Published September 7, 2017
ATLANTA—The relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, will tour several dioceses in the United States Sept. 16–Oct. 8. In the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the relics will be displayed at Holy Spirit Church, 4465 Northside Drive, NW, Atlanta, on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Hours for public veneration will be 9 a.m.-6:50 p.m. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory will celebrate Mass in St. Pio’s honor at 7 p.m.
The relics available for veneration will include St. Pio’s glove, cotton gauze with the saint’s bloodstains, a lock of hair, the crusts of his wounds and a mantle and handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before death.
After the Atlanta stop, the relics will move on to the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
St. Pio was born on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy, and baptized Francesco Forgione. He first expressed his desire to be a priest at the age of 10.
The future saint entered the Capuchin order at 15, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest in 1910 at the age of 23. During his life, Padre Pio was known as a mystic with miraculous powers of healing and knowledge, who bore the stigmata.
Stigmata is the term the church uses to speak of the wounds that spontaneously appear on an individual that correspond to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. They can appear on the forehead, hands, wrists and feet.
His stigmata emerged during World War I, after Pope Benedict XV asked Christians to pray for an end to the conflict. Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ pierced his side. A few weeks later, on Sept. 20, 1918, Jesus again appeared to him, and he received the full stigmata. These wounds remained with him until his death on Sept. 23, 1968. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.
The Saint Pio Foundation, which is sponsoring the tour on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of Padre Pio’s birth and the 15th anniversary of his canonization, will sell books and religious items related to the saint in the entryway at Holy Spirit.
In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects associated with a saint or candidate for sainthood, either part of the person’s body or something with which he or she was in contact. Relics are not worshiped, but treated with respect. Touching or praying in the presence of such an object helps a faithful individual focus on the saint’s life and virtues, so that through the saint’s intercession, the individual will be drawn closer to God.
The Saint Pio Foundation promotes awareness of St. Pio and his mission by working with institutions and individuals who share the same vision to serve “those in need of relief of suffering.” Funds raised by the Saint Pio Foundation provide grants to American Catholic health care, educational, social, religious and cultural partner organizations.