San Giovanni Rotondo: The Shrine of Saint Padre Pio
About Padre Pio:
On the East coast of Italy lies one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Italy. It attracts visitors from around the world.
Born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy in 1887 and raised in a devout Catholic family. He became a Capuchin, taking the name Pio, in 1904. After several assignments he ended up in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1910. He was to spend the rest of his life here and was known for his many mystical experiences and spiritual gifts. It was said that he could read souls–if you went to confession to him and left something out he would not hesitate to remind you. And his confessions were highly popular, with long hours devoted to the Sacrament. You can still see his confessional when you visit his shrine today.
Other gifts that he received were prophecy, bilocation, odor of sanctity and miraculous healings. It was said that he predicted that Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) would one day become Pope.
But he is perhaps best known for having received the Stigmata (the wounds of Christ). He was pierced with the 5 wounds of Christ while praying before a crucifix. He bled from these wounds up until the time of his death and you will see photographs of him with his hands bandaged.
Due to his holiness he was under constant attack from the Devil, with many stories being told of physical attacks he received from demons. Here is an article from The National Catholic Register detailing some of the facts of the life of Padre Pio.
About the Shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo:
Padre Pio died in 1968, and when his body was exhumed in 2008, it was found to be in remarkably good condition, although it is not incorrupt. His body is now on display in the tomb inside the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie). This church was completed during Padre Pio’s lifetime to accommodate the large numbers of pilgrims visiting here. Today there are estimated 7 million pilgrims each year who visit San Giovanni Rotondo.
His Feast Day is celebrated on September 23.
There is a new church, simply called the Padre Pio pilgrimage church, has been built behind Our Lady of Grace that can hold over 6,000 pilgrims.
Many Catholic tour groups include San Giovanni Rotondo in their itineraries so it should be easy to find one. They often combine visits here with Loreto and Lanciano which are both on the East coast of Italy.
Click here for a great assortment of Padre Pio gift items: Medals, Rosaries, Statues, Books & More
There are several shrines dedicated to Padre Pio in the U.S.A., you can find them here.
Traveling to San Giovanni Rotondo:
For those traveling by train, you cannot go directly to San Giovanni Rotondo. The nearest station is at Foggia and from there a bus runs from Foggia station to San Giovanni Rotondo, about a one-hour journey. You can get train and bus tickets and schedules here.
From Naples to Foggia: Trains take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and you change trains at Caserta.
From Rome to Foggia: There are express trains that make the trip in a little under 3 hours, and no change of trains is required.
There is also bus service from Rome Tiburtina train station directly to San Giovanni Rotondo, that takes about 5 hours.
Address: Piazzale S. Maria Grazie, San Giovanni Rotondo, (FG) 71013 Italy
GPS coordinates: 41° 42′ 29.2140” N, 15° 42′ 21.9852” E
Tel: +39 0882 4171
Click here for the official website of the Shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo.
Photos courtesy Tom & Sue Melillo
There are several other shrines dedicated to Padre Pio in the U.S.A.
Click here for the National Padre Pio Center in Landisville, New Jersey.
Click here for the National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto, Pennsylvania.
Click here for the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Antonio, Texas.