Today is a special day, indeed! Not only is it the first official day of Fall (and, in theory, when cooler weather starts and we get a break from 100 degree days) but it is also the day that we remember, honor and thank God for the great gift of St. Pio.
St. Pio, or Padre Pio, as he was referred to in life, is one of our more recent saints. He was born May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. He was born to a poor, hard working family, but he spent the majority of his life tucked away at the end of the earth - or so it seemed to those who visited the monastery- at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.
Over the course of his life as a friar and priest, St. Pio was known for his ability to intercede for the faithful and to convert the unfaithful. He was given many, many spiritual gifts, including that of the odor of sanctity, oa beautiful scent that signified he was near. This odor was sometimes the scent of flowers, other times it was a heavy perfume or an exotic tobacco. He also had the gift of bilocation, which is the ability to be in two places at the same time, as well as the gift of being able to read hearts. He knew when the confessions he heard were sincere, and even when people left some sins out. He was especially loved for his deep and abiding sympathy towards the sick and struggling who came ot see him. He could obtain miraculous cures for many people, even from a great distance.
But of all these gifts, the greatest he received by far was that of the stigmata - the 5 wounds that Christ received when he was on the cross. It was through St. Pio's participation in the suffering of Christ that made him so Christ-like. Like Christ, he could cure the sick and comfort the sad. He had a more-than-human ability to interact with nature and the laws of physics. And like CHirst, he was humble and meek, giving all glory to God.
The teachings and spirituality of St. Pio are continued through the Padre Pio Foundation of America (www.padrepio.com) whose aim is to spread devotion and knowlege of St. Pio. Padre Pio died in Italy in 1968. He is best remembered for the words "Pray. hope and don't worry!"
St. Pio, pray for us!