St. Padre Pio window the fruit of two prayer groups

Two diocesan prayer groups devoted to St. Padre Pio, a well-known confessor and stigmatist, raised money for a stained glass window bearing his image in the Diocesan Pastoral Center chapel. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Two diocesan prayer groups devoted to St. Padre Pio, a well-known confessor and stigmatist, raised money for a stained glass window bearing his image in the Diocesan Pastoral Center chapel. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Nancy Rossiello remembers seeing Padre Pio once when she was a little girl.

“My grandmother used to send food to the monastery,” Rossiello said. She grew up in San Giovani Rotando, Italy.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Rossiello and other Catholics from the Diocese of Phoenix, the chapel inside the Diocesan Pastoral Center has a stained glass window depicting the saint canonized by St. John Paul II.

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St. Padre Pio

On TV

  • “Night of the Prophet,” 5-6:30 p.m. Sept. 20 on EWTN and livestreamed online.
    A dramatization of the life of St. Padre Pio (1887-1968) seen through the eyes of a Roman journalist.
  • “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.” 8-9 p.m. Sept. 27 on EWTN and livestreamed online.
    English filmmaker J. Paddy Nolan provides an in-depth look at the life and spirituality of St. Padre Pio (1887-1968), including exclusive footage of St. John Paul II’s visit to his tomb[/quote_box_right]Born in 1887, St. Padre Pio joined the Capuchin Friars when he was 16 years old. He became famous as a mystic who bore the wounds of the crucifixion in his body. The well-known stigmatist, who spent countless hours in the confessional and was purportedly able to read souls, died in 1968. His feast day is Sept. 23.

Rossiello travelled to Italy 15 years ago to visit the tomb of St. Padre Pio. She went to one of the Capuchin friars for confession and later on a friend who’d made the trip with her was cured of liver disease.

“I felt Padre Pio was holding my back,” Rossiello said. She spoke to the Capuchin priest about her desire to start a Padre Pio prayer group in Arizona.

“Padre Pio, he wants you to spread the devotion,” the priest told her. “I will teach you.”

An image of St. Padre Pio is seen in the background as Pope Benedict XVI elevates the Eucharist during Mass outside the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy in this 2009 file photo. The pope said Padre Pio's devotion to the Eucharist, the hours he spent in the confessional and his care for the sick make him a model for priests to imitate. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)
Nancy Rossiello grew up in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy near the same church where Pope Benedict XVI elevates the Eucharist during Mass outside the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in this 2009 file photo. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

The prayer group has been meeting at Rossiello’s home parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux ever since. On the first Monday of the month, about 120 people gather for Mass at the Scottsdale parish and then stay for adoration, the rosary and a novena. They also pray for the sick and the deceased.

“The deacon prays for the sick,” Rossiello said.

At Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, some 30-40 people have been gathering for the Padre Pio prayer group on the first Tuesday of the month for the last few years. John Buitagro is one of the founders of the group. He said there are about 2,000 Padre Pio such prayer groups worldwide.

Fr. Jerry Caffrey is the priest who says Mass for the group. “He met Padre Pio and visited him numerous times,” Buitagro said.

In one year the groups raised the funds needed for a window to honor the famous saint.

“I feel like all Phoenix and all the priests who go in that chapel would be blessed by Padre Pio,” Rossiello said. “A lot of people tell me how beautiful the window is.”

The window was unveiled in April and is one of the last of the 14 lower level stained glass windows in the Virginia G. Piper Chapel.