Sunday, May 14, 2017 - Updated: 10:19 AM
Faithful from Pittsburgh and the eastern United States gathered May 9 to venerate the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina following a Mass May 9 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, where Bishop David Zubik was the main celebrant.
The items were on public display until an 8 p.m. prayer service led by Capuchin Father Thomas Betz, the Capuchin Franciscan provincial in Pittsburgh.
The relics of the Italian mystic and healer included a glove that belonged to the saint, some of his hair, a small piece of a bed he slept upon and a small piece of cloth used to clean his stigmata wounds.
The items were be inside protective coverings on which people were permitted to place rosaries and other religious articles.
In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects associated with a saint or candidate for sainthood — part of the person’s body or something that he or she was in contact with. Relics are not worshiped but treated with respect.
Touching or praying in the presence of such an object helps the faithful focus on the saint’s life and virtues, so that through the saint’s prayer the individual will be drawn closer to God.
St. Pio was born May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy, and entered the Capuchin order at 15 years old, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest in 1910 at age 23.
He became known as Padre Pio, someone with miraculous powers of healing and knowledge who bore the stigmata, a term used to describe the wounds an individual receives that correspond to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. They can appear on the forehead, hands, wrists and feet.
Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio in 2002.
The Saint Pio Foundation, which is sponsoring the nationwide relics tour, sold books and items related to St. Pio in the entryway of the cathedral.
The items were scheduled to be in Denver on May 10-11; Lincoln, Nebraska, May 13; Los Angeles, May 18-19; Arlington, Virginia, May 20-21; and more places in September.
More information about St. Pio and the relics tour is at http://www.saintpiofoundation.org.
Photos by CHUCK AUSTIN