September 23rd is the feast of Saint Padre Pio. This Italian priest became extremely famous for the miraculous signs that appeared in his life, but a closer look reveals a man marked by suffering, charity, and humility.
Born 1887, Francesco Forgione grew up in southern Italy with four siblings to a family of peasant-farmers. He had a number of severe illnesses in his childhood and continued to have poor health throughout his life.
As a teenager, Francesco joined the Capuchin Friars, a religious community that followed the example of St. Francis of Assisi. He adopted the name “Pio” and was ordained a priest in 1910. Due to health complications, he spent the next six years living at his parents’ home. He then spent the remainder of his life in a friary in a small Italian town. Pio felt a strong connection to the poor and suffering in his community and later founded a hospital there.
In 1918, the stigmata — the wounds of Jesus — suddenly appeared on Pio’s hands, feet, and side and remained on his body until his death. He became known for many other mysterious holy attributes — although he did not publicly speak of them — including levitation, bi-location, and the ability to read the souls of people in the confessional. Many people, including St. Pope John Paul II, credited Pio with miraculous healings due to his powerful prayers. Reports of Pio’s holiness attracted flocks of visitors; he would listen to confessions for up to 10 hours a day.
He was accused of faking his stigmata wounds, among other accusations, and was subject to multiple investigations. While being investigated, he was temporarily restricted from celebrating Mass publicly or hearing confessions. He bore the restrictions with quiet patience. He only wanted to live in simplicity and handled his fame with humility.
Padre Pio died at the age of 81; more than 100,000 people attended his funeral. He was fully cleared of all accusations of falsehood and was eventually canonized a saint on September 23, 2002, the anniversary of his death.
This playlist honors the spirit of St. Padre Pio: his dependence on God through his sufferings, and charity toward all who encountered him. These songs invite us to follow Pio’s instruction: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”