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Thursday, April 24, 2008

St. Padre Pio on Display in Italy

St. Padre Pio's body will be on display in Italy to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death.

St. Padre Pio was said to have had stigmata - a Christian affliction (and paranormal oddity) in which the sufferer bears Christ's wounds, generally manifested in bleeding from the hands and feet and, even more rarely, from the side or head; St. Pio's was said to be on his hands, feet, and side. While his body is well-preserved despite no measures having been taken to achieve this (incorruption, also a Christian paranormal oddity - which fall under the category of miracles here - often associated with sainthood), there is no sign of stigmata. Of course, St. Padre Pio's blood has long stopped flowing.

Beatified in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, Padre Pio had legions of followers before his death - but the Catholic Church was not among them. In fact, Pio was banned from attending or performing public mass. Many thought him a fraud, and several contend that to this very day; one skeptic suggested he used carbolic acid to create his wounds (a pretty ludicrous claim).

Born in 1887 in the village of Pietrelcina in Southern Italy, St. Pio joined the Capuchins at 17 and lived for 11 years as a novice. On September 20th, 1915, he began experiencing severe pains in his side and extremities for which doctors could find no reason nor cause. Exactly three years later, to the date, St. Pio fell to the floor in agony at the altar of the church in Foggia. His fellow monks found him there, unconscious, bleeding from his side, hands, and feet. He bore the stigmata unto his death; no medical efforts healed them and no evidence of imposture was ever found.

Throughout his lifetime, Padre Pio was attributed many miraculous cures, as well as the gifts of precognition and bilocation. Pio rarely left his monastery and died peacefully on September 28, 1968.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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