commented on the unusually smooth edges of the wounds and lack of edema. Dr. Alberto Caserta took X-rays of the hands in 1954 and found no abnormality in the bone structure.

Palm of Right Hand
At times, the blood around the stigmata gave off a pleasant fragrance "like a mixture of violets and roses." One doctor added, "One should consider that of all the parts of the human organism, blood is the quickest to decompose. In any case blood never gives off a pleasant odor." This miraculous pleasant fragrance was also smelled on things that belonged to Padre Pio and on some things that he touched.  Some devotees of Padre Pio have smelled a pleasant fragrance, roses, wild flowers, or a cigar smoke scent. They believe this indicates his presence, a warning, or a message of some kind.

On June 14, 1921, Bishop Raffaello Carlo Rossi  of Volterra, future cardinal, was sent as secret investigator by the Holy Office. Excerpts from his written report the, Bishop stated:

"The very intense and pleasant fragrance, similar to the scent of the violet, I have smelled it." "I have examined the monk's cell and could find nothing that would cause such a scent. There was only plain soap."

Padre Pio told Bishop Rossi under oath: "On September 20, 1918 I saw the Lord. I heard this voice: 'I unite you with my Passion.' Once the vision disappeared, I came to, I returned to my senses, and I saw these signs here, which were dripping blood. I didn't have anything before."

Bishop Rossi: "The stigmata are there: We are before a real fact - it is impossible to deny." "I am fully in favor of their authenticity, and, in fact, of their Divine origin." "The future will reveal what today cannot be read in the life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

Palm of Left Hand
Countess Virginia Silj-Salviucci reported that Cardinal Silj had told her of an episode happened while he was in a meeting of the Pope Pius XI with several cardinals, debating about suspending Padre Pio from all priestly functions. While he was speaking, a Capuchin friar appeared, knelt, and kissed his feet saying, "Your Holiness, for the good of the Church, do not take this course of action." He then asked for the Pope's blessing, kissed his feet again, rose, and left. The pope demanded: "Who let that friar in?" The prelates run outside to upbraid the guards for letting the friar in. All strongly denied having seen any friar. The Pope grew silent. He ordered Cardinal Silj to ascertain were Padre Pio was that day and hour. Silj investigated, and reported to the Pope that Padre Pio was in the choir of his friary, saying the Office. Pope Pius XI never mentioned again of suspending Padre Pio from his priestly faculties.

Everybody that had seen the wounds agreed: "The marks appear both in the palm and back of the hands. They are circular and a little more than two centimeters in diameter. They are reddish brown in color and sharply marked off from the surrounding skin which is perfectly normal and without any sign of inflammation. A dark looking scab covers the wounds, which detaches itself from time to time. Exactly similar lesions appear in the instep and sole of each foot. The wound in the breast is cruciform, and on the left side.The bleeding is not periodic, but seems to be a continuous exudation of saunguino-serous fluid from all the wounds especially from the breast." 

In 1947, Karol Wojtyla, who later became John Paul II, asked Padre Pio which of his wounds caused the greatest suffering. Padre Pio answered, "It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated." 

Undershirt of Padre Pio which bears bloody stains
on right shoulder
Padre Pio confided to Brother Modestino Fucci, that his greatest pains occurred when he changed his undershirt. Brother Modestino was the doorkeeper at Padre Pio’s friary. On February 4, 1971 Modestino was assigned the task of taking an inventory of all the items  in the deceased Padre’s cell. The same day he discovered that one of Padre Pio’s undershirts bore a circle of bloodstains in the area of the right shoulder. On that evening asked Padre Pio in prayer to enlighten him about the meaning of the bloodstained undershirt. He awakened at 1:00 AM with a terrible, excruciating pain in his shoulder, as if he had been sliced with a knife up to the shoulder bone. He felt that he would die from the pain if it continued, but it lasted only a short time. Then the room became filled with perfume of flowers – the sign of Padre Pio’s presence - and he heard a voice saying "Cosi ho sofferto io!" meaning, "This is what I have suffered!"

Early Life

Born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887 to parents: Grazio Mario Forgione (1860–1946) and Maria Giuseppa de Nunzio Forgione (1859–1929) in Pietrelcina, a farming town in Campania region, 8 miles from Benevento, southern Italy, Padre Pio was the fourth of seven children. His parents made a living as peasant farmers. He was baptized in the nearby St. Anna's church on May 26, 1887, the day after his birth. His siblings were an older brother, Michele, and three younger sisters, Felicita, Pellegrina, and Grazia who later become a Bridgettine nun. His parents had two other children who died in infancy.

Maria Giuseppa de Nunzio Forgione
Pietrelcina is a highly religious town where feast days of saints are celebrated throughout the year, and religion had a profound influence on the Forgione family. The family attended daily Mass, prayed the Rosary each night, and abstained from meat three days a week in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Every the family said the rosary together. The Rosary held a special place in their home. Other things could be sacrificed in their house, but not the Rosary. Although Francesco's parents and grandparents were illiterate, they memorised the Scriptures and narrated Bible stories to their children. According to his mother, Francesco was able to see and speak with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and his guardian angel, and that as a child, he assumed that all people could do so.

At a tender age of 5, he had already dedicated his entire life to God. At this time, he began to have visions - visions of holy things as well as visions of very evil things. These horribly evil visions scared him and caused him to cry. Francesco was a meditative and docile child. He did not like to go out and play with children his age because, as he said, "They are not honest; they use bad language, and they swear." It was second nature for Francesco, when around girls, to control his eyes modestly, keep his head somewhat inclined, act very reserved, and avoid becoming too familiar with them. One time, he saw a girl that he knew toiling away with her needle, sewing a band on a dress. He told her: "Andrianella, today we don’t work. It’s Sunday." Showing her annoyance, the girl replied, "Little boy, you are too small to talk like that." Francesco left her, and came back with a pair of scissors. He then grabbed the band she had been working on and cut it into pieces.

When he was nine years old, he begun inflicting penances on himself and his Mother discovered that he slept on the hard, cold stone floor with a stone as pillow. Until the age of 10, he assisted his parents looking after a small flock of sheep the family owned.

After he had completed three years at the public school, in 1897, Francesco was drawn to the life of a friar after listening to a young Capuchin friar who was, at that time, seeking donations in the countryside. When he expressed his desire to his parents, they made a trip to Morcone, a community 13 miles (21 km) north of Pietrelcina, to find out if their son was eligible to enter the Capuchin Order. The Friars there informed them that they were interested in accepting Francesco into their community, but he needed more educational qualifications.

Grazio Mario Forgione
Francesco's father went to the United States in search of work to pay for private tutoring for his son, so that he might meet the academic requirements to enter the Capuchin Order. It was in this period that Francesco received the sacrament of Confirmation on 27 September 1899. He underwent private tutoring and passed the stipulated academic requirements.

In 1901, when Francesco was fourteen, he was sent to work on a high school program under the direction of Angelo Caccavo. In 1902, Caccavo assigned Francesco the task of writing a paper entitled "If I Were King."

The fifteen year old Francesco wrote: "[If I Were King] I would fight, first against divorce, which so many wicked men desire, and make people respect as much as possible the sacrament of matrimony. What happened to Julian the Apostate, who was brave, self-controlled, and studious, but who made the big mistake of denying Christianity, in which he was educated, because he decided to revive Paganism? His life was wasted because he did not attain anything but the despicable name of apostate."

On 6 January 1903, at the age of 16, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone (Benevento) where, on 22 January, he received the Franciscan habit taking the name of Brother Pio, in honor of Pope St. Pius V, the patron saint of Pietrelcina.

From Morcone he moved to Sant'Elia a Pianisi for high school, and subsequently to San Marco la Catola to study philosophy.

On January 1907, Brother Pio professed the solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and moved to Serracapriola to study theology under Father Agostino da San Marco, his spiritual director, and of Father Benedetto, head of the province. Both teachers were from San Marco in Lamis.

House where Padre was born in May 25, 1887

Inside Padre Pio's home

St. Anna's Church where Padre Pio was baptised in May 26, 1887
and where he later served as a young altar boy.
Poor Health

Young Francesco
According to the diary of Father Agostino, the young Francesco was afflicted with illnesses. At six, he suffered from a grave gastroenteritis which kept him bedridden for a long time. At ten, he caught typhoid fever. At 17, he suddenly fell ill, complaining of loss of appetite, insomnia, exhaustion, fainting spells, and terrible migraines. He vomited frequently and could only absorb milk and cheese.

It was during this time that inexplicable phenomena began to occur. According to the hagiographers accounts, strange noises - sometimes screams or roars could be heard from Brother Pio's room at night. During prayer, Brother Pio remained in a stupor, as if he were absent. One the fellow friars have seen him in ecstasy, levitating above the ground.

In June 1905, Padre Pio's health was so frail that his superiors sent him to a mountain convent in the hope that a change of air would improve his health, but only got worse. The doctors advised that he return to his home town. But even there, his health continued to worsen. Throughout his life, Padre Pio suffered from asthmatic bronchitis. He also had a large kidney stone, and suffered frequent abdominal pains. He further suffered from a chronic gastritis, which later turned into an ulcer. He also suffered from inflammations of the eye, of the nose, of the ear and of the throat, and eventually formed rhinitis and chronic otitis.

In the summer of 1915, in spite of poor health, he was drafted into the army. But after 30 days, he was sent home on leave due to bad health. He returned to military service but was put on leave again, this time for six months at a friary in a mountain village in San Giovanni Rotondo where the weather was relatively cool even in the summer. After six months in this friary, he returned to military service, but was sent home again two months later. On his return, he was declared fit for service and sent to the Sales barracks in Naples where he remained until March 1917, at which time he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and again was discharged from the army.

In 1925, Padre Pio underwent operation for an inguinal hernia, and shortly after this, a large cyst formed on his neck which was surgically removed. Another surgery was performed to remove a malignant tumor on his ear. After this operation, Padre Pio was subjected to radiological treatment, which was successful, it seems, after only two treatments.

In 1956, he came down with a serious case of "exudative pleuritis". The diagnosis was certified by Professor Cataldo Cassano, who personally extracted the serous liquid from the body of Padre Pio. He remained bedridden for four consecutive months. In his old age, Padre Pio was tormented by arthritis.

Priesthood

Padre Pio said, "I want to be a friar with a beard."

Brother Pio
On January 6, 1903, Padre Pio entered religious life as a Capuchin monk. Padre Pio’s health was so bad that his theology professor said to him, "Your health is not good, so you cannot become a preacher.  My hopes for you are that you will be a great and conscientious confessor." The statement proved prophetic. Padre Pio was ordained as a priest of the Catholic Church on August 10, 1910 by Archbishop Paolo Schinosi at the Cathedral of Benevento. Four days later, he offered his first Mass at the parish church of Our Lady of the Angels. Due to his frail health, he was permitted to remain with his family until early 1916 while still retaining the Capuchin habit.

On October 1911, Dr. Antonio Cardarelli examined Padre Pio in Naples. The doctor concluded that the young friar's days were numbered, and could not travel long distances. Padre Pio was sent to  the closest convent in Venafro. During the month and a half stay in the convent, the community noticed the first supernatural phenomena of divine ecstasies lasting up to one hour, and diabolic apparitions lasting a few minutes.

On February 1916, he was sent to the convent of Saint Anna in Foggia in search of a more suitable place for his frail health. But even there, he continued to feel sick: vomiting, sudden sweats, dizziness, and a very high fever. At night, terrifying noises came from his room which would shake the walls and terrorize the other friars. He told Father Benedetto that it was the devil who, unable to win, exploded in fits of rage.

On July of the same year, he went for a supposedly brief stay to the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo, just for the summer. The climate appeared to be beneficial to him, and instead of a few weeks, he stayed there for the next 52 years, until his death.

Padre Pio
On September 4, 1916, Father Pio was ordered to return to his community life and moved to an agricultural community at the Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary located in the Gargano Mountains in San Giovanni Rotondo in Foggia. At that time, with Father Pius, the community numbered seven friars.

When World War I broke out, four friars from this community were drafted for military service. At that time, Padre Pio was a teacher at the seminary and a spiritual director. When one more friar was called into service, Padre Pio was put in charge of the community. Then, in August 1917, despite poor health, Padre Pio was also called to military service and was assigned to the 4th Platoon of the 100th Company of the Italian Medical Corps. Although hospitalized by mid-October, he was not discharged until March 1918, whereupon he returned to San Giovanni Rotondo and was assigned to work at Santa Maria degli Angeli (Our Lady of the Angels) in Pietrelcina. Later, in response to his growing reputation as a worker of miracles, his superiors assigned him to the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio's military service lasted 182 days.

Padre Pio always wanted to be a missionary. Whenever there was the possibility of being transferred to a different location, Padre Pio was ready to go. He even wrote to his superiors for permission to work as a missionary in India, but this permission was refused. Padre Pio said' "How much I desire, and how happy I would be, if I could find myself there in India so as to offer my poor work for the spread of the Faith. But if that good fortune is not reserved for me, but for other souls more noble and more dear to Jesus, I will exercise my mission with humble, fervent and efficacious prayer."

In the next 52 years of his life at the San Giovanni Rotondo convent, Padre Pio celebrated Mass, the highlight of his day lasting from 90 minutes to more than 3 hours, and spent most of his day hearing confessions from 8AM to 5PM daily. For the women there was a confessional. The men confessed in the old sacristy. Padre Pio once said, "It is easier for the earth to be without the sun than without the mass." People would come to him from all over the world. He never went on vacation, never had an advancement in career, never wrote a book. He did not make eloquent speeches and never waived in his obedience to the Church. He focused only on loving God, saving souls, and alleviating suffering. He also caused numerous conversions to occur among unbelievers, atheists, agnostics, and people who claimed to be Catholics but had lapsed in the practice of the Faith. His wounds never stopped bleeding nor his body ever stopped suffering. He never stopped thinking of God. His lips never stopped praying, and his heart never stopped loving saying, "Christ is my life." Padre Pio used to carry a rosary in his hands and would pray it many times a day and would encourage others to: "Pray the rosary frequently. It costs so little, and it's worth so much!" 

Padre Pio became a spiritual director, guiding many spiritually, considering them his spiritual daughters and sons. He had five rules for spiritual growth, namely, weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. He recommended weekly confession, meditation and self-examination twice daily: once in the morning, as preparation to face the day, and once again in the evening, as retrospection. His advice on the practical application of theology is summed up in his now famous quote, "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry". He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.

Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza

In 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a free hospital for the poor in San Giovanni Rotondo, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza or "Home to Relieve Suffering"; the hospital opened in 1956. In 1957, Pope Pius XII granted Padre Pio dispensation from his vow of poverty so he can raise the money and directly supervise the project. The New York Times described it as "one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most modern and fully-equipped hospitals in the world." Padre Pio: "The good Lord gave me an earthly mission: the creation of a clinic for the poor of soul and body. The clinic will rise beautiful and large." 

In 1945, the amount of food and drink that Padre Pio consumed daily was measured at 3 1/2 ounces a day which would not have sustained the life of an infant, and yet he weighed more than 170 pounds. Padre Pio slept for an average of about two to three hours. His lack of sleep amazed doctors; they were baffled as to how he could work without being refreshed by sleep.

End of Padre Pio's Earthly Life

By the 1960s, Padre Pio's health had deteriorated but inspite of this he continued his spiritual works. He was receiving some 5,000 letters per month. It was estimated that Padre Pio received 2,000,000 letters from around the world. These so many letters were kept by the friars and preserved in a big storehouse they built.

When Padre Pio learned about the growing number of radical priests, nuns, and laity, as well as dissent from Catholic teaching and the lack of vocations, he was heard to have remarked more than once: "Thank God I am old and near death!" Padre Pio urged the frequent recitation of the prayer, "O Jesus, save the elect in the hour of darkness." Perhaps as a warning of the growing Great Apostasy, a few days before his death, when greeted by a spiritual daughter, Padre Pio placed his hand on her head and said twice in a forceful way, "Daughter, be constant and persevering in the faith of our fathers."

Padre Pio's last Mass on September 22, 1968
On September 21, 1968, the day after the 50th anniversary of his receiving the Stigmata, Padre Pio experienced great tiredness. The following day, on September 22, Padre Pio was supposed to offer a Solemn High Mass, but was feeling weak. Fearing that he might be too ill to say the Mass, he asked his superior if he might say a Low Mass instead, just as he had done daily for years. But because of the large number of pilgrims present for the Mass, Padre Pio's superior decided to proceed with the Solemn High Mass, and so Padre Pio, in the spirit of obedience to his superior, went on to celebrate the Solemn High Mass. After the Mass, he was so weakened that he almost collapsed as he was descending the altar steps and needed help from a great many of his Capuchin confreres. This would be Padre Pio's last celebration of the Mass.

Padre Pio joined our Lord on September 23, 1968
In the early morning of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows. As was customary, he held his rosary in his hands, though he did not have the strength to say the Hail Marys aloud. Till the end, he repeated the words "Gesù, Maria" (Jesus, Mary). At around 2:30AM, he said, "I see two mothers" (taken to mean his mother and Mary) and breathed his last in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo with his last breath whispering, "Maria!" His body was buried on September 26 in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady of Grace. His Requiem Mass was attended by over 100,000 people. He was often heard to say, "After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death." The accounts of those who stayed with Padre Pio till the end state that the stigmata had miraculously disappeared without even leaving a scar. Only a red mark "as if drawn by a red pencil" remained on his side which then disappeared. Doctor Sala declared that the healing of the wounds was clinically unexplainable. Father Onorato pointed out well that as the ministry of Padre Pio was ending, the signs were also ending. On the evening before the death of Padre Pio, the crypt that would hold his body was completed and blessed. During the four days and nights after the death of Padre Pio around 200,000 people passed before his casket.

Padre Pio said what he would do after he died. "I have made a pact with the Lord: when my soul has been purified in the flames of purgatory and deemed worthy to be admitted to the presence of God, I will take my place at the gate to paradise, but I shall not enter until I have seen the last of my spiritual children enter."

Padre Pio's grave
On the day of his death, mystic and Servant of God Maria Esperanza de Bianchini from Caracas, Venezuela reported that Padre Pio appeared to her in a vision and stated "I have come to say good-bye. My time has come. It is your turn." It is reported that her husband then witnessed as his wife's face transfigured into that of Padre Pio. On the following day, they heard of the death of Padre Pio. Witnesses have seen Esperanza herself levitating during Mass and engaging in bilocation. Padre Domenico da Cese, a fellow Capuchin stigmatist reported that on Sunday, September 22, 1968, he saw Padre Pio kneeling in prayer before the Holy Face of Manoppello, although it was known that Padre Pio had not left his room.

Padre Pio's Sainthood

In 1982, the Holy See authorized the Archbishop of Manfredonia to open an investigation whether Padre Pio should be considered a saint. The investigation went on for seven years, and in 1990 Padre Pio was declared a Servant of God, the first step to canonization.

Beginning in 1990, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints debated how heroically Padre Pio had lived his life, and in 1997 John Paul II declared him venerable. A discussion of the effects of his life on others followed, including the cure of an Italian woman, Consiglia de Martino, which had been associated with Padre Pio's intercession. In 1999, on the advice of the Congregation, John Paul II declared Padre Pio blessed.

St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on the day Padre Pio was
declared a Saint on June 16, 2002
After further consideration of Padre Pio's virtues and ability to do good even after his death, including discussion of another healing attributed to his intercession, John Paul II declared Padre Pio a saint on June 16, 2002. It was estimated that about 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony. Padre Pio is one of only two saints who were priests living after the Second Vatican Council; the other was Josemaria Escriva. Both priests had permission from the Vatican to say the traditional Latin Mass without any of the liturgical reforms that stemmed from the Council.

San Giovanni Rotondo on the day of ceremony
On July 1, 2004, John Paul II dedicated the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church in San Giovanni Rotondo in memory of Padre Pio. A statue of Saint Pio in Messina, Sicily attracted attention in 2002 when it reportedly wept tears of blood. Padre Pio has become one of the world's most popular saints. There are more than 3,000 "Padre Pio Prayer Groups" worldwide, with over 3 million members. There are parishes dedicated to Padre Pio in Vineland and Lavallette, New Jersey and Sydney, Australia, and there is a St. Padre Pio Shrine in Buena, New Jersey. A 2006 survey by the magazine Famiglia Cristiana found that more Italian Catholics pray to Padre Pio than to any other saints. This prayer, properly understood as a request, is not to be confused with worship which the Catholic Church teaches is due only to God himself.

The Body of Padre Pio

On February 28, 2008 the monolitic block of green marble was removed. On March 2, 2008 Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio controlled the integrity of the seals put on September 26, 1968, and broke and removed them. Then the triple casket of metal, wood and zync was opened.

On March 2, 2008, the body of Padre Pio was exhumed from his crypt, 40 years after his death. The church described the body as being in "fair condition". Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, papal legate to the shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, stated that "the top part of the skull is partly skeletal but the chin is perfect and the rest of the body is well preserved. The knees, hands, mittens and nails are clearly visible . . ." Archbishop D’Ambrosio also confirmed in a communiqué that "the stigmata are not visible." He went on to say that the hands "looked like they had just undergone a manicure.". The robes were also found still intact and his feet visible. However, due to some degree of deterioration, Padre Pio's face was reconstructed with a life-like silicone mask.

At the time the body of Padre Pio was exhumed
On April 24, 2008, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, celebrated Mass which was attended by 15,000 devotees at the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace, Madonna delle Grazie Church in San Giovanni Rotondo, before the body was presented for public viewing. The body was placed display in a crystal, marble, and silver sepulcher in the crypt of the monastery. Padre Pio was wearing his brown Capuchin habit with a white silk stole embroidered with crystals and gold thread. His hands held a large wooden cross. About 800,000 pilgrims worldwide, mostly from Italy, made reservations to view the body up to December 2008, but only 7,200 people a day were able to file past the crystal coffin. Officials extended public viewing through September, 2009.


On September 24, 2009 at the closing of the public viewing, Padre Pio's body was enclosed in a silver casket-reliquary.


On April 19, 2010, Padre Pio's body was moved to the golden mosaic crypt "Cripta" of the new San Padre Pio Church, built by architect Renzo Piano. The crypt has a ceiling made of golden ceramic tiles with indirect lighting that give the room a golden glow. Pilgrims stand in line to pass by Padre Pio's silver coffin lined with bezel settings encrusted with large precious stones of geometric shapes. Pilgrims offer their prayers and touch the coffin as they walk by.

The new San Padre Pio Church near the San Giovanni Rotondo

Today, in the archives at Our Lady of Grace Friary, there are numerous volumes of testimonies from more than a thousand different people who were pronounced hopelessly ill by doctors, but were cured of incurable maladies and the effects of crippling injuries through the powerfull intercession of Padre Pio. Padre Pio also caused numerous conversions to occur among unbelievers, atheists and agnostics - and people who claimed to be Catholics, but had lapsed in the practice of the Faith.

************
Acknowledgement

Some of the Images are courtesy of caccioppoli.com and skyscrapercity.com
Many thanks to mostholyfamilymonastery.com

72 comments:

  1. this guy is the best

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  2. he did so many great things. may god bless his soul

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  3. This is an incredibly detailed post that I couldn't stop reading! God bless.

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  4. This is an incredibly detailed post. I couldn't stop reading! God Bless!

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    Replies
    1. I, too, think this is a wonderful article. Thank you for the great detail. Many things that I did not know about Padre Pio. Thank you Padre Pio for saying yes to God. Please pray for me that I too may say yes to His Will.

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    2. We are all on a journey of Faith. Padre Pio a true servant of God lived his life as God asked of him. What wonderful resignation.... Padre Pio, please pray for us. Help us live our life as Christ's Will.

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  5. The Lord is with him.....

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  6. Padre Pio practiced the two high Commandments
    To a degree of perfection. LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.

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  7. God bless his soul!

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  8. Padre Pio, please pray for me.

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  9. Padre Pio, please pray for me and those in most need of God's Mercy.

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  10. Padre Pio please pray for me my family and friends.

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  11. Thank you padre pio for your miracle

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  12. This is the best

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  13. O Lord u showed your greatness thru your servant padre pio fill me with your love and grace and show me thy graetness as u did to your servant in jesus name

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  14. Padre Pio please pray for me & my family.We are in great pain.We need your strong intercessions & firm support throughout our life please show us the path of heaven.**Our prayer petitions to God The Trinity is for removal of negativities,breaking of generational curses & completely dissolving all negativities from our family tree forever,liberations of deep rooted fears, panic attacks,sadness & negativities forever,healings of all illnesses,betterment of all relationships, meeting our soulmates soon with blessed marriages lasting forever,blessings,physical,spiritual & mental protections throughout our life from satan & satanic attack,I am Suffering depressions,suicidal tendencies,deep rooted fears that anyone can harm me physically mentally spiritually,past life fears traumas& baggages with lots of negativities, nightmares with sleepless nights,lack of confidence,depressions with painful illnesses like high blood pressure,high blood sugar suffering extreme obesity in this young age.Please keep me in prayers & healings list for longer time.I am in deep problem feeling like to give up everytime. I want to heal fully.Please do help me by sending me healings & prayers continuously cause i want to heal fully.I am in great pain.Asking cleansing from Jesus Precious blood shielding on us forever, miracles,financial blessings with better,safe & permanent jobs,to sell the land in our hometown soon so that we meet all our needs,divine guidance to write & finish my thesis soon within 1month with excellent marks & also do IELTS exams with excellent so that it will help me for full scholarships in PHD theology in US so that we I & My true Soul-Mate My Man can move,study & permanently settle there safely with our soul-mates our spouses & also scholarships for my siblings asking God to bless,protect,heal & guide us our past,present,future our entire life forever** Amen!!! Respected people all over the world please do keep me & my family in your prayer & healing list & also please do circulate my prayer & healing requests among the believers,Nuns,Priests to support me with continuous healings & prayers.If possible permanently. Thankyou so much,MAY GOD BLESS U ALL ABUNDANTLY FOREVER & EVER.AMEN!!!Prayer Request from Jyoti & entire family.thankyou..

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  15. Dear lovely souls throughout the world, I am jyoti.I am a female.I am suffering depressions,suicidal tendencies feeling like to die everytime, phobias of pictures,statues of snakes & real snakes,hydrophobia,pictures of oceans,seas,big statues,pictures of hindu Gods & Goddesses they all scare me,my whole day is spend at home in crying & only crying,i suffer panic attacks,deep rooted fears these all phobias & depressions are haunting me since I was a very small baby,since the day I felt I was on this earth,i feel scared to talk to strangers & also with people like know feeling that anyone can harm me physically mentally spiritually,past life fears traumas & baggages with lots of negativities & sadness, nightmares with sleepless nights,lack of confidence,depressions with painful illnesses like high blood pressure,high blood sugar suffering extreme obesity in this young age.I donot have a single friend no job no studies I just sit at home crying all day.Lord please save me from all these heal me fully forever.Please keep me in prayers & healings list for longer time.I am in deep problem feeling like to give up everytime. I want to heal fully. My faith in Lord also gets shakened due to such painful life full of nightmares & failures.Please do keep me & my name in your prayer & healing list for longer time you can even keep it for permanently.I urge you all to help me by sending me continuous healings & prayers for longer time cause I want to heal fully.I am in great pain.Lord its been so many years I am going through these painful attacks Lord please give me your assurance that you are there for me. You are the greatest healer of all please heal me so that I live a peaceful,healthy & courageous life whereever I go in my whole life.You all can even circulate my prayer & healing requests among the healers to support me with continuous healings & prayers. Thankyou so much,may God bless u all abundantly forever & ever.Amen

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    Replies
    1. Hi there,are you okay now? The Good and ever loving Jesus will help you. Just keep the faith and hold on.

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    2. Say your rosaries. The blessed virgin will interseed. She loves you and so does Christ. Many miracles and conversions. Meditate on the Rosary... Your life will change forever. You just have to stick with it... Believe in the power of prayer.. Do the work!!!!

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  16. Thank you for this detailed description of Padre Pio's life. What a life this holy man lead. Please pray for us Padre Pio, that we too may dedicate our lives to God and have everlasting life in Him.

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  17. God Bless you Padre Pio , thank you for the signs and please pray for my whole family and friends

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  18. Thank you Padre Pio for saving my brother and me.

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  19. "PRAY HOPE DON'T WORRY" God Bless you...

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    Replies
    1. I love that padre a lot,i wish I can become holy like him

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  20. Padre Pio, please bless me and my family. Keep us safe from the evil force who has been tormenting us.

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  21. Dear Padre Pio, please bless my family. My wife was severely ill of malignant cancer, "Pancreatic Cancer" inoperable, I truly bless to know you, I believe that you will intercede our petition a completely heal, Saint Pio we are truly bless in this generation, you are the living manifestation of Christ 2000 years ago, I hope and pray that we maybe imitate your life spend prayer. I hope and claim that my wife will be a living witness of God's Healing Grace for those who are desperately ill and the doctor in this modern time even can't cure, Lord Jesus, thee truly divine doctor in Spirit, Body and Mind. To God Be the Glory!!!

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  22. Father Pio, please heal my brother in law who has cancer. Please cure him and do your miracles. Please help the Dr. with the treatment so he can get cured. I believe you will intercede. Father Pio, I smelled your floral scent twice already. I know you are with me. I know you will hear and answer my prayer for my brother in law. Please heal him. Thank you so much.

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  23. I am a devotee of St. Pio as well. From what I have heard, however, his body is not corrupt---the face is covered with a wax mask. Please check on this. This is not to lower any of the holiness of Padre Pio, only to potentially be accurate when we talk about the incorruptibles.

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  24. Padre Pio is a saint........but from what I've heard, his body is not corrupt. This is a wax mask. This is in no way to squelch his life and holiness, only to set the record straight regarding the "incorruptibles" of which we have many cases. If I am in error on this, please let me know.

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  25. Padre Pio, you are our dear Father who look after us always and please help my families on any illness and suffering we have for now and in the future. We love you and Thank You!!!

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  26. Padre Pio, i can not just imagine the pain and suffering you went through on this earth,Please pray for my child so that she can test HIV negative. In the name of Jesus. And please father intercede for my family so that we can deal away with this endless poverty that is running among us in the name of Jesus. And please intercede for me so that my husband may get a good paying Job and that my mother in Law may be healed in the name of Jesus. I believe u father Padre Pio.

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  27. Father Pio, please pray for me, my family, friends, and my love one. please father Pio, my family are suffering in pain. please help us, please father Pio, enlighten their mind, please guide us father, Thank you so much father Pio. Amen

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  28. Father Pio, i cannot imagine how much the pain you've d suffering. I really don't have an idea about you father, but yesterday as i watch the tv, they captured some of your details, I believe in you father Pio, thank you so. Amen

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  29. I plan to visit Pietrelcina, Italy in Sept. 2014. Kindly confirm that Padre Pio's incorrupt body is located in Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggio Province, Pietrelcina, Italy. Thank you for confirming location of his body.

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  30. I have been learning a lot from reading articles about him -- I must say this one that I posted was the best. If you are interested I found a Padre Pio movie on youtube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BaS1vMLuAE
    I finished watching it last night...it's long... but well worth the watch. It's dubbed..so it's easy to understand. Of course, there is much that the movie did not touch on but that would take a lifetime to show it all. Thank you Padre Pio for your great love of Christ and saying yes. Help me say yes to Christ. Amen.

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  31. dear father Pio,I ask for healing in our family of mind,body and spirit.keep us safe and heal us from all anxiety,trouble,stress and worry which does not come from our lord.keep us safe in this country and give us the grace to survive and be successful in our careers and in love for Jesus.keep us in your loving care protect us from all danger and evil. Shield us and ask our lord to cover us always with his precious blood in jesus name we prayer

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  32. Father Pio i visited your grave in 2012 and for the last 2 years of my visit i cannot stop thinking about
    you and the suffering you went thru, please father pray for my six kids who are so nasty to me because
    my marriage did not last with their father and they blame me. they all refuse to speak to me after 49 yrs.

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  33. Saint Padre Pio, through your intercession may we experience the healing power of our Lord Jesus in every aspect of our life that needs healing. May you help us to be in communion with God in everything we do. Thank you Saint Padre Pio. Amen.

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  34. Saint Padre Pio, I am so saddened to read about all your illnesses and sufferings which tormented you throughout your life and beginning from such a young age. I ask you for your divine intercession to ask our Lord Jesus and Mother Mary to heal my body of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Lupus Nephritis, Fibromylagia, Osteoarthritis, Sjogren's syndrome and all that attacks it so that I may rise to be a worthy apostle of our Father God. Help me to have the strong faith and heart that you have dearest Padre Pio....please intercede for me and pray for my divine healing. I thank you for your divine sufferings and prayers. Amen.

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  35. PADRE PIO, please intercede for my healing of my body from my head to my feet after my car accident and bad treatments. Heal my brain, neck, back, spine, shoulders, all organs, muscles, and gums damage as a result of this. Heal my body so it can function back to my norm and reverse all damage caused after my car accident on 11-16-2014. If it is not God's will for me to go to heaven then perform a miracle of healing now. May your spirit be with me Padre Pio. In Jesus Name and God our Father.

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  36. Saint Paadre please heal my brother Victors swollen feet and legs. No doctor can find what is wrong
    Thank you.

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  37. Padre Pio, I love you. Please help me and my family love God and all be together one day in heaven. Thank you, Donna Gargana Palagano

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  38. Padre Pio pray for us

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  39. Badada Pio, nilombereni.

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  40. Badada Pio, pray for me and my people.

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  41. Saint Padre Pio please I beg you pray for me and my family and let the curse be broken we suffed too much, I truly live you and adore you so much Padre Pio.

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  42. Dear Saint Pio, I pray that you will please cure me from my constant headaches. I Thank You Dearly, Amen. bd

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  43. Please pray for the return of my health. I cracked or bruised or broke a rib or two last night and it hurts like the dickens. Please pray to our Lord and his Blessed mother that they will heal me and help me with the pain.

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  44. Please pray to St. Jude, St. Rita, St. Padre Pio, St Andrew, St Pope John Paul II and St. Anthony for the health of my parents and myself and my husband so that they may place these prayers before Our Lady, so she may give the prayers to her Holy son. Please pray for the health of my family. Please pray for his job. Please pray for my father and mother. Please pray they can enjoy life. Please pray that I can relax and not be so stressed out. Please pray for my 3 yr old niece. Please pray for the pain that I have daily to go away. Pray my husband and I will live a long and healthy and happy life

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  45. Padre Pio I need you. I feel weak, I cannot control my sensuality. I am negative, I lack faith, I am the wrost son of God. Pray for me please

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  46. Greetings to everyone that is reading this testimony..i want to use this medium to testify of how i got cured from Lung cancer,I was diagnose with lung cancer and HIV 2 years ago, and ever since i have done a lot of Chemo and Radiation that have not helped me, but only damaged my immune system and render me weak and helpless. I came across testimony on how Dr choice heal cancer patient and i contacted him, to my greatest surprise after three day i was free from my lung cancer. I'm now here to testify that am no more a cancer patient, and now am so much happy if you need help for you HERPES CURE OR CANCER OR HIV&AIDS contact him now. choiceherbalhealinghome@gmail.com to get this miraculous Herbal cured. So far so good my lung cancer is responding to treatment of herbal and the health condition have improved drastically for good.you call him telephone:+2349050156881 get your healing now and be free from cancer Here is him email: choiceherbalhealinghome@gmail.com

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  47. Greetings to everyone that is reading this testimony..i want to use this medium to testify of how i got cured from Lung cancer,I was diagnose with lung cancer and HIV 2 years ago, and ever since i have done a lot of Chemo and Radiation that have not helped me, but only damaged my immune system and render me weak and helpless. I came across testimony on how Dr choice heal cancer patient and i contacted him, to my greatest surprise after three day i was free from my lung cancer. I'm now here to testify that am no more a cancer patient, and now am so much happy if you need help for you HERPES CURE OR CANCER OR HIV&AIDS contact him now. choiceherbalhealinghome@gmail.com to get this miraculous Herbal cured. So far so good my lung cancer is responding to treatment of herbal and the health condition have improved drastically for good.you call him telephone:+2349050156881 get your healing now and be free from cancer Here is him email: choiceherbalhealinghome@gmail.com

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  48. Saint Padre Pio, ;
    Please pray for me, laboratory test today, i need you and and mama mary. thank you.

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  49. Wow, thank you for posting such wonderful details about st pio's life and rare pictures of his stigmata! I'm so blessed to read this blog post. May our good lord bless you abundantly for an excellent sharing!

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  50. Pray for me padre Pio,iam struggling with alcoholism and pornography.My sinful life is destroying my spirit.Hit Satan for me,i will do the right thing.Forgive me Jesus.

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  51. Padre Pio, please pray for my health. Also pray that I will be as holy as you are to show God's glory. Thank you, Padre Pio, for your acceptance of God's will. Pray to God for peace in our world.

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  52. saint padre pio.help all non practicing catholics return to our faith.

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  53. Saint Padre Pio. please pray for me and my family that we may grow stronger in our faith and remain united forever. We need God's and the Holy Spirit's grace to help us in our prayer life.

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  54. Padre Pio. Please pray for my Mother who is 92yrs old.Let her see the truth and remove her pride. thank you.

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  55. My daughter and I are in need of prayers. Please help us. I have been following Padre Pio for years, since I was young girl and I believe he's helped me in the past, especially when I had cancer 16 yrs ago. I need another miracle, patience, tolerance,hope,healing emotionally. Padre Pio pray for me. Thank you

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  56. Saint padre pio i was given your name as my second name you have always answered my prayers i pray that you will look after me and my five children and always be at my side.Amen

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  57. Padre Pio, You are a great model of faith. Please help my brother Maxime and take the board test with me.
    I love you soooooooooooooooooooooooo much!
    Thanks in advance

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  58. Padre Pio, please pray for my family. We need your help. Everyone is falling away from God and the Church. Please help me get a better job and close to a Catholic Church. I love you and need your intercession. Thank you and Praise God! JMJ

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  59. Padre Pio, please pray for my sister and my family

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  60. Padre Pio please help us. Amen

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  61. Please pray for my health. Please pray that the health issues will clear and I will be able to live a long and healthy and happy life.

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  62. Please Please Please pray for my mother. Please pray to Our Blessed Mother for my mother's health. Please pry to Our Lord for the health of my mother. Please pray to St Anthony for the health of my mother. Please pray to St Jude, St Rita Archangel Raphael To all who can please help my mother. To Padre Pio for the health of my mother.

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  63. Please pray to St Anthony, St Rita, St Jude Padre Pio, Archangel Raphael for my health. Please pray for my health to be Good. Please pray to Our Blessed Mother to lay this petition before her Holy Son. Please pray for my health to be GOOD.

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  64. Padre Pio please pray for me Im on dialysis since April 2012 Im sad and i get tonsilitis / tonsil stones often too Please interced before the throne of The Most Holy Trinity on my behalf Im a sinner Pleasure of the flesh is my weakness I have no wife, no parente , no brothers or sisters Also please pray for a job for me that i can handle on dialysis Thank ou

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