Padre Pio

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Born in 1887, Padre Pio is not yet canonized. Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was one of eight children of Grazio and Maria Forgione. Francesco was very devout even as a child, and at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood. He became a Capuchin novice at the age of sixteen and received the “habit” in 1902. Francesco was ordained to the priesthood in 1910 after seven years of study and became known as Padre Pio.
On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds.
Padre Pio describes what happened in a letter that he wrote to his spiritual advisor, Padre Benedetto.
“On the mourning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I celebrated Mass, I yielded to a drowsiness similar to sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment witch effected everything else and caused a lull of turmoil. All this happened in a flash.
While this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August the 5th. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. The 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.” He then goes on about the pain he experienced for the next week.
These wounds never healed or festered and were still bleeding at the time of his death in 1968, fifty years later. The wounds of the stigmata were not the only mystical phenomenon experienced by Padre Pio. The blood from the stigmata had an odor described by many as similar to that of perfume or flowers.
Padre Pio had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession which he heard for ten or twelve hours per day.

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