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Official Decree of Heroic Virtues

[A Decree of Heroic Virtues is a judgment of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints that a Servant of God lived a life of profound union with God and fidelity to Church teaching. Theologically it witnesses to the full flowering of virtue in the person's life, which St. Thomas Aquinas explains occurs when the moral virtues are perfected in their operation by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Decree is official when accepted by the Pope. When combined with the approval of a miracle at the intercession of the Servant of God the requirements for beatification have been met.]






(to the world: Francesco Forgione)



(1887 - 1968)


"For me there is no other boast than in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6, 14).

The Cross: Only boast of Padre Pio

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, like the Apostle Paul, at the center of his life and his apostolate set the Holy Cross, which was his strength, his wisdom , and his glory. Free from the vanities of the world and inflamed with love for Jesus Christ, he was conformed to Him in the immolation of the Cross for the salvation of the world. In the sequence and in the imitation of the divine Victim he was so generous and perfect that he would have been able to say: " I have been crucified with Christ and I am not me anymore that live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2, 19). He wanted to hold it for the treasures of grace, that God had granted to him with unusual abundance; therefore, without standstill, with his sacred ministry, he served the men and the women that hastened to him to produce an immense crowd of spiritual sons and daughters.

Worthy follower of Saint Francis of Assisi

This worthy follower of Saint Francis of Assisi was born May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, in the archdiocese of Benevento, from Grazzio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio. The following day he was baptized with the name of Francesco. He spent his infancy and adolescence in an environment serene and calm: home, church, fields, and later, school. At the age of twelve he received the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion.

At the age of sixteen, on January 6, 1903, he entered the novitiate of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin at Morcone, where on the 22nd of the same month received his habit and was called Brother Pio. He happily finished his year of the novitiate, took the profession of simple vows and, on January 27, 1907, that of solemn vows.

After his priestly ordination, received on August 10, 1910 in Benevento, he rested among his brothers until 1916 for motives of health. In September of the same year he was sent to the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo and he remained there up to his death with the great building up of many believers. These, from the year 1918, saw in him the signs of the Passion of the Lord and other charisms.

His special mission

Turned on by the love of God and by the love of neighbor, Padre Pio lived in the fullness of his vocation to contribute to the redemption of man according to the special mission that characterized all his life. He effected this program with three means: through the direction of the souls, through the sacramental reconciliation of sinners, and through the celebration of the Holy Mass. To confess to Padre Pio was not an easy undertaking due to the great crowd of penitents. The highest moment of his apostolic activity was that in which he celebrated the Holy Mass. The believers that participated, perceived in it the center and fullness of his spirituality.

On the social plain, Padre Pio sought to assuage the pains and poverties of many families, mainly with the foundation of the "Home for the Relief of Suffering", inaugurated May 5, 1956. On the spiritual plain, he formed the "Prayer Groups," which he himself defined as "breeding grounds of faith and focuses of love," and from the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI: "A great river of people that pray."

His faith

For the Servant of God it was a life of faith: everything was desired and everything was done in the light of faith. He nourished himself by constantly engaging in prayer. During the day and a big part of the night, in fact, he was in conversation with God. He said: "In books we learn of God, in prayer we find Him. Prayer is the key that opens the heart of God." In faith he always came to accept the mysterious will of God. He was a religious absorbed in the supernatural realities and he infected all with his faith, radiating it to those that approached him.

The man of hope

Not only was he a man of hope and total trust in God, but he infused these virtues in souls with his words and with his example.

The love of God so filled him, satisfying every want of his; charity was the inspiring principle of his day: He loved God and God loved him. His particular concern: to grow and to behave in charity. This was the secret of his sacrificial life, that he spent in the confessional and in the direction of the souls.

The greatness of his charity

An expression of the greatness of his charity toward neighbor was his welcoming, for over fifty years, plenty of people, that hastened to his sacred ministry, to his counsels and to his comfort. It was almost a siege of love: They looked for him in the church, in the sacristy, in the convent. And he gave all of his love, working to revive faith, distributing grace, bringing light and evangelical comfort. In the poor men, in the suffering ones and in the patients he saw the image of Christ and he was especially available for them.


He had practiced in an exemplary way the virtue of prudence, he acted and recommended all to the light of God.

His interest was the glory of God and the good of souls. He treated all without preferences, with loyalty and great respect.


The virtue of fortitude shown forth in him. He understood full well that his walk would have been that of the Cross, and accepted suffering with courage and with love. He experienced for many years the sufferings of the soul. For years he bore the pains of his wounds with admirable fortitude. He accepted in silence and prayer the numerous interventions of the ecclesiastical authorities and his Order. In front of calumnies he always kept silent.


His prayers and his mortifications were the means which he habitually used for achieving the virtue of temperance, in conformity to the Franciscan style. He was temperate in his mentality and in his way of living.


Aware of the duties assumed with the consecrated life, he observed with generosity the religious vows. He loved them because they were reminders of Christ and because they were the means of perfection. He was obedient in everything to the orders of his Superiors, even when they were burdensome. His obedience was supernatural in his intention, universal in his extension and integral in his execution.


He exercised the spirit of poverty by total detachment of himself from worldly goods, from conveniences and from honors.


He always had a great predilection for the virtue of chastity. His behavior was always and with all modest.

He sincerely believed himself useless, unworthy of the gifts of God, full of weaknesses and in need of divine favors. Among so much admiration from the world, he repeated: "I want to be only a poor friar that prays."

His health, since his youth, was not very good, and, above all, in the last years of his life it quickly declined.

Sister death came for him at the age of eighty one and found him prepared and serene on September 23, 1968. His funeral was characterized by an extraordinary gathering of people.

A stamped representative of the stigmata of Our Lord

On February 20, 1971, only three years from the death of the Servant of God, Paul VI, speaking to the Superior of the Order of Capuchins, said of him: "Look what fame he has had, what world clientele has gathered around him! But why? Was it because he was a philosopher? Was it because he was wise? Was it because he was a man of means? It was because he said the Mass humbly, he heard confessions from morning to night, and he was, difficult to say, a stamped representative of the stigmata of Our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering."

The Cause of Beatification

This way God manifested His wish to glorify on earth his faithful Servant to the Church. The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin did not wait a long time to complete the steps foreseen by canon law to begin the Cause of beatification and canonization. Having examined everything, the Holy See, in the form of the Motu Proprio "Sanctitas Clarior," granted the "nulla osta" on November 29, 1982. The Archbishop of Manfredonia could proceed then to the introduction of the Cause and the observance of the Cognitional Process (1983 - 1990). On December 7, 1990 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized the validity of the Process. Having completed the Positio (Positive Vote), it was then discussed, as usual, if the Servant of God had practiced virtues in heroic degree. On June 13, 1997 the Special Congress of the theological commission was held with positive result. In the next Ordinary Session of the following October 21, the Proponent of the Cause, His Excellency Monsignor Andrea Maria Erba, Bishop of Velletri-Segni, the Cardinal Fathers and Bishops recognized that Padre Pio of Pietrelcina had practiced in heroic degree theological, cardinal and attached virtues.

In heroic degree all the virtues

The undersigned Pro-Prefect has informed the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II of the procedures completed by the Cause. His Holiness, welcoming and approving the judgment of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has ordered that the Decree of the virtues of the Servant of God be promulgated.

Toward God and toward neighbor

This performed according to the norms, surrounding it, on today’s date, the undersigned Pro-Prefect, the Proponent of the Cause, the Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation, together with the remainder according to custom, and all being present, the Holy Father declared solemnly:

It is certain that the Servant of God, Pio of Pietrelcina, to the world Francesco Forgione, professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, has practiced to an heroic degree the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, both towards God and towards neighbor, as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance and the attached virtues, to the goals and the effects of which is written.

The Supreme Pontiff ordered, finally, this decree to be published and recorded in the acts of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Given in Rome, on December 18th, in the Year of Our Lord 1997


Alberto Bovone
Titular Archbishop of Caesarian of Numidia

Edward Nowak
Titular Archbishop of Luni

Translated from the original Italian in "Voce Di Padre Pio" Vol. XXIX, No. 6, by Father Ladis Cizik, Chaplain, Divine Child Jesus Padre Pio Prayer Group, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania; Diocese of Pittsburgh.

[Provided courtesy of the National Center for Padre Pio]

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