St. Padre Pio was an Italian priest who was known for his piety and charity, as well as the gift of the stigmata, which has never been explained.
St. Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione, on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. His parents were peasant farmers. He had an older brother and three younger sisters, as well as two other siblings who died in infancy. As a child, he was very religious and by the age of five he reportedly made the decision to dedicate his life to God. Fortunately, his parents were also very religious and they supported his Catholic development.
From a young age, Francisco had a peculiar ability: he could see guardian angels and spoke with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. This was not something taught to him but occurred so naturally that he assumed other people could see them too.
At the age of 15, Francisco entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. He took the name of "Pio" in honor of Pope Pius I, whose relic he often saw at his local chapel. At the age of 17, Brother Pio became extremely ill and was sent home to heal. He continued to study during this time and became a priest in 1910. He was permitted to remain at home because of his poor health. The military recruited him for medical service in 1915 but had to let him go due to his poor health.
In 1916, Padre Pio was hearing confessions when he felt pain in his hands and feet. He noticed the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appearing on his hands and feet. The experience was painful. Bleeding occurred. The wounds smelled of roses, and although they continued to weep, they never became infected. Doctors who later examined the stigmata were amazed at their perfectly round shape. Padre Pio became internationally famous. He was known for his piety, charity and the quality of his preaching. He famously advised, "Pray, hope and don't worry."
One of our homes, in the Community Outreach and Disability Service ministry in Edmonton, chose St. Padre Pio as their patron Saint because he spent most of his life in pain or sick but never gave up. Our residents are always willing to help out whether it be offering you some of their supper or picking up your bag for you before you go home.