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Padre PioBy Anthony Parente
On September 20, 1918 an event took place that altered the life of Padre Pio. After celebrating Mass Padre Pio felt weak and lethargic when a person appeared before him. The person standing there had marks on his hands, feet, and chest that resembled those of Christ. Once the image had disappeared Padre Pio realized that he too had these same marks on his body. This event made Padre Pio the first priest ever to be stigmatized.
People came from all over to witness these marks, but that didn't prevent Padre Pio from continuing his duties and preaching. He later made a commitment to help relieve the pain and suffering incurred by people. Through much sweat, blood, dedication, and help from his followers Padre Pio was able to open the House for the Relief of Suffering on May 5, 1956.
He devoted his life to prayer and to serve God. He treated everyone as an equal and never turned his back to anyone. On September 23, 1968 Padre Pio said his last prayers on this earth. He was 81 at the time of his death. His body was entombed in a crypt at Our Lady of Grace Church. Padre Pio may no longer be with us but his teachings and beliefs continue throughout the world.
Shortly after his death the necessary steps were started for the Beatification and Canonization of Padre Pio. It wasn't until 1983 that the official process to determine if Padre Pio should be a saint began. On May 2, 1999 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City the Beatification ceremonies took place. Beatification is the second step in the process of canonization, which is the official act of the Christian Church declaring one of its deceased members a saint. Finally on June 16, 2002 in what was one of the largest attended masses in the history of the Vatican, Padre Pio was officially canonized and named a Saint. It was announced by Pope John Paul II that September 23 would be the feast day for the newly named Saint.
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