23 September, 1968 (aged 81)
San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy
2 May, 1999
Rome, Italy by Pope John Paul II
16 June, 2002
Rome, Italy by Pope John Paul II
civil defence volunteers, Catholic adolescents
In 1982, the Holy See authorised the Archbishop of Manfredonia to open an investigation to determine whether Padre Pio should be considered a saint. The investigation went on for seven years, and in 1990 Padre Pio was declared a Servant of God, the first step in the progression to canonisation.
Beginning in 1990, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints debated how heroically Padre Pio had lived his life, and in 1997 Pope John Paul II declared him venerable. A discussion of the effects of his life on others followed, including the cure of an Italian woman, Consiglia de Martino, which had been associated with Padre Pio’s intercession. In 1999, on the advice of the Congregation, John Paul II declared Padre Pio blessed.
After further consideration of Padre Pio’s virtues and ability to do good even after his death, including discussion of another healing attributed to his intercession, the Pope declared Padre Pio a saint on June 16, 2002. An estimated 300,000 people attended the canonisation ceremony.
Padre Pio is one of only two saints who were priests living after the Second Vatican Council; the other being Saint Josemaria Escriva. However, both priests have received a dispensation to celebrate private Mass in Latin the first and the second using the old Missal.
On July 1, 2004, Pope John Paul II dedicated the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church in San Giovanni Rotondo to the memory of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. A statue of Saint Pio in Messina, Sicily attracted attention in 2002 when it wept tears of blood.
Padre Pio has become one of the world’s most popular saints. There are more than 3,000 “Padre Pio Prayer Groups” worldwide, with three million members. There are parishes in Vineland and Lavallette, New Jersey and Sydney, Australia, and shrines in Buena, New Jersey and Batangas, Philippines dedicated to Padre Pio. A 2006 survey by the magazine Famiglia Cristiana found that more Italian Catholics pray for the intercession Padre Pio than to any other figure. (This prayer, more properly understood as a request that the saint intercede to God, is not to be confused with worship which the Catholic Church teaches is due only to God himself.)
A statue of Padre Pio will be built on a hill near the town of San Giovanni Rotondo in the southern province of Puglia, Italy, close to the town where he is commemorated. The project will cost several million pounds, with the money to be raised from his devotees around the world. The statue will be coated in a special photovoltaic paint which will enable it to trap the sun’s heat and produce solar energy, making it an “ecological” religious icon.
On 3 March 2008, the body of Saint Pio was exhumed from his crypt, 40 years after his death, so that his remains could be prepared for display. A church statement described the body as being in “fair condition”. Archbishop Domenico D’Ambrosio, Papal legate to the shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, stated “the top part of the skull is partly skeletal but the chin is perfect and the rest of the body is well preserved”. Archbishop D’Ambrosio also confirmed in a communiqué that “the stigmata are not visible.” He went on to say that St. Pio’s hands “looked like they had just undergone a manicure”. It was hoped that morticians would be able to restore the face so that it will be recognisable. However, because of its deterioration, his face was covered with a lifelike silicone mask.
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, celebrated Mass for 15,000 devotees on April 24 at the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace, San Giovanni Rotondo, before the body went on display in a crystal, marble, and silver sepulchre in the crypt of the monastery. Padre Pio is wearing his brown Capuchin habit with a white silk stole embroidered with crystals and gold thread. His hands hold a large wooden cross. Eight hundred thousand pilgrims worldwide, mostly from Italy, made reservations to view the body up to December 2008, but only 7,200 people a day were able to file past the crystal coffin. Officials extended the display through September, 2009.
Saint Pio’s remains were placed in the church of Saint Pio, which is beside San Giovanni Rotondo. In April 2010 they were moved to a special golden “Cripta”.
Prayer for the Intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Dear God, You generously blessed Your servant,
St. Pio of Pietrelcina,
with the gifts of the Spirit.
You marked his body with the five wounds
of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness
to the saving Passion and Death of Your Son.
Endowed with the gift of discernment,
St. Pio laboured endlessly in the confessional
for the salvation of souls.
With reverence and intense devotion
in the celebration of Mass,
he invited countless men and women
to a greater union with Jesus Christ
in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina,
I confidently beseech You to grant me
the grace of (here state your petition).
Glory be to the Father… (three times). Amen.