When people come in contact with Padre Pio’s relics, miracles can happen.
“Some people cry continuously,” said Luciano Lamonarca. “Some of them are just in awe because of the great spirit of reverence you find in the church while you venerate the relics.”
Lamonarca, founder, president and CEO of the Saint Pio Foundation, witnessed miracles of all kinds when the saint’s relics toured the United States for the first time in 2017.
“The response we had last year was tremendous,” he said.
It was so tremendous that the Saint Pio Foundation is sponsoring another U.S. tour this year, and the relics will be coming to St. Mary Catholic Parish in Littleton April 11 and 12.
Lamonarca has high hopes for this year’s outcome, as last year’s tour changed many hearts. One instance that stands out for him is the story of a woman who wrote to the foundation, saying her daughter had left the Church decades ago.
“And then [the daughter] passed by the church where we were hosting the relics in Chicago,” said Lamonarca, “and she was surprised to see this crowd outside.”
The woman asked what was going on when someone told her Padre Pio’s relics were inside, said Lamonarca. She entered the church and was overcome by the feeling it gave her.
“She felt called back [to the Church] through Padre Pio,” he said. “I consider that to be a small, but very touching miracle.”
Those type of experiences are no surprise to Father Joseph Mary Elder, O.F.M.Cap., who serves youth and young adults at Annunciation Catholic Church in Littleton and as vocation director for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad.
“If you look at what was going on during [Padre Pio’s] life, there’s a sense of him almost being otherworldly because he’s a miracle man,” said Father Elder.
“It constantly seems like he was in this dialogue with the supernatural — with the divine,” he said. “It was just on such a regular basis that I don’t think it’s any surprise that it would continue after his death.”
During his third year as a Capuchin, Father Elder was able to visit San Giovanni Rotondo, a small city in the countryside of Italy where Padrio Pio spent most of his life conducting ministry. His body lies in state at the Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, near the church at which he served.
Because Father Elder is a fellow member of Padre Pio’s order, he was able to touch the saint’s tomb.
“That’s one of the few times in my life I remember this overwhelming sense of peace,” he said.
Padre Pio continues to bring comfort to many, particularly through the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for Relief of the Suffering), a religious hospital he helped found in San Giovanni Rotondo that is designed to alleviate the suffering of the sick.
The saint’s affection for the suffering came largely out of his own experience with the stigmata — the wounds of Christ — which he bore for 50 years.
His deep wisdom, spirituality and affection for the sick serve as an inspiration for Father Elder and millions of Catholics worldwide.
“I think what resonates so strongly for people with Padre Pio is that he went through so many periods of darkness and suffering in his life — despite all the gifts that he had,” said Father Elder.
If you look at what was going on during [Padre Pio’s] life, there’s a sense of him almost being otherworldly because he’s a miracle man.”
“He had to deal with all of these [trials], and he used it all somehow to grow in holiness and to become a saint,” he added.
Whether it was carrying the stigmata, dealing with persecution from nonbelievers, or experiencing his own doubts, Padre Pio fought through the adversity, and Lamonarca hopes his example will inspire every day Catholics to seek a greater holiness.
“Not all of us can reach the level of sainthood or a call like Padre Pio,” said Lamonarca, “but we can get inspiration from them to do our own holy job.”
Padre Pio relics tour
St. Mary Catholic Parish in Littleton
April 11 from 4 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.
April 12 from 8 a.m. — 6 p.m.
A Mass in honor of Padre Pio will be celebrated April 11 at 7 p.m.
Relics available for veneration
St. Pio’s glove
St. Pio’s crusts of the wounds
Cotton-gauze with St. Pio’s blood stains
Lock of St. Pio’s hair
St. Pio’s mantle
St. Pio’s handkerchief
Featured image by Andrew Wright
Editor’s note: The print version of this article that appears in the March 24 edition has the wrong date for the Mass honoring Padre Pio. The Mass will be held on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m.