Born: May 25th, 1887
Died: Sept. 23rd, 1968
FEast: Sept. 23rd
Stress, seasonal depression, teenagers, Civil defense volunteers
St. Padre Pio
A boy named Francesco Forgione was born to a farming family in southern Italy in 1887. His town was very small and his family lived in near poverty, with his father traveling to the United States several times to try and bring in extra income. Francesco was an altar server and his family and town were very religious, so they were supportive when, by the age of 5, he announced he wanted to enter religious life.
This wouldn't be easy for him, however. He had to work on his family farm taking care of the sheep, meaning he could not go to school and lacked the education most of his peers had. He also fell very sick at ages 6 and 10, putting him even further behind and weakening him severely. He and his family would not loose hope, though - his father's travels for extra income were able to provide for a tutor for him so that he could enter a Franciscan community. He finally was able to join and was ordained in 1910, taking the name Pio, though he remained at home for a long period of time because he had fallen severely ill again at 17.
With the start of World War I, Pio was drafted and dismissed several times due to his health, realizing he had tuberculosis.
In 1918 after being assigned to a new area, Pio felt pains after Mass and experienced bleeding from his hands, feet, and side, while experiencing a vision of Jesus. There was a smell of roses, and despite the wounds continually bleeding, they never became infected and they appeared perfectly round. Medical professionals and awed believers soon flocked to Pio to see the wounds themselves and try to prove or disprove their authenticity. Because of this, he was not permitted to publicly celebrate Mass for a time to avoid the attention. Soon, though, with confirmation the stigmata had not been faked, he had so many visitors that he would hear confessions for 10 hours a day. People reported him knowing details of their lives without them divulging the information, and also reported levitation and miracles.
His dream, however, was to build a hospital for the sick and suffering, since he understood their pain so well. He was able to open it in 1956 with enough space to care for 350 people.
Later in life, Pio suffered even more, through continual arthritis, and well as cancer that disappeared miraculously after just two treatments. His funeral was attended by over 100,000 people.
As patron of stress and depression, please be with sufferers of these debilitating diseases. Be with us when our own minds lie to us - show us the truth and the hope we feel we have lost. Show us how to care for ourselves and others who are suffering, and never let us surrender.
Most all images of Padre Pio are of him as an older man, so, in keeping with the theme of making the saints relatable to everyone, I wanted to make him younger so that younger people could understand him better. He had a stigmata wound on his hand, and he wears a hoodie symbolic of his iconic robe as well as some insulation against his many illnesses.