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Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

"My past, O Lord, to Your mercy; my present, to Your love; my future, to Your providence." Padre Pio

Sanctuary of Saint Pio at twilight*
Padre Pio entered the Capuchin Order in 1903 and was ordained in 1910. He was assigned to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916 where he remained until his death in 1968 when he was 81 years of age. In 1918, Padre Pio received the grace of the stigmata (wounds of Christ) which remained with him for fifty years. His bleeding hands were kept bandaged and covered with mittens. Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio in 2002. 

Padre Pio initiated the construction of the hospital, Home for the Relief of Suffering, in San Giovanni Rotondo. The hospital has over 1,000 inpatient beds and is widely respected in Italy and around the world for its modern and state-of-the-art facility, medical services and clinical research in genetics and hereditary and familial diseases.

*The Sanctuary was designed by Renzo Piano, the foremost Italian architect. It seats 6,500 people and has standing room for 30,000 people.

Santa Maria delle Grazie
The original Church was too small to accommodate the large crowds that came to venerate Saint Pio and continue to come to San Giovanni Rotondo in the Gargano Peninsula. The new Church was inaugurated in 1959 to meet the growing number of pilgrims. (The Shrine of Padre Pio is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world.) It is connected to the old Church that was consecrated in 1629 and is to the left of the central nave as you enter the front door. 

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
The corpse of Saint Pio can be viewed in the crypt of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The sight of the saint's peaceful body is an emotional and deeply personal experience. I prayed for the people close to me who have physical difficulties and wrote their names on a piece of paper provided by the Church and left it in the dropbox in the crypt. Many miraculous healing has been attributed to Padre Pio and I prayed that he extends his gift of healing to those in most need of it.

Cell of Padre Pio
The cell of Padre Pio, books, furniture and other personal objects he owned are displayed in a museum at Santa Maria. There is no entrance fee to the museum.

Padre Pio was praying in front of this Crucifix when he received the stigmata.

4th Station - Jesus meets his Mother
I found some of the Stations of the Cross (seen above) as I was walking along Viale Cappuccini.

How to get there:
By train from Bari to Foggia and Sita bus to San Giovanni Rotondo. The bus station is in front of the train station in Foggia. Buy your bus ticket at the tobacco shop across the street from the train station. The bus drops passengers off below the hill from Santa Maria delle Grazie. It's one hour by train from Bari on the fast train, Frecciabianca, and it costs 25 euros in first class. The bus ride to San Giovanni Rotondo takes approximately 40 minutes and costs 6 euros.

Trains connect Foggia with Rome and it takes 3 hours to cover the distance on the fast train. The fare is 50 euros in second class and 70 euros in first class.

Private transfers between Foggia and San Giovanni Rotondo is 50 euros. Call Leonardo at 337-469414 or Whats App at 338-5630072 for rates and reservations. He can also accommodate large groups.

Check Trenitalia for current schedules and fares.

Where to stay:
Centro di Spiritualita Padre Pio is located below the hill from the Shrine. The rooms are clean, spacious and reasonably priced. Breakfast is included. For those with difficulties walking uphill or downhill, it's best to take a taxi to the sanctuary though its quite close to the hotel. 

Schedule of Hours for Santa Maria delle Grazie
7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Church is open late on certain days of the week for Eucharistic worship and prayer of the Holy Rosary. 


Images by TravelswithCharie

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