Through the work of the St. Pio Foundation, authentic relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina have traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. By invitation of Bishop Robert Gruss on Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, they will be at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City. The Diocese of Rapid City is one of 40 places in the U.S. to host the relics for veneration this year.
Francesco Forgione was born May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. By age 10 he expressed his desire to become a priest. At age 15 he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and took the name Pio in honor of St. Pius V. August 10, 1910, he was ordained a priest. A month later, he said, while praying Jesus and Mary appeared to him and gave him the
stigmata or wounds of Christ. While praying for an end to World War I, he said Christ appeared and pierced his side. As a result, he suffered in poor health for much of his life.
Padre Pio was highly sought after as a spiritual director and confessor. Supernatural occurrences were also attributed to him. His popularity was a source of concern for his religious order and the Holy See. They restricted much of his ministry during his lifetime. He died September 23, 1968, and was canonized June 16, 2002, by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is September 23. St. Pio is the patron saint of civil defense volunteers, adolescents and the village of Pietrelcina.
Luciano Lamonarca, president and CEO of the St. Pio Foundation said in a letter, “I wish to extend our gratitude to you for your support of this pilgrimage of the relics of Padre Pio. Offering such an opportunity to the many thousands of faithful of the diocese and its neighboring dioceses requires much cooperative planning and effort on the part of both the St. Pio Foundation and the diocese.
“From the outset, the St. Pio Foundation decided to bring the relics of St. Pio to any diocese that would request them, whether large or small. A recent survey brought to our attention that at least 90 percent of those attending the veneration of the relics have never visited nor will be able to visit Pietrelcina nor San Giovanni Rotondo where the shrine of St. Pio is in Italy.”
Deacon Greg Kandra, the honorary advocate for the foundation, from New Rochelle, New York, said, “I’m sure you can appreciate that the hosting of these relics is a singular and even historic moment that can only help to inspire the faithful and offer many spiritual riches.”
Preliminary plans include Mass with Bishop Robert Gruss, veneration and reconciliation. When the schedule is finalized it will be published in the West River Catholic.