Padre Pio was a famous Italian priest and saint who lived from 1887 to 1968. He was known for his piety, charity, and mystical experiences, such as the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his hands and feet. He died on September 23, 1968, after a long and painful illness. But his death was not the end of his story. In fact, his death revealed some aspects of his holiness that were hidden during his life.
The Last Hours of Padre Pio
Padre Pio spent most of his religious life in the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he founded a hospital called Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House of Relief of Suffering). He was a popular confessor and spiritual director for many people who came to see him from all over the world. He also had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary and the Rosary.
On the night between September 22 and 23, 1968, Padre Pio was in his cell, number 1, with his doctor, the Father Superior of the convent, and some friars. He was very weak and pale, and had difficulty breathing. He was given oxygen through a mask, but it did not help much. He quietly mouthed the words to the Rosary, and according to some accounts, just before he died, Padre Pio said he saw “two mothers” – believed to be the Blessed Mother and his own earthly mother. The final cause of his death was a heart attack, and those present said that he was immediately healed of the stigmata wounds after he died.
The Exhumation and Veneration of Padre Pio
Padre Pio was buried in the crypt of the church of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he had celebrated Mass for many years. His tomb became a place of pilgrimage for millions of devotees who wanted to pray to him and ask for his intercession. In 1999, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II, and in 2002, he was canonized as a saint.
In 2008, 40 years after his death, Padre Pio’s body was exhumed by the Vatican for preservation and public display. The exhumation revealed that his body was in a remarkable state of preservation, despite the humid conditions of the crypt. His face was covered with a silicone mask that reproduced his features. His hands still bore the marks of the stigmata