Padre Pio relics to be displayed at Naperville church, expected to draw thousands of Catholics

padre pio relics
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Relics of a revered saint are coming to a Naperville church as part of a tour across North America.

Items belonging to Padre Pio will be on display at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church at 36 N. Ellsworth St. on Tuesday, July 11, immediately following an 8 a.m. mass, available to view until 6:30 p.m. Catholics from all parishes are welcome to come to show their respect and pray before the relics.  This will be the only place in Illinois to see the items this year.

Who was Padre Pio?

Born in 1887, Francesco Forgione was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar and priest who became better known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina or Padre (meaning “Father”) Pio.  Catholics believe he was a stigmatist, meaning he experienced scars and wounds in the same places as Jesus Christ did upon being crucified, and that he performed miracles.  Since his death in 1968, stories of his devotion to God and the Catholic Church continue to spread to believers all over the world.

“Padre Pio was a very important person in the Catholic Church.  He converted a lot of people into Christianity,” said Ron Frederick, a member of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and volunteer who is helping to facilitate the display of the relics.  “This is an opportunity for our parishioners and Catholics wherever they are to renew and refresh their faith.”

What are the relics?

In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects often associated with a saint or someone eligible for sainthood, either a part of the person’s body or something that he or she had made contact with. It is believed that praying in the presence of such items helps a faithful individual concentrate on the saint’s life and values, ultimately drawing that person closer to God.

The five relics of Padre Pio include:

  • Crusts of his wounds
  • Cotton gauze bearing his blood stains
  • Lock of his hair
  • His handkerchief soaked with his sweat only hours before his death
  • Piece of his mantle/garment

These objects will be near the altar with pews reserved for silent prayer and devotion.  Frederick says those visiting the church to see the relics on display will not be permitted to touch them with their hands but are encouraged to touch religious items of their own – such as a cross, rosary, or prayer card – to the relics, which would then make them a “third-class relic.”

Thousands of followers expected

This is the second time the relics of Saint Francesco Forgione will have come to Saint Peter and Paul.  They had a similar opportunity several years ago, which drew approximately 4,000 people, according to organizers. The church expects thousands to come for this year’s display as well. There will be recitations of the rosary and witness talks throughout the day. Free parking and a handicap accessible entrance are available.

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