Pio of Pietrelcina, Saint

Pio of Pietrelcina, Saint, 1887–1968, Italian Capuchin friar and mystic known as Padre Pio. Born Francesco Forgione, he was a sickly child who experienced visions and ecstasies at a young age and entered the Capuchin Order in 1903. Ordained a priest in 1910, he served (1915–18) in the Italian army medical corps, but only intermittently due to poor health. In 1916 he moved to a friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived the rest of his life. In 1918, he was said to began to experience stigmata, and this and his reputation for healing the sick and predicting the future brought him prominence. He opened a hospital in 1956, and in 1959 a church was added to the monastery to accommodate the millions of pilgrims who came to San Giovanni Rotondo each year. The Vatican conducted at least 12 investigations into him over the years and at times forbade him from saying mass publicly or hearing confessions, but restrictions were eased in the 1930s; ultimately Pope Paul VI dismissed all allegations against him. He was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II; his feast is Sept. 23.

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