• 23 Sep 20

Sep 23 - “St. Padre Pio” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. Pio!

Pio entered the Capuchin branch of the Franciscan Order as a young man and was ordained a priest. He spent nearly his entire Franciscan life in Foggia, a town in the Gargano Mountains of southern Italy. He was especially devoted to Christ’s passion and crucifixion. Eight years after his ordination he had a mystical experience that left wounds similar to those of Christ on his hands, feet and side. As fame of his stigmata spread, great crowds began coming to see him in Foggia. He heard the confessions of pilgrims many hours every day. Many claimed to experience miracles because of his prayers.

Controversy surrounded his stigmata throughout his life. Bishops and popes expressed their reservations, while common people thronged around him to protect him from ecclesiastical authority. Bearing the burden of this controversy and the pushing and shoving of pilgrims anxious to see or touch him every day was perhaps a more significant element in his spiritual life than the stigmata themselves. All trace of the stigmata disappeared from his body in the months before he died and there is no trace of them on what remains of his body now.

Love is the touchstone of all holiness. Too often religious people run after what is exotic or spectacular in the lives of others rather than patiently embracing the daily demands that practical love makes in their own. In this icon, Pio is shown without the famous stigmata, since they were no longer on his body when he died. More importantly, however, their absence challenges us to look deeper for his sanctity, and to imitate whatever that was in our own lives.