St. Pius of Pietrelcina | September 23
Best known as Padre Pio, St. Pius was born Francesco Forgione in 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy. As a young boy he suffered many illnesses including typhoid. He joined Capuchin Franciscans at 15 and took the name of Pius or "Pio" in honor of Pope Pius I. He was ordained in 1910, and at this time he received the marks of stigmata, the wounds of Christ, but they eventually healed. Frequent illnesses continued to plague him as a young man.
Padre Pio served in the Italian Medical Corps during World War I, but he was discharged early because of illness, which was likely tuberculosis. He was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo. In 1918, while continuing to serve at the friary, the stigmata appeared again, and this time remained until his death.
Many faithful came to see him at the friary, his days were long, beginning with Mass at 5 a.m. then hearing confessions all day with breaks to bless the sick. A simple man, content to do God’s will on earth and with the ardent desire to serve the sick and poor in whom he saw Christ, he urged a hospital, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of Suffering), to be built in San Giovanni Rotondo. It opened in 1956.
Padre Pio died at the age of eighty-one in 1968 and in 2002 Pope John Paul II proclaimed him “St. Pio of Pietrelcina.”