|Biography - L'Osservatore Romano
Published on the occasion of his beatification
Blessed Pio of Pietrelcina, a man of prayer and suffering, was
totally dedicated to the good of souls
"Far be it from me to glory except
in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6:14).
Like the Apostle Paul, Padre Pio
of Pietrelcina placed at the centre of his life and apostolic work the Cross of his
Lord as his strength, his wisdom and his glory. Inflamed by love of Jesus Christ, he
became like him in the sacrifice of himself for the salvation of the world. In his
following and imitation of the crucified Christ he was so generous and perfect that he
could have said: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but
Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20). And the treasures of grace which God had granted
him so lavishly he unceasingly passed on through his ministry, serving the men and women
who came to him in ever greater numbers, and bringing to birth an immense host of
spiritual sons and daughters.
This worthy follower of St Francis of
Assisi was born on 25 May 1887 at Pietrelcina in the Archdiocese of Benevento, the
son of Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio. He was baptized the next day and
given the name Francesco. At the age 12 he received the sacrament of Confirmation and made
his First Holy Communion.
On 6 January 1903, at
the age of 16, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone, where on
22 January he took the Franciscan habit and the name Brother Pio. At the end of his
novitiate year he took simple vows, and on 27 January 1907 made his solemn
After he was ordained a priest on 10
August 1910 at Benevento, he stayed at home with his family until 1916 for health
reasons. In September of that year he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo and
remained there until his death.
Filled with love of God and love of
neighbour, Padre Pio lived to the full the vocation to work for the redemption of man, in
accordance with the special mission which marked his entire life and which he exercised
through the spiritual direction of the faithful, the sacramental reconciliation of
penitents and the celebration of the Eucharist. The pinnacle of his apostolic activity was
the celebration of Holy Mass. The faithful who took part witnessed the summit and fullness
of his spirituality.
On the level of social charity, he
committed himself to relieving the pain and suffering of many families, chiefly through
the foundation of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of
Suffering), opened on 5 May 1956.
For the servant of God, faith was
life: he willed everything and did everything in the light of faith. He was assiduously
devoted to prayer. He passed the day and a large part of the night in conversation with
God. He would say: "in books we seek God, in prayer we find him. Prayer is the key
which opens God's heart". Faith led him always to accept God's mysterious will.
He was always immersed in
supernatural realities. Not only was he himself a man of hope and total trust in God, but
by word and example he communicated these virtues to all who approached him.
The love of God filled him, and
satisfied his every desire; charity was the chief inspiration of his day: to love God and
to help others to love him. His special concern was to grow in charity and to lead others
to do so.
He demonstrated to the full his love
of neighbour by welcoming, for more than 50 years, countless people who had recourse to
his ministry and his confessional, his counsel and his consolation. He was almost
besieged: they sought him in church, in the sacristy, in the friary. And he gave himself
to everyone, rekindling faith, dispensing grace, bringing light. But especially in the
poor, the suffering and the sick he saw the image of Christ, and he gave himself
particularly to them.
He exercised to an exemplary degree
the virtue of prudence, acting and counseling in the light of God.
His concern was the glory of God and
the good of souls. He treated everyone with justice, frankness and great respect.
The virtue of fortitude shone in him.
He understood very early in life that his would be the way of the Cross, and he accepted
it at once with courage and out of love. For many years, he experienced spiritual
sufferings. For years he endured the pains of his wounds with admirable serenity. He
accepted in silence the many interventions of his superiors, and in the face of calumnies
he always remained silent.
He habitually practised mortification
in order to gain the virtue of temperance, in keeping with the Franciscan style. He was
temperate in his attitude and in his way of life.
Conscious of the commitments which he
had undertaken when he entered the consecrated life, he observed with generosity the vows
he had professed. He was obedient in all things to the commands of his superiors, even
when they were burdensome. His obedience was supernatural in intention, universal
in its scope and complete in its execution. He lived the spirit of poverty with total
detachment from self, from earthly goods, from his own comfort and from honours. He always
had a great love for the virtue of chastity. His behaviour was modest in all situations
and with all people.
He sincerely thought of himself as
useless, unworthy of God's gifts, full of weakness and infirmity, and at the same time
blessed with divine favours. Amid so much admiration around him, he would say: "I
only want to be a poor friar who prays".
From his youth, his health was not
very robust, and especially in the last years of his life it declined rapidly. Sister
Death took him well prepared and serene on 23 September 1968 at the age of 81. An
extraordinary gathering of people attended his funeral.
On 20 February 1971, barely three
years after the death of the servant of God, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the superiors of
the Capuchin Order, said of him: "Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following
gathered around him! But why? Perhaps because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise?
Because he had resources at his disposal? Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions
from dawn to dusk and wasit is not easy to say itone who bore the wounds of
our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering".
Even during his lifetime, he enjoyed
a vast reputation for sanctity because of his virtues, his spirit of prayer, sacrifice and
total dedication to the good of souls.
In the years following his death, his
reputation for sanctity and miracles grew steadily and became established in the Church,
all over the world and among all kinds of people.
God thus showed the Church his desire
to glorify on earth his faithful servant. In a short time the Capuchin Order took the
steps prescribed by canon law to begin the cause of beatification and canonization. After
examining the case, the Holy See, in accordance with the norm of the Motu Proprio Sanctitas
clarior, granted the nihil obstat on 29 November 1982. The Archbishop of
Manfredonia was thus abled to introduce the cause and set up the informative process
(1983-90). On 7 December 1990 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized its
juridical validity. When the Positio had been completed, there was the usual discussion on
whether the servant of God had exercised the virtues to a heroic degree. On 13 June 1997
the special meeting of the theological consultors was held and gave a positive judgement.
In the ordinary session on 21 October 1997, with Bishop Andrea Maria Erba of
Velletri-Segni as the proposer of the cause, the Cardinals and Bishops recognized that
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina had lived to a heroic degree the theological, cardinal and
On 18 December 1997, in the presence
of Pope John Paul II, the decree on heroic virtues was promulgated.
For the beatification of Padre Pio,
the Postulation presented to the competent Congregation the healing of Mrs. Consiglia De
Martino of Salerno. The regular canonical process concerning this case was held at the
ecclesiastical tribunal of the Archdiocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno from July 1996 to
June 1997, and the case was recognized as valid by a decree dated 26 September 1997. On 30
April 1998 at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Medical Board examined the
miracle, and on 22 June 1998 the special meeting of theological consultors gave its
judgement. On 20 October 1998 the ordinary congregation of the Cardinals and Bishops
belonging to the Congregation, together with the proposer, Bishop Andrea M. Erba, was held
in the Vatican.
On 21 December 1998, in the presence
of Pope John Paul II, the decree on the miracle was promulgated.
L'Osservatore Romano, 5 May 1999