May 25th, 1887 - September 23rd, 1968
Italian cleric in the Capuchin order
Francesco Forgione, also known as Padre Pio, was an Italian cleric in the Capuchin order.
Canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, this cleric has attracted devotees in Italy since the day in 1918 when, at the end of a mass, he was suddenly marked with the stigmata of the Passion of Christ. Bloody wounds appeared on his hands, his feet, and his left side, exactly where they had been on the body of Christ Crucified. For a long while the Church reacted with hostile prudence, faced with this unexplained phenomena, which it attributed to hysteria, despite the fact that the wounds on the cleric's body—which had remained open for 50 years—disappeared shortly before his death. After having been excluded from the Church and forbidden to say Mass, he was reinstated in his priestly functions by Pius XI, in 1933. San Giovanni Rotondo, the village where Padre Pio officiated, has become a place of pilgrimage, visited annually by close to 8 million people. The architect Renzo Piano has built a church there, with a capacity for 7000 faithful.
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