Today is the memorial of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887 – 1968). Padre Pio was a Capuchin Franciscan who was loved by thousands, perhaps even millions of people. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in June 2002.
A deeply spiritual friar, Padre Pio offered Masses regularly that went on for three hours or more. He spent incredible amounts of time in private prayer and adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament. Additionally, he spent hours upon end in the confessional counseling, forgiving and assisting people from all over the world.
Our Lord blessed Padre Pio with a collection of supernatural gifts:
- For instance, he could read the souls of those who confessed to him, and on occasion would point out to them if they were hiding the confession of a sin.
- He was known to be in two places at one time (bilocation).
- He was a mystic and had visions and ecstasies.
- Perhaps more than anything else, he was famous for having the stigmata for over 50 years.
St. Francis also received the stigmata, a gift of inexplicable grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. To bear the wounds that He bore, and to experience, even slightly, the suffering that He did is a mark of incredible holiness, and incredible closeness to our Lord. (remember that the word compassion means “to suffer with”)
You can read more about the stigmata here. It is interesting to note that the majority of saints who have received the stigmata have been women.
Pray for us, Padre Pio – that we may take up our cross each day and follow our Lord Jesus Christ more closely, more willingly and with greater humility.