Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born in Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25th, 1887 to a poor but religious family. Even as a young child, his mother described his devotion to God and said that he loved to go to church and to pray. In his innocence as a child, Francesco assumed that everyone was like him and was able to see and communicate with their guardian angels, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. When he was 15 years old, he entered the Capuchin Novitiate in Morcone, Italy, and this is where he took the name of Brother Pio. Seven and a half years later, he was ordained a priest.
The celebration of the Holy Mass was the center of Padre Pio’s spirituality and a source for miracles. He would experience visions and pause for long periods of time for contemplative silences. Padre Pio was often in prayer and recommended to others to say the Holy Rosary and to pray for the souls of Purgatory.
Shortly after becoming a priest, Padre Pio received temporary stigmata, which were painful wounds that would appear then disappear. Eight years later, a miraculous wound was visible on his chest from a transverberation of his heart. The following month, he received visible stigmata while praying in front of a crucifix in the Church of Our Lady of Grace.
Padre Pio humbly controlled many spiritual gifts including the gifts of healing, prophecy, bilocation, visions of divinity, and discernment. He was able to serve others for many hours of the day without hardly eating. Thousands of pilgrims would go to him from all over the world.
On September 23rd, 1968, Padre Pio died, and ten minutes after his death all traces of the stigmata on his hands, feet and side had disappeared. Eight million pilgrims visit and pray at his tomb in each year.