Padre Pio was born in Pietrelcina, in the province of Benevento on May 25, 1887. At 16 years of age he became a Franciscan monk and took the name brother Pio in the Monastery of the Cappuccini of Morcone (Benevento). In 1910 he was ordained as a priest and the same year offered his first mass in Pietrelcina. On September 4, 1916 he was transferred to San Giovanni Rotondo. On September 20, 1918 he received the stigmata: five wounds dripping blood that would remain for 50 years and over which a dispute with church authorities would arise.
In 1922, the Holy Office accused Padre Pio of imposture, enacting various restrictions and prohibiting him from offering mass. In 1931 he was suspended from all ministry except that practiced alone in the internal chapel of the Monastery. This was the saddest period in the friar’s life. Two years later he was again allowed to hear the confessions of believers and offer mass in public.
In 1940, the idea to build the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” hospital was born in Padre Pio’s cell. Construction began seven years later and in 1956 the hospital was opened. In 1968 the fiftieth anniversary of the stigmata of Padre Pio was celebrated, though by that time he was gravely ill. At 2.30 on September 23, 1968 Padre Pio received last rites.
His body was shown for four days as a gift to the masses. Immediately after the funeral, the crypt where the body of Padre Pio was laid to rest was opened to the public. Since then, this spot has become the destination for the pilgrimages of millions of believers.
The New Church of SAINT PIO of PIETRELCINA
Designed by Renzo Piano
It is recognized that the construction of a great church, like that being erected under our eyes each day, requires great intelligence, great design and great achievement.
Numerous professionals, designers and master artists have contributed their ideas and creative effort to enhancing the beauty of the new church, which was inspired by the desire of brother Padre Pio of Pietrelcina for a great church, not “like the small tin can of a matchmaker”.
Now that his wish is being granted, we believe it is the perfect time to present in this pamphlet those who have provided their artistic creativity and designs for the new church.
They did so with passion, with a love of art and devotion to Padre Pio and to God, the Creator of the Universe, Artist and father of all artists.
To them we give thanks and we also feel gratitude to all the followers of Padre Pio who have never let the new Church lack in generous support.
Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza
Commissioned by Padre Pio, its first stone was laid in 1947. On May 5, 1956, Padre Pio offered its inauguration mass on the stairs of the pronaos: “Gentlemen and brothers in Christ, this is the creation that Providence, with our help, has fashioned: I present it to you”. Today it is a functioning city hospital.
Monastery of the Friars Minor Capuchin
The monastery was home to Padre Pio since the day of his arrival. On the day before he died, the friar blessed the crypt of the monastery and it houses his priestly vestments. The monastery, built in the 16th century and reconstructed several times, also houses the humble cell where Padre Pio went to pray. Pilgrims can still see the sandals, sheets, crucifix and gloves that covered his stigmata and his inseparable Gospel.
Monument to Padre Pio by Pericle Fazzini
1987. This is the most important monument to Padre Pio’s life, which is depicted in four bronze scenes that culminate with the figure of Padre Pio raising the Monstrance.
“SAINT CLARE” CIRCLE
Founded years ago by the engineer Carlo Terzaghi and his wife Clara, it has become part of a group of programs at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza.
Its goal is to enhance inner life through spiritual retreats, with participation by reservation only, based on a calendar of special programs for both clergy and laity.
Entrusted to the nuns of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart, who also work in Padre Pio’s hospital, the Circle is under the spiritual direction of the Capuchin Friar and General Secretary of Prayer Groups, father Marciano Morra.
For more information call: 0882/ 45.66.45 - 45.63.05 - 45.34.94.
Anyone who thinks of San Giovanni Rotondo as a small mountain village made famous only by the works of Padre Pio is gravely mistaken. Today, San Giovanni Rotondo is one of the largest towns in the entire province, thanks to an unprecedented expansion of the building industry that has enabled the city to become, in just a few short years, the tourism and economic epicenter of the Gargano and the area that encompasses Manfredonia and San Severo. Without a doubt, it has the most hotels in all of Puglia.
There are about 100 tourist facilities, almost all of which are located near the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Saint Mary of Grace) and the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” hospital. When facing the mountain from below, the old town is to the right and the sacred sites and those invaded by mass tourism are to the left.
Two large parallel arterial roads unite the two cities: the past city of ancient and precious landmarks - including the churches of San Leonardo (Saint Leonard), San Nicola (Saint Nicholas), Santa Caterina (Saint Catherine), Sant’Onofrio (Saint Onuphrius) and Sant’Orsola (Saint Ursula)… and the archeological remains of the ancient village of Sant-Egidio (Saint Giles) - and the future, which to some extent has already arrived.
For all visitors, it is worth noting the construction site where the immense new Church of Padre Pio is being built. Designed by the architect, Renzo Piano, it can seat seven thousand worshippers and hold thirty thousand in the churchyard. It is estimated that approximately seven million believers come each year on pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo, which more often than not are transformed into tourist visits. From San Giovanni Rotondo it is easy to reach the coast, where breathtaking panoramas alternate with corners of unspoilt nature and the nearby towns of the Tavoliere and Subappennine region, where art and culture bear witness to the antique magnificence of this land.
The massive presence of tourists has facilitated the creation of a vast network of services and connected infrastructure. To this end, the coming months will bring development projects for the road that connects the center of Gargano with traffic flowing in from other highways and interstates, while within the city an automatic connection service will be built: a mini electric metropolitan system of cars with rubber wheels that run along steel tracks.
As regards services, the C.I.T., tourist information center, created by a group of hoteliers and managed by the Confcommercio, has been operating for 4 years now.
The service, to which businesses and hotels in neighboring towns also contribute, provides useful information on timetables and sites connected to Padre Pio, as well as a range of information on transportation (such as how and when one can reach San Giovanni Rotondo) and the tourist areas of interest in Gargano.