Saint Padre Pio ready to frame print.
One of my sweet and wonderful friends, who has a remarkable devotion to Padre Pio, asked if I could make her a small icon of Padre Pio for her prayer space. Shortly thereafter I mentioned to a dear elderly friend what I was painting, and he said I have something you might like to see. Out of a very old envelope he pulled a yellowed handkerchief with what looked to be blood stains. He said his uncle was an altar boy and served mass with Padre Pio, and after mass ended one day, Padre Pio had wiped his hands onto the cloth. My friend Francis held on to that cloth, and now was allowing me to take the cloth home while I worked on Padre Pio. When the icon was completed, I laid the blood stained cloth onto the icon, which made the icon a 3rd class relic.
Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione to a poor farming family in central Italy in 1887. From a young age he was eager to pursue a religious life. At fifteen he entered the novitiate with the Capuchin friars at Morcone. When he professed his vows, he took the name Pio after Pope Pius I. He was ordained in 1910, but his health was poor at the time, and so until 1916 he lived with his family. In 1916 he was able to return to community life, joining the Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, where he remained for the remaining 52 years of his life.
Even as a child Padre Pio had experienced visions and ecstasies while praying. This continued throughout his life. Not long after he became a priest, he first experienced the stigmata, the wounds in hands, feet, and side which Christ suffered in the Crucifixion. Although he experienced these wounds for much of the rest of his life, doctors who examined them testified that they did not become infected, and when his body was prepared for burial it was found that the wounds had healed without scarring.
Padre Pio advised people to follow his five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. His prayer were credited with resulting in several miraculous cures during his lifetime.
He died at the age of eighty-one in 1968. Many, including Pope Paul VI, considered him to be a saint, and a cause was soon opened for his canonization. He was beatified in 1999 by Pope John Paul II and canonized just three years later on June 16th, 2002. His feast day is September 23.