by Christine Clancy, Prairie Catholic
NEW ULM – A half dozen relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina drew faithful from throughout the Diocese of New Ulm to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm on Sunday, Oct. 28 for veneration and prayer following the 10 a.m. Mass co-celebrated by Bishop John M. LeVoir, bishop of New Ulm and Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
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Widely known as Padre Pio, the Italian-born priest gained a following because of his devotion to prayer and mystical abilities that included healings.
The relics, brought from Italy to the United States, were part of an historic national tour sponsored by the Saint Pio Foundation. The tour commemorated the 50th anniversary of the popular saint’s death in 1968.
The relics, including a fingerless glove soaked in the saint’s blood were displayed in ornate reliquary cases. Also on display were St. Pio’s crusts of his wounds, cotton gauze with his blood stains, a lock of his hair, his mantle, and a handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.
According to Fr. Aaron Johanneck, director of Worship for the Diocese of New Ulm, the practice of venerating relics is very ancient in the Church. “Relics help us to feel connected to the saints in a real, tangible way.” said Fr. Johanneck.
“They also help us to understand that the stories of the saints are not legends, but are the stories of real men and women throughout the ages who devoted their lives entirely to God,” he said.
Saint Pio was born Francesco Forgione in 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy to peasant farmers. He first expressed his desire for priesthood at age 10 and entered the Capuchin order at age 15, taking the name Pio. In 1910, at the age of 23, he was ordained a priest. He was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
It was in 1918, at the age of 30 when the priest reported bleeding from his hands, feet and side – the stigmata wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. The wounds were said to have lasted 50 years, until his death.
Editor’s note: The Saint Pio Foundation is a premier national charitable organization that promotes awareness of Saint Pio and his mission by working with institutions and individuals who share the same vision to serve “those in need of relief of suffering.” Funds raised by the Saint Pio Foundation are used to provide grants to American Catholic healthcare, educational, social, religious, and cultural partner organizations. Visit http://www.saintpiofoundation.org.