Introduction

A picture  is worth a thousand words. As an introduction to Padre Pio, the photographs will make us understand him better.

(Press on the thumbnails below to see a larger picture; than press the arrow  on the upper left of the screen to return to the page.)

 

 

 Padre Pio moved in the convent of St. Mary of Graces in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916.

He would stay there until his death in 1968. Note the wilderness.

   Padre Pio celebrated Mass at 5:00 AM. In the picture the men are standing still, packed around the altar. The women are staying in the pews. To be there on time, one had to get up at 3:00, and reach the church by 4:00, to be able to find a spot when the doors opened at 4:30.
   

This picture was taken in the 40's at 12:00 noon.

Padre Pio is at the window of the choir, above the entrance to the church, praying the "Angelus" with the faithful.

    Padre Pio wanted an hospital that would give proper medical care for the poor peasants in the forgotten landscape in the middle of nowhere  were they lived, with no access to medical facilities.
  And he did it! He called it "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza" (Home for the Relief of Suffering."
   

This picture was taken the day that Padre Pio was proclaimed saint on June 16, 2002.

The old convent and church are on the side of the large church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The window of the choir were Padre Pio prayed the "Angelus" and waived to the crowd is still there.

 

  Here we are in Rome, the day that Padre Pio was proclaimed blessed on May 2, 1999.

The number of pilgrims present at the ceremony is immense.

    Padre Pio was proclaimed Saint on June 16, 2002

 

There is no other recollection of such a crowd packing Saint Peter's Square.

 

  Padre Pio' final resting place in the crypt with the gold ceeling of San Pio's church.

The body is in the pillar on the left, visible through an opening.

There can be no better ending and beginning for a man who was a gift of God to humanity for eternity.

       It all started on Vico Storto Valle ("Crooked Valley Lane") in Pietrelcina.

 

 

  WEBCAM located on top of the hospital "Casa Sollievo". It is updated every five seconds. It shows the complex of buildings that includes the churches and the convent.
Link to the live webcam. (Press on Webcam on the right side of the screen of the linked site.)

 

 

 

Birth in Pietrelcina

1887   Padre Pio was born in Pietrelcina, a rural village few miles from Benevento, in Southern Italy.
     The village of about 3000 is located in a poor and isolated region. (It reminds of an episode in the Gospel: John 1: 45 "Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.' Nathanael said to him, 'From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place?' Philip replied, 'Come and see.' ")  
                                                        This is the birth certificate of Francesco Forgione. It states that the future Padre Pio was born on May 25, 1887, at 5:00  PM.   In a letter in 1922, Padre Pio wrote: “The Lord from my birth showed me signs of a very special predilection."
     He was baptized in the nearby Saint Anna's Church on May 26, 1887 the day after his birth, and given the name of Francesco.
     The baptismal font were Francesco was baptized, an the inside of the church of Sant'Anna.  The last picture shows the church as it was at the times of Padre Pio.
     Padre Pio's crib preserved at the museum of the Holy Family church in Pietrelcina
     As he reported later, Padre Pio started seeing his guardian angel since he was in the crib. "The Guardian Angel has been my companion since my infancy." He also stated seeing the devils: "When I was in the crib, and my mom exthinguished the oil lamp I saw those horrible monsters and screamed terrified.  Than mom turned the lamp back on, and the monsters disappeared, and I stopped screaming."
   

 

 

 

The Forgione family

                                              The name of Padre Pio’s father was Grazio, but he was known as  Orazio and called "Zi' Orazio" by his neighbors.
  The mother was Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio and was called "Zi' Beppa".
 They married on June 8, 1881. Both were illiterate. He was a laborer.
 They were not poor.
 There was food on the ta ble every day. But there was very little cash.
                        The house was located in Vico storto Valle, 32, (Crooked Valley Lane)in Pietrelcina. It was a one room home. Like in the houses at the time: No plumbing. No bathroom. No running water. No shower. No stove. No electricity. 
 The marble plaque outside the house tells that Francesco Forgione, the future Padre Pio da Pietrelcina, was born in this house.

          Under the house there was a storage room.

 

                Two doors on the left, they rented a two rooms dwelling they called '"the kitchen". It was used for cooking, and had a sleeping area for the children.

.
   The Forgiones had 8 children. The first born was Michele. Then Francesco, who died after 19 days, and Amalia who died at 20 months. When Francesco, the future Padre Pio was born, he was given the name of the older dead brother Francesco. He has also three younger sisters, Felicita, Pellegrina, and Grazia (who was later to become a Bridgettine nun). The youngest brother, Mario, died before he turned 1 year old.
  The farm "Masseria" in Piana Romana
                 
The Forgiones were farmers, cultivating their own piece of land,
in Piana Romana, about an hour walk away from Vico Storto Valle. The "Masseria" they owned in Piana Romana was a one room dwelling. They went to work there, and stayed there during the busier months.

 

 

 

 

Childhood

       
In this space, outside the St. Anna's church Padre Pio used to play in childhood with the other kids of his age.
1892   

  A stained window in the church of Sant'Anna remembers an episode  of when the future  Padre Pio was  still in preschool age, and later reported in a letter to his spiritual director, when he had the first apparition of Jesus:  "I felt like not playing with the other kids on the parvis, and sat in a pew in the church, and Jesus from the tabernacle called me to the altar and put his hand on my head".

At the time Francesco thought that this was normal to everybody.   

    Teacher Angelo Caccavo.   Francesco had very limited formal schooling. There were no public schools in his village. His first teacher was Cosimo Scocca, a farmer who had a fifth grade education. His first grade teacher was Mandato Saginato. Starting September 1898, age 11, he begun private lessons with  Domenico Tizzani, "per cinque lire al mese." The tuition of five lire per month was quite a bit in those times.  Padre Pio felt uncomfortable from day one, and after few months with don Tizzani, he changed teacher. He went to study with another teacher, Angelo Caccavo. With him Francesco got the elementary diploma. A notebook with 30 themes developed by Padre Pio when he studied with Caccavo is still preserved to these days.
  Caccavo's desk preserved in the Museum in Pietrelcina.
  The desk of the shoe repair man Antonio Montella. He had his shop near the home of Francesco. The future Padre Pio used to stop by and chat with him.
1899 This is the first known picture of Francesco Forgione, taken at age 12.

 The future Padre Pio received the First Communion on 27 September 1899, at age 12, in St. Anna's church, and was confirmed the same day by the Archbishop of Benevento Mons. Donato Maria Dell'Olio in the parish church of St. Mary of the Angels, in Pietrelcina.
    This is Fra' Camillo da Sant'Elia a Pianisi.
 
Fra' Camillo was a capuchin brother who walked the countryside away from the convent to collect alms for the convent. Padre Pio saw him frequently in his childhood.
One day he told his mother:
"I want to be a friar with a beard, like fra' Camillo."
  Many times his mother found Francesco sleeping on the floor, using a stone as a pillow. Other times she found him beating himself with a   chain. Questioned about it he said:  "I must do like the roman soldiers beat Jesus and made his shoulders bleed."
1902                                                         In 1902 the future Padre Pio made a pilgrimage to Pompeii with his teacher Angelo Caccavo and six schoolmates.
 
“Soon I will enter the novitiate and there will be no more parties.”
He also visited Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Pompei when he was military in Naples. He encouraged people to be
“devout of the Virgin of Pompei.”

 

           The Lombardi family has strong devotion to Padre Pio and dedication to the friars and pilgrims in Pietrelcina.

 

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