1st class relic of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
at St. John Cantius Church
After reviewing all pertinent documentation, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., granted approval for the veneration of a first class relic of Saint Padre Pio at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.
The relic was a gift to the Padre Pio Prayer Group from a major benefactor and originated from Fr. Gerardo Saldutto, O.F.M.Cap., Legal Representative of the Capuchin Friary of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, in June 1999. Fr. Saldutto organized the Celebration of the Canonization of Padre Pio held in St. Peter’s on 16 June 2002. The relic consists of a large framed square of linen bearing a bloodstain from the wound in Padre Pio’s side, known as the wound of the transverberation of the heart. The relic is exposed for public veneration in St. John Cantius Church.
The Wounds of St. Padre Pio
[Letter from St. Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, Aug. 21, 1918]
While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [August] I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue.
This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared. From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony.
[Letter from St. Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, Oct. 22, 1918]
On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. [...] I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest.
The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation.