Dalila Patrizzi venerates the relic of St. Padre Pio at Immaculate Conception in Lowell Sept. 21. Worried about potential crowds, Patrizzi and her son waited outside the church from the early morning and ended up being the first in line to publically venerate the relic. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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BRAINTREE -- Virginia Fierro met St. Padre Pio back when she was 14 and still living in Italy, and on Sept. 21, she had the chance to venerate his heart.
Sitting in a pew in St. Leonard's Church in Boston's North End, Fierro said she lived in Italy until moving to the United States in 1956, and it was there that she met the saint.
"We talked to him. We saw him just like he is now, with the hands like this," she said, indicating towards a nearby statue of St. Padre Pio with his arms outstretched.
She said a large number of people showed up to see him, but "he talked to everybody."
"It was beautiful," Fierro said.
The heart of St. Padre Pio, the only major relic of the saint to leave Italy, was brought to the greater Boston area by the Capuchin Friars that run the Shrine of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.
From Wednesday, Sept. 21 to Friday, Sept. 23, the relic moved around the Archdiocese of Boston, stopping at several different parishes. On Wednesday, it was at Immaculate Conception in Lowell, and later that day it was at St. Leonard's Church. On Thursday, it was at the archdiocese's Pastoral Center and later at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where it remained all day on Friday.
Dalila Patrizzi was the first person to venerate the relic at Immaculate Conception, and was also the first person to publically venerate it during its time in the greater Boston area.