"One thing is necessary: to be near Jesus. You know well that at the birth of our Lord the shepherds heard the angelic and divine chants of the heavenly spirits. The Scriptures say so. But they do not say that his Virgin Mother and St. Joseph who were nearer to the Child, heard the voices of the angels or saw those miracles of splendor. On the contrary, they heard the Child weeping and saw by the light of a poor lantern the eyes of the Divine Child all bathed in tears, in sighs and shivering cold. Now I ask you: Would you not have preferred to have been in the dark stable, filled with the cries of the little Child, rather than to have been with the shepherds. beside yourself with joy over those sweet melodies from heaven and the beauties of that wonderful splendor?" - St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Padre Pio (1887-1968) was born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina near Benevento, in Italy. In 1903 he entered the Capuchin order, and in 1910 he was ordained into the priesthood. On July 28, 1916, Padre Pio went to San Giovanni Rotondo where he remained (except for a brief interruption) for the rest of his life and where he died on September 23, 1968.

On the morning of Friday, 20 September 1918, praying before the Crucifix in the choir of the old church, he received the gift of the stigmata, that remained in his body, fresh and bleeding, for half a century. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed--he had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal. 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; also the gift of bilocation was attributed to him.

On 9 January 1940, he asked his children in faith to help him implement a project aimed to relieve suffering: the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of Suffering) was built through the spontaneous and sincere offerings of the faithful from every continent, and was officially opened in 1956 to the wholehearted welcome of the people.

Padre Pio was declared Venerable in 1997 and Blessed in 1999. On June 16, 2002, Blessed Padre Pio was canonized in a Mass in St. Peter's Square attended by thousands of people, and said in various languages.

"Gesù, Maria! Gesù, Maria!" -- the last words of Padre Pio

Among Padre Pio's miracles, during and after death:
  • His stigmata
  • His prophecy that the stigmata would heal upon his death
  • The aroma from his stigmata
  • His gift of bilocation
  • His prophecy to the Holy Father (Padre Pio told John Paul II he would become pope when he was still Karol Wojtyla)
  • The miraculous healing of Consiglia De Martino from a traumatic rupture of the thoracic duct in the neck through intercession; scientifically inexplicable
  • Countless other miracles

Prayer to St. Padre Pio
O Jesus, full of grace and charity, victim for sinners, so impelled by love for us that you willed to die on the cross. I humbly beseech you to glorify in heaven and on earth, Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who generously participated in your sufferings, who loved you so much and laboured so faithfully for the glory of your heavenly Father and for the good of souls. With confidence I beseech you to grant me, through his intercession, the grace of ____________ which I ardently desire.

Glory be to the Father . . . (three times)
Imprimatur - Manfredonia, 3/12/1971, Archbishop Valentino Vailati
Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (recited daily by Padre Pio)

I. O my Jesus, you have said : "Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of ______. (Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be; Sacred Heart of Jesus; I place all my trust in Thee.)

II. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, He will give it to you." Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of ______ (Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be; Sacred Heart of Jesus; I place all my trust in Thee.)

III. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly, I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of ______ (Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be; [Sacred Heart of Jesus; I place all my trust in Thee.)

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope. To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to Thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, Most Gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us and after this our exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of Thy Womb Jesus. O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

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