Relics of Saint Padre Pio, Priest With Stigmata, on Nationwide US Tour

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(Photo: Courtesy Saint Pio Foundation)A flier for the 2017 national tour showcasing relics of Padre Pio, sponsored by the Saint Pio Foundation.

A Roman Catholic organization dedicated to the memory of Saint Padre Pio is overseeing a national tour of relics connected to the notable priest.

Born in 1887, Padre Pio became famous during the 20th century for reportedly experiencing the phenomenon known as stigmata.

The Saint Pio Foundation is sponsoring a national tour of Pio relics, with the items on display this week at two churches in Chicago.

Luciano Lamonarca, president of the Saint Pio Foundation, told The Christian Post that the national tour was in honor of the 130th anniversary of Pio's birth and the 15th anniversary of his canonization.

Lamonarca explained that they took from the "example" of Pope Francis, who in February 2016 had the remains of Saint Pio exhibited at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

"Pope Francis ... requested Padre Pio's body to be exhibited in the Vatican during the Holy Year of Mercy," said Lamonarca, "and so we wanted to bring a 'sign' of Padre Pio to the faithful in the U.S."

Relics of Pio that are part of the national tour include a glove owned by the saint, a lock of his hair, a mantle he once owned, and a handkerchief said to be soaked with his sweat hours after his death.

On Monday, the relics were on display at St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church in Chicago's Dunning neighborhood and on Tuesday they were put on display at St. Ita Catholic Church in Chicago's Edgewater community.

CP reached out to St. Ita Church, however their staff could not return comment by press time due to the needs of the event, which local media speculated could involve several thousand visitors.

A native of a small rural town in Italy, according to the Catholic media outlet EWTN, Pio first received his stigmata within a month of his ordination in 1910 and then it permanently appeared on his body in 1918, near the end of World War I.

"By early 1919, word about the stigmata began to spread to the outside world. Over the years countless people, including physicians, examined Padre Pio's wounds," noted EWTN.

"Padre Pio was not interested in the physicians' attempts to explain his stigmata. He accepted it as a gift from God, though he would have preferred to suffer the pains of Christ's Passion without the world knowing."

The national tour began in May at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is scheduled to conclude with an event at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in St. Augustine, Florida, in October.

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