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[Editor's note: After this story went to press, organizers informed The Pilot that the time of the procession has been changed to 9:30 a.m. rather than 2 p.m.]
BOSTON -- Bishop Peter J. Uglietto will celebrate Mass honoring St. Padre Pio in St. Leonard's Church in Boston at noon on Sept. 23. Those interested in attending the Mass are advised to be early.
Following the Mass, at 2 p.m., a two-and-a-half hour procession will wind through the streets of the North End with Franciscan Capuchin Friars from Italy carrying a vile of the saint's dried blood for public veneration. The Mass and the procession are sponsored by The Padre Pio Society of St. Leonard's parish. The processions will conclude at 4:30 p.m. back at St. Leonard's Church.
Padre Pio, OFM, Cap. has become one of the most beloved saints in the Catholic Church since his death in 1968 only fifty years ago. Padre Pio was born in Pietrelcina, in Campania where his parents labored as peasant farmers. In 1990, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints investigated how Padre Pio had lived his life, and in 1997, Pope John Paul II declared him venerable. A series of cases were studied, such as a reported cure of an Italian woman, Consiglia de Martino, which was directly associated with Padre Pio's intercession. Then in 1999, John Paul II declared Padre Pio blessed.
Following further consideration of Padre Pio's virtues and ability to do good even after his death, including another healing attributed to his intercession, Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio a saint on June 16, 2002. An estimated 300,000 people attended the ceremony.
One of the countless stories about Padre Pio tells of a woman whose husband was very sick so she decided to ask Padre Pio to intercede to God for his recovery. But there were so many people that she had to wait for three days just to go to confession.
In her consternation, and noting the long lines, she walked from one side of the church to the other, praying all the while, until finally she reached a corridor where Padre Pio had to pass. As soon as he saw her, he said, "Woman with little faith, when will you finally stop asking for my help? Do you think I am deaf? You have already told me about your husband five times. When you were in front of me, at my back, on my right and on my left. I understood! I understood !... Go home! Everything is OK." She went home and found that her husband was healed.
Today, there are more than 3,000 Padre Pio prayer groups worldwide with an estimated 3 million members. A 2006 survey by the magazine Famiglia Christiana found that more Italian Catholics pray to Padre Pio for intercession than any other figure.
St. Padre Pio, who was once a soldier, is the patron saint of civil defense volunteers.