Relics of St. Padre Pio Tour
Veneration: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Mass: 6:30 p.m.
Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix
The Saint Pio Foundation is bringing six relics of the 20th-century saint across the country in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his death. The tour also includes a morning and afternoon talk in English, which are repeated in Spanish.
Nancy Rossiello recalls her days as a girl in San Giovanni Rotundo, the small southern Italian town and home to the monastery where St. Pio of Pietrelcina, OFM Cap., served God. Although she didn’t grasp it initially, she would be touched by the life of the man known as Padre Pio, his deep devotion to prayer and his extraordinary spiritual gifts, knowledge and healing abilities.
“I saw Padre Pio as a young girl, but now that I am grown up I see the things he has done.”
She recalls visiting San Giovanni in 2002, 38 years after Padre Pio’s death, when she spoke with a monk there about starting a Padre Pio prayer group in Arizona and was encouraged to do so.
“He asked if the relics could be sent to Arizona. Six to seven months later, we received the first (one).
Today, Nancy leads a group of 100-150 praying for the sick and those with problems in Padre Pio’s name. That glove worn by Padre Pio sits in a permanent spot at Rossiello’s home parish, St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Scottsdale, along with a band used to absorb the blood of the saint, who also had the gift of stigmata, or experiencing the wounds of Christ during His Crucifixion.
The Sept. 16 blessing and dedication at St. Bernard of Clairvaux is just one of several events involving relics of both Padre Pio as well as St. John Paul II making their way through the Valley this fall, half a century after Pio’s death.
“These relics are significant. They help us as symbols of a way of life of the saints that is a witness of Christ. They help us see Jesus is among us,” said Br. Mauricio Torres of the Lay Association Totus Tuus before about 300 worshippers who came to venerate the relics during a visit to Our Lady of the Valley Parish in north Phoenix Oct. 8. A gathering of nearly 350 did the same the following night during a Mass and Holy Hour at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Phoenix, and at Santa Teresita Parish in El Mirage the previous Friday.
One by one, members of the congregation waited their turn in line, then stood in silence as they invoked the saints and their intercession for a few moments, often bowing their heads before the snip of blood-stained cloth from Padre Pio, preserved in a small sealed glass holder, and a similar piece of preserved cloth with the dried residue of a small amount of blood from samples taken from St. John Paul II at the hospital before he died.
“I’m going through cancer. God answers our prayers. That’s why I came,” said OLV parishioner Jean Michaels.
“I have two daughters. One is getting married in December and the other next year. I prayed for their sacramental marriages. My prayer is to keep my family holy,” said Kimberly Bramer, a parishioner from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale.
While the relics were making one of their final stops in the Valley at OLV, a second set, including a lock of St. Pio’s hair, his mantle and a handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died, were on their way to Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral where they would be available for public veneration Oct. 30. The cathedral stop is part of a nationwide tour sponsored by the Saint Pio Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that promotes awareness of St. Pio and his mission.
“It is an opportunity as Catholics to draw near to holiness and realize that can be us, especially with two contemporary saints,” said Our Lady of the Valley Pastor and Holy Cross Father Edward J. Kaminski. “To realize people walking among us have achieved what we all ask for — to be the best reflection of Christ for others we can be.”
Leah Johnson, the parish’s youth and young adult coordinator, said the relics’ visits were an especially important opportunity for youth.
“Too often with the saints, we strive for the same type of faith and we see them as something above us and something we can’t accomplish on Earth,” Johnson said. “To be able to touch [them] and be so close, that elevates their thought, that enhances their goal of what a disciple is — which is living Christ in one’s life.”