PROSPECT HEIGHTS – During the 81 years of life for Francesco Forgione, who later became known and venerated as “Padre Pio,” he wasn’t able to visit the United States. While the saint’s relics have toured across the country and even throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn, for the first time, his relics will be displayed at the nation’s largest Catholic church in Washington D.C., May 21-22.
Padre Pio was known for bearing the stigmata – wounds corresponding to the crucifixion of Christ. His first and second-class relics that can be venerated by the public are coming from a variety of items close to the saint. Relics include crust from the saint’s wounds, his blood stains on a cotton gauze, a lock of his hair, a handkerchief with his sweat, and a piece of his mantle.
For worshippers who are visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception May 21, Padre Pio’s relics will be available to view from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Great Upper Church. At 4:30 p.m. that same day, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, will be celebrating Mass in honor of the saint. The relics will also be available to venerate May 22, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
A New York-based organization, Saint Pio Foundation, is sponsoring Padre Pio’s relic tour in D.C. The foundation’s website says that it sponsors tours every year in order to “give hundreds of thousands of faithful an opportunity to have a ‘spiritual encounter’ with Padre Pio.”