Thousands flock to venerate Padre Pio

San Giovanni Rotondo, Apr. 24, 2008 (CWNews.com) – An estimated 15,000 people attended Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, as the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina were exposed for public veneration.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass in the church that Padre Pio made famous. The body of the Capuchin friar, who died in 1968, was then placed on display in a glass coffin.

Padre Pio gained worldwide fame during his lifetime as a confessor and a stigmatist. Thousands of pilgrims flocked to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet him and ask favors, recognizing his reputation as a miracle worker. He remains one of the most popular saints of the 20th century; about 300,000 people attended his canonization in June 2002.

His body was exhumed on March 3, and discovered to be in excellent condition. Embalmers have since prepared the remains for public viewing. Already 750,000 people have made reservations to venerate St. Pio’s remains through the remainder of this year.

Padre Pío of Pietrelcina

Padre Pio’s body exhumed

 San Giovanni Rotondo, Mar. 3, 2008 (CWNews.com) – Church officials exhumed thepadre-pio.jpg body of Padre Pio on March 2, in preparation for the public veneration of his remains later this year.

Bishop Domenico D’Ambrosio reported that the body of Padre Pio, who died in 1968, was partially incorrupt. Although there was no sign of the stigmata– the wounds on his hands and feet, matching those of the crucified Christ– the saint’s hair and beard were intact. The bishop remarked that the hands of the beloved Capuchin friar were so well preserved that he appeared to have “just had a manicure.”

The body of Padre Pio– who was canonized by Pope John Paul II (bionews) in 2002– is being transferred to a new shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived. His remains will be exposed for veneration there. Archbishop D’Ambrosio overcame objections from some of Padre Pio’s relatives to exhume the saint’s body, making it available for veneration during the 40th anniversary of his death. Each year nearly 1 million people travel to San Giovanno Rotondo to visit the saint’s grave; Church officials expect larger crowds for the anniversary year.