St Pio reliquaries arrive in Rome for Holy Jubilee of Mercy.
Reliquaries containing the relics of St Pio, better known as Padre Pio, come to Rome from 3-11 February as part of the Vatican's Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Over the course of the eight days the reliquaries of Padre Pio will arrive first at the Capuchin church S. Lorenzo al Verano, moving then to S. Salvatore in Lauro on Via dei Coranari in the historic centre (which already contains some of St Pio's relics), and finally to St Peter's.
St Pio of Pietrelcina, was famous for bearing the stigmata – the wounds of Christ – for most of his life. In addition to being venerated widely for his healing powers, particularly in Italy, Padre Pio generated much controversy among sceptics. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1999 and canonised him in 2002. Pietrelcina in the southern Campania region is the saint's birth place although his world-famous shrine is at S. Giovanni Rotonda in Pulgia's Gargano.
The relics of St Leopold Mandić (1866-1942), a Croatian Capuchin friar and Catholic priest will also be exposed to the faithful alongside those of St Pio. St Leopold, who suffered from physical disabilities and a speech impediment, spent most of his life as a priest in Padua in northern Italy although he wanted to be a missionary to eastern Europe and dreamt of uniting the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. He is considered one of the forerunners of ecumenism and was beatified in 1976 by Pope Paul VI and canonised in 1983 by Pope John Paul II.
Both St Pio (1887-1968) and St Leopold Mandić (1866-1942) were revered as confessors and were chosen specially by Pope Francis to reflect the jubilee year's theme of mercy. St Pio confessed more than two million people, according to Italian news agency ANSA, while St Leopold was known to spend up to 15 hours a day hearing confessions.
The papal audience on 6 February is dedicated to St Pio and already 60,000 pilgrims have booked tickets for the event. A series of masses will accompany the saints' reliquaries at the various churches, including St Peter's for Ash Wednesday on 10 February, the beginning of the period of Lent penitence and fasting that leads up to Easter.
For full details see Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy website.