Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887. His parents, Orazio and Giuseppa Forgione, were poor country people. They brought eight children into the world, three of whom died in infancy and two of whom became religious. The Forgiones lived in the little farming village of Pietrelcina, in the Province of Benevento, not many miles from Naples. They were God-fearing people.
Francesco Forgione (Padre Pio) at 14 yrs old
Padre Pio in his youth was deeply religious and early in life showed a love for recollection and for the things of God. At school, he learned diligently and possessed a lively intelligence, so much so that his father was determined to help his son financially to become a priest. In 1903, he began his novitiate with the Capuchins in Morcone, received the habit and was given the religious name of Pio (Pius, in English). After seven years of studies, he was ordained on August 10, 1910 at the age of 23. Because of delicate health, he was permitted to practice his ministry for several years in his parochial church of Pietrelcina.
Padre Pio as a Capuchin novice
In 1912, he received intermittently the invisible stigmata. Christ's sacred wounds were invisibly imprinted on his hands, feet and side. The wounds could not be seen, but the pain and swelling of them were there. In 1916, his superiors sent him to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo. He lived there until he died.
On September 20,1918, at 31 years of age, a piercing cry escaped his lips during his thanksgiving after Mass. He was pierced and bleeding from five deep wounds in his hands, feet and side. The stigmata had become visible and was to remain with him until shortly before he died. He was the first priest to be so honored! There have been about 300 stigmatisms in the history of the Church.
Naturally, he was subjected to endless and often very painful medical examinations. All kinds of healing treatments were applied, but without success. The wounds remained completely free from healing or any infection for 50 years.
In addition to the stigmata, he possessed the gifts of fragrance, of conversion, of bi-location, of reading hearts, of penetrating the future and of miracles of all kinds. Like many a Saint, he was fiercely attacked by the devil on numerous occasions. During his long life, Padre Pio accomplished many deeds that were far beyond the scope of ordinary mortals. His greatest achievement and memorial was his hospital in 1956 for the Relief of Suffering. It holds over a thousand beds and has the most efficient up-to-date equipment A large congregation of Sisters staff the hospital.
His day consisted of constant prayer, usually the rosary, Holy Mass at 5 AM, confessions all day long and through his secretaries responses to the 500 to 600 pieces of mail each day. Most of the letters were requests for prayers, cures or advice. He never took breakfast or supper. Dinner at noon consisted of nibbling at his food, but never more than 500 calories a day.
He died a holy death on September 23,1968 at 2:30 AM with the words "Jesus and Mary" on his lips and his rosary in his hands. His funeral rites were a triumph. It is estimated that over 100,000 viewed his body and 100,000 participated in the funeral rites
Padre Pio's body September 24, 1968
His beatification occurred in May 1999 and in Rome on June 16, 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina, OFM Cap. a saint of the Church with over 500,000 people in attendance.
A free St. Pio Prayer Card is available and will be mailed to you by writing to St. John's Church (Prayer Card), 210 West 30st Street, New York, NY, 10001. Your name and address will be added to the St. John's Church Sweepstakes mailings and will not be shared with any other institution or marketing company.